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Musings & Meanderings: Max Seeck speaks about ghosts of one’s past; writing as a calling, sharing your traumatic life stories, bending time, SINKHOLE, ‘Clinics of the Past,’ exciting books of 2023

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~

Hello 2023, Friends!

Sometimes it’s daunting to write. If it’s your life story, or something of equal weight and power, it might be really hard. What if there’s trauma? I guarantee there’s trauma. I recently heard this phrase, ‘nested in trauma,’ and I found that so evocative. The idea is that all story–and all life–is somehow bookended and infused with trauma. Also? The degree of trauma is subjective.

Back to writing.

It’s hard to back away from a story you’re compelled to share. I know, I’ve been there. I’m there right now. It’s feels like a calling, but I also wonder: is it stupid? Will anyone else care?

It’s terrifying and joyful and challenging. It’s creative and vulnerable.

What if you hurt someone you care about?

What if you open too many cans of worms?

What if it’s too traumatic to relive the past? You certainly don’t want to invite more pain and heartache, right?

And also? It’s overwhelming.

For me, it’s a calling. I tried setting this manuscript aside. I told others it was dead, done, gone; it was not going to be published. Ever. In any form.

Here’s the thing: I can’t not share this story.

I can’t not stop thinking about it, making connections in my daily life, and I cannot stop being obsessing with houses and homes, families, memory, architecture, art, and mental health. It’s just part of me.

The call to turn and face your story is a universal one. It’s part of how you’re hardwired, your legacy. It doesn’t mean you have to do it all at once, or even alone.

Just do a little each day.

Maybe it’s not even writing, but reading. Sometimes I ‘count’ my ‘touch it daily’ goal as just reading about interiors and homes. Sometimes it might look like culling through old photos or doing a little research into a topic. A Google search counts!

Tell me what you’re doing to propel your writing?

Respond here in a comment, or find me on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook.

xx,

~Leslie : )

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This issue of ‘Musings & Meanderings is full of insights, ideas, and more, including a quick Author Insight from Finish thriller writer, Max Seeck, some of 2023’s biggest books, according to lists put out by Penguin Random House (PRH), my interviews with various authors, including Gayle Brandeis, Juliet Patterson, Kristin Keane, Kathryn Gahl, and also an illustrated review in DIAGRAM.

Check it all out! Let me know what ‘speaks’ to you. I’m glad you’re here.

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.

New! Featured Author|Insights

Max Seeck

THE LAST GRUDGE

Image designed & photographed by L.Lindsay

While her colleagues investigate the brutal murder of a prominent businessman, Jessica Niemi must battle demons from her past in this terrifying new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Witch Hunter.

Leslie Lindsay:

Without responding in complete sentences, what would you say THE LAST GRUDGE is about?

Max Seeck:

Not sure if I understand this question right – do you mean something like summarizing the novel in one or two words? Then it would be maybe… painful memories.

Leslie Lindsay:

Where did you write THE LAST GRUDGE? Do you have any special writing routines or rituals? Do they change with each project, or remain constant over time?

Max Seeck:

I do have an office downtown Helsinki where I do 90% of my writing. I don’t find it convenient to write elsewhere – here I got my own peace and inspiring environment. Also since I have two young kids at home it would be nearly impossible to do anything creative there.

Leslie Lindsay:

If you weren’t writing, you would be…

Max Seeck:

I always wanted to be a professional ice hockey player but I never was any good. I also wanted to become a film maker – a dream that has in fact now come true since my debut feature film (THE KNOCKING) is premiering in cinemas in February 2023.

Leslie Lindsay:

What book did you recently read that you can’t stop thinking about?

Max Seeck:

I just finished reading the Finnish author Maria Turtschaninoff’s SUOMAA, which was an amazing episodic description of people living in Finland during the centuries. A truly magnificent book that is now being translated to several languages

About the author

International and New York Times bestselling author Max Seeck writes novels and screenplays full-time. He lives with his wife and children near Helsinki.

Find him online at www.maxseeck.com/books; Twitter: @maxseeck; Instagram: @maxseeck; and Facebook.com/maxseeck.

You can shop for THE LAST GRUDGE by visiting my Bookshop.org storefront. Browse all the books I’m interested in reading in 2023.

