Advice to Writers

Are you familiar with the site AdvicetoWriters.com? If not, I highly recommend it. The Daily Quote of the Day is always a gem. The information on the site, “Writerly Wisdom of the Ages,” is collected by Jon Winokur. Advice to Writers also features interviews with writers.

jpg_writing400You can subscribe to email to receive a Quote of the Day, and follow Advice to Writers on Twitter @AdviceToWriters.

Another of my ‘go-to’ sites for writerly advice and inspiration is the interviews from The Paris Review. The archived interviews with authors date back to the 1950s. From Truman Capote to Dorothy Parker, Ernest Hemingway to Henry Miller, and James M. Cain to W.H. Auden, The Paris Review interviews provide hours of fascinating reading.

Do you have a favorite site for writing advice and/or writer interviews?

Follow me on Twitter @katcop13

Edgar Allan Poe Festival – 2015

Courtesy: Riverhead BID

This weekend marks the second annual Edgar Allan Poe Festival in Riverhead, New York. A parade on Main Street kicks off the festivities tonight at 7 p.m.

The Festival is sponsored by The Town of Riverhead and The Riverhead BID. The festival has been created by St. George Living History Productions.

On Halloween, Trick or Treat on Main Street begins at 11 am and continues until 3 pm. There will be musicals, story times, tours, family games, and readings. Members of the New York chapter of Mystery Writers of America will be available at the Dark Horse Restaurant starting at 11 am for book sales and signings.

On Sunday, beginning at 12 noon, members of the Long Island Sisters in Crime will be available for book sales and signing, also at the Dark Horse Restaurant.

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At the Vail Leavitt Music Hall at 12:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday, a one-act play depicting a fictitious meeting between three classic writers of the macabre: Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley, in “The Ghost Writers.”

Poe-inspired menus will be available all weekend at the Blue Duck Bakery, the Dark Horse Restaurant, Uncle Joe’s Restaurant, Sonoma Grill, Joe’s Garage, and more.

Readings will be done all weekend long. I’m proud to be reading some of Poe’s poetry; “Spirits of the Dead,” at 12:30 pm at the Sonoma Grill, and “Alone” at Joe’s Garage at 2 pm, both on Sunday, November 1st.

According to northforker.com, here’s a list of “5 ‘don’t miss’ events” at the festival.

For a complete listing of events, click here.

Follow me on Twitter @katcop13.

The Sweetness of el Dia de los Muertos

diadelosmuertos-640x360First of all, like Halloween, there’s candy and revelry, but this short animated film by three female film students shows how the process of solemn remembrance tied to festive celebration can help ease the hearts of loved ones left behind. I’ve heard stories (someday I hope I’ll get to see) of gorgeous scenes of people visiting cemeteries overnight with picnics and flowers and the altars they’ve built, enjoying the peacefulness amid candles set like fairy lights all over. Per the description:

Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico where the day is a bank holiday. The celebration takes place on October 31, November 1 and November 2, in connection with the Christian triduum of Hallowmas: All Hallows’ Eve, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars called ofrendas, honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts. They also leave possessions of the deceased.

Scholars trace the origins of the modern Mexican holiday to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl. The holiday has spread throughout the world. In Brazil Dia de Finados is a public holiday that many Brazilians celebrate by visiting cemeteries and churches. In Spain there are festivals and parades and, at the end of the day, people gather at cemeteries and pray for their dead loved ones. Similar observances occur elsewhere in Europe, and similarly themed celebrations appear in many Asian and African cultures.

h/t: Laughing Squid

Also, keep reading below, because our Terrie’s doing an online Halloween bash on Wednesday, October 28th!

Banned Books Week

BBW-logoBanned Books Week runs September 27-October 3, 2015 this year.

Banned Books Week is the national book community’s annual celebration of the freedom to read.

Follow @BannedBooksWeek on Twitter, or “like” the Facebook page. The Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association is also on Twitter @OIF.

Over at www.fiercereads.com, enter the sweepstakes to win a selection of banned YA books.

Consider participating in the Virtual Read-Out, or check out these additional free events during the week.                                                  The Call of the Wild

Click here for a list of Banned Books That Shaped America, such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain (1884), The Call of the Wild, by Jack London (1903), and The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger (1951).

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Follow me on Twitter @katcop13

 

The Cultural DNA of “To Kill A Mockingbird”

In the L.A. Times, Michael Schaub writes how “46 times ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ echoed throuTKAMgh pop culture,” which includes movies, TV, celebrity offspring, music, shopping, and more. Look for the Etsy links for TKAM-related items for sale, including this bookmark. The literary masterpiece by Harper Lee was published in 1960 and won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1961.

Tequila Mockingbird by Tim FederleAlso, check out Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist by @TimFederle.

In another article, Michael Schaub writes that after an expert examined the manuscript in a safe deposit box used by Harper Lee, he determined that no third novel will be forthcoming.To read further on this issue, visit an article by Laura Stevens and Jennifer Maloney in The Wall Street Journal.Go Set A Watchman

Lee’s second novel, Go Set A Watchman, is on Twitter @GSAWatchmanBook.

