Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Old Salem

We were recently in Winston-Salem. In the heart of the city is a reminder of years and generations gone by. Here are some photos.

The first building built, The Apothecary. Not sure what this says about people, or Americans, in general, that the first building built is an apothecary…

I love the herringbone pattern of the sidewalk bricks. And the street is Bank Street because the bank was there. It appeals to me more to conjure a story about an embankment where people waved goodbye to loved ones sailing across the sea. Or better yet, a rise where people buried their treasure to safeguard it from pirate raids. But Salem is in north-central North Carolina, so no ocean-bound or pirate ships. Alas, it’s just a street where the bank was.

Here’s an allĂ©e leading to Salem’s cemetery. Some of the early leaves had turned and scattered the pathway. I can only imagine what it will look like in a few months.

Here’s the first grave. When our children were young, we moved from California to Connecticut, and one day the children asked me “What are all the stones along the side of the roads?” I discovered they’d never seen an old graveyard—in CA, the cemeteries were behind tall stone walls. So, though some people might find it macabre, we’d take the kids to walk through the graveyards and look at the markers. It reminds me of a quote from The Silver Chair, “He has died. Most people have, you know…There are very few who haven't."

Here’s an ongoing excavation of pottery kilns.                                                

And below is a photo of one of the beautiful homes. (Many of the homes are still private.) The architecture is exquisite. Even though buildings were mainly about function, they never lost sight of beauty, balance, and form.

And a close-up of the same home. They are bigger than they appear from the front.

I hope you enjoyed the photos!

Friday, August 10, 2018

When Life Interrupts Writing

I'm not allowed to bend yet, so I sit on the
coffee table in my office when I work on my plot.
Since my last update, life has been a crazy haze of moves, surgeries, etc. (In the past six months, my husband had six emergency eye surgeries, I had three spine surgeries, and our son had cardio-thoracic surgery. Our daughter moved to Maine, where she’s a professor of mathematics at a college there, and our youngest son moved to grad school to study analytical chemistry.)

Despite all that, I’ve made progress on the plot structure of my work in progress. My cork board has gone from two notecards to thirty notecards, each representing a single scene/chapter. I'm somewhere between a half to two thirds done. I’d hoped to have completed the entire structure by now, but I’m telling myself to be thankful for what I’ve finished. Besides, every novel has its own time and way to be written. Sometimes I’ve started writing before I knew anything but the opening and closing scene. And another time, I plotted an entire novel on a two-hour drive. (I wasn’t driving, of course.)

The only advice I can give to writers who find that life keeps interrupting their work is to keep the story alive in your mind. If you can’t write, read. As often as you can, read over story notes, read over your plot outline, and scribble down any new scene that comes to mind—you can always toss it out later if it doesn’t work. That way, when you do have time to write, the embers of the story will be warm. And you won’t have to restart the fire of creativity.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

New Novel

I've begun a new novel. On the left is a photo of my storyboard. I wish it looked attractive. But it is what it is--a utilitarian workhorse. And it reminds me the beauty of the story rises or falls based on what's written those notecards.

Besides the storyboard, I have a notebook with thoughts and ideas. But what makes it onto the board are the things that are sure and true.

To start a novel, I need the two things written on these cards. One, the card on the top left, contains the background of the novel, i.e., what happens before the opening scene. Two, the card pinned in the middle, is the novel's ending. I pin it in the middle because it is the novel's vortex--everything flows toward it because the entire novel derives its momentum from the ending.

NB: I don't always use a cork board. Sometimes I use notecards and a notecard binder. Other times, I use a whiteboard.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Cottage Kitchen, cookbook review

The Cottage Kitchen By Marte Marie Forberg

When I received this cookbook, I fell in love with the sumptuous photography. And my husband, who loves paging through cookbooks marking the foods he wants me to make, fell in love with the Steak and Cheese Pie. It is delicious. I’ve already made it twice at his request. I expect to be making it again for his birthday dinner in June.

The cookbook is an interesting blend of Norwegian and European foods and includes everything from Truffled Vegetable Toad-in-the-Hole to Norwegian Apple Trifle.

I also made the Leek and Cheese Gratin, and it was fantastic. I was excited to try the Potato Soup because it’s one of my favorite foods. However, it was a bit of a disaster. I was concerned looking over the recipe because the proportions of the ingredients didn’t seem correct. But I went ahead and made it. My soup didn’t even come out the same color as the soup in the photo. Though it’s possible I made an error, I suspect there are some typographical errors in the recipe. And I did find another recipe where one of the end steps, brushing the pastry with butter before popping it in the oven was left out—though the photo showed the pastry being brushed.

All in all, a fun cookbook. And it’s worth the price just for the Steak and Cheese Pie recipe.

I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars.

I received this cookbook from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review.