Another Giveaway to Report

I’ve loved reading everyone’s postings about favorite Little Golden Books–rest assured they will feature prominently in the review I write this week.

In the interests of reciprocity, I want to tell you all about another book review/ giveaway I’ve discovered at  Laura has reviewed and is giving away a copy of Eric Weiner’s The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World.  Check it out and leave a comment.

Laura has also listed my giveaway and this is what attracted me to her site.  I liked it so much I’m putting it in my blogroll.  So did callmeabookworm, who’s already listed there.  I’m loving discovering that the blogosphere loves free stuff as much as I do.

 Let me try to be a little more specific about what I’m hoping to give away from the conference, although it’s hard because it’s at the end of January.  But certainly, there will be current literary magazines, perhaps advance publishers copies, free books, and whatever good stuff the Gettysburg review will be giving away this year.  I’ll let you know as soon as I can.

In the meantime, keep those Golden Book favorites coming!!!!

Bye y’all,


Golden Books Survey–and the giveaway begins!


Here’s the plan–if you write me with the titles of your favorite golden books growing up, I’ll write a review that includes backstories on those very books! Sort of an interactive book review. So, let me know with a comment:

Were you an old school golden book devotee who liked the books and illustrators of the Golden heyday Tenngren, Weisgard, Scarry and Wilkin, the 40’s and 50’s, in books like:


Or  were you more of a transportation gal or guy, into books like:


Or maybe, you favored the Sesame Street gang and your favorite was among classics like these:


Whatever your pleasure, if you were a child from 1942 on, chances are there was a golden book title that suited it. So write in and let me know. Even if you can’t remember the title, describe it as best you can. Who knows, maybe I can find it.  You’d be suprised!

And remember, any comments from now to February 4 will enter you in the second wordamour giveaway, with goodies garnered from the AWP bookfair and any other book-related stuff I can procure.

Bye, y’all.

Auld Friends


Funny how the new year brings out old connections.  I heard from two old friends as 2008 dawned, both writers, Bill Lychack, and Chris Motto.  I got to hear about the latest short story collection Bill is putting together and all the worries that entails (is it too cohesive?  not cohesive enough? personally, as a reader, I prefer the heterogenous collection), and that we can all look forward to a new story in the next Ploughshares.  If you haven’t read his 2004 debut novel, The Wasp Eater, then, if you read this blog you can predict the exhortation to follow:  get thee to a bookstore or a library (I know ours has a copy) post haste!  You won’t regret it.  It debuted to widespread acclaim for good reason.  It’s a damn near perfect book.

Bill and his wife, Betty, have also entered the parenting fray in a big way, with a three year old boy and baby twins.  The idea of twins (actually, just the idea of more than two children, which is what I have) has always struck a certain awe in me.  But I’m sure the abundance more than compensates for any scarcity of say, sleep.

Chris has sent me two essays she’s been working on, a personal essay on teaching the personal essay and one about her own particular entre into parenting.  I’m especially looking forward to the rest of what she has to write about the latter–she has a lot to say that hasn’t been said yet.

There is always a certain amount of gratitude involved with reconnecting with important people in one’s life, confirming the idea that our journey really is a continuum and not a lurching series of staccato leaps.  Bill reminded me that we’ve been at this writing thing twenty years (we started out in Blanche Boyd’s fiction class at Connecticut College); with Chris it goes back almost as long, to the George Mason MFA program.  Reminds me of that workplace question they ask you on (yes, I was sucked into that once):  Are you doing what you thought be doing?  Pretty much, is my answer, and feeling pretty lucky to be doing it too.

The new AWP Chronicle arrived yesterday, and as I read through it I thought it’d give me some ideas to write here.  But it didn’t.  Some intriguing articles about writing couples, including Beth Spires and Madison Smartt Bell, which piqued my interest, since I’m part of a writing couple myself.  It was comforting to see that they don’t share drafts until late in the game either.  I try to get pretty far along before I show something to my husband; he’s so prolific I sometimes don’t even see a story till he’s published it (as in, “What, I didn’t show you that?  I thought I did?”). 

In terms of my own writing, I’m not making any new resolutions this year, just trying to stick to the old ones.  Stay focused on a few projects, the novel, the creative writing in higher ed book, sending stuff out, especially the essays.  Allow a few projects on deck in research mode but don’t let myself be tempted by what Heather Sellers calls the “sexy new books,”that are always giving me that come hither look.  Fingers crossed, I’ll be able to stick to it.

