Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Wright Start to the Summer

My roommates and I kicked off our summer adventures with a day-trip out to Pennsylvania with a friend to see a couple of Frank Lloyd Wright houses, but we ended up doing a lot more than just walking through old houses.

Not only was the drive spectacular, but we also listened to some tunes that took me back to the day before Gwen Stefani was a solo artist and no one knew what a wonderwall was but everybody had one. (Yes, I am going to re-live middle/high school by going to the No Doubt concert next month.)

Our first stop was at the Kentuck Knob house, the largest of Wright's Usonian homes. Of course the architecture was flawless and the grounds were beautiful--I would expect nothing less from a FLLW home.

After touring the house and walking through the sculpture meadow, we had a picnic lunch. We couldn't have asked for more spectacular weather for a holiday weekend as it was sunny with a sprinkling of clouds yet only in the hight seventies with a decent breeze, which made me especially glad that Corinna and I brought out ball gloves so we could play catch. Holy cow am I out of practice!
We then drove the ten miles to see Fallingwater, a.k.a. the Bear Run House. What FLLW fan doesn't want the opportunity to see that modern marvel? I have wanted to see that house since I was about ten years old, so I was a little giddy by the time we got there. I took almost 100 pictures, but I will spare you all my pathetic attempts at artistic photography and just post a picture of some fine looking chicks instead.

Of course I was ready to bite someone's head off on the drive home, getting up at 6:30 a.m. on a Saturday, driving 450 miles in one day and spending so much time in the sun will do that to you. But the trip was well worth putting up with the east-coast drivers. Plus, driving those back roads in Pennsylvania can be a lot of fun.

Who knows where our next summer adventure will take us, but you can bet I'll have more travelogs to come.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Save 'Screen on the Green'

I remember my first summer in Washington , DC , when I was a 23 year-old intern and the amazing summer adventures we had. Inner tubeing down the Shenandoah Rive, cliff-jumping along the Blue Ridge Parkway, kayaking in the Tidal Basin, concerts and plays, museums and House debates. But one memory stands out from all the rest, a simple memory. A picnic with friends at the steps of the Capitol Building while watching Catherine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby. And now that I have returned to DC as a professional, I might never have the opportunity to create new memories with a similar activity.

Every Monday night during the summer, thousands of movie lovers gather with blankets and picnics, waiting for the sun to go down on the National Mall for "Screen on the Green"--classic Hollywood films shown under the stars in the shadow of the Capitol dome. But recently, HBO, a longtime co-sponsor of the movie night, announced it was canceling "Screen on the Green" due to lack of a funding partner.

When I heard the news, I was devastated. Seriously, I have been looking forward to attending "Screen on the Green" for six months.

To save "Screen on the Green", we need to find new sponsors. And even if you don't live in the DC area but would like to help me keep one of my favorite summer activities alive, click here to see how you can help. You can also join our facebook group here.

Don't let me and the 75,000 other Washingtonians who attend "Screen on the Green" every summer down.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Hello, manuscript, what you knowing?

I feel like I am living in this haze at the moment. After spending over a year focusing so hard on getting one manuscript ready for marketing, I am ready to move on. That's right, I've started something totally new. And totally different.

While working on my last manuscript, I never really stop working on other projects, but some characters had louder voices in my head than others and so I had to get their story written before I could really concentrate on what anyone else was tell me. So I've been really worried that for the past few months, things have been kind of silent up there. I tried pulling out some old things to work on to see if those characters would start talking to me again. I wrote some short stories hoping to invite someone new to take up residence. I even started researching for a new non-fiction piece in order to call up some voices from the dust. But nothing was really coming alive for me.

Then a couple of kids moved in and wouldn't vacate the premisses. So now I have the voice of this sixteen-year-old girl echoing in my head, and I can't stop typing the most amazing things she is whispering to me. She and her best friend have an incredible story to tell, and though it's completely different from anything I have ever written or ever attempted to write, I feel blessed that they have chosen me to tell their story.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

This is for you, Sheri!

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater... debuts August 1. Preorder today!

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf--her wolf--is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human--or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

(Re-post this and leave a comment here letting Maggie know you are a member of team Raving the Pen!)

Friday, May 8, 2009

A New Baseball Classic

Mudville Mudville by Kurtis Scaletta

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Life is full of defining moments, and baseball is no exception. From Walt Dropo’s 15-hit run, to the immortal plays of Tinker to Evers to Chance to learning how to eat a hotdog (mustard and NO KETCHUP!), Mudville breathes new life into baseball legends and tells a great story along the way.

It’s all about the percentages. There’s a one in a billion chance that it will rain 8,030 consecutive days in a little town in the Dakotas, but with more than a billion towns that have existed on the earth, Moundville is the town that gets drenched. And it’s proof-positive of percentages that the rain started just in time to cause a rain-delay in the bottom of the fourth inning of the big game between Sinister Bend and Moundville. It has nothing to do with an old Indian curse or even the long-standing rivalry between the settlers and the natives, at least that’s what Roy McGuire would like to think.

So when Roy comes home from baseball camp to find his room invaded by his new foster brother, a descendant of the now-flooded town of Sinister Bend, Roy puts forth a worthy effort to make room in his life for Sturgis. But Sturgis doesn’t make himself easy to love or even like. While the boys finally connect with Sturgis playing pitcher to Roy’s catcher, there is still the issue of the unfinished game and Sturgis’ past standing between them.

Roy McGuire is my new favorite catcher—sorry, A.J. You know I will always love the 2005 White Sox, but I’ve got to make room in my heart for the up-and-coming players—and Moundville is my new field of dreams. Full of humor, great plays and characters that jump off the pages, Kurtis Scaletta has created a defining moment in baseball literature. And you don’t have to be a baseball fan to enjoy the romance of the game and feel a connection to the players that you hope both win and lose the big game.

(And you know this book is good when a White Sox fan gives it five stars even though the Cubs win the Cross Town Classic that Roy watches. At that moment I knew this was a fantasy novel.)

View all my reviews.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Around the world in eight hours

Today I went to Trinidad and Tobago, Uzbekistan, Australia, Korea, Zambia, Venezuela and the Bahamas. No really, I did.

Okay, so I went to those embassies, and technically an embassy is considered foreign soil. And being on all that foreign soil was pretty cool.

With the different music
and textiles
and culture
and art
today was a fantastic adventure. Next year I was to go back and see some of the EU embassies.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Living the good week

A lot of people post a Friday Five, and I realized I have never done that before. This was a really good week, so I could probably post a Friday Fifteen or even Fifty, but that would be a really long post. And it's getting late, and I'm getting up early.

1. Music, music, music. I downloaded Melinda Doolittle's new CD Coming Back to You, which has some pretty good tunes.

2. I also finally downloaded a modern Cajun CD that was featured on NPR a few months ago--Cow Island Hop by Feufollet. Their female vocalist has an incredible voice that make me dream of being back on the bayou.

3. I went to a concert for a local high school that had a bunch of student's release a CD. Goading the Pen's son played an acoustic set as well as performed with his band Only on Fridays. These kids write and produce all of their own music, and it will make you wish you were that cool in high school. You can download their CD, Salmagundi: A Collection of Things, on iTunes.

4. I got an ARC of Bennett Madison's The Blonde of the Joke in the mail. (Thanks Bennett!) I haven't had a lot of time to read, so I'm only 75 pages into it, but I can't get it out of my head. The main character fascinates me, and I can't wait to find out how everything comes together.

5. My new bathing suit came in the mail. Yes, I was brave a bought a bathing suit online. And it fits perfectly. And doesn't look half bad on me. And didn't cost me a fortune. I haven't gotten a new suit for almost five years, so I'm excited to take this one out for a test swim. Now it just has to stop raining and get warm again.

What a great week. In the past seven days, I got to see my little brother, heard some great music, got a fabulous un-birthday present book in the mail and got summer clothes. Plus, the Sox are first in their division, and tomorrow a bunch of us are going to the open house on Embassy Row. Summer is just around the corner, and life couldn't be better.

Oh yes, number six. I finally got up my nerve to start sending my manuscript off to agents. Okay, so I've only sent it to one thus far, but it still feels good to be moving forward with the process.