TITLES (and *Agents, sneaky, right?)
When I started writing Cherry Bomb, I Googled the title to be sure there wasn’t a recent novel by the same name. I found another book, published in 2008: Cherry Bomb: The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Better Flirt, a Tougher Chick, and a Hotter Girlfriend–and to Living Life Like a Rock Star. While this book has nothing in common with mine, I thought I could not (legally) use the same title, so I added a subtitle to mine: Cherry Bomb: A Novel. I didn’t know it wasn’t necessary until yesterday.
Yesterday I discovered that Jill McCorkle and Kate Atkinson are both releasing novels with the same title, Life After Life, in April. And for the first time, independent booksellers have declared a tie for their No. 1 Indie Next Pick, selecting BOTH Life After Life novels for April. No legal issues, and a surprising marketing boost for both authors.
So maybe I won’t need to add “:A Novel” at the end of my book title. Hopefully an *agent will guide me concerning this. I’ve now queried 65 agents for my novel, Cherry Bomb, and have 25 rejections. Several are still reading partials or fulls. I take encouragement, not only from fellow Jackson, Mississippi, native, Katherine Stockett, whose best-selling novel, The Help, was rejected by over 100 agents, but also by my friend Joshilyn Jackson, (another Southerner) who reminded me recently that she queried 160 agents for her first novel, gods in Alabama. Only one agent responded, and he has now sold five best-selling novels for Joshilyn. If you want to read an extremely entertaining blog, check out “Faster Than Kudzu.”
One of the three protags in my novel is based on Elaine de Kooning, an Abstract Expressionist painter who died in 1989. At first I changed her name to Emily Kaiser in the book, thinking I couldn’t use a real person’s name in a novel if I was going to fictionalize her life so much. But I spoke with an intellectual right attorney who said it would be fine, and using her real name would make the book more interesting to art lovers. Fast forward a year and a half, and one of the rejections I received from a literary agent recently included this comment:
I am uncomfortable with using Ms. de Kooning’s real name in the novel.
I guess my novel doesn’t clearly fit into the historical fiction genre. I don’t know where it fits exactly… but again, I’m hoping an *agent will help me with that.
My friend, Karissa Knox Sorrell, a precious young Nashville writer whom I met at the Southern Festival of Books this past October, has a terrific blog. She’s almost finished drafting a memoir, and her post yesterday was all about how to organize the story–chronologically or thematically? We’re both converts to the Orthodox Church, and I can’t wait to read her memoir, which is about her spiritual journey. Check out her post if you’re interested in how a book comes together. I’m sure we’ll be seeing it in print one day.
So, after my post on Monday–in which I whined a bit about no one ever calling me–a friend and fellow Memphis writer who read the post emailed me with an encouraging inspirational quote, and then invited me to lunch today. I really wasn’t trying to drum up sympathy, but I’m looking forward to spending time with this wonderful woman. Emma and I both lived in Jackson, Mississippi, for 37 years, but not the same years. We met a few years ago when she took one of my icon workshops. Since then, we’ve been together at several writing workshops, and I’ve dropped in on the dream work group she leads at St. John Episcopal Church here in Memphis. Last fall, Emma invited me to give a reading from Circling Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality, for her Sunday School class at St. John, and a brief talk on writing essays and memoir. My spirits are already lifted this morning, just thinking about having lunch with Emma. (The picture is from an evening two years ago when Emma and I had dinner with Nashville author, River Jordan, following River’s reading at Davis-Kidd Books.)
Last Wednesday I posted my contribution to the authors’ blog hop that’s been underway for a while, “The Next Big Thing.” I tagged 4 writers who are posting on their sites today. Please check them out:
Jessica Handler (If Jessica’s post isn’t up yet, please check back later. I’ve got to post this and head to the airport to pick up my daughter, granddaughter, and son-in-law, who are flying in from Denver!)
Thanks for participating, ladies! I’m looking forward to seeing who you tagged for next Wednesday!
It’s been fun watching posts by authors who were all “tagged” by others. One of my favorites showed up yesterday:
“My Next Big Thing,” from my Oxford friend, Julie Cantrell. Julie writes about the sequel to her best selling novel, Into the Free. The sequel is called When Mountains Move, and it’s set to release this September.
