Posts Tagged With: writing

Writing Away

Summer is officially upon us which for many means vacation time. I have been fortunate enough to have had travel as a continued opportunity in my life. My first international trip was to Greece when I was 9-months old; the most recent to China in 2007. In college I was able to participate in study abroad in England and Spain. One thing that all this travel has instilled in me is a love travel journals. I always keep a travel journal, even on domestic trips, because I like to capture those moments in ink and paper.

Even if you are not a  natural writer, travel journals are a way to remember beyond photographs what the experience felt, smelled, and tasted like. For those interested in starting to journal your travels, I highly recommend Writing Away by Livinia Spalding. It is an inspirational text that works as a wonderful guide for finding your voice. In the coming weeks I will be posting excerpts from my own travel journals.

If you find yourself taking a stay-cation and want to explore the world through other writers’ experiences, I can recommend the following travel literature (both fiction and non-fiction):

The Odyssey Homer

Gulliver’s Travels Jonathan Swift

Thomas Jefferson Travels Thomas Jefferson

A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland Samuel Johnston

Empire of the Czar Marquis de Custine

Roughing It Mark Twain

Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes Robert Louis Stevenson

Bitter Lemons Lawrence Durrell

Travels Michael Crichton

Under the Tuscan Sun Frances Mayes

The Motorcycle Diaries Che Guevara

Slow Boat to China Gavin Young

On the Road Jack Kerouac

And I’ll end this list with a little plug for The Best Women’s Travel Writing series. All the books in the series are wonderful; check out Vol. 8 or the forthcoming 9 for offerings from yours truly.

Happy reading!

XO

A

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Cowboys and Elephants

Today marks the publication of the sixth and final post on Literary Cowboys for Ploughshares . I talk Star Wars, Firefly, Cowboy Bebop, and much more.

“The Myth of the Literary Cowboy, Part 6: Save a Horse, Write a (Space) Cowboy”

In the coming months I’ll continue to write for Ploughshares on all things lovely and literary.

 

sidebar-summer2013

Also out this week is the summer 2013 issue of Brain, Child featuring my essay, “The Elephant Maker.” It’s available on some news stands and online here.

 

XO

A

Categories: Get Smart, Objects de Art, The Little People and Furry Friends, Write On | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Just Published! BlogHer’s Roots: Where Food Comes From and Where It Takes Us

There is something uniquely thrilling about the day a piece of your work is published. Today is such a day for me as BlogHer and Open Road Media release the ebook culinary anthology Roots: Where Food Comes From and Where It Takes Us. From the Open Road Media website:

A BlogHer anthology about food—and the warmth, nostalgia, and sense of belonging it inspires in all of us

Roots is a love story about food—an exploration of its rich interconnectedness with culture, memory, and discovery, penned by over forty authors and personalities from the culinary blogosphere. The anthology’s deeply personal essays serve up family history, local lore, and tantalizing stories of worlds newly discovered through food, accompanied by original photography and a collection of recipes that, no matter how far flung, taste like home.

My story, “The Saffron Rabbit” is about learning to cook in Madrid. For those interested in reading the 35 essays featured from culinary bloggers (and me), check out any of the following links:

BlogHer is also featuring a mini-site where readers can further enjoy the experience. On my end, I’ll be reading along, exploring the other journeys I’m lucky enough to be featured with. Stop by this coming Thursday for another addition to Valentina’s Cocina.

 

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Atwood on Audience

With two days until my Atwood experience, I am basking in her wisdom.

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Five Things that Rocked May 12-18

1. I wrote this post about The Blind Assassin. I got this tweet in reply. Swoon.

2. My Wromance (writing romance) A.J. Kandathil wrote about the Five Pillars of Place using Park and Rec on Ploughshares. ‘Cause that’s how she rolls ( awesome, that’s how she rolls).

3. While you are on the  Ploughshares blog, take a gander at the piece I wrote about Cowboy Poetry. You should read it. It’s okay, you can click now. This list will wait.