More Reading Recommendations:

  • Curious what PRH is predicting will be BIG literary fiction in 2023? Check out their LIST.
  • More into nonfiction? Biography, Memoir Science? Check out THIS list.
  • Maybe BOOK CLUB fiction is more your speed?
  • P.S. I’ve definitely added a few of these to my lists=! Check back here to see who might appear on Insights | Musings & Meanderings
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Some Recently Published Interviews, Prose, Etc.:

  • 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 happens to be a Powell’s pick for January.
My illustrated review of YOUR HEARTS YOUR SCARS (Bellevue Literary Press, Jan 24 2023) as it appears in DIAGRAM 22.6
  • 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!
Photo by Leslie Lindsay

Coming soon:

  • A photo essay in On the Seawall featuring miniatures, houses, and a family besieged by mental illness.
  • A prose piece in Heimat Review, which is sort of a love letter to my late grandfather, my newlywed days, and an old house.
  • A a hybrid flash non-fiction piece about the mysteries of ancestry in ELJ Editions Scissors & Spackle.
  • A conversation-in-review with Nicole McCarthy on her genre-defying A SUMMONING (Heavy Feather Review, September 2022) to appear in CRAFT Literary in 2023.
  • A conversation-in-review with Jamila Minnicks, on her PEN/Bellwether Prize-winning debut, MOONRISE OVER NEW JESSUP (Algonquin Books, January 10, 2023) to appear in The Rumpus.
  • Tanya Frank’s ZIG-ZAG BOY: A Memoir of Motherhood & Madness (W.W. Norton, Feb 28 2023), a review and conversation to appear in Hippocampus Magazine, spring 2023.
  • A review-in-conversation with Gayle Brandeis, DRAWING BREATH: Essays on the Body, Writing, & Loss (Overcup Press, February 2023)

I’ll be sharing my published interviews here, after they’ve ‘gone live’ with their various publications.

There’s more to this newsletter. Keep scrolling.

Photo by Diahann Addison on Pexels.com

What’s Obsessing Me:

  • Houses and homes, but you know…they always do! I just heard something about Clinics of the Past and I can’t stop thinking about this concept of creating old towns or homes from eras past to help people diagnosed with dementia. Pretty cool, right? [this idea is largely drawn from the imagination and writings of Georgi Gospodinov, as interviewed by David Naimon on the Between the Covers podcast.]
  • You might also like this one, as mentioned in the San Diego Union-Tribune.
  • [Grateful to David Naimon for sharing these with me]
  • Crumbl Cookies...I mean, yum! They really have nailed their buttercream icing.
  • Story as shelter. Time as place. Memory as a palace.
  • A Man Called Otto/Ove. I’m a little obsessed by the way the title shifted a bit from book to movie, and also, my hubby and I recently played hooky one weekday to see the movie…and swooning! Have you seen it yet?
  • Clutter. Clearing it. Why we have it in the first place.

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 canFeel 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.

THANK YOU!!

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.

Browse the Archives | Donate

Wishing you much comfort and joy in the New Year!

Photo by Alissa Nabiullina on Pexels.com

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.

Learn more HERE.

Are you following us on Instagram?

That’s where you’ll catch bookreels, cover reveals, & bookmail : )

I support writing organizations, authors, publishers, and more. Occasionally, you’ll get a peak behind-the-scenes, too.

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Get occasional bookish news delivered to your inbox.

Musings & Meanderings: A Curious month, January. Derek T. Freeman on BUILDING UNSTOPPABLE SELF-CONFIDENCE IN TEENS, purging, writer self-care, hybrid writing contests, workshops, retreats, more

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~

Hello 2023, Friends!

January is a curious month. Is it a coming or a going? New and fresh or letting go of the old? I struggle with this every year. In the Midwest, it’s cold. I don’t feel like opening doors and windows to ‘let in the new year,’ likewise for ‘spring cleaning.’ It’s not really spring, either–anywhere. Maybe we ought to rename it ‘New Year Cleaning?’

This year is off to a rough start. When I put it in perspective, it’s not so bad…but let’s just say it’s not flowing like usual, mostly in a personal sense, but a few professional hiccups, too. I’ll get through it!

Here’s a little secret: raising kind humans is hard work.

Being a kind human is hard work.

We’ve got lots of ‘firsts’ happening–all in one week! Sweet Sixteen, college acceptances (and indecision), first jobs, a trip to the city, and…getting dumped by a longtime boyfriend, a dear person who became part of the family…that’s just the kid-raising stuff…which has left little precious time for creativity and work-related things. Invisible and emotional labor is a real thing!

