Monthly Archives: February 2016

Pinched Ideas on Recommending Books

In March I have a flash nonfiction piece coming out in a journal called Toasted Cheese. I will post a link when it’s published. The piece is called “And So It Goes,” and it’s the story of my great-great-grandparents who immigrated from Goes and Kloetinge (Netherlands) to Michigan. It’s meant to be part of the family history chapbook I plan to put together.

If you’re a writer or want to write, I think you might want to check out and follow the Toasted Cheese website. They are very interactive and provide DAILY writing prompts and creative articles about writing and reading. Here’s a sample article from this past December. The subject is book recommendations.

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What Do You Recommend?

A Pen In Each Hand

By Baker

  1. Recommend on social media at least one thing you’ve read this year. If you don’t use social media, recommend in person. Independent authors are particularly grateful for recommendations.
  2. Create some recommendation business cards and leave them with your favorite works in the bookstore. You can print them at home. They could be as simple as the word “recommended” with a thumbs-up or a shelf card that lists why you recommend the book. Don’t put stickers on or in the books.
  3. Ask for recommendations at a used book store and/or independent bookstore. If you’re lucky, your local chain bookstore will have fellow book lovers who are well-versed enough to recommend as well.
  4. Recommend a book to a friend on Goodreads.
  5. While you’re there, write a recommendation of a book. If you’re stuck for one, think of a book you discovered on your own and write the review as though you’re speaking to your younger self.

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What do you think of those recommendations? Do you do any of them? Or do you finish a book and move onto the next and squirrel away your reaction in your own mind?

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Kana playing with her activity board

This toy is pricy, but it’s rewarding to see cats hunting for their food (without any resulting tragedies to small animals). This is an activity that is natural for them.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Family history, Flash Nonfiction, Literary Journals, Nonfiction, Publishing, Reading, Writing, Writing Talk

The Wax Image of Myself

I inhabit the wax image of myself, a doll’s body. Sickness begins here; I am a dartboard for witches.

Sylvia Plath

If not a dart board, at least a bulletin board. 

I’m trying to recover from a hideous sinus infection. Bad sinus infections always remind me of Sylvia Plath because she was prone to them and wrote in her diary about having them. I think they snuck into some of her poems.

I’m so behind in everything, but you know what? I don’t even care except that I am behind in reading your blogs–and that makes me sad. Two days ago I made a start to try to catch up, but that didn’t last long.

Germless hugs to all! xo

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Filed under Dolls, poems about dolls, Poetry, Writing

Flutterbyes

Two years ago I wrote a blog post called Flutter Fun about the Butterfly Wonderland in Scottsdale. I was there with my kids. The other day I took Mom and my uncle and aunt to visit the butterflies.

As before, they had the stunning blue morphos that are brown camouflage on the outside and bright blue when the wings are opened.

They had many new species in addition to the original beauties.

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A few butterflies pressed up against the few windows, trying to get out of the atrium. I felt sad for them, but most of the butterflies seemed to be concentrating on eating.

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Hubby and I also took my aunt and uncle to Sedona and Flagstaff. Then I ended up sick afterward, probably because I managed to get myself pretty tired keeping up with an 87-year-old (my uncle who is my dad’s twin).

 

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Filed under Arizona, Blogging, Cats and Other Animals, Inspiration, Nonfiction, Photographs, Sightseeing & Travel

Keeping Kalamazoo

Source: Keeping Kalamazoo

 

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C.D. Wright on Revision

Off playing with my uncle and aunt who are visiting from Mountain Home, Arkansas.

The other day I was watching video clips of poet C. D. Wright who passed away January 12. Coincidentally, she was born in Mountain Home. I found this video where she talks about revision and “the writing mind,” as I would call it.

From what I can find online, they still don’t know how C.D. died. She went to sleep that night and never woke up again. Tests could not determine a cause of death. She was 67 years old and in great shape. A very vital member of the poetry community.

Here’s an article about her death that quotes her brother. Family Mourns Death of Poet Born in Mountain Home

I love how she talks in this video about the way her own mind works regarding writing and revision. She talks about her mind idling after it takes in information. That she can’t respond immediately. I well know that feeling! How about you? 