Follow me on Twitter @katcop13.

Happy 218th Birthday, Mary Shelley

391px-RothwellMaryShelleyMary Shelley (née Wollenstonecraft Godwin), the author of the Gothic/Horror novel, Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus, was born August 30, 1797, in Somers Town, London, England — 218 years ago today. Her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, a feminist and philosopher, died eleven days after giving birth.

Mary was raised by her father, William Godwin, a philosopher and author. During her younger years, she was tutored by a governess, and also attended a boarding school.

Mary bore an illegitimate child at age 17, with Percy Bysshe Shelley, a married 22-year-old man, but their prematurely-born child died. Mary married Shelley, an English Romantic poet, in late 1816, after his first wife, Harriet, committed suicide.

Mary Shelley’s most famous work was created in Geneva, Switzerland, during a rainy vacation in 1816, when the couple spent a summer with Lord Byron, John Williaa39da6923869bf6582fad67280b08b75m Polidori, and Claire Claremont. Lord Byron suggested they each write a horror story.

Frankenstein was published anonymously in London in 1818. Her name appeared on the second edition, published in France in 1823.  Mary and Percy’s second and third children died, but their last child, Percy Florence Shelley, survived to adulthood.

Percy Bysshe Shelley drowned when his sailing boat sank during a storm in 1822.

Mary would later publish more novels, short stories, biographies, and travel writings.

Mary died in London, England, on February 1, 1851, at age 53, from a brain tumor.

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Enjoy the Sweaty Dog Days with Celestial Erudition!

canis_majorWe’ve had a pretty mild season, but it is mid-August, so these are precisely the dog days of summer! This name given to the hottest days of the year in the northern hemisphere is reputed to have come about due to Sirius, (also Canis Major, Sothis in Greek, or Sopdet, Isis’s star to the Egyptians).

Often visible in the evenings of spring and winter, during this time of summer, the sky’s brightest star (after the sun of course), appears to us to be “far” enough from the showoff that it’s actually visible in the morning skies, just before dawn. It appears to us to twinkle, even to be multi-colored. This time also marks the season when the Nile would flood, its yearly inundation bringing fertility in its wake, and also being associated with Isis’s tears for her dead husband Osiris, who was, in Egypt at least, the constallation we call the hunter Orion. In fact, if you follow the line of Orion’s 3-star belt behind him, you can’t miss bright Sirius just above the horizon in this picture. Whether as a goddess or best friend, the star is known for its fidelity and radiance.

Orion-and-Sirius

Sirius is the bright star near the center of the picture. You can draw a diagonal line from the mountain peak through it and then the belt of Orion.

The gorgeous picture above is from the youth blog of the Delaware Nature Society, which has more info on naked-eye stargazing. And here’s another story about the star from India, as reported by Deborah Byrd at EarthSky:

In India, Sirius is sometimes known as Svana, the dog of Prince Yudhistira. The prince and his four brothers, along with Svana, set out on a long and arduous journey to find the kingdom of heaven. However, one by one the brothers all abandoned the search until only Yudhistira and Svana were left. At long last they came to the gates of heaven. The gatekeeper, Lord Indra, welcomed the prince but denied Svana entrance. Yudhistira was aghast and told Lord Indra that he could not forsake his good and faithful servant and friend. His brothers, Yudhistira told the Lord, had abandoned the journey to heaven to follow their hearts’ desires. But Svana, who had given his heart freely, chose to follow none but Yudhistira. The prince told the Lord that without his dog, he would forsake even heaven. This is what Lord Indra had wanted to hear, and then he welcomed both the prince and the dog through the gates of heaven.

Finally, on the subject, Wikipedia offers this Homeric quote from the epic poem, the Iliad:

Sirius rises late in the dark, liquid sky
On summer nights, star of stars,
Orion’s Dog they call it, brightest
Of all, but an evil portent, bringing heat
And fevers to suffering humanity.

Now doesn’t that make the sweat in your toga feel altogether more expansively erudite?

Eudora Welty and Ross MacDonald

Meanwhile there are lettersA book review by Susan Straight of Meanwhile There Are Letters:
The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald, edited by Suzanne Marrs and Tom Nolan (Arcade: 568 pp., $35), caught my attention in the Los Angeles Times and I just had to share it with my fellow Women of Mystery, our blog pals and readers.

Susan writes: “This remarkable book collects more than a decade’s worth of written and mailed correspondence between the two writers — he who was emphatically married (though his marriage is represented as dutiful and often painful by the time of their letters) and she who remained single and died in the same town in which she was born and had nursed her brother and parents when they became ill and died.”

Click on over to ‘Letters’ inscribes a grand love affair with words between Ross Macdonald and Eudora Welty to read more about it.

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Summer Means Happy Birthday, Roller Rinks!

John Joseph Merlin, the Belgian-born inventor of the roller skate.

John Joseph Merlin, the Belgian-born inventor of the roller skate.

