Category Archives: Howling at the moon

What Are You Eating Right Now?

Cate at dinner_2Amy and kidsCate's kid at dinner

Hello from the Dogpatch! Being Thanksgiving week, we’d like to give thanks for our readers and also let you know what we are . . . 

Eating & Reading.


SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERALaurel Leigh: Having just started doing some work for a publisher of health-related cookbooks, my brain is swirling with low-fat, low-cal, low-cholesterol, low-GI foods not to mention pictures my doc gave me of my own recent colonoscopy. So I’m eating potato chips. I’m so embarrassed, but honesty is the best policy and it wouldn’t be fair to say, while I’m typing in this post right now, that I’m eating eggplant. I did eat eggplant today though, and I put tofu instead of hamburger in the spaghetti sauce I made a couple days ago, and I bought some carrots. So I think I get a few points back. Plus these chips, which are freakin’ good, are zero-cholesterol.

Dream of a Vast Blue Cavern by Selah J Tay-Song

What I’m reading right now is Dream of a Vast Blue Cavern by Selah J. Tay-Song. Since Selah is a Dogpatch blogger, this could seem like a pitch, but I fessed up about the Deep River Original Salted Kettle Cooked Potato Chips in the above paragraph, so you know I’m sticking to the truth today. It’s always so amazing to read a book by someone you know and then forget that you know the writer and just get lost in the story. There’s Stasia, who is an Icer and a Dreamer, meaning she can form stuff out of ice with her mind and dream foretelling visions that are significant for her underground world. This guy Glace, who is dying to hook up with Stasia only he can’t because she’s a princess and he’s her guard, so he has to be all stoic and stuff. But you just know they’re gonna get together at some point. Maybe? The other person in the story I like a lot is Larc, who’s not a very talented ice-molder but she has a great mind for politics and strategy, so she balances out Stasia’s impetuous nature and I think she’s going to factor greatly in what happens during the war that just started. The Icers just got attached by the Flames—they are busy burning through the ice the good guys just used to seal off their city. The cool thing about this book is that I’m not having a hard time believing that Icers and Flames exist. In fact I’m pretty sure they do. This book is just so much fun I know I’m gonna be sorry when it’s over, but the good news is the sequel is on the way. Okay, that last part was a little bit of a pitch, but a well-deserved one.


Jilanne: The Writer's Shadow

Jilanne: The Writer’s Shadow

Jilanne:  Um, is it my turn? Well, I’m gonna start with the food. We’re having some folks over for a little bird. Oh, yeah, I should first say that NaNoWriMo isn’t going well (whose idea was it to have it in November??), so I’m going to console myself with food. That said, I’ll be making a 15-pounder with gravy (using golden turkey stock made from scratch- look for it on Epicurious), sweet potatoes, Sausage/Cranberry/Cornbread dressing (yeah, ya can’t call it stuffing if it’s not seeing the inside of a bird), and pumpkin pie with Straus Family Farm whipped cream. Oh, and can’t forget Cranberry Jezebel, a recipe from Cooking Light magazine circa Nov/Dec 1994. It contains fresh cranberries, brown and white sugar, horseradish and Dijon mustard. And does it make those sandwiches zing! Friends are bringing a bacon/brussel sprouts dish, mashed potatoes made with smoked paprika, kale salad, and chocolate and apple pies. Oh, and persimmon-chocolate chip bread. Hmmm, did I forget anything? A little pinot noir, a little champagne, a little of this, a little of that. I’m hungry. Gotta finish this post. Continue reading


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Can A Colonoscopy Make You a Better Writer?

We’ll try anything, won’t we?

Climb mountains, light candles, drink tea, drink beer, light candles, smoke dope, give up sex (now that last one’s just dumb).

It’s important to take advantage of any personal circumstance. Your best friend’s husband is having an affair with his ophthalmologist—“OMG, that animal! How could he do that? There, there, let me get you a nice cup of tea and a tissue and you sit right here and let it all out so I can take notes for a scene I’ll write later.”

When the celebrated writer Dagoberto Gilb suffered a stroke, he started writing about it, literally before he regained use of his right hand. The story “Please, Thank you” first was published in Harper’s and then in his latest collection Before the End, After the Beginning. It opens with him regaining consciousness in the hospital and includes a bit where he explains about typing entirely left-handed and how that affects his writing. The story is amazing and powerful and makes me cry when I read it. He’s such a show off.

Nonetheless, newly fifty years old, proudly joining the ranks of the middle-aged, I’m ready for my seminal-sparking physical and personal challenge. What I get is a colonoscopy screening.

I go to a dinner gathering where everyone at the table has already had a colonoscopy. I can’t even have an original disease. I don’t think that’s very fair. Do you think that’s fair? Continue reading


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Literary vs. Genre Fiction – The Plot Thickens

Hear ye! Hear ye! The Surgeon General recommends you take a daily dose of literary fiction whether you like it or not!

For Better Social Skills, Scientists Recommend a Little Chekhov,” reads the headline of an October 4, 2013  New York Times article. Scientists find literary fiction improves readers’ abilities to feel empathy, perceive social situations, and respond with higher emotional intelligence.

