Monday, May 29, 2006

Great Writing Day

To celebrate Memorial Day, I ran away from home. Early this morning, while the kids were still asleep, I kissed my groggy husband goodbye and took myself and my laptop to the mall. Scattered throughout our mall are cushy leather chairs, end tables, and plants set in cozy seating groups. I picked a chair in the center of the mall, near an electrical outlet, and settled in with my laptop and a latte.

I arrived so early that at first the place was pretty quiet—just me and a couple dozen spry senior citizens, completing their morning laps. But it was Memorial Day, and a stormy Memorial Day at that, certainly not backyard barbecue weather, so soon the mall filled to frenzied capacity.

And in the middle of it, I wrote. Some writers need calm and quiet in which to write, but for me, a buzzing shopping center is the perfect writing environment. At the mall, I'm not distracted by laundry, dishes, the television remote, or email, and the activity creates a kind of white noise that insulates me. All those people keep me from feeling lonely, but, unlike my children, husband, and dog—and the guy at the espresso bar who made my latte—I don't have to interract with them. I like the feeling of having the world go by around me as I work.

As soon as I got there, I dove into a chapter I'd started yesterday, and I wrote until at last the chapter was finished. I looked up and realized I'd been sitting in that leather chair, without getting up to look in the refrigerator, make more coffee, or otherwise distract myself, for two solid hours. I was astonished.

And starving. I toodled down to the food court, where I started the next chapter while nibbling on orange chicken and fried rice. An hour and a half later, my brain was beginning to feel tapped out, so I loaded my laptop, the cute little capri pants I'd found on sale at JC Penney as I stretched my legs after lunch, and myself into my car and drove home dizzy with joy at the terrific writing day I'd had.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Blog Neglect

I haven’t posted anything to my blog in two weeks, but I have a good excuse: I’ve been writing. Which is always good news, and the even better news is that I’m pleased and excited again (finally) with the way my story-in-progress is coming together. It’s funny—being submerged in my characters’ lives day after day gives me the feeling that a lot is going on in my own life, when in truth, the only thing I’ve been doing is sitting in front of my computer.

Which is certainly nothing to blog about!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Center for the Book

I know it seems that every post on this blog seems to mention something about the Kansas Center for the Book (KCFB). So to clarify: No, I’m not a paid spokesperson for KCFB. I’m just a very happy member.

KCFB is an affiliate of the Library of Congress’s Center for the Book, which “was established in 1977 to use the resources and prestige of the Library of Congress to promote books, reading, libraries, and literacy.” The national center has state affiliate centers in all fifty states plus the District of Columbia. Thanks in large part to our tireless KCFB director, Roy Bird (who is also a writer), the Kansas affiliate actively promotes Kansas books and authors to libraries and bookstores in the state, bringing authors, librarians, booksellers, and readers together in many different venues, including author dinners, book fairs, and, next September, the Kansas Book Festival in Wichita.

I can’t guarantee that every state affiliate is as active and writer-friendly as our affiliate here in Kansas, but if you’re an author trying to connect with book professionals in your own region, you owe it to yourself to check out your state’s Center for the Book.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


I had a wonderful time at the NCKLS Book Fair. It's always a great day when I can spend it with book lovers. I hung out at the Kansas Center for the Book table with fellow Kansas writers Robert Collins, Lora Reiter, Ann Parr, and Roy Bird, who is also the KCFB director; met librarians from all over central Kansas; and talked books with dedicated booksellers from Manhattan and Emporia.

I've been spending a lot of time in Manhattan lately, and as I was driving home it occurred to me that this town, with its wide tree-lined streets and historic limestone buildings, surrounded by the breathtaking Flint Hills, has started to work itself into my heart. This came as a surprise and a bit of a shock. I'm a Jayhawk, a bleeding-crimson-and-blue alumna of the University of Kansas, located in Lawrence, the best city in the state—hands down. I can't have fond feelings for Manhattan, home of in-state rival Kansas State University. Yet I do. I still love Lawrence best. But I look forward to my trips to Manhattan, too.

<--------Kansas Jayhawk