Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
In the depth of my soul there is
A wordless song - a song that lives
In the seed of my heart.
It refuses to melt with ink on
Parchment; it engulfs my affection
In a transparent cloak and flows,
But not upon my lips.
How can I sigh it? I fear it may
Mingle with earthly ether;
To whom shall I sing it? It dwells
In the house of my soul, in fear of
When I look into my inner eyes
I see the shadow of its shadow;
When I touch my fingertips
I feel its vibrations.
The deeds of my hands heed its
Presence as a lake must reflect
The glittering stars; my tears
Reveal it, as bright drops of dew
Reveal the secret of a withering rose.
It is a song composed by contemplation,
And published by silence,
And shunned by clamor,
And folded by truth,
And repeated by dreams,
And understood by love,
And hidden by awakening,
And sung by the soul.
It is the song of love;
What Cain or Esau could sing it?
It is more fragrant than jasmine;
What voice could enslave it?
It is heartbound, as a virgin’s secret;
What string could quiver it?
Who dares unite the roar of the sea
And the singing of the nightingale?
Who dares compare the shrieking tempest
To the sigh of an infant?
Who dares speak aloud the words
Intended for the heart to speak?
What human dares sing in voice
The song of God?
I think I might go find that little book this weekend and start reading it.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
Here's my entry, for you all to read and snicker at:
I don’t know but I’ve been told
green eggs and ham all smell like mold
I do not like them so I say
Now let me be and run away!
I do not like them here or there
I do not like them, so beware
Green eggs and ham are strange to me
The color’s off and they’re slimy!
Green eggs (and ham!)
Green eggs (and ham!)
Don’t make me eat them
You serve them in the dining hall
To eat, be strong, and grow real tall
Ok, one taste--just go away
Don’t come again another day
Say! (Hey!) Say! (Hey!)
Green eggs and ham are on my tray
And in my mouth and down the hatch
These eggs and ham are quite a catch!
Yum! (Yum!) Yum (Yum!) Green eggs and ham
Please give me more, chef Uncle Sam!
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Laini has a talent for turning the English language into something that has passed through markets in Morocco, simmered in Indian chai, and braved the icy drafts of the Russian steppes. The stories in LIPS TOUCH don't all take place there, but as you read, you know that the words have come together after traveling every alley, every leaf, and every cooking pot in the world.
Jim Di Bartolo, the illustrator, has an equally amazing gift. His drawings are real, and yet ethereal. At the very least, they're gorgeous. And the colors! Wow! To see a book put together like this is a prize, and I truly hope it wins the award.
Now, go read it!
(I started reading it last night, coincidentally, so was pleased to hear the news. Goblin Fruit, the first story in LIPS TOUCH, haunted my dreams all night, and I woke up hungering for apricot toast.)
Friday, October 9, 2009
The next hit book by Sarah Beth Durst, author of Into the Wild
This book is based in modern times, up in Alaska and the arctic. Cassie lives with her father and their team at a research station in the middle of the ice-desert. Cassie's grandmother often told Cassie the story of how her mother was promised to the Polar bear king by her father the North Wind, but then she fell in love with a human man and the Polar Bear King(love him!) agreed to protect her from the North Wind's wrath, on the condition that their first-born daughter be his wife. But North Wind found her anyway blew her to the edge of the earth to be with the trolls.
Now it's Cassie's 18th birthday, and the Polar Bear King has come for her.
Enna Isilee ranted and raved about the awesomeness of this book over at her blog, and now she's offering anyone an opportunity to own it.
This giveaway is awesome and easy, head here to enter the drawing and to get more information (open to US residents only).
Thursday, October 8, 2009
But it's oh so fun!
P.S. I wanted to add that my mom just read it and said it's hysterical. Phew! As we all know, our mothers are the best, unbiased critics out there.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Lips Touch, by Laini Taylor and illustrated by Jim Di Bartolo; Silksinger, also by Laini Taylor and illustrated by Jim Di Bartolo; and Operation: YES, by Sara Lewis Holmes.
