Tag Archives: reading

PREORDER NOW – Unkept, a novel by Ericka Clay

Hi, friends! I wanted to pass along an epic opportunity for those of you who own a Kindle. My friend and fellow booze lover Ericka Clay has a novel coming out! Preorder your Kindle copy of Unkept now, and it will automatically be delivered to your Kindle on March 2nd.

Via www.erickaclay.com:

Ericka Clay is a published novelist represented by Robyn Russell and the author of Unkept.

She’s also a major foodie, yoga newbie, overall health nut and the founding editor of Tipsy Lit.”

Book description, via www.amazon.com:

“As the live-in manager at her father’s funeral home in Burling Gates, Missouri, Vienna Oaks has succumbed to the mediocrity and abject loneliness of her life.  Her days are suspended between the mundane and the misery of her clients’ throttling grief, of changing light bulbs, and encountering strangers as bereft as she. But after orchestrating the funeral for a little boy named Parker prompts a severe panic attack, she finds herself at a personal crossroads in which she is forced to confront the pregnancy she’s been hiding, her childhood nemesis, the boy she never stopped loving, and the deep-seated secret surrounding her mother’s death more than a decade before.

In another part of town, Heather Turnbull has just learned from her estranged father that her mother, a lifelong recluse, has died.  When making arrangements for her funeral, Heather chooses Oaks Family Funeral home, where she comes face to face with Vienna – the woman she tortured throughout grade school, the woman who has recently had an affair with her husband.

Together, Vienna and Heather navigate through a makeshift friendship born of circumstance and devised to assuage their ambivalence towards motherhood and their tenuous relationship with reality, discovering, in tandem, the art of forgiveness and the will to go on.

With humor and poignancy, Ericka Clay’s debut novel, Unkept, explores the thorny landscape of childhood trauma and the ferocious politics between little girls — and the adults they become.”

Click here to order your Kindle version of Unkept today!

xo,

Nicole Marie

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Writing

Public Speaking Sucks.

I don't know. It's just scary.

I don’t know. It’s just scary.

 

FINALLY! Cable. Internet. I spent the last few days catching up on mindless television since I’d spent two weeks without it. Now it’s back to blogging and noveling. I added “noveling” to my computer’s dictionary. It’s a real word, damnit. So, tonight is the night! The Apiary #5 Launch Party, where I will be reading (first) and boozing (second) and mingling (second and third). In order to give every contributor a chance to read, everyone will receive 3 minutes to read an excerpt from their piece. I timed myself and practiced and everything!

Although I had a few large parts and even solos in high school theater (I was even Rizzo in Grease! So much fun.) I still experience extreme fear of speaking in front of a crowd. Unless of course I’m drunk, in which case you’ll have to rip me from the stage. However, it would probably be a bad idea to get my buzz on before taking the stage to try and impress a bunch of writers, so I’m gonna stay away from the booze for this one.

I’m still convinced I’ll mess up and say “fuck” or “penis” or something by accident.

I’m hoping mother or Joe or someone will take a video of my 3 minute performance-of-a-lifetime. Then, if my lisp isn’t too obvious (I’m convinced I have one), I’ll post it here for all to enjoy/laugh at/make fun of my hair and outfit or something.

I am officially back in the ‘sphere of blogging. Feel free to jump for joy. And wish me luck.

I’ll mail you a copy of the issue if you want. I plan on taking as many as my skinny arms can carry.

Happy Friday!

12 Comments

Filed under Writing

Passing time with a masterpiece.

One of the greatest authors I've had the pleasure of reading.

Most of us were required to read her diary in elementary school. Most of us may think we know how the story goes, or some of us may not remember a thing. I’ve seen the play, I think I’ve seen the movie, but I’m embarrassed to report that this is the first time I’m picking up the book outside of a classroom. If you haven’t read The Diary of a Young Girl, or have and can’t quite remember how the story goes, please pick up a copy.

This isn’t exactly a book review, but rather a praising of one of the finest young authors I’ve ever read; a young girl who was passing two years of her life in hiding from the Nazis, writing about breakfast, her parents, her sister, her dreams in a post-war world. It’s an inspiration for my own writing, a reminder to put more of myself into what I write, and a heart-breaking glimpse into the lives of a Jewish family leading up to their capture.

I have a thing for old books.

I picked up my disheveled copy over at Amazon.com for about $5.00. The pages have yellowed, there’s a stamp inside the cover that reads: “WEST HARRISON COMMUNITY SCHOOLS. PISGAH, IOWA”, and as I flipped through the pages an ad for a coffee maker from 1985 fell out. Even better.

Eleanor Roosevelt’s Introduction sums things up perfectly: “Anne’s diary is an appropriate monument to her fine spirit and to the spirits of those who have worked and are working still for peace. Reading it is a rich and rewarding experience.”

