Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Holy Links and Feeds, Batman

Realized this weekend that I have several dozens of links on my computer's bookmarks, on this blog's right side, and in my Blogger Reader's subscriptions.  Holy links and feeds, Batman!

So I'm severely organizing all of these, and I'll put them all on the right side of this blog--at some point.  I've been working on this a lot, and you just can't do one thing for several hours, staring at the screen, pressing save, and blah blah blah without going a little bit nuts.  But I'm gettin' there, so have some patience.

And keep checking off to the side.  There you'll find links that I read, subscribe to, think are interesting, or find helpful to writers--and any combination of these things.

The links are not all followers of this blog, so I'm not just pimping my e-friends.  These are things I actively read, like, and/or find helpful.  Included are blogs and sites about agents, agencies, writers, and maybe one or two bloggers who are not associated with the writing, blogging, agent thing.  I mean, come on, now.  There's more to life. 

I mean, maybe.  I think there is.

Give 'em a shot.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Best American Mystery Short Stories

photo: cover of the book from its Amazon page

A few comments about the stories I've read so far in The Best Mystery Short Stories--1998 (edited by Sue Grafton).  Though of course the collection is old, stories are stories, and good writing is timeless.  You couldn't do much better, for example, than some of Chekhov's short stories; writers like Alice Munro and others are still obviously indebted to him.  The hope here is that you'll check out the other works of the writers positively mentioned below.  Most of them are still pounding the keys...

Child Support, by David Ballard

Not overly impressive.  Generic story about a guy, who you don't like, wheeling his baby around in a carriage, and walking his dog, at the same time, and grousing about it.  He's being divorced; the language and tone he uses to think about his ex-wife and baby make you dislike him immensely.  That is, of course, the idea.  So these tough-looking guys straight out of every bad (and good) film of its type approaches him.  He thinks they're from this guy he owes a lot of money to (he's a gambler, too, of course).  They say that they'll give him riches if he can make his dog catch a frisbee eight times.  The dog is super-awesome and by far the best character of the story.  If not, they threaten to kill him, take the baby for immoral purposes, or both.  (So you could argue he takes the wager to save the baby's life, which defeats the entire purpose of the story, and is clearly overlooked by Ballard.)  The dog drops the eighth toss, after seven predictably tough and awesome catches.  Just when he thinks he'll be plugged and his baby stolen, the guy whips out a card, introduces himself as his ex-wife's lawyer, tells him they have it all on film--him taking the wager--and then his ex-wife gets out of the car at the curb.  The guy hands over custody of the baby and the dog to the wife.  The story reads as bad as it sounds.  The writing is so pedestrian that I constantly felt I could do better.  Hard to believe this one was chosen to start off the book, but a quick look now at the Table of Contents shows that they listed them in alphabetical order, by the author's last name.  Hard to believe this was one of the best mystery stories of 1998, or of any year.

Swear Not By the Moon, by Scott Bartels

This was a very edgy, harsh and effective short story about drug addiction, crime, and the depths that an addict will go to just get away.  Very desperate story, desperately written.  It all goes to hell at the end, of course, and the crime he commits isn't the one he was supposed to commit (though neither one is better), and you get the impression that his end won't be a good one, and it'll be soon.  Well-written and memorable.  There's no mention in the story, by the way, of the title, or the title's source, which I know you know is Romeo and Juliet.  (At the balcony scene, she tells him not to swear his love on the moon, the inconstant moon, because it's face changes every night.)

Keller on the Spot, by Lawrence Block

Passable short story, very readable, though not extremely memorable.  A hitman is sent on a job, but saves the life of the grandson of the target.  The guy thanks him, and the hitman grows to like him, so he doesn't want to kill him.  He tries to get out of it, but can't, unless he walks away--at which point they'll just send another hitman to do the job.  But, turns out, the target ordered his own hit--he's the customer.  He has cancer, so he wants to get shot because he couldn't kill himself.  But the target knows the hitman was sent to do it, and he doesn't want to get killed anymore, at least not by that guy.  The waiting's been killing him, knowing it could be any second.  The anxiety just wore him down.  So he cancels his own hit, and still pays in full, so nobody's going to shoot him after all.  He says goodbye to the hitman; they've become good friends.  At their goodbyes, it's obvious that the target is still in a lot of pain from the cancer, so the hitman will hang around the city for a few days, until the guy gets calm and relaxed again--but still in great pain--and then the hitman will put him out of his misery.  Well done, very readable.  Fans of the genre will know Block's name.

