This was the photo I used for the back of my recent work of fiction, The Loftiest Thing. I love this photo. For one thing, the trees in the background absolutely fit the title’s theme, which was also one of the stories in the book. Secondly, I think my photographer (who also happens to be a good, longtime friend) captured the joy I felt at having accomplished this latest creative project. The natural lighting, the setting: parfait.
My third book is on the horizon. Can we pause to celebrate this?
A part of me wants to keep that photo for the back cover. The other part of me wants to change it up. Just because change is always refreshing, and I think this third book represents some of the changes I’ve made with how I want to present my art. Below are the three photos I’m considering.
Your mission, if you choose to accept it (and why wouldn’t you? You love me, right?): what say you? Pick the photo you like the most and tell me your option in the comments. I’m partial to all three of them, so I’m no help. The most-picked will win and I’ll make it my back photo.
Why I meander through libraries and bookstores, often with no intention of reading or buying, just trailing my fingers down endless rows of spines and consuming the sweet aroma of books.
Why books can be desserts, too.
(I dedicate this post to my beloved Ms. Lindquist, who let me escape the battleground of recess (when you’re shy and slow and new to the area, recess becomes a battleground) by letting me make a home in the library while the other kids played. In there, I discovered stories about girls like me, about faraway places, about adventures and pesky little sisters, and everything in between. Ms. L., You opened up my world.)
I mean. Come on. For a proud melanin lady who loves books and sitting on her growing derrière (thank you, squats) and red lippy, this photo is everything.
Incidentally, yesterday was National Book Lovers Day. I certainly hope you celebrated by sniffing some books and delighting in the sweet aromas of imagination and words. If not, fellow bookworm, you know that we don’t need a day set aside to celebrate our love: every day is National Book Lovers Day.
Here’s to beloved library cards and paying off all those fines. Speaking for myself, of course.
As expected, the drizzly/rainy/cloudy/depressing 50-degree days of just last week quickly turned into 80-plus degree days in the big city. Our very sad spring went right into cheerful mid-summer. Out came the cute dresses on ladies, the sandals, the much-needed pedicures for toes that appeared to have been trapped in coal mines and were used to traverse the rocks blocking them from sunlight. My poor toes. Anyway, while attempting to wrap my brain and my sinuses around the weather extremes, I’ve certainly been taking advantage of the warmth. Shaving regularly (a pause in the collection of my winter fur), pulling my own cute dresses from the closet, putting away my coat. And as we drift further and further into the summertime zone, here are a few essentials I think are necessary (for me, anyway) to deal with warm weather.
Shorts. Since I rarely wear slips anymore, unless it’s a really fancy shmancy dress, under-shorts are perfect for those summer-y dresses that are somewhat light and flimsy and could blow a certain way when the breeze hits them. At first, I thought the pair my mom gifted me with were low-key girdles, and you know how I feel about those things, but they’re not. They’re great. And when the unfortunate sweaty season hits, I don’t have to worry about the potential forest fires that could start from the rubbing together of these juicy thighs. (We keep it real here at Team Square Peg.)
Shades. I have a bad habit, you guys. Along with handbags and earrings, I buy the cheapest sunglasses. I just do. I’ve never been interested in brand names when it comes to those things. (Well, at this point, you know me and my overall tenuous relationship with brand names and trends.) Of course, needless to say, this means I run through dozens of pairs, being that my no-more-than-$5 shades tend to break and crack and basically disintegrate. Nevertheless. Summertime simply means having a nice pair of sassy shades. As much as I’ve been forgoing my shades in the afternoons–after the long absence of the sun, its return has me gulping up Vitamin D on my face like a boss–I like having my new pair (yep, another pair) right in my handbag for those blissfully bright days. They’re super cute, too. (Don’t tsk tsk at me, dear reader. I know well made means lasts longer. So you’re buying, right?)
The new shades. Falling apart in 5,4,3…
Salads. Kidding. Eat your ice cream. It’s summer. In fact, just ignore salad at all costs.
