Showing posts from July, 2014

A Gift From Emily B.

I've never been very good at birthdays.  My cards and best wishes tend to always be at least a little bit belated.  So it's no surprise that I'm two days late in wishing Emily Bronte a happy 196th birthday.  But my wishes are no less sincere.

Especially since she's the one who has given me a present:

There it was in my mailbox over the weekend, a box of the new paperback edition of Catherine, my Young Adult novel inspired by Wuthering Heights, looking every bit as spiffy as I could have hoped.  (It hits the bookstores on August 19th and is available for preorder now at Barnes and Noble and BAM!

So happy birthday, Emily Bronte, and thanks for the inspiration.  You may be almost two hundred years old, but in my heart you'll never be a Brontesaurus.

Fresh Start: Exploring Cumberland, Maryland

Unlike most things, moving gets a little harder each time you do it.  Apart from the sheer grunt work--packing, lugging, and unpacking--there's the aftermath: the wearying prospect of finding all the things you need to get by in your new life--a grocery store, a reliable mechanic, bookstores, a coffee shop, restaurants, and like-minded people to spend time with.
Still, there's something bracing about a fresh start.  And now, after finishing up a dietary internship in Morgantown, West Virginia, my sister Melody is getting one--a new job and home in Cumberland, Maryland. 
Since I happened to be in Western Maryland this weekend, the two of us went off on an expedition.  Our mission: to find the hot spots--places where Melody can spend her weekend afternoons, or do a little shopping.  This mission was more challenging than it sounds.  One of the ten poorest cities in the U.S., Cumberland's thriving businesses are few and far between. 
We headed for the city's historic distric…

Nightsun 2014: A Dispatch from Frostburg, MD

Sometimes writers just need to be with other writers--to obsess about craft, to get moral suport, fresh inspiration, and feedback on our works-in-progress.  And sometimes we just need to take a few days out from our distracted lives and go someplace else.
For instance, Frostburg, Maryland:
A sleepy mountain town near where Maryland meets Pennsylvania meets West Virginia, Frostburg is home to Frostburg State University and, for four days each summer, to the Nightsun Writer's Conference.  

This year's Nightsun faculty included Marion Winik (nonfiction) and Clint McCown (fiction):

Poet Bruce Weigl:

Science fiction writer Brenda Clough:

And, representing YA fiction (with occasional forays into poetry), me.

In between craft sessions, workshops, and readings, participants could grab a latte and a little outdoor writing time at this charming coffee shop

or browse at Main Street Books, a great little Frostburg indie:

 While Main Streets run through a lot of small towns, very few of those Mai…

Loosen Your Tie, Dear Sir: A Poem By Amy Lemmon

Today I'm sharing a seductive poem by my longtime friend poet Amy Lemmon who dropped by earlier this week for a stop on the late summer blog tour.

Loosen your tie, dear sir, admit instead
the mouth I proffer soft along your nape.
The office locked, phone mute, calls forwarded,
let go the herringbone, the oxford’s drape.
No words. No sound. Not even a slight nod.
I’ve read your eyes, taken their rapid shift
to mine in humdrum rooms, dull talk abroad,
dull folks. I’ve felt our glances hold and lift
above the meeting table just too long
for happenstance. The signal’s out. So strong
despite our work, despite our separate rings,
we’d dance and tangle, circus-like. We’d cling.
Yes loosen, do, the armor. Let it fall.
I’ll entertain your body’s carnival.

For another taste of Amy's work, drop by The Best American Poetryhere and here.

Poet's Playdate: Sunday in the Park with Lisa Barnett

Lately I've become a bit obsessed with how much sun and fresh air I'm not getting while I stay indoors writing all day. So this Sunday I took a little walk with my friend, neighbor, and fellow poet, Lisa Barnett.  

She introduced me to a lovely trail not far from my home--one I'd never known was there:

We wandered in the direction of a nearby duckpond:

And then we exchanged poems in the shade.  

As always I was blown away by the precise intelligence at play in Lisa's poems.  Here's one I've admired for a while now, the title poem from her recently published book.

Love Recidivus Whatever it may be, we may suppose it is not love, for love must leave its trace like contraband seized and displayed in rows; is not sufficient reason to erase

the careful lives we have so far lived through— there is no call for us to undermine the walls we've built; no need to think anew of all the chains and choices that define

us still. And yet for all our fine intent a single touch ignites the…

Blog Hopscotch: The Tour Continues

Today the tour of blogs by writers/artist/musicians continues.  Let's toss our pebble and hop from one to ten and back, trying not to hit any of the lines.