The Man Next Door, by Mary Higgins Clark

Hate to say it, but this is really bad, one terrible cliche after another.  A serial killer with a mommy complex lives next door to attractive younger woman who's too trustful and friendly to the weird neighbor.  He takes down his cinderblocks in his basement and enters hers that way, which is how he gets into her house unseen, and injects her with something so he can bring her to his basement, where he makes her read him children's books, and he responds like an adult infant.  Meanwhile, the boyfriend just knows there's something wrong, and he investigates.  Turns out, the killer also has OCD issues, to the extent that he tidied up the woman's house after he'd kidnapped her.  And she's a lovable slob, so everyone knows someone's been in the house.  And the guy next door has become infamous for his manicured lawn, and pristinely-pinned curtains.  The boyfriend gets to the basement just in the knick of time...Ugh!  So bad, you compulsively keep reading, mesmerized by how awful it is.  Hopefully her novels are better than this.  Hard to believe this writer is a famous millionaire.

This Is A Voice from Your Past, by Merrill Joan Gerber

Very, very well-written story, very touching and memorable.  A woman with a husband, kid, and another on the way gets a call from a college lover, asking for a favor.  As the story says, it's a call we all get, in one fashion or another, and we all dread it when we get it.  This guy had been the gifted writer of the college class they shared, a sure thing.  The professors and students all thought so.  But he drinks, and drifts...and then calls.  He and the narrator meet up after the second time he called, thirty years after the other call.  She's a published author by then herself, making a reasonable but not rich living, and she's a college professor as well, teaching creative writing.  He's in AA, destitute like last time, but in town, he says, living there because she lives there.  She doesn't want to see him, afraid of the feelings and memories he turns up--and churns up, as he's irascible and unreliable.  She's too nice to ignore him, so she invites him over a few days later, when she's having a big family and friend barbecue.  He looks really bad, and pathetic, and by the time he leaves, he's eaten a piggish amount of food, he's been given all of the tons of leftovers, and he even walks off with the narrator's old but cherished typewriter, which she still uses.  Soon she's gotten him a place to stay, and he attends her class...only to leave with a much younger and naive female student, who naively lets him borrow her car, which he takes to the racetrack and to bars, with predictable results.  And he leaves with the typewriter after he drops the car off at the girl's place, its tank empty.  Much later, the typewriter turns up at the guy's wheelchair-bound brother's place, because the brother finally told him to get lost and stop mooching off of him...Finally, the third call comes.  He's yelling, screaming, angry, obviously on a bender, and tells her that he's stopping by right away.  Days, weeks, months go by--and the narrator cringes every time the phone rings.  This is a well-written story about enabling the needy, which we've all done, and about that someone we all know who we're afraid will call and disrupt our lives, yet we're almost powerless to do anything about it.

Full disclosure: On a whim, I came across Ms. Gerber's website, on LinkedIn and via the university at which she teaches.  I sent her one very short complimentary email, which she was kind enough to respond to.  She wrote that I wrote like a writer, which is one of the better compliments I've gotten about my writing (I think).

More to come...Check these writers out.  They have other books and stories out there.

P.S.--This book is available at Amazon for $88.00 because it has four autographs--one from Ms. Gerber, Lawrence Block, Mary Higgins Clark and Donald Westlake, who's story will be covered in a later post.

Friday, February 24, 2012


Evelyn Belanger


August 21, 1907


February 10, 2012

The things she must have seen; all that she must have known...

"All those moments lost in time like tears in the rain..."

