Category: Writing

Writing Your Way Through a Pandemic: Your COVID-19 Journal is waiting to be written

You are already keeping a pandemic journal of sorts. Take a look at your 2020 calendar. Starting in March, mine is a pattern of large Xs wiping my schedule clean of Book Club, friends coming over for dinner, visit to Botanic Garden, and ten other things, all cancelled. By April it was Zoom calls instead: weekly... Read more »

Author Sue Grafton: M is for Missing you already

Sue Grafton died the other day. The author of 25 detective novels, she’s been with me since 1982 when A is for Alibi came out. Her books took me from life as a young mother through two careers to present day where I am reading her most recent, and it turns out last, Y is... Read more »

The Sisters' Writing Club and why you should want in

The Sisters’ Writing Club, the latest chapter in my writing life, is the brainchild of my sister-in-law Nan. She proposed it and all of us signed on immediately. The club invites all five of us to write a brief piece on the same topic every month. We share our pieces via email, then respond with... Read more »
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Is Hamilton Really That Good? A skeptic's review

I had questions about Hamilton: Is it worth all the hype? A hip-hop musical about a founding father? Is it just hysteria setting me up for disappointment? I went to see it with fear in my heart. Would I respond to it as just another over-hyped attempt at art; would I rebel, like I did over the... Read more »

Branding for writers and readers: What you expect and what I deliver

Writer friends, I have an apparently crucial question for you: What exactly  is your brand? Not a brand like big boys Nabisco or Toyota, but a brand that tells your readers who you are and what to expect of you. Hold it a minute, non-writers: I hope you will stick around and apply this idea... Read more »

Courage with a smile: A chance encounter in the elevator

I met her on Thursday on the way up to the 8th floor of the Sheraton. I was wearing my name badge for the writing workshop I am attending with around a hundred other aspiring writers. She was middle-aged, in a hurry it seemed, very energetic, with an unusually bright smile. She studied my badge:... Read more »
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A chance encounter with college in the age of Pokemon Go and Ferris Beuller

While I am at the University of Iowa at a writing workshop, I am also doing undercover research in this world of no-curfews and endless possibility, as every college campus is. First, I examined the Pokemon Go phenomenon. In summer when students are few, it’s a surprise to see gluts of them, usually in groups... Read more »

A better world through Facebook Rationing: Imagine if nobody was allowed to post on Facebook more than once a week

When I go to see a play in Chicago, I don’t read Chris Jones’ reviews in the Tribune all the way through before seeing the play. I play a game with him to see if I notice the same points of discomfort that he does. If I do, I feel smart. If I don’t, as... Read more »

A genre-bending read: Mr Churchill’s Secretary by Susan MacNeal

At first I thought it was a historical novel set in London, in Churchill’s war rooms. The heroine is Maggie Hope, an American-bred British young woman, adopted by a reluctant single-woman professor relative after the deaths of Maggie’s parents. Forced to be in London on business, Maggie watches as Nazi bombers began pummeling the city... Read more »
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My open letter to Facebook: our relationship needs work

Dear Facebook, I am concerned about our relationship. Sometimes I think you really like me. If I don’t log in for a few days, for instance, you send me an email that “a lot has happened” and I should come to see my notifications, invites, updates, etc. On the one hand, that’s nice, but this... Read more »