Monthly Archives: September 2007

Piddling Around

I was listening to an audio book titled The Boleyn Inheritance, the story referenced a river in England, the River Piddle to be exact. What a giggle, the River Piddle? I was curious as to whether or not this is an actual river and it of course is.

As it turns out the River Piddle runs through villages named Puddletown, Affpuddle, Piddletrenthide, Briantspuddle and Piddlehinton. I wonder if anyone has every eaten Spotted Dick while paddling down the Piddle?

Cheers!

Soloist

 The Cotswolds, May 2007

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Filed under General, Humor

A Chance Meeting with Mary Casanova

The following post is from 2007 but here are the details of the 2008 craft fair for those who are landing on this blog because they are looking for information:

Little Falls Arts and Crafts Fair
09/06 to 09/07 2008
Downtown – Little Falls, MN
 
# of Exhibitors: 700 

I live in a small town, each year in September the hub of downtown is taken over by crafters from all over the United States and our small town hosts one of the largest craft fairs in the country. Last year a surge of 130,000 descended on  downtown Little Falls, a similar figure was expected this year. My daugther and I were among the shopper both years. After a good long wander, my daughter and I stopped in at the neighborhood bookstore to poke around and say hi to Laura Hansen and her dog Jack.

I’ve known Laura for about 2 years now, she is a local poet who owns and operates the local bookstore, Bookin It. She also heads The Great River Writers group of which I am a member. Despite the length of time I’ve known Laura, I can’t seem to shake the propencity to call her Laurie. It’s a strange habit, I rename people without realizing it. If your name is John and you remind me of a Frank, I will call you Frank at least 50% of the time.

After calling Laura, Laurie…again, I noticed a copy of Water for Elephants displayed on a shelf and I commented on how much I enjoyed the story. I joined Audible, and Simply Audio to test drive listening to books on my MP3 player. Water for Elephants has been my first experience with listening to a book. As much I as I love reading, I find that I have too little time to cover all the material I’d like to cram in.  In addition to the audio of Water for Elephants, I am also reading The Sixth Extinction, Saving Fish From Drowning and The Kite Runner. Kite Runner tends to tug my attentions most often. It was my hope that if I listened to some of the material while doing things I enjoy less, like laundry, cleaning the house and walking off my waistline, that it would add embellishment to the mundane and I would get more “reading” material covered in a shorter timeframe. My only real question was, would I enjoy the experience as much.

After listening to Water for Elephants, I can honestly say that the quality of the reading is excellent and I found listening to a story every bit as satisfying and reading one.  As I commented on the book author Mary Casanova, chimed in and said she too enjoyed the book. Lucky for me, Casanova happened to be signing copies of her most recent book The Klipfish Code at the same time my daughter and I happened in.

Laura introduced me (kindly using my correct name) as a member of the Great River Writer’s group, so naturally, Casanova and I talked about writing. I explained to her that progress on my story had been slow. I’ve spent the past year polishing my writing skill, I told her that I wanted to do justice to the story. I went on to say that the story I am writing may very well be my life’s work. Casanova said that she never hangs on to her work too long.  Casanova credited her ability to churn out published material to her unwillingness to hold on too tight. She said that she writes a story, reads and edits it once or twice then ships it off. I told Casanova that I didn’t have another story to move on to and she replied, “we’re only given one story at a time, once you write the one that is in your head the next one will come you.”

What a delightful and unexpected notion. And she was right about the letting go of your work part. I did not want The Eyes to See Grace to sound like a children’s book and when I began writing the story that is exactly how I thought it sounded.  After my first public reading with the Great River Writer’s group a woman approached me after the reading and said, that my writing reminded her of Kate DiCamillo work. Despite being a true a fan of Tiger Rising and the Tale of Despereaux, I knew I wasn’t reflecting the rich, very adult tone I felt about the story. I began reading honing in on the work of authors that inspired me, Toni Morrison’s Paradise, Gabriel Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude and Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.

What I learned was that the answer didn’t lie within a single component rather from all elements, narrative, character, voice, tone, I even felt truth to be among the elements. The following year at the annual book reading, the guest speaker and published author approached me after the reading, and commended my work saying, “that book you are writing is a movie, you’ve written Out of Africa.” I could not have been more flattered. Her choice of comparison was uncanny,  I had told my daughter a year earlier… I want the story to be an epic like Out of Africa. When she said, Out of Africa I felt like Air Jordan slam-dunking a b-ball…swoosh.