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Guest Interview--Writer Julie Holland, Weekends at Bellevue, Part 3

photo: Cover of Weekends at Bellevue, from the previous interview post (see below)

As the title suggests, this is Part Three of my interview with writer, and Dr., Julie Holland.  She is the author of Weekends at Bellevue: Nine Years on the Night Shift at the Psych. ER.  This was a very easy and quick read, interesting and entertaining.  Part One of the interview is here, and Part Two is here.  Thanks to all who commented and emailed about it.  If you're interested in the book, or in Dr. Holland's other writings, go to her website here.

7.  Do you read anything outside of professional texts by any other medical professional, such as Oliver Sacks?  Overall, what else do you enjoy reading?  What are some of your favorite titles, and why? 

I read this book of short stories once, called Boys of My Youth by Jo Ann Beard, that really made me feel like I could write, somehow. It was written simply, in first person present tense primarily, but it was completely inspirational for me, and it came at a good time in my musing about the memoir. I do like to read other doctors. Abraham Vergese is amazing, and I enjoy Oliver Sacks, and Andy Weil is someone I admire terribly. I tend toward non-fiction the most, in that I can rationalize I’m learning things I can pass on to my patients, so I end up reading a fair amount of self-help oriented things, and parenting books, which I can often digest in a very short time. For fiction, I’ve always been a fan of John Irving. I love symbolism and magical thinking, and he has plenty. And I used to read a lot of Stephen King when I was younger. Those books go down easy. But I don’t read those types of books anymore. I will always read the fiction piece in the New Yorker. I’ve always loved short stories, and I think Debra Treisman does a great job editing/choosing the authors.

8.  Do you now, or have you ever, felt that your field was dominated by one gender?  If so, can you explain how you work(ed) through that? 

Psychiatry is probably pretty woman-heavy compared to other medical fields. And gay men are over-represented as well, I’d say. So that’s never been a problem for me, feeling like I’m being kept down by
“the man.” Plus, growing up, all my friends were guys and I’ve always been a bit of a tomboy, so even when I was doing a surgery rotation, which was primarily men, I’d just play at being one of the guys, or I’d just flirt my way through the rotation. In the field of psychedelic research and drug policy reform, what I’ve noticed, actually is not so much a domination of one gender, as a preponderance of Jews! My theory is that Jewish people tend to make bad drinkers, given our low levels of the enzyme required to break down alcohol, so there are more pot smokers and drug takers among the “chosen people!” But, being a Jew as well, I fit right in with those guys too.

9.  In a nutshell, what are your thoughts about what it takes to be successful, at anything, for anyone?
I do believe “it takes a strong lure to nurse the hardships we endure.” (who said that? I did.) You need to be committed to a cause and not let the bastards get you down. It’s so easy to be a critic, be a naysayer. Whenever I’ve had good ideas, there have been people in positions of power and experience who’ve told me it wouldn’t work. And I said “watch.” I am an eternal optimist, and “no” is just a place to start negotiations. It drove my mother crazy, but it’s served me well. If my inuition says it’s the right thing to do, I follow my gut.

10.  Why did you decide to write a memoir about your experiences?  How did that come about?

Every single time I told someone that I ran the psych ER at Bellevue on weekends, they all said the same thing. And I mean all. “You should write a book.” They all wanted to hear stories. Everyone had questions. And I had answers. I wanted to explain things to them, about psychosis, the medicines, the crazy behavior not just from the patients. I saw some weird shit go down at that hospital that had nothing to do with the patients. I loved that place, and I wanted to share it with all the people who couldn’t get to do what I did, what I loved. It was easy to write because I was just telling stories. One night a naked kid barking like a dog came in. Another night I got punched in the face. One month this doctor and I kept butting heads. Then my friend died. I had plenty of material, and my memory was sharp, but the most important thing for me about that book was that I kept notes. After a weekend shift at the hospital, I’d come home Monday mornings and write emails to a friend of mine, like “you’ll never believe what happened this weekend.” And I started cutting and pasting my notes from those letters, and they formed the basis of the book. Interesting problem was, I stopped writing emails about my job after I got punched. So when I left Bellevue and decided to write the book, I had to reconstruct all the history from the night I got punched, onward, without any notes.

I'd like to thank Dr. Julie Holland again for doing this (long) interview.  Now go out there and finish your own writing, kids.  If such a busy woman can do it, what's our excuse?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Victims: An Alex Delaware Novel--A Google Preview

photo: from it's Goodreads page; release date is February 28th, 2012

Read the Google preview, which was about half the book, maybe more.  Mostly good stuff so far, though it was like watching an R-rated Law and Order episode.  Very genre, overly episodical, with the minor characters and just-the-facts ma'am mixed with the unnecessary relationship stuff between Delaware and Robin that I'm guessing over 80% of the readers skip over, including me.  Some of the writing, as usual, tries too hard to be brutal chic, but it's still effective, and I can see a little of the tone in my preview, which is a compliment to Kellerman and a bit disconcerting to me.  His minor characters are, as always, stereotypes, yet effective and memorable.  In other words, nothing brand new or groundbreaking here, but you're not going to find that in a series this long, anyhow.  What he does, he does very well.  I'd defy almost anyone to hear a summary of one of his books, without ending or character names, and be able to tell them apart so well that I'd get the actual title of the book from them.  After the fourth or fifth in the series, they all kind of blend together.  That's why I gave up buying every book about two books ago--that's a large series to box up and give away.  They're well-done enough for me to read from the library, though; I might just go to Barnes and Noble or the library and read this one in a few hours while my better half's doing a double.  (And then put it back on the shelf.)  I'm more than a little bothered by the obvious, but still-understated, glee the author takes in his gore and depravity shots, but he knows that's why we read his books, so what choice does he have?  Sometimes his stuff can be so brutal that you feel like taking a shower afterwards, but that doesn't stop us from reading it, does it?  More to come after I read the whole thing...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Guest Interview--Writer Julie Holland, Weekends at Bellevue, Part 2

photo: Cover of Weekends at Bellevue, from the previous interview post (see below)

As the title suggests, this is Part Two of my interview with writer, and Dr., Julie Holland.  She is the author of Weekends at Bellevue: Nine Years on the Night Shift at the Psych. ER.  This was a very easy and quick read, interesting and entertaining.  Part One of the interview is here.  Thanks to all who commented and emailed about it.  If you're interested in the book, or in Dr. Holland's other writings, go to her website here.
4.  One of the running themes of your book is the courage to accept change.  Change was one of the hardest things for your patients to deal with, and your narrator also struggled with this, especially after the death of your friend, and after you felt yourself burning out at Bellevue.  Can you speak more of this now, and maybe about how some are better able to deal with change, while others perpetually struggle?
I think resilience is crucial to survival. Adapt or your species will die out. But many people are rigid, and get thrown off easily. They need to know what’s going to happen and how to prepare, but in life there’s really only so much you can predict. I honestly think that some of my experiences with psychedelics helped me to be flexible about my surroundings, to look at things from different perspectives, outside the box, as it were. The things that help me deal with change now are primarily a buddhist philosophy, and naturally not caring about much anyway. The older I get, the more nonplussed, but Buddhism teaches you to have an open hand, not grasping, not clinging. It comes, it goes. That is the basis for life. Nothing stays. At Bellevue the big drag for me wasn’t the unexpected. That was the fun part. It was the people coming in repeatedly, the ones who were “stuck.” Hitting spiritual brick walls, in the guise of addiction or other self-sabotage. Obviously in this case, change is needed. Insanity really is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results.

