The excitement builds, and the day approaches when Novel Matters, will go live.  Six talented authors, Bonnie Grove, Sharon K. Souza, Latayne Scott, Debbie Fuller Thomas, Patti Hill, and Jennifer Valent will join me in this amazing group blog to discuss the reading and writing of beautiful fiction.



Hmm… Makes Reading, Writing and… What Else is There? sound a little redundant, doesn’t it? Which is exactly why this will be my last post on this blog.

But I just posted the first entry on my new blog, Ever Mindful, where I will focus on all those other things besides writing, like the walks I take around a beautiful nearby lake. And the pictures I take there. And the books I read…

Well, there will always be books.

I hope you will join me there.



Steve Bonenberger is passionate about the dreams and successes of entrepreneurs, and to help them, he’s putting together a great new microfinance project called Angels in Action. He’s a generous man.

And today his generosity extended to me, when he devoted ten minutes of his Business Talk Radio program to my newest novel, The Feast of Saint Bertie.

It was a wonderful time. I hope you’ll check it out, if only to hear me sort out what exactly is my life’s mission – on the spur of the moment, as you listen. (I’d never been asked that before.)

You’ll also hear my advice to aspiring authors (or artists, or inventors), and how I decided a long-cherished bit of writing wisdom wasn’t so wise.

Have a listen:

You know how on a DVD there are (I always hope) Special Features, the little value-added somethings that extend the pleasure of the film?

And you know how books often have the same sorts of things in the back pages, little interviews and articles and guides for book clubs?

Well, that’s the topic of the hour for my novel, which will release in September. My editor and I had a discussion today, and there will be Special Features in the back of The Feast of Saint Bertie.

If you read the excerpt on my website, you’ll get the very correct impression that cinnamon rolls figure into the story. Luscious, fabulous cinnamon rolls made by my character, India Moon. So here’s the plan: why not feature India’s recipe for cinnamon rolls?

One big reason: I haven’t the slightest idea what it is, and I’m not a great cook.

Are you? Do you have a recipe for cinnamon rolls that’s over the moon? (Get it? India Moon/Over the moon?)

If you will share it with me, and if, of all recipes submitted I choose yours, I will feature it in the back of my novel. With your name.

Please, don’t send anything taken directly from a cookbook. I don’t want copyright issues. This has to be your recipe, and you have to give me permission to use it.

And if your recipe doesn’t end up in the book, it may well find it’s way into one or two or three “Honorable Mention” posts, in September.

I can’t wait to see what you’ve been cooking up. Contact me here.

(Thanks to Alícia Roselló Gené for the image.)

A follow-up to this post and this post:

On my walk today I found a pair of geese with one very small gosling. So far, all the families I’ve seen had at least three goslings, so this was unusual. Could this be my Mr/Mrs Goose with one survivor? They weren’t far from the empty nest.

But the gosling was feeble, shivering. I tried calling a vet, but they didn’t know anything about geese. I tried calling a shelter, but they were closed. I wanted to scoop the poor thing up and take it home, but what if this was a normal newborn gosling, and what if I did more harm than good? Besides, if I was right about the situation, the mom and dad had suffered enough trauma already. They didn’t need me stealing their last remaining baby, when for all I knew they were doing everything right.

When I got home I remembered that a friend of mine raises chickens. Figuring the drill’s probably pretty much the same for chicks and goslings, I called her. She said that chicks generally spend the first two days of life in the nest, snuggled under mom’s wing to keep warm. They don’t need to eat during that time because the last days of gestation give them a reserve.

Well. If this guy had his egg broken for him, he was something like a premie, right? And mom and dad had been scared away from the nest.

My friend suggested I take him some chick feed and see if I could get him to eat. I got the feed, but when I got to the lake I couldn’t find him.

Several goose families have combined over the past week or so into what I call “the daycare,” because there are several adults and a whole little gaggle of goslings. Today, one or two of the little ones were quite small. Maybe my premie had grown stronger and joined with them? That would be great. I try to believe that.

Or perhaps he’s hidden away. Or maybe he didn’t make it.

I may never know. But if I find out, I’ll tell you.


This from Jill, my friend who raises chickens:

If there were groups of adults and goslings, chances are that they joined the group for safety. I did some reading today about raising Canada geese goslings and they don’t recommend it. They say that the birds never learn the skills needed to survive in the wild and are too trusting of humans which can be a bad thing. One thing I did learn is that the rumor I’ve always believed about not touching baby birds because the parents will reject them because of smell is totally false. Apparently birds identify the babies by sound, not by smell. So if you find a baby bird that has fallen out of a nest, it’s perfectly OK to put it back. That little factoid made my day!