I have been eagerly awaiting for these books. Laini and Sara are my friends, so of course I wanted to support them, but I really just wanted the books because I know they are going to be awesome reads! I got a chance to read Silksinger in an earlier rendition and add comments to it (Laini surprised me by sending it to me---I have no idea if my comments were helpful or not, but I hope so). I can't wait to see what is the same and what has changed! Sara's book is going to be thoughtful and funny, and guess what? She agreed to do an interview on this very humble blog! (So I have to read it, like, NOW.)
Yay for getting friends' books in the mail!
I was in such a good mood that even though I only got three hours of sleep last night due to sleepless children, and had an early morning appointment that required me to bring both kids along and get their blood tested, resulting in much dramatic wailing, I finished a sewing project! (How's that for a caffeinated sentence?) I took a look at my beautiful new machine,
And thought, I should get out that ridiculously adorable flannel and make some baby washcloths!
Since we use cloth diapers, we also use cloth wipes, and these will come in handy. Plus, they're super cute and I made them.
Now, I should go take a nap while the baby is napping, but I've had too much coffee. I will most likely collapse in the midst of the bedtime routine, likely folded over a picture book or two. Elizabeth will have to prod me out of her bed and tuck herself in, all alone. Poor child. Guess she shouldn't have woken me up at 4 a.m.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
(Reading The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: Traiter to the Nation, Vol 2., Kingdom on the Waves and LOVING it. Mr. Anderson is a verifiable genius.)
The only downside to reading his books is that they tend to run long, run deep, and keep me from writing whilst I'm reading them.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
To celebrate, I got a new sewing machine (THIS ONE!) and finally made Elizabeth a dress-and-backpack combo. She had picked out the pattern and fabric a month ago, and I finally did it. Apparently, I can sew! It wasn't me, it was my old, unworking sewing machine that was the problem before.
Taking pictures (or "catching Elizabeth on film") is nearly as difficult as sewing, by the way. (It also helps to have the camera on the right setting, apparently.) Here ya go:
Thursday, September 10, 2009
During Henry's awake times, when I could not do much around the house, we played outside in the back yard. A family of deer visit us often, and I was happy to see this time that one of the babies no longer limps. (Unless it's a different set of deer.)
This is our tiny garden, by the way. We've got broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and tomatoes. We have no idea if we'll get anything before it frosts. Henry thinks that's fine, and says that the dirt it quiet edible.
Henry thought the deer were awesome, as is apparent in his wide grin.
Our yard is terraced. The top level is where the garden and the fence are, and then there's the middle level, which is where we have our compost pile, and then the bottom level, which is a beautiful, serene garden beneath a sequoia and a walnut tree. The deer like to nibble the soft grass and lounge there. (The deer seem really tiny in this picture.)
And in case you've never seen this...
Yes, mama deer always pees before meandering back into the woods. Guess that's like saying, "Hey, other deer, this is my spot."
Then, when the house is comfortable and unsickly, I will be able to breathe calmly and write.
If Henry allows it. He is, after all, the Demanding One now that his big sister is at preschool all day.
If only he'd take a NAP! Shhh. Go to sleep, baby, go to sleep. You're so very, very tired.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
He turned towards me. For a long moment, he stood facing me. I was held, anchored to the ground – not by his music, which still called and pushed against the music already in my head and said grow rise follow – but by his strangeness. By his fingers, spread over the ground, holding something into the earth, by his shoulders, squared in a way that spoke of strength and unknowability, and most of all, by the great, thorny antlers that grew from his head, spanning the sky like branches.
Then he was gone, and I missed his going in the instant that the sun fell off the edge of the hill, abandoning the world to twilight.
Buy it here. Enter the contest at Maggie's blog here.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
[I was deployed to both CAMP VICTORY and CAMP SLAYER, Iraq, from July 2004 to March 2005.]
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
It's a double-brag because I created the child and my mother created the outfit. We took this picture on her 3rd birthday, which was earlier this month.
Gosh, I can't believe my baby is three! And Jim and I have been married for four years now. Wow. (Incidentally, Elizabeth was born the day before our first anniversary. It was not the way I had imagined spending that day, but it wasn't too bad. Just a little exhausted and in a little bit of pain. Definitely felt lightning-struck, though.)
