Friends of the Library Booksale

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” - Lemony Snicket Each May and October, a phenomenal transformation occurs. Over four weeks, a giant warehouse  filled to overflowing with more than 250,000 volumes of books, magazines, DVDs, puzzles, and games, is emptied by booklovers across Tompkins County and beyond. It's the Friends of the Library Booksale, one of my top three favorite things about Ithaca. I have attended and bought books at every sale (and numerous times throughout the sale) for at least ten years, though I skipped one or two during Covid.  It's an event that reinvigorates my hope for the world. Aisle after aisle of books of every genre you can think of, and many you can't, all donated with the sole purpose of passing on entertainment and education, as well as raising money for the TC Public Library. In this modern world of digital media, virtual reality, social technology (all of which have their costs and benefits) I remain astounded that I

Favorite Books on Writing- Part 1

There are so many books about writing out there, it can be hard to know how to sort through them. Here are a few of my favorites. Some of these I discovered at the dawning of my writing life. Others came along once I'd started my MFA and I read them for classes. All are important guides to discovering the writer within and learning the craft. 

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

"In the beginning, when you're first starting out, there are a million reasons not to write, to give up. That is why it is of extreme importance to make a commitment to finishing sections and stories, to driving through to the finish. The discouraging voices will hound you--'This is all piffle,' they will say, and they may be right. What you are doing may just be practice. But this is how you are going to get better, and there is no point in practicing if you don't finish."

The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr

"The need to rout out my own inner demons is why I always start off fumbling through my own recollections. Only later, after several drafts do I engage in 'research' by visiting old haunts and passing my manuscript around. The memories I've gnawed on and rehearsed are the ones most key to what's eating me up, and only those can help me to find a book's shape."

The Art of Creative Nonfiction: Writing and Selling the Literature of Reality by Lee Gutkind

"Learning how to write is hard enough, but deciding what to write about--isolating a marketable subject that is appealing to you--is the most difficult task a writer must confront. Find a subject that intrigues and motivates you and that will simultaneously intrigue and motivate readers. The task is double-edged. Salable subjects are around us everywhere; on the other hand, they are astoundingly elusive."

Writing About Nature: A Creative Guide by John A. Murray

"The nature essay will always be separate from the journalistic article because it is not nearly so factually-oriented and it is most definitely not impersonal, nor will it ever be confused with the various forms of imaginative writing. It will forever be 'wild and free,' to use Thoreau's two favorite words in 'Walking,' a sort of half-tamed country between the rigid world of article-writing and the illusory realm of fiction; the genre in a sense provides a perfect metaphor for the 'border life' that Thoreau said existed best mid-way between city and the country."

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

"What follows is everything I know about how to write good fiction. I'll be as brief as possible, because your time is valuable and so is mine, and we both understand that the hours we spend talking about writing is time we don't spend actually doing it. I'll be as encouraging as possible, because it's my nature and because I love this job. I want you to love it, too. But if you don't want to work your ass off, you don't have any business trying to write well--settle back into competency and be grateful you have even that much to fall back on."