Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

We're back from Mammoth. Our last day there was sunny, brisk, and always bittersweet: I want to stay, but I want to get home.

I also have a Pavlovian response to the last day of the year: I automatically reflect on the past year and consider resolutions. It's always a bittersweet holiday season--my mom died Dec. 26, 2001. Around this time in 2001, the three of us were back east, attending the funeral, dealing with the airline's extremely tight--and sometimes stupid--security measures. Travis was very short then--seven years old--and his name was picked for a personal security check. He had to empty his backpack. Whoa--stuffed animals! Games! Books! Years later he said he was worried the airlines would want to keep him.

The fact that we're vaulting into a new decade is just so strange to me. Wasn't it just 2000? This past year was good enough, but did I accomplish enough? Probably not. I meant to finish my novel, Crazy for You, based on my noir short story that was published in April, but did I? Oy. And I hoped my agent would sell my memoir, but it was not to be--not yet, anyhoo.

I did sign up with WeightWatchers online, and lost almost 14 pounds (15 was my goal, oh woe).

I tried to be a better companion to Brian, a better mother to Travis, a better friend, a better teacher.

But why is it that at the end of the year, we always feel we fell short in some way? Or maybe it's just me...

So next year--tomorrow!--I plan to become better organized, lose that last pound at least, accomplish my writing goals, become an even better friend, relative, wife, mother ... all that.

What about you--any goals for 2011?

I wish for you everything you hope for in the New Year, and hope our paths cross real soon.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A leisurely afternoon walk in a blizzard. Great fun, actually, making a memory...

Snow, again.

I love the snow, as my loyal blog readers know. And we're here once again, at Mammoth, and the snow is sublime. Fortunately Mammoth knows how to deal with snow. Last night more than a foot fell.

And I will admit to you right here and now, the only work with words that I've done is the editing I do for The ASJA Monthly. No working on my book, no writing. And sometimes not writing is exactly what's called for. So much of my life is taken up with words, and like you, sometimes I need a break. So I've been enjoying the snow with my son and in-laws, and knitting. My son calls me obsessed, and it's true.

So below you will see this morning's snowfall, and you'll also see the rubber ducky socks I just finished.

What do you do to take a break from writing--or do you never take a break?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

New Year's Resolutions, anyone?

I don't tend to make resolutions--although last Jan. 3 I signed up for Weight Watchers online and have so far lost 14 pounds (one more to go to reach my goal).

But I've been pondering a way to get my Internet use under control. Does anyone use Anti-Social or Freedom? Just read this in today's LA Times.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pen on Fire Speaker Series: Merrill Markoe

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett welcomes Merrill Markoe, author of Nose Down, Eyes Up: A Novel, to the Pen on Fire Speaker Series at the Scape Gallery in Corona del Mar.

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Edwidge Dandicat

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett interviews Edwidge Dandicat, author of Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work.

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(Broadcast date: October 20, 2010)

Betsy Lerner and Susan Straight

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett interviews literary agent and writer Betsy Lerner, author of The Forest for the Trees (Revised and Updated): An Editor's Advice to Writers and Susan Straight, author of Take One Candle Light a Room.

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(Broadcast date: October 27, 2010)

Sharon Dogar and Roy P. Clarke

Marrie Stone interviews Sharon Dogar, author of Annexed and Roy P. Clark, author of The Glamour of Grammar.

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(Broadcast date: October 13, 2010)

Nicole Krauss

Marrie Stone interviews Nicole Krauss, author of Great House: A Novel.

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(Broadcast date: November 17, 2010)

Piper Kerman

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett interviews Piper Kerman, author of Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison.

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(Broadcast Date: December 8, 2010)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas cards clarification

I've been receiving private emails from dear friends about Christmas cards and my blog post from the other day, and feel that maybe some clarification is called for.

First, the only cards I truly object to are those mass emailed holiday greetings that present a simple greeting. The images tend to be washed out, the words hard to read. And the fact that they've gone out to a hundred--maybe a thousand--of the sender's closest friends and colleagues does not inspire the Christmas spirit, at least not in me.

I do enjoy emailed cards that contain lots of photos or images. Yes, they've gone out to a bunch of people, but the sender has also put some time into the creation of the card.

I enjoy holiday letters. Yes, they're a recap of the year, but so what? The only thing I don't like about them is when they're written in the third person. Someone in the family: Take ownership! Make it your letter and write about you and everyone else in the family.

What about the paper waste? Well, yeah, there's that, and I don't mean to minimize it. But I've a feeling that those who are complaining about paper waste also happily take cardboard cups from their local cafe, will order take out (which is boxed), use paper napkins, use paper and plastic sacks from the market rather than bring a cloth bag, and use all sorts of other paper. The "waste" comment doesn't hold up for me.

The main thing is this: It's the one time all year that you make it a point to send holiday wishes. So why not make them count? Put some time into creating a card at or another online site. Who wouldn't love that? I do.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Opinionated post...beware....

I haven't made a personal post here in quite some time and I maybe shouldn't right now as I'm feeling a tad under the weather, but because it's timely, and I'm not feeling all that great, I should just let it spill, right?

It has to do with Christmas cards. Does anyone else dislike emailed Christmas cards as much as I do? Perhaps my dislike is out of range. I should just appreciate any communique a person sends, right, whether of the paper sort or email?

But I don't. I receive a card via email and I feel offended, not appreciated. Okay, I'm old school, I admit: I like the personal attention you have to give to writing someone's name on an envelope--or even printing out a sheet of address labels, writing your name (a preprinted card will do) and affixing a stamp. We only do this once a year, right? No one sends out Valentines Day cards anymore, or Easter, or Halloween or Thanksgiving. So how much trouble can it be?

Now, if you don't have someone's address and you want them to know they're in your thoughts, that's different. And of course I want everyone to have a great holiday.

But if someone has my address and still sends me an email card, I hit delete. I don't think, how sweet, how nice, how thoughtful. I think: Well, that was easy. I hope they feel good because I feel worse. I don't feel appreciated at all. Rather, I feel minimized.

At this point, I should delete this post because I know I will offend some of my friends and colleagues who send email cards. In advance, I apologize. My sore throat and general lousy feeling made me hit "publish post."

I'd really like to hear your thoughts on this. Am I being too cranky?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Linda Sue Park and Christian Lander

Marrie Stone interviews children and young adult writer Linda Sue Park, author of A Long Walk to Water and Christian Lander, author of Whiter Shades of Pale: Stuff White People Like, Coast to Coast, from Seattle's Sweaters to Maine's Microbrews.

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(Broadcast date: November 10, 2010)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Debra Ginsberg

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett interviews Debra Ginsberg, author of The Neighbors Are Watching.

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(Broadcast date: Nov 24, 2010)

Friday, December 03, 2010

Literary Agent Betsy Lerner

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett and Marrie Stone take listeners' questions for author, former editor and literary agent Betsy Lerner, author of The Forest for the Trees (Revised and Updated): An Editor's Advice to Writers.

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(Broadcast Date: December 1, 2010)