Having been away for almost a month, I spent some time last night opening all the mail that stacked up during February. And making a wonderful “to read” stack with the writing publications that arrived, including:
Creative Nonfiction Journal’s Winter Issue (47) which has a great interview with Cheryl Strayed and Elissa Bassist, “How to Write Like a Mother#^@%*&,” (You can read it here.) Lee Gutkind talks about women writers in the creative nonfiction field in “What’s the Story?” Also included in this issue is an excerpt from Joe Bonomo’s new book, This Must Be Where My Obsession With Infinity Began, the first release by Orphan Press. Orphan Press is a new small press started by writer Kristen Iversen and artist Greg Larson. Their first book is being released this week, thanks, in part, to the success of the Kickstarter project. (Can’t wait to get my free Orphan Press t-shirt for contributing.)
Also in my mail stack were the latest issues of Poets & Writers, Writer’s Digest, and The Missouri Review! I’ll share jewels from those treasures another time. It was so hard to leave my writing retreat at the beach, and arriving home to these treats helped!
If you’ve read other authors who are doing the blog hop, please let me know who they are…. Leave a comment and a link, if you’d like. And as always, THANKS SO MUCH FOR READING. (don’t know why these last 3 paragraphs are in BOLD … and I can’t make that go away – thank you, WordPress.)
My friend, the poet, author and musician, Kory Wells, tagged me in this fun authors blog hop. (Thanks, Kory!) Read Kory’s post from last Wednesday, “Is There Still a Novel in This Poet’s Future?” I also enjoyed my friend, Jolina Petersheim’s post, “The Next Big Thing.”
Here’s how it works: Each author answers the following ten questions about her “next big thing”… whether it’s a work-in-progress, a finished project, or just an idea simmering on the back burner. Although I’m a few chapters into drafting my second novel, The Secret Book Club, I decided to write about my completed book, Cherry Bomb, for the blog hop. Here goes….
What is the working title of your book?
Cherry Bomb. Unless an agent or editor down the road wants to change it. Cherry Bomb is the “tag” used by Mare, the protagonist, for her graffiti pieces.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Cherry Bomb is actually the fourth book-length manuscript I’ve completed. The first was a novel, The Sweet Carolines. The second and third were memoirs: Dressing the Part: What I Wore for Love, and Jesus Freaks, Belly Dancers and Nuns. I think most writers would agree that many of our ideas for fiction come from real life. That’s certainly true in my case. While I have no plans to publish those earlier works, I keep returning to them and pulling out the best parts and ideas. One of the characters in The Sweet Carolines ended up in Cherry Bomb, with lots of changes, but still it started with her. And some of the plot comes from Jesus Freaks. My essay in Circling Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality, came from Jesus Freaks. The idea behind a chapter in Dressing the Part is now an essay that will be included in The Shoe Burnin’ Anthology, due out later this year. All that to say, nothing is ever wasted. Save everything!
What genre does your book come under?
I actually did some research to decide how to label Cherry Bomb. And I tweak the label a bit for each agent I query. In the final analysis, I think it’s going to end up categorized as literary fiction. Or women’s fiction. Or maybe high end commercial fiction. It’s a blend of historical, Southern/regional, spiritual, artsy…. It might be problematic that I can’t nail down its niche, but I’m hoping an agent will help me with that.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
The book has 3 main characters and about 7-8 supporting roles. I’ll just consider the leads:
Mare (protag/graffiti artist): Elle and Dakota Fanning. These sisters have shared roles as the younger and older version of the same character several times. Since Mare goes from five to twenty-five in the book, we’d need someone even younger to play her as a child. Any suggestions?
Elaine (deKooning, New York City abstract expressionist artist): Joan Allen (The Notebook, The Bourne Supremacy) or maybe Christine Baranski (The Good Wife, Mama Mia).
Neema/Mary of Egypt: In early scenes, she needs to be a child. Later, a teenage prostitute. Later, an aging desert hermit. Three actresses needed. Egyptian or someone who could pass as Egyptian. If Nelly Karim was younger (she’s almost 30) she would be perfect for the teenage Neema.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Cherry Bomb is a character-driven novel with three female protagonists—a homeless graffiti artist who escapes from a religious cult, a well-known Abstract Expressionist painter, and a fifth century Egyptian prostitute. (I know, that’s not really a synopsis, but I don’t want to reveal too much here.)
Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?
None of the above, yet. I’m querying agents right now, as my first choice is the traditional publishing route. At some point, if I don’t have an agent, I will probably query small presses. I have no plans to self-publish.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Probably about a year. But I revise as I go. I spent two years writing and revising (with help from critique groups and workshops) and then four months working with a freelance editor to polish it.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
This is a tough one. There are no books like it, that I’ve found. The closest, in structure and character development, might be Michael Cunningham’s The Hours. The way he connected the lives of three women—one historical and two fictional—over several decades and in different countries, is something I emulated.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Who would probably be my best friend, who has seen me through lots of dark nights of the soul. But also writing mentors and writing group buddies over the past six years have inspired and encouraged me. What would be my burning desire to weave bits of my own story through a work of fiction in a way that gets up and above the confessional memoir and becomes art.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The settings: from 4th century Egypt to 1980s Savannah, Georgia. Art, opera, monasteries, nuns, and priests all share the stage with a miracle-working icon in this literary novel that mystically weaves the lives of these disparate women united in their hunger for the love they didn’t get in childhood.
So, that’s all ten questions. And now, I’ll pass the gauntlet to four writing friends I’ve tagged for this blog hop. Watch for their posts NEXT WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 29:
Jessica Handler’s memoir, Invisible Sisters, is a powerful tale of coming of age as the daughter of progressive Jewish parents who moved to Atlanta to participate in the social-justice movement of the 1960s, the healthy sister living in the shadow of her siblings’ illnesses, a daughter in a family torn apart by impossible circumstances, and as a young woman struggling to redefine herself after her sisters’ deaths. Jessica will be leading a writing workshop at the 2013 Oxford Creative Nonfiction Conference, May 2-5. What’s Jessica’s next big thing? Read her post next Wednesday to find out!
Katherine Hyde is the author of a children’s book, Lucia, Saint of Light, and several spiritual literary works (some published, others still hopeful). Katherine is acquisitions editor for Conciliar Press, and does freelance editing and book design. Watch for her post next Wednesday on her blog, “God-Haunted Fiction.”
Ellen Morris Prewitt is my neighbor in Harbor Town—a wonderful seaside community on the Mississippi River in downtown Memphis. Her first published short story is about Elvis—“Mother Mary Commutes to Memphis.” Read about Ellen’s first book, “Making Crosses: A Creative Connection to God,” at www.makingcrosses.com. One of her essays, “Tetanus, You Understand?” was included in Sue Silverman’s book on writing memoir, Fearless Confessions. Ellen will be participating in the 2013 Oxford Creative Nonfiction Conference.
NancyKay Wessman lives in my hometown, Jackson, Mississippi. Her book, You Can Fix the Fat From Childhood and Other Heart Disease Risks, Too, was co-authored with Gerald S. Berensen, M.D. at AuthorHouse. Check out their Facebook Page. Watch for her “next big thing” post on her blog next Wednesday, “Wessman Words.” NancyKay will also be a participant at the 2013 Oxford Creative Nonfiction Conference.
Don’t let my title overwhelm you… I’m really not going to WRITE about all of those things today, but I am going to touch on them briefly… and send you to some good places to read more if you want to.
ESSAY REVISIONS: I’m really having fun working with an editor on an essay I’ve been invited to contribute to an upcoming anthology. I sent him about 5,000 words, which included lots of SCENES, from my training with the Creative Nonfiction folks. But he didn’t like most of my dialogue, saying it “takes away from the power of the story, mostly because it doesn’t read quite natural, and so is disruptive.” I went back and read the essay aloud again, and I agree with him. So, I just did another revision, removing most of the dialogue, and I hope it’s more powerful now. He says my essay is a “serious, cautionary editorial… a clarion call to women of a generation that were made to believe the status quo was acceptable, and it was just a matter of how one coped—with “clothing” in your case.” The title of my essay? “Dressing the Part: What I Wore For Love.” I’ll be reading from it at The Shoe Burnin’ in Waterhole Branch, Alabama, on February 9.
BLOGGING: Check out Nathan Bransford’s post today, “Where Have All the Bloggers Gone?” Not sure I agree that blogging is waning (I’ve been posting three times a week for 5 ½ years, so I’m doing my part!) but I agree with him that more and more people are commenting on blog posts in a thread on Faceback rather than on the blog itself. (It’s definitely happening with my blog.) Why? I think Blogger and WordPress make it more difficult to comment. Your thoughts?
FICTION AND ESSAYS in the AGE OF UNBELIEF: Over at Patheos, David Griffith posted “Writing in the Age of Unbelief.” (Thanks to Dinty Moore for the link over at Brevity.) Griffith writes about why he thinks more and more spiritual/religious writers are turning from fiction to creative nonfiction—and especially to the essay—as a venue for their craft. He points to great Catholic writers as a thing of the past, saying, “I also agree that we’ll never again see a confluence of writers like O’Connor, Merton, and Percy having such a broad cultural impact.” This makes me sad, because they set the bar, in my opinion, for writing great fiction that isn’t “religious” but is shot through with their own spirituality, in an organic manner. This is what I’m trying to do with my own fiction—the novel I’m shopping out right now to agents, and the novel I’m going to start writing this weekend as I begin another month-long writing retreat at the beach. But I do see his point, and even my favorite memoirist—and a recent convert to Christianity—Mary Karr, has succeeded mostly in the nonfiction marketplace, although she’s also a poet. My ten published pieces are all essays, and in most of them, I write freely about spiritual things. But only because I don’t separate my spiritual life from the rest of my life. Whether I write about sexual abuse, eating disorders, addictions, art, Alzheimer’s or adoption, God is in there. Even if only in the details.
Best family event: The birth of our third granddaughter, Gabrielle Sophia Davis, on April 23 in Denver, Colorado. I spent 5 weeks in a wonderful condo in downtown Denver, halfway between my son’s house and my daughter’s apartment. Being with Beth during Gabby’s birth was the highlight of my year.
Best news: Our oldest son, Jonathan, is out of the Army! After two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, we’re thankful he is safe and excited about pursing life as a civilian. He arrives in Memphis tomorrow!
Best publishing news: My essay, “Chiaroscuro: Shimmer and Shadow,” was included in the anthology, Circling Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality (University of Alabama Press, April, 2012) which went into a second printing a month after its debut!
Best publishing news, Runner-Up: Four literary agents are reading my novel manuscript right now!
Best memoirs I read: Full Body Burden by Kristen Iversen, The Living End: A Memoir of Forgetting and Forgiving by Robert Leleux, and Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
Best famous person memoir I read: Then Again by Diane Keaton
Best book I read on writing: On Becoming a Novelist by John Gardner
Best book of poetry I read: Tutaj/Here by Wislawa Szymborska
Best drinking memoir I read: Drinking Diaries: Women Serve Their Stories Straight Up (which includes an essay by my friend, Jane Friedman)
Best memoir I read on my Kindle: Such a Life by Lee Martin
Best novel I read on my Kindle: Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick
Best blogging news: My blog, Pen & Palette, was included in the Top 25 Reading and Writing Resources for English Buffs by mastersinenglish.org.
Best blog post by me: “Blurring the Lines Between Literary and Commercial, Fiction and Nonfiction, Entertainment and Art” (which won me a place in the Top 25 Reading and Writing Resources for English Buffs.)
