Some Good Reads (and a kitten)

I don’t like creating posts that are “just” links. Over the last few days though, some confluence of good friends and good fortune has provided me with a variety of links to articles which were all, in their own way, really interesting. At least, in my humble opinion. So I figured, share the good stuff with our lovely readers. Thus:

Birth of the poetDear Editor, Dear Writer, Please Stop! A funny, reasonably concise summary of things writers wish editors wouldn’t do and vice versa. Some nice advice here.

Betty Adcock: of poets laureat I swore – I SWORE – I wasn’t going to say a word about the North Carolina governor’s appointment (and subsequent self-dis-appointment) of Valerie Macon as the state’s poet laureate. But Betty Adcock says so clearly what needed to be said that I thought, in case you weren’t already bored to death of the whole story, that this link (which  Ed Madden brought to Facebook) was worth passing on.

Best New Poets has their 2014 list of 50 best new poets out. A few of them I’ve read and loved (Corey Miller’s “Willow Lake Mine” is phenomenal, and while I haven’t read the Benjamin Goldberg poem mentioned, what I have read of his work is phenomenal), which I’m hoping is a good sign for this collection.

CascdiaIf you’re in Cascadia (as a NoCal gal, it’s unclear whether I count, but I thrive healthwise in Seattle. If it weren’t for my sun-loving spouse we’d be up there now. Of course, he’d say if it weren’t for his fog-head wife, we’d be in SoCal, so it’s always something…), the dates for the Cascadia Poetry Festival have been set. I know a few people who’ve gone and who loved it, so if you’re a Cascadian, this might be just what you need to refresh your spirit and meet other writers.

And in case links weren’t enough to make your day, well, here is a kitten:

Kitti cat

A kitten.

 

 

And about time, too

Gerrit_Dou_-_Scholar_sharpening_a_quill_penIt’s been a long time since there’s been a post on InOurBooks. Andrea and I both ran into “stuff” (you know, that life stuff that happens even when you’re writing and wish the world would just get out of your way). Anyhow, my life stuff is (knock much wood) starting to ebb a bit, so I’m taking this breather as a chance to be both a writer and blogger again.

In writer mode, I’ve started submitting poems to journals again and fortuitously one of the writers we’ve published here (Hi!) posted this blog post on his FB page. I liked it so much – it’s the first time I’ve agreed with every single thing a blogger has said about publishing – that I wanted to share it with you-all.

http://campus.poetryschool.com/just-one-poem/

Besides, I miss our InOurBooks friends and would love to know how you’re doing – how *are* you? ~ ina

Writers on Wednesdays: Ellen Sussman

Today’s post introduces “Writers on Wednesdays” by guest blogger Margaret Young. For her first post, Margaret interviews multi-talented author and teacher Ellen Sussman. 

author_photo_2010_hi_resEllen Sussman is the author of three bestselling novels – The Paradise Guest House, French Lessons and On a Night Like This as well as the editor of two of my favorite anthologies, Dirty Words and Bad Girls: 26 Writers Misbehave. She was the San Francisco Library Laureate in 2004 and 2009 and has received fellowships from many, many institutions including The Sewanee Writers Conference, The Napoule Art Foundation, Wesleyan Writers Conference and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She now teaches through Stanford Continuing Studies and in private classes. She has two daughters and lives with her husband in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Margaret Young is a freelance writer who works at being a novelist when she’s not teaching children music.  She lives in Palo Alto with her family and can be found Tweeting at @MargaretYWrites.

MY:  If you couldn’t be a writer, but you could be anything else and succeed, what would you be?

ES: I’d be a singer in a rock band.

MY: When did you know you wanted to be a novelist and why?

ES: I decided to become a writer when I was six. I remember climbing on to my brother’s bookshelves (he’s a year older), and copying the titles of his books. Then I’d make up a story to go with the title. One of my first short stories is called, “The Little Engine that Could.”

I loved reading and wanted to write stories like the ones I read. That never changed throughout the years. I’ve been singularly focused on this career choice. The only surprise was that I needed a day job. And luckily I have loved teaching writing as well.

MY: What has been your best moment as a writer?

ES: Publication of my first novel. I waited for so many years to hold my own novel in my hands. It’s a remarkable feeling. And I love that moment each time a new novel comes out.

MY: What’s been your worst or most disappointing?

ES: I’ve written two novels that didn’t sell. That’s hell. You spend a very long time creating characters and a story that you love. And after too many rejection letters, you have to tuck that novel away somewhere. It’s a killer.

MY: As well as being a best-selling novelist, you’re known as a top-notch writing teacher, if you could make your students follow one piece of advice what would it be?

ES: To find a writing schedule that works for you — and to stick with it! I most highly recommend daily writing, especially if you’re working on a novel.

paradiseMY: Your break-out novel French Lessons was set in Paris and your latest The Paradise Guest House is set in Bali. Do you feel like you’ve found yourself a niche as a novelist of Americans in exotic locations? If so, is this a good thing, a bad thing or both?

ES: I may not stick to that for all my novels but I’m liking it right now. I think that we learn so much about ourselves when we leave home. And I love using the exotic setting in a way that really matters to the story.

MY: Can you tell us about what you’re working on and what intrigues you about it?

ES: I’ve just finished a draft of a new novel. The working title is A Stranger at the Wedding and it takes place in the south of France. I’m exploring love again and family relationships. In this novel, there’s also real danger.

MY: One of the things you talk about in your classes is the importance of structuring the writing process. Would you describe a typical writing day for you?.

ES: I write for three hours every morning, five or six days a week. That’s sacred time for me — I never make a doctor’s appointment in the morning or meet someone for coffee. And if I’m writing a first draft of a novel, I’ll write 1,000 words a day.

Thanks to Ellen and Margaret for sharing this conversation with us (and Ellen, when your first album comes out, please let me know !) ~ Ina