So what am I doing about it? Two things.

1. I checked myself into an Air B&B where I’ll catch-up on my writing projects and hopefully make progress…I have a list…but I also have intentions of taking a bubble bath, doing yoga, reading, and meditation.

2. For the kids, I have a book that will help immensely. I think you’ll love it, too. As a former child/adolescent psych R.N., this book really ‘spoke’ to me…it’s rooted in research, approachable, relatable, and offers such great tips and ideas. Reading through it helped me remember what it was like to be a teenager myself. It helped relate to what my daughters might be feeling. In fact, one of them is reading it now.

Scroll down a bit for a quick 4 Questions Insights Interview with author Derek T. Freeman.

3. I know I said two things, but here’s an allusive third…we are going to work on this purging thing. Less is more. Clutter is stifling. It’s time not just scrub and reorganize, it’s time to eliminate. We need space. To think. To breathe.

Question:

How do you feel this time of year? How do you settle into January? Any special retreats or rituals? Do you feel like we need a space between the flurry of December and the ‘fresh start’ of January…a time when we can just regroup and recharge and not feel the pressure to make lists and goals and manifestations and lose weight and clean house? To just BE?

Respond here in a comment, or find me on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook.

xx,

~Leslie : )

Photo by Ian Turnell on Pexels.com

This issue of Musings & Meanderings is jam-packed with some really great stuff to get your [writing and reading] year off on the right foot. Coaching, book recommendations, journals to submit to, reading recommendations, author interviews, recently published prose, and a quick 4 questions insights interview with Derek T. Freeman on his self-help book for teens, BUILDING UNSTOPPABLE SELF-CONFIDENCE FOR TEENS

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:

  • Looking ahead in your 2023 writing year, check out these offerings from HEDGEBROOK, which is a dreamy writing retreat and class space in the PNW
  • This poetry workshop intrigues me…it’s probably too late to join, but I am particularly taken with the idea of line breaks, tiny details, more.
  • Really, it’s too late for that one, but if you’re interested in seeing what else Writing Workshops has to level your writing practice, check out their FEBRUARY offerings.
  • Do you write hybrid? CRAFT Literary has a call that might really entice and excite. Judged by Nicole McCarthy—who is lovely and thoughtful, I just interviewed her–it’s open now thru Feb 28. Details HERE. There is a $20 reading fee, but it if they are small pieces, you can include two for that price.

New! Featured Author|Insights

Derek T. Freeman

BUILDING UNSTOPPABLE SELF-CONFIDENCE FOR TEENS

“Building Unstoppable Self-Confidence for Teens is a candid, conversational guide to navigating adolescence that comes from a place of hard-won wisdom and deep compassion. — John B. Valeri, Author, Book Critic & Host of the web series Central Booking

Image designed & Photographed by Leslie Lindsay

Leslie Lindsay:

Without responding in complete sentences, what would you say BUILDING UNSTOPPABLE SELF-CONFIDENCE FOR TEENS is about?

Derek T Freeman:

Empowerment for youth…inspiration. A focus on self-growth BEFORE adulthood! Raising awareness and consciousness.

Leslie Lindsay:

Where did you write BUILDING UNSTOPPABLE SELF-CONFIDENCE FOR TEENS? Do you have any special writing routines or rituals? Do they change with each project, or remain constant over time?

Derek T Freeman:

This is my first book. To be honest, it flowed quickly. I like to create a detailed outline first, then work down from there. I usually start each section with a “brain dump” – I’ll just write and write, letting it flow without looking back (a glass of red wine pairs nicely with this!). Then, I’ll take a break, go back, and revise. I edited the whole book three times – I’m very picky about wording, punctuation, and the use of bold/italics/capitalization. I like the challenge of getting it to read the way it’s intended to be received.

Leslie Lindsay:

If you weren’t writing, you would be…

Derek T Freeman:

Playing with my cats. Video games and hikes with my kids & wife. In the music studio. Reading. Playing pool, darts, cards, or board games. And definitely, always, eating.

Leslie Lindsay:

What book did you recently read that you can’t stop thinking about?

Derek T Freeman:

I liked Deepak Chopra’s new one You Are the Universe. I had to read many sections over to digest it. It’s hard (impossible) to put reality into words, but I think he comes close.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Derek T Freeman is the author of Building Unstoppable Self-Confidence for Teens.

