Creative People “Moving On”

I was thinking about cutting free from projects or reassessing goals, but my search for “Moving On” located depths of love and grief so much more profound than the plebian snippers I sought. Please enjoy these thoughts from creative people about the various necessities of Moving On…

EMForster-moving-onSome of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go. – Hermann Hesse


The tiny name under the quote is Walt Disney.

Kirkegaard-Moving-OnYou gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do. – Eleanor Roosevelt

Tupac-Moving-onVictoria-Holt-moving-onRobert-Frost-moving-on Considering I was only thinking about moving on from a nascent story idea, my current dilemma seems unworthy. But in the past, when it was the project around which I’d orbited for years, I gave up on a manuscript and left it in the rearview. Hurt then, feels solid and righteous and like a necessary part of my development now. How about you? Have you ever let go of a long-time idea or goal or creation, and how did it feel? How long did it take to feel better?

TV’s Hannibal: Gross, Perverse, Artistic. I Like It!

Mads Mikkelsen stars as the cannibal and serial killer Dr. Lecter in TV's Hannibal

Mads Mikkelsen as TV’s Dr. Hannibal Lecter

Based on Thomas Harris’s novels, the Hannibal TV series, created and produced by Bryan Fuller, is not for the squeamish. But I’m not. I just ask that gore be purposeful, be interesting, be done with care for what it causes and the consequences. Hannibal mines the rich inspiration of art that’s in the books and marries it with aesthetically inventive visuals, sharp but minimal dialogue, and great performances to make a show that doesn’t feel or look like any other. Dramatic, cultured, very close-up and personal, it meanders the deceptive byways of the human mind. As far as shows that could be considered mainstream horror, you can think of Hannibal as the other end of the axis that the also-unique Walking Dead occupies.

For me, the shock value of the usual red-dyed corn syrup wore off after, oh, maybe watching the already dated Toolbox Killer in high school. Most horror isn’t that horrible once you’ve seen a bunch, and when you suspect a new story is just graceless, hopeless, manipulative three-card monte, it can lose its appeal. I make an exception for trope-licious campy fun, sometimes great fun, as TV’s American Horror Story often plays in this sandbox. In my least favorite kind of horror, the effects of all the bizarrities and carnage have no cumulative effect on the characters. They could be stepping through the stations of Candyland for all it matters. That’s how you know the writer made the victims of cardboard, because not even their nearest and dearest seem to care. The slaughter-forget-repeat cycle isn’t that captivating.

But it’s not merely horror, because Hannibal is also a lawless serial killer. Whether his pursuers on TV are now retired, estranged, or recuperating, it’s their connections to law enforcement, FBI specifically, that brought them into contact with Dr. Lecter. This show is set before the events of the novel Red Dragon– seen in the movie versions Manhunter (1986) and Red Dragon (2002)–and the even later-set novel Silence of the Lambs, the basis for the 1991 movie of the same name. In the TV series, we’ve gotten to backward to see the FBI’s star-profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) meet Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikklesen) for the first time. We have explored the earliest, dangerous, see-sawing interaction of hunter and hunted. Later, we know, the cannibal will perfect with profiler Clarice Starling a method of corruption which is in-development here with Will Graham. Now, in the show’s third season, Hannibal has escaped the U.S. after dramatically revealing himself as no ordinary psychiatrist-consultant to the feds. His pursuers, who are all now also profoundly wounded victims, are closing in. Which is exactly what he wants. What he craves.

I know this kind of fare is NOT to the taste of everyone among the WoM or our regular visitors, not by any means. However, I thought I’d make a stab (ha) at trying to explain the appeal of the form and of this show in particular. I’ve been doing weekly show recaps at Criminal Element. Each week, I try to explore at least one of the cultural or artistic elements raised in the episode with more detail as bonus info, if you will. The episodes you’ll notice are all named after courses or categories of cuisine. Season 1 was French, Season 2 was Japanese. This season, which takes place partially in Florence and Palermo, is appropriately Italian. So here are the links to those posts if you’re interested!

Hannibal 3.01: an “Antipasto” of Drains and Snails — more on comic opera Don Pasquale and the medieval torture device called the Catherine Wheel

Hannibal 3.02: “Primavera” Springs Will Graham — more on true-crime killer, Il Mostro, the Monster of Florence, and Botticelli’s painting Allegory of Spring

Hannibal 3.03: “Secondo” Means Choosing — more on ancient Rome’s meat apportioning and how Death’s Head moths and entomological imposters are used on screen

Hannibal 3.04: “Aperitivo” Whets the Bloodlust — more on the conspiracy to kill Caesar, mythological death goddesses, and John Donne’s sonnet “A Fever”

This will be the show’s last season on NBC, and credit to them for sticking so long with something so different. However, I have high hopes this quality show will be picked up by another network or streaming service. After all, it has a built-in base of passionate fannibals, and there’s a whole world of cuisine, art, architecture, and music left to explore!

