Get Caught Reading!

Believe it or not, there are people who wonder why I always have a book in my bag. This list will give you an explanation; I’m constantly trying to squeeze in a little more reading time.

Bas Bleu Bluestocking Salon

Guess what? May is Get Caught Reading Month! We suspect most avid readers haven’t truly been “caught” reading surreptitiously since you snuck a flashlight and book under the covers as a child or hid a novel inside your textbook during math class. But for those of us (Bas Bleu editors included!) who never leave home without a book or who feel our day isn’t complete until we’ve tackled a few chapters, Get Caught Reading Month is the perfect excuse to share some of our favorite opportunities for squeezing in a little more reading time.

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Blast from the Past: Improving a Story to Death

atw80p-v2Hi, everyone.  A text-only version of this article appeared in my GoodReads blog on June 29, 2009.  The lesson on writing with care remains the same today.

The story I referenced is now entitled “Betrayed by a Kiss,” and may be found in my always-free short fiction collection, Around the World in 80 Pages.  Enjoy!

I learned a harsh lesson this month.

I entered one of my favorite short-short stories, “The Judas Kiss,” in two different competitions. It was a strong, intelligent story with a twist, and I was very proud of it. One of the decisions I made when I wrote the story was to deliberately never identify the gender of the protagonist. I thought it was a real strength of the story.

Except I wimped out before I sent it to the two contests.

woman-41201_1280I made the protagonist female, and wrote some additional information about her. In hindsight, this was detrimental to the story’s strength … and “The Judas Kiss” failed to place in either contest.

I think that constructive criticism is invaluable, but as an author I should have just left well enough alone. There is a fine line between art and a mess; a painter needs to know when to lay down the brush. The same things applies to writing, whether short-short, short story, novella or novel. Wield your pen with care.


Music Monday: “Nuages,” by Django Reinhardt

Happy Monday, everyone!  As long-time readers know, Monday is the day I share a favorite music track.  Sometimes it’ll be related to my writing, but sometimes it’s just something I like and want to share.  That’s the case with today’s track.

Django Reinhardt (1/23/10 – 5/16/53) was a Belgian-born French guitarist of Romani descent.  Two of his fingers were disabled in a fire, so he developed a completely new and different style of playing:  “hot” jazz guitar.  He played in the Quintette du Hot Club de France with violinist Stephane Grapelli, and toured all over Europe.  He’s been cited as an influence by a diverse group of musicians ranging from Sir Paul McCartney to Tommy Iommi and Willie Nelson.

Please enjoy this recording of Nuages, by the aforementioned Hot Club Quintet, featuring Django Reinhardt.


On Mother’s Day

It’s Mother’s Day here in the United States.  On this day, I think about my grandmother Elizabeth, my mother Donna, and my mother-of-the-heart, Ruth.  My relationship with my mom is sometimes complicated, because we are two very different people.  She’s much more traditional than I am, just for starters.  She is more quiet and traditionally feminine.  I have always been something of an iconoclast, even from childhood — and far preferred big and bold to cute and dainty.  Until the day I moved out on my own, my mom wanted to fit me into the more traditional mold of femininity … and it took a long time and a lot of work to get the point where I no longer accepted that expectation.

My mom, Donna (in the red hat) and me at the Linde Lane Tea Room in Dixon, Calif.

My grandmother and Ruth, on the other hand, thought I was just fine the way I was.  Grandma always dressed to the nines, even when she wasn’t going anywhere … because you never knew who might come by.  She had a vast array of colors in her wardrobe, and very little black.  I took that lesson to heart when I gave up wearing black and decided to change my wardrobe.


I accepted the idea that I was always going to like big, bold jewelry and rich colors, and that anyone who thought I was too “flashy” (a word my mother used to describe those who dressed in a way she thought a little too loud) could just look the other way.  My mom has come to accept that I’m happy as I am, and that’s great.

Ruth was a historical reenactor who had once been a bank VP and was a homemaker when I met her.  Ruth wore what felt comfortable for the health problems she had developed, and that was a lesson I took home when I began to have health problems of my own.  Ruth took people as they came, and had a raucous laugh that accompanied her stories about some of the places she’d seen and the people she met over the course of her professional career.  She passed away several years ago, as did my grandmother.

Three very different women, each of them with a different kind of influence on me.  What they all had in common was a love for animals, and a desire to help others.  Otherwise, they were as different as cheese and chalk … but I love them all.

Our kiddo is thirty; we’re empty-nesters.  I fully expect I’ll get a call or an e-mail later today, as he’s on the opposite coast.  I’ll phone my mom later as well.  It’s good to hear both of their voices any time.

In honor of the day, I share a song to which all parents can relate:  “Mom’s Lullaby,” by Seamus Kennedy.  Happy Mother’s Day to one and all!


12 Interesting Facts about French Literature

12 Interesting Facts about French Literature

I am a huge fan of French literature; enjoy these interesting bits of information!

Interesting Literature

The best facts about French literature

French literature has often been one step ahead of the literary curve, to risk mixing our progressive metaphors. Before T. S. Eliot and other Anglophone poets had found a way to write about the modern city, Charles Baudelaire had already shown a way forward. In the realm of medieval romance, French writers and troubadours led the way. Gustave Flaubert influenced James Joyce, Henry James, and countless others. So, in this post, we thought we’d pay homage to French literature and Francophone writers by sharing a dozen of our favourite interesting facts about French writers and French literature.

The most popular novel among soldiers in the American Civil War was Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables.

Honore de Balzac died in 1850 from caffeine poisoning as a result of excessive consumption of black coffee.

French philosopher and critic Roland Barthes was killed by a laundry van.

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