His work aims to inspire tweens, teens, parents, and families by providing motivational content and guiding them through the years that are often seen as the most challenging parts of both parenting and growing up.

As a young teenager, Derek struggled with self-esteem, bullying, and fitting in. As a father, he has attended countless groups and school functions and, along the way, has realized just how common his school experiences are. He is determined to make the turbulent waters of adolescence easier to navigate for other young people.


For more information, to purchase a copy of BUILDINGUNSTOPPABLE SELF-CONFIDENCE FOR TEENS.

You can connect on Instagram HERE. Find Derek T. Freeman on TikTok and Facebook.

Browse my Bookshop.org for more parenting books, what I’m reading in 2023, and some of my favorite books featuring mental health…and more!

Some Recently Published Interviews, Prose, Etc.:

  • 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 happens to be a Powell’s pick for January.
My illustrated review of YOUR HEARTS YOUR SCARS (Bellevue Literary Press, Jan 24 2023) as it appears in DIAGRAM 22.6
  • 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!
Image designed and photographed by L.Lindsay

There’s more to this newsletter. Keep scrolling.

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

What’s Obsessing Me:

  • Jane Friedman recently brought this search engine to my attention and I am obsessed–ddmm is all about stock images for whatever your heart desires. You can filter to show results for creative commons only. I searched up ‘floor plans,’ and was instantly drooling.
  • Along those lines, I have started thinking about a playlist for my WIP. Many writers do this to get in the writing mood/mindset, and while that might work for you, I’m using it as an accompaniment for the book itself, sort of a multi-sensory read. Check out the Natural Language Playlist, which is an AI-generated mixtape concept you can download right to your Spotify account. Pretty slick!

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 canFeel 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.

Photo by L.Lindsay @leslielindsay1

Let’s walk this bookish path together.

THANK YOU!!

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.

Browse the Archives | Donate

Wishing you much comfort and joy in the New Year!

Photo by Alissa Nabiullina on Pexels.com

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.

Learn more HERE.

Are you following us on Instagram?

That’s where you’ll catch bookreels, cover reveals, & bookmail : )

I support writing organizations, authors, publishers, and more. Occasionally, you’ll get a peak behind-the-scenes, too.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is logo-preview.png

Get occasional bookish news delivered to your inbox.

One last thing: I love Between the Covers podcast with David Naimon. Not listening yet? If you’re a serious reader and writer, I don’t think you’ll regret it.

Musings & Meanderings: Lauren Camp on TOOK HOUSE, tips for reading more in 2023, how to read literary journals, stock images, playlists, book recommendations, interviews with authors, more

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~

Hello 2023, Friends!

Many folks ask how I read so much in a year. Trust me, there are others who read far more than I! My goal for the last couple of years has been 80 books a year. That’s roughly a book-and-a-half a week. It would be disingenuous not to say that reading is part of my job; I treat it as such. I have a pretty active lifestyle–and mind!–and so I sometimes struggle to keep up. In fact, this last year, I was scrambling to get all 80 books in before the end-of-the-year, but I did it!

Here are some gentle tips and encouragement, if you need it:

Carry a book with you at all times.

It doesn’t have to be a physical book, but maybe something on your Kindle or phone. You never know when you might be ‘stranded’ somewhere without something to do (or no Internet).

Stop with the scrolling.

Wait…that wasn’t very gentle. But seriously, how much are you really getting out of the constant bombardment of images and clutter? Can you squeeze in a few pages of book instead?

Give yourself social media/phone ‘rewards’ for completing a chapter or some other reading goal.

I do this! I find that once I reach my reading goal, I’m no long itching to check my phone. Sometimes I’ll read something I want to ‘look into’ and so I have a Google moment. That helps.

Limit Television.

I know, I know…there are SO many good shows these days…plus streaming! I get it. We all need a little escape. How about just one show a day? Two hours of viewing a day? Think about all the reading you could accomplish in two hours! Maybe, like social media, use TV as a reward and no a default?

Match your Mood with your Reading.

Who says you ‘have to’ read this book now? What piques your interest now? Read that.

DNF.

That stands for did not finish. It used to be that I read every book I started, front to back, never missing a beat, never sitting aside if it wasn’t jiving for me. I don’t do that anymore. If something just isn’t striking me at that moment, I sit it down and try something else. I always give it another shot. If it’s still not working for me, I might skim it or just stop. No harm, no foul.

