Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Today I learned a new word

The word ekphrasis, or ecphrasis, comes from the Greek for the description of a work of art produced as a rhetorical exercise, often used in the adjectival form ekphrastic. It is a vivid, often dramatic, verbal description of a visual work of art, either real or imagined.

I have been reading a lot of books recently about Paris; which has led me to read a lot of books about Paris in the past, including the period between WWI and WWII, including historical fiction and non-fiction.  Also including WWII, the occupation, and the resistance.  I've learned more from the rabbit hole research these books have sent me scampering through than I ever did in school.  

Being a lover, also, of historical fiction having to do with art it was only a matter of time before I stumbled across Susan Vreeland's work. 

"Lisette's List" tapped right into the category of "just right" as my own internal version of Goldilocks might say. 

After reading, and falling deeply in love with this book, I knew I'd be reading more of Susan Vreeland's work.

And I wanted to know more about her.

Sadly, Ms. Vreeland died in 2017, but she left a legacy of fine writing; which she referred to as ekphrasic literature in an interview she did with "Women Writers, Women['s} Books." 

I've been drawn to fiction linked to art and artists most of my life.  Sadly, it took me until today to realize much of it is written in a form which has a name. And, is a form of writing widely used in poetry possibly even more so than in prose.  Happily - I learned something new.

And I have an author's work I'm looking forward to reading and exploring as I'm now doing with "Lisette's List."  Here's a little about the book and the paintings she writes about https://www.svreeland.com/ll-intro.html

Happy Reading!

Monday, January 13, 2020

Left Coast Crime Nominees Announced

Left Coast Crime 2020, “Murder’s a Beach,” will be presenting four Lefty Awards at the 30th annual LCC convention.
The awards will be voted on at the convention and presented at a banquet on Saturday, March 14, at the Marriott Mission Valley in San Diego. 

Lefty for Best Humorous Mystery Novel
The nominees are:
Ellen Byron, Fatal Cajun Festival (Crooked Lane Books)
Leslie Karst, Murder from Scratch (Crooked Lane Books)
Cynthia Kuhn, The Subject of Malice (Henery Press)
Catriona McPherson, Scot & Soda (Midnight Ink)
Wendall Thomas, Drowned Under (Poisoned Pen Press)

Lefty for Best Historical Mystery Novel for books set before 1970. 
The nominees are:
Susanna Calkins, Murder Knocks Twice (Minotaur Books)
L.A. Chandlar, The Pearl Dagger (Kensington Books)
Dianne Freeman, A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder (Kensington Books)
Jennifer Kincheloe, The Body in Griffith Park (Seventh Street Books)
Sujata Massey, The Satapur Moonstone (Soho Crime)

Lefty for Best Debut Mystery Novel
The nominees are:
Tori Eldridge, The Ninja Daughter (Agora Books)
Angie Kim, Miracle Creek (Sarah Crichton Books)
Tara Laskowski, One Night Gone (Graydon House)
John Vercher, Three-Fifths (Agora Books)
Carl Vonderau, Murderabilia (Midnight Ink)

Lefty for Best Mystery Novel (not in other categories). 
The nominees are:
Steph Cha, Your House Will Pay (Ecco)
Tracy Clark, Borrowed Time (Kensington Books)
Matt Coyle, Lost Tomorrows (Oceanview Publishing)
Rachel Howzell Hall, They All Fall Down (Forge Books)
Attica Locke, Heaven, My Home (Mulholland Books)

This year’s Guests of Honor are authors Rachel Howzell Hall and T. Jefferson Parker. 
Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore is the Fan Guest of Honor, and author Matt Coyle will serve as Toastmaster.
For more information on Left Coast Crime 2020, please visit www.leftcoastcrime.org/2020/

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Earl Staggs. Rest in peace, my friend

Last night I read some news on Facebook that rocked me.  

My friend Earl Staggs was gone.

My last note from Earl was reminding me to send him an autographed copy of the book he recently edited for me.  And the note was signed, as was every note he ever sent me, with "Heapsa Hugs."

Earl spent two years on an almost daily basis helping me write "Whimsey."  He was the best writing class anyone could ever hope to take.

He edited every short story, every essay I ever submitted and was constantly telling me I should do more.  

