Thank you, Mr. Moran

Librarians are gatekeepers of books and words. My fourth-grade teacher, Mr. Moran, played a similar role. Every school day after recess, Mr. Moran walked on our desks. He stepped from desktop to desktop, reading aloud from A Wrinkle In Time or Little Women or James and the Giant Peach. After fifteen minutes or so, he would pause on a desk in the middle of the room, stop reading mid-sentence, gaze…

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Important Chance Encounters

In 2004 I attended a yoga workshop led by Megan McDonough, who was promoting her book, Infinity In A Box. Megan and I hit it off. We kept in touch via email after the workshop, and she eventually hired me to write for her e-newsletter, Mindful Marketing, geared toward yoga teachers seeking to expand their classes. Megan was glad to shift some of her workload to me, while I was…

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Facebook versus The Pen

About ten years ago, I predicted I’d never walk into a diner and see patrons pulled up to the counter, reading the daily news on their laptops, as morning cups of coffee steamed at their elbows. “People like their newspapers too much, and always will,” I said. Well, just the other week I was sipping coffee at a diner, and guess what? I counted four laptops and zero newspapers. I…

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Trick or hiiiiii-ya!

Martial arts movies are an unapologetically over-the-top art form, and I deeply appreciate them. Jackie Chan’s one of my favorite kung fu stars. When I watch him spinning like a cyclone to ward off a gang of axe-wielding thugs, I feel grateful and empowered. Performers like Chan promulgate potent ideas — namely, that justice really does prevail, and that evil is instantly recognizable, and can be defeated with cheesy humor…

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Good Hurt

How’d I get my book deal? Simple version: I got a sharp agent. Extended version: A few years before she died, the great Octavia Butler visited Bryn Mawr College, where I worked. In the assembly hall, a student raised her hand and waxed eloquently about Octavia’s sparkling talent. Octavia’s response was something like (I’m paraphrasing), I’m not talented, I work hard. When she first started out, she woke at 2…

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Uh-oh, I’ve turned ….

I grew up in Massachusetts, where many people seem to observe autumn with near-spiritual devotion. Which is understandable, because fall in New England is beautiful. As a child, I loved the colors, the dusty smell of October air, the sense of receding all around. But, though I still savor the crunch of leaves and in-season apples, fall no longer invigorates me. Instead, it makes me feel tired, gray, and grumpy….

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

From darkness, light

I’m definitely not a morning person. I stumble around for twenty minutes or so before I’m even partially awake. I can count the sunrises I’ve observed on one hand, in addition to the sunrises I intended to observe, but slept through. I’m really not a night owl, either. Past a certain hour, I’m useless. And very few are the activities I prize more than sleeping. But some cherished memories —…

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Persistence + Luck = Pluck … by Deb Alicia

Short version: I emailed a query to an agent at Folio Literary Management. Next day she requested the first fifty pages of my book. A week later, she requested the whole thing. Two days after that, she called and asked if I was willing to make some changes to the manuscript. I thanked her for her astute observations, and promised to resubmit the revised manuscript exclusively to her. She said…

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Just me, my man, and a Jeep … by Deb Alicia

Like most kids who devoured James Herriot books, I dreamed of becoming a large-animal veterinarian. I envisioned an adult life whereby I’d heroically heal a few cases of horse laminitis by day, then report to my night gig: singing on Broadway. As a middle-schooler I realized that math and sciences just weren’t my bag (to put it very mildly). Plus another, more painful realization: I possessed neither the voice nor…

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It’s not cramped, it’s cozy … by Deb Alicia

Welcome to the corner of my living room, where I’m sitting at a mismatched desk and chair. Stella the greyhound snores at my feet. I can reach out and touch: 1. a rejection notice from a literary magazine. A big theme in any writer’s life is rejection. Keeping one of those impersonal “thanks but no thanks” notes in plain sight might seem masochistic, but I actually find it inspiring, in…

Wednesday, September 16, 2009