Four-Sentence Book Review: A Broom of One’s Own

Kathy Waller:

My review of Nancy Peacock’s memoir, A Broom of One’s Own. A GOOD book.

Originally posted on Writing Wranglers and Warriors:

0kathy-blog

Posted by Kathy Waller

A while back, I accepted a challenge to write a book review of  Nancy Peacock’s memoir A Broom of One’s Own inonly four sentencesStarting well before the due date, I wrote the first sentence of the review over and over and deleted it over and over. Sometimes I wrote the same sentence several times in a row. Sometimes I made up a new sentence. After weeks of torment, I produced the following review.

***

I like Nancy Peacock’s A Broom of One’s Own: Words About Writing, Housecleaning & Life so much that it’s taken me over two months and two missed deadlines to untangle my thoughts and write this four-sentence review, an irony Peacock, author of two critically acclaimed novels, would no doubt address were I in one of her writing classes.

She would probably tell me that there is no perfect…

View original 313 more words

Petting Zoos, Methodists, and Misbehavior

The petting zoo has come to BookPeople!

 

Consequently, the average age in the coffee shop–aka my office–is considerably lower than usual. I estimate it at approximately two.

Normally I filter out noise and activity to concentrate on writing. The ability to hyperfocus is a gift.

Today, however, what’s going on around me is more interesting than the story to be revised.

Behind and to the right, a little-bitty with black eyes and a pixie cut sings, “E-I-E-I-OOOOO.” She began in atonal mode but soon picked up the melody.

Directly behind me, a little boy I imagine as blond protested. “I don’t like to sit down.” Then he shrieked and wailed.

“OoooooooooooooooooOoooooooooooooooooOooooooooooooooo.” Finally he settled down to snuffling. I assume at some point, probably while the Ooooooooos were wearing down, he sat. Now he’s either resigned to his fate or he’s left the store.

There’s been a lot of wailing today. I don’t know why, considering the petting zoo is here. Maybe it’s tension. Maybe it’s that little kids are like adults: some days you get out of bed in a snit and you just have to share it.

Mothers have changed since I was a child. In my day, a mother would have taken the child outside and given him a choice: behave or go home and not get to see the animals or have a cookie or whatever special treat has been promised. I don’t know a child who was actually hauled home, and I don’t know a parent who meant what she–or he–said, but generally things quieted down a bit.

Something similar happened to me when I was a child. But I wasn’t offered a choice. And I wasn’t hauled home. I imagine a lot of people wished I had been.

At church one Sunday, the Methodist little-bitties–or, as one of my teacher friends calls them, ankle-biters–were all decked out to stand at the front and sing a song. Our teacher, who should have known better, had seated us in a pew, side-by-side. While the adults were doing their thing, Helen Ruth and I took the opportunity to converse.

My parents sat in the pew right behind us. They disapproved of talking during the service. My father picked me up, took me out on the front porch, and gave me a swat.

137

First United Methodist Church of Fentress, 2015. By MKW.

Ours was a small country church, and Daddy and I were maybe twenty feet from the back pew, so the congregation got the full benefit of my caterwauling.

And when we returned to the sanctuary, I refused to perform with the rest of the class.

Have I mentioned I don’t remember any of this?

Talking in church got me in trouble, but the swat got Daddy in trouble.

Because Mother blamed him for my declining to stand in front of the communion rail and be cute–and she was right; no way would I display myself in front of a bunch of people who’d heard that swat–and she stayed righteously indignant for the rest of her life. Periodically, she would say, “I was so mad at your father. All he had to do was lean over and say, ‘Girls, stop talking.'”

What really got her goat was that I refused to perform in Sunday school programs for several years thereafter.

I can’t fault my father, however. An inexperienced parent, he was trying to do the right thing.

Knowing what I do about myself, I’m sure I was angry and embarrassed. I was an eminently embarrassable child. I was also obstinate.

I know something else, too.

Downtown San Marcos, Texas

Downtown San Marcos, Texas (Photo credit: Wikipedia) First United Methodist Church. By CMBJ

Years later my parents and I were sitting in the First Methodist Church in San Marcos, waiting for the choir to perform selections from The Messiah, when Daddy said, “I haven’t been in this church since I was ten years old.” That was 1925. “I went to Sunday school with Johnny Graham [a cousin], and they made me stand up and say my name and where I was from, and I never went back again.”

So there you are. Embarrassable is hereditary. So is obstinacy.

It gives me satisfaction to know that if my father had been removed to the front porch and given a swat, he wouldn’t have just refused to sing with his Sunday school class.

My father would have waited fifty years before he darkened that Methodist door.

 ***

I started this post for the purpose of telling a personal anecdote about a petting zoo but somehow got off onto Methodists and lost my way back. Because I have much more experience with Methodists–and Presbyterians and Baptists–than I do with petting zoos, it’ll be a while before I return to the animals. But that’s okay, because the church stories are a lot more interesting. And you won’t read them anywhere else.

‘Shrooms

Friday Fictioneers
100 words

Friday Fictioneer Prompt. Copyright Erin Leary.Friday Fictioneers Prompt.
Copyright Erin Leary.

John ambled into the kitchen. “What’s cooking?”

“Mushroom gravy.” Mary kept stirring.