I have to agree.

Reading Anne’s diary is heart wrenching from page one. I recently read an entry regarding conflict in story-telling, on Albert Berg’s Unsanity Files (check it out). Berg referred to Alfred Hitchcock’s “bomb under the table” example about suspense and surprise: the audience is aware there is a bomb under the table that is about to explode, but the characters are completely unaware. The audience is on the edge of their seats.

Anne’s first diary entry talks about her birthday. Most know, even before reading the book for the first time, that Anne and her family are eventually captured by the Nazis. It gives her daily descriptions of life and love and growing up a very solemn feeling.

She was intelligent, opinionated, witty, and completely unaware that she was creating something that would define an era. Read it. Read it and constantly remind yourself that it’s not a work of fiction. Don’t just read it because it’s good – read it because you should.

Monday, 28 September, 1942

Dear Kitty,
I had to stop yesterday, long before I’d finished. I just must tell you about another quarrel, but before I start on that, something else.

Why do grownups quarrel so easily, so much, and over the most idiotic things? Up till now I thought that only children squabbled and that that wore off as you grew up. Of course, there is sometimes a real reason for a quarrel, but this is just plain bickering. I suppose I should get used to it. But I can’t nor do I think I shall, as long as I am the subject of nearly every discussion (they use the word “discussion” instead of quarrel). Nothing, I repeat, nothing about me is right; my general appearance, my character, my manners are discussed from A to Z. I’m expected (by order) to simply swallow all the harsh words and shouts in silence and I am not used to this. In fact, I can’t! I’m not going to take all these insults lying down, I’ll show them that Anne Frank wasn’t born yesterday. Then they’ll be surprised and perhaps they’ll keep their mouths shut when I let them see that I am going to start educating them. Shall I take up that attitude? Plain barbarism! I’m simply amazed again and again over their awful manners and especially… stupidity (Mrs. Van Daan’s), but as soon as I get used to this – and it won’t be long – then I’ll give them some of their own back, and no half measures. Then they’ll change their tune!

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

First published in 1947 in Holland under the title Het Achterhuis.

Leave a comment

Filed under Writing

Going nowhere fast; What makes me happy.

This pretty much sums it up.

I’d hate for this post to be depressing or too focused on “self-hating” as I recently read about in another blogger’s post, but I have spent the past week or so moping around, lying in bed for an extra hour, going back for seconds, crying at the drop of a dime, things that aren’t normal (or too becoming) of me.

It seems I’ve hit some sort of obstacle and I can’t figure out how to get around it, without having to jump through the ring of fire or swim through the lake of piranhas. I’m stuck. Stuck, stuck, stuck.

I’ve tried to focus all of that negative energy into something worthwhile, like my writing, but every time I flop into a chair and stare into my 45 pages of writing, I’m clueless. This is no good.

So – more for myself, I suppose, but hopefully to encourage a few others that are feeling rather “blah” lately, too – here are a few things that always manage to make me feel better. I’ll be referring to this list later, I’m sure.

1.)

The best $8 bottle of red around.

The delicousness speaks for itself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These two things never disappoint. Nothing cures a bout of depression like a large glass of dry red wine and some fresh mozzarella topped with balsamic and a Jersey tomato. (At least Jersey is good for something, right?)

I enjoyed a pick-me-up late Wednesday night with drink, mozzarella, a best friend, and…. another…. friend:

E.T. wanted a piece of the action!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.) Reading. When I read, I can forget about my crappy day for a moment and focus on the crappy day of someone else. Or else I can delve directly into an exciting moment, a love story, a murder, a scene of violence or sex or adventure. It takes my mind off of what is going on around me or in my crazy head.

Current read:

Exciting. Depressing. Compelling. You know the story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.) Working out! This used to be something that made me even more depressed; who wants to sweat and hurt for an hour when there’s a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough in the freezer? (Still sounds tempting.) BUT – nowadays (most of the time) I’d rather grind out my frustrations on a bag or a treadmill. FYI: A pulled muscle is sexier than an ice-cream gut.

4.) Anything on ID. This is my favorite channel; plenty of blood, guts and…more blood and guts. Murder, murder, murder. Hey, I am a writer of horror. I’m sure if Poe was here, he’d be making the popcorn before another episode of 48 Hours…

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.)

So inviting.

So this queen may look a little more inviting than ours, but ours is still a big comfy mess. When I’m being a negative nancy, just shove one of these under me and I’m good to go. Sometimes hiding under the covers for an extended period of time truly does the trick.

 

 

6.) Pretty much any movie from the 1980’s can cheer me up. Doesn’t the same go for everyone else?

Who doesn't enjoy the story of an awkward teenage girl, forgotten by everyone but the hottest guy in school on her birthday?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7.)

Love.