Poetry.

I read chapbooks and poetry all the time now. It used to be that I didn’t–gasp!–and what a disservice. Poetry is concise and beautiful and while it might be a ‘short’ read, it’s rich in interiority. I can often visualize more and better with poetry; it helps me round out text with narrative, daydream a little, helps with vocabulary and my own writing. A few books of poetry a year can help boost those reading goals.

Speaking of, I’ve got one I’m highlighting in today’s Insights|Author Interviews.

Keep scrolling!

Audiobooks.

Sometimes busy minds need something to focus on while working on simple, repetitive tasks like walking, putting together a puzzle, waxing the car, mowing the lawn, driving, cleaning, etc.

Exercise.

I have been known to read on the exercise bike. It helps the time fly and it’s a win-win: pages turned, calories burned.

Want to know what I struggle with? Literary journals!

I have several that I really want to read…but…I don’t know…since they aren’t actual books, do they ‘count?’ If I’m reading a journal, I’m not reading a book. Reading takes time, as you know, and sometimes I must prioritize my reading material.

Question:

how and when do you read literary journals? The second they make their way into your life? Do you set aside a day or time for reading them? A few minutes each day? Do you read them cover to cover or pick and choose high-interest pieces?

Respond here in a comment, or find me on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook.

xx,

~Leslie : )

Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels.com

This issue of Musings & Meanderings is jam-packed with some really great stuff to get your [writing and reading] year off on the right foot. Coaching, book recommendations, journals to submit to, reading recommendations, author interviews, recently published prose, and a quick 4 questions insights interview with poet Lauren Camp on her chapbook, TOOK HOUSE (Tupelo Press, 2021).

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:

  • A writer friend of mine brought this retreat/residency to my attention and it looks pretty dreamy. It’s application process is in three-parts throughout the year with the first deadline Jan 15. Don’t worry if you miss that one, there’s two more this year.
Image retrieved from Facebook 1.5.23
  • Nicole McCarthy will be judging CRAFT Literary’s hybrid writing contest now thru March 1. You can check out the submission guidelines HERE. Also! I’ll be interviewing her for CRAFT Literary in February, so stay tuned for that.
  • Check out When Poetry Meets Memoir, a 4-week generative class hosted by Catapult/Anastacia Renee, starting Feb 2, which really speaks to me right now.
  • One Story will be accepting submissions starting today, January 15th, until the cap is reached. Check out their guidelines HERE.

New! Featured Author|Insights

Lauren Camp

TOOK HOUSE

Image designed & photographed by L.Lindsay Connect on IG

“It’s as if Camp is holding a magnifying glass in the light until the page beneath it catches fire.”

— Washington Independent Review of Books

Leslie Lindsay:

Without responding in complete sentences, what would you say TOOK HOUSE is about?

Lauren Camp:

desert predators, contemporary art, and a relationship, danger and attention, versions of home

Leslie Lindsay:

Where did you write TOOK HOUSE? Do you have any special writing routines or rituals? Do they change with each project, or remain constant over time?

Lauren Camp:

I began Took House at my home in Santa Fe, then reshaped the poems at a few residencies. I worked on the poems (and later, the manuscript as a whole) from 2005 until Tupelo Press claimed it. Much of what I began with is no longer included, or has shifted dramatically from its early form. Start to publication, this was a 15-year process.

I don’t have routines or rituals. I claim whatever bits of time appear, and I focus well. I love revision for its surprises. Not much is sacred with me in the process. I will shift poems until something clicks. Very often, this means I am choosing to settle in to a long process—because what I am really waiting for is a new me to approach the work. I am seeking some other vision, connection or understanding than what I originally thought was important to say.

Leslie Lindsay:

If you weren’t writing, you would be…

Lauren Camp:

hiking, stargazing or admiring my cactus garden

Leslie Lindsay:

What book did you recently read that you can’t stop thinking about?

Lauren Camp:

I would like to name two here:

Olivia Laing’s The Lonely City

and George Saunders’ A Swim in a Pond in the Rain

For more information, to purchase a copy of TOOK HOUSE, or to connect with the author via social media, please visit her website.

Browse my Bookshop.org for more poetry, what I’m reading in 2023, and some of my favorite books featuring houses & homes…and more!

