pegkerr: (candle)
I follow the blog Letters of Note which posts every day a letter from someone in history, some famous and some not. I'm catching up a bit; a few days ago an extraordinarily beautiful letter by Henry James was the one chosen. About this letter, the editor of the site writes:
In July of 1883, the novelist Henry James received an emotional letter from Grace Norton — a good friend and fellow writer who, following a death in the family, had recently become depressed and was desperate for direction. James's beautiful response can be seen below. It is, without a doubt, one of the greatest letters of advice I've ever had the fortune to read.
(Source: Henry James: Selected Letters)
131 Mount Vernon St.,

July 28th

My dear Grace,

Before the sufferings of others I am always utterly powerless, and the letter you gave me reveals such depths of suffering that I hardly know what to say to you. This indeed is not my last word—but it must be my first. Read the rest of the letter here.
The editor's right. This is an extraordinarily beautiful and wise response to suicidal despair.

Thanks, Henry James.
pegkerr: (Default)
Lauren Myracle (@LaurenMyracle on Twitter), you are one classy lady.

I am several days behind in my reading so I am just learning now of the sad story of Lauren Myracle, who received the happy and exciting news that her book Shine was a finalist for the National Book Award, only to be told later that, oops, that was a mistake, and gee, we'd mixed up your book with the real finalist, Chime, and um, why don't you publicly participate in your own humiliation and help us cover our asses by graciously withdrawing? Read the entire story of the debacle over at [ profile] libba_bray's journal here.

There was no way the National Book Award committee could come out of this by looking like anything but hurtful idiots, but Lauren Myracle rose above this humiliating debacle in an magnificent way. Shine, in case you do not know it, is about a hate crime against a gay teen and how it affects an entire community. This is, sadly, a reality for teens in much of the world, and, as Lauren said in her gracious statement, “I was also deeply moved that in recognizing "Shine," the NBF was giving voice to the thousands of disenfranchised youth in America—particularly gay youth—who face massive discrimination and intimidation every day. So that something positive may come of their error, I have strongly suggested that the NBF donate to the Matthew Shepard Foundation [a charity focused on respecting human dignity among young people].”

Well, there is one silver lining. As Lauren reports in her first person account, there has been an outpouring of support for the book. Follow the hashtag #ISupportShine on Twitter.

Another interview.
pegkerr: (Loving books)
Yes, I am still obsessing about Occupy Wall Street. Now there's a way that writers can help. A new website has been started called Occupy Writers (they're on twitter as @OccupyWriters). Read about it here:
Taking up their pens to fight, more than 100 authors have signed up at Occupy Writers, a Web site that launched last week as a rallying point for authors to show their support for the protest movement.

Francine Prose, author of “Blue Angel,” “Reading Like a Writer” and “Goldenglove.” (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)
As well as offering a petition (which succinctly reads, “We, the undersigned writers and all who will join us, support Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy Movement around the world”), the organizers of the site are asking the authors to write about their experiences and thoughts about the protests. So far, two authors have posted messages.

The first, from author Francine Prose, is a short, impassioned paragraph about the protests moving her to tears.

“I kept thinking about how, since this movement started, I’ve been waking up in the morning without the dread (or at least without the total dread) with which I’ve woken every morning for so long, the vertiginous sense that we’re all falling off a cliff and no one (or almost no one) is saying anything about it.”

Poet D.A. Powell also added his voice to the conversation, in a poem titled “The Great Unrest.” Lemony Snicket, the penname of author Daniel Handler, posted thirteen observations “while watching Occupy Wall Street from a Discreet Distance.” Number 11: “Historically, a story about people inside impressive buildings ignoring or even taunting people standing outside shouting at them turns out to be a story with an unhappy ending.”

Other authors are using Twitter to show their support for the protests. Salman Rushdie was one of the first writers to agree to sign up for the Occupy Writers protest. On Sunday, he made a trip to Zuccotti Park, writing on Twitter about his experience there.

The list has a mix of radical writers and moderate ones.
pegkerr: (Default)
It's always wonderful to see new authors enter the world of publishing. Stephanie Burgis' ([ profile] stephanieburgis, on Twitter as @stephanieburgis) new novel A Most Improper Magick is out in the UK today. You can read the first three chapters on her website here. (She's running a contest to offer someone a free copy, along with book-related swag. Boost the signal for her to enter. See the details here.
pegkerr: (Star)
The scanner is up and running. Hurrah! You can click on any of the pictures to see it closer up.