Did you know that today, August 11th, in 1866, the world’s first roller rink opened? (Because that happy event occurred in Newport, Rhode Island, I expect that our own Anne-Marie Sutton knows a lot more about it than I do.) But roller skating must’ve been a great way to manufacture your own breeze before electric fans and A/C, so opening in the dog days of summer makes perfect sense!

Did you also know that there’s a National Museum of Roller Skating in Nebraska? Well, there is, and from it, I learned that the first roller skate in recorded history was invented way back in the 1760s by this dignified-looking gent here. We’re also told:

Merlin wore a pair of his new skates to a masquerade party at Carlisle-House in London. Though he was a well-known inventor, he was not a good skater. He could not control his speed or direction and crashed into a large mirror, severely injuring himself and possibly setting back the sport of roller skating for years.

All the early skates were in-line, and the father of the modern, 4-wheel, easier to manuever skate is James L. Plimpton, who, I gathered from The Pandora Society, also founded the New York Roller Skating Association (NYRSA) and, on its behalf, rented the dining room of the Atlantic House, a resort hotel in Newport, to convert for open skating. And that, as they say, is history.

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The image below is an engraving of Victorians skating indoors, and came from Curbed‘s interesting history of the roller rink, its attendant immoralities (!), and its growth with the nation, by Scott Garner.

Interior of a Victorian roller skating rinkPerhaps coincidentally, or not, this week is also the 35th anniversary of when the roller-skating-disco cinematic awesomeness that is Xanadu opened at the box office. It was about an artist who’s bored with his work and stuck in a rut until he meets one of the Muses. (Couldn’t we all use that kind of assistance?) People‘s Drew Mackie says:

Roller skating. Greek mythology. Hollywood. Olivia Newton-John. Gene Kelly. Electric Light Orchestra. By some measures, Xanadu should have been a hit.

It wasn’t, however. Upon its release in theaters on Aug. 8, 1980 – 35 years ago this week – the disco musical Xanadu was met with negative reviews and middling box office returns. That didn’t stop it, however, and this hypercolor fantasy has persisted, becoming a cult favorite in spite of its inauspicious beginnings.

XanaduIf you’re a glutton, as I am, you can read lots of little known facts about the production and the talented people involved, many of whom went on to do things better-received, though, to be fair, the soundtrack album was a mega-monster international hit. I also didn’t know the fact the film is kind of a sequel of a sequel and also, sadly, was Gene Kelly’s last, for which he choreographed the number he performed with Olivia Newton-John.

So yeah, having a dull day? Take yourself and you various pads and braces and helmets and grandchildren out to have some fun on wheels. After all, the Hickory Record tells me there’s a man who skates every week and just turned 89! Gene Elliott says, “I don’t feel old. When I get out there on that floor, it takes me a while to get loosened up but once I do, I’m back in my 60s and 70s.” I admit it, I have no excuse.

Skating Around the law by Joelle CharbonneauAnd because it’s Women of Mystery, I must also shout-out to Joelle Charbonneau, who’s since become hugely popular with her cool sff/dystopian adventures for younger readers, but who’s also written the Skating Series of mysteries, Book 1 being Skating Around the Law. Description: Rebecca Robbins is a woman on a mission–to sell the roller rink she inherited in her rural hometown and get back to her life in Chicago. Fast. What she didn’t count on was discovering a dead body head-first in a rink toilet. Now Rebecca is stuck in a small town where her former neighbors think she’s a city slicker who doesn’t belong, relying on a police department that’s better at gardening than solving crimes. With the help of a handsome veterinarian, a former circus camel, and her scarily frisky grandfather, Rebecca must discover the identity of the murderer before she becomes the next victim.

So, whether you do it, watch it, or read about it, hope you’re rolling on with summer fun!

Cucumber Salad Recipe

cucumber-clip-art-350333Today I’m making my favorite cucumber salad recipe; I thought I’d share it with my fellow Women of Mystery and our friends who stop by and visit our blog.

This recipe comes from a family friend, Yvonne Ford, who gave it to me at my bridal shower in 1989. Although the shower was a surprise to me, I had asked the planners, my mom and sister, to ask the guests to include at least one of their favorite recipes.

I’ve been making it every summer since!

Two things: use a food processor if you have one, and refrigerate the salad overnight.

Here’s a photo, pre-refrigeration: IMG_6817

Cucumber Salad
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 medium cucumbers
1 red onion
chives

Heat the first four ingredients until dissolved. Cool.

Thinly slice cucumbers and onion (a food processor is great for this) and alternate slices in a bowl or dish that can be covered.

Pour mixture over cukes and onion. Sprinkle with chives. Refrigerate overnight. Serves six.

Here’s some background of the history of the cucumber, and the first documented use of the phrase, “cool as a cucumber.”

Do you have a favorite summertime recipe? Feel free to share if you like! Let me know if you try this out, I’d love to hear your opinion.

How about listening to Ella Fitzgerald sing “Summertime” while making it?

Enjoy!

Follow me on Twitter @katcop13.