It is everything I want my first novel, Rohana, to be like. It is the first novel I have read since I began writing Rohana that showed me exactly what I wanted to achieve, exactly how I wanted to affect my readers. In my book, Rohana, the main character, witnesses horror to a degree most of us cannot even imagine, just as the people of Leningrad (and, well, most of Europe) experienced during WWII.
I lay in bed last night, trying to fall asleep, trying to banish the image of the last scene I had just read--and yet, I didn't want to forget it. The scene was so brutal, so inhuman, that I wanted to see it and feel it just as the main character, Lev, did. I wanted to be there for him, to help him get through it. Does that make any sense? Lev (and the other characters) became real enough for me that I wanted to absorb as much of the horror as I could so that he could be protected.
I want my readers to feel that way about Rohana. I want them to care for her and see both the brutality and the beauty of humanity through her eyes. I want my readers to want to see more, and yet want to put blinders on her so that she won't see more.
One thing about David Benioff's writing that I'd like everyone to experience is the lyricism, the poetry. The descriptions truly put you there, then.
Rohana needs a massive amount of revision to get it even close to City of Thieves.
(BTW, this is easily my favorite book of the year.)
Thursday, August 20, 2009
We are not yet unpacked, but things are getting situated. Jim is nearly ready to start school, and Elizabeth is excited about starting preschool. Henry is just excited to be alive (plus, he's taking steps now, and believes he should be walking already). I am settling down and getting ready to start writing FOR REAL. I've got to finish this first draft or else!
Tonight was my first night back at work. I made myself some coffee, escaped to the front porch with my laptop, a bowl of mint ice cream, and a notebook, and sketched out plot ideas. I couldn't get right back into the story at first, since it had been ages since I'd taken a peek, but I was able to wrap my mind about it a little. No actual writing was completed tonight, but I'm getting ready to jump back into that soon. SOON.
I'm also thinking about applying for Syracuse University's MFA in Creative Writing program for next year. If I got accepted, I think it includes a TA position, which would mean a small stipend and a waiving of tuition, so it'd be like making a tiny salary while getting my MFA. Better than working at Starbucks to help out with our bills, right? Mostly, I just might learn a little bit more about writing. Maybe. But I'm a little apprehensive---what if they're too high-brow? What if they're too literary? My writing style is a bit literary, but it's not snooty (I hope). I do, afterall, want to get gasp! published.
Ok. The mosquitos are taking over the porch. I must retreat now or find myself a blood donor.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
But just to say quickly, we're moving in two days to New York. (Not the city; to Syracuse.) The packers are here, the house is boxed up, and I am severely sleep deprived.
I shall post new pictures when I take them, once we're unpacked and settled. Maybe I'll even start posting again...
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
I was going to write up a lengthy post, but I wanted you to watch this video so you can hear the woman crying out for help, in Iran, and then I've got to get off the computer. Human brutality makes me sick to my stomach--no matter what side is being injusticed.
Monday, May 11, 2009
So, at 7 p.m., I began baking.
I made two of these tops because, as it turns out, "non-stick" pans aren't truly non-stick. Having a crumbled cake did give me a chance to taste the goods before presentation, so it wasn't all bad. Jim said I could served the broken bits as "Baby Vomit," on par for the theme. (He was immediately banished from the kitchen for that comment.)
While the second top was baking, I started frosting the bottom half, trying to keep it together since it had broken when removed from the pan.
Then, on a whim, I decided to layer it with strawberries. I made the sauce, slathered it on the bottom half of the cake, and then watched in horror as it bled down the sides. I was nearly frantic. How does one present a bloody mushroom cake to a pregnant woman?
Quickly, I tossed on the almost-cool top and iced it with a color I had just mixed together.
As you can see, it was dreadful. At this point, I wondered how much it would cost to convince the baker to make a cake the morning of the party...but I kept at it, icing it more, making a new batch of icing, getting the piping done, and then I resurrected the zombie cake:
It looked like a circus tent, and less like a mushroom, which made me happy. Plus, I had some cute little cupcakes. I put it in the fridge, went to bed (it was 1 a.m. at this point), and dreamed of bleeding cakes. (Totally unsuitable for baby showers, btw.) When I was awakened by Monster Child #1 at 5:30 a.m., I ran downstairs and fully expected the cake to have fallen apart, or the strawberries to have leaked the bottom, but it was perfectly fine. And tasty, too. It was just too cute and I was so proud of myself.