Stories. I inherently associate summertime with reading. Well, reading for me is a year-round, slightly obsessive affair, but summer also reminds me of afternoons spent lounging on the sofa in our cool basement, out of school and surrounded by novels and various magazines. There were also plenty of days where my sister and I walked to our local library, where we spent long days in the stacks, excitedly peering through books and whispering our finds to one another. These summer days, despite not having much time to lounge around, I still arm myself with my books, both digital and hard copy. Especially during my commute to and from the OK Corral. And I make healthy use of my library card, as well. Do you have a library card? Don’t you love it? Even if I don’t check out books, there’s something kind of amazing about wandering those stacks and inhaling the sweet scent of books. Takes me back to those lovely adolescent days. (SHAMELESS PLUG: if you’re looking for something to read, you can buy my latest book of short fiction here. Thank you. I love you forever.)
Ah, la vie d’été. The summer life. Long, hot days, and long, hot nights. A normal transition would have been nice, but oh, well. Enjoy it, wherever you are…
Want to share your summertime essentials with me? Pretty please?
Seriously. Why are we doing this? You don’t have a book to promote.
Is that why you think I do this feature? To promote my fiction?
What other infernal reason could there be?
We’ve talked about plenty of things via this feature. The weather, working out, health. It’s fun.
Debatable. Anyway. What’s going on? You got quite a bit of snow last week, didn’t you?
A “bit” is underestimating it. It was unreal. I’ve seen blizzards before, experienced them, but this…
Not so fun when you’re an adult. Right?
Right. Exactly. You know me so well, kitten.
Again, because I’m you. You’re essentially talking to yourself. You get that, right? Right?
Anyway, what else is going on? Let’s see. I’m making plans about the future.
ARE YOU GETTING MARRIED?
Mom, is that you?
What’s this about the future? What’s happening? What are you doing??
Just making some significant changes. When things become more concrete, I’ll discuss them here. Until then–
Until then we’re all supposed to be on pins and needles, waiting with bated breath, until you reveal the plans about your non-husband?
That cabin fever did wonders with your temper and sarcasm, didn’t it?
So, your writing. How’s that going?
I’ve actually been dabbling in science fiction lately. I included a very sci-fi-esque story in my recent collection and it certainly lit a fire. So I’ve been writing short stories in that vein. Pretty proud of the one I wrote a few weeks ago, actually. I even submitted it for a writing contest.
How would you define science fiction?
Themes that deal with time travel, parallel universes, things like that.
Interesting. Are you going to post your beloved new story on here?
In a few weeks, yeah.
What do you like about that genre so much?
Here’s how I feel about it: if I write about time travel, I feel like the science fiction genre allows me to go as far as my imagination will allow and beyond without having to go too crazy with research and facts. Because no one has traveled through time. If I write a story about Savannah’s legal system, it needs to be based on the actual legal system in Georgia. you feel me?
So this is your lazy way of avoiding research. I feel you.
You’re the worst.
Never mind that he’s Mr. Darcy, for heavens sake, so of course he would feel that way about reading, further convincing me that he’s perfect. Never mind that. Let’s focus on the fact that not only is he a walking dream, but he’s also right.
Whether powerful novel, evocative story, thrilling poem, thought-provoking essay, or meditative blog post–you read and you are left in a daze. Your perspective has changed, your mind and heart are still caught within the confines of what you just read. As a voracious and devoted reader, moments like the latter are both mind-boggling and absolutely fantastic. Because that’s what words are supposed to do.
I won’t get into why I love Mindy Kaling more than you’ll ever understand–and I do, I just stinkin’ do–but this excerpt (printed
in Glamour magazine) from her forthcoming second book of essays, Why Not Me?, (a title that was basically the theme of one of my recent short stories; I may post the whole thing on here soon) is just winning in every way. It’s perfect. It sums up a lot about women, confidence, perceptions, the whole lot. Read, please.
It’s especially hard, when you hear these things every day, to want to keep putting yourself out there. People’s reaction to me is sometimes “Uch, I just don’t like her. I hate how she thinks she is so great.” But it’s not that I think I’m so great. I just don’t hate myself. I do idiotic things all the time and I say crazy stuff I regret, but I don’t let everything traumatize me.And the scary thing I have noticed is that some people really feel uncomfortable around women who don’t hate themselves. So that’s why you need to be a little bit brave.
