The Advanced Review Copies of Love, Lucy, reached me today. And they're every bit as pretty as I hoped they'd be!
Monday, March 10, 2014
Sunday, March 9, 2014
I lifted this photo from the Italian America Facebook page--and I don't usually lift other people's photos for this blog. It's just that this one reminded me powerfully of a little hole in the wall cafe around the corner from the hostel I stayed in the last time I was in Venice, researching Love, Lucy.
I ate my cornetto and drank my cappucino standing at the bar, and felt simultaneously like I was having a private moment, but also was part of something, among friends. The guy behind the bar chatted with regulars who came in and out. The cornetto was perfect--crisp and fragrant and just a little bit sweet--as was my cappucino, and all of Venice waited just outside the door to be explored.
The next morning, and the morning after that, I wandered the streets around the hostel, looking for that same cafe, but somehow I just couldn't find it. But this morning I woke to this photo and felt like I'd accidentally wandered back in.
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Nico is emitting powerful "stop grading and hug me" vibes.
Meanwhile the struggle for the future of Saint Joseph's University wages on:
|Saint Mary's Hall|
|Saint Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits|
|With my sister: outside the duomo in Florence|
|and inside the duomo|
|At Knossos, looking up|
Friday, March 7, 2014
|Leeloo says hello|
We all wear many hats, and in addition to my most public ones (wife/mother/professor/writer/Springsteen fanatic) I have a semi-secret alternate identity: Crazy Guinea Pig Lady. Or, to be more accurate, Crazy Rodent Lady. People who know me from Facebook--including many folks I've never actually met--know I have a soft spot for rodents of all types, but especially for those docile, kidney-bean shaped puffballs we call guinea pigs (although nobody seems to know exactly why, seeing as how they're not pigs, and they're not from New Guinea).
These days, my house is home to two rescued guinea pigs, Leeloo and Tootsie Roll. They're actually our second piggie pair; before them we had two boys, Turk and Bartleby.
|Back in the days of Turk, the best guinea pig ever|
Back then, the internet was privy to my struggles to keep both boys alive despite their frequent bouts with bladder stones. When that battle was lost, the internet looked on as I obsessed over whether or not to adopt another pair, and if so, which pair out of the many lovely piggies in need of homes. Around that time I started paying attention to all sorts of guinea pig rescue groups, and posting particularly adorable adoptables on a more or less daily basis.
All of this is how I became a Crazy Guinea Pig Lady. Lately, when a cute picture of a hamster, guinea pig, rat, mouse, gerbil, or even a capybara, starts making the rounds on Facebook, it's a dead certainty that more than one friend will forward it to me. And the other day I received this more or less anonymous giftie in the mail:
And of course I squeaked with glee!
|Tootsie takes center stage|
I could go on and on about how guinea pigs have distinct personalities, and how they have a predisposition to love and be loved. I could tell you the legend of Turk, who never greeted me without kissing me on the lips, even when he was terribly sick, or of his friend Bartleby who sat beside him in those days, seemingly to comfort him.
Instead I will post a beautifully crafted poem on the subject by my friend poet Alfred Nicol--a poem that cuts to the heart of why these patient little pets have a thing or two to teach us.
(As a guinea pig obsessive, though, I need to add a couple of fussy caveats. The poem mentions alfalfa. Better to give your guinea pigs timothy hay, my friends, and plenty of it. Alfalfa can cause those dread bladder stones. And the guinea pig in the poem lives alone, but pigs are social animals and most of them are much happier in pairs.)
Inhabiting interminable lulls,
Most pusillanimous of animals,
Inertia's own, quiescent as the sands,
And shy to venture even round the hutch,
Her pleasure is a motor in my hands,
An instrument set racing with a touch.
A little thing of breath and heat compact,
Mildest of spirits, in a flask of fur,
Without even a sound as signature,
No bark or whinny, whistle or meow,
No word to instigate or to react,
She gently nods assent to here and now,
An answer well-considered and exact.
I'll learn from this one how much not to do;
How large a silence to accumulate;
To serve with those who only stand and wait,
To change alfalfa, sawdust, water, salt,
For other needs as moderate and few;
To thrill when lifted; visited, exalt;
Nor ever speak till I be spoken through.
If you're interested in learning more about these dear creatures, check out Guinea Lynx, the internet's best source for reliable piggie info.
Thursday, March 6, 2014
I'm thrilled to report that I'll be on the faculty of the Summer Nightsun Writers Conference at Frostburg State University in Historic Downtown Frostburg, Maryland. The faculty includes Bruce Weigl (poetry), Brenda Clough (sci-fi, fantasy, and horror), Marion Winik (nonfiction), Clint McCown (fiction), and me (young adult fiction).
The program will include workshop opportunities, individualized feedback on your work, and craft sessions. There will also be readings by participants, workshop faculty, and special guests. The conference runs from July 24-27, and it will be a great opportunity to generate new work and hone your craft.
Drop by the website for more information.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
|Marc Scibilia at the Tin Angel in Philly|
Thanks to With Her Nose Stuck in a Book, one of my favorite blogs about Young Adult fiction. Today they're featuring my guest blog post on writing about music--why I can't seem to stop doing it, and how my obsession shaped my second novel, Catherine.
By the way, the guy at the top of this page is Marc Scibilia, a phenomenally talented singer songwriter who has opened for and recorded with another of my musical idols, Butch Walker.
One very cold night in February we went to see Marc play at the Tin Angel in Philly, and he was impressive from start to finish. Check out this video for a taste of his songwriting and performing skills:
Monday, March 3, 2014
I'm thrilled that Darius Degher's first poetry collection, To See the Sound, has arrived in the world. A while back, Darius gave me the opportunity to read and blurb the manuscript, and I was charmed by his wordplay, his quirky subject choices, his command of craft, and for the way his poems mix intelligence and heart.
Here's one of my favorites from the collection:
While filling in his living will
he discovered the will to live again.
For unacceptable qualities of life
he checked the boxes on the form
for chronic coma, feeding tubes,
persistent vegetative state.
For a week he lived his testament:
didn't sleepwalk through the frozen foods
or ignore the glorious florescence.
Quickened by the canteen's quiche,
he lost track of what a colleague said,
smiled about a project gone awry.
He notched his deepest ever breaths,
exhaled slowly like a yogi,
was dazzled by his prism paperweight.
Darius is a musician too. His latest album, The Coyote Cantos, is available here.
And here he is, performing a song from an earlier album on Swedish t.v.: