Popular Posts

Monday, January 24, 2022

A Writer's Moment: 'Be The Candle, Or Be The Mirror'

A Writer's Moment: 'Be The Candle, Or Be The Mirror':   “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. ” – Edith Wharton Born on this day in 1862,...

'Be The Candle, Or Be The Mirror'

 

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. – Edith Wharton

Born on this day in 1862, Wharton grew up in New York City and began writing poetry and fiction as a young girl. She even attempted to write a novel at age 11 and had her first work published by age 15.

Despite that, her Upper Crust Society family discouraged her from writing and publishing because they didn’t think it was either “ladylike” or worthwhile.   But after marrying, she pursued it anyway and went on to publish 16 novels, dozens of novellas, 85 short stories, 3 books of poetry, and 9 nonfiction books.  In 1921 she won the Pulitzer Prize for The Age of Innocence, and in 1927, 1928 and 1930 she was a finalist for the Nobel Prize.

Her novella Ethan Frome and her novel House of Mirth are widely studied in American literature classes in high schools, colleges and universities around the world, both for their realism and their portrayal of the times and places in which she lived.

Wharton loved life and writing about it and said it kept her young and vibrant.  “Life is always a tightrope or a feather bed,” she said.   “Give me the tightrope.”
 
 

Share Writer’s A Moment with friends

Writersmoment.blogspot.com

Saturday, January 22, 2022

A Writer's Moment: 'Wheeled, Soared and Swung'

A Writer's Moment: 'Wheeled, Soared and Swung':   January 28 th will be the 36 th anniversary of the explosion of the Challenger shuttle.   In the disaster’s immediate aftermath, Presid...

'Wheeled, Soared and Swung'

 

January 28th will be the 36th anniversary of the explosion of the Challenger shuttle.  In the disaster’s immediate aftermath, President Ronald Reagan addressed the nation and used the closing lines from the poem “High Flight” as a tribute to the 7 astronauts who lost their lives.

The poem was written by American aviator John Gillespie Magee, Jr., who died in 1941 while serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force in England.  Impatient for the U.S. to assist the British, he signed up to fight for Canada and was killed in a mid-air collision after a dogfight with German fighters.   Lines from his poem are printed on his tombstone in Lincolnshire, England, where he was buried with full British honors.  He wrote the poem just weeks before his death and sent it to his parents in a final letter home. 
                                                                                John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

   For Saturday’s poem here is “High Flight.”

High Flight
 "Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air....

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
- Put out my hand, and touched the face of God."

Friday, January 21, 2022

A Writer's Moment: 'Engaging & Satisfying Young Readers'

A Writer's Moment: 'Engaging & Satisfying Young Readers':   “Every published writer suffers through that first draft because most of the time that's a disappointment.” – Rebecca Stead    ...

'Engaging & Satisfying Young Readers'

 

“Every published writer suffers through that first draft because most of the time that's a disappointment.” – Rebecca Stead  

But Stead’s second drafts definitely have had a “wow” factor.   Her novel When You Reach Me won the Newbery Medal, the oldest award in children's literature.  And her book Liar & Spy was named for the Guardian Prize as the year's best children's book released in Great Britain.

Stead - born in Jan. '68 - grew up in Manhattan and turned to law for her work.  But after working as a public defender she moved to writing after the birth of her two children, doing her first book First Light to entertain her oldest son.   “I asked myself what it was that I wanted from writing and where my connection with books began,” she said, “and the answer to that question was definitely in childhood, because that's where my connection with reading began.”

When You Reach Me was recently named the 11th best children’s novel of all time in a survey by the School Library Journal (the only 21st-century work among the top 20) and Newbery judges noted, "Every scene, every nuance, every word is vital both to character development and the progression of the mystery that really is going to engage young readers and satisfy them.”  
 
 

Share Writer’s A Moment with friends

Writersmoment.blogspot.com

Thursday, January 20, 2022

A Writer's Moment: Developing The 'Long Threads'

A Writer's Moment: Developing The 'Long Threads':   “Whenever you're writing a book or creating a movie or a game, your first task is to get the reader/audience/player to suspend disbel...

Developing The 'Long Threads'

 

“Whenever you're writing a book or creating a movie or a game, your first task is to get the reader/audience/player to suspend disbelief, to buy into the logic and boundaries of your world, even though those boundaries might include things like dragons and magic. To do that, you need long threads - of history and culture.” – R.A. Salvatore

Robert A. Salvatore, born on this date in 1959, is an American author best known for The DemonWars Saga, his Forgotten Realms novels, and Star Wars: The New Jedi Order, a series of novels set in the Star Wars expanded universe.   He has sold more than 15 million copies of the books in the United States alone, and 22 of his titles now have been New York Times best-sellers.  On top of that, he has been highly successful writing the backstories and text for a number of sci-fi type video games.

The youngest of a family of seven, he credited his high school English teacher with being instrumental in his development as a writer.  Then at Fitchburg State College (Virginia), he became interested in fantasy after reading Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, given to him as a Christmas gift.  He quickly changed his major from Computer Science to Journalism/Media and took up writing fantasy.  Before becoming a full-time writer, he worked as a bouncer, and attributes his fierce and vividly described battle scenes to that experience.

“I never intended to be a professional writer,” he said.  “As the story (his first novel Echoes of the Fourth Magic) developed, the one thing I had in my hopes was that this would be something tangible to separate me from the nameless, numbered masses.  I loved the world of imagination.


Share Writer’s A Moment with friends

Writersmoment.blogspot.com

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

A Writer's Moment: Sometimes, You Have to Move

A Writer's Moment: Sometimes, You Have to Move:   “I suppose that every one of us hopes secretly for immortality; to leave, I mean, a name behind him which will live forever in this world...

Sometimes, You Have to Move

 

“I suppose that every one of us hopes secretly for immortality; to leave, I mean, a name behind him which will live forever in this world, whatever he may be doing, himself, in the next. – A.A. Milne

Milne, born this day in 1882, achieved that immortality by creating both a character and dozens of sayings from that “silly old bear” that will live on forever.  While Winnie-the-Pooh is his legacy, Milne was an amazing writer in many other ways, doing some two dozen plays, hundreds of essays, novels, short stories and poems.

But, of course, Milne is most famous for his Pooh books about a boy named Christopher Robin (after his son, Christopher Robin Milne) and various characters inspired by his son's stuffed animals.  Christopher 's toy bear, originally named "Edward,” was renamed Winnie after the Canadian black bear that father and son enjoyed visiting at the London Zoo.

 Christopher’s other stuffed animals – Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo and Tigger – were incorporated into Milne's stories, and two more characters - Rabbit and Owl - were created by his imagination. Those famous toys are now under glass in New York City where 750,000 people visit them every year.
   
 One of Winnie’s famous lines – and there are many – came from advice Milne first gave his young son.  “You can't always stay in your own corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you,” he said.  “Sometimes, you have to go to them.”
 
 

Share Writer’s A Moment with friends

Writersmoment.blogspot.com


Monday, January 17, 2022

A Writer's Moment: 'Stay interested in stuff'

A Writer's Moment: 'Stay interested in stuff':   “Don't try to be young. Just open your mind. Stay interested in stuff. There are so many things I won't live long enough to find...

'Stay interested in stuff'

 

“Don't try to be young. Just open your mind. Stay interested in stuff. There are so many things I won't live long enough to find out about, but I'm still curious about them. You know people who are already saying, 'I'm going to be 30 - oh, what am I going to do?' Well, use that decade! Use them all!” – Betty White

Today would've  been the 100th birthday of my friend Betty White.  Age was definitely a state of mind for Betty and she told me once to never think about growing old – just about “growing better.”  Great advice.

There’s not much to be said about Betty that most readers don’t already know.  Best known for her Emmy Award winning roles as Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls (when I first got to know her personally), she’s the only actress to ever be on two shows named by The Writers Guild of America on its "101 Best Written TV Series Of All Time. 
 
“The writers are the stars of every really successful sitcom,” the modest Betty agreed.

A gifted writer herself, she wrote 7 bestsellers, including the wonderful Betty & Friends:  My Life at the Zoo, about the animals at the Los Angeles Zoo.
                                            You would've been hard-pressed to find a person who didn’t like Betty.   When I asked her once what she thought was the secret to that "likability" factor she exuded – something so many strive for but so few achieve – she replied, “I just make it my business to get along with people so I can have fun.   It's that simple.”
 
 

Share Writer’s A Moment with friends

Writersmoment.blogspot.com

Saturday, January 15, 2022

A Writer's Moment: 'What is seen in the moment'

A Writer's Moment: 'What is seen in the moment':   “Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during the mom...

'What is seen in the moment'

 

“Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during the moment.” – Carl Sandburg

 

Sandburg – born in January 1878 – said he never set out to win any prizes for his writing and, in fact, wanted to “write my own way,” even though that often was at odds with what his contemporaries were doing.  All that did, of course, was win him most of the major prizes, including three Pulitzers – the only poet to ever win that many.