On The Road With Broken Window-Family Style

Broken Window and Murder at the P&Z and I will be traveling to Bluffton, South Carolina in June, to Cleveland, Ohio in August, and to Santa Maria, California in September.

UnknownAt each stop, a family member is hosting a book signing party. It is one of the many incredible benefits to having a large family.

While I promote my Carol Rossi Mysteries in different areas of the country, I’ll be thrilled for the opportunity to share this moment with my children and grandchildren since we are separated by so many miles. Thank heavens my daughter, Lisa, and son-in-law, Brian, who live nearby have faithfully come to book launchings. To boot, they’ve brought their friends as well and we’ve gone out to dinner later to celebrate.

happy-family-car-vacation-13549568When coming up with this family book tour, I was surprised by the enthusiasm of all involved living in other states, in particular one of my grandsons and granddaughters who insisted that their friends come. Two of my daughters and one granddaughter are arranging everything, and I’m calling myself a very lucky person.



Poirot and Tisanes for Me and Thee

Need-Another-Tisane-PoirotFor some reason, I’d forgotten about Hercule Poirot’s tisanes, otherwise known as herbal teas, often intended to have medicinal properties. They’re a big thing for him, perhaps how he thrives amid such rich gastronomy, and a pleasure to which I’ve only recently returned.

Over at Ellen Seltz’s Writer Blog, discreet inquiry, she has some delicious-sounding musings around the canny Belgian’s preferences, even if perhaps thought “noxious” by Captain Hastings:

He is mentioned in “The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb” as being inordinately fond of Chamomile tea, which has a very delicate greeny-floral taste.

The link to another “fatal” tisane also looks great, but I was most thrilled to be reminded the brilliant Hercule shares my current passion for this other flower in the famed echinacea family. I was recently drinking some chamomile tea, purely for the pleasures of the herb-y taste, and was later surprised by how supple it made me feel, having (I learned) natural anti-inflammatories along with its myriad other benefits. I also discovered, oddly enough, that one of my dogs with a chronically itchy skin condition is soothed by being sprayed with cooled chamomile tea. So here’s to Poirot, who knows what the heck he’s on about, as if that were ever in question!

Writing is a Time Machine

time-machineBy the time you read this, something will have happened to a story I’m working on. Something critical. The horrible, awful first draft will be done, and at the moment I’m writing this post, I have absolutely no clue (ha) how that will have happened. I don’t know how I will have worked through the grinding uncertainty, the problems, the compromises. As I compose this post, it isn’t accomplished. But by the time you read it, everything will be different.

That’s because writing is a time machine.

“Years passed.” Readers and writers alike accept sentences like that without question.

If you’re writing, there’s no limit to how much time you can compress: centuries, eons, the ages of universes. You can freeze a moment as long as you want. Spend days writing pages that will take hours to read describing something that unfolds in mere minutes, even seconds. You can send a character back into any moment, again and again. You could change that past every time or never alter a thing. Zip someone forward into a future that you’ll steal in the next scene. Readers add their own variability of speeds, and they’ll dip in and out of your timeline as their own availability and interest allows. They could finish your story over years or in one night.

Movies have a frame rate. Music has a tempo. Most visual art tends to fix time, its own rebellion against the beastliness, but different. Theatrical events have curtain times and stage cues and planned intermissions.There is kinetic and performance art that’s more flexible, but often it’s so intergrated with the everyday that it doesn’t defy time, but simply runs at the speed of life.

But with writing, above all these other forms, the prosaic, regulated tick-tick of time is meaningless, except as it serves the story. Time becomes elastic and forgiving, the way it seldom feels in reality.

That’s one thing to love especially. I wonder how far along I am in that story now?

The Telling Visual Art of Famous Writers

I’ve done posts with artworks portraying readers and writers, but I don’t remember specifically artworks by writers. I found Print magazine has a wonderful article with just loads of such images, “The Visual Art and Design of Famous Writers” by Steven Brower. After pointing out how often the creative people he knows, and he himself, participate in more than one of the arts, Brower writes (bolding mine):

…in addition to writing works that have shaped our culture, many poets and authors have practiced visual art as a vital component of their creative output. From William S. Burroughs and Charles Bukowski to Henry Miller and Sylvia Plath, renowned writers of the twentieth century made paintings, drawings, and collages. These creative outpourings enhance our understanding of their authors’ written works, and stand on their own merits as well.

