Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I've Moved!

Hello four blog readers!

I recently moved my words to my very own domain name. :)

Find me and throngs of other blog readers (go with it) at my new digs here.

See you there!


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Fun With Procrastination

I often joke that when the fiction writing isn’t happening, I take pictures of the pup. Good writing days...well, there's nothing better. But, let's face it, sometimes they're not so good. Sometimes they're putrid. Some days I struggle to string together a few words and tack on some questionable punctuation at the end.

When those oh-so-infrequent (go with it) low-productivity days hit—after I’ve rearranged my sock drawer, scrubbed the silverware separator and shredded old bills (NYC rental agreement circa 1994, I’m talking to you)—the camera offers welcome distraction. Ok, procrastination. Whatever. That, my friends, is when I take pictures of Kona, our pup.

But, I ask, can you blame me?


Answer: No. You cannot.

But a funny thing has happened with all my, er, procrastination: I've ended up writing a tidy little library's worth of picture books for our young nieces and nephews. The whole endeavor started years ago with Bogie, Ko’s big brother. When The Husband and I were newlyweds, I got Bo a puppy Santa suit and the two of us carried him all around the city, taking holiday pics of him. Bo looking at the Rockefeller Center Tree. Bo checking out toys in a window. Bo picking out our Christmas tree and bringing it home. And, of course, Bo peeing, because I’m not above a cheap laugh. Every paw print was chronicled in Santa Bo.

The following year, we returned from a family Disney trip with a Yeti. That spring and summer, the running joke between Husband and me was situating the Yeti in surprise spots throughout the apartment. Sometimes he was dressing. Or going for a bike ride. One time I came home and found him sitting in front of the TV, one paw in a bag of M&Ms, another on the remote, watching SpongeBob Square Pants. And of course, the Yeti and Bo playing backgammon. The Yeti was a misunderstood little guy--everyone feared him when in reality he was this well-rounded sophisticated chap. Another book, The Urban Yeti, was born.


On the last page of The Urban Yeti, Kona made his debut (furry cliffhanger!), and all was revealed in the following book, The Story of Lil’ Ko. That literary offering focused on the deep and complicated bond between brothers—a common refrain in some of the finest literature of our day. In this story, Bogie waded through the weighty and oh-so-serious emotional issue of how he wanted a Brother computer and ended up with Ko instead.

The following year, we gave the nieces and nephews Toys Story, where we incorporated the full cast of stuffed animal characters, including the always-difficult Gingerbread Man, into the gripping plot of…wait for it…how will Ko and his friends get their paws on a bowl of clementines??? I’ll say what you’re all thinking: Dramatic tension, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Next, there was Let Us Eat Cake, a story that got to the heart of an insidious discrimination so pervasive and corrosive, it’s a blight on our society. Specifically, that shop owners will not allow dogs into their stores to buy baking ingredients. Ko can’t buy any butter! He’s simply not welcome anywhere. I know…let’s pause a moment to collect ourselves. But fear not. The Ko is a plucky little pup. Instead of wallowing in the injustice of it all, he heads to Washington D.C., meets with a Very Important Pup there and returns victorious, with Congressional-approved legislation in hand! Yes, the part about Congress actually doing anything to better anyone requires a serious suspension of disbelief, but this is a children’s tale, one where a stuffed blue octopus alligator speaks.

Then, this past year, we did a book called Lord of the Cozies. I should preface this plot summary by noting that there was a stretch during the holidays where we watched The Lord of the Rings trilogy like it was our jobs. I am nothing if not a diligent student of storytelling. Anyhoo, in this book we included the familiar cast of characters from stories past, and introduced some new ones, like Mrs. Domo and Furry Bunny (perhaps we watched LOTR too many times? Is that possible?). There was a quest for Ko to save the Christmas village, political maneuverings by the still-difficult Gingerbread Man, who was backed by big money, and, at the very end, a tribute to Bogie, the little guy who started it all. Last year, Bo went to that big backyard in the sky, so it was only fitting that we bring our books back to where they all began.

As for this year, let’s just say we’re in pre-production work. I’m not procrastinating. Honest. I’m creating.

Like I said, go with it.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I Hart You, Norton

There were times in undergrad I was a begrudging English major. It wasn't I didn’t love words—I did, and still do. It was more that there were certain authors and playwrights I loved and others, I absolutely loathed. Case in point:

A close up:

The inside cover:

Lest there be any doubt my feelings toward Mr. Joyce changed the more I read, page 115:

This is a picture of the pup...just because he's adorable.

But I digress. When I found my early 90s embellished copy of The Dubliners this week, it made me miss my Norton Anthologies. If you were an English major, you know the texts of which I speak. I lugged those Nortons, with their phone book heft and paper-thin pages, throughout my undergraduate years in Ohio. I underlined with love. I annotated with care. The pages were well-thumbed, critically poured over and never, ever marked-up in anger a la The Dubliners. I loved my Nortons. After college, I heaved them to graduate school in New York City, where they sat largely untouched on a bookshelf for years, collecting dust as I scampered off into new areas of writing. Then, decades later, I hauled them down to the book donation shelf in my building’s laundry room and left them there before moving with my husband. And now, I miss them so much.

The fact that I so blithely donated these tomes—books that years ago I thoughtfully plucked out of the Used section at the campus bookstore because they weren’t marked up and therefore were available for my own notations—appalls me now. Granted, I was a journalist then and was much more keen to read The Economist or digest economic figures than analyze a short story or novel. And when you’re moving in with the person you’re going to walk down every road in life with, sometimes it's best not to haul every book and piece of paper along for the journey. The sheer amount stuff that I’d crammed into my 300-square-foot apartment over the years was alarming--editing it down was necessary. Of course, I still showed up at our new apartment with 10 comforters, whose bulkiness ate up so much space, my husband blanched. But the Nortons? Those relatively compact gems that would have had a cozy nook all their own on our bookshelf, I abandoned them (sniff...sniff).

As they say, times, they do change, and my endeavors to write my own book have brought me back to literature, where I started. Now I’m thinking back to all those English courses, all those professors I had, all the stories I read, all the critical thinking and interpretation I did, and, of course, all the papers my roommate and I stayed up all night writing because we were such horrible procrastinators. (I miss you, Em!) And, it goes without saying that I’m lamenting the fact that I’m Norton-less, that the texts to my literary education, the ones with all my notes on passages that struck a chord, are gone.

But James Joyce’s craptastic Dubliners? That I still have. Perhaps it’s my penance.