5.   Could you boil your thoughts down to a few paragraphs each about the benefits of MDMA and Cannabis?
MDMA and Cannabis are both Schedule I drugs. This means our government deems them to have no medical use and a high potential for abuse. They both have lower levels of addictive potential than cigarettes and alcohol, and they both have broad indications for therapeutic use, so they are inappropriately scheduled. MDMA assisted psychotherapy has been shown to be safe and effective in treating post traumatic stress disorder in various patient populations. I’m the medical monitor of two clinical research trial now enrolling veterans with PTSD from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. One is using MDMA assisted psychotherapy, and the other is using various strains of cannabis to diminish their symptoms. MDMA is a catalyst that allows psychotherapy to go deeper, more quickly. I think of it almost like anesthesia for surgery, except you’re awake, aware, fully present, with enhance memory not only for the traumas, but for the session. Cannabis is an ancient medicinal plant that was in the pharmacopeia until the 1941. It was made illegal soon after alcohol became legal, and the AMA resisted the move then.  Recently, the American Medical Association came out supporting investigation and clinical research of cannabis for medicinal use. And The American College of Physicians recently expressed similar support. They have called on our government to move cannabis out of Schedule I. There is impressive medical evidence mounting that cannabis can treat a wide array of symptoms, from lack of hunger to muscle spasms, autoimmune diseases, migraines, seizures, pain, nausea, and the most surprising to me, cancer.

6.  Did you know when you were younger that you wanted to be--or that you would be--a professional in the medical field, and a published author?

I went to public school in a town outside of Boston. My mom was a science teacher, and paid attention to who my teachers were and how I was doing. I was in the advanced tracks, took AP classes, etc. I was a good student and got good grades, but I had plenty else going on in my life growing up. I had great friends in high school, and played in a band, so the big choice in my life was always between medicine and music. Not between medicine and writing. I was very interested in drugs and the brain and went to Penn because they had a major that combined neurology, behavior, and psychopharmacology. I was premed but threw away my application to med school once I found a band I thought could really “make it.” I ended up staying with that band until my 3rd year of med school, when I really couldn’t straddle both options anymore. The writing really came later for me.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson, read by Mandy Siegfried

photo: Audiobook of Speak, from booksamillion.com.  (Wikipedia's image was very faint.)

I volunteered to make a CD from the tapes of this title, so I figured I'd get some computer work done at the same time.  I do that from time to time for free.  I tell the people how long it took me to make the CDs for them, and I give them the address of the local homeless/battered women shelter for them to make a donation to.  (By the way, I make CDs from tapes and records using my vintage-looking Crosley CD recorder.  For the last few years, I've had one of these things in every room.  Love 'em!  They can be expensive, but I used a succession of Bed, Bath and Beyond 20% coupons to get mine--saving about $70-$80 each time.  The other two I have don't have the tape ability, which is a little more costly.  To show you what mine looks like, go here.)  Anyway, I dimly remembered Amanda Siegfried from a couple of movies (she'd gone by Mandy, apparently, in 1999-2000), and from a couple of plays.  She's been acting for longer than you think.

Anyway, hers was a really good performance of a pretty good book.  Siegfried has a crisp, clean voice and she uses it well here, never over-acting or over-reaching when she switches characters.  She sounds a little older than the 9th grader she's reading for--and that becomes even more obvious since this is told in first-person present--but that doesn't detract from the performance.

The book itself is unusual for its first-person present POV, which works to make the action more immediate, though there isn't much that happens that needs such immediacy until the end.  For the most part, the main character is an astute observer and chronicler of her peers, parents and teachers, though the teachers often seem stereotypical, and the parents often seem unrealistic.  (The mother's response to her daughter's suicide attempt by cutting is a head-scratcher.)  You might also wonder how a 9th grader could take a bus everywhere and skip school so often without her parents knowing, but I've seen it happen.  Not often, though.  (Same goes for how a girl between 8th and 9th grades could go to a party, get drunk, get raped, and then go home at a moment when both parents are out, so that in the end she doesn't have to tell them a thing.  And why didn't her name come up in the investigation?  If it had, she would've told a cop what happened right away.  Okay, so now that I'm thinking and writing this, that doesn't make any sense at all--and, yet, it's believable.  I don't doubt that it's happened often, just like this.)  And apparently she has her own little reading nook in the school building, a la The NeverEnding Story.  There's a little bit of Holden Caulfield here, but he's the granddaddy of them all and you can't escape his voice--Salinger nailed it that well.  And the author at times tries a little too hard for 9th grade coquettish, such as how the narrator ponders the plurality of some words and phrases.  These moments almost caused Siegfried to trip, as well.  And calling the principal Principal Principal tends to startle you out of the suspension of disbelief, as well.  A few times would have been a nice touch, but the author fell in love with it and mentions it seemingly dozens of times.  That became a little grating. 

