Books about Writers

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I am preparing to make a major change in my life. I’ve been thinking about it for over a year.  I’ve been imagining what my new life will look like.

In my reading, I came across two books that prompted further research on the topic of What Does a Full-time Author’s Life Look Like?

The first one I read was Hemmingway’s A Moveable Feast. This was non-fiction. Then, as I was re-reading an old favorite, In the Midnight Rain  by Barbara Samuel, I realized the heroine of this novel was a full-time author.  Both books mentioned the writing schedule.

So I Googled/Goodreads-ed “books about writers” to see what I could glean. The answer: not much.

I read: The Accidental Tourist (Anne Tyler); Swimming Home (Deborah Levy); Cakes and Ale (Somerset Maugham).  Not what I was looking for. Then I re-read other books on my shelf and stumbled across more authors mentioning their writing schedules: Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence and Toujours Provence;  Under the Tuscan Sun and Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes. John Mortimer writes a novelist character in Paradise PostponedThe World According to Garp (John Irving). And of course Stephen King’s On Writing, The Shining, and Bag of Bones. I waded through The Brontes by Juliet Baker, which was a mistake because I’m looking for glimpses of a writing life, not an analysis of one.

Any suggestions?

Capitol Theatre Restoration

My husband and I are “friends” of a 1928 movie house in a nearby city. TV Stevie has attended their annual film festival since its inception. I started attending with him several years ago.

Due to the pandemic, the 2020 festival was postponed for a year.

A year off, right? Nope.

Using a $2.5 million dollar grant from the state, theater management used the “closed” time to renovate the theater to its 1939  appearance.  1939 was the year the theater received its original face lift. The result is stunning.

Gone are the white paddle fans someone installed on ceiling, along with the peeling paint & plaster. The hand-painted fabric wall covering is still in the process of being restored by a local artist and her paint brushes. The seats have been reupholstered in the same fabric used in 1939. Even the carpeting has been replaced by new carpeting remade to the original 1939 specifications by the same company. The lights in the overhead dome have been repaired.  I list only a few of the many refreshed items.

The original 1928 Moeller theatre organ also got an overhaul.

When we attended the grand reopening of the theatre back in July, I had a chance to really listen and see the organist, David Peckham, in action. Always before, the organ was the accompaniment to a movie or was played during intermissions during the festival. At the grand reopening, there was a concert to show off the organ. The spotlight was on the manuals.

The money was well spent. The folks at the Capitol Arts Complex are doing great things to revitalize their city’s downtown.

 

Analyzing Other Authors

Image credit: tieury / 123RF Stock Photo

Last month, or maybe the month before, I started re-reading JD Robb’s In Death series and making notes. I also purchased all the books I didn’t have, so I now have an up-to-date library of the series. It’s important because I do go back and re-read books I love.

For those unfamiliar with the series, the books are futuristic police procedurals. Yes, there is romance, but the primary story is the police procedural. The cop (Eve Dallas) and the (reformed) con (Roarke).

I started an Excel worksheet with a spreadsheet for each title. I realized about half-way through the series that I should have made better notes. Now I’ll have to re-read all the titles again to make better spreadsheets.  Life is full of tribulations.

I started re-reading because I wanted to see how her Nora-ness handles an ensemble cast. My current WIP, which is unlike anything I’ve done before, has an ensemble cast of characters that confuses the dickens out of one of my critique partners. I keep trying to explain that I am not writing a romance and I’m not writing a small town series.

I’ve been amused and/or intrigued by the author’s vision of the future. The series starts in 2058. A couple of examples include:

  • Discs-Everyone transfers data to discs, which may have been the rage when the series began, but now it’s flash drives. I’m sure by 2058 there will be something else.
  • Talking Cars-Eve Dallas, the female protagonist, plugs addresses into her car and the dashboard gives her directions, etc. So does my car! I feel very Dallas-esque when my dash tells me, “Toll booth.”
  • Tubes of soft drinks-I love this idea, instead of cans or bottles.
  • Real cow/pig/chicken/egg/coffee/sugar-because of climate change these commodities are rare and thrilling to the characters, who get to partake because Roarke, the male protagonist is one of the wealthiest people on or off planet, frequently feeds Eve’s co-workers.
  • Off planet correctional facilities-putting prisons in space? Intriguing concept.

There are also inconsistencies that niggle, but nothing major.

  • At least two characters’ names change from book to book.
  • There is an assumption that because Roarke is Irish that he knows Catholicism. But Roarke’s upbringing certainly didn’t include the Church’s rites of passage, so he wouldn’t be as conversant as he sometimes is.
  • Eve mentions several times that religion wasn’t taught in the state orphanages in which she grew up, but sometimes, when she’s not asking Roarke questions, she does mention things that a person unfamiliar with Christianity might not know.

The best thing about the series is how the characters grow from book to book. They learn from their mistakes.

I had started another popular series of books around the same time my sister urged me to read JD Robb. I eventually stopped reading those books because the characters never changed. They were awesome characters in the beginning, but after 10 or books, I wanted to see them learning from their errors instead of the constant buffoonery to which the series evolved.

 

Musing: Hairbands


I started to let my hair grow before the pandemic hit.  It has gotten quite long. I keep spending money on things to keep it out of my face.  Pony tail holders, barrettes, etc.  The one thing I really want is a hairband that works as well as my glasses.

Not one hairband stays in my hair. My glasses do, though. Putting my glasses atop my head is a bad habit, I know. It stretches the bows (temples) so the glasses don’t fit the face as well. I know this. But the top of my head is a convenient place to store my glasses with the bonus of working as an excellent hair band that actually works.

Someone with more know-how than I have should invent a hairband that uses the same premise as eyeglasses.

The Mommy Files: Names

When X-Chromo was very first learning to talk, we discovered something interesting. We played the standard game with her: point at something and ask her, “What’s that?” or at a person and ask, “Who’s that?” The latter was quite common at the dinner table every night.

I would point at my husband. “Who’s that?”

“Dada.”

He would point at me. “Who’s that?”

“Mama.”

One of us would point at her older brother. “Who’s that?”

“Hmph.”

Y-Chromo’s given name is nowhere near “Hmph” in sound. Neither were his many nicknames. But night after night, she would respond: “Dada, Mama, Hmph.”

If you look up the definition of “hmph” you’ll see that the sound indicates annoyance or indignation. Traits that set the tone of their relationship for next several years.