I haven’t been writing much lately BUT I have been reading! I’m slowly but steadily making my way through the stacks of books in my library queue. There have been some misses for sure—I found The Lost Apothecary, Mexican Gothic and The Vanishing Half all overrated—but also plenty of hits.
My favorite book that I’ve read so far this year is The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman. It was laugh-out-loud funny, which I find is such a hard thing to accomplish with fiction. I just finished AC Wise’s Wendy, Darling, which was so good that I put the baby to bed, stuck the toddler in front of Paw Patrol, and curled up with a bowl full of popcorn to finish it. I loved And Then She Was Gone, Disappearing Earth as well as Saint X, which was beautifully written, although I need to stop reading books about missing daughters because they destroy my heart. I don’t normally like books where the main characters are writers, but I did recently enjoy The Plot, which pulled it off! Some other good books that I was way overdue to read were The Book Thief (how it took me this long, I don’t know!), Ready Player One and The Thirteenth Tale (again, a successful example of writing about writers!).
My second daughter and I have also been flying through the Nancy Drew series. I always thought I was a stickler for the original 56, but we’ve moved onto the ones in the 100s and I think I actually enjoy them more: There’s way less sexism and racism, the bad guys aren’t as obvious, the plots are more complex and they don’t use the word “attractive” every sentence (Nancy is an attractive 18-year-old, who lives in an attractive house and drives an attractive car).
Anyway. I’ll get back to writing soon enough here, but I’m definitely enjoying making a dent in my library books in the meantime!
So apparently it’s been more than a year since I’ve updated, but I guess it’s been more than a year for a lot of things so I’m not going to let that get to me. And what a year, right?! Here in Nevada, it seems like we are moving in the right direction. Lots of vaccinations (I was able to get my second just this past Saturday!) and the state has been steadily opening up. In fact, the Mustang Ranch—one of Reno’s infamous brothels—recently reopened. You know things must be getting better when brothels are considered “safe” again!
Personally, the past year has been a mental struggle as much as anything else. My kids finished up last year with distance learning but then went back to in-person learning last fall. And even though they were in school, there was always the chance their classes would be excluded due to positive cases (as happened several times for us). My preschooler had it tough, too: Her school shut entirely for three weeks last fall when several teachers and one or two older preschoolers tested positive.
Between Covid and four kids, I haven’t been writing. It’s felt strange not writing for Tahoe Quarterly, and a little heart-breaking to turn down assignments, especially for the Mountain Home issue, which is my favorite of all. I did find time (eventually) to read the issue and it was fabulous. Difficult to put together, I’m sure, as most of the projects weren’t available to physically tour, but a great read nonetheless, so big shoutout to my editor Sylas and the very resilient TQ writers!
I am heartened by the fact that—between vaccinations, schools staying open and reopened brothels—we seem to be at a turning point. I’m very hopeful that things continue to look up… and that there’s writing in my future again soon!
I have had a crazy hard time reading lately (though truthfully, the baby + toddler + two more means I’ve had a crazy hard time doing anything lately), but I did manage to complete one book: A Levittown Legacy: 1960 Little League Baseball World Champions.
I’m admittedly fairly biased as my dad wrote it. The story centers around the group of scrappy 11- and 12-year-olds from the new (as of 1960) Philadelphia suburb of Levittown. As is probably obvious from the title, they go on to become that year’s Little League World Champions, defeating Fort Worth after a string of other opponents.
For me, though, the best thing about the book is getting a glimpse into my dad’s past. I’ve been nagging him to write a memoir (and would still love him to do so), and this story sometimes veers away from the Little Leaguers and into my dad’s own history. The book talks about his family, while also espousing the “Levittown Legacy”—the ingrained beliefs that success comes from hard work, high goals and competition—and how it influenced him throughout his life, from a kid playing sports, to earning a football scholarship, to getting into the world of banking and finance.
For the book, my dad reconnected with a lot of the old players and cheerleaders. He’d researched it over the course of the past two years, and often did read-a-louds for my siblings and me whenever we were together. Because of that, my daughters have also heard a lot of the book and, through it, some family history. At least enough so that when I mentioned that my grandmother had once sang with Frank Sinatra, my 9-year-old rolled her eyes and said, “I know, it’s in Chapter 2.”
Anyway, if anyone on the interwebs is looking for a read, A Levittown Legacy can be found at www.levittownlegacy.com or on amazon. Enjoy!
Tahoe Quarterly’s Winter issue came out a few weeks ago and it looks great! I wrote an article about Tahoe City artist Karey Dodge, who is reviving Lake Tahoe’s traditional art of basket weaving. Her works are beautiful, and she often incorporates unique rocks and gemstones into her creations.
For me, this article was a breakthrough as I’d taken a hiatus from writing since the birth of my fourth daughter in May. With a newborn (plus three other kids), I hadn’t been able to focus for any length of time and I’d felt like it was almost impossible for me to form, let alone write down, coherent thoughts. This article took way longer than it would have normally, but it felt so good to finally break out of the baby brain fog and be able to write again.