The title of this first card is a reference to my favorite poem in all the world, Yeat's The Two Trees. The ravens he speaks of in the poem have come to represent depression for me. I went back and forth as to whether this card is a "Committee Card" (something inside of me) or a "Council Card" (something archetypal). I have tentatively decided (for now) that it is a Council Card, but in fact it may be a bridge card between the two suits.

The Ravens of Unresting Thought - Council Suit )

The Bearer of Burdens - Committee Suit )

Here's one to honor one of my favorite authors. It is unusual because I use words on this card, which as a rule I think I will want to avoid when making soulcollaging cards. But this first paragraph is so famous that I couldn't resist using it. (I used the Jane Austen font, which is based upon her handwriting.) These are the table and chair she used when writing her novels.

Jane Austen - Community Suit )
pegkerr: (words)
Here it is. I can't believe they left off The Shining, Moulin Rouge, Bullets Over Broadway and most of all, my all time favorite, Romancing the Stone:

"Joan Wilder? THE Joan Wilder?! I read your books! I read all your books!!!"

What movies would you add to the list?
pegkerr: (Default)
A clip from the documentary "JK Rowling - A Year in the Life", showing the final moments of Jo writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

pegkerr: (Default)
Her blog is syndicated at [ profile] eleanorarnason. Eleanor is a science fiction writer who lives and works here in the Twin Cities; I met her for lunch today. I've known her for years, and consider her a good friend. We talked a bit about the process of blogging (I see she's already posted about the conversation.) She's quite a bit more wary about it than I am. I suggested that the difference between us might be that I've kept a paper journal for years and so perhaps have been much more familiar and comfortable with the process of journaling.
pegkerr: (Default)
I've been missing vast swathes of my friends list; it's a combination of busyness (all that dojo cleaning) and other life stuff that's been going on--please be aware that it's not personal, and I don't mean to snub anyone. Anyway, I just ran across the discussion over the 2007 Hugo and John W. Campbell finalist list. Congrats to everyone on the list, etc., etc., but as has been pointed out, the list (along with all the other major sf/fantasy award finalist lists this year) is very embarassing in one respect: there is only ONE woman's name on the list, [ profile] naominovik, for His Majesty's Dragon (which is an excellent book, by the way, very deserving of the nomination, and you all should read it). Anyway, in all the discussion, [ profile] sdn cleverly ran the 2006 Hugo nomination list through a website called and came up with this. Interesting food for thought, no?

It's fun to run a lot of websites through Like the first chapter of Genesis, or Google News. Or this Livejournal. Apparently, in another life, I am Peter, married to Robin, and with two sons, Dennis and Frank. Who knew?
pegkerr: (Loving books)
The White List is a listing of writers, editors, and other publishing professionals that have LiveJournals or LJ RSS feeds. Not all are pro, but all have one thing in common: a love of writing.


pegkerr: (words)
For the 58th straight year, a mysterious visitor left birthday cognac and roses at Edgar Allan Poe's grave Friday.

As a writer, I gotta say that this story really gives me an absurd amount of pleasure. I have written for a number of reasons, but one small part is that there is (hopefully) some memory of me that might live on beyond the limits of my life.

The Poe toaster has been honoring Poe for 58 years (actually it seems to be one man, who was then followed by sons who continued the tradition). Poe himself only lived to be 40.
pegkerr: (Both the sweet and the bitter)
Yesterday was John M. Ford (Mike Ford's) memorial service. I must say, it was one of the best I've ever had the privilege to attend. Many of Mike's friends spoke and provided music, and excerpts of his writing were read. As the pastor says, it really helps when most of the best things said were written by the departed himself.

Eulogies were offered by Jim Rigney (who writes books under the name Robert Jordon), who considered Mike a brother of the heart, Victor Raymond ([ profile] badger2305), Lynn Litterer ([ profile] lynnal), Teresa Nielsen Hayden ([ profile] tnh), Neil Gaiman, and his aunt, Jane Starner. Many, many of Mike's friends were there, including quite a few from out of town, dozens of whom are on LJ.
Some things said and read: Mike's sonnet, "Against entropy. Jo Walton ([ profile] papersky) read the Janus sonnet. Steve Brust ([ profile] skzbrust) read the villanelle "I am the king and I want a sandwich." [ profile] jonsinger read the list of new items from Acme Food Enhancement, "Dining for the Posthuman Era," which you will find among the samples of his writing here. [ profile] tnh read his recipe for cooking Hot Gingered Pygmy Mammoth & Jumbo Shrimp Salad:
recipe here: Feeds your whole tribe. )
[ profile] casacorona read from his unfinished novel Aspects and Emma Bull [ profile] coffeeem read from "Shared World." She and Adam Stemple played a song that he had written, "Madonna of the Midway."

