Tag Archives: writing

Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy

Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy
Advice and Confessions on Writing, Love, and Cannibals

by Dinty W. Moore
Ten Speed Press (c) 2015
Nonfiction (Adult)

Rating: * * * *

What a riot! The questions sent to Mister Essay Writer Guy are giggle-worthy, the responses are snort-worthy, and the essays that follow leave me laughing long after I’ve finished (re-)reading them.

In the vein of Ben Franklin’s infamous letter to his (former) friend Mr. Strahan which was signed,
You are now my enemy, –
And I am, –
Yours.
B. Franklin
.

This is the kind of book to pick up in a durable format, the better to stand up to frequent use.

Thank you to Ten Speed Press and NetGalley for the Advance Reader Copy I received in exchange for an honest review.

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Letters

Proverb: Love is when you take away the feeling, the passion, the romance and find out you still care for that person.

I recently came upon a stash of letters. The events relayed in those letters were so ordinary, so mundane, that at first I wondered why they had been set to paper.

I thought then about the letters I mentally pen to those I care about when they are away.  Those letters are filled with the mundane, the ordinary, the everyday – the things that connect us, the people we know, the things we would talk about during the “Hi, honey, I’m home” conversation.

Strangers are relegated to hearing about the significant or the unusual – they hear not what we want to share with them, but rather what we want them to know.

Deja vu

The second time I stood at the clothesline pinning up hankies I recalled with satisfaction the piece I had just written. Not like the first time I stood there, wearing the same clothes, feeling the same pleasant breeze, pinning up the same hankies under the same sunny sky, frowning slightly because the piece wasn’t quite right, it lacked the finesse I sought.

Is that what deja vu is, a glimpse at the things we have done correctly when they could have gone differently?

Take that, Malfoy!

Having experienced Harry Potter this weekend – first time ever – it dawned on me that the reason I sought out the Wizard of Hogwart’s this weekend was to vicariously banish my own Malfoy.

My personal Malfoy made an unwelcome appearance in my thoughts, complete with the grumpy contention that the bullies nearly always win. As Harry Potter’s tale spun out, full of figurative castles to scale, wicked step-families, and the dreadful Draco Malfoy, I was reminded that the reason fairy tales appeal to us so much is the happy certainty that someone will slay the demons and remove the impediments to bliss.  Although Harry is not able to banish Malfoy for good, he is able to thwart him in smaller, highly satisfying ways.  My mood improved each time Malfoy got some of his come-uppance.  I can do this, too…I can channel Harry Potter if I need to.

Take that, Malfoy!

On Two Fronts

On Two Fronts by Sgt. Adam Fenner and Lance Taubold

Copyright 2013 by 13Thirty Books

Rating:  * * *

Sgt. Adam Fenner, deployed as a medic to Afghanistan with the Nevada National Guard, and his friend at home, Lance Taubold, write about their separate experiences of the deployment.  The book, written largely during the deployment, consists of each of them writing chapters in their own style and from their own perspective.  The story concludes shortly after Adam’s return from Afghanistan.

I love the asides:  notes from Adam included in a chapter by Lance, and vice versa.  Often as simple as [Adam:  Eye roll], the interactions make me chuckle.  Lance’s splashy style contrasts with Adam’s pragmatism, making an interesting combination.

Lance is in patriotic, save-the-world mode from start to finish, as a way to support Adam.  Adam is more matter-of-fact, only showing depth of emotion at one point, in the form of disillusionment following an explosion in a village thought to be friendly.  Adam’s chapters convey mind-numbing boredom interspersed with fierce activity, which he indicates is usual for deployments.  He speaks in broad terms about friendship and love, but rarely displays the emotion with which Lance’s chapters vibrate.  Lance deals more directly with the fears and feelings of separation experienced by those at home, the things Adam downplays or puts out of mind in order to focus on the here and now in a combat zone.

I struggle with the timeline in the book, sometimes unable to determine what is present day and what is being recounted from earlier.  All in all, an interesting read.

I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for a review.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Rating:  * * *

I love the title.  It’s difficult to resist a book whose title makes such delicious promises.

This book is a slide show:  here is A.J., recently widowed, grieving, crotchety; here is Amelia, new sales rep on the bookstore’s account; here is Maya, abandoned in the bookstore; here are Maya and A.J. and Amelia together.

As each slide appears, we accept on faith that what we see is true.  There is no way to verify; character development occurs between slides.  We see snapshots of the bookstore, its patrons and townsfolk, until we arrive at the end of the slide show, back at the beginning.

I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for a review.

How to Escape the Claws of the Grammar Police

How to Escape the Claws of the Grammar Police.

What I Would Do If I Weren’t So Afraid

I bought the book List Your Self:  Listmaking as the Way to Self-Discovery by Ilene Segalove and Paul Bob Velick as a means to gather some tidbits for a memoir.  I got through no more than two lists (including the title of this blog post) before I started writing fictional short stories based on the lists.  A very useful book!

I’ll Be Seeing You

I’ll Be Seeing You by Suzanne Hayes & Loretta Nyhan

Rating:  * * * *

A novel in letters between two women whose husbands are off at war during the 1940s.  Nostalgic, sentimental, sometimes funny, this is a celebration of women who uphold each other, scold and keep each other in line, laugh and cry together, and form a firm bond despite having never met each other in person.

My Year In Review

Love the studio as much as the blog! In agreement about early morning being the best time to write. Fernweh Productions

Live to Write - Write to Live

My greatest achievement this year has been consistency: I’ve walked out to my studio and written in solitude almost every day, sometimes only for a couple of hours, and sometimes from dawn until dark.

This year, I’ve put drafting Ellen ahead of everything, including sculling, one of my summer passions. But rowing requires the same early morning hours as writing, though for different reasons: The water is flat early in the morning, and there are rarely any motorboats out at that hour. Most of all, though, rowing is hot work once the sun rises.

All told, driving to the river and rowing takes a bit more than two hours. But these are the same early hours when I’m best able to tap into the fictional world I’m creating. I decided that entry into that world was more important even than sculling –for this year, at least.

All year, I protected…

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