Next time, though, I'm making a cake with just regular circular pans. None of this giant cupcake with strawberry layer mess. And I'm going to make it chocolate.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
And eat some of this:
And here I am, with some of my critique group friends:
That's Kirsten, me holding a wiggly and bald-spotted Henry, Cindy, and Eveie
I am such a jet-setter. Gosh. ;-)
Seriously, though, I did just get back from a weekend San Diego in which I brought along baby Henry to my friend and critique group partner Cindy Pon's first-ever book launch. Her first novel, SILVER PHOENIX, came out a week ago--hurry, go buy it--read it--and join me in waiting for the sequel and the inevitable blockbuster soon to follow.
The flight out was a little bit of a pain considering I had a baby on my lap and was squished in the middle seat, but my neighbors were all wonderful. My first neighbor was a woman on her way home from Iraq. Thank God. She helped me out quite a lot in entertaining Henry.
My friend Kirsten, an absolutely fantastic novelist who will soon be getting a great agent, I am sure, played the Perfect Hostess for both Henry and me. She had all the baby gear, which made things super easy. Also, she brought me a tray of tea, milk, honey, and fresh strawberries to munch and sip while I got dressed on Saturday morning, plus she took care of the baby at the same time. I am forever spoiled. And now I will feel subpar if I don't treat my future guests as wonderfully as she did! I felt like a princess all weekend.
One of the unexpected* benefits of going out to San Diego was being there in person for a critique group meeting. I've been away for a year and a half, and it's been hard. Email critiques just aren't as good, you know? And I don't do critiques as thoroughly and as well as when I am going to be there for the actual meeting. Anyway, remember the 20+ pages I wrote last weekend? Well, they read them all and gave me awesome guidance. Plus they made me feel good, like the pages aren't half bad and were totally readable, even if it's a first draft and had lots of holes. They set me on my way and now I've got FOCUS. *sigh* I lurve my critique group.
I felt like I was hanging out with someone famous on Sunday when Kirsten, her husband, her adorable and smart kid, and I and Henry went to La Jolla to hang out with Cindy and her two adorable and smart kids. We had lunch and then played in the sand on the beach**. It was a gorgeous San Diego day that I will surely be missing when I'm holed up in my home come The Long Winter in Syracuse.
The flight home was easy because Henry slept the whole time (Was that my One Good Flight?). I picked up my first adult novel in years and years, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, and read half of it. So far, I'm loving it.
Now I must dash off-line and clean my home. I love my husband***. He took care of Elizabeth all weekend, and the house was pretty clean when I got home, but after a day of Exhausted Mommyhood, it's messy already.
* Ok, so it wasn't unexpected. I totally knew they'd help me out. They always do.
** Henry didn't play so much as ate the sand.
*** Did I mention he went to get me a Hostess Cupcake because I was craving one? He, who made lettuce, steamed broccoli, raw carrots, and sweet potatoes for dinner? (Seriously, that's what we ate. And it was surprisingly filling. Except for leaving me with a craving for gooey, chocolate-y, cream-filled cupcake.)
Oh, and those pics? I lifted them from Cindy's blog.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
HOWEVER, I'd like to add that I'm no Sit-n-Take-It Cavewoman. I am proud of what I've accomplished this weekend, and eventually, that T-Rex will lag behind, gasping in the dust, and find some other poor soul to chase after. I, on the other hand, will finish this book because I am one bad-ass cavewoman.
Me (in theory)
If I end up at only 25 pages, I'll be ok with that because if I hadn't set out to write 50, I might not have ended up with any at all. (And so far, this is turning out to be a darned good first draft.)
Saturday, April 25, 2009
I'm at Panera, and I just rode my Vespa here, since the weather was nice and I didn't have a kiddo with me. It's been so long since I rode the Vespa that Jim called out after me---"Will you be ok?!" Apparently, it's like riding a bike, so after the first twenty feet or so, I was able to zip around confidently. Ahhhhhh.
Ok. So. Really. Back to work!
