A Discussion of Nouns

I was driving two eight-year-old girls home from drama camp today, and the conversation turned to nouns. I wish more eight year olds really fleshed out the ins and outs on nouns. Here is a dramatization: Girl 1 (mid-conversation): So they weren’t able to salvage anything from their house. Girl 2: Oh. Girl 1 (slightly…

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The Adventures of Hungryman and Hamburger

I want to showcase the artistic talents of my sister-in-law with a little sampling of her cartoon–never before seen by the public–The Adventures of Hungryman and Hamburger. (Synopsis: Hungryman loves Hamburgers. He is hungry, dedicated, and ingenious.) This doesn’t really have much to do with a Depression-era novel about the mystery of a baby thrown down…

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Meet the Schnoodle

I’m the first person to say that being a novelist is a great gig. People pay you to make up stories–what could be a better job than that? But here’s the negative:  the frequent and extended periods of waiting. You turn in a draft to editors…and then you wait for a month or two or three…

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Why I Don’t Watch Saw Movies

A few days after I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, I came across an article by Nicholas Kristof  in the New York Times suggesting maybe the book would help raise awareness of human trafficking. And there is certainly some human trafficking in the novel, along with rape and horrific sexual…

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Deleted Scene

Occasionally people ask me how the editing process worked for The Well and the Mine–how much did I have to change or cut or add. They expect me to say it was miserable. The truth is that it was an all-around pleasant process–my editor, Kate Sage, had a great eye and ear. I don’t think I disagreed…

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Back Home

Back in Birmingham now, and although I still feel a little fuzzy-brained, jet lag hasn’t been too bad. A long time ago I read something saying that jet lag was largely about dehydration, and I started chugging water before, after, and during flights. And–whether the dehydration thing is true or it’s all in my head–I…

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A Traveling Manifesto

I went for a run around the gardens yesterday, listening to sparrows chirping and pigeons cooing (I like to think of it as doves cooing, but let’s face it—they’re pigeons.) Children were sailing boats in the largest fountain; they seemed to be directing them with bamboo sticks, but the mechnics were mysterious. I found a shaded…

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At Luxembourg Gardens

So far, in the middle of museums and cafes and endless walking, my most euphoric moments in Paris have been sitting in the Luxembourg Gardens reading. Along with benches, the park has hundreds of moveable chairs scattered throughout the paths, so you can grab a seat and situate yourself whereever you like. Yesterday the sparrows…

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Falling Rice in Paris

Arrived in Paris, Gare de Lyon, by idTGV train yesterday.  We’re in a great apartment—fairly small like a New York apartment. But it’s perfect for our stay: homey and warm with great hardwood floors and a balcony overlooking the Pantheon. Sylvie, who owns the place, was a friendly woman who seemed to prefer to think of us…

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Where Coffee Wears Hats

Switzerland has the most amazing rest stops in the history of the world. On Wednesday we drove from Lausanne, through Italy and along the coast, to Villefranche-sur-mer on the Riviera. And the most awe-inspiring thing about the trip was possibly a rest stop about an hour from the Italian-Swiss border. It was called the Rest…

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