Mine too. 🙂

(Thanks to Tanya McConnell for the picture)

Just for fun, I signed up on Twitter today.

(Okay, I’m having an on-the-couch sick day, so my idea of fun right now is all about signing up for free online services. Have a free online emu adoption service? You can probably get me to take a free emu, if you jump in there quick enough.)

Why Twitter? Besides it’s being free and simple?

Well, for one, I can bore you with my moment-to-moments, if you look down at the very bottom of my sidebar. And if any of you are Tweeters yourselves, you can let me know you’re there. I love company.

Not fun enough? Okay, here’s the best reason: To twitter, one simply answers the question, “What are you doing?” That’s a good question to ask myself from time to time, and answering in a public venue adds a small measure of accountability. I’m going to want to give good answers, ones that are less boring. I can’t stay on the couch forever.

So I’ll try it for a while. I’d love to hear of your experiences with Twitter. And if you currently tweet, I’d love it if you’d tweet my way.

(Thank you, John Evans, for the image. I'd adopt this bird - if you asked 
quick enough.)

Never forget that the best tools you have as a writer are yourself, your memories, your values, your POV or life perspective, your doubts, fears and obsessions. Especially your doubts, fears and obsessions. This alone makes your story unique.
~Catherine Ann Jones, in The Way of Story

Especially your doubts, fears and obsessions. Oh drat. The very things you’d rather people knew nothing about, and they turn out to be your stock in trade. What kind of a calling is that?

But thought of another way, how many things can you do with your life that require you to emerge from your cave and fling your deepest feelings onto a piece of paper? To more or less throw your best tantrum and then edit for clarity and punctuation?

In the finest novels I’ve read, it seems clear that the writer has done exactly that. And the results needn’t be morose. Plain, frank honesty within the writer can allow him to express emotions in his characters that startle us with the delight of surprised recognition.

Because I want you to see what I mean – and even more because I want you to read The Book of the Dun Cow – I’m going to instruct you to read an excerpt of the book here.

Right now. Go read it.

Are you back?

Look at this paragraph again:

“Ah, me! What I could have been in a better place. Such a wonderful somebody I should have been,” he wept, “that it would have been a pleasure to look at. But this is the place, and this is the me. Look at me, and be sad. See me and be sorrowful. No!” he wailed suddenly. “No, don’t look! No one should be burdened with such a sight — a walking sin. But sleep,” he wailed. “Sleep and be what I can never be. It does my soul good to know that someone is at peace. Sleep.” And then he howled like the north. wind: “Maroooooooned!”

See? Wangerin couldn’t have written that if he didn’t know what it is to feel ugly, if he didn’t admit to himself what self pity sounded like, coming out of a good hearted mouth.

Admitting to yourself. I think that may be the first skill of the writer.

And maybe the hardest one to learn.

Woman in front of book store“We read to know we’re not alone.”

So said C.S. Lewis. Actually, he was quoting the father of one of his pupils. Or was that just in the movie?

Either way, he only had it half right. We also read to remember that the world is an extraordinary place.

I love to hear from people who go to the places and live the escapades that I, for whom most adventures begin in the bookstore and end in my chair at home, will only read about.

My friend, the poet Mandy Sutter, seems to understand. To honor National Poetry Month, she graciously allowed me to share this poem with you:

In the gap between an English afternoon and evening,
we’re let into the bookshop, leaving the dishevelled city
with its relentless pavements, for the civilisation
of folding pine chairs and carpeting; books.

She enters to held breaths wall-to-wall. She’s slight, tanned,
more this, less that than anyone expected, hair bright as a globe.
She shows slides: cooking monkey in Gambo; on a pirogue
up the Zaire river; getting stoned by children in Senegal.

But my eyes are on her more than the pictures. She brings me
the world on her feet, skin, breasts, in my own tongue.
It silences me, an islander holidaying on other islands;

Ibiza, Crete, Tenerife. A woman walking continents raises dust.

Willing to see more sense in a grain of desert sand
than in all of England, I queue for her book, her signature.

Meeting her eyes, I receive my blessing and leave smiling.
We all do. We have been saved; already we are less ordinary.

Thank you, Mandy.

(Thanks to Boni Idem for the image.)

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