Musings, author interviews, book reviews etc,: a platform for writers to exhange ideas.
|Posted by Pat on September 10, 2021 at 4:00 PM|
Quills is the annual conference of the League of Utah Writers. And what a delight it was to reunite, inspire and motivate each other, and listen to advice from those with more experience. The array of subjects covered was vast and eclectic: science fiction, weaponry, independent publishing, travel & eavesdropping, romantic sizzle, branding and comedy, for example.
It is a fundamental truth that writers work alone. No one can share a keyboard or mouse when a scene is being drafted. We have beta readers and critique groups to comment and help, but at the end of the day each gesture of a character, every word chosen, when and how it is written – only the writer working alone can decide these things. This is why Quills has a quiet room for the introvert who gets overwhelmed by busy corridors and rising human voices. That said, there can be too much of a good thing, and many of us had an overload of isolation coming into Quills this year. The joy of being able to chat and laugh and listen was deep and healing.
Writers predictably take notes when attending a conference. When I reviewed mine, one comment stuck out: “The reason to write is allow the reader to process emotions.” Let’s think about that. It is not unusual for a writer to create characters or scenes to process his or her own emotions, to get it out, let it go. In sharing the human experience, the writer evokes in the reader parallel emotional reactions. The feelings, like the ringing of a tuning fork, vibrate in the reader as well. It is a shared experience, a bond. If nothing else, we learned during quarantine that the need to share the human experience is not only deep; it is at the core of who and what we are. Appreciating this truth and its resonance between and among us, made Quills 2021 a towering canyon where the echoes amongst us crystallized and could be clearly heard. Many thanks to all who worked so hard to make this conference the success that it was.
|Posted by Pat on August 11, 2021 at 7:30 PM|
Few are the pastries that can match the delight of Pain au Chocolat. You can't get it just anywwhere; imitations have a tendency to not be flakey enough, to have flakes that are too fat and doughy, or to have chalky chocolate inside. BUT! This thinly flaked, scrumptious representation of the genre came from Trader Joe's. Yes. Now, you do have to cook it on parchment paper, and let it warm overnight after coming out of the freezer. But just in case you have that terrible craving for what cannot be had unless you go to France, there is an option. Yes. Oh, yes.Highly recommended.
|Posted by Pat on June 14, 2021 at 10:30 AM|
The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is other worldly. We camped out there and hiked, did yoga near the rim, frolicked and stared in amazement at the incredible beauty. This picture is from the Widforss trail, a 9.6 mile hike to a peninsula with views beyond belief. If you want restaurants, bars, gift shops and people, the South Rim is your ticket. But if you want to experience the Grand Canyon in silence, amid the trees, with stars popping in a dark night sky, then go to the North Rim. We even saw buffalo on our way out of the Park.
That said, the fire danger is frightening. Across the canyon we could see a raging fire that seemed larger every day, smoke billowing up into a hot dry sky. While we were there, the Rangers decided fires, even in the campsite metal rings, are just too dangerous. Even the sound of twigs cracking under our feet was dry. We all need to do a rain dance for the west.
|Posted by Pat on May 9, 2021 at 7:30 PM|
Every once in a while, I read a book than fundamentally changes my world view. This is what happened to me when I read Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan. Though the book is written as fiction, it is heavily rooted in painstaking research of the experiences of an Italian boy, Pino Lella, as he grows into a man before and during World War II.
The story itself is riveting, the events astonishing in and of themselves. Pino’s loss of innocence is profound and profoundly sad. From being a giddy, girl-enthralled teenager, Pino’s grit, faith and skill – whether guiding Jews to the border of Switzerland, skiing with a pregnant woman on his back or driving while being shot at – are a credit to humanity itself. But it is the loss of humanism – by both the Allies and the Nazis -- that so deeply affected me. War leaves people so deprived, so powerless, so savaged -- that savagery against one’s fellow man becomes inevitable. Not only that, but the shear randomness of life is epitomized when Pino’s sacrifices end up being of questionable value.
If all this seems macabre and disillusioning, such that you are thinking of rejecting my recommendation of this book, please reconsider. This is a story of human dedication and resilience, a story that will amaze and magnetize you, a story of life itself: you should not miss it!
|Posted by Pat on May 9, 2021 at 7:00 PM|
Last week was an exercise in working with fear. Any type of surgery brings on a whopper case of the jitters, but this was eye surgery, and the image of metal instruments puncturing my eyeball left me catatonic. As it turned out, the worst part was putting in the IV. My veins seem to know what is happening and line up a whole bunch of evasion tactics: now-you-see-me-now-you-don’t, the magical collapsing vein and a new trick – the curve away from the needle. Almost funny. But not quite.
After that, things got much better. It started with valium and progressed to fenadryl, and by the time I was headed into the OR, I was floating pleasantly and totally unconcerned. Do I remember any of it? Just the part where I realized that my eye had been closed the entire time, though I could hear the doctor doing things and feel his proximity. But how is it possible for him to operate with my eye closed? Awesome, no?
Okay, they must have temporarily blinded me. But by the time I realized that, it was over. So, if anything was learned, it was this: if you are terrified enough, and if you imagine horrific scenarios, and if the sky is surely falling in, all you have to do is relax.