Friday, April 19, 2013

Show & Tell Friday - Food, Books & Writers Retreats

I am officially 37 weeks pregnant. This week, my 3 1/2 year-old said, “Mama, you sure do look funny with that great big belly.”

This just proves what I suspected when I had the said 3 1/2 year-old: Nature never intended barely 5’2″ tall women to procreate with 6’2″ tall men.
In other news …

Good stuff to share on this Spring Friday!

 1.) Did you know that in addition to being a Renaissance man, an incredibly gifted writer and one of the more mysterious, flawed and brilliant of the Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson is also likely responsible for introducing macaroni and cheese to the fine people of the United States of America?

Yep. Mac-n-cheese, coming straight to us from old T.J.
himself. Since this is one of my desert island items–you know, one of the few things you’d choose to have with you should be stranded on a desert island (my others are water, Chapstick, and my dog)–I find this a fun fact to share. Check out more of the story over at the Garden & Gun Blog.
2.) Yesterday was the birthday of Isak (Karen) Dinesen, author of many stories, but most famously of Out of Africa, the novel that inspired the movie of the same name, starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. Karen was a wealthy Dane who in 1913 moved from Denmark to Kenya with her husband, where they started a coffee plantation. Her time there inspired the novel, which originated as collected stories.

I’d not read Out of Africa until last year, upon entering my MFA in Writing program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. I’d always wanted to read it, and when I mentioned adding it to my reading list my advisor at the time heartily agreed. There are some novels that affect you, that move you, the moment you set eyes on the first page, and this was one for me. Her sense of place, her gorgeous, unindulgent prose, hooked me from beginning to end.

This is a classic to revisit, or read for the first time! Read the book, then rent the movie.

I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills …. It was Africa distilled up through six thousand feet, like the strong and refined essence of a continent …. In the highlands you woke up in the morning and thought: Here I am, where I ought to be. ~ from Out of Africa
3.) Alaskan mystery/thriller/suspense writer Dana Stabenow, most well-known for her Kate Shugak series, is launching a campaign to build a new writers’ retreat for women. The Storyknife Writers’ Retreat will be the first (and so far only) retreat just for female writers in Alaska.

Stabenow was inspired to launch Storyknife by her own writerly beginnings, when she was awarded a residency at Hedgebrook, another retreat for women writers in Washington state. The time there was a gift, she says, and she wants to pass that on to other female writers.

Alaska. The Last Frontier. The Great Land. I’ve been three times (I know, life is rough): twice in the summer and once in the winter, and I spent the summer after my freshman year in college living with my youngest aunt in Anchorage. I can say with absolute certainty that there’s no place like it. For a writer, it’s inspiration central. And I first read Stabenow’s novels–mostly in the bathtub–because my aunt was a fan. So women writers, check it out and stay informed. This is an opportunity not to be missed.

Hope everyone has a great weekend. Don’t forget to grab a good book and some yummy grub. Mac and cheese, anyone?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Shoeless Joe, the Colonial South, Writing & More: A New Author Interview

There's a new author interview with me today over at Jim Lomas's very funny and very cool cycling, music, and more blog, "Fables of the Deconstruction."

Full disclosure: Jimmy has been a friend of my husband's since they were kids. I had a great time talking with him, mostly because he's a history buff, so well-read, and funny as heck. The interview was one of the smartest and most detailed anyone's done with me, so it was a joy.

I hope you'll check it out, and his blog in general--which, especially if you're a music buff, cyclist, and/or parent, is a must-follow--here.

Monday, April 15, 2013

New Events for August & September

Monday, Monday … so good to me …

And we’ll stop there. Because the rest of the song gets a little depressing.

I’m excited to announce two new events in which I’ve been asked to participate in August and September:

* The Birchwood Center for Arts and Folklife Book and Author Fair at the Table Rock Lodge in Sunset, SC - Sunday, August 11, 2013 from 2 – 5 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public! Authors will be reading from their books on a porch
Table Rock
overlooking a gorgeous view of Table Rock mountain and state park, and will be set up at tables upstairs in the lodge to meet readers.

If you’ve not had a chance to make it up to this particular part of the South Carolina Upcountry, it’s breathtakingly beautiful. And I’m especially excited to participate, since much of Keowee Valley is set in this section of the Blue Ridge and within the ancient boundaries of the Cherokee country. I’d love to see you there!

* The 2013 Carolina Mountains Literary Festival in Burnsville, NC – Thursday, Sept. 12 – Saturday, Sept. 14.

The schedule is still being assembled, but there’s detailed information about past events on the organization’s web site. Right now, I know I’ll be presenting two 45-minute sessions during the festival, and certainly enjoying all the other wonderful authors and events. This year’s keynote speaker is Elizabeth Kostova, Asheville, NC resident and author of The Historian and The Swan Thieves.

The festival has a stellar reputation and is held in the “heart of the Blue Ridge,” right at the gateway to Mount Mitchell, the highest peak in the Appalachians. I’ve never been to Burnsville before, and I’m thrilled to have been asked to take part in this year’s festival. I think an early Fall getaway to the cool blue mountains to talk and learn about books, writing, and more sounds like heaven. I hope you’ll join me.