John frowned. “Toadstools. Fungi. Dorothy Sayers killed someone with Amanita.

“These are morels.” She added salt. “Everybody eats mushrooms.”

“I don’t.”

“Suit yourself.”

He sat down. “Where’d you buy them?”

“I picked them.”

You?

“Aunt Helen helped. She knows ‘shrooms.” Mary held out a spoonful. “Taste.”

“Well . . . ” John tasted. “Mmmm. Seconds?”

“Yoo-hoo.” Aunt Helen bustled in. “Like my new glasses? Those old ones–I couldn’t see doodly squat.”

Mary looked at the gravy, then at John. “Maybe you should spit that out,” she said.

 

English: Blue plaque re Dorothy L Sayers on 23...

English: Blue plaque re Dorothy L Sayers on 23 & 24 Gt. James Street, WC1 See 1237424. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Mike Quinn [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

*

 *

 

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Kathy Waller:

Today I’m holding forth at Writing Wranglers and Warriors about my near-arrest for preparing to burgle.

Originally posted on Writing Wranglers and Warriors:

0kathy-blog

Posted by Kathy Waller

Driving around my hometown the other day, I glanced in the rear view mirror and saw a sheriff’s department patrol car, right behind me, with a flashing lightbar on top.

I’m not accustomed to that kind of thing, not on a street I’ve always considered mine.

I’ve been pulled over by DPS officers on the highway. Twice, I think, for mild speeding, twice for an expired inspection sticker. I consider that a pretty good record for a person who’s been driving since she was ten.

I’m a good girl, I am.

If any of those officers had known how old I was when I first soloed, they probably would have ticketed me retroactively. But I was just one of several pre-teen drivers in my town. No one thought a thing about it. Our parents taught us well, and they limited our range to the business district: grocery store, post office…

View original 812 more words

A Year of Reading the World: A Q&A with Ann Morgan

Kathy Waller:

An Interview with Ann Morgan, who read and blogged about literature from nearly 200 countries, and then wrote a book about the experience.

Originally posted on WordPress.com News:

Several years ago, writer Ann Morgan noticed that she didn’t read much literature from countries outside of the United Kingdom and United States — and had yet to dive into stories from around the globe. From this realization, her blog, A Year of Reading the World, was born. You can read about Ann’s journey in her new book, Reading the World: Confessions of a Literary Explorer, available now in the UK. (The US version, The World Between Two Covers, will be released on May 4.)

I chatted with Ann about the blog-to-book journey and her experience of reading and blogging about literature from 197 countries.

For readers new to A Year of Reading the World, can you talk about your original project — and how the blog came about?

A comment someone left on a blog I wrote four years back, A Year of Reading Women

View original 1,029 more words

A 100-Year-Old Person: The View from Kindergarten

What does a 100-year-old person look like?

For their 100-day anniversary, kindergarteners were asked to come to school dressed as 100-year-olds.

This Aged P. is a member of my family, but, as is obvious from our respective photographs, I am considerably younger than she.

My Valentine to Writing

Kathy Waller:

I send a belated Valentine to writing. No grousing. Read it while you can, because I don’t know how long the warm fuzzies will last.

Originally posted on Austin Mystery Writers:

Five members of Austin Mystery Writers post here regularly, and I sometimes wonder whether you readers know which of us is which. So I’m going to clear up any questions  concerning my identify.

I’m Kathy. I write about angst. Any time you arrive here to find weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth over the writing life, it’s my teeth you hear gnashing.

Kathy Kathy

I’m writing this at home, but home isn’t the only place I gnash. I do it at my office, AKA bookstore coffee shop, in full view of the public. I try to emote quietly, but muttering carries. People around me, many of them equipped with laptops and writing assignments of their own, receive full benefit of my outbursts: “Stupid, stupid, stupid!” “Noooo.” “What’s the word? What’s the word?” “^!*%&@% network.”

(I don’t really say ^!*%&@% , but that’s what I mean.)

I suspect other writers…

View original 471 more words

Noir at the Bar on February 16, with Trey Barker, Bill Loehfelm, Lou Berney, & Jesse Sublett

Kathy Waller:

Tomorrow night at Opal Devine’s–Noir at the Bar! Music and hard boiled stories. Scott Montgomery will read, MAYBE, he says, part of his story “RED’S WHITE F-150 BLUES,” which will appear in Austin Mystery Writers’ up-coming anthology, MURDER ON WHEELS.

Originally posted on :

Post by Scott M.

On Monday, February 16th, starting at 7 pm at Opal Divine’s, we are back for our first Austin Noir At The Bar for 2015. We have a range of talented authors who will be reading from their hard boiled work. Let Jesse Sublett’s murder ballads put you in the mood, endure my reading (indulge me, the 16th is my birthday), then hold on.

trey barkerTrey R. Barker is a Texas native, now working in Illinois law enforcement whenever he isn’t writing high octane noir. His books, examples includingExit Bloodand Death Is Not Forever, are greasy, 200 MPH, high body count hard boiled. Also an accomplished horror writer, he borrows from that genre to give a fever dream edge to his crime fiction.

20080813_Loehfelm_Bill Loehfelm migrated to New Orleans from Staten Island. He uses the backdrop of his adopted city for his series…

View original 239 more words