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Summer is Almost Here
We’re full-swing into June, and I for one couldn’t be happier. Longer days, check. Songbirds outside my window, check. I love everything about it, and it’s so short here in New England that when it arrives, I enjoy it as much as I can.
This means more time to read great books and write my new Work in Progress—a project I began last summer and had hoped I’d be farther along more than I am. Although I have a pretty rigorous outline, and characters, I’m missing the “butt in the chair and write it” part. Welp, I gotta do better than this, so I decided the best way to tackle this was to schedule an edit with my friend and book coach, Lidija Hilje, and promise to get a completed manuscript to her by the first of October.
Gahhhhh! What was I thinking? That’s only three months away!
(It’s okay. I generally work better with a deadline anyway.)
I’ll give you an update on my progress next month and provide some more details about the story!
Are you also a writer? When you write, do you listen to music? Or do you prefer quiet? I definitely need silence, though I keep a small stack of books on my desk when I work—favorite titles that inspire me when I get stuck. I gravitate toward different stories for different reasons. It wasn’t a practice I thought too much about until Lidija labeled it. She calls it a Literary Playlist, a list of books that motivates us to be better writers.
Right now, as I plot out story #2, I have several on my list:
Signal Fires by Dani Shapiro. I love how she wrote the story in a close third person point of view. I also admire how she conjures the character’s past history, and how she elicits emotions in the reader like regret, shame, and the yearning for redemption;
Flight by Lynn Stager Strong. The author’s grasp of intimate relationships between husbands and wives is stunning;
This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Trooper. His awareness and mastery of the interiority of his male main character was remarkable, and I continue to use this book as a guide into the male mind.
Summertime is Holiday Time
How about you? Any plans for the summer? Thinking about getting away? Or maybe you’re a bit hesitant about getting on a plane, not knowing what to expect from the airline industry again this year. I can’t say I blame you, but don’t fret, I’ve got a list of things you can do instead without ever having to leave the comfort of your laptop.
How about a virtual trip to the Louvre? Their entire art collection is online. What about a virtual stroll through the Smithsonian? There, you can also explore their Open Accessprogram and download a treasure trove of writings, images, and sound recordings—all for free. If none of these grip you, you can always investigate what’s available (virtually) on your own until you find something that does.
Maybe you’re more into quirkier out-of-the-way places. In that case, what about the Neon Museum in Las Vegas? Or the Museum of Graffiti in Miami? Or the Museum of Bad Art in Somerville, MA? No? Something even odder, you say? So, why not consider the CupNoodles Museum in Japan or the Virtual Museum of Air Sickness Bags? (Honestly, I hate to fly, but this last site was a hoot!)
There are also some pretty great museums dedicated to our best doggos, like the Museum of the Dog in NYC and the Dog Collar Museum in the UK. Although their exhibits are not online, they’re still fun spots to visit and chew over (sorry, I couldn’t resist).
What? You’re not into museums at all? It’s the open road you crave? Then go ahead and take a virtual trip along America’s Route 66. If that doesn’t do it for you, The National Historic Trust for Preservation has a number of other well preserved destinations you can tour—all online. Better yet, take an online excursion with CyArk, which hosts a collection of culturally historic places that span the globe.
Let’s Do Some Baking
Speaking of our canine pals, here’s a little treat you can bake for them in honor of the start of summer. Some might call it the canine version of French fries. I pulled it from my favorite dog cookbook, the Organic Dog Biscuit Cookbook by Bubba Roses Biscuit Company.
1 1/2 c. oat flour
1 1/2 c. brown rice flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 c. shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 c. water
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine all ingredients together (reserving 1/2 cup cheddar cheese to use later as a topping) and mix thoroughly until a dough forms. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Separate pieces and form sticks (about 3” long and 1/2” in diameter). Place on an uncreased cookie sheet (they can be rather close together as they don’t grow much during cooking). Sprinkle the remaining cheddar cheese on top of the fries.
Bake 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is lightly brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
I substituted the oat flour for organic wheat flour to cut back on the fiber content, which seemed high (B has a sensitive stomach), and I left off the cheese topping to watch the calories. The fries cooked up nicely, and I can proudly say they’ve been Bono tested and approved!
My Summer To-Do List
As you peruse the list of virtual destinations above, I’ll be right here scanning my summer to-do list since you might have caught on that yes, while I like to travel, if it’s at all a hassle, I’m just as happy to stay home.
The biggest project on my list for summer 2023 is to finish a remodel of our bathroom that I began last summer (okay, I’ve put it off for a bit). That was when I painted the vanity violet, a color that matches the bedroom, and used a chalk paint from an Etsy shop called PrettySimplyStudio which unfortunately no longer exists.
I like how it came out, but from what I know about this unique paint, it still needs a coat of wax. Recently, my husband hired a painter through Angi to paint the walls and all the trim in the room white. It looks better, but I’d still like to add a few creative touches before I call it quits. While I debated installing ceramic tiles around the sinks to create a backsplash, it was more work than I intended, so I bought a set of 24 removable vinyl tiles from AlegriaM instead. They cost hundreds less, demand less work, and are removable if I change my mind. Here’s the before shot of our bathroom.
Next month, once I’ve polished the vanity and the tiles are in place, I’ll post the after shot.
Thanks so Much for Reading!
If you’ve come to my Newsletter through Bookfunnel, I hope this issue piques your interest to read my debut, Sweet Baby Mine. It’s a intriguing piece of fiction about mental illness, mainly borderline personality disorder, and it’s completely unlike Fatal Attraction. You won’t find any boiling bunnies in these pages. It’s a story that may break your heart, but it’s honest, raw, and true to life.
My intention in writing it was to draw attention to the growing number of women who engage in self-harm, how it’s predominantly a concern among girls and women, and how society is only beginning to address the gender-related issues that may be at the core of it. Although the topic is heavy, it’s crucial we pay attention to those among us who can’t express their pain in any other way. Through writing Ana’s story, I hoped to give them a voice.
Until next month!