As many of you may have figured out by now, I do dearly love Mr. Staggs.

I met Earl several years ago at DorothyL and we became fast friends. We both grew up in Maryland - Earl in Baltimore, and me in a small town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland named Cambridge, which is the home of my heart. 

While Earl and I were getting to know one another, sharing Maryland stories we discovered a mutual love of Ocean City.

Ocean City, MD is where Marylanders go, and have gone for years and years. It's  still, in some ways, an old fashioned beach town, old boardwalk included, with all the requisite boardwalk type shops, and carnival type games and rides. And while we talked about the things no longer there, we were also both pretty happy with the fact that there's a lot about that boardwalk that is exactly the same now as it was when I was a little girl. There are also beautiful white sandy beaches, and great restaurants. I love Ocean City.

Years back, Donald and I borrowed a girl friend's condominium in Ocean City.  This little condo of hers was perfectly situated just at the very end of the boardwalk, and a block back from the ocean with nothing but sand between it and us. We could sit on our balcony and watch the dolphins play. We could watch the surfers. And we could witness gorgeous sunsets.  

This condo is also in the exact same spot that Earl Staggs' protagonist, Adam Kingston, lives in his MEMORY OF A MURDER, a book I love.

Earl can also take credit for being one of the people most accountable for me being here at Meanderings and Muses, blogging away about anything and everything. He and I taking those walks down Maryland Memory Lane nudged something in me. The love I have for Cambridge and the memories I have of growing up there just started bubbling up; begging to be remembered. And shared.

I will miss Earl Staggs and those conversations.

I will miss his wisdom, and his wit.

I will miss sending him the occasional box of peanut butter fudge from Dolle's on The Boardwalk.   

Earl graciously participated in my Meanderings and Muses author spotlights from 2009 through 2014.  He was always the first to respond when I sent out the annual invitation.  

You can read his pieces here - 







Wednesday, January 1, 2020

The New Year

Donald and I did our traditional New Year's Eve.

We stayed home.

I was tucked in reading an old John Grisham novel - "Sycamore Row;" have you read it?  I loved it.  I don't know why it took me so long to get to it (it was published in 2013).  It's a sequel to his "A Time to Kill."  We get to re-visit some memorable characters.  

I have some writer and reader friends who aren't big fans of Mr. Grisham's work, and I haven't always liked everything he's written.  I can say the same thing about a lot of the authors I read, however.  

Not all books are going to appeal to all readers.  

I kinda think,though, that the 4 1/2 star rating from 19,257 readers at Amazon is a fairly decent indication that I'm not the only person who liked "Sycamore Row."

Anyhoooo -  It was about 12:15 a.m. when I realized it was 2020.  Donald had fallen asleep watching a movie.  So we were a little late welcoming the new year.

My hopes for the days ahead would include good health and a more peaceful time for our country.

In 2020 I hope that we will soon be Trump free.  So mote it be.

On a personal note, I had a very nice surprise to start off this new year.

I did not know Susie Sharp back in 2014.  Susie is a librarian in North Dakota.  I've come to know her through Facebook and she's an amazingly versatile, fun-loving woman who loves books, acting and singing, Harley-Davidson bikes, her family, traveling, and life.  She lives her life fully and is an inspiration.

And back in 2014 she loved my "Whimsey."  

At Facebook this morning she had posted a list of her top 5 books for the last 10 years.

Talk about starting off my new year with a feeling of hope?  Wow.  This certainly helped with that.

Here's Susie's top 5 for 2014: 

Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal

Whimsey: A Novel by Kaye Wilkinson Barley

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

Missing You by Harlan Coben

Fear Nothing by Lisa Gardner

In other years her lists have included some favorite writers of mine, including Beth Hoffman and Sarah Addison Allen, so finding my name here is incredibly rewarding, and I am grateful.

So.  All this to say, each year comes with good and bad.  We each have struggles we get through the best we can.  Hopefully, we also have days of grace.  Days that we're reminded that there is good in the world, and in our lives.

Which we choose to focus on and dwell on is up to us all individually.

I'm going to try, very hard, to choose wisely in 2020.  Still hoping, deep in my heart, to soon be Trump free and that our country can somehow heal from all the damage he and this administration has wrought.

So mote it be.

Here's to 2020!