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Archive for the ‘Evenfall’ Category

Denim versus Dress Up

Collection lace dress

Collection lace dress from J.Crew

Twice this week people have asked me what I do for a living. That’s a question I always find interesting, and perhaps one of these days we’ll get around to the whole Mommy Wars discussion on this blog.  But today I want to talk about how I tend to answer, which I also find interesting and I hope you will as well.

My book Evenfall has been out for over a year now.  I love the story, love the cover, and am pretty happy with how it has been received. I recognize how lucky I am to have had a book in bookstores when publishing is going through such a hair-rending time.  And yet, when people ask what I do, do I say “Oh, thank you for asking, I’m an author?”

I do not.

My usual response is “Gah, babble babble babble, I’m a writer.” Sometimes they’ll ask what I write, in which case I reel off a list of my publishing creds, tacking Evenfall at the end. Other times (like this past week) I’m lucky enough to have my youngest with me, who immediately breaks into my babbling with “She’s an author. She’s been on television and she has a book named Evenfall and in it the dog (reveals entire ending of book).”  This may not help me with sales, but it is gratifying to my ego.

So why does a seven-year-old have no problem saying the A word when I do? I think the answer is in the definition. At my son’s age, writer and author are interchangeable. But I’ve been a writer so much longer than an author I can spot the difference.

Writer, to me, is an action word. It says dig in and get your hands dirty (or as dirty as you get  using a keyboard). It means to take notes, to research, to string words together and then take them apart, to do this again and again until they are as polished and smooth as possible. It’s craftsmanship,  denim and work boots and a soft, comfortable t-shirt.

Author is static. It’s a lovely word, too, but it says “look what I’ve done” not “look what I’m doing.” It’s dress up, don’t touch me, special occasion wear, high heels and sequins and maybe some Spanx. Author has its place, but it’s not for every day.

Despite my occasional attempts to appear otherwise, I’m strictly a t-shirt and blue jeans girl, and that’s fine. I’m more comfortable with a notebook and computer to hide behind. Maybe someday, when I have other books out there, the sparkly bits will incorporate themselves into my working wardrobe a bit more and the line between writer and author won’t be so stark. But for now, I’m still getting my hands dirty.

How do you define the words writer and author?

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Yes, I am referencing a Taylor Swift song in the headline.  Don’t hate me.  There’s nothing that soothes the pain of a poor review like blasting “Mean” and dancing around the kitchen with your daughter. Try it sometime.

However, today I am not writing about reviews, mean or otherwise.  Today, I am over at Women’s Fiction Writers, where Amy Nathan has kindly agreed to interview me despite the fact that I have been known to literally fall on my face when wearing high heels. Unfortunately, this does not seem to have stopped me from trying. Go there, and the non sequitur will become clear.

Also, I am working on my Harley post for later this week, but here is a photo to tide you over:

So sweet ... when he's sleeping.

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Summer Special

If you’ve read Evenfall, you know it takes place on a farm. I lived in rural Connecticut for ten years, sandwiched between two dairy farms, and it was an eye-opening experience for this suburban girl. It’s where I first tasted fresh (as in from the cow) milk, learned that newly laid eggs are warm, and discovered all the many things goats are good at. (Creating milk for yogurt, keeping the lawn mowed, escaping – the list is endless.)

A lot of what I learned made it into the book. And even though I’m back in the suburbs, I still love and miss the country life. Farmers are some of the hardest working people I know, and without them, I’d be pretty hungry.

I’m hanging out with some farmers this summer, starting this Sunday. I’ll be at the Salem New Hampshire farmer’s market. (See the news page of my web site for details.) It’s the first of four stops on my farm tour. There will be fresh eggs, honey, and me of course. I make no promises about goats.

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You know how I’ve written that I prefer actual paper books to these new-fangled electronic readers?  And I do, truly.  Except that, um, I may have seen the light a little.

I’m using my Kindle to read drafts by other writers, and my IPad when I need to read a book for my book club quickly, and that’s all fine.  But last week I read about the IPad app for Sandra Boynton’s Going to Bed Book.  Now, the Going to Bed Book is the book I read so often when the kids were small, the whole family has it memorized.  Even the dog we had then could probably have recited a line or two, if pressed.  It’s the book I give whenever anyone has a new baby, the book I’ve replaced twice because it’s fallen apart.  I love this book.

“Huh,” I grumbled to my husband when I heard about the app.  “Grumble, grumble, technology, ruin of us all, grumble,  grumble.”

“Yep,” he said.  “But have you actually seen it?”

The app was like two bucks, so I downloaded it so I could better articulate to him how we are going to hell in a hand basket because no one reads real books anymore.  But then, I forgot what I was saying because I was having so much fun.

Did you get that I love the book?  I love it even more as an e-book.  It’s taken the spirit of the story, which is fun and light-hearted and a perfect way to end the night — and made it even more playful.  You can hear the stars in the sky, hear the waves sloshing, see the eyes on the bunny close when it gets dark and hear him snore. It made me get, for the first time, the possibilities  of an enhanced book.