And the blog of course.  In preparation for my upcoming discussion of Leonard Marcus’ new book on the Golden Legacy, I”ll be surveying everyone soon for their favorite Little Golden Book, with an eye toward dishing some inside scoop about its creation.  So be thinking about it.  Are you the “Monster at the End of this Book?” type, or the “Pokey Little Puppy,” type or both?

Remember, any posts between January 4 and February 4 will qualify you for the next Wordamour drawing.

Bye, y’all.

Wordamour’s 2007: A Year in Books


Featuring a Top 5 in Writing, Fiction and Nonfiction and a list of everything I’ve read in the past 365 days.  I’ll use a star ratings system until I can figure out something more creative.

Top 5 Writing Books

1. Chapter by Chapter by Heather Sellers *****

2. How to Be a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead  by Ariel Gore ****

3. Writing to Change the World by Mary Pipher ****

4. 78 Reasons Why Your Novel Won’t Get Published and 14 Reasons Why It Might by Pat Walsh Reviewed on this Site here

5. Doing Creative Writing by Steve May

Top 5 in Fiction

1. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak***1/2

2. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick *****

3. Suite Francaise by Irene Nevirovsky *****

4. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart****

5. The Miraculous Journey 0f Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamilo ****

Top 5 in Non-Fiction

1. The Golden Legacy: How Goldenbooks Won Children’s Hearts, Changed Publishing Forever and Became an American Icon Along the Way by Leonard S. Marcus*****Review coming soon!

2.  Through the Children’s Gate: A Home in New York by Adam Gopnik*****

3. My Father’s Summers: A Daughter’s Memoir by Kathi Appelt****

4. Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself by Alan Alda****

5. The Crafter’s Companion: Tips, Tales and Patterns from a Community of Creative Minds ed. by Anna Torborg **** Review Coming Soon!

A few years back, worried that I wasn’t reading enough, I began keeping a list of what I’d read starting in January, to reassure myself that I was keeping up.  It’s had a few interesting side effects, chiefly that each year the number has gone up–I like to compete with myself.  So, here  you go, all 43 books I read last year.  A pretty revealing list, for better or for worse.

 1. Through the Children’s Gate: A Home in New York by Adam Gopnik *****

2. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate di Camilo ****

3. Meeting the Professor: Growing Up in the William Blackburn Family by Alexander Blackburn **

4. Author 101: Bestselling Book Publicity by Rick Frishman and Robyn Freedman Spizman ***

5.Publicize Your Book: An Insider’s Guide to Getting Your Book the Attention It Deserves by Jaqueline Deval ***

[Can you tell my first book, Can It Really Be Taught: Resisting Lore in Creative Writing Pedagogy, with Dr. Kelly Ritter, came out last year.  I should have followed through with the suggestions better.  The publisher’s tell me it’s selling well enough for an academic book, though.]

6. Chapter by Chapter by Heather Sellers *****

7. New York’s 1939-41 World’s Fair by Andrew Wood ***

8. Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy***1/2

9. A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder by Eric Abrahamson and David Freedman-**1/2 (first half, ***)

10. Ella of All of a Kind Family, by Sidney Taylor **1/2

11. How to Be a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead by Ariel Gore ****

11. The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron ****

12. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry ***

13. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak ***

14. Writing Brave and Free: Encouraging Words for People Who Want to Start Writing by Ted Kooser and Steve Cox **1/2

15. Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly by Gail Carson Levine ***
(this is a children’s book on writing)
16. Dream When You’re Feeling Blue by Elizabeth Berg **

17. Writing to Change the World by Mary Pipher ***

18. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick *****

19. Educators as Writers: Publishing for Personal and Professional Development ed. by Caroline Smallwood **

20. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert **3/4

21. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling ****

22. Writer’s Workshop in a Book by Alan Cheuse***23. Writing a Woman’s Life by Carolyn Heilbrun***

24. Take Joy: A Writer’s Guide to Loving the Craft by Jane Yolen****

25. The Fiction Editor, The Novel and the Novelist by Thomas McCormick **

26.  The Call of Stories: Teaching and the Moral Imagination by Robert Coles***

27. Grace, Eventually by Anne Lamott ***

28. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini ***

29. Love, Magic, Mudpies by Bernie Siegel

30. Flea: The Ulitmate Flea Market Guide ****

31. My Father’s Summers by Kathi Appelt***

32. 78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never be Published and 14 Reasons Why It Just might by Pat Walsh ****

33. Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping by Judith Levine **

34. Fire in the Blood by Irene Nemirovsky **1/2

35. Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky *****

36. Kissing Tennessee and Other Stories at the Stardust Dance by Kathi Appelt***

37. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart ***1/2

38. Things I overheard While Talking to Myself by Alan Alda

39. The Golden Legacy by Leonard S. Marcus *****

40. No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog by Margaret Mason

41. The Crafter’s Companion: Trips, Tales, and Patterns from a Community of Creative Minds ed. by Anna Torbord

42. Doing Creative Writing by Steve May

43. Handbook of Creative Writing ed. by Steve Earnshaw

Best Christmas Present Survey

Yes, it is hokey and completely unoriginal, and yes, I’m still not vacuuming (soon!) but I forgot I wanted to put out a survey of the best inanimate Christmas present you ever got as an a. adult and b. child.  I put in the inanimate qualifier because several important people (and a few animals) came into my life at Christmas and I’m sure lots of people feel the same.