4. The Office aired its final episode. I cried. I’ll write about it next week. In the meantime, rewatch The Office or watch it for the first time. Either way, win-win-win. In the meantime, enjoy this:

5. Two of my favorite shows growing up were Designing Women and The Golden Girls. This article reminds me why I loved Dorothy and may be like her in about thirty years.

XO

A

Categories: Get Smart, Let Me Entertain You, Life and Other Nonsense, Objects de Art, Write On | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Guide to Cowboy Poetry

The fifth part in my series on Literary Cowboys is live on Ploughshares today. Mosey on over and give it a look-see.

“The Myth of the Literary Cowboy, Part 5: Cowboy Poetry”

Categories: Get Smart, Objects de Art, Write On | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Five Things that Rocked May 5-11

  1. A blog I’ve just discovered, interesting literature, wrote a thoughtful post on Fitzgerald and the underrated This Side of Paradise. Aside from a brief outline of the writer, it is full of fun tidbits, like he was the first person to use wicked with a positive connotation. Learn something new every day, right?
  2. Ashley Wells is doing a fantastic series on women and horses. Topics have included warrior women, Betty Draper and horses, and an interview with the author of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls.
  3. Aaron Gilbreath launched a Kickstarter campaign for his upcoming book, Crowded, about life in confined spaces. It’s worth checking out just for the insightful reading material he provides. Find the link to the campaign the blog post linked above.
  4. On The Baraza, Katie Shaw gave some songs to motivate students through those long hours of studying for finals. I provided a companion piece for professors to sustain them through the long hours of grading.
  5. Finally, in honor of Mother’s Day, take a gander at Book Riot’s “Fictional Mother Whose Parenting Books Would Rock.” I’d preorder all three. What about you?

XO

A

Categories: Get Smart, Let Me Entertain You, Life and Other Nonsense, Objects de Art, Write On | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Write on Wednesday: Shooting Fish with a Slingshot in the Dark–The Wisdom of Margaret Atwood

My deep love of Margaret Atwood is no secret; Generation Cake could probably be subtitled “In Praise of Margaret Atwood.” In roughly two and a half weeks, I will be in her presence. To honor that momentous event, the next few Write on Wedensdays will be Atwood themed.  This lovely list is reprinted from The Guardian. Note how she couples her savvy advice with wit.

Margaret Atwood’s 10 Rules for Writing Fiction

1. Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can’t sharpen it on the plane, because you can’t take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils.

2. If both pencils break, you can do a rough sharpening job with a nail file of the metal or glass type.

3. Take something to write on. Paper is good. In a pinch, pieces of wood or your arm will do.

4. If you’re using a computer, always safeguard new text with a memory stick.

5. Do back exercises. Pain is distracting.

6. Hold the reader’s attention. (This is likely to work better if you can hold your own.) But you don’t know who the reader is, so it’s like shooting fish with a slingshot in the dark. What fascinates A will bore the pants off B.

7. You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there’s no free lunch. Writing is work. It’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but ¬essentially you’re on your own. Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine.

8. You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You’ve been backstage. You’ve seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a romantic relationship, unless you want to break up.

9. Don’t sit down in the middle of the woods. If you’re lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page.

10. Prayer might work. Or reading something else. Or a constant visualization of the holy grail that is the finished, published version of your resplendent book.

How lovely is the image of her sitting on an airplane, whittling a pencil with a nail file, scribbling madly on a piece oak that just happened to be handy?

XO

A

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X

is for 10 things that rocked this week. See how I did that? It’s X day, but I’m twisting it for my own meaning. Perhaps I should got into politics. This week was pretty stellar, I have to say, so coming up with 10 instead of 5 was an easy task.