Best Read (and most controversial) blog post by me: “The Holy Foolishness of Punk and the Suppression of Critical Thought”
Best Rediscovered (thank you, Facebook!) friend and writer extraordinaire: Shari Smith
Best writing events I attended: Yoknapatawpha Summer Writers Workshop (Oxford, Mississippi), Creative Nonfiction in the Delta (at the Shackup Inn, Clarksdale, Mississippi, where I gave a reading and short talk on getting published), and the Southern Festival of Books (Nashville) where I was on a panel for Circling Faith, with co-editors Jennifer Horne and Wendy Reed, and fellow contributor, Marshall Chapman
Best night out: Blue Bird Café in Nashville with Jennifer Horne and Wendy Reed (watching Marshall Chapman and other writers in the round)
Best writing retreat: 5 weeks in a condo in downtown Denver (visiting children) where I finished my novel, Cherry Bomb, and sent it to a freelance editor
Best newly discovered indie bookstore: Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia (hosted my 8th and final reading/signing event for Circling Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality, in 2012)
Best new movie I saw: “Lincoln”
Best new TV show I discovered: “Scandal”
Best series I can’t quit watching over and over: “Law & Order SVU “(Special Victims Unit) same as last two years
Best current TV show: “Parenthood” (same as last two years)
Best reality/contestant TV show: “The Voice”
Best new music video: “Tonight” by Sugarland
Best Christmas music video: “Holly, Jolly Christmas” by Lady Antebellum
Best live musical performance: Adele, “Rolling in the Deep” at the 2012 Grammys
Best new CD: “Kin” by Rodney Crowell and memoirist, Mary Karr
Best new Single: “Long Time Girl Gone By” by Rodney Crowell and Mary Karr, sung by Emmylou Harris
Best newly discovered singer/songwriter: Chuck Cannon
Lee Martin posted a fun writing exercise over at his blog on Monday. He calls it “Already Been Chewed: A Writing Exercise Using Facts.” I decided to give it a try for today’s post. As usual, I broke some of his “rules” but followed the general idea. Lots of fun and a good way to get your creative juices (and memory!) flowing. Lee got the idea from an essay by Dinty Moore, in which he followed an ancient form of poetry, the abecedarian, in which the first line or stanza begins with the first letter of the alphabet and is followed by the successive letter until the final letter is reached. (Check out Robert Pinsky’s famous abecedarian poem, “ABC,” above, right. Isn’t it amazing?) Here are Lee’s instructions (in italics) and my answers, followed by the beginning of my own (rough draft) abecedarian.
1. Who was one of your favorite childhood characters from TV, film, cartoons, comics, computer games, etc.? Angela Cartwright.
2. Choose a famous person that you so associate with something about the personality of your favorite childhood character. Barbara Hershey.
3. Think of someone from your life, either present or past, who is contrary to the personality of your favorite childhood character. Well, I already did that with Barbara Hershey. But someone from my own life? (whose name starts with the letter C?) Carol. (Last name not disclosed, to protect the guilty.)
4. Come up with an animal that you associate with the personality of your favorite childhood character. Dove. Angela was so graceful and pure in all the characters she played, which is why I think of a dove to represent her.
5. Come up with an animal that you believe is contrary to the personality of your favorite childhood character. I chose the eel because they are so dark and slimy and shadowy. Nothing that I’d associate with Angela Cartwright or her characters.
6. Recall at least one personal experience that’s suggested by your consideration of the previous items on your list. When I was in junior high school in Jackson, Mississippi, a new friend (she had come from a different elementary school) tried out for a part in a nearby high school’s production of “The Sound of Music,” and got it! I was soooo jealous. I remember sitting in the auditorium watching her on stage and thinking, “I could be on that stage.” And I was. Three years later I had a role in “Our Town,” on that very stage. No singing was involved.
7. Write your title: Son/Daughter of (Your Favorite Childhood Character): A Meditation on (leave this blank for now)
8. Begin with your favorite childhood character. Use a subject heading such as Atom Ant, or if you prefer, Ant, Atom. Write a few lines giving us some facts about that character. Feel free to do some research if you’d like.
9. Move on to each of the other items on your list, giving each a subject heading. Please note that the heading doesn’t have to be the name of the person or the animal you’re considering. Dinty has a section in his essay, for example, called Inheritance. Find more facts, whether from inside or outside your life. Go in whatever order your instinct tells you to go, knowing re-arrangement is always possible later.
10. Now that you’ve gathered your facts, go back to your title and fill in the subtitle A Meditation on. . .
I didn’t do the entire alphabet, as Dinty did in his terrific essay. But here’s mine, as far as I got:
Daughter of Angela Cartwright: A Meditation on Shadows
By Susan Cushman
Played Brigitta in “The Sound of Music” (47 years ago) and also Penny Robinson in the TV series, “Lost in Space.” But I fell in love with her originally in 1956 (I was 5 years old and she was only 4) when she played Linda in the Danny Thomas TV series, “Make Room for Daddy.” I thought Angela was an ANGEL, and I wanted to be her. I love this picture of her singing with her screen daddy. My daddy and I also sang together. And danced together. But not on the stage. I always wished we had.