Some Recently Published Interviews, Prose, Etc.:

  • 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 happens to be a Powell’s pick for January.
My illustrated review of YOUR HEARTS YOUR SCARS (Bellevue Literary Press, Jan 24 2023) as it appears in DIAGRAM 22.6
  • 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!
Image retrived from SEPIA website

There’s more to this newsletter. Keep scrolling.

Photo by Trang Pham on Pexels.com

What’s Obsessing Me:

  • Jane Friedman recently brought this search engine to my attention and I am obsessed–ddmm is all about stock images for whatever your heart desires. You can filter to show results for creative commons only. I searched up ‘floor plans,’ and was instantly drooling.
  • Along those lines, I have started thinking about a playlist for my WIP. Many writers do this to get in the writing mood/mindset, and while that might work for you, I’m using it as an accompaniment for the book itself, sort of a multi-sensory read. Check out the Natural Language Playlist, which is an AI-generated mixtape concept you can download right to your Spotify account. Pretty slick!

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 canFeel 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.

THANK YOU!!

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.

Browse the Archives | Donate

Wishing you much comfort and joy in the New Year!

Photo by Alissa Nabiullina on Pexels.com

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.

Learn more HERE.

Are you following us on Instagram?

That’s where you’ll catch bookreels, cover reveals, & bookmail : )

I support writing organizations, authors, publishers, and more. Occasionally, you’ll get a peak behind-the-scenes, too.

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Get occasional bookish news delivered to your inbox.

One last thing: I love Between the Covers podcast with David Naimon. Not listening yet? If you’re a serious reader and writer, I don’t think you’ll regret it.

Musings & Meanderings: A shout-out in P&W, houses of artists, where to submit, upcoming workshops, retreats, reading recommendations, manuscript consulting, more

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~

Hello 2023, Friends!

I’m writing this from a snowy-ish Chicago and reflecting on the year that just passed while gearing up for 2023. It’s a slower pace, and I welcome that.

My plan is to clear up the flurry that became my December office as we were preparing for an International trip, the holidays (my birthday is tossed in there, too…my daughter’s is next week…the celebrations just don’t stop!), and all of that year-end stuff. I find liberating to let the past year settle, yet there’s a collusion of seasons that make for a mess.

I’m in that collusion stage.

Surrounding me–on my desk–at least fourteen books, one literary journal, and some poetry chapbooks. I have notes from a book I am reading (whichis in the other room, next to my reading chair), on my desk with the intention to look up things I read about–you know, dig deep to find those primary sources.

That book I’m reading is all about artist’s and their homes…it wasn’t until more recently (say in the last 200-300 years), that we humans created rooms for various tasks. It used to be that the home was one big space for eating, sleeping, creating/working, and…lounging. I find that pretty fascinating. So it’s interesting (and a luxury) that I have a reading room and a writing room, a lying on the couch room, an eating room…

Have you thought about those things before? How the home is sort of a container for the stuff of life?

Respond here in a comment, or find me on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook.

xx,

~Leslie : )

By the way–super-duper-over-the-moon pumped about this mention in the Jan/Feb 2023 print issue of Poets & Writers in their ‘Reactions’ section. I was working out at my gym reading back issues of the magazine, ripping out sections I needed to do something about (order, read, submit)–when I got off the exercise bike, it all looked pretty artistic. I snapped a photo, shared on IG and boom–blown over when I saw it in the front pages of the new issue! No idea this would happen. Pleasantly surprised. So thanks, Poets & Writers! You know how to make a writer’s day.

This issue of Musings & Meanderings is jam-packed with some really great stuff to get your [writing and reading] year off on the right foot. Artifacts, yoga, coaching, book recommendations, journals to submit to, reading recommendations, author interviews, recently published prose, stuff that’s coming up…so check it out.

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:

  • If you act quick, you can get your work submitted to Ploughshares before their Jan 15 deadline. There is a $3 submission fee.
  • The Cincinnati Review is closed for print submissions thru May 1, but they are always open for their miCRo series, which yes–I love the stylization of, but also the form. Check out what they are looking for HERE.
  • ONE ART: Poetry is open on rolling submissions for poetry. Check out their submission guidelines HERE. Subs are free.
Image retrieved from Facebook 1.5.23
  • Writing Workshops is offering a class on Yoga + Writing. It’s a 6-week generative Zoom workshop with supplemental readings starting Feb. 20th.
  • I’ll be attending Kristine Langley Mahler’s class on artifacts and writing: Artifacts into Art, taught via Zoom through the Lafayette Writer’s Studio. What do we keep and how does it inform our work? See my interview with Kristine Langley Mahler, which recently appeared in Brevity featuring her recently-released CURING SEASON: Artifacts (West Virginia Press, 2022).
  • This writing retreat in Iceland has definitely piqued my interest…
  • Zibby Owens, book influencer extraordinaire, is now offering an array of classes for writers…whether you’re just starting out or looking to get super-serious…published…whatever that means for you. Prices start at just $29.