 

At his death in 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson observed, “Carl Sandburg was more than the voice of America, more than the poet of its strength and genius. He was America.”  Arguably, Sandburg’s best-known poem may be Chicago – City of the Big Shoulders – but I’ve always liked the whimsical Fog, this Saturday’s Poem selection.

 

Fog

 

The fog comes

on little cat feet.

 

It sits looking

over harbor and city

on silent haunches

and then moves on.

Friday, January 14, 2022

A Writer's Moment: Telling the Truth

A Writer's Moment: Telling the Truth:   “A writer's job is to tell the truth.” – Andy Rooney Born on this date in 1919, American radio and television writer Rooney was ...

Telling the Truth

 

“A writer's job is to tell the truth.” – Andy Rooney

Born on this date in 1919, American radio and television writer Rooney was best known for his weekly broadcast "A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney," a part of the CBS News program 60 Minutes.  Called everything from a brilliant analyst to a grouchy curmudgeon, Rooney was first and foremost a dedicated, truth-telling reporter who started his career with Stars and Stripes during World War II.

His willingness to “go to the front lines” when others held back resulted in his being first on the scene when the U.S. 9th Army captured the bridge that led to U.S. forces crossing the Rhine and hastening the war’s end.  His story made front page headlines around the world.  Later, he was one of the first American journalists to visit the Nazi concentration camps, and one of the first to write about them.

Rooney left print and began his broadcast career with CBS in 1949.  He went from straight news to commentary in 1957, something he honed to perfection from 1978-2011 on the 60 Minutes. In the segment, Rooney typically offered satire on trivial everyday issues, such as the cost of groceries, annoying relatives, or faulty Christmas presents.  He did his final segment on Oct. 2, 2011 
  and died just one month later, at age 92.

He wrote 16 books, most compilations of his 60 Minutes’ essays.  One of the best is the last, written in 2009, 60 Years of Wisdom and Wit.  About his essays, he noted, “I obviously have a knack for getting on paper what a lot of people have thought and didn't realize they thought. And they say, 'Hey, yeah!' And they like that.”
 
Rooney was a champion for educators. “Most of us end up with no more than five or six people who remember us,” he said. “Teachers have thousands of people who remember them for the rest of their lives.”  
 
 

Share Writer’s A Moment with friends

Writersmoment.blogspot.com

 

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

A Writer's Moment: 'Writing is . . . structure of revelation'

A Writer's Moment: 'Writing is . . . structure of revelation':   All writing is that structure of revelation. There's something you want to find out. If you know everything up front in the beginning,...

'Writing is . . . structure of revelation'

 All writing is that structure of revelation. There's something you want to find out. If you know everything up front in the beginning, you really don't need to read further if there's nothing else to find out.” – Walter Mosley


Mosley, who celebrates his 70th birthday today, is most widely recognized for his crime fiction.   He has written a series of best-selling historical mysteries featuring the hard-boiled detective Easy Rawlins, a black private investigator and World War II veteran living in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles.  

Growing up in Los Angeles as an only child, he ascribes his writing imagination to "an emptiness in my childhood that I filled up with fantasies."  It was after moving to New York City and taking a course in writing at the City College of Harlem – inspired by Alice Walker’s classic novel The Color Purple – that he caught the writing bug. 

  He started writing at age 34 and said he has written every day since, His first published novel, Devil in a Blue Dress, was the basis for a 1995 movie starring Denzel Washington.  Since then he has penned more than 40 books in a variety of categories, including mystery, science fiction, crime fiction, and non-fiction politics. His work has been translated into 21 languages.

Mosley cites many “inspirational storytellers” as role models, and the most important one, he said, was his father.
  
“My father always taught by telling stories about his experiences. His lessons were about morality and art and what insects and birds and human beings had in common. He told me what it meant to be a man and to be a Black man. He taught me about love and responsibility, about beauty, and how to make gumbo.”
 
 

Share Writer’s A Moment with friends

Writersmoment.blogspot.com



Monday, January 10, 2022

A Writer's Moment: Focused on Ordinary Readers

A Writer's Moment: Focused on Ordinary Readers:   “My favorite book is the last one printed, which is always better than those that were published earlier.” – Stephen Ambrose Born on...

Focused on Ordinary Readers

 

“My favorite book is the last one printed, which is always better than those that were published earlier.” – Stephen Ambrose

Born on this date in 1936, Ambrose chose to present his writings of history in “popular” style so that they would attract more readers. 

