On Revision…Oh, Ice Cream, Where art Thou?

I am in the midst of revisions right now. At this particular moment in time, it feels like the process will never come to an end. So, I thought I’d better remind myself of this quote I love from Katherine Paterson:

I love revision. Where else in life can spilled milk be transformed into ice cream?

Oh, ice cream…here I come!

Cherry Ice Cream


Chilling: In a World Without Books, There are Only Drugs


In The Daily Beast, on October 3 of last year, Seth Lehrer made a comparison between J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books and her new, adult novel, The Casual Vacancy, reflecting in particular on the role of literacy in the stories. He writes:

“Unlike the Hogwarts students, the adults who populate the Pagford of The Casual Vacancy…are not readers. They do not ride into imagined worlds; they do not fill their lives with books. The conflict of the novel hinges on competing institutions” and “those who try to escape them. In a world without books, there are only drugs.”

I know Lehrer is talking about a fictitious world, but isn’t that a stark reality of our own literate societies as well?

Back to School + Writing Life = Sanity? I Hope So…

School house Today is what my children always “affectionately” called THE LAST DAY OF FREEDOM.

Yes, school starts tomorrow and I return to my job–tutoring GED students in writing and holding down the fort two-days-a-week in a little jewel-box of a high school library. I love both my roles. And I love regularly switching from one to the other. There’s no chance to get bored. I count myself truly blessed to have work I love, that helps teens learn to communicate effectively, and that connects high school students with books.

So why THE LAST DAY OF FREEDOM? I suppose a better description is “my last day to dance to my own fiddle.” As of tomorrow, I will return to balancing my writing life with set working hours.

Do I return rested? Yes!

Do I return with the satisfaction of a long-term goal accomplished? Yes, I finished revising the final pages of The Swallow’s Spring right up to the words “the end”!

Do I return with wisdom? Yes! (See “Happy New Year!”)

Do I return with a plan? I do. I will:

  • write whenever the opportunity opens up for me
  • revise during my lunch half-hours (It’s amazing how the bits of time add up)
  • blog on the whim
  • submit my stories to agents and publishers
  • be prepared to participate in my writing groups
  • and continue to learn and grow as a writer.

What about you? How are you going to make your writing life real amidst the realities of daily life?

Fairy Tales

J Tower Logo


I love fairy tales.  (Hence my tower and starry sky.)

My first sales as a writer were retellings of folk tales to Cricket Magazine.

My first novel is a retelling of a medieval legend–basically an extended fairy tale.

The unexpected twists and turns of folk and fairy tales delight me, as does their worlds of long, swishy skirts, castles, adventures, magic, and redemption. (Inside my X x 10 year-old-body, I still feel like a princess engaged in the quest of her life. How about you?)

And so it was with delight that I sat down yesterday afternoon to sort my “Art: Illustration” Board on Pinterest.  From it I pulled all my folk and fairy tale pins and created an “Illustration: Fairy Tale” board, and then, for good measure a board for Sleeping Beauty (Illustration: Sleeping Beauty)–my favorite fairy tale–and boards for a few other stories for which I seemed to have enough pictures as well.

It was such a pleasure to pour over images and various interpretations of these familiar, and some not-to-familiar stories.

Although I am not a big “Disney Princess” fan, I did include a number of pins from Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. This is the first fairy tale I ever fell in love with, and that love included the style of the film as well. I didn’t know until I was a young adult in college that the touchstone for the artists was Gothic art and architecture. All I knew was that the film’s  highly stylized forest, and it’s high arching castles and furnishings had grown into a piece of my soul. (I think Gothic cathedrals are enchanting!)

I read somewhere a psychologist had determined that a person’s favorite fairy tale can tell a lot about who she or he is.  I would like to read more on the topic.  Have you read interesting books or articles relating to this? If so I would love it if you would comment with titles and the names of authors.

In the meantime, I hope your Monday passes happily ever after.


A New Approach to Writing Time

Aloe Extended Oval

The following quote is from  an October interview with Patricia Cornwell in the October 2012 Writer’s Digest.

One thing I’d advise is: Treat your writing like  relationship and not a job. Because if it is a relationship, even if you only have one hour in a day, you might just sit down and open up your last chapter because it’s like visiting your friend. What do you do when you miss somebody? You pick up the phone. You keep that connection established. If you do that with your writing, then you tend to stay in that moment, and you don’t forget what you’re doing.

I’d never thought to look at my writing time in this way. It is something I cherish, something I often yearn for, even feel homesick for when I am too long away. But I seldom give it the opportunity of a fifteen minute phone call with a friend. I seek chunks, large swathes of time for me and my novels. But how much more could I accomplish, and even more important, how much better might I feel if I indulged in frequent visits in between!

(And maybe, that is the secret to sane blogging when I am committed to working full-time and writing as well. Hmmm!)

Happy New Year!

Lg Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2013.

My words for this year are Contentment and Opportunity.

I have been stressing out too much these last few weeks. It’s time to get my act together.

  • Contentment: I will seek to be content in whatever moment God had placed me in.
  • Opportunity: I will seek to follow up on the opportunities that lie before me now.

What will that  mean for the Literate Lives blog?

Who knows!

But I sense more poetry, more journaling, more thoughts about the reading and writing life, and more “wonderful words” and websites to check out just over the horizon.

Welcome to a new reading, writing, living year.