Some Readerly Things:

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com
  • I’m currently reading HORSE: A Novel (Viking, June 2022) by Geraldine Brooks and I love it! It’s a lovely mash-up of literary fiction meets history meets art + science. I’ve never been much of a horse and pony girl, but this book has a little something for everyone. It reminds me a teeny bit of Seabiscuit, but different. HORSE is fiction but based on a true story. I think you’ll love it.
  • This book has captivated my interest, too. It’s not a sit-and-read-at-length-for-pleasure-book, but one I like to digest in little snippets. It’s all about houses of artists, not so much their studio, per se, but sometimes that’s there, too. This one is so well done, with lots of great information and photos! Homework for my WIP!
  • Speaking of that WIP, I devoured Cormac McCarthy’s new book, STELLA MARIS, which came out at the tail-end of November. Apparently, he turned in the manuscript to this one 8 years ago! His editors really kept quiet about it. How is it related to my WIP? It’s basically a transcript between a psychiatric patient and her psychiatrist. Fascinating!

Some Recently Published Interviews, Prose, Etc.:

  • 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 happens to be a Powell’s pick for January.
My illustrated review of YOUR HEARTS YOUR SCARS (Bellevue Literary Press, Jan 24 2023) as it appears in DIAGRAM 22.6
  • 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!
Image retrived from SEPIA website

Coming soon:

  • A photo essay in On the Seawall featuring miniatures, houses, and a family besieged by mental illness.
  • A prose piece in Heimat Review, which is sort of a love letter to my late grandfather, my newlywed days, and an old house.
  • A a hybrid flash non-fiction piece about the mysteries of ancestry in ELJ Editions Scissors & Spackle.
  • A conversation-in-review with Nicole McCarthy on her genre-defying A SUMMONING (Heavy Feather Review, September 2022) to appear in CRAFT Literary in 2023.
  • A conversation-in-review with Jamila Minnicks, on her PEN/Bellwether Prize-winning debut, MOONRISE OVER NEW JESSUP (Algonquin Books, January 10, 2023) to appear in The Rumpus.
  • Tanya Frank’s ZIG-ZAG BOY: A Memoir of Motherhood & Madness (W.W. Norton, Feb 28 2023), a review and conversation to appear in Hippocampus Magazine, spring 2023.
  • A review-in-conversation with Gayle Brandeis, DRAWING BREATH: Essays on the Body, Writing, & Loss (Overcup Press, February 2023)

I’ll be sharing my published interviews here, after they’ve ‘gone live’ with their various publications.

There’s more to this newsletter. Keep scrolling.

Photo by Diahann Addison on Pexels.com

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 canFeel 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.

THANK YOU!!

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.

Browse the Archives | Donate

Wishing you much comfort and joy in the New Year!

Photo by Alissa Nabiullina on Pexels.com

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.

Learn more HERE.

Are you following us on Instagram?

That’s where you’ll catch bookreels, cover reveals, & bookmail : )

I support writing organizations, authors, publishers, and more. Occasionally, you’ll get a peak behind-the-scenes, too.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is logo-preview.png

Get occasional bookish news delivered to your inbox.

Musings & Meanderings

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~

Hello, Friends!

I am getting excited for the winter solstice, this gentle turning-in, these cozy darker days. What is it about the darkness that conjures creativity? Maybe it’s the way it encourages a hibernation, a slower pace, a time to go fallow? For me it’s a bit like crawling into the cave of creativity, having nothing else vying for my attention–at least outside–no garden to water or plants that require nurturing. Reading, contemplating, playing on the page, listening, looking out the window, observing patterns.

Just this past weekend, I took a workshop with Esme Weijun Wang, most recently the author of The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays (Graywolf Press, 2019), and it was so warm, generous, validating, with really great tips for setting intentions and looking back on the last year.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Here are just a few things that we discussed, which I wanted to pass along to you:

What song would you say embodied 2022 for you? It doesn’t have to be a song that was released this year.

