As I child, I loved snow. I think that’s because I grew up in New England, where the general attitude is, Okay, cool. We can deal with this for a few months. Got a sled? Then my enthusiasm for snow waned, possibly because I’ve lived most of my adult years in and around Philadelphia, where the general attitude is, Warmth will return. Until it does, stay inside. (My college roommate…

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

All hail Queen Maria!

This week The Debutante Ball celebrates the launch of Deb Maria’s debut, 101 WAYS TO TORTURE YOUR HUSBAND. Here’s a snippet from the back cover: “Let’s face it: Even the best of husbands needs a little punishment every now and then. When he steps over the line⎯and onto your s**t list⎯there’s only one viable recourse: torture.” My personal favorite torture tip is #45, from Chapter 3, the “quick torture” section:…

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Writing + drawing = art

I’m becoming enamored with the art form of the graphic novel. It fascinates me, how the creators of graphic novels master not one craft, but two — storytelling and drawing — and blend them. I know very little about graphic novels, and I want to learn more. The first graphic novel I read was Watchmen, considered the Big Daddy of graphic novels, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. It’s easily…

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Midpoint and the Long Race

Self-imposed deadlines can be tricky. Too lax, and you’ll wind up with Writer Who Doesn’t Write Syndrome. Too strict, and you’ll get what Dennis Lehane calls Ticking Clock Syndrome. For me, the key was finding a midpoint between these two extremes. For many years, I had Writer Who Doesn’t Write Syndrome. Though I dreamed of publishing, countless issues all “prevented” me from writing. I was “too busy/naïve/tired/sick of the computer/bereft…

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Belly-laughing & Self-betterment

From year to year, my resolutions don’t seem to change much. In general, they’re a collective vow to take advantage of the time I’ve been given — however much of it remains. This year my resolutions came early. One November morning I found myself making a list of things I would like to start doing, toward the goal of self-betterment. Because the better I conduct myself, the more positively I…

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Giving and receiving

In the opening scene of SIMPLY FROM SCRATCH, my narrator Zell finds a gift intended for her in a very unexpected place. The gift, she assumes, is from her late husband, who hid it before he died. She doesn’t open it right away. Sometimes you have to wait for your life circumstances to shift and resettle, before you’re ready to receive. Take inspiration. I didn’t know it at the time,…

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Some cool dedications …

I recently emailed my editor the SIMPLY FROM SCRATCH dedication, but I won’t reveal it here and now, eight months before you can hold the book in your hands. I like to imagine readers cracking it open for the very first time, turning the first few pages, and absorbing the dedication as part of the book itself. I’m reminded of the scene in Annie Hall when Annie and Alvy arrive…

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chainsaws, smoke alarms, & “over-researching”

I tell aspiring novelists, “If you need inspiration, interview somebody who’s willing and, ideally, a little offbeat.” Along those lines, writing for a newspaper is a great source of inspiration, and research is built in as part of your job. A few years ago I wrote a small feature on a performance artist named Michael Higgins, who fit the above criteria: he was willing, and he is charmingly, fascinatingly offbeat….

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Quirkiness & Kevlar!

My first job out of college, I was the publications assistant (or, as a coworker joked, the “pub ass”) at Chemical Heritage Foundation, a non-profit for preserving and promoting the history of chemistry. If it involved E.I. Du Pont or Antoine Lavoisier, Marie Curie or Stephanie Kwolek, CHF’s historians, curators, and science education experts were all over it. I most looked forward to Wednesdays, Brown Bag Lecture days, when various…

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Counting my blessings

I was twenty-five and in my very first yoga class when I first heard the expression, “an attitude of gratitude.” My yoga teacher Mary encouraged her students to adopt such an approach and see how it changed our perceptions, and subsequently our lives. Though yoga was completely foreign to me then, Mary’s idea of consciously deciding to be thankful seemed familiar, probably thanks to my mother’s frequent reminders to “count…

Wednesday, November 25, 2009