Some of the things said during the eulogies:

Neil Gaiman: "He was my best critic because he was the smartest. You'd give him something to read, and he'd say, 'That's brilliant. It just needs this one line.' And you'd say, 'You're right,' and put it in. And then it would win awards. And just you and he would know." He told a story of once sending out an invitation to a party which included a typographical error. Mike build an entire musical play around that typographical error. And then he would perform it.

Another time, Neil sent an invitation out with just a flat listing of directions to his address, and he added at the end, "I'd like to see Mike Ford make literature out of this." And Mike did. He made a sonnet cycle out of the directions to Neil's home.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden ([ profile] tnh) said, "He wasn't the sort of smart person who made you feel stupid. He made you feel smarter just knowing him. He told me once, 'I have a horror of being obvious.' I told him, 'Mike, you have no clue what other people consider obvious."

Since Mike loved cheese, there were exquisite cheeses from the Wedge Co-op served in the fellowship hall afterwards. The wake was held that night at the Sheraton, the hotel where innumerable Minicons have been held, and really, with all the old familiar faces, many of them gone from Minneapolis for years, it felt like a night in the green room at Minicon ten or fifteen years ago. A music circle formed, of course. I came in when Emma Bull was singing "Signal to Noise" and stayed, happy listening, for hours. [ profile] jbru reminds me of one memorable moment of music and laughter being the singing of "Puking in the Heather," an Irish folk song inspired by an off-hand comment of Mike's at a convention a long time ago--proof, as [ profile] skzbrust put it, that not all of Mike's legacies were positive ones. [ profile] fredcritter sang "Ripple," which made the tears flow again. People brought wonderful food, potluck: cheese (again) chocolate, ham and other meats, cake and pies and sweets and nuts and several different kids of scotch. . . [ profile] pameladean brought her gingerbread, which brought tears to my eyes, because it reminded me of the Shakespeare reading group meetings where Mike would dazzle us all with his readings.

I stayed late. We thought of Mike with love and toasted his memory. May it remain ever green.

Edited to add: Other write ups of the memorial: The Pioneer Press and [ profile] paperskyJo Walton's report.

Edited to add again: The UK's Guardian article. [ profile] pameladean's report here. She mentioned, which I didn't know, that [ profile] gerisullivan did the programs. And if you haven't seen it yet, here is Mike's Wikipedia entry.

My personal tribute to Mike is here.
pegkerr: (candle)
Rob called me in tears this morning. The Minneapolis/St. Paul SF community is in shock. John M. Ford (Mike to his friends) is gone, cause of death unknown. [ profile] elisem found him this morning. Here is the post at Making Light, which includes tributes and a collection of links.

I've known Mike for years, seeing him around conventions here in Minneapolis. But I really got the opportunity to know him in the Shakespeare reading group that met every two weeks for five years or so. Many remember Mike best from his uproarious and astonishing "Ask Dr. Mike" performances at cons, but I will also particularly treasure the memory of his velvet voice bringing to life Othello, Lear, Bottom, Septimus from Tom Stoppard's Arcadia, and Thomas from Christopher Fry's The Lady's Not for Burning--and the astute and hilarious asides that he threw in with his readings, that kept all of us in stitches, laughing until the tears ran down our faces. His books and poetry were subtle and brilliant. I was one of those fortunate enough to receive his long and wonderful Christmas poems, and I treasured those chapbooks and re-read them as often as I read any of the poetry in my collection.

We've known for years that Mike's days might--would--probably be short, despite the transplant, because his health has been poor for so long. Still, this is a dreadful shock.

Mike, we will miss you and remember you always. I will miss your writing, your astonishing breadth of knowledge, your voice, your amazing quick wit, your wild eyebrows, your bon mots, your warmth and humility and humor, and the poet's gift that enabled you to choose the perfect words that strike right to the core of the soul.

Everything I could say about losing you seems pitifully inadequate. We will not see your like again. And we are all the poorer for losing you. You were too damned young. Rest in peace, my friend.


Edited to add: Flickr group tagged JohnMFord here.

Edited to add again: Someone linked to his last post here. A villanelle about Edward IV. A wonderful glimpse into Mike as a humorist, a historian, and a poet. And here is one of his best, 110 Stories, about the World Trade Center and September 11.
pegkerr: (Deep roots are not reached by the frost)
I think that at this juncture, I would like to mention what I have always considered to be the best, most valuable thing another writer ever told me.