Needless to say, I’ll be snagging the book and reviewing it on the ole blog. And if this excerpt is a preview of what to expect, I simply cannot wait.
I discovered her in college. I’m surprised we didn’t meet earlier, being that–other than my actual home–I lived in the library stacks. I stalked books, really; grabbing whatever my greedy hands could locate on the shelves, investigating, searching, making friends with the Dewey Decimal system. That said, I find it intriguing that in all my library haunts, Flannery O’Connor and I didn’t come to meet until much later, when I took a summer English college course and promptly, promptly, fell in love with her. Nevertheless, that’s how it happened. We read A Good Man is Hard to Find for class and I felt her inspiring me, influencing me, and moving me through her imagery and her language and her ability to knock my very socks off with the brilliant and earth-shattering endings of her stories. A writer after my own literary heart.
Read more about Flannery’s life and background here.
This is my favorite anthology of her short stories, found here.
The text for A Good Man is Hard to Find is located here, in case you’re at work and can’t just run to the store to buy the book mentioned above.
By the way, this a new feature for This Square Peg. Once in a blue moon (I would be specific and say weekly or monthly but ya’ll know me and my delusions of grandeur related to writing regularly), I’ll feature an author that has inspired me, influenced me, intrigued me, and interested me. Because I love you and because I’m a bookworm and I love talking about books and writers. You’re welcome…
Yes, indeed. I’d like to happily announce that my second book, a collection of short fiction entitled The Loftiest Thing, has been officially published. *insert primal scream here*
Congratulations, you. Wow. You’ve been working on that thing for an eternity, haven’t you?
Admittedly, yes, some of the stories have been gestating for years. It feels awesome to share my art, first and foremost, but to finally see this goal realized after all this time is nothing short of amazing. Thank you.
So where can people get it?
See the following links: a paperback version and a digital version of the book can both be purchased through Amazon. The book is also published in hardcover, which is available through Lulu Publishing here. The links are also available in my “Writing” page right here on the blog.
Good, good. Will we see some of the fiction you shared on This Square Peg in the book?
Yes, you will.
Nice. Now: about this title. Tell us all about that.
Can I just say that I like this good mood you’re in?
Don’t ruin it. Answer my question about the title.
Sheesh. Spoke too soon, huh? Anyway, to answer your question, The Loftiest Thing comes from one of the stories in the book with the same title. In general, however, when we’re faced with choices in life about who we are are, what we deserve, and the nature of our relationships, the loftiest thing in life that we can choose, each and every time, is love. Love is the highest, most elevated thing any one of us can reach for and attain. So that theme/question runs throughout the book: when faced with which way to turn, will these characters choose the loftiest thing?
Interesting. So are these love stories?
If you’re thinking about love between families, for yourself, within relationships, between husbands and wives and mothers and daughters, then, yes, they are.
Oh. So not smoochy, smoochy stories, then?
But you said these stories are about love.
See my response two questions ago.
I want romance!
Then don’t buy my book, you weirdo.
Whew. Sorry about that. Lost my mind a bit. How many stories do you have in there?
Twelve. Plus an excerpt of my brand new novel, which I’m currently working on.
Will that take another five plus years?
You’re the worst. No. I intend on completing it sometime next year.
Yeah, we’ll see about that.
Back to normal, huh, Miss Moody?
You love it. But I am proud of you. You’ve been talking about this collection of new fiction since Raincoat for your Senses was published 5 years ago.
Why, thank you. Yes, this has been my baby for a while. It went through different incarnations, it went ignored for a while, but I think being inspired by fellow writers largely inspired me. I have the pleasure of having fellow artists in my life. Seeing their work ethic influenced me significantly. The little writer in my head stretched her fingers, cleared the cobwebs, and got to work.
Wonderful. So we’re really going full speed ahead with this “About your Author” feature, huh? This is like the 15th time.
Ok, exit stage left.