 My two:


Christmas 1990
Claddagh Ring from my husband (then boyfriend). Speaks for itself.


Christmas 1978
Welcome Home Baby
Yes, I was eleven and yes, a laaaate bloomer. Still loved baby dolls  I had fallen in love with this doll over the summer in a toy shop on Cape Cod. We looked everywhere for it when we got home to Albany but to no avail. I was absolutely convinced I had no hope of getting it for Christmas. I think the story is my father and grandfather actually drove to Cape Cod for it. Can you say, “only child?”

Ok, now I really want to hear YOUR stories. Send em in! To up the ante, I’ll enter any post about this subject into the January drawing, in advance of it.

Now, off to do some speed vacuuming.

Preview of upcoming posts (aka–books for Christmas!)


I am supposed to be cleaning my house at this moment, in preparation for most-welcome weekend guests, but I’m finding it hard to get in the vacuuming groove, so I think I’ll give you all a little preview of some upcoming book reviews you can look forward to here (as in, yes, I got  books for Christmas, whee!).

The Golden Legacy: How Golden Books Won Children’s Hearts, Changed Publishing Forever and Became an American Icon Along the Way by Leonard S. MarcusThis was #1 on my wish list.  I’m almost done with it.  Can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Beyond Plot: The Art of Subtext by Charles Baxter

No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog by Margaret Mason
Yes, I’m committed to entertaining YOU–and to hopefully growing my audience.

The Crafter’s Companion: Tips, Tales and Patterns from a Community of Crafters
Dispatches from my other life.

The Machine in the Nursery: Incubator Technology and the Origins of Neonatal Care
by Jeffrey P. Baker
Fascinating stuff, background for 2 writing projects I’m working on. Thank God for Interlibrary loan (click the link to find out why).

Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself by Alan Alda Not nearly as hokey as the title would suggest. The man can write. More later.

Sigh. I’ve put of the inevitable long enough. Back to the vacuum. With DH gone off running errands and the kids upstairs, at least I can crank up the Pavarotti.

So, look for reviews of these and more in the coming weeks and don’t forget the new Wordamour Giveaway, starting January 4 and running till Feburary 4!
Bye, y’all!

The Pokemon Shirt Returns!


For those of you who were following the Wardrobe Issue of the Day (WIOTD) earlier in these posts, step back.  Just when we had abandoned all hope, yesterday, our younger son. . .

requested the Pokemon shirt!!!!!

It was “Pajama Day” (why didn’t we have pajama day when we were in school?) and he wanted to wear his pokemon shirt with his pajama pants. 

Remember, this was the shirt he categorically refused to wear until it was “winter.”

Hmm, yesterday was the eve of the Winter Solstice.  Coincidence?

You be the judge. 

Pecan Year revised

Please bear with me as I tinker with this online.

Pecan Year*

With staccato notes they strike,

 rolling like billiards

down the shed’s freshly tarred roof.

Gathered together, their hulls clack softly—

A shy child’s blocks in a silver bowl. 


Each ebony streak contains a universe,

each mottled shell a native land.



Like many pecan trees, ours only bears fruit every other year.

Winners and New Contest Announced. . .

A photo essay (with an extra bit at the end):

The Goods:


More specifically, the winners are:

Garrett Steele    Coraline

Karla Nathan     Coraline

Callmeabookworm  Neverwhere

Monda Fason         Neverwhere

Karen         Elivis and Olive

If you didn’t win this time around, don’t be too disappointed.  This was so much fun, I’m going to do another contest from January 4 to February 4, in honor of my birthday.  Also, I’m going to go to the Associated Writing Programs contest at the end of January which means another great bookfair and more great prizes.  The Gettysburg Review usually gives out the best ones (one year, an alarm clock, another sunglasses, this past year really cool coffee mugs). 

Congratulations to the winners–I’ll be emailing you for your address, but if you read this first go ahead and send it to me at And don’t forget, the next contest will be for all comments posted between January 4 and February 4.