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Showing posts from March, 2016

Throwback Thursday: A Love Song for Libraries

Ginger and her sister In the beginning was the Word. In her beginnings, there was a book. Her mother told her she could read before she started kindergarten, and she started kindergarten at age four. Each week, she would walk with her grandmother and older sister the nine or ten city blocks to their local branch of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, a low brick building down a side street.
There, she and her sister would settle in the children’s section, while their grandmother browsed through paperback mysteries and Regency romances. She remembers little of that library—windows, low shelves, Ezra Jack Keats’ A Snowy Day, and the front desk, where a stereotypically severe-looking librarian stamped their books with a heavy rubber stamp—ka-thunk!
By the time she was in fifth grade, her mother was in graduate school studying to become an elementary school librarian. Long Saturday afternoons were spent in Lockwood Library at the university: Mom at the copier with piles of coins,…

THROWBACK THURSDAY Guest Post: Life with a Writer

One of the most vital aspects of being able to fulfill one’s calling as an anguished writer is to have someone who understands. Today’s guest post is brought to you by William Johnson, also known as the Gingerbread Man. Ginger cannot confirm or deny any of the following allegations. From the outside, to a non-writer, there are only three stages to writing a novel. The first stage involves mornings when I awaken to the sound of pencil on paper, scribbling furiously. I see my writer intently pouring her soul into a small notebook. When I venture a question… “Honey, when do you think…?” I am greeted by a “Shhh, not now.” If the muses have been kind, these mornings may involve an hour of ecstatic outpouring, rarely more. The activity sometimes comes in fits and starts, but often seems to most resemble the gush of a firehose from brain to paper. At times, there is transfer of notes to computer with smiles and giggles abounding. It seems that a writer truly enjoys this part of writing. But …

Throwback Thursday: Aristotle and Me

Back in the old days, or at least in graduate school, Aristotle and I became quite close. We were buddies. Well. Ok. The relationship was rather one-sided. But being something of a structure freak and a lover of tracing one’s roots (be they genealogical, linguistic, or literary), I spent quite a bit of time hanging out with Aristotle and his Poetics. (Wouldn’t that be a great name for an English-nerd band?) Here’s what I learned: Aristotle’s unities (the unities of action, time, and place) went out of vogue around the time of Shakespeare, because of the wild and crazy influence of mystery cycles and morality plays. Aristotle was no match for Shakespeare, and his theories took on the patina of an antiquated relic, whilst Shakespeare shone. Dear Aristotle remains relevant, though, when you’re looking for a structural way to help convey emotion, shape tone, and dive into complex thematic content. Just for kicks, here’s a refresher on the unities. Having unity of action means that you can…

Throwback Thursday: Growing Up

Writing a novel has often been compared to giving birth. I’ve done both twice, so I can attest to the fact that it’s a good metaphor–you write for nine months, then in a final painful push, drug-induced or not, you give birth to a being that didn’t exist before. Too often, the metaphor stops there. It shouldn’t. Just as no self-respecting mother would send her baby out into the world after the snip of the umbilical cord and a quick clean up, no writer should ever send a manuscript out into the world so new and so fresh. It takes time and love and energy and dedication to raise a child. So, too, does it take significant effort to raise and revise a worthy novel. Some things cannot be rushed, no matter how much we writers seek validation or legitimacy, no matter how many times a well-meaning relative asks about “the writing,” and if we’re ever going to “finish that thing.” It’s ok to be a first draft for a while. Perhaps we need to stop thinking of our first drafts with Anne Lamott’s f…

THROWBACK THURSDAY Book Review: TRACING STARS by Erin E. Moulton

On the last day of school, Indie Lee Chickory discovers a stow-away in her backpack: The Lobster Monty Cola, her pet golden lobster. In a series of misadventures involving a kickball, a chase, and a police siren, she ends up losing him in the ocean that day. Indie wants to make things better: to find Monty Cola with the help of her new friend Owen, to regain the relationship she used to have with her sister, Bebe, before Bebe went all perfectionista on her, and to be a better Indie Lee Chickory. But the Indie Lee Chickory she is when she’s looking for Monty Cola with Owen is a different Indie Lee Chickory from the one she is when she’s trying to be a better sister. The two Indie Lee Chickorys seem mutually exclusive. One wears Carhartts and works in the set design studio with a pierced and fierce Mohawk-hair girl named Sloth. That Indie Lee recites fish names and makes fish faces, like the trout pout, to make people laugh. The other Indie Lee wears French braids and matching outfits.…