Had to add: Came here without a pen. Borrowed one from a lady (she gave it to me)...it says "Harley-Davidson." Ironic or what?
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
I'd tell you a bit about it, but her video does a much better job than I ever could. So, without further ado, here it is:
Nice music, too, no?
And to show my family's enthusiasm for Cindy's book, here's E just before bedtime:
She's holding a tiny dragon, too. I did my best to get a smile. Mostly, she would just bat her eyes at the camera or sulk, so I was lucky to get what I got.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
She's nearly through with potty training now, so she's move on. No more Mo Willems, I guess. Now she's reading...what book is that in the pic? SHELF LIFE, by Robert Corbet. I've never read it, but she really really wanted to check it out*. And she had to check it out by herself. (Of course.)
My little girl is growing up so fast! She hasn't had an accident in two days (she's in pull-ups at night time, though). So no more poopy awards for us, I hope. At least, not for two years or so.
On a completely unrelated topic, we have figured out where we'll be moving to this summer: Syracuse, NY. Anyone from Syracuse? We'll be going up in June to find a place to live, and then actually moving there at the start of August. (Sadly, no SCBWI LA for me this year.) My husband will be starting his PhD program in Physics, which will take FIVE YEARS. Yes, FIVE years. We'll be poor grad students for FIVE YEARS. (No, really, I'm fine.) So, for FIVE YEARS, we'll be living off of his TA pay, unless I get another job or somehow learn to write more books at a faster pace. Ones that sell would be nice, too. (I'm trying to be patient. I really am.) So, long snowy winters, here we come.
And on yet another unrelated topic, I'm doing something rather exciting this weekend: I'm locking myself in the guest room and writing fifty pages. I'm calling it my "50-page sprint." I told my husband he's responsible for both kids all weekend long, with the exception of feedings and night-time. Hopefully, it'll work out, he won't knock down the door, and I'll end up late Sunday night with fifty reasonably well-written first-draft pages. I'm a reviser and not a sprinter, so this is like taking a person who does long, casual, perfect-form runs and placing them in front of a ravenous T-Rex on the edge of the Grand Canyon.** Hmm. That's an idea. I shall print off a pic of a T-Rex and tape it to the wall.
* We did not check it out. Instead, I hid it and we got KNUFFLE BUNNY TOO, by Mo Willems. And we love it!!
** Not that my books are "perfect" in any way.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
My electronic friend (now, he's not merely made of electronic gadgets or anything) Paul, who blogs at the Murphblog, created an award for my last post about E's potty training days.
Now, I am red in the face. I'm honored, of course, to have won anything (as usual). Thank you, Paul! You made me feel, for a day, as if I'm actually funny. Usually this blog gets no action. (Ok, so that sounded bad.)
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Once there was a little girl who was learning how to use the potty. She was doing very well, and had even made it through half a day without any accidents, when her mommy did a very mean thing: she put her in her room to take a nap. She wasn't allowed to get out of bed.
While her mommy was feeding her baby brother and trying to put him down for a nap, she called out, "Mommy, I pooped!" Mommy ran into the room to see what had happened, but there was no poop. And the little girl shook her head when offered a chance to go to the toilet.
Five minutes later, she called out, "Mommy, I want to poop!"
And Mommy ran into the room, leaving a wailing baby behind. But sadly, no poop.
This went on for two more times, although one time she just called out, "Mommy, I want to go to the potty."
Mommy grew angry. The baby wasn't sleeping at all. In fact, he was crying and showing the world what Mommy was really feeling.
Once again, the little girl called out, "I'm poopy! Mom! Poop!"
But this time, Mommy ignored her. Instead, Mommy twittered angrily about her annoyances of the day. Mommy fumed. Mommy wanted a nap.
Forty-five minutes later, the little girl banged on her bedroom door. "Mommy, I want out! Let me out!" Mommy, feeling guilty by now, complied.
And then she shreeked.
Poop was smeared on the walls. Poop was smeared on the carpet. And poop was wiped on the blankets.
"I said I pooped," the little girl said, smiling and fluttering her eyes.
* This is mildly gross, but if you made it to here, you probably read it already anyway and therefore this disclaimer is a waste of pixels.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
She also gave me a blessing: a working title. Something I never truly had before. (No, not gonna tell you.)