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Filed under Editing, Poetry, Writing, Writing Talk, Writing Tips and Habits

Sorting and Collecting for Free

I’ve been adding social media to my life for a few years. Some types or platforms I find more useful or more appealing than others. While I have not gotten excited over Instagram, I do love Pinterest. I rarely think about the social aspect of Pinterest. I’m simply infatuated with the intriguing photos that lead to stories, more images, or recipes.

As a collector, I find it addictive to add to boards that categorize some of my favorite subjects, and I’m grateful to other Pinterest collectors for providing pins and for the ease of adding my own contributions.

Something about Pinterest reminds me of  sorting M&Ms by color before eating them. And collecting shells on the beach and sorting them by shape or color. Simple and therapeutic. Sort of puts me at the emotional age of a toddler.

M and Ms

Some of my boards are writing and reading related, as you might expect. Check out Writing, Scribbling, and Jotting for an idea of my boards. If you have a particular blog post (written by you or someone else) that you would like me to pin onto the board, type the link into the comments here, and I’ll check it out!

I have boards for that ever-present child in me (I linked to Dollhouses in case you want to see a sample):

  • Dolls, dolls, dolls
  • Dollhouses
  • Tiny beauties (miniatures)
  • Vintage toys
  • Kestner dolls
  • Children and dolls
  • Puppetry pins
  • Paper dolls
  • Doll art
  • Antique, Vintage and Old-fashioned Nurseries
  • Dionne quintuplets

I’ve got fairy tale boards called Red in the Woods and A World of Snow. The former is one of my best boards, mainly because so many artists have a version of Little Red Riding Hood! I don’t usually pin the highly sexualized ones, but there are a ton of those, too.

For my love of textiles I have Hankies and History, Lace and other fun textiles, and Buttons buttons. Really all these textiles and trimming are related to history.

For history I cultivate these boards:

The apron board is new and was inspired by blogger Sheryl Lazarus here and here.

I’ve got animal boards like Beasties (just because I love that Scottish word), Black Cats Rule, and Children and Animals.

Speaking of black cats, Kana is doing well! Here she is enjoying a little box. No box too small for this girl!

 

Art-themed boards include:

  • Art of the Scrapyard
  • Revision Art
  • Translucent beauties
  • Scrapbook and paper crafts (woefully in need of work–just like my own scrapbooking!)

Most of my recipe boards are gluten-free. I’ve even got a couple of secret boards. Subjects? Hah, that’s why they are secret.

Some people (read: hubby) might think I’m wasting my time on Pinterest, but it sure seems fun to me. And I only “play” over there for a couple of minutes almost every day.

What about you? Are you on Pinterest? Why or why not?

 

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Filed under #AmWriting, Books, Cats and Other Animals, Children's Literature, Dolls, Fairy Tales, Family history, Food & Drink, History, Lifestyle, Photographs, Reading, Research and prep for writing, Vintage American culture

More Travels with Mom

Hubby and I took Mom north of Phoenix.

We headed up to Cottonwood past hills “stubbled” with saguaro cacti.

We spent the night at the Pines Motel. I was entranced by the note pad next to the phone: it was computer paper cut up and stapled together. They pride themselves on being green. We had a great dinner at Nic’s.  Hubby and I have been there before, and they actually manage not to cross-contaminate his food with gluten. It helps that he orders simply–the crab legs, baked potato, and salad  with his own salad dressing (we carry packets of gluten free salad dressing with us). In the evening we played Bananagrams, a game that is fast becoming a family favorite.

Next day we drove up the mountain to Jerome, an old mining town. Inside a gift shop we discovered a museum of Jerome’s history. We got in for the senior bargain rate of $1 each. When we traveled in Canada and the NW US last summer, we were frequently shut out of senior discounts because they seemed to raise the bar for the senior price when we got to each destination ;). This time hubby preempted that trouble. He told the lady he was buying tickets for 3 old people so she lectured him while she took his $3, not realizing it was all part of his plan.

Inside I learned a lot about the history of mining. If you were reading my poems during the Tupelo Press 30/30 you might have read a poem I wrote about mining in Globe, Arizona. I wrote it in honor of a lady whose father was one of the early Jerome miners. Like her father, many of those early miners were Mexican.

