Readers' Choice Award (Author)
Though I was hoping to be nominated for "Best Chickens," thanks for the "Author" nomination, Berkshire-ites. I'm pleased to be on this list with writers I admire. If you'd like to vote, my hens will be very happy about it. (I will give them treats.) Vote HERE until November 14.
A Thousand and One Nights in hardcover!
Publishing is funny. My debut novel, A THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS, about lounge singers and travel and strange hotels, came out in 2007 as a "paperback original" from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. I was teaching full time at Rutgers, living in the Lower East Side and just beginning to miss woodsy places. In 2015, Untreed Reads picked it up as an ebook and reprinted it as a paperback soon after. (I was a committed Berkshire-ite by then.) Yesterday I received my first hardcover copies in the mail and shared the news with my chickens. Glad for this book's long, strange trip from paper to digital to paper to hardback. And happy it's found readers, whatever form it's in. Thanks, Untreed!
You can purchase a fancy new hardcover HERE.
September list: a writing prompt
A prompt for September:
I love a good list. What comes to mind when you think of "fall"? Include smells, sights, sounds, sensations. Start with bullet points and see where it goes. (Maybe you'll be inspired to write a paragraph or two.) Spend five minutes at least. (If it turns into 10 or 20, so be it.) Share your creation with someone or keep it for yourself.
1) No mosquitos
2) Cold feet
3) Apples everywhere
4) Buy the honey for Rosh Hashana
5) Pumpkin spice galore
6) The way the light seems sad
7) New pencils
9) The perfect red maple leaf on the ground
10) Finding that curled leaf in my pocket later
If you'd like to sign up for my Fall Workshop Series (October 3-31, online), there are still a few spots left. Please see Swift Ink Stories for details.
BLOG: Getting back to Monhegan
I'm a Mainer who lives in Massachusetts now, which makes me neither fish nor fowl. Mainers distrust me for leaving. ("Masshole," they say, smiling or not.) Massachusettsans need a few more decades before I prove my residential loyalty.
When I was a forlorn teen hanging out at Ocean Point, Maine, the sea was a vast, encouraging entity, one that proved, with its crash and pull of breakers, that an enticing world existed beyond. Later on, I was lucky to see much of it—five of seven continents—before landing in another small town in the Berkshires of Western Mass, a woodsy place with streams and lakes, beautiful in a different way.
But the ocean often feels too far away. In the Berkshires, I think about the word "landlocked." Like a lid closed tight, no questions. My scales are drying up.
Two weeks ago my husband and I made the long drive north, then boarded the 90-minute ferry to Monhegan Island, Maine, for a gathering of musicians. I tried to store up the salt, the views. I ate fish tacos, then crab tacos, then shrimp tacos at the Fish House, delighted to have the shoreline literally at my feet. I took photos of water in its various shades and moods and felt, as always, that I'd never get it right. I was entranced by the painters there, how they crouched with easels close to cliff edges. How precarious they looked and how skilled in their execution.
My second novel, Off Island, was set on Monhegan, though potential editors asked why. I imagined Paul Gauguin had painted there (instead of Tahiti), that he made mischief with the locals. I sent him to Monhegan because I wanted to capture the conflicting forces of my childhood, both the expansiveness (the wild Atlantic) and insularity (see Masshole, above). I wanted to think about the love/hate relationships Mainers maintain with summer visitors. I wanted to pretend to be a painter like Gauguin.
During our recent trip to Monhegan, my husband jammed with fellow pickers on a designated porch and I met an art historian and writer, Sarah Webb. She found my book in the Monhegan Library and had kind things to say about it. We sat in her beautiful house by the shore with her two enormous Newfies and talked about Gauguin, freelancing, teaching, how to balance a creative life with the need to pay the bills. How to let Monhegan stay with us, no matter where we ended up.
I had to leave the island too soon—duty called back in the Shire—and the ferry ride to the mainland was blustery, a warning. I'd been away too long. I'd have to return before too much time passed again. Or write something new about it.
UPCOMING EVENT: July 26, 6 pm, in conversation with Alexis Schaitkin (Becket, MA)
In person! To celebrate the release of Alexis Schaitkin's new novel, ELSEWHERE. Join us for a discussion at the Becket Atheneaeum, 3367 Main Street, Becket, MA. Pre-register HERE. Masks encouraged.
Swift Ink Stories: Expressive Writing for the Workplace
I'm in the business section! Thanks, Berkshire Eagle.
Happy Independent Bookstore Day!
It's an excellent day to buy books from places that don't rhyme with "pamazon." Bookshop.org
ECCENTRIC CIRCLES celebration: May 4, 7 pm ET (online)
So pleased to celebrate Encircle Publications, short stories and the great state of Massachusetts on Wed., May 4, 7 pm ET (online), hosted by the Becket Athenaeum: Becket-Washington's Community Library. Cynthia Ann Brackett-Vincent, editor of ECCENTRIC CIRCLES, will moderate this reading/discussion with four contributors. (All have ties to Massachusetts.) Register HERE: http://bit.ly/BA-eccentric To buy the collection and support indie bookstores, visit Bookshop.org.
Shortlist, 2022 Nicholas Schaffner Award for Music in Literature
I'm thrilled to be on the shortlist for the 2022 Nicholas Schaffner Award for Music in Literature. Congrats
to all! Thanks, Schaffner Press. See the shortlist announcement HERE.