Because I'm re-starting (for the third time? fourth time?), I have to put myself into First Draft Bootcamp and get some words on the page. I've penned in a date on the calendar in which I will do nothing for a whole weekend but write the first draft (at least 50 pages of it) and nurse the baby (because, well, no one else can do it). Jim has graciously, albeit reluctantly, agreed to the plan.
This is still the re-telling of the Arabian Nights tale, but with my own little narrative twist.
And that's all I'm going to say about it. For now.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Not always wealth, not always force
A splendid destiny commands;
The lordly vulture gnaws the corpse
That rots upon yon barren sands.
Nor want, nor weakness still conspires
To bind us to a sordid state;
The fly that with a touch expires
Sips honey from the royal plate.
---The Holy Imam Shafay
I like this one because it's not about love, or spring, or beauty, but about life and death. The circle of life, really.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Elijah is growing up in the Canadian community of freed and runaway slaves just prior to the U.S. Civil War. He is the first free child born in the community and has a story about that and nearly everything that has happened to his town, his neighbors, and himself. He is also greatly afraid of snakes, but he will tell you all about that right off the bat.
This book isn't all laughs, though. On its deeper level, it's about freedom and slavery, good people who risk their lives and those who risk others' lives for their own.
I promise you when you crack open the book, you won't be able to put it down. And you'll want to step into the book and shake hands with Elijah. This is historical fiction at its very best. Oh yeah, and it won the Newbery Honor in 2008.
* Warning: Do not read at the gym while on the tred-mill or you will laugh yourself right off of it and land on your fanny.
Friday, April 3, 2009
I was fortunate to read some of Courtney's prose as well as her poetry and I can say she's got quite the talent. Her poems are full of voice and bring you right into moment.
Courtney grew up in the rural Northern Neck of Virginia. Her life in the country has inspired her to write since childhood. She has won awards through the international level for speaking and writing, including a national honorable mention in the 2008 Library of Congress Letters About Literature competition and first place in the 2008 United Nations Pilgrimage for Youth International Speech Contest. In her spare time, Courtney enjoys horseback riding, running with friends, painting, playing guitar, mandolin, and fiddle, and raising chickens.
Without further ado, here is an interview with Courtney:
Amber: What inspires you as a writer?
Courtney: I think one of the key aspects of the “writer personality” is that you can find inspiration in anything – as long as you’re looking. I’ve been inspired by passengers on buses and flowers in fields. I enjoy writing about animals, especially horses, who I think are really the most poetic of all.
Amber: I agree with you on horses. I'm having to study them right now for my new book. Who was your first inspiration as far as writing poetry?
Courtney: The first poem I remember writing was when I was about seven. It was about a sled dog who was pulling a crate of medicine to children who were snowbound in Nome, Alaska. I was really fascinated with sled dogs when I was little; I read Gary Paulsen books about them and watched Balto. It was really ironic that the poem rhymed, because now all I write is free verse.
Amber: I have a hard time with rhyming, as well. How does your poetry describe you?
Courtney: I think my poetry parallels my personality – I’m somewhat quiet, and I notice a lot. My poems are like that; they aren’t in-your-face, loud writing, but they’re perceptive. I like to write about little things we pass over in our day-to-day lives – the things we’d think about if we only had more time.
Amber: What do you hope the reader walks away with after reading your first book of poetry?
Courtney: I hope, most of all, that everyone who reads Eleanor’s Angel will keep reading poetry. Most contemporary people dismiss poetry as too esoteric and utterly academic to be a relaxing read. The book’s style is easier to read and relies primarily on rhythm and imagery – not obscure language, bizarre syntax, and barely perceptible allusions. I don’t want my readers to have to dig for a deeper meaning. I want the meaning to be right there, in front of them, so they can truly understand it, absorb it, and make it their own.
Amber: I write with loads of imagery, as well. It brings beauty and truth to the story/poem, I like to think. Your poems are like mine, except, well, much better! What are your strengths and weaknesses as a poet, if any?