The most fascinating part of the museum was learning about medical care provided to the miners. I began to picture what it would have been like to be stuck underground in one of those early mines and to get hurt or sick.  Take a look at the pre-printed chart below. There weren’t women miners, so the gynecological section must have been for family members or the very many prostitutes living and working in Jerome.

This is where copper comes from:

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Later we stopped at the winery for the tasting bar. (You knew that was coming, right?) We didn’t want to taste too much because of the high altitude and Mom’s heart condition, so hubby told the wine-pourer (I’m sure there is an official title; I just don’t know what it is) he wanted to buy a bottle and she let us (OK, that means mainly me) taste a few for free. I settled on the, of course, chardonnay. I will say, though, that Jerome wine is not my cuppa. I asked the wine-pourer where the vineyards are. I couldn’t imagine them so far up the mountain, but what do I know about vineyards (although obviously at least one branch of my ancestors knew a lot). She looked a little sheepish when she answered that they are outside Tucson. Hahaha. That’s a long way from Jerome! Now I feel bad that I gave a certain friend a bottle of Jerome wine.

The building that overlooks all of Jerome and is arguably the main tourist draw is the Jerome Grand Hotel. I had read that it was the original hotel in Jerome, operating when the miners needed care. You can get the best view of the building from their own website.

It wasn’t until I got there that I saw ASYLUM signs there. Note the old fashioned elevator door. I want you to know that Ms. Claustrophobia here (that’s moi) went up on the first ride all by her lonesome. I was so proud of myself. In the following view, I am riding with Mom who is examining the panel or the Otis Elevator inspection certificate.

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Before we left town, hubby bought Mom a gorgeous scarf. When it’s open it displays so many colors and looks beautiful with her coloring. Blue, green, orange, pink, purple, gold.

After Jerome we all agreed to drive up to beautiful Sedona for dunch (or is it linner?). Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a single restaurant we could trust for gluten-free dining that was open so early (about 4PM).  Luckily, we had cheese, turkey slices, crackers, and apples so Mom could eat something. We had to drive all the way back to the Phoenix area and stopped at the first P.F. Chang’s we could find.

The scarf purchase inadvertently led us to our next big adventure. That was the day I gave Mom training how to wear scarves! We had fun, and I even figured out a new way of tying for myself.

Now ask me if I’m writing? hahahahahahahaha

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Filed under #AmWriting, Arizona, Food & Drink, History, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Memoir, Nonfiction, Sightseeing & Travel, Writing

Lyrical Experimental Flash Nonfiction Bug Struck Me

Cover art by Alex Walsh
Issue 45.1
Winter 2015

Table of Contents

Special Feature: Honoring Alan Cheuse

  • Nicole Idar & Elizabeth Gutting, “Alan Stories”
  • Michael Cowgill, “Major Key”
  • Priyanka A. Champaneri, “Lessons from AC to PC”
  • Nicholas Delbanco, “A Chapter in a Long Tale”
  • And back from our winter ’88 issue, Alan Cheuse’s “Bio”

Fiction

Nonfiction

  • Jason Arment, “Fear City”
  • Luanne Castle, “Ordering in Four Movements”
  • Gail Griffin, “Gloria”

Poetry

  • Drew Attana, “Parallel Parking”
  • Brian Ma, “Mirage Roche”
  • Ellen Noonan, “Ditto”, “Certainty”
  • Heather Bartlett, “A Mockingbird Sings”
  • Katie Willingham, “Let’s Hope Kepler-186f Is Baren”, “Honey Locust”
  • Monika Cassel, “Feeding Cake to the Storks”
  • Felicia Zamora, “No Fisher”
  • Shareen K. Murayama, “Exploded as in Fairy Tale”
  • Amy Jo Trier-Walker, “Prowl the Marriage Away”
  • Phoebe Reeves, “ˈƐƏˌtaɪt (airtight)”
  • Vanesha Pravin, “Dialectic Through a Stained Glass Window”
  • Champa Vaid, “Neither Sleep nor Death”, “Tree of Memories”

Editorial Staff

  • Fiction Editor: Lina Patton
  • Poetry Editor: Qinglan “Q” Wang
  • Nonfiction Editor: Eric Botts
  • Assistant Fiction Editor: Sarah Bates
  • Assistant Poetry Editor: Douglas Luman
  • Assitant Nonfiction Editor: Kerry Folan
  • Faculty Advisor: Eric Pankey