Because of all that, I felt even better when I got an email from Karey right after the magazine came out. It was a very sweet message thanking me for writing the story, but then she added that Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak apparently saw the article and purchased some pieces from her because of it. Writers often live in seclusion as it is, so I love getting any sort of feedback, and how cool is it that the governor is reading my stories?!
I haven’t been very active lately and this is why: blogosphere, meet baby Clara! This little love is now one month old and between her and her three sisters, I’ve taken a little break from writing. I will say, though, it’s hard to NOT write; I got my latest issue of Tahoe Quarterly and it was so strange to not have an article in there. I plan to sit out one more issue then getting back to writing again!
My break, not coincidentally, happens to overlap with my oldest two being out of school for the summer. So hopefully two months of summer fun and baby time and then I will be more than ready to send kids back to school and get back on my computer!
Had a fabulous time this past Thursday at Tahoe Quarterly’s Mountain Home launch party! This was the first launch I’d been able to make and I was so impressed by the evening. The Nevada Museum of Art is a FANTASTIC venue, and chef Mark Estee did an amazing job with the food. Probably some 150 people attended, to include area architects, builders and interior designers, plus a lot of other people involved in making the magazine a success.
The top picture is our Writers of TQ group: Sue, Vangie, me and TQ editor-in-chief Sylas. Between the four of us we wrote the majority of the Home Award articles, and we usually get together to cull the submissions. A fun job, and I love working with this team! Anyway, great event and excited to make more of the TQ parties in the future!
TQ has started doing launch parties for the magazine, which I think is incredibly fun despite the fact that I haven’t managed to attend yet. However, I just got the invite for the Mountain Home 2019 party and I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to make this one! After all, I wrote SIX stories for this issue (five homes plus the Arts profile), and it’s taking place at Reno’s Nevada Museum of Art, which is an amazing venue and conveniently close by.
The invite also contains links to last year’s Home Award winners, which reminded me that I haven’t updated this site with my more current published articles in at least that long (and, let’s be honest, probably much longer). That being said, since I finished with this round of work, I decided it’s time to get some of those stories onto the interwebs. I’ll try to get more uploaded at some point, but here are my architecture stories for the 2018 Mountain Home issue:
Clockwise from top left: Simply Majestic; PRE-tty FAB-ulous; Relax, Rejoice, Retreat; Interior Divine
Rejoice, Relax, Retreat
Whew! Finally finishing up with the TQ Mountain Home Award write-ups! I love this issue (and I know I say that every year about this time) but seeing these amazing houses and then being able to explore what makes them so special is one of my favorite annual traditions.
For this issue, I took on five houses, four in Martis Camp and one in Reno. It’s amazing the breadth of design: One was a showstopper of a house with features like imported French oak flooring, a human-sized fireplace hearth and two-story wine walls. Another was impressive because of its well-crafted simplicity, a feat much harder to achieve than it seems.
In addition to the Home Awards articles, I also wrote a piece for TQ’s Arts column about functional art for the home, where I interviewed a metalworker, a woodworker and a potter. All very different, but each interesting and unique! We’re in the proofing stage now, so only a little longer until the magazine is in print—I’m looking forward to seeing and reading about the other magnificent homes featured, as well!
TQ’s Ski & Ride 2018 issue is on stands now! I wrote a story about Tahoe’s literary scene, the focal point of which is South Shore’s Bona Fide Books. I love the concept of this company: Founded in the spirit of art and community, Bona Fide is a small press that specializes in place-based nonfiction. Bona Fide recently released Permanent Vacation II, relating stories from those who have worked or lived in America’s national parks. It’s a great read, with stories that range from funny to heart-wrenching and are set in backdrops from the Everglades to Hawaii and Yellowstone to Denali.
Anyway, loved being able to profile Tahoe’s local literary movers and shakers. The entire issue is packed with great reads, so grab a copy wherever available!
And on the work note: I turned in my story for the Winter edition and I managed to tag along on a day of tours for Mountain Home. I LOVE seeing the houses, and this year was no exception. After touring, let’s just say that a two-story-high double wine wall is a must-have in my dream house.
We just had a meeting yesterday to talk over all the award winners. It’s going to be an amazing issue—some outstanding architecture, not to mention some really good stories behind the homes. Still a few months before the Mountain Home release but I’m excited to get to work!
I’m not ready for summer to be over, but apparently it is, at least in Northern Nevada where school starts back up in early August. My oldest is now on her third week of second grade while the kindergartner (after clinging to me this morning and giving me the world’s biggest guilt trip for sending her to school) is starting week two. We’ve had a great summer (two beautiful weddings in PA, lazy days on Lake Tahoe, the pool and plenty of trips to our favorite ice cream shops), but it’s kind of nice to be getting back into a routine and having at least a little free time for writing. For me, that means working on the TQ article I’ve procrastinated on for the past month. I love the topic and I’ve done the interviews and spoken with really interesting people, but for some reason I have not been able to sit down and actually put the article together. Is it perhaps a sign of my procrastination that I’m updating my blog for the first time in two months? Doubtful. On that note, I’m writing……. now!