Courtney: I think my greatest strength as a writer is my imagery. When Claudia Emerson judged my poems in a contest, she told me that my poems have strong, believable imagery. I also feel that my work has rhythm to it, which poetry really needs. My greatest weakness are my cop-out endings. You don’t see a lot of them in the book because I find them and edit them, but all too often, I can’t think of a good last line and I’m about to get off the bus or switch classes or go do something else, and I scribble down whatever comes to mind. Rushed endings really kill a poem’s momentum and leave a bitter aftertaste. I’m trying my best to stop writing them.
Amber: I think most writers, no matter whether it's poetry or prose, have that problem. You get to the end and you want to be done. Did you find any unusual hurdles in the publishing business since you aren't exactly an aged poet?
Courtney: To be honest, publishing a first book, especially poetry, is difficult whether you’re young or old. I worried that my publisher might have second thoughts when she realized I was 17, but all we had to do was add my mom as a co-signer on the contract because I won’t be 18 til July. Most of all, I try to put my best foot forward with all my poetry submissions. There’s a stereotype of the teen poet; most people think of the kid dressed in black who sits in her room and writes sing-song-y love poetry and morose, badly written breakup songs. I do my best to be sure people realize I’m not that stereotype.
Amber: I am guilty of having been that kind of teenage poet, except for dressing in black. My poems are too depressing, and I wasn't even "depressed." Your poems are true-to-life, like perfect snapshots of moments in time. Ok, now, the most important question of all: What's your favorite ice cream flavor?
Courtney: My favorite ice cream is coconut-chocolate-almond. I tried it once at an ice cream shop in Tappahannock, and it was absolutely delicious! It tastes like an Almond Joy bar as an ice cream cone. I also am a fan of pistachio ice cream; I thought it would taste odd, but it was really quite good.
Amber: My God-o'-Desserts, that sounds awesome. Thank you for visiting my blog, Courtney. I don't think people will read your poems and think, "that was written by a teenager." People will read your poems and realize they're just going to be reading your poems for many years to come. Besides, poets are Old Souls.
Ok, everyone, here’s the publishing info on the book: The publisher is Wild Leaf Press, a small poetry/short fiction press in New Haven, CT. The book can be pre-ordered by visiting the WLP site and clicking “forthcoming.” Please visit the Wild Leaf Press website and check out Courtney's poems! (I'd post one here, but I think it'd be better if you went to the website and looked around, so go! I'm sending you on a mini scavenger hunt for choice words!)
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Our dog, Silver, died yesterday.
She was a beautiful, happy dog and had always been so gentle with the kids. The day before she died, she was perfectly fine, and on Sunday, she got to run around outside with the other dogs.
She died suddenly of a hidden tumor that filled her heart with fluid, which caused the rest of her body to shut down over the course of the day. By early afternoon, she died, in Jim's arms at the vet office. It was very sad and very shocking.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Pure of heart and therefore hungry,
All night long you have sung in vain –
Oh, this final broken indrawn breath
Among the green indifferent trees!
Yes, I have gone like a piece of driftwood,
I have let my garden fill with weeds....
I bless you for your true advice
To live as pure a life as yours.
by Li Shangyin, in the 9th Century
(discovered this in today's research)
So. Now I am here, ready to work. I best get off. Oh, here's a pic of me, right now:
Sunday, March 15, 2009
So now I have to study charts, like this:
And I have to imagine myself here, dressed like this:
(Yes, I have to imagine myself a young man atop a fringed horse.)
It's nice to know that my year and a half in Bahrain and my seven months in Baghdad will come in handy. At least in Bahrain, I rode horses for six months, and they were Arabian at that. (My favorite was Clyde, a brown gelding. Cleopatra, an old mare, stepped on my foot on purpose, so she will be immortalized in my book.) In Baghdad, I only rode helicopters, which wouldn't be in my book. But wait...hmm...
Other things to research:
1. mythological creatures from the Arabian Nights
2. 9th century oceanic travel
3. 9th century music
4. how to Twitter for gold and rainbows*
*Ok, not really. There's my one attempt at celebrating St. Patty's Day. But did you notice, oh Twitter fans, how Twitter seems to deliver anything you desire? It's like a...oh, that thing in Star Trek that generates any food item you wish.