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Summertime Blues

Summer and I don’t get along. We never have. It’s just that I thought we had a deal: August. August was when summer got to soar into the 90s, cranking up all the humidity it wanted. In return, August was when I got to give up all hope of accomplishing anything of substance. I was…


Wrote the Book, Hated the Movie (Part 2)

“If there’s one thing I hate, it’s the movies. Don’t even mention them to me.” (The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger) Last week I wrote about the daggers that rip through an author’s heart when an actor perceived as all wrong is cast in the movie version of their book. But as much as…


Wrote the Book, Hated the Movie

“I cried when I saw it. I said, ‘oh, God, what have they done?” “I was deeply disappointed.” It’s “crummy.” Ouch. Hardly the responses movie directors want after a screening. Worse, these comments didn’t come from random viewers, but from the authors of the books on which each film was based. (Which author said which…


Write Boldly Badly!

Are you a good enough reader to write badly? I mean, really, really badly. If you are, it’s time to prove it by submitting to the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. This fiendishly alluring competition asks contestants to create a first sentence to an utter bomb of a book. With enough skill, that sentence will equal or…


The Lure of the Séance

Once, decades ago, I attended a séance. The medium, Mrs. B, had since childhood spoken to people nobody else could see. In her eighties, she’d been a minister in the Spiritualist church for years. She was part of a long tradition. The American Spiritualist movement dates back to 1848, when the Fox sisters of upstate…


Leave Room for Cream?

My characters drink too much coffee. It’s noticeable. They make it, buy cups of it, discuss plot points over it. They consume it in mass quantities, to the point where one might think the author does the same. One would be correct. When I was a kid, I hated even the smell of coffee. The…


Old Man

You could see it from miles down the road, an odd protrusion from Cannon Mountain in Franconia, New Hampshire. As you got closer, the image began to make sense. You saw the same thing that inspired centuries-old Abenaki and Mohawk legends, the phenomenon that Daniel Webster and Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote about: you saw the Old…


Mother’s Day

Charlotte is taking inventory of the photos on my first floor. At three, she lives far enough away that I don’t see her nearly often enough. But this also means there’s always something new to discover at Gigi’s house. “Mommy, Aunt Sof, TomTom,” she ticks off, pointing to a photo on the shelf above my…


Stuff

Some of the stuff we’ve saved over the years is laughing at us. Those keepsakes from our kids’ lives that we stashed away to pass down to them? The ones we envisioned handing over as forever-memories? If you tiptoe past that leaning tower o’ stuff, you’ll hear a soft chortle, because the stuff knows the…


Sign of a Time

Back in the late 1980s, I bought a pottery mug during a lunch break from my summer clerking position at a Baltimore law firm. Harborplace, then a vibrant destination filled with artisans and food stalls, was only a quick walk away from my office. That’s where I found my mug waiting for me. The rounded…


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