Tag Archives: john

Connecting with Authors….

by Ellen Weeren
@EllenWeeren/@AReasonToWrite

In just the past few days, I have spoken with 4 well known authors. Shaken their hands, asked them questions. Gotten super inspired. And I now have signed books from all of them. Yea!

And just how did I do that, you might wonder. (If you don’t wonder that, stop reading now. 😎  )

Well, I attended a panel discussion at Fall for the Book at George Mason. The discussion was focused on the definition of literary fiction v. genre fiction and if it’s even important to make the distinction between two any longer. The answer was basically that it’s nearly impossible to define literary fiction or appropriately capture its essence. Outstanding writing will be discussed without prompting from scholars and its words will be devoured – no matter what you call it.

My own definition/measuring stick will be that if a college professor picks up The Alligator Purse and discusses it in her classroom or if a book club can’t stop talking about it, then I will consider it Literary Fiction. (She says crossing fingers that one day that will happen.)

These three fantastico authors were at Fall for the Book…

Alma Katsu  – Alma inspired me because she was first published after the age of 50. There’s still hope for me! 😎 And her writing has gripped me – here is the start of her novel The Taker:

“Luke Findley’s breath hangs in the air, nearly a solid thing shaped like a frozen wasp’s nest, wrung of all its oxygen.”

That is some fabulous prose.

Louis Bayard is very simply a tremendous writer and a professor at George Washington Univ.

I also love the opening of The School of Night:

“Against all odds, against my own wishes, this is a love story. And, it began, of all places, at Alonzo Wax’s funeral.”

Now, I am curious as to what is going on.

and then there was Julianna Baggott. The movie rights to her latest novel Pure have already been purchased. She writes across genres and audiences. And, she speaks in poetry. The way she expressed her thoughts was beautiful. I can only imagine the prose in her stories will be scrumptious.

This is what Julianne said on her own blog about the panel discussion. She asked if it was worth her time – she sold fewer than ten books and her child was sick while she was gone. To that I say, “Thank you for coming. When you signed my book, you wrote Best of Luck With Your Writing, Imagine Wildly.” I don’t know if inspiring me was worth missing her sick child. But I was inspired and so were many others.

Mark Athitakis was also on the panel. He is a book critic and manages a guide to DC area readings. You can find that here. I hope one day that he will review my book.

Yes, you are right. That is only three authors. The fourth was one of my absolute faves – John Shors. He wrote the magical historical fiction about the Taj Mahal called  Beneath a Marble Sky. And, if you’ve been following for a while here, you might remember this review. His new book is called Temple of a Thousand Faces and you can preorder it here.

John was kind enough to call our writers group and share his insights on writing. Why did he do that? Because he is awesomesauce – that, and we asked him to.

It is amazing to me just how approachable some authors are. They share a unique understanding of how challenging this writing journey is. And they are eager to see other authors succeed. They want to encourage and enlighten them/us/me.

So, if you are thinking that you really missed out on some great opportunities – have no fear – American University is hosting a visiting writers series and you can get inspiration from some amazing authors. You’ll find the calendar here.

Two Book Reviews……….

Happy New Year dear blog readers!

I know I have not posted in a while – but I have been busy reading. You can see my latest book reviews over at A Reason To Read or by clicking the links below. Enjoy!

The Literary Ladies Guide to the Writing Life by
Nava Atlas….

and

    The Wayward Life and Times of a Dipsy Doodle Dandy By John Peaker

For the love of toilets…………..

In an effort to get out and see more of Delhi, I took the kids to the Toilet Museum. They thought I was kidding. It is actually (kind of) funny that in a land where bathrooms are hard to find that there is a museum dedicated to all things toilet.

And if you are in the U.S. and you are thinking, “dang, now I have to go to Delhi, I must see the toilet museum,”  – fear not. In Wisconsin there is also a toilet museum. In fact, I think it is the world’s largest toilet museum. You can thank Kohler for that. And if I understood things correctly, there is also a toilet paper museum. No need for a passport.

If you don’t believe me – click this link for the museum in Delhi – http://www.sulabhtoiletmuseum.org/pg01.htm. I knew it was going to be good when the first line of the link said you should seek help if you have ever wondered what a toilet museum would be like.

I have to say it was interesting. For example, did you know that John Harrington invented the modern toilet. I just happen to love this guy! Yes, I heart John Harrington and that big fluffy collar of his.

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And did you know that the reason Americans call the toilet the John is because John Douglass was famous for making pottery basins for the toilet and he would sign them John? An artist must sign his work. Sign he did. See, now you will sleep better tonight because you know that.

This made me laugh. It is a replica of an outhouse type toilet used at construction sites in the U.S. many, many years ago. I don’t know if you can read the signs but the door on the top says “Management” and the door on the bottom says “Employees”. It’s disgusting and hysterical at the same time. And no, there was not a hole in the ceiling of the employee section.

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In Thailand, they are teaching elephants to use the toilet so that the tourists are not constantly side-stepping big piles of poo (not the technical term, but you get the idea). I once considered trying to toilet train our cats.  However, I spent what felt like years getting Number One Hubby to put the seat down – cats would require the seat to be up. I quickly checked “potty training the cats” off my bucket list. But this takes over-achieving to a whole new level.

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This is a picture of the man who loves all things toilet. He was charming and very informative. And, yes, that is a picture of Jennifer Lopez. She is apparently even famous at the toilet museum because at one point Ben Affleck gave her a bejeweled toilet. Now, that is love.

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There was a very detailed explanation of how this traveling port-a-potty works. I have to be honest, there were a couple of times when we all zoned out. So, I did not catch the whole idea behind it – but I think you can figure it out.

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This man in Seoul built his house in the shape of a toilet. Did you know that there was a World Toilet Association? You do now.

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And the award for the most expensive toilet goes to………..drum roll please…………. NASA. Shocking.

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Remember I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on the internet, so you must do with this info what you will….

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This toilet has an incinerator at the bottom and makes ashes out of waste.

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And then there were the mascots – seriously – there are mascots. Can you guess their names?

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I didn’t tell you everything – I didn’t want to spoil all the surprises, just in case you decide to visit. The tour takes about half an hour.

It turns out that the toilet museum is not just about toilets. It is located on a campus where they are studying waste management. The curator offered a tour of that part of the facility as well, but we opted out of that seeing that section.

The tour was free, although I did give a donation at the end of the tour.

It might sound crazy, but we enjoyed ourselves and we laughed the whole way home. Now I have a whole new threat to level against them – if you aren’t good, I will tell your friends you went to the toilet museum – and LIKED it. And it was a fabulous opportunity for my children to see that if you are enthusiastic about your “work”, you will love your job and you will bring joy to other people. Who would have thought that we would make such great family memories at the toilet museum?