Lady with a Dog and Chekhov

Apparently, “popular” fiction (implying that literary fiction isn’t popular) and “serious nonfiction” create no beneficial effect. To be fair, the article points out that “serious nonfiction” was not of the “All the President’s Men” variety but more along the lines of “How the Potato Changed the World.”

My thoughts? Continue reading


Filed under Craft, Howling at the moon

Painting Over the Rotten Spots in Your Story

House_Early DaysSo in 1977—when the house I’m squatting in was built—I was a geeky kid who wanted to join the circus. I spent hours walking acrobat style across the narrow tailgate section of my dad’s Dodge pick-up truck. I didn’t pay attention to what my dad had to do to keep our little house from falling down—I had more of a big tent in mind.

After spending a few quality hours painting the underneath part of my ancient deck, I think living in a tent might be easier. Part of the deck is built over a gigantic tree trunk—read: big spiders. Part stretches over a tall berm—leaving just enough room for a back-breaking hunker. I got so much paint in my hair I had to get it cut off.

I’m thinking a nice Coleman four-sleeper with zip-up windows. Continue reading


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Mardi Gras Dogs – Showing Our Shelves

Call of the Siren and Jilanne Hoffmann have issued an all shelf bulletin, asking readers to present their bookshelves to the world, or at least some of them. In the game of “we’ll show you ours if you show us yours,” someone always has to go first. So in the spirit of Mardi Gras, we’re gonna give ya a little tease.Photo: 123RF_

Here are three from Jilanne Hoffmann’s office. Is she missing any “must have” book on writing? Are there any in her collection you’d suggest she toss?Bookshelves 027 Bookshelves 028 Bookshelves 029
Continue reading


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Penny for a Poet’s Thoughts – An Interview

Hi Dogpatchers! Song of the Siren just posted an interesting interview with poet, Michael Odom, author of the chapbook “Strutting, Attracting, Snapping.”

Quotes from the interview: “In art, the great goal is the beautiful, not the pretty: the beautiful is attractive in the sense that your 75-year-old spouse dying of colon cancer is attractive.”

“I think the half-worked conundrum of Feminism/ objectification/stalking mixed with Romeo waiting in the bushes outside Juliet’s window is the most existentially traumatic modern transition the West is trying and failing to make.”

Strutting, Attracting, Snapping

Read the full interview here:


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My Life as a Jag

Need a lift?Hello from the Dogpatch,

Turns out that my neighbors are dizzingly honest. Today I drove my silver Jaguar along the golf course where I live, parked at the cute corner market, left the sun-roof open, took my beautiful canine companion for a walk around the lake, and came back to find my purse undisturbed in the front passenger seat where I had left it. Aren’t my neighbors honest? Doesn’t my life sound idyllic?

It’s all so easy with a turn of a phrase.

Here’s the rewrite: My neighbors are still dizzingly honest. The silver Jag is my little sister’s car that I kept after she killed herself. It’s ten years old, dented in odd places, gets crappy gas mileage, and tends to require costly parts every three months. We call it the ghetto Jag and I will drive it till it drops, or I can no longer afford to fix it. As to why my sis, who for most of her life drove around in cute little Volkswagens, up and bought this huge car, I really can’t say, but somehow it suits that it was the one she went out on. There’s traces of bubblegum, hers, stuck to the steering wheel. Continue reading


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Dreams Come True – An Author and Child Connect

Folks, I cried when I read this, so I’m reblogging from Publishers Weekly. Get out your tissues:


Filed under Howling at the moon

Finding the Writing Moment in My Alien Boob

This would be porn in an alternate universe. Here it is just weird and unnerving.

This would be porn in an alternate universe. Here it is just weird and unnerving.

Hello from the Dogpatch,

People, I am sooooo busy at work! You know the feeling you writers, bloggers, professionals of all sorts. So you’ll understand how my extreme busy-ness by necessity translated into me lying in bed this morning using my Android phone camera to take a picture of my boob to see how it’s holding up when I’m, well, lying flat on my back unmoving and definitely not editing that magazine article.

I’m getting ready to turn 50 on Halloween, so maybe this year I’m a little more prone to take stock, check out the status of various body parts. Not that I expect to look like a 20-year-old supermodel, but I was expecting something to actually show up on the camera besides negative space.

To clarify, the lower right quadrant of this image is my boob. The greenish part upper left is, I think, the shadow off my green wall. I have no idea about the black stripe with twinkling lights in the middle. I guess it’s the shadow of the spaceship. Continue reading


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Shakespeare – Sonnet for Writers

shakespeare books 006


“Thy glass will show thee how thy beauties wear,
Thy dial how thy precious minutes waste;
The vacant leaves thy mind’s imprint will bear,
And of this book this learning may thou taste.
The wrinkles which thy glass will truly show,
Of mouthed graves will give thee memory;
Thou by thy dial’s shady stealth mayst know
Time’s thievish progress to eternity.
Look, what thy memory cannot contain,
Commit to these waste blanks, and thou shalt find
Those children nurs’d, deliver’d from thy brain,
To take a new acquaintance of thy mind.
These offices, so oft as thou wilt look,
Shall profit thee, and much enrich thy book.”


Those “in the know” believe this sonnet was inscribed in a book with blank leaves. 

Put it at the top of your own blank page for inspiration.

Happy day after the great Shakes Day!!



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