Old Moon

Saturday, June 28, 2008


I don't read my own stuff often enough! It's Emperor and Cinderella! If anyone noticed, I hymbly apologize. I have no idea how to correct a post that's already up.

A good day!

It's rare to have an opportunity to be read by someone who bothers to think about one's story or book or poem. I've just had my day (maybe my year) made by one such reader. All at once, after years of wondering whether I should find another hobby (so-called because it's so hard to claim legitimacy without noteworthy sales), she made me feel a distinct stiffening of my spine, and thus my ego.

The publisher listed Settling as a romance. Fair enough as far as it goes, but there's a theme, neither of the protagonists is without baggage and flaws. I don't want to preach, but I surely do want to give a reader something to mull over after the final page. This reader managed to spot precisely what I was trying to do. Can any writer ask for more?

Monday, June 23, 2008

If you don't blow your own horn...

The other day I received a note about a contest especially for books published by small independent presses, POD in particular. "Great!" I thought. Maybe it would be worth submitting." Second thoughts have now cropped up as I begin to research Premier Book Awards. The entry fee is steep--so much so that if I were not to win a prize, I'd be sorry to have spent the money. Preditors and Editors decrees one shouldn't pay entry fees, and doesn't list the Premier Book Awards.

However, all contests, including those run by Writers Digest, and others I know of sponsored by literary magazines or publishers, require entry fees. I assumed that's where the prize money comes from. I'd like to hear from any who have entered contests and felt "ripped off."

Promotion has become a kind of manager of my attempts at a writing life these days, and it isn't something at which I'll ever excel, or with which I ever expect to feel comfortable. Still, if there's a way to legitimize my efforts, about the only universally accepted way will be through sales.

So here goes again: I'll have an article on the Senior Women website about once a month from now on. On the home page, click on What's New.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Critic again

Another wonderful book has come my way. It was published in 2002. I can imagine it becoming an English teacher's standby, especially where a school combines the courses termed "humanities." When the Emporer Was Divine by Julie Otsuka. As you can guess from its title, it deals with the internment of Japanese during World War II.

The opening section has about as much emotional impact as I'm usually willing to endure without a struggle. Perhaps the most artful thing is that no one who figures in the story is given a name. They are "the woman, the girl, the boy." The implications of how effectively Otsuka's characters were dehumanized by their experiences is brought home to the reader on every page. Because the style is as simple as a third grade reader, as unembellished as a laundry list, a story that could become maudlin (especially at this distance in time from the events) with a single misstep has the impact of...I can't think of an appropriate metaphor. Perhaps a blow over the head with a slap stick. In fewer than 150 pages of lyrical understatement, the reader is taken to a place most of us would rather not go and made to keep turning the pages anyway. It's a $10 paperback. Look for it.

Monday, June 16, 2008


Lately it seems to me that I've read more than my share of good things. So many, in fact, that I wonder if trying to be a writer has clouded or in some other way changed my critical capacities. I'd hate to think I've become so woolly-minded that I can't detect those pet peeves of lifelong standing just because I'm a wannabe. No, that's not it. I still yelp aloud for every "laid" that should have been "lay," I still insist there's a difference between convince and persuade...you get the picture. I'm still annoyed by sentimentality and a sucker for sentiment without apologies.

Is there a reader out there who could help with this? What have you read lately that was so affecting (no, I don't mean "effecting") that you really want to tell the author how much you liked it? What has driven you up the wall? It would be fun to see who's reading what and how s/he feels about it.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Why does one blog?

I've been writing these for several months now, and can't help wondering whether anyone is reading them. The Sunday New York Times Magazine for May 25 had a cautionary tale for the feature article, by and about a blogger. This person claims to have revealed too much of herself for the world to see. I find my own motives are quite different from hers.

I want to reveal only enough to make a reader curious about my book(s). The "s" in parentheses is there because I hope to live long enough to see my next book in print. (It's been under contract for over 2 years.)

Settling (see cover illustration on the right) came out originally in 2004. It's a book for adults. That means there's a little bad language; no porn but some real sex; not much violence, but a rape; some tragedy, but with redeeming aftermaths. It's a love story, but it doesn't boast a conventional happy ending, which makes me think it doesn't really qualify as a romance. Besides, I want the reader to consider a few possible questions after finishing the story. For instance: how much should a person sacrifice for love? How much should we value good will? How about the pros and cons of fantasy and dreams? What are the consequences in adulthood of one's childhood influences? Maybe half a dozen other things. Yes, it's supposed to be entertainment, but just maybe it can offer a bit more than that.

Amazon offers it in paper or for your Kindle reader; you can order from the publisher at www.ebooksonthe.net.

If you think a story by this blogger might be of interest, it would be pretty easy to find out!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Recommended reading

An essay by Julia Sneden on the SeniorWomen.com website about what careless attitudes and misunderstanding of how and especially why children learn should be read by every member of every school board. It's a shame that the powers that be in our country seem oblivious to the advances made in psychology and technology when it comes to making our future leaders capable of meeting the challenges ahead. When will government learn to encourage innovation and diversity instead of insisting on consistency and conformity? If only No Child Left Behind had addressed the needs of the children!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Children's Theater

We've just received our third disk of a performance of the children's theater in Falls Village, CT. This is a tiny town in an almost completely rural part of a state so filled with wealth and variety it's a wonder there would be an audience for what they do there. Never mind any preconceptions. This group has done The Wizard of Oz, Cindarella, Annie with the extraordinary dedication not only of a small group of weekending professionals, but also of parents, friends, and performers drawn from the surrounding countryside. Two more productions are scheduled for this summer. Audiences pack the Housatonic Regional High School auditorium. Reviewers show up to put stories about the troop in their papers. City and country folk alike contribute money, time, expertise, and above all, enthusiasm. Here is an example of experiences for children that transcend any video game, compete with any sport, and entice every kind of talent. Believe me, their lives will always be colored by what they've done on and around this stage.

Unless you've been a part of an active amateur theater venture, you won't appreciate a word of this because you won't have a clue about how much it has cost in commitment, time, and money to put on a musical show with a cast of over thirty from about five to eighteen on the stage, and marshal all the crew and staff it takes to put a musical production on the stage.

If you think I'm exaggerating their success, think of the fact that after a single production, interest ran so high that the group has been formally organized as a non-profit, has acquired a building to be its permanent home (and production site after necessary alterations), and is making its name well beyond Connecticut's borders. Talk about "grass roots," this is the personification of real success. Check out their website: http://fvct.org

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

To reread or not to reread? That may be the question

I used to reread The Forsyte Saga about every eight or ten years, and enjoyed it as much every time as I had the first, and with greater appreciation. And then, some years ago, I picked it up again and discovered I had actually had enough of it. Something about the reader was changed, for surely nothing about the book had, and that made me think perhaps such an unwitting alteration is an unrecognized evidence of continuing possibilities. That's a comforting thought as the days ahead begin to look so sparse in comparison with the days behind. Maybe we can grow while growing old, after all. Unless, of course, we're simply regressing, like the poor character described in the riddle of the Sphynx, and by Shakespeare's seven ages of man in As You Like It (of course I had to look it up in Bartlett's to be sure I had the right play!).