He focused on how ordinary readers would best like to see it  -  not necessarily "scholarly," but "palatable.”  It worked.  A longtime professor of history at the University of New Orleans, he authored many best selling volumes of American popular history.    At the time of his death (in 2002), the New York Times 
    credited him with reaching "an important lay audience without endorsing its every prejudice or sacrificing the profession's standards of scholarship.”

In addition to his dozens of books and hundreds of articles, Ambrose championed (and often funded) efforts to collect oral histories – particularly from veterans of both World War II and the Korean War.  He utilized many of those histories in his own writing and also consulted on such major film efforts as “The World At War,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “Band of Brothers,” and “Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery.”

In recognition of his efforts, the Rutgers University Living History Society awards the annual Stephen E. Ambrose Oral History Award to "an author or artist who has made significant use of oral history." 
 
“You don’t hate history,” he once said.  “What you hate is how it’s been taught to you.”   
 
 

Share Writer’s A Moment with friends

Writersmoment.blogspot.com

 

Saturday, January 8, 2022

A Writer's Moment: 'Poetry . . . For an intolerable hunger'

A Writer's Moment: 'Poetry . . . For an intolerable hunger': “If there were no poetry on any day in the world, poetry would be invented that day. For there would be an intolerable h...

'Poetry . . . For an intolerable hunger'

“If there were no poetry on any day in the world, poetry would be invented that day. For there would be an intolerable hunger.” - Muriel Rukeyser

 

For Saturday’s poem, here is Rukeyser’s, 

 

 

Myth

 

Long afterward, Oedipus, old and blinded, walked the
roads. He smelled a familiar smell. It was
the Sphinx. Oedipus said, 'I want to ask one question.
Why didn't I recognize my mother?' 'You gave the
wrong answer,' said the Sphinx. 'But that was what
made everything possible,' said Oedipus. 'No,' she said.
'When I asked, What walks on four legs in the morning,
two at noon, and three in the evening, you answered,
Man. You didn't say anything about woman.'
'When you say Man,' said Oedipus, 'you include women
too. Everyone knows that.' She said, 'That's what
you think.

 

 

Share Writer’s A Moment with friends

Writersmoment.blogspot.com

Friday, January 7, 2022

A Writer's Moment: 'Poking and Prying With a Purpose'

A Writer's Moment: 'Poking and Prying With a Purpose':   “Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to 'jump at the sun.' We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get of...

'Poking and Prying With a Purpose'

 

“Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to 'jump at the sun.' We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground.” – Zora Neale Hurston

Alabama native Hurston - folklorist, anthropologist, and author -  was born on this date in 1891 and began writing as a journalist, co-founding the Howard University student newspaper where she began her studies. 

After earning a scholarship to Barnard, where she was the college’s sole Black student, her writing reputation blossomed and grew as part of the renowned Harlem Renaissance, which she helped create with fellow writer Langston Hughes.

A master of the flashback style of narration, Hurston wrote more than 50 short stories, plays and essays – most exploring or sharing the African-American experience from the last part of the 19th century through the first decades of the 20th
   
She also authored 4 novels, of which she once said, “I regret all of my books.”   
 
Her best known was the award-winning Their Eyes Were Watching God, a seminal work in both African-American and women's literature.   Time magazine included the 1937 novel in its 100 best English-language novels of the last century.   
 
A terrific researcher, she noted, “Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.”
 
 

Share Writer’s A Moment with friends

Writersmoment.blogspot.com

Thursday, January 6, 2022

A Writer's Moment: 'Willing to get lost in a new world'

A Writer's Moment: 'Willing to get lost in a new world': “I don't think there was a particular book that made me want to write. They all did.” – Elizabeth Strout   Strout, who was born this d...

'Willing to get lost in a new world'

“I don't think there was a particular book that made me want to write. They all did.” – Elizabeth Strout

 

Strout, who was born this day in 1956, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for Olive Kitteridge, one of my favorite collections of short stories (and a great HBO mini-series, that I also loved). 

Of course that’s not all this gifted New Englander has produced since she had her first short story published in 1982.   A small town product (mostly growing up in New Hampshire and Maine), where her father was a science professor, and her mother – who she said was a great inspiration for her writing – taught high school. 

Strout has spent most of her adult (and writing) years in New York City, although she and husband James Tierney split their time between NYC and Maine, where he is the former Attorney General.  Her short stories and nonfiction pieces have been published in everything from literary magazines to Redbook and Seventeen.

“I'm writing for my ideal reader, for somebody who's willing to take the time, who's willing to get lost in a new world, who's willing to do their part,” she said of her award-winning work.  “But then I have to do my part and give them a sound and a voice that they believe in enough to keep going.”


Share Writer’s A Moment with friends

Writersmoment.blogspot.com