Barbara came along just as I was beginning to outgrow Angela Cartwright. Her appearance in “Last Summer” in 1969 coincided with my graduation from high school, an emotional time in my life. I’m breaking the rules already, because unlike Angela, Barbara was feisty, irreverent., kind of dark. Watch these scenes from “Last Summer.” “Sweet Old Bird,” and “You’ve Traumatized Him.” Fast forward to 1988, when she co-starred with Bette Midler in “Beaches,” the same year I moved away from my hometown for the first time, leaving my best friend. (We watched “Beaches” together and argued about who got to be Barbara and who was Bette. We also cried a lot.) And then in 2010 Barbara traumatized her daughter, played by Natalie Portman, in the psychological thriller, “Black Swan.” I’m drawn to her darkness. I like shadows.
Carol was my best friend in 6th grade. Unlike angelic ANGELA, Carol got me into trouble. More than once. One time involved boys. Another time involved shaving our legs for the first time. At her house. Without our mothers’ permission. But Carol was my partner in crime. She and I were the only girls in our sixth grade who had boyfriends. So, Peggy, who was the most popular girl in our grade, started the “Anti-Susan-and-Carol-Club.” For several weeks, none of the other girls would sit with us at lunch. But we didn’t mind too much ‘cause we had the boys.
In the Old Testament, after the flood, a dove returns to Noah with a freshly plucked olive leaf. The New Teastament compares the Spirit of God to a dove, saying that it “hovered over the face of the waters like a dove.” And it was a dove that descended on Jesus during his baptism. In the earliest Christian art, the dove represented the peace of the soul. The Doves are also an English indie rock band. Gotta love Google.
Most eels are predators. And they are nocturnal. Night creatures who bury in to the sand and mud. Eel blood is toxic to humans. But both cooking and the digestive process destroy the toxic protein. The toxin derived from eel blood serum was used by Charles Richet in his Nobel Prize-winning research which discovered anaphylaxis (by injecting it into dogs and observing the effect). Good things often come from the shadows.
Grovers Corners, New Hampshire, is the fictional hamlet which serves as the setting for Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer-Prize-Winning play, “Our Town.” Wilder’s principal message in Our Town was that people should appreciate the details and interactions of everyday life while they live them. My favorite scene, which I shared with my brother, Mike, who played my on-stage older brother, George Gibbs in the play, happened atop a ladder, which served as the minimalist stage prop to show us looking out my bedroom window, at the stars one night. Rebecca ponders the position of Grover’s Corners within the vastness of the universe, which she believes is contained within “the Mind of God.” Night has fallen on Grover’s Corners, and the first act comes to an end. In 1946, the Soviet Union prevented a production of Our Town in the Russian sector of occupied Berlin “on the grounds that the drama is too depressing and could inspire a German suicide wave.”
“South Pacific” was my first favorite musical (before “The Sound of Music”). I memorized every song on the soundtrack. My favorite was “Happy Talk,” which was sung by Bloody Mary to the American lieutenant Joe Cable, about having a happy life, after he begins romancing her daughter Liat. Liat performs the song with hand gestures as Mary sings, because she can’t speak English. This type of communication was known as pidgin. As a ten-year-old, I did all those hand gestures while I sang the song, having no idea of the racial implications, either in the song, or in the relationship between the movie’s stars. “Happy Talk” is occasionally cut from productions of South Pacific on the grounds that the song is racist, citing the fake pidgin in which it is written. Ten years later (in the early 1970s) my brother (while in the Marines) would father a child in the Philippines and wouldn’t bring his Filipino lover and their child to the States, fearing that they wouldn’t be accepted in American society. The child died. Fifteen years later we adopted our first Asian child. We now have two adopted Korean children, and three beautiful bi-racial grandchildren. I wonder what they will think of South Pacific when they are old enough to watch it.