  1. Buzzfeed article are regulars on my list because they are so darn funny. My favorite from this week? “26 Reasons Kids Are Pretty Much Just Tiny Drunk Adults.”
  2. Kendragarden talks about her love of Horror movies. She likes what she likes and that’s okay.
  3. Artist Jhenai Mootz gave a fantastic Wild Women interview.
  4. We’ve been watching House of  Cards on Netflix. It’s shaping up to be really intriguing, although I have mixed feelings about Kate Mara being the Mistress–again.
  5. Loving the new season of Mad Men? Over on Ploughshares, A.J. Kandathil (my new pen pal bestie) discusses the “hidden narrator” who drives the series. A thought provoking take on a show that often defies explanation.
  6. Caitlin O’Neil’s “Riding in Cars with Words” reminisces about how her childhood road trips have shaped her as a writer. Plus it has a Muppet video, which is always a good decision.
  7. Part Four of my look at Cowboys debuted this week. I hope people are enjoying reading these posts as much as I’m enjoying writing them.
  8. It was a big week in general for writing on my end: both Cinefilles and The Baraza featured my posts, on Shakespeare and Lisa Frank Trapper Keepers, respectively.
  9. Peggy Orenstein’s look at the sexualization of Candyland is insightful and thought provoking.
  10. Speaking of Orenstain, I finished reading Schoolgirls and wrote this post on it. The reaction has been fantastic. Thanks to all of you who have Tweeted, Shared, Commented, Emailed, and Texted me about this post and how much you can relate. My only regret is that I only have one copy to lend out and the line is getting longer every day.

What rocked your week?

XO

A

Categories: Get Smart, Let Me Entertain You, Life and Other Nonsense, Objects de Art, The Little People and Furry Friends, Write On | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A is for Apathy

This month I’m happy to be participating in the Blogging A to Z challenge. I love a good blogging challenge and this one happens to mirror my current habits–write Monday through Saturday, chill on Sunday. So for today, I was overrun with ideas for A: Austin (where I am heading next weekend for VegFest), Alpine (the gorgeous little town on the edge of the Big Bend where I received my MA), Archetypes (one of the my favorite literary elements to discuss), Margaret Atwood (the best writer in the history of life), Avocados (the food I’ve grown to love after years of hate) . . . so many options!

Instead, I decided to talk about apathy, a crime of which I am certainly guilty. When my students come to me with their excuses for why they haven’t don’t their work/come to class, I usually tell them I don’t really need to hear the excuses. They interpret this as apathy, that I just don’t care. And in some cases I don’t because they are lying to me or have made a habit of lying to me. More often, I do care and want to help them, but I have set up rules in my syllabus to keep me from getting taken in by the liars and letting students scam grades they don’t deserve. It’s my protection from taking everything in my classroom too personally and being completely apathetic.

Another frustration I find in the classroom is my students’ apathy. It often seems that they care about nothing. They don’t read, they don’t watch movies, they don’t do anything that I can connect with–I often end up saying in frustration, “What is it you do care about?” because I can’t find anything other than texting in my class that they show any passion for. From a writing standpoint, I often have to tell my fiction students that their characters must want something (as Kurt Vonnegut says, even just a glass of water), that apathy is boring to read about. We want to read about people who want something, who feel something, even if it seems silly. At least it’s something.

In life, apathy is dangerous because now it’s so easy to say “I don’t care” or its eye rolling cousin, “Whatever.” There is too much in the world that threatens to mash our hearts that apathy becomes our protection. We can’t deal with the terrible things we see and hear, so we make the call not to care. Or, we select two or three things we care a great deal about and focus on those. I am guilty of that crime–my apathy extends to things not in my “wheel house,” so to speak. The problem then, as a parent, is how do I keep my children from the dangers of apathy while protecting them?

I don’t have an answer (as I get older I find the number of questions outweighs the answers); instead I have my instincts which tell me to keep it simple. We should not be apathetic to suffering. We should not be apathetic to joy. We should not be apathetic to making the world just a little bit better each day.

XO

Amber

PS. Since I am blogging A to Z, any letter specific topics anyone wants to see?

Categories: Get Smart, Life and Other Nonsense | Tags: , , , , , | 24 Comments

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