What’s Doin’ At The Office


The desk has been a jumbled mess of late: back to school volunteer schedules, lists of dishes to be cooked for potlucks and all the busted stuff that needs to be fixed up around the house.  Stuffed to the side, usually under a coffee mug, are the pile of books I want to read or order; next to this are scraps of paper with words I want to look up (what does qui bonum mean?), and scribbled names of people I plan to invite to my first book launch party for my novel, The Excellent Advice of a Few Famous Painters, which should be available in a few weeks from Amazon and other outlets.

Here is what on this writer’s desk. .  .


Books to Read

1) The Greater Journey by David McCullough (Half read.  Picked up in a used bookstore in Ithaca, New York while college touring with my 16-year-old.)

2) The Pink House by Nelia Gardner White (A novel from the 1940s and favorite from my teen years.  Recently bought on Amazon.)

3) And the Dark Sacred Night by Julia Glass (Favorite author.  I’ve read all her books and usually treat myself to hardbacks because I reread them.)

4) This Is Paradise by Suzanne Strempek Shea (This is Ms. Shea’s new non-fiction about a clinic in Malawi.  She will be a Skype guest at my book club in a few weeks.)


Time to Improve my Grammar

I used to just consider the occasional reading of Strunk and White and leafing through my eighth grade grammar book enough to improve my prose.  Nonetheless, I’ve gotten lazy and keep shrugging my shoulders, thinking “modern usage.”  This simply will no longer do.  I’ve decided to visit the websites OWL, Online Writing Lab at Purdue and UNC Greensboro’s Writing Center for tips on mechanics; these were suggestions I found in a handout from my daughter’s rhetoric and composition class.

There is a sameness to my sentence construction and I no longer use interesting vocabulary.  My idea of a good article is one that sends me to the dictionary at least once.  Not everything should be written as if it’s copy on the back of a cereal box.

I plan to treat myself to copies of Gwynne’s Grammar by N.M. Gwynne and The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker, both recently reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.


Physical Proofs of My Novel

I didn’t want to make my edits digitally because I’m all thumbs so I appreciated the physical proofs.  I had extra galleys because of this but I prefer to sleep at night.  Also, I can proof better with a hard copy.  Bright red felt tip marks on a white page are very reassuring.


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