Category: Favorite Things


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Just as only a partial view of my neighborhood is revealed through the frost on my window, only a partial understanding of the world was revealed to me in my home. In school I learned about friendship and societal rules along with reading, writing, science and math. Exposure to my teachers and my fellow students opened me up to the world and helped me to understand who I was and how I fit. I loved everything about school…except, perhaps, the tests. I loved learning, I loved those moments of understanding when I finally grasped a math concept or how two seemingly separate incidents in history actually connected. What is your favorite thing about school?

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On Mother’s Day weekend the Brattleboro Women’s Chorus performed their 20th anniversary concert. We’d been rehearsing since late Winter and all the music was written by our choral director, Rebecca (Becky) Graber. Above, I caught Becky and our sound engineer, Julian McBrowne, during a consultation. You can hear nearly the entire concert by following the link below. Let me know if you can spot me. Here’s a clue. I’m an alto. When the lower voices are singing alone, look carefully in that section for someone in orange.

http://www.brattleborotv.org/brattleboro-womens-chorus/bwc-spring-2016-anniversary-concert

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Most definitely. That’s one of the reasons I write. You might try writing when you’re feeling that way. Perhaps it will help you, too.

I play, but not very well. I don’t practice nearly enough. Even so, it gives me great pleasure to spend time at the piano. I particularly love making up little songs with bits of syncopation and sweet harmony between the left and right hands.

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Ideas come from so many places. Sometimes, when I’m reading the work of other writers, I feel a finger of inspiration tickle my brain. I’ve transformed magazine and newspaper articles into novels and picture books. Concerts, lectures, documentaries, television and radio interviews can also become story catalysts. Occasionally a fan letter will open up a possible avenue to a story, or an overheard conversation in the doctor’s office, or someone sitting across the aisle from me in the theater. I trawl my own life, both my childhood and my adult years, for story ideas, too. Not every experience leads directly to a book, but every experience holds that potential within it.

04may2013lc 060That is a hard question to answer because the world is so vast and filled with such variety. So many unique experiences await us when we travel as tourists and those experiences color our memories, slanting us toward one favorite or another. The season, the people you meet, the food you taste, the adventures you have, how you’re feeling…all of these factors and more influence your impression of a place. I’ve been to many extraordinary locations in the world, rich in history, culture, beauty, but in the end, it’s my home in Vermont that is my favorite place to vacation. Is that silly?

 

While in the early stages of writing Out of the Dust I walked into Experienced Goods, a local thrift shop that raises money for Brattleboro Area Hospice. There I discovered a handmade doll that perfectly fit my emerging image of “Daddy”. I bought the unusual little doll, brought him home, and set him on top of my computer monitor. How I loved looking up at him while I was thinking. He remained on my monitor throughout the months and months of revision and would be with me still, but…

I no longer have him. When asked by ABA for a donation for their annual fundraiser, I gave up my dear little “Daddy” avatar.

This doll, which I made a few weeks ago, though not really like the “Daddy” doll I gave up, still has some of the same spirit.

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Though I admire and enjoy reading many different forms,

my favorite to write is free verse.

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I am so grateful for the doors OUT OF THE DUST has opened for me. I am so honored to have this book read and studied by so many. I am in awe of the fact that hundreds of years from now when most of my work will have been forgotten, there might still be a footnote citing OUT OF THE DUST (whatever footnotes might look like in several centuries). But OUT OF THE DUST is not my favorite book. None of my books could be given that distinction. I have labored exhaustively over every one of them. They have each emerged from years of intense work, time I’ve taken away from other things, like spending time with my family, like living life. Consequently I am fiercely loyal to all of my books. I could, and would, never choose a favorite.

I’ve always loved archery. And fencing, too. Funny sports, I know, but those are the two I loved playing when I was younger and I still think of those experiences with pleasure.DSC05907 - Copy