Readers

Betsy Allen, Sarah Batcheller, Kristen Brida, Edward Capobianco, Andrew Cartwright, Christina Crockett, Sarah Davis, Kyle Freelander, Kelly Hanson, Michael Hantman, Frank Harder, Darcy Gagnon, Ariel Goldenthal, Kelsey Goudie, John Guthrie, Stephanie Klien, Joey Kuhn, Madison Lennon, Isaac Lewandowski, Lisa Macedo, Janice Majewski, Yousra Medhkour, Katie Ray, Katie Richards, Rebekah Satterwhite, Cloud Spurlock, Melanie Tague, Alex Walsh, Madeleine Wattenberg, Sarah Wheeler, Lily Wright

Special Thanks To

Leslie Steiger, David S. Carroll, Kathryn Mangus and the George Mason University Office of Student Media, Eric Pankey and the George Mason University Creative Writing Program.

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Filed under Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Flash Nonfiction, Literary Journals, Memoir, Nonfiction, Publishing, Reading, Writing

Go, Read, Enjoy!!!

Let’s talk about Sheila Morris‘ new book The Short Side of Time. It’s a collection of some of her best blog posts. Click through the cover image to order her book.

I’ll let the blurb I wrote for her book (yes, she asked me to write a blurb–woohoo!!!) describe The Short Side of Time:

These hand-picked treasures from the blogs of Sheila Morris showcase her humor and heart while immersing the reader in the day-to-day life and decades of experience offered by a lesbian now on the “short side of time.” Morris loves her sports teams, the written word, and her friends. What means the most to her, though, is family, including her partner Teresa, her dogs, and her late grandmother. Morris’ lively and thoughtful voice draws readers into the drama of her Texas upbringing, as well as how recent milestones for the LGBT community have contributed to her life.

Sheila and I first met through her blog about her dog The Red Man, Red’s Rants and Raves, and my family history blog The Family Kalamazoo.  Red writes the blog posts in his own voice, which is very appealing to this animal lover. Sheila has two other blogs, as well. Imagine my surprise when I first read I Will Call It Like I See It, written in Sheila’s voice, rather than Red’s! Sheila showcases her photographs on The Old Woman Slow’s Photos. Slow is what Red calls Sheila. Sheila’s partner Teresa is called Pretty. After reading Red for a long time, I had to get used to thinking of them as Sheila and Teresa, rather than Slow and Pretty!

One of the most distinctive qualities of Sheila’s writing (and there are several) is the way she uses humor. She uses it liberally, yes, but also with a carefree flourish that I admire.  She is someone you would want to have around you a lot, maybe a coworker who works in the same space, or a friend you spend a lot of time with.  Since that isn’t possible for most of us, reading her new book is the next best option. Then, if you haven’t yet, read her memoir, Deep in the Heart. You can read my review of that book on the post “A Lesbian in Mayberry.” You’re going to want to get your hands on a copy of that one, too!

Go, read, enjoy!!!

I’m closing comments today because I have to travel so please take the time to go check out one of Sheila’s three blogs!

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Filed under #AmWriting, Book Review, Books, Essay, Memoir, Nonfiction, Reading, Writing

Between the Lines with Doll God

I’m grateful to Zinta Aistars and WMUK radio. They produce a show called Between the Lines that showcases writers. Zinta interviewed me about Doll God. You can read about it and/or listen to it here. She posted a short version, as well as a full-length version, so take your pick.

In addition to the book, I talked about the origins of my writing 😉 and about my interest in family history.

I seriously hope I didn’t make too big a fool of myself. Yikes.

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More “on the road” with Mom: hubby and I took her to a fundraiser for the medical fund at the pet shelter. We had cocktails and hors-d’oeuvres at Blue Martini in Phoenix. We didn’t win the raffles, alas. But I know our ticket money went to provide treatment to animals that have no one else to care for them.

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Filed under #AmWriting, Arizona, Books, Doll God, Family history, Food & Drink, Interview, poems about dolls, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Poetry reading, Writing, Writing Talk