In my case, I’ve heard from some readers that they don’t see enough of Frank (one of my main characters who happens to be a ghost) in my novel Evenfall.  But he’s in every scene that shows the house Evenfall – it’s just that sometimes his presence is a subtle one.  How much fun would it be to have the words on a page form the shape of Frank whenever he’s there, quietly manipulating the scene? To have an image of Nina cue us to his presence?  To hear his theme music in the background?

I suppose you wouldn’t want to read every book this way — or even to read a book this way every time.  But having the option to read with sensory cues enhancing the experience — kind of like a director’s cut on a video — would be all kinds of awesome.  Although, ironically, in a children’s bedtime book it’s a little too exciting, particularly since I’ve had to arm-wrestle with my son so everyone (read me) gets a chance to do the ‘fun’ pages.

Is there a book you’d like to read this way?  Besides Evenfall, I’d vote for any of the Harry Potters or LOTRs series.  What would you choose, and why?

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I know, I know, I’ve been slacking.  I started out with such good intentions, but somehow my three posts a week have dwindled to an anorexic one or two.  I promise to be better in April.  It will be SPRING!  and WARM! and everyone will be HAPPY! (Those of us who live in New England are such optimistic fools.)

Anyhow, I have been busy.  I have finally established my Facebook Author page (or rather, my sister did it for me) and I would take it as the greatest favor if you would hie yourself over there and like it.  Or me.  Or whatever one is supposed to do on The Facebook. (Random  elderly relative story — a favorite aunt is in a nursing home, and periodically she would call us up and say “I played The WOO today,” and cackle like a maniac.  It sounded vaguely dirty and I always covered the children’s ears if we were on speakerphone.  Well, it turns out The WOO was Wii, the other bane of my existence because it is the joy of my six-year-old’s life.  So, around here we tend to stick a capital THE in front of any newfangled technology.)

Also, I am being interviewed by the charming and lovely Debra Driza, no mean writer herself, and among other things we are commiserating over our BAD DOG stories.  Because I didn’t want to horrify her too much, I left out the one where my 110 pound unneutered show dog took a, um, special liking to my 100 pound friend.  He would back her into a corner, then very gently reach out one paw to wrap around her shoulders….

Come back Thursday for a better behaved blog post.

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Can I just, for a  moment, reiterate how awesome my home town library is?  My advance PR team came along  (that would be my parents) and what greeted us in the lobby but a poster with Evenfall and my face on it? (It was a little bit horrifying, to be honest, but the librarian behind the desk did manage to recognize me, so the photo isn’t too off the mark.) I wanted to poke around a while, but my mother, who knows me too well, clearly was concerned I’d pick up a book and be late to my own signing, so she marched me downstairs, where librarians Michelle and Tricia had set out refreshments and even remembered a pen. (Yes, I forgot to bring a pen.  I was distracted.)

A fabulous crowd turned out, including my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. T — her smile is EXACTLY the same all these years later — and my fourth grade teacher.  Seriously, how beyond cool is that? (And see, Mrs. F — despite the fact that I still can’t do advanced math to save my life, I turned out okay. Mostly.) And then a bunch of people from my elementary school surprised me too, and we went out after and I ate too many French Fries and it was just like being in school again only without the math bits.  Which is to say, completely awesome.

Exactly the same. Only taller.

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Libraries.  I love them.  You go in, sign a piece of paper, and they let you take home books.  For free.  As many as you can carry. (And I can carry a lot.) How insane is that?

Not just books, either.  CDs, DVDs, even art.  Museum passes. Again, all for free. Show me your library, and I can tell you a lot about the priorities of your town (which is why the recent cutbacks to my city’s library are so upsetting, but that’s a whole other blog post).  Everywhere I’ve lived, one of the first things I’ve done is run to my new library to sign up for my card.  Sometimes, my kids and I will stop to check out  a library we haven’t visited, just for fun (do we know how to live, or what??). And if we’re vacationing anywhere for more than a week, it’s a good bet that somehow, we’ll manage to work in a library visit.

But no matter how wonderful your library is, it can’t compare with the one I grew up with. As a kid, it was one of my favorite places to be.  Back then, even though the building was a blinding white wedding cake confection, the children’s room was rather small and dark, with aisles of books you could wander.  You could take the book that made your heart thump into the back, curl up, and stay there until closing.   There was a long wooden desk, and the librarian would stamp the card in the back of the book with a resounding thwap before she let you take it home.  On rainy days, or if you were home sick, you could call up the story line and listen to a prerecorded tale for free.  There was a millpond out in back, and at night in the summer you could go with your grandparents and listen to big band music and spin around and around until you were dizzy.  If you were lucky, your grandfather would buy you a glo stick and you could use it to light up your room well after you were supposed to be asleep.

They did a renovation sometime in the 1980s, I think, and made the children’s room over into a light and airy space.  They painted the whole building cream, instead of the original white, and added a comfortable reading room for magazines, and put in skylights and study spaces and a big open staircase.  It’s beautiful and inviting, but I still remember the creaky old building my eight-year-old self fell in love with, all those years ago.  And when I read there tomorrow, in my heart that’s where I’ll be.

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