Indie Novels Are Like Organic Apples

Wednesdays at the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm where I worked were packing days when no matter the weather or the raspberries left rotting on the bush, we met in the cool, dark room to sort and pack pesticide-free, non-migrant labor harvested produce to be delivered to starry-eyed customers in the morning. Our Harvard-educated, Russian-Lit…

Can You Write Stories for These Pictures?

Under the Lilacs book illustration. I’d never heard the term domestic genre stories but I LOVE it. These are the great stories of the late 19th century that spoke to the trials and travails of ordinary life and often with beautiful illustrations. I assume they’re the works that some people deem “of no literary merit”…

Books I’ve Known and Loved

Can we all agree that men polish up quite nicely in uniform? Why else would we have cop groupies? My father had a charming charisma, but the uniform brought the groupies. Anyway, men look good in uniform–especially late 19th century military uniform–I happened to notice this at all the Civil war re-enactments–when the weekend was…

Books I’ve Known and Loved (2)

Just because you’re nice doesn’t mean you’re going to be popular. This is what General Ben Grierson must have said to console himself. A hero of the Civil War, Grierson commanded the Buffalo Soldiers out West against Victorio and his Apache warriors after the war, but do you think that would have gotten him some…

Books I’ve Known and Loved

Okay, don’t be disturbed by the man’s weird stare and ugly hat. While On the Border with Crook is about the Indian fighter General Crook it’s more about the erudite and humorous John Gregory Bourke— the dashing military man and entertaining writer. Invariably the military men of the late 19th century had such enthusiasm, intellectual…

Books I’ve Known and Loved

My heart beats a little quicker for this extremely fun and informative gem, The Look of the Old West Lieutenant John Weldon in The House on Tenafly Road took his family to a western military outpost after the Civil War and this book helped make that possible. Scholarly research is a great thing but Foster…

Books I’ve Known And Loved

When you write about post-Civil War America it’s impossible not to bump up against war wounds. John Weldon in The House on Tenafly Road is addicted to morphine, given his first dose in a Civil War hospital by well-meaning doctors trying to keep him comfortable before his eventual death–which never happens. He escapes in his…

Is It Possible To Write About Happily Married Couples?

The problem is happy people are alienating. They’re annoyingly complimentary to their spouses. They remember birthdays and endlessly talk about fond memories from high school where they met and instantly fell in love. They find charm in their spouses maddeningly gross habits. Their children settle nearby and come over for dinner on Sundays. But happy…

Codependency Rocks

Okay, it doesn’t really rock, but it’s good for fiction. It’s not even considered a real condition by some mental health professionals. It used to be called “passive dependent personality.” But I thought that was the ideal of womanhood? Men, this is why we too are confused by constantly changing definitions of mental health! Sitting…

Where Does Beauty Get You?

Thankful Crenshaw I’ve been thinking lately of my female characters and how little I actually understand about them. This isn’t a bad thing because it keeps me curious, but inevitably I get dazzled by their beauty or annoyed by their tendency towards bitchiness. (I’m glad that this word is no longer a cuss because if…