As far as the astute observations--well, there's nothing new here, yet what is here is done very well.  I can't relate to the kid universe she describes here (and I don't think I could've when I was that age, either.  I just didn't take part in the social milieu at that age, nor did I care about it; some would argue that I haven't changed much about that), but I don't doubt that it is for most 9th grade girls as it's described here, though of course this is maybe exaggerated a bit for effect.

But, in all, this was a good performance of a book that's probably a very good read for girls of that age.  I don't know that 9th grade boys would get as much out of it, but then they're not the intended audience.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Writers' Virtues

A quick shout out to Rosanne Dingli, who brought up the topic of writers' virtues in a recent blog.  (Her blog is interesting; go there.)  This started a conversation with someone about specifically which five virtues were mandatory for every successful writer.  We disagreed about what those five were, so I thought I'd include mine, with a brief explanation.

My five writers' virtues--all of which I need more of:

1. Diligence and Perseverance, because not every moment will be an inspired one. And you have to write, anyway. And then keep at it. If I waited to be truly inspired, I'd write only 10-12 times a year. And you have to be diligent enough to move on to the next piece--fast.

2. Versatility, because your story won't always come out in a gush. Writers need to work at a scene near the beginning, then the middle, then 1/4 through...and writers should write different things. I've had a spec. fiction story, a small nonfiction piece, and a mystery short story accepted or published in the last few weeks. Plus, you have to be versatile enough to write the story the way it wants to be written. And versatility means balancing writing/career/relationships...

3. Empathy, because if you don't have the humanity to care about your characters--even the minor ones, or the bad ones--then the agent, editor and reader won't, either. Reading YEAR OF WONDERS right now; the empathy and humanity Brooks feels for her characters is a force stronger than the plague she details.

4. Bravery, because the rejections will pile up, but you have to send it out again, anyway. My latest rejection said, "Though I liked the concept, the ending seemed pretty arbitrary." OUCH. And you have to be brave enough to tell the story the way it wants to be told, too. Not for the faint.

5. Contentedness, at least while writing. (Though a great many great writers were malcontents.) If writing itself doesn't content you, you won't write for long.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Guest Interview--Dr. Julie Holland, Weekends at Bellevue

photo: Book cover for Dr. Julie Holland's Weekends at Bellevue. 

[Apologies to all, especially Dr. Holland, for the formatting issue the last few days.]

Awhile ago I blogged about the quick and entertaining memoir, Weekends at Bellevue, Nine Years on the Night Shift at the Psych. ER; you can read that here. (Again, the book is highly recommended, and not just for its subject matter alone. It's also useful in terms of how to write a memoir, especially one that is work-based.) Its author, Dr. Julie Holland, was nice enough to do an interview with me. She graciously and thoroughly answered 10 questions, in addition to the 10 questions from the Pivot questionnaire that James Lipton asks his guests on Bravo's Inside the Actor's Studio. The whole thing is so long that I've decided to break it down in a few posts. Here's a part of it. In these questions, she talks about writing, teaching, and finding the time to do both. I once again thank the author for taking part.

1. With your busy schedule--being the Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, NYU School of Medicine, as well as a professional therapist for your own office--how do you find the time to write at all? (If you could break down your typical day in a timeline, that'd be great to show my students, many of whom insist that they don't have the time to do anything. I'm guilty of this myself, when I'm asked by various editors about my deadlines!)

I’ve always found that the more I have to do, the more I get done. The busier I am, the more efficient I am with my time. But these days I have more free time than I used to. My kids are in school full time, which helps. (Although, I used to get an incredible amount of work done when my daughter took three hour naps. I miss those days.) On the days when I run my private practice, I’ve made a deal with myself. I write or edit on the train ride into the city, as long as I can veg out and watch movies on my laptop on the ride home. That’s worked out surprisingly well.

