By Leslie Lindsay
A curated newsletter on the literary life, featuring ‘4 questions,’ reading & listening recommendations, where to submit, more
Leslie Lindsay|Always with a Book
~MUSINGS & MEANDERINGS~
Only Your Writer Friends Understand
I’m thick into the memoir-writing-process and it’s been sort of a re-set.
But before we get into all of that, welcome, new folks! I’m glad you’re here. If you’re a reader and writer, you’re in the right place. Thirsty for more details? The long and short of it is this is a newsletter about the craft of writing/process, reading recommendations, author interviews (some long form, others shorter). ‘Musings & Meanderings’ comes out about twice a month. I live in the Chicago suburbs. Creating and making things beautiful is my jam. Yoga, cardio…rinse, repeat.
So, a reset.
It’s March. We’re ripe for a change. Once, an intuitive person [psychic!]–told me I needed a getaway every quarter…it didn’t have to be ‘big,’ just a night or two, maybe near water. She wasn’t wrong! Water feeds me. Getting away is always a treat and helps me put things into perspective.
With the memoir, I am doing something different. Collage, photos, notes, psychiatric records [my late mom’s], and it’s wildly…fun? Like going to the dentist, maybe. Part of the process, but tedious. Therapeutic? Nope. Not ‘fun,’ either.
It just IS. If I had to liken it to anything, it might be delving into a mystery or putting together a jigsaw puzzle. It’s an obsession, but sometimes it’s overwhelming and stupid and I can’t see the road. Or the forest. I just know I gotta keep driving.
Reading shorter books, poetry, graphic narrative.
I decided to read books I could consume in a day or two. I want to experience a variety of voices and styles and contemplate the writing challenges the authors had set for themselves.
If there’s something in the book–something I want to learn more about, for example, maybe a technique I want to try, or something I really relate to, I do some ‘homework’ right away. Another example of this kind is I read the acknowledgements section first. Weird, I know! Sometimes I’ll find a literary journal who might like something I have to submit, a retreat or conference I’d like to attend…an agent I may query. That kind of stuff is my ‘post-read homework.’
Limiting Time on Social Media and Email.
I used to be super-conscientious about reading and responding (so very thoughtfully) to emails. It’s not that I am being a jerk, but I am much more efficient while still being kind. Also? IG messages, FB Messenger, Twitter, Text, plus email…it REALLY adds up (see my previous posts about writerly time management). I’m trying to send less email unless really necessary, while also curbing my social media time so I can do more of what truly brings joy and gets me closer to my goal (a finished manuscript, art and photography).
Taking care of my health.
Going to bed early, waking up early are key for me. My husband says I have two speeds: Fast and off. He’s right! I’m a good 12-hour kind of gal. I push really hard that ENTIRE time, and then…OFF, done.
I’m trying to get better at going for walks, drinking lots of water, eating some dang fruit. Right now, I aim for clementines and apples, but I’m more of a veggie person.
Also? I seek out and talk with supportive people who ‘get’ and appreciate me and my art. Again, check out the last post on writing friends. But they don’t have to be writers, either! I have several yogi friends who just ‘get’ me…and a friend who cuts hair and another mom-friend. Or two. You get get the idea!
What are you doing for your spring re-set? Do any of these ideas appeal? What am I missing?
Respond here in a comment, or find me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.
~Leslie : )
Speaking of re-set, I’ve got an Insights Interview (keep scrolling) with Julie Carrick Dalton on her new novel, THE LAST BEEKEEPER (Forge Books, March 7), about a woman returning to childhood home with one goal in mind…
This issue of Musings & Meanderings is jam-packed with some really great stuff to get your writing and reading off on the right foot. Classes and workshops, bookstore events, book recommendations, journals to submit to, reading recommendations, author interviews, recently published prose, and a quick 4 questions insights interview with Julie Carrick Dalton, author of THE LAST BEEKEEPER. Keep scrolling!
By the way, I do not get any ‘kick-backs’ or other kind of payment (in-kind, or otherwise) for mentioning these classes/workshops/books/individuals. Sharing because if helps me, maybe it’ll speak to you, too.
Some Writerly Things:
- Palette Poetry is hosting it’s Rising Poet Prize now through April 16 judged by Maggie Smith, who just happens to have a memoir publishing soon [must read]. The submission fee is $20 but you could win up to $3,000! Details HERE.
