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I must have a really big basement

I don't usually blog about my kids, but this one is book related...sort of.
A great friend recently handed down to us her Thomas the Tank Engine train table.

Lucky, lucky us!

Early the other morning I set it up, all nice and inviting down in the basement. When my just-turned-three year old woke up I couldn't wait to deliver the surprise.

Me: Guess what! Remember how we always go to Barnes and Noble so you can play with the train table? Well now we don't have to! We have one downstairs!

Son: We have a Barnes and Noble in the basement?



I'm revising THE IMPOSSIBLE SECRETS OF ESSIE GREEN. It's set in the area where I grew up and suddenly today two commercials from my childhood resurfaced in my brain.
For you viewing pleasure:



Amateur Photography

Well, I went on my first artist date, had a lot of fun, and realized I know nothing about how to take a great picture. Still, I will share the best of the lot with you, keeping in mind these are very, very amateur.

It was interesting because when I first arrived I noticed many, many people with seriously fancy camera equipment and I began to tell myself that I'd never be able to take good pictures. Then I reminded myself that I was there to be creative and have fun. So I did.


How literate are you?

Sarah Miller posted this fun game on her blog, and I decided I want to play. Please try it too, if you are so inclined.

According to The Big Read (an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to restore reading to the center of American culture)the average adult has only read 6 of the 100 books on this list.

The instructions:
Look at the list and:
Bold those you have read.
Italicize those you intend to read.
Underline the books you LOVE.

(uh, I can't figure out how to underline, so I'm just gonna *)

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen *
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling*
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6. The Bible (for a class in college)
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8. 1984 - George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger *
19. The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot

21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34. Emma - Jane Austen* (named my daughter Emma)
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen* (my favorite Jane)
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden*
40. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne

41. Animal Farm - George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery*
47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50. Atonement - Ian McEwan

51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52. Dune - Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov (I've tried several times, but still haven't)
63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones' Diary - Helen Fielding
69. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72. Dracula - Bram Stoker
73. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses - James Joyce
76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal - Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession - AS Byatt

81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte's Web - EB White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92.The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94. Watership Down - Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo


Okay, clearly being an English major helped here. Though how did I manage to read only one Dickens novel? And I did that for pleasure after I graduated.


The Artist's Way

With all the excitement of a book about to release, comes all the work of promoting and marketing said book. Now I'm not complaining about this. I actually like doing that kind of stuff, and have a whole bunch of fun things coming up, like contests and parties and free downloads.

But what I like to do best is still good old-fashioned writing, and I'm finding, now that my job description is expanding, it takes a little more effort than it did before to make writing my primary focus. So I'm embarking on a project. A while back, I was really feeling disconnected from my writing and I happened upon the book The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron. A lot of her ideas appealed to me, and I immediately begain warming up for my writing sessions by writing three pages long-hand in a journal.

But now I'm taking it a step further. I want to make sure I stay in touch with my creative side even while I flex my business muscles, so I plan to follow her entire twelve week program. And if you like, you can follow me following her. (If that made sense.) Buy yourself the book if you'd like, or just watch, and then do what I do.

Week One's focus is figuring out what beliefs are holding us back in our creativity.
Tasks: Every morning get up and write three stream-of-consciousness pages in a journal.
Take yourself on a date, alone, one time this week. Do something that feels creatively energizing to you. I plan to go to the Chicago Botanic Gardens and take pictures.

I'll keep you posted!

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They're here!