I’ve borrowed a few images and captions to whet your appetite for the rest of the article, which I hope you’ll go peruse! Some of the authors had an extensive background and took their art quite seriously. Rudyard Kipling grew up among professional and very well-known artists–here’s the illustration he did for one of his tales.

Kipling's drawing for “How the Wale Got His Throat,” from Just So Stories

Kipling’s drawing for “How the Wale Got His Throat,” from Just So Stories

Some of the writers were casual, consistent enthusiasts, like H.G. Wells, whose journals are full of friendly, informal cartoons (“picshuas”) from everyday life, or like Dylan Thomas, who’d frequently doodle pictures of other patrons at the bar. Mark Twain sent cute rebus puzzles to his family.


H.G. Wells’s sketch of himself giving a talk at the Royal Institute, 1902. “I regard this picshua as a masterpiece only to be compared to the Paleolithic drawings in the Caves of Altima.”

Just for a touch of color, here’s a piece I really like by Kurt Vonnegut, who’s done commercial illustrations and had a one-man show of his artwork.

Vonnegut, “Tout in Cohoes”

Vonnegut, “Tout in Cohoes”

Besides the poets’ and authors’ names I’ve already bolded, Steven Brower’s Print article collects lots of intersting images and/or biographical tidbits documenting the visually artistic lives of Lewis Carroll, e.e. cummings, Jack Kerouac, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, Joseph Conrad, Federico Garcia Lorca, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and George Bernard Shaw.

Go feast your eyes, and then confess…

Do you participate in creative forms beyond writing? Why and which ones?

Forget Pi Day, it’s what writers do Every Day!

Let’s play a game, shall we, you doomed-to-be creative types?

Tell me whether you can get through these events and items related to today’s date, 3/25, without even a tiny, unwelcome twinge of curiosity, or even worse, an idea. *shudders*

ConstantineIn the Julian Calendar, 325 (C.E.) was known as the Year of the Consulship of Proculus and Paulinus. It marked the year of the Council of Nicea, the beginning of the colossal marble head of Constantine, and the outlawing of gladiatorial combat in the Roman Empire.


PercocetThe prescription narcotic painkiller Percocet comes in a popular 325-stamped dose.




lennon-325John Lennon’s early guitar is an oft-discussed Rickenbacker 325, an unusual model nicknamed the “Hamburg,” because that’s where he got it.



Donald_WestlakeThere are new Seattle lofts under development at 325 Westlake, an address which can’t fail to remind me of one of my favorite authors, a crime-writing Grand Master who wrote “I believe my subject is bewilderment. But I could be wrong.”



Bobcat-325Bobcat makes a 325 Compact Excavator, designed for tight spaces, which “with its multi-attachment versatility, can dig everything from trenches to postholes, break up concrete and carve landscape features. Its compact size and rubber track flotation allows you to have excellent flotation through mud….”


bmw-325Who could forget BMW’s famous and very fast 325?




Winchester-325Or Winchester‘s?




USS-LST-325USS LST-325 is the designation for a tank landing ship (acronymed as landing ship, tank) launched in October, 1942. She participated in D-Day at Omaha Beach, Normandy, also the invasion of Sicily and Salerno in 1943. Surprisingly, she served for decades more as part of the Greek Navy, and now docks in Evansville, Indiana as a museum that still sails!


In addition, March 25th in history saw:

  • the founding of Venice
  • the first horse race in America
  • Sicily’s Mt Etna erupting
  • Sputnik carrying a dog into orbit
  • Cagney & Lacey’s TV premiere
  • the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire
  • Elton John and Gloria Steinem and Jack Ruby born
  • the Boston Patriots becoming the New England Patriots (you know I had to mention!)
  • the Supreme Court’s ruling against “poll taxes”
  • the Great Dayton Flood
  • the first modern Olympics in Athens
  • Robert the Bruce’s crowning as King of Scots

How did you do? Most authors I know laugh, maniacally even, when people say they’ll supply a goldmine of an idea and all the writer has to do is execute it. Most writers don’t have any problem with getting ideas–they have much more trouble making them stop.

If you read this calmly and placidly with serene disinterest, experiencing not even a flicker of a “what if” crossing your mind, congratulations on having a Wednesday!

But as Flannery O’Connor, also born this day, once said: The writer should never be ashamed of staring. There is nothing that does not require his attention. So if you couldn’t get through unscathed, well, you have my condolences. You might be a writer.