What three words shaped your year?

Can you draw a doodle of the year?

Those could be just anything, for anyone, ‘creative person,’* or not.

*we’re all creative!

We also talked about our limitations.

These could be ‘Big L’ limitations like differently-abled, loss of employment, physical health issues/illness, mental health issues/hospitalizations, financial hardship, natural disasters, etc. or smaller things, like time, children, pets, caregiving. All of these things can affect our creativity, right?

For me, I said it was time. My life is pretty jam-packed and I like it that way…to an extent! But, if I don’t carefully plan and map out my time, there’s no opportunity to indulge in a key aspect of myself: creativity.

Here’s another question:

How can you use your limitation in your art?

My brilliant suggestion: since my time is already fragmented, why not compose my manuscript in fragments?!

Why not turn your limitation into art?

Let me know what you’re doing!

Do you have a word or phrase for the year that just passed? How about one(s) for the year ahead? How might you capitalize on your limitations to take your art/creativity to the next level?

Respond here in a comment, or find me on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook.

xx,

~Leslie : )

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 it helps me and maybe it’ll speak to you, too.

I’ll keep my obsessions short because this time of year…our bandwidths are, too.

What’s Obsessing Me:

  • This super-inspiring and ooh lala place Artemesia, their tagline: “collage with nature.” They are all about terrariums (who couldn’t use a little green this time of year?), rocks, making your own perfume, and more.
Image retrieved 12/10/22 from Artemesia.com

Some Writerly Things:

  • Relatedly, she offers a lovely rabbit-hole of flash-style books you may fall in love with. See “Readerly Things” for her ever-evolving list.

Psst! I ordered a few myself!

  • Corporeal Writing has some inspiring winter offerings–both in-person and virtual–to level up your writing.
  • If you just need to some prompts/portals for your work (and maybe not a class), check out these new Corporeal Writing Portals. A deck of 54 full-color cards which might help you dive deeper into the story under the story. From the website description:

“More than just writing prompts, these portals are collected together with the intention of helping you cultivate a deeper relationship to language, your environment, and yourself.”

Psst! I got myself a deck.

Image source: Corporeal Writing

Some Readerly Things:

This list of flash was originally compiled by Nancy Stohlman. I really did just copy-and-paste from her lovely descriptions because 1) I probably couldn’t do any better 2) it saves time 3) why reinvent the wheel?

Tommy Dean: Hollows
In Hollows, Tommy Dean reveals the crawlspaces and attics of American families, the places we dread and the places we yearn for—moments we didn’t know we needed until they were already lost. These fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, brothers, wives, and best friends crack and bend under the pressure of conventional love, running away and toward one another, longing for a space to call home, often giving in to the hollow securities of their lives.

Renuka Raghavan: Nothing Respendent Lives Here The struggle is real. These 33 tales of flash and micro fiction are rife with the intensity of desolation and heartache. We are introduced to a motley array of characters clinging to hope as internal and external forces put a strain on their lives. Do they find the light, or do they succumb to the darkness? Through brevity and clarity of prose Raghavan’s stories carry weight and deliver punches. Just when you think you know where the story is going, the narrative takes an unexpected turn. 

Chelsea Stickle: Breaking Points
In thirteen slick, innovative, and gut-wrenching flashes, the young women and girls in Breaking Points, the debut chapbook from Chelsea Stickle, hit the walls around them—walls constructed by family, friends, significant others, and insidious cultural perils. 

Photo by Samson Katt on Pexels.com

Annie Bien: Messages from Under a Pillow
Messages from a mother to her child, notes sent from beyond to here, the appearance of drawings on a page, words that conjure up history, another place, kept alive by words, which are both a type of silence and conjurers of images. Annie Bien’s tender and layered Messages from Under a Pillow is a collection of seven prose poems or flash fictions, intentions or explanations for drawings the recipient should look out for.

Jude Higgins The Chemist’s House
A collection that pokes softly at the spaces between people: sister, brother, father, mother, neighbour, friend. Higgins’ stories reveal moments where small truths, and lies, dwell. Understated and quiet, these small fictions paint lives gently, but oh so colourfully. / In interconnected, finely wrought flash fiction stories, Jude Higgins creates a coming-of-age tapestry — of family love and conflict; and of a girl’s passage into womanhood. Higgins’ flash pieces blend into one masterly and moving whole: poignant, loