Monday, August 28, 2017

Celebrating 5th Anniversary

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

          I cannot believe I’ve written a blog for five years. I’m so grateful Cheryl and I started it as it’s the best writing assignment ever.

          As I wrote on the first anniversary:

“If you want to be a writer or you are a writer, start a blog. Do it today. It's not difficult—and it is one of the best gifts you will ever give to yourself! I recommend following the easy step-by-step instructions in Publishing a Blog with Blogger (second edition) by Elizabeth Castro and the encouraging text of Are you There Blog, It's Me Writer by Kristen Lamb.

Start with a weekly post. That's not intimidating. A committed deadline motivates me like nothing else.

I recommend limiting yourself to a maximum word count like 500 per post. Again, that's not intimidating. However, it is fun work to make all the points on a given topic in that tight word count. You will be forced to stretch your vocabulary, but it will make you a better writer. However, as many famous writers have noted, it takes longer to write shorter.

Then share your thoughts on topics you love: books, authors--anything that inspires you. Since every writer has a different process, write about yours.

Writing this blog has meant I read more, too. I want to recommend writing books to encourage other writers. Also, I am always on the lookout for well written books to share with our blog readers. Writers can learn from authors even in genres we don't normally read.

Blogging has added so much to my life. I write more often. I write about topics and books I love. Writing about the things that make me happy, makes me even happier.

And when tragic and sad things occurred this past year, I had my blog to keep me writing in spite of the pain and anger. It is too easy to put writing aside for another day or week or year. I committed to Cheryl and this blog that I would publish a weekly post by midnight each Monday and I only missed that goal once by a few minutes due to technical difficulties (a frozen notebook). I take great pride in meeting my deadlines which is why I am so motivated by this blog.

I have written 53 posts now. I hope to write hundreds, even thousands more. Now that is intimidating as I cannot think of thousands of topics off the top of my head, but once a week I expect something to spark my imagination and inspire a post. That's all it takes to be a blogger. Now you know how to be a blogger, too!” ( from post on 9/2/13)

The pressure of this blog’s deadline pulled words out of me. I’ve now written 210 posts including some of my favorite pieces ever. I’ve loved writing reviews in the categories Reads for Writers and Masterclasses. I’ve loved sharing Personal Writing Class ideas. I’ve loved sharing my writing and, hopefully, inspiring others to write through my posts.

          I hope to write 210 more.

          Thanks for reading this blog!

Monday, August 21, 2017


From Kate’s Writing Crate…

          I’m always looking for a new topic to cover in my blog. Yesterday I decided on ekphrasis—writing inspired by art. I read about a Poetry & Art show based on this.

I’ve decided to pick a piece of art and write about it this week. I’m not sure if I will pick a favorite piece or something brand new. I like looking at something familiar with fresh eyes, but something new should really shake me up. I believe I will be inspired when I see the “right” piece.

If this sounds like fun, join me on assignment!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Reads for Writers: Award-winning and Bestselling Author Louise Penny's Chief Inspector Gamache Series

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

          I discovered Louise Penny and her mystery books on the CBS Sunday Morning TV program a few weeks ago. If you like Agatha Christie, you will enjoy Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache series that begins with Still Life. To date, there are twelve books in the series.

New York Time's bestselling author Louise Penny has won five Agatha Awards. She certainly has Christie’s ability to see into the hearts and minds of murderers. I have lost count of the universally true Insightful Asides I have underlined while reading about the murders in Three Pines, a small Canadian village near the US border.

“It [Three Pines] had croissants and cafĂ© au lait. It had steak frites and The New York Times. It had a bakery, a bistro, a B. & B., a general store. It had great joy and great sadness and the ability to accept both and be content. It had companionship and kindness. (page 12 in A Fatal Grace, book 2).

Sounds like an idyllic place to live—except for the murders.

Here are a few of my favorite Insightful Asides from the series:

“His [Brother Albert] theory is that life is loss,” said Myrna [bookstore owner] after a moment. “Loss of parents, loss of loves, loss of jobs. So we have to find a higher meaning in our lives than these things and people. Otherwise we’ll lose ourselves.” (page 138 in Still Life, book 1)

“…Murder was deeply human, the murdered and the murderer. To describe the murderer as a monstrosity, a grotesque, was to give him an unfair advantage. No. Murderers were human, and at the root of each murder was an emotion. Warped, no doubt. Twisted and ugly. But an emotion. And one so powerful it had driven a man to make a ghost.” (Chief Inspector Gamache on page 154 of A Fatal Affair, book 2)

“Accepting murder meant accepting there was a murderer. Among them. Close. Someone in that room, almost certainly. One of those smiling, laughing, familiar faces hid thoughts so vile they had to kill.” (Clara Morrow on page 66 of The Cruelest Month, book 3)

“There are four statements that lead to wisdom…You need to learn to say: I don’t know. I’m sorry. I need help and I was wrong.” (Chief Inspector Gamache on page 130 in The Cruelest Month.)

“Hazel Smyth had been off to the funeral home…It was like being kidnapped and taken into a world of hushed words and sympathy for something she couldn’t yet believe had happened.” (page 144 of The Cruelest Month)

“…He saw all the Morrows, trudging along, chained together, weighed down by expectation, disapproval, secrets. Need. Greed. And hate. After years of investigating murders Chief Inspector Gamache knew one thing about hate. It bound you forever to the person you hated. Murder wasn’t committed out of hate, it was done as a terrible act of freedom. To finally rid yourself of the burden.” (page 205 in A Rule Against Murder, book 4)

“Grief was dagger-shaped and sharp and pointed inward. It was made of fresh loss and old sorrow.” (Inspector Gamache on page 262 in A Rule Against Murder)

          Poetry plays a big role in Louise Penny’s books and in her writing. Chief Inspector Gamache reads and quotes poems in these books and there is a poet who lives in Three Pines.

          Louise Penny thinks reading poetry is essential for writers. As she states in her Acknowledgments on page ix of The Brutal Telling (book 5):

…I actually need to thank the wonderful poets who’ve allowed me to use their works and words. I adore poetry, as you can tell. Indeed it inspires me—with words and emotions. I tell aspiring writers to read poetry, which I think for them is often the literary equivalent of being told to eat Brussels sprouts. They’re none too enthusiastic. But what a shame if a writer doesn’t at least try to find poems that speak to him or her. Poets manage to get into a couplet what I struggle to achieve in an entire book.

          I, too, think poetry is essential as does author Ray Bradbury. See posts dated March 9, 2015; March 21, 2016; and April 4, 2016.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Summer Dream Vacation

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

          If I could plan a summer vacation just for me, it would be a nine-day staycation of nothing but reading.

I’d sort out books I can’t wait to read and stack them in my reading nook.

          Every morning, I would choose a book on my way to breakfast. I’d read while crunching on toast. When finished, I would lounge on the couch or the deck depending on the heat and humidity or rain while turning pages at a steady pace with a cool drink of sweet tea on the table.

          I would read though all my meals—so many books to get through—and I would end the uninterrupted days reading in bed. I’d finish two or three books a day as I’m a fast reader.

          I would also jot in my notebook and even write a bit when inspired, but, mostly, I would just read.

          I know this is an impossible dream as there are other people to consider and other things that need doing—feed and walk the dogs, cook, laundry, etc.—but a reader can dream.