This man right here. But especially the image of this man right here, in all his ’90s, grungy, long-haired hotness. So his hair is short and spiky now, but I couldn’t resist posting a picture of his former look. Either way, he’s hot. And he takes good care of me. And looking at this picture makes me laugh. And smile. (And I’ll probably get in trouble once he notices I posted it. Oops.)

Ending on #7 – it’s supposedly good luck, so let’s just stick with that. These things help pull me out of my ruts (although once in a while, only time can pull me out completely).

What makes you happy when you’re feeling convinced that the world is about to end?

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Jobs, Uncategorized, Writing

Look At Me

A witty, deep, funny, intriguing, entertaining novel by Jennifer Egan. (Perched ever so delicately on my nightstand! Next to my water bottle.)

“My eyes still shut, I reached for the iron railing. curled my fingers around it and climbed over. Now I was balancing the narrow heels of my high-heeled shoes on maybe two inches of concrete still left to stand on. I gripped the railing behind me. The wind pummeled me, as if I were strapped to the prow of an icebreaking ship. Twenty-five stories of dazzling emptiness sucked at me from below. My head was spinning. Don’t open your eyes. Chin down. Let them see you.

I let go of the railing and jumped.

It felt like an instant later that I hit concrete. I lay there, amazed to find myself conscious. Or was I dead? I was, had to be — how could I survive a fall of twenty-five stories? And yet I was conscious, or at least able to think. I lay in a heap, testing my crumpled limbs with tiny, fragile movements. When  I opened my eyes, I saw double, as I had after the accident. I seemed to be looking at a pane of glass. Light spilled from behind it and there was noise, faint, intermittent noise…voices. A voice. I lay on the pavement, my eyes open, and listened, trying to understand, Deberr…sister…chillrrn…because the voice was familiar, it was the voice of a friend, an acquaintance or possibly a lover. No…no. It was the basso voice of Robert Stack, the iron-haired narrator of Unsolved Mysteries.

I was on someone else’s balcony.”

Look At Me makes me feel smart. Charlotte Swenson is a smart-ass, confident, aging model that uses big words and is involved in a car accident she has barely any memory of, but is reminded of constantly by the eighty titanium screws that have been implanted in her face  in order to reassemble it. Nearly everyone Charlotte knew before the accident sees her as a strange after; her looks have changed, drastically.

Jennifer Egan delves much deeper than physical appearance in her novel, combing through the past and present of a woman that for most of her life had relied on her looks to get what she wanted. While still very beautiful, Charlotte Swenson is given the rare opportunity to reinvent herself. (Who wouldn’t pounce on that chance?)

Egan also jumps to the POV of several other characters, who are somehow intertwined with the main and are also struggling to find themselves. (Michael West is overwhelmed by his first Big Mac…Trust me, it’s worth reading.)

This is the first novel by Egan that I have read (at the suggestion of a professor) and so far, I am not disappointed. Her sarcasm is intelligent, and Charlotte is a confident bitch – I can relate.

READ IT!

http://www.jenniferegan.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Writing

I Am Vertical

But I would rather be horizontal.

I am not a tree with my root in the soil

Sucking up minerals and motherly love

So that each March I may gleam into leaf,

Nor am I the beauty of a garden bed

Attracting my share of Ahs and spectacularly painted,

Unknowing I must soon unpetal.

Compared with me, a tree is immortal

And a flower-head not tall, but more startling,

And I want the one’s longevity and the other’s daring.

– Sylvia Plath

I have never considered poetry one of my strong points, but it is a style of writing I strongly admire – especially when it comes to Sylvia and her beautiful, twisted words. I enjoy the quickness of poetry, and the opportunity to churn out a few abstract thoughts that could be interpreted in any number of ways.

Recently, a poem of mine was accepted into my college’s literary magazine. Am I ecstatic? Yes. Was I afraid of what my mother would say about the subject matter of my first published work? Absolutely.

“Boundless”

A woman in wrinkled slacks

shoved a pamphlet into

your velvet palm

and we stared into pages

of burning flesh

as you told me of your first kiss,

four breasts embracing,

four lips parting

then meeting,

one on top of the other

like pillows stacked high.

I laughed as you ripped it up,

a strange confetti that

caught in my hair

and ignited

as you pressed your lips

against my neck,

just below the ear,

right above the curiosity.

Sylvia’s flare? No way. But I gave my best attempt at capturing many moments in one; roping a whole series of events into about 30 seconds; speaking of limitless love and acceptance of one’s self and others around them. To me, poetry has the ability to cross boundaries in a way that the short story or novel cannot. It is a bit more challenging, like flash fiction; taking a story that may span months or years and getting it’s point across in five or ten lines.

To all the amazing poets that have mastered this (Sylvia included): I salute you.

Leave a comment

Filed under Writing