READING: Books are my religion . . .a lesson from Ann Patchett


Charlie Smith 3

I am inserting this picture, taken the day AFTER I posed with Ann Patchett, because in THAT photo I look HUGE and AWFUL — and so, I wanted to prove I am still a hipster cat-burglar who gyms it up 6 days a week.

Apologies (and thanks) to those asking if I’m okay and why my entries have been so infrequent. I’m immersed (not to say, drowning) in yet another edit of “LIBERTYTOWN” and, too, a couple of other writing projects which came banging at the doors of my brain/heart/soul, even as I hid away, weeping, whispering, “There’s no one home!” Somehow, the stories and words inside me, or, floating around me, or, something, will not let me do what I’ve been trying to do, which is to surrender to the fact that in the same way I was not a Broadway star, not the first American Pope, not someone who was ever going to be successfully in a love relationship, not someone with an actual income and home of his own, I was also NOT A WRITER. Which, is an overly long (SURPRISE!) way of saying, “I’M TRYING TO WRITE AND I CAN’T BLOG WHILE I’M DOING THAT!” I spent hours yesterday trying to finish ONE SENTENCE, and I never really did – it is slow going, my dears. In the meantime, I am reading. And, since this is sort-of, sometimes, supposed to be a Book(ish?) Blog – thought, “Ok, I’ll catch up with that!” So, here I am, going.


Ann Pachett and Charlie

This is Ann Patchett after I told her I stalked another writer, and still, she bravely posed with me. She is a wonderful, lovely person – radiates warmth, wit, intelligence, and a glowing goodness.

Monday, March 23, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Ann Patchett. She was the featured speaker at Frederick Reads, and not only was she smart, charming, funny, brilliant, engaging, and fun, she gave book recommendations and said (far more eloquently) “Books are my religion.” Mine too. In the days since, procrastinating while I ought to have been editing, I ventured to her Parnassus Books site [click here], and from there, her blog [click here], and in doing so realized I’d not spoken about what I’ve been reading since January when Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You [click here], rocked me. I am still talking about it, talked about it and wrote down the title for Ann Patchett even. But, I have read 23 books since then, and here, in brief, we go, highlights only.



I am a huge fan of the Agatha Raisin mystery series, written by M.C. Beaton and edited by Hope Dellon of St. Martin’s Press. I read #6: Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist; #7: Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death; #8: Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham; and #9; Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wyckhadden. Every visit with Agatha is like Continue reading

“Writing My Life” or “Writing, My Life”

I write because I am compelled to. I have always written but three years ago the voices in my head (given assistance by a few very good, loving friends) insisted that if I wished to stay alive, then Writing – with a capital “W” – was what I had to pursue. That I should – no MUST be a “Writer” writing full-time. The vociferous voices in my head and the berating beatings of my heart and the demanding truth-teller in my soul insisted that after spending long years of molding my life story into shapes that facilitated other people being able to live and tell their stories, fulfill their dreams, it was now my turn and I must take it, or die.

I’m not now and likely never will be Stephen King famous. Hell, I doubt I’ll even achieve… Continue reading

…briefly…adieu…for a bit…

I am falling behind the place where I want to be in my writing, and so, though it is like stopping crack-cocaine cold-turkey, I need for a bit to pull away from social media and too much of my nattering, hit-score-keeping over-connectedness to this imaginary/virtual world of FB and Twitter and blogging, so as to create a quiet, contemplative space in which my characters have room to grow and speak to me, allow their situations to percolate and flow again; do my writing by hand, lose myself in some reading rather than web-trolling, and re-charge. I’ll be back.

…zeit-bites Saturday…

It’s the weekend. But when you are self-employed (barely – as in, some days barely a self and most days oh so barely employed) as a writer, when the inspiration flows, you have to capture it. Having had lots of days when the inspiration was being coy and thus having had to sweat-discipline myself to toil using what passes as “technique” – I totally welcome and bless these days when things just seem to be clicking – the ideas and the keyboard.

Harry Houdini in Water-Torture Chamber 1912

Still, that doesn’t stop me from checking all my news feeds and WordPress and Pinterest and Facebook (have you liked me, yet?) and Twitter and Tumblr-sites and fellow bloggers. And this morning brought me a few insights and chuckles and think-prompts. Morsels from the virtual-world zeitgeist, the first of which fits right in with this theme of “inspiration versus perspiration” and so, here you are: Zeit-bites Saturday.

Here’s Harry Houdini, chained, upside down in a water torture chamber in 1912. The thing is, sometimes when it appears that we are trapped, underwater, unable to breathe, it’s a good thing to remind ourselves that it’s just a trick. We’re all magicians and Continue reading

Balance…focus on the s#%t you LOVE!



Balance…focus on the s#%t you LOVE!

I blog, therefore I am. And on the good news front, my hits are steadily climbing. That makes me happy. Which is a good thing, because it’s all about balance and, well, I’ve that genetic predisposition toward dwelling on the lugubrious day-to-day bullshit; that stuff where you feel like someone (or something or some circumstance) has left you exposed as the worthless asshole you REALLY are. Since I feel – almost always – as if I’m shuffling on a ledge, deciding whether to climb inside or jump – I have to make a real effort to focus on the shit I love; like, coincidentally, this new video by Jake Wilson featuring Alysha Umphress – my new diva goddess – called, yep, “SHIT I LOVE.” Watch.

Happiness making, right?

Which balances out that I still Continue reading

…all my children…

I taught (and directed) for many, many, MANY years; years during which, through the doors of my classes and rehearsals came many of the people who now, years later, are some of my dearest friends. I wouldn’t be me (or truthful) if I didn’t say that those doors also saw the entrances (and exits, alas) of some people to whom Continue reading

…I’m big in Albania…and the HUFFINGTON POST?!?!

You know it’s a good day when you wake up to your WordPress stats and find:

  • You’ve gotten a refer from the Huffington Post;
  • You’ve gotten as many hits from Albania as you have from the U.S.;
  • You’ve gotten 5 new followers since you went to bed at 2a.m.;
  • You’ve gotten comments from people who DON’T know you;
  • You’ve NOT gotten a cease and desist from Justin Bieber (for the relentless mockery) or Jeremy Jordan (for the stalking);
  • Someone seems to have mistaken you for Oscar Wilde!


Life is good. I can feel that literary agent reading my submission and wanting to ask for more . . . go ahead . . . I’m waiting . . . ASK FOR MORE GODDAMMIT!

…they don’t like me…they really DON’T like me…

facebook background april 6 2013Last night I was hanging with my fellow “yet-to-be-famous” blogging bff, CSW (read his OPEN LETTERS here) and we thought we’d torture ourselves by comparing hits & statistics & likes. Good times (as in, bad times) but hardly enough to satisfy our shared jones for the sort of abasement and degradation on which we thrive. Thus, in order that we might sustain our “dim view” in which our ongoing humiliating failures and inability to please the world at large (or, even, please the people with whom we are sleeping – or, trying to sleep with – or, imagining sleeping with; yes, it’s true, sometimes a person can become so conditioned to rejection that even one’s masturbatory fantasies involve acts of ignominious rebuff) are the inescapable reality of our days, Continue reading