I was accepted into the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers' Workshop in 1986 and attended it that summer. Six weeks of writers boot camp. It was exhausting and exhilarating, and I loved (almost) every minute of it. My teachers were Tim Powers, Lisa Goldstein, Samuel R. Delany, Kim Stanley Robinson, Kate Wilhelm and Damon Knight.

The first teacher who kicked off the workshop was Tim Powers, and I especially clicked with him. It was his first time teaching, and I remember that he was so nervous that the paper shook violently in his hand when he stood up in front of us the first time, but he jumped into critiquing our stories with both kindness and enthusiasm and got the workshop off to a great start.

At the end of his week, he sat us down to give us advice that he thought all writers should know when starting out in their careers. I remember it better than practically anything else I learned at Clarion, and I have always been very grateful to him for passing it on. Here it is:
When you are learning to become a writer, don't forget the importance of remaining a decent human being. Never try to get close to people only because you think they are the cool in-crowd people and could "help your career." That kind of behavior is just beneath you, and it makes you look small and petty if you are obviously angling to hang out with them. Never ever scorn people because they are not important. Instead, spend time with people--whether the humblest neo fan or the Big Name pro writer--only simply because you enjoy their company. If you don't enjoy their company, it's okay to avoid them, but always be polite, and never badmouth them. This field is small, and word gets around. Someone you badmouth today may be an editor considering your book manuscript next year. Be kind to others, and treat them with respect and forbearance.
Thank you, Tim, for those words. I have always remembered them and tried to follow them, and I have been grateful for your advice. You were absolutely right, and I have seen the awful results for people who never had those kind words at a crucial stage as I did.

And I have been thinking of them a lot the last few days, as we are all absorbing this week's disclosures.
pegkerr: (Loving books)
I've been a bit erratic about keeping up my reading log lately, but I want to take this opportunity to make note of the most enjoyable read I've had since . . . damn, since when? I don't know, but I'm letting you know about it so that you can read it, too, when it hits the stores later this month.

The Lies of Locke Lamora, the first book by [ profile] scott_lynch, is an outstanding fantasy novel and a breathtakingly impressive debut. The action never flags, and the sensory and scenic detail is extraordinary. I kept putting the book down and thinking, well, what's going to happen next? and never having a clue, but I had to keep reading because Scott kept raising the stakes and raising the stakes and RAISING THE STAKES until the tension was just about unbearable. And he pulled it all off with a confident panache that had me open-mouthed in admiration. Reminds me of Tim Powers, I think, who like Scott does not flinch away from violence, but hones it to a razor's edge, and knows and shows in merciless detail the devastating human cost of lost innocence with every drop of human blood shed.

Well done, Scott. You've started your career off with a helluva bang.

Don't miss this one, folks. I can't wait for the next.

(And if you haven't friended [ profile] scott_lynch yet, you're missing one of the most interesting and funny LJs out there.)
pegkerr: (Default)
Here's a Brazen Shameless Hussy moment: A friend just e-mailed me with a total day-brightener. To my absolute astonishment, someone pledged $500 to honor ME by endowing a chair in my name in the auditorium at the new Minneapolis library! The money will be used to buy new books. I think I recognize the name of the donor as someone I met in graduate school. This is a campaign to recognize and honor Minneapolis authors. Read about it here. They are still collecting names and money to honor other Minnesota writers. One hundred and forty-four chairs have been fully endowed, and they still have 81 openings. A list of other potential honorees that have been suggested is included; their chairs can be added if anyone pledges the money. Contributions are tax-deductible. A number of my friends are on that list. Hey, could we scrape up the money to honor [ profile] pameladean or Lois McMaster Bujold? Or add Eleanor Arnason or [ profile] naomikritzer to the list?

(Gah. That's my name there. Right under Garrison Keillor's. Wow.)

Edited to add They're trying to get a campaign up and running to raise money for other Minnesota writers at [ profile] mnstf here.
pegkerr: (words)
See the White List here, maintained by [ profile] archer904:
I have been given stewardship of The White List, a list of writers, editors, and other publishing professionals that have LiveJournals or LJ RSS feeds. You may submit names to The White List as comments to this post. Once I've added the information I'll delete the comment. Please include a description of the person or their blog. If the blog is mostly personal entries unrelated to the industry, please mark it: (mostly personal). If it is entirely personal, containing nothing about writing, editing, or publishing, please do not submit it. If the blog is dedicated primarily to writing or publishing, mark it: (dedicated writing/publishing). Thanks!


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