Dianne K. Salerni goes first.  She's the author of The Eighth Day, the first in a thrilling new trilogy of Middle Grade adventures, and also of two historical YA novels, The Caged Graves and We Hear The Dead are YA historical.   Here's her blog post.

Next up is poet Amy Lemmon, my longtime friend and the author of the collections Saint Nobody, Fine Motor, and, in collaboration with Denise Duhamel, Enjoy Hot or Iced: Poems in Conversation and a Conversation.  I'll be sharing a poem by Amy later this week.  In the meantime, though, click here to visit her blog post.

Greetings from Asbury Park: A Love Song With Snapshots

Why do I love Asbury Park, New Jersey?  Let me count the whys.

1.  Its charming, friendly coffee shops and restaurants: 

2.  Its boardwalk, perfect for a stroll.

3.  Its history, as embodied by the formerly grand Casino building, name checked by Bruce Springsteen in "Sandy," now a picturesque ruin.

4.  Its moxie.  Asbury has done a great job of bouncing back after that other Sandy (the hurricane) and some very rough decades.

5.  Its funky storefronts on the boardwalk and beyond.

6.  And most of all: its incomparable music scene.  

Burning the Bowery: A Night at John Varvatos with Jesse Malin

One of my major life regrets: I never saw a show at CBGB--though I lived very near New York City in the 1980s.  My excuses are boring and involve being a broker-than-broke grad student in Yonkers where the buses stopped running at 11 p.m.  CBGB closed its doors in 2006, and despite how large it looms in my imagination, I was pretty sure I'd forever missed my chance.
A few years ago I even popped into the high-end John Varvatos boutique which stands on the hallowed ground CBGB used to occupy.  I got kicked out for taking cell-phone pictures of its punk-rock posters and the stage now used to display men's shoes.  

Last Thursday night, though, I was miraculously granted a do-over when Jesse Malin threw a concert at John Varvatos.  The doors opened and I hurried deep into the grungier-than-thou darkness, straight to the stage--or as close to it as I could get.

Once I'd staked out my place, I got into the very long bathroom line.  When I finally reached the front, the nice bouncer…

Kali Nichta: Goodnight to my Greek Novel

Kali nichta!  That's the Greek phrase for goodnight.  Yesterday I finished up the third draft of my Greek novel, gave it a kiss on the cheek and bid it kali nichta--for now at least, while I turn to other projects. The book is a retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion, set on a high school class trip to Greece, with stops in Athens:

And Crete:

A Glimpse of Something Sweet: A Poem by Anna M. Evans

On yesterday's stop on the writers-who-blog tour I mentioned the poet Anna M. Evans.  Anna's new poetry collection wears this saucy cover photograph:

And it includes this lively sonnet:

My Life as a Can-Can Dancer
There's nothing like it! When we form the line most men lean forward slightly in their seat and while we dance, forget to drink their wine hoping for a glimpse of something sweet. I flaunt my petticoats and flash my thighs—
high kicks, jump splits—it's meant to be erotic.
They all want us—I see it in their eyes.
The choreography is so hypnotic they can't do anything but sit and stare and at the end our skirts fly overhead so they can see our frilly underwear. I have my pick of whom I take to bed letting them know that if they're happy to they may leave gifts of money. Most men do.

The Not-So-Accidental Blog Tourist Strikes Again

Poet Anna M. Evans recently invited me to take part in a virtual tour of writers/artists/musicians who also happen to blog. Our mission?  Introducing readers to blogs they might not otherwise encounter.  

Here's Anna.

Her poems have appeared in the Harvard Review, Atlanta Review, Rattle, American Arts Quarterly, and 32 Poems. She gained her MFA from Bennington College, and is the editor of the Raintown Review. Recipient of Fellowships from the MacDowell Artists' Colony and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and winner of the 2012 Rattle Poetry Prize Readers' Choice Award, she currently teaches at West Windsor Art Center and Richard Stockton College of NJ. Her new sonnet collection, Sisters & Courtesans, is available from White Violet Press. 

Visit Anna online here.  I'll be featuring a poem from Sisters & Courtesans later this week. 


Now here's the part of the virtual blog tour in which I answer four quick questions about my own writing process.

1. Wh…