Friday, October 4, 2013

Channeling Alexander AND My Time at a Military College

Me, yesterday. Yes, I'm wearing sunglasses
inside my house. I had a migraine. It was that kind
of a day.
So. Today should be an edition of Show & Tell Friday.


It was a helluva parenting week, let me tell you. My 4 year-old has decided to wake up at 4 a.m. each night and to defy our every parenting request–from as simple as “take off your shoes” to “Go use the potty” to “For the love of Pete would you please eat your yogurt.” My just-turned 5 month-old is STILL wailing at night and fighting sleep during the day. So that even when my husband gives her a bottle–which should be her last meal of the night and should mean I get a break–about 30 minutes later she’s wailing, and the only thing she wants is me. Or, if I’m completely honest, the boobs.

Yes, I said “boobs.” On my author blog. It’s just been that kind of week.
So I’m channeling Alexander. Remember him? From Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst? “I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair….” He’s my go-to guy this week. My compadre. My kindred spirit. My muse. We’re gonna go live in Australia together.

Hey. That’s another great childrens’ book to add to the Christmas list of the kids you know.

See, I shared something. There.


* * *

In other, better news. Here’s something I completely forgot about: I was the featured alum in The Citadel Graduate College Spring 2013 newsletter. I forgot about it because I had a baby in the Spring.

Have I mentioned that I have a new baby? (sarcasm)

I earned my Master of Arts in English from a wonderful joint program between the College of Charleston and The Citadel a few (cough) years ago. It was a heavenly two years of living on a sea island in Charleston, SC, raising my puppy, and reading, writing and learning all about great literature. I truly loved my time at The Citadel, which for those of you who don’t know, is the military college of South Carolina. My professors were fantastic–true teachers and scholars who inspired my creative writing.

A while back someone in The Citadel Graduate College office contacted me for an interview, and I happily complied. I’m a bit embarrassed that I completely forgot about it. But, then again: BABY.

To read the interview, click here.

Happy Weekend to all, and to all a good night. Especially in my house. Because, good gravy, we need it.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Wondering What to Do During the Goverment Shutdown?

Today, hundreds of National Parks across our great land are closed due to the partial government shut-down. This makes me sad, and makes me grind my teeth in frustration for so many reasons. Most of all, my heart goes out to all the bright and faithful Park Service employees who live their lives helping to maintain and preserve what is truly “America’s best idea,” and to the thousands of families who’d planned vacations in the Park system this Fall.

I’m lucky to have spent a lifetime outside, and in the Park system–although there are quite literally hundreds of Parks I’ve not visited yet and would still love to see. When I researched Keowee Valley, imagining and tracking the routes that Quinn and Jack would take across the wild Appalachian backcountry, I spent quite a bit of time in National Parks and National Forests. I hiked, camped, swam, paddled, horseback rode and simply just sat in the splendor that is our national natural heritage. I wouldn’t be who I am, and Keowee Valley certainly wouldn’t be what it is, without that exposure and those experiences.

The air has cooled, the leaves will soon be afire with Autumn, the fog hangs low on the hills and hovers spirit-like over the river bottoms in the dawn, and the sky is crystalline blue during the day. It’s the perfect time to get outside.

But since you can’t get into the National Parks right now–or at least until the government (and I mean ALL of us) wake up and smell John Muir’s and Teddy Roosevelt’s coffee–I suggest you check out probably the coolest documentary I’ve ever seen: “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” on PBS, by award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns.

You’ll be forever changed. You’ll want to steal someone’s station wagon and take to the open road. I promise.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Books for Your Reading List

Saturday night I had the pleasure of hearing Ann Hite and Karen Spears Zacharias read from and talk about their new novels at wonderful Malaprop's Bookstore & CafĂ© in Asheville, North Carolina. Ann--whom I met at a literary festival last year and who has become a lovely writer-friend--and Karen have been traveling all over the South lately on a book tour. They've spent time recently at several places I traveled on my own book tour for Keowee Valley, last Fall, so it was fun to compare notes.
Ann Hite reading from The Storycatcher at Malaprop's Bookstore ~ Asheville, NC
Ann Hite reading from The Storycatcher at Malaprop's Bookstore ~ Asheville, NC
It was wonderful to get to see Ann, especially. She's one of those people who emanates warmth, she's funny, and she's got this creative spark you can literally see shine in her eyes. Her newest novel, The Storycatcher, takes place in two gorgeous places: Black Mountain, North Carolina, and the sea islands of Georgia. This is definitely one to put on your Fall/Winter reading list!

Asheville--crazy, wonderfully nutty Asheville--was a wild scene on Saturday night. I'd tried to convince friends to come with me to the reading, but most were doing the single-parent thing that night with spouses out of town. Others had run in Asheville's half-marathon that morning, and were just plumb tired. So I went alone, and ended up having to park in a parking garage because of an Icelandic punk rock band playing at the Asheville Civic Center that night. No kidding: there was a line of hipster-punk rockers stretched five people deep around the block. I know because I circled the Civic Center three times looking for a space.
Asheville, NC
Asheville, NC
I always roll down my windows when I drive through downtown Asheville. I don't want to miss the drum circle, the singing, the catcalls. People watching here is PRIME. On my way in Saturday night I passed a gospel choir standing out on a side street belting it out for all they were worth, several street performers and their dogs, folk singers at the drum circle, and more than a few Town and Country types wearing skinny jeans and knee-high leather boots that cost more than my car. Followed by an inordinate amount of white people in full dreadlocks.

I love Asheville! It's hard not to love a city on a big river in the Blue Ridge, where all are unabashedly welcome.

Anyway. It was a great night, Ann and Karen were wonderful, and I'm excited to have new books to read. Ann also introduced me to Amy Allen, author of Summoning the Mountains, her unique story of hiking the Appalachian Trail as a divorced, single mother of two teenaged boys. Another for the reading list.

Happy sunny Monday to you all!