That having been said, it is indeed time to let go and push for completion of my first draft.

Before we left, Casanova looked at my 17 year old and said, you write too…I can tell by the twinkle in your eye. Mary Casanova could not have been more right. The narrative flows from that child like a river. She is in fact so good that when school let out for the summer classmates began calling in July wanting to read the next chapters of her book! My daughter of course thinks because she is still a young girl that there must me more to it that she couldn’t be an author at 17…princess, you already have a captivated audience, so you are an author. I will be sure and add excerpts from Lexrae’s book this website.

Wearing Mules to the Party,

Soloist

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Filed under Books, Fiction Writing, Life, Little Falls, Minnesota Fiction, Writing

Excerpt of the Day

Marty was a paunchy man with eyeglass lenses so oversized that their only beauty was a false sense of imbued vision.  His sallow colored hair was parted disingenuously to the right, so far right that its delineation could also be used as an unequivocal statement of his politics. Walter found that hair parted to an extreme could be used to effectively foreordain any man’s political compass point.  Extending a handshake he expressed a sincere wish that Walter wait for him in his office in the future as he blotted his forehead with a handkerchief. Marty went on to tell him that the list of available homes that met Walter’s criteria was nonexistent; reminding him that Elmira, Minnesota was no Malibu Beach. Walter wanted to say, “no shit.” but offered a sympathetic, cordial smile in its stead.

Excerpts from The Eyes to See Grace

Soloist©2007

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Filed under Excerpt of the Day, Fiction Writing, Minnesota Fiction, Writing

Falling Short

So far I can honestly say that I’ve fallen short of building this blog to match the vision I had of it. Today I planned to add content beyond the posted excerpts but found myself unable to move. My body ached all day and I felt exhausted. I popped Motrin through out the day and wondered why I felt so lousy. It didn’t dawn on me until later that I worked into the night on Friday, spent the day at the countries largest craft fair on Saturday. When we finished at the craft fair I prepared dinner for 9, then hosted a bonfire complete with a weenie roast and marshmallows. Sunday, I once again covered the craft fair…suffice it to say, my exhaustion is no longer a mystery.

Better material another day.

Soloist

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Filed under General, Life

Excerpt of the Day

The rest home held the traditional sterile atmosphere that caused its inhabitants to die of boredom. Residents sat staring at their own shoes slowly drowning in a sea of blank white everything. White sheets, floors, walls and nurses saturated their days, slowly embezzling any sanity they retained. Wheelchairs lined the halls throughout the day, with the exception of meal time, an event that could have provided a point of anticipation, but didn’t. Even the food was achromatic and pallid: room temperature elbow macaroni glopped with flecks of tuna, held together the in the expected ice cream scoop form by a gluey white ooze. Add to it a slice of bread, a plastic solo cup of apple sauce and of course milk and the meal was complete. The only colors were smears of peas and pimentos that could have offered an embellished sort of pigment had they not looked previously digested.

Excerpts from The Eyes to See Grace

Soloist©2007

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Filed under Excerpt of the Day, Fiction Writing, Minnesota Fiction, Writing

Excerpt of the Day

Since no members of the community were black, there was no need for the local school district to recognize national holiday’s like Martin Luther King’s birthday. Instead they provided students with days off for occasions that truly reflected the identity and spirit of the community; the opener of deer hunting season.

Excerpt from The Eyes to See Grace:

Soloist©2007

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Filed under Excerpt of the Day, Fiction Writing, Minnesota Fiction, Writing

Excerpts of the Day

 

Her grandmother used to say that relatives shouldn’t die in winter because their just too hard to bury.  Every winter she vowed to live and every spring she promised to die, a commitment she renewed even after her lifespan spilled beyond its first century.

 

 

As the crocuses awakened from their frosty slumber daubing smudges of lavender between the mossy tracts of sod and the twinkling patches of snow, her grandmother died.  She left her life when it was practical to leave, ever mindful of the burden she never wanted to be.

 

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Excerpts from The Eyes to See Grace: 

Soloist©2007

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Filed under Excerpt of the Day, Fiction Writing, Minnesota Fiction