- Nimrod International Journal is looking for submissions for their spring contest, now through April 1. There is a submission fee for this. Check out the details HERE.
- It’s always hard to know where to submit your work, who’s looking for what, the nitty-gritty of what this all means…right? Host Publications talks about this in their podcast, The Host Dispatch.
- This Tin House Spring Craft intensive: Not Quite Flash with Sidik Fofana piqued my interest. It’s online and a one-session offering Sunday, April 16.
- Have you ever attended a workshop, class, or retreat with Lidia Yuknavitch or Corporeal Writing? I did back in the fall of 2022 and loved it. The trees! The ferns! The ocean! It was a nourishing and dare I say–healing–experience. If you’re so inclined, take a peek at their Spring 2022 offering at the lovely Salishan Coastal Lodge.
- Want to know why your flash fiction is getting rejected? Check out THIS helpful tip sheet from Flash Fiction Magazine.
- Looking for a manuscript consultation? Wait, what even IS that? You know you’re ready for this if you’re beginning the process of querying agents, have incorporated beta-reader suggestions, workshopped your ms with an instructor/other students, and revised/polished your ms. Cynthia Swanson, author of THE GLASS FOREST and THE BOOKSELLER, and editor of DENVER NOIR might be just what you’re looking for. Learn more about her manuscript consultation HERE.
- I just registered for this virtual, at-your-own-pace class with Leanne Dunic through Hedgebrook. It’s all about experimentation with form. It’s a pre-recorded class. Here are the juicy details:
“Not all narratives are best-suited to double-spaced, left-to-right, top-to-bottom text, but how does one start experimenting with form? We’ll review published examples of hybrid forms, and together we will deconstruct and reinvent traditional texts to explore exciting ways of marrying form with content. We’ll explore the flexibility of language and discuss ways of drawing on other art forms for inspiration.
- I plan to attend this event through Story Studio Chicago, An Evening with Courtney Maum, most recently the author of THE YEAR OF THE HORSES, a memoir about depression, horseback riding, and so much more. Plus! Recently announced–Megan Stielestra will now be joining this gathering. She teaches CNF/memoir at Northwestern and is the author of ONCE I WAS COOL and THE WRONG WAY TO SAVE YOUR LIFE. [that link will take you to my previously published interview with Stielstra] Maybe I’ll see you there?!
Musings & Meanderings | Insights
Julie Carrick Dalton
“Julie Carrick Dalton weaves an intricate story of friendships carefully made and tended when mere survival would seem to make such bonds impossible. The Last Beekeeper is ingeniously plotted, both clever and tender on every page. I couldn’t put it down.”
―Rebecca Scherm, author of A House Between Earth and the Moon
Perfect for fans of Migrations and Station Eleven, THE LAST BEEKEEPER is a tale of truth versus power, hope in the face of despair, and a reminder to appreciate the little things.
Without responding in complete sentences, what would you say THE LAST BEEKEEPER is about?
Julie Carrick Dalton:
Found family, speaking truth to power, secrets, and redemption. My love of nature, fascination with honey bees, and climate anxiety. A tender, but fractured father-daughter relationship. Budding love under difficult circumstances. And hope. So much hope.
Where did you write THE LAST BEEKEEPER? Do you have any special writing routines or rituals? Do they change with each project, or remain constant over time?
Julie Carrick Dalton:
I’m a fickle writer. I go through phases when I only want to write at my kitchen table. For weeks, I sit in the same spot and it works well. Until it doesn’t. Then I move to new a new location. I spend a lot of time in The Boston Athenaeum, a historic library in downtown Boston filled with old books, historic paintings, and sculptures, as well as contemporary art and books. It’s pin-drop quiet and it smells like old books! I don’t have an office space in my apartment, but there’s a built vanity table in my closet, and I often write there. I mean, who needs a vanity table? I need a desk! It sounds dreary, to write in a closet, but the closet actually has two large windows and lots of light. I’ve turned the space into a makeshift writing room. It’s quite cozy. We also spend a lot of time at a family place in New Hampshire, which is my favorite place to write. There’s something about the quiet, the mountain air, and the flowers outside the window that inspire me. I wrote bits of The Last Beekeeper in all of the places. I don’t really have any rituals, but I write best when I have the taste of peppermint in my mouth. I go through a ridiculous amount of peppermint Tic-Tacs, especially when I’m drafting new material. I’ve considered asking if they would be my corporate sponsor. ‘Writing powered by Tic-tac!’ If anyone wants to buy me a gift, a case of peppermint Tic-Tacs would make me swoon.
If you weren’t writing, you would be…
Julie Carrick Dalton:
I would love to design the interiors of tiny homes or RVs. I’m obsessed with the ingenious use of space in tiny homes. Dining room tables that convert into beds. Staircases that are also drawers. Tables that fold flat. During the pandemic, my husband and I salvaged wood from a nearby barn that was torn down. We used the wood to construct a one-room cabin which I now use as a writing office in the summer. A ladder leads to a tiny napping loft. The cabin doesn’t have plumbing, but we installed a dry sink and composting toilet. I have plans for a tiny dining table that folds out of the counter and two seats that slide together to create a coffee table when the dining table is folded down. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m absolutely in love with this tiny cabin. It’s where I finished writing The Last Beekeeper and where I intend to finish my third novel this summer.
What book did you recently read that you can’t stop thinking about?
Julie Carrick Dalton:
Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez. I first heard Dolen read at a writers’ conference last summer. I immediately bought a copy of Take my Hand and I devoured it. Sometimes when I read a novel, I disappear into the writing and the story. With other books, I’m very aware of the writer’s craft, language, and character development. When I read Take My Hand I was swept away by the story, but at the same, I time found myself turning some of her sentences over and over in my mind, savoring them, wondering how she managed to do so much with so few words. Both the story and the writing stuck with me and continue inspire me.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Julie Carrick Dalton is the author of The Last Beekeeper (Forge Books) and Waiting for the Night Song, which was a CNN, USA Today, Newsweek, and Parade Most Anticipated 2021 title. With a background in farming and beekeeping, she is a frequent speaker on the topic of fiction in the age of climate crisis at universities, museums, book festivals, and literary conferences. A Tin House, Bread Loaf, and Novel Incubator alum, she holds a Master’s in Creative Writing and Literature. Her writing has appeared in Orion, The Boston Globe, BusinessWeek, The Hollywood Reporter, Chicago Review of Books, and other publications. Mother to four humans and two dogs, she loves kayaking, skiing, hiking, and gardening. You can follow her on Twitter @juliecardalt; on IG @juliecdalton; on FB @juliecarrickdalton.
Browse my Bookshop.org for more books featured on Musings & Meanderings, what I’m reading in 2023, and some of my favorite books on houses...and more!
Some Recently Published Interviews, Prose, Etc.:
- A conversation with Tanya Frank about her new memoir, ZIG-ZAG BOY: A Memoir of Motherhood & Madness, about her son’s devolve into psychosis at nineteen, how she coped, advocated, and more. It’s a very moving read and interview.
- Gayle Brandeis and I sat down for a conversation about her breath-taking essay collection, DRAWING BREATH: Essays on Writing, the Body, and Grief in Hippocampus Magazine. The book is available now from Overcup Books.
- It was such a dream to connect with Nicole McCarthy on her equally dreamy and sublime A SUMMONING (Heavy Feather Press, 2022) and be featured in CRAFT Literary for their hybrid contest (now over), but you can still read the interview HERE.
- This piece, ANSWERS TO QUERIES, was recently published in the final issue of Scissors & Spackle, part of the ELJ Editions family. Who doesn’t like a family history mystery? Check it out.
- THE HOUSE, a love letter of sorts to my late grandfather and our newlywed home, recently released from Heimat Review, which is all about ‘your reflections and nostalgia, your narratives of familiarity and strangeness, the things that draw you back to where you are – and where you hope to be.’ C’mon in.
- Y’all, I am super-excited about this illustrated review in DIAGRAM, which has sorta been like a dream place of mine to get work published. It’s a beautiful melding of all things that bring me joy: fonts, words, ideas, art, books, and the human body. I mean…the only obsessions missing for me is architecture, travel, nature, and basset hounds. Check it out and the book, YOUR HEARTS, YOUR SCARS: Essays by the late Adina Talve-Goodman (Bellevue Literary Press, Jan 24 2023), which happened to be a Powell’s pick for January.
- Hippocampus Magazine…Juliet Patterson’s SINKHOLE: A Natural History of a Suicide (Milkweed, September 2022).
- Kathryn Gahl in conversation with me about her poetic memoir, THE YELLOW TOOTHBRUSH (Two Shrews Press, September 2022), about her incarcerated daughter, perinatal mood disorder, more in MER, November 28, 2022.
- Sarah Fawn Montgomery’s HALFWAY FROM HOME (Split/Lip Press, Nov 8) in Hippocampus Magazine, about her working-class unconventional childhood in California, moving across the country to pursue writing, home, displacement, and so much more November 13, 2022.
- A conversation-in-review with the EIC of Salon, Erin Keane, about her memoir, RUNAWAY: Notes on the Myths that Made Me (Belt Publishing, September, 2022), in Autofocus Literary, November 12, 2022.
- A conversation with Sheila O’Connor about elegantly exploring the nonlinear, (a total obsession of mine), in her EVIDENCE OF V: A Novel in Fragments, Facts, Fictions (Rose Metal Press, 2019), in Fractured Literary, October 25, 2022
- A review-in-dialogue with Su Cho about her debut book of poetry, THE SYMMETRY OF FISH (Penguin Poets, October 2022) in The Cincinnati Review, November 1 2022.
- Prose in SEPIA Journal Oct/Nov 2022 issue. Interiors is about an Appalachian family, black bottom pie, trains, and ear aches. It was inspired by my own family lore, and also: this journal is STUNNING!
- An interview with Lauren Acampora about the pursuit of art, the suburbs, growth and stagnation, more as related to her highly anticipated novel, THE HUNDRED WATERS, in The Millions
- A review-in-dialogue with Kristine Langley Mahler about her debut, CURING SEASON: Artifacts, in Brevity. We unpack home, displacement, found forms, more.
- An essay about an experience at a workshop/retreat, featuring design/architecture, and how we are all works-in-progress, in The Smart Set.
- Speaking of Apraxia: A Parents’ Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech, 2nd edition (Woodbine House, 2021) through some online retailers, your local library, used bookstores (it’s now officially out-of-print), and the audio edition is downloadable (with additional PDFs, resources) through Penguin Random House.
There’s more to this newsletter. Keep scrolling.
What’s Obsessing Me:
- This interview in The Normal School with Marinaomi about their collage memoir, I THOUGHT YOU LOVED ME, the tedious process of collecting materials from journals, photo albums, letters, more. *It’s not just available, but pre-order if you’re so inclined.
- Visual writing. Graphic narrative. Hybrid work. You know…there’s more than one way to skin a cat.
- The intersection of seeing and knowing.
- This companion website archive from NIH supporting a library exhibit on mental health: care & custody. As a former psych R.N., this is right in my lane.
- Planning my daughter’s 18th?!! Birthday.
- Graduation announcements
- Bernice McFadden wrote on IG about ripping up and deconstructing a manuscript and I TOTALLY relate. You?
- This memoir by Priscilla Gilman, THE CRITIC’S DAUGHTER (W.W. Norton, Feb 7 2023), about growing up the daughter of Yale School of Drama professor and literary critic Richard Gilman and high-profiled literary agent Lynn Nesbit. Although our stories differ, I resonate in many ways on an emotional level.
You are reading Musings & Meanderings, a consistently inconsistent weekly newsletter about the literary life from Leslie Lindsay, and home of an archive of bestselling and debut author interviews. I’m also on twitter and instagram. I try to answer comments as best I can. Feel free to find my book suggestions on bookshop.org, and also check out the authors I’ve hosted in in-depth interviews HERE.
In the meantime, catch me on:
Reviewing books and talking about them with others on-line and in-person is one small way to engage with & support the literary community.
Thank you for letting me guide you on your bookish journey.
Let’s walk this bookish path together.
Some of you have been reading my reviews, interviews, and meanderings for more than a decade now. That’s huge and I am so humbled. Thanks for being here.
More than 2,800 folks read Musings & Meanderings.
Sending spring vibes your way!
Created by Leslie Lindsay. I’m a proud book nerd. Connect with me on Instagram, and Twitter. See what I’m reading on Bookshop.org. Find my reviews on GoodReads. I’m also a Zibby Books Ambassador.
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