2. Please share your secrets, or tips for great time management, in terms of how and when you just sit down and write. Also, how do you clear your head of all that went on that day so you can sit down and write--or spend time with the family, etc.?

It’s nearly impossible to do, I know, but if you want to be a writer, you need to devote time to being alone in a quiet place where you can think and type. Writing is a solitary career, though obviously punctuated by breaks where you can do anything you feel like. Sometimes when I’m lying around reading, at least I can rationalize that I’m “doing research for a new book.” Other times, like when I get obsessed and need to watch all six seasons of LOST, I have to be honest with myself that I am “blocked” or “in a slump” or just plain procrastinating, and muscle through it, because eventually I know I’ll get back to my project. I really have to schedule time for writing on my palm pilot and treat it like an appointment I couldn’t cancel. Once I cleared my calendar on my birthday and spent the whole day in my office not with patients, but just writing. That was a great gift I gave to myself. I have good concentration so I don’t need complete silence to work, though I often recommend writing with earplugs to others. I do know writers who treat it like a job, where they sit down at their desk every morning from 9am to noon and don’t sit up until they’ve written X number of pages. Those writers are far more successful than I. Two of my books have been anthologies, which is really tricky because I was waiting for people to turn in their chapters so I could edit them, or write my introductions to the assembled sections. Those books took longer than writing something myself. In those cases, I just made a point of returning each one as soon as it came in. I liked having something new to work on, and editing is way easier than making up your own stuff.

3. You mentioned in your book--Weekends at Bellevue: Nine Years on the Night Shift at the Psych. ER--that you'd always wanted to write. Can you explain why that is, and how that feeling originated?

I like to teach, to explain things to people that I’ve figured out. Writing is a great vehicle for that. I’m a big talker, and I definitely look at writing as a form of talking, shmoozing. You’re telling a story. If you can hold an audience’s attention whether at a cocktail party or classroom, you can probably be a writer. I got a lot of positive feedback about my writing from teachers when I was growing up, and also my mother, and I think that probably encouraged me the most.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Past Seven Days

Photos: My table and chair, mentioned below.  (Notice the cool drawer in the last pic.)  Please comment or email and let me know exactly what these things are--year and model.  Guesses and approximations are okay.  Thanks!

Wrote and sent the author bio for a spec. fiction short story, "Hide the Weird," to be published THIS MONTH in Space and Time Magazine.  (Please check out the link--and I apologize for the unabashed self-promotion.)

A very short nonfiction piece, "Someone To Come Home To," accepted for publication.  Details to come.

Another short story, this one a mystery, possibly to be accepted soon.  Crossing my fingers and staying positive--which is why I mention it here to begin with.  Details to come.

Recovering from strep, which may have not completely gone away.  Overall feeling: bleh.

Bad headache last two days; it is a killer today.  So much for Friday night plans.

Getting the house ready for Round Two of tearing down wallpaper, painting the walls and treating the floors.  Lots of cleaning to do first, and organizing the clutter.  Furniture has to be moved out.  Money has to be saved and spent.  Lots of it.  It'll be worth it, though; the living room looks like a million bucks--and cost about as much.  But who knew there was a great-looking wall ready to be coated blue, and strong white oak beneath all that old carpeting?

1895 round writing table placed in the upper corner of said living room.  (Table's in great shape and was bought at a yard sale for $20.)  Area rugs bought for this, and for the small dinner table behind the couch/in front of the fireplace.  Finding these area rugs took an exasperating three-plus hours, but they came cheap and look great.  Putting all those felt things on the bottom of the furniture legs was also a chore.

Harried and exhausting part of my job accomplished on-time this past Monday, which screwed up my sleeping patterns and possibly created my current state of blah-ness.

All in all, though, a great week between posts.

How did yours go?  Please share.

And, by the way, does anyone know exactly what year and model the table (or chair) is?  Any possible idea would be appreciated.  Just throw it to me and I'll look it up.  Thanks!