Remember how Peter lost his shadow and Wendy sewed it back on for him? Peter needed his shadow so he could continue to lead those Lost Boys on their adventures. Our youngest son, Jason, was one of those Lost Boys in the Playhouse on the Square (Memphis) production of Peter Pan in 1992. He was in fourth grade. I loved watching him do cartwheels across the stage and sing and dance with the other Lost Boys. It was midtown Memphis and so the cast was multi-cultural. Otherwise, I’m not sure a cute little Asian boy would have gotten the part. A couple of years earlier, he got a part as one of the children in the Broadway touring production of “The King and I” at the Orpheum Theater. He was the only kid who didn’t need makeup to look Oriental in that one. And yes, I lived vicariously as a stage mom during all of those shows. Stacy Keech was the King and Mary Beth Peil played Anna. There was a Korean woman who was a dancer and befriended Jason. We had drinks with her one night after the show. But I guess that has nothing to do with Peter Pan’s shadow.
I’m stopping with the letter “P” since this is just a writing exercise (first draft) and not something I plan to publish. But I must admit I’m intrigued with the abecedarian essay now. I might give it a more serious effort in the future.
Before I close today, I’d just like to share some fun news. My blog, Pen and Palette, was just named as one of the “Top 25 Reading and Writing Resources for English Buffs” by mastersinenglish.org. When you click on the link, scroll down to Number 8 in the list (it’s in categories, and my blog is in the “writing” category). I’m honored that Pen and Palette has been chosen as one of 13 blogs about writing. (Although my blog is also about mental health and faith.) Elizabeth, who works for the Masters in English organization, said this about why my blog was chosen:
“I know what gave your site my vote specifically was reading this post you wrote: http://susancushman.com/writing-on-wednesdays-blurring-the-lines-between-literary-and-commercial-fiction-and-nonfiction-entertainment-and-art/ How you discussed the blurred lines between genres and your goal of writing “kick-ass, artistic fiction” was incredibly insightful. I felt that any English student or aspiring writer should definitely know about a site with posts like that one….hence your spot on our list.”
Oh, and thanks, Lee, for the great writing exercise! Has anyone else ever written (or read) an abecedarian essay? I’d love to read more of these!
If you follow my blog, you know that I did a post about “Weeping Icons” back in March. So when Katherine Hyde invited me to contribute a guest post for a series she was introducing on her blog, “God-Haunted Fiction,” I immediately thought of those weeping icons. Katherine has titled the series, “Mysteries in Ordinary Time.” Please click on this link to read my contribution today:
Katherine Hyde is acquisitions editor for Conciliar Press, the print publishing arm of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. She also does freelance editing and book design under the business name Hyde Publishing Services. And she has written and published several books, including Lucia, Saint of Light (children’s book). I met Katherine on Facebook (she lives in California and I’m in Memphis) when she invited me to join the Orthobloggers Facebook Group. I hope to meet her in person one day.
This has been an unusual week for me, with two invitations to contribute guest posts to other blogs (Wednesday’s and today’s). I’ll be back next week with more Mental Health Mondays, Writing on Wednesdays, and Faith on Fridays. Have a great weekend, everyone!
Freelance writer and editor, Melinda Johnson, is the blog chief for The Sounding. Her novels, Letters to Saint Lydia and The Other Side of the Bonfire, are available on Amazon. Thanks so much to Melinda for inviting me to contribute a guest post.
Thanks for reading… I’ll be back on Friday with links to another guest post.
Steve Hayes, an Orthodox Christian living in South Africa, did a blog post yesterday about the “Pussy Riot” protest in a Russian Orthodox Cathedral in February.
Hayes points out:
“There are differences between Russian culture and Western culture, and differences within Russian and Western culture. There seems to be a huge gap in understanding these differences. But these differing views also have something in common: they share in the failure to understand cultural differences, and they share in the readiness to condemn those whose culture they do not understand.
But what about Orthodoxy?
Is there an Orthodox culture, and does it have anything to say about this?”
Read his article to find out more. And at the end of his post, Steve invites other Orthodox Christians to join the “synchroblog” that a number of members of the Orthoblogger Facebook Group are participating in, usually once a month. Our next synchroblog will be Friday, August 17. Check the links at the end of Steve’s post for more information. I’ll be participating, so watch for my post next Friday. The theme this month is “Orthodoxy and Culture.”
I’m thinking of alternating “Wordless Wednesday” and “Writing on Wednesday” for hump day blog posts. Today I’ll do a little combo: an exciting store display at a Barnes & Nobles in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where Circling Faith is paired with Stephen King’s latest book, The Wind Through the Keyhole. And then this terrific King quote. Less blogging and more writing today. To the words!