Archive for February, 2009

Questions for writers

February 16, 2009

1. Did you have a make-believe friend when you were a child?   I sure did.  I gave her the improbable name of “Mary-Lan-Too-Sue” and don’t anyone dare ask me where that came from, because if I knew when I was four, I sure don’t know these many decades later.  I do wonder, however,  if inventing my playmate was any hint that, someday, I might invent characters in a book and enjoy spending time with them even more than I enjoyed Mary whatsis.  What do you think?

2. Did you do well on spelling tests?  Enjoy learning definitions of new words, the more complex the better?   I did. I still remember rolling new words around in my head and, eventually, across my tongue.  I think writers enjoy the power of words.  Do you agree?

3. Do you enjoy being alone, or would you prefer being in the center of a party?  If anyone asked me (for forty years or more) I would have said I was shy, though once I began appearing and speaking in public comfortably as an author, I wasn’t so sure.  Then someone explained “introvert” to me.  Hooray, I know what I am.  (See the Atlantic Monthly:   This is an article by Jonathan Rauch titled “Caring for Your Introvert.” )  Me! Me! Me!   How about you?

4. Do you enjoy moving forward with your writing in a work in progress?  How about editing that work?  I love doing both and, given a choice, would rather write or edit than almost anything else.  Do you understand? Are you with me here?

Y’know, because I AM a writer, because I AM an introvert, I rarely have a chance to discuss these, to me, deep questions with fellow writers.  So, how about a discussion here?   Do you at least understand how I explain myself?

Sincerely yours, Radine

What do you read in the dark?

February 5, 2009

On Monday, January 26th, freezing rain began here in Northwest Arkansas.  By Tuesday afternoon, sleet and snow were mixed in.  Trees and power poles snapped. Cell towers went down, some radio stations were off the air.  Our ISP went down, the area newspaper plant lost power.  There was no mail delivery, no newspaper.  Many lost phone service.  We had two inches of ice or more all over the Northwest Arkansas Ozarks.

Here in Spring Hollow we heard only birds, cracks as limbs broke, the neighborhood dog pack barking–and a neighbor’s generator.

When John and I built our original two-room cabin (see DEAR EARTH: A Love Letter from Spring Hollow), we installed a small wood stove in the kitchen, and now it saved us.  We moved into the kitchen with our house plants.  (In the 2007 ice storm here several of my plants died from the cold.)  We could keep temperatures at 60 degrees in the kitchen.

I cooked on the wood stove, using as much of our thawing food as I dared.  (Ironically, by Wednesday it was too warm outside during the day to keep food safely frozen.)  Then we went to canned goods.

I learned I could fry pop-tube cinnamon rolls. (Allowing them to rise on the back of the wood stove first.)

We slept under piles of quilts.  We read by daylight, candlelight, flashlight. We listened to recorded books.  Rex Stout (DEATH TIMES THREE) and the Winnie the Pooh series, a light touch in trying times.  Since I am a writer, I assured myself I was working by reading Jeffrey Marks’s INTENT TO SELL, and Chris Roerden’s DON’T MURDER YOUR MYSTERY. I edited a manuscript and wrote on a legal pad.

Slowly, things came back.  By the weekend, with caution, we could get out in the car, so we went to the library twenty miles away and used their Internet connection.  We ate at McDonald’s.  We saw the broken, surviving, world.

On Tuesday, February 3, we had power.  Today, Thursday, we are beginning to re-enter the 2009 world. There is still ice on the shaded part of our driveway and lane, but major roads are clear.

While power was off and our ISP was down, we lost many e-mails somewhere “out there.”  If you wrote during that time, please write again.  It’s nice talking with friends.

I miss the peace, which was the bonus from all this.

Radine, who can now find things easily in the dark and thinks heated rooms feel HOT!