Writers and Coffee: A Love Story

L-Frank-Baum-CoffeeOver at CriminalElement, I posted briefly about writing (and editing, which goes hand in hand), being among the Top 5 coffee-drinking professions. The results were from a small survey, but it made me think. With all the sepia-tinged legends of scribblers and booze, coffee or tea is far more often the lubricant among writers I know. Yes, and for myself, as one of those already at optimal dosage with the most recent health recommendations for consumption. From last week, here’s the Washington Post’s Roberto A. Ferdman with “It’s official: Americans should drink more coffee.”


Samuel Beckett over his coffee.

As I surfed around, mug in hand, I found these tidbits at

Coffee: Induces wit. -Gustave Flaubert

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.  -T.S. Eliot

And from BrainyQuote:

A leaf fluttered in through the window this morning, as if supported by the rays of the sun, a bird settled on the fire escape, joy in the task of coffee, joy accompanied me as I walked. -Anais Nin

Coffee is a language in itself. -Jackie Chan

Okay, you got me. Jackie Chan’s not a writer, but I agree with him anyway. And here’s director/writer David Lynch’s take on coffee as it appeared in the HuffPost‘s Obsessed series:

I am pretty much obsessed with coffee. I’ve been drinking coffee on a regular basis since I was in the ninth grade. In the ninth grade, I met my soon-to-be good friend, Toby, on the front yard lawn of my girlfriend’s house. And during that first conversation with Toby, he happened to tell me that his father was a painter, a fine art painter. Hearing this news that an adult could be a painter — an explosion went off in my head and from that moment on all I wanted to do was paint. And for me, the world of a painter held much coffee.

Coffee became tied to what I called “The Art Life.” I loved to go to diners and drink coffee and try to catch ideas for the work. Coffee has always seemed to facilitate thinking and catching ideas. Not only that, but the flavor of coffee is beyond the beyond good.

Even bad coffee is better than no coffee at all.

The leading image of Oz’s L. Frank Baum is from HuffPost’s article on 9 genius coffee drinkers, which included the astounding habits of Voltaire (40-50 coffee/cocoas daily) and Kierkegaard (approx. 30 sugar cubes/cup). I, too, have a ton of mugs and enjoy matching them to the day’s requirements. And that may be the only honest point of reference between myself and the Danish philosopher.

Nonetheless, I think I will have another cup, now that you mention it. Hope your day is full of catching ideas, too!

Friday Fun: Public Service Announcement

BULLETIN: Warm weather really is expected to return, eventually, in all the loveliness of this picture below. (Maybe this cold snap’s what got me writing about the coming of spring in fairy tales?)

Reading in the Garden by Susan Ricker Knox, USA (1874-1959)

Reading in the Garden by Susan Ricker Knox, USA (1874-1959)

And speaking of women reading as a most inspiring theme for art, there’s a whole collection of 50 (?) gorgeous paintings on the subject at The Sleepless Reader‘s blog. There are some very cozy ones there, too, and for a moment as I look at them, I forget my chilly feet. Okay, let’s have just one more sunny one, with beachfront even.

Bridget Reading (1959) by Peter Samuelson, U.K. (1912-1996)

Bridget Reading (1959) by Peter Samuelson, U.K. (1912-1996)

Dream on and Happy Friday!

Literary Trivia

jpg_5840_Royalty_Free_Clip_Art_Surprised_Brain_Cartoon_Character_Reading_A_Book_With_Question_MarkOn, Erin LaRosa compiled a list of “20 Literary Facts to Impress Your Friends With.” Of the 20 facts of literary trivia, I only knew about five; I love learning something new every day!

TriviaPlaza has a quiz, “Literary Detectives and Their Authors.” (The average score is 6.46; I got an 8). Other trivia-plaza-quiz-logogeneral literature quizzes include: “Female Title Characters,” “Pen Names and Authors,” and “Book Opening Lines.” (Haven’t tried those yet.)

logo-for-facebook trivia bug

If you’re up for a lengthy challenge, Triviabug has 275 questions on their Literature Quiz. (If I start it, I’ll never finish this post!)


If you’ve never visited Arts & Letters Daily ~ you’re missing a great opportunity to learn many literary tidbits. New material is added six days a week. Check out this gem, which is linked to the original feature, “The Great Quietness of Eudora Welty,” written by Danny Heitman, at Humanities (The Magazine of the National Endowment of Humanities), March/April 2014:

“Eudora Welty had a simple explanation for her popularity as a speaker: ‘I’m always on time, and I don’t get drunk or hole up in a hotel with my lover.'”


Another site, NewPages, is a wealth of information for writers, readers, and editors, when it comes to Blogs and Daily News Sites.


If you visit any or all of the quiz sites, let us know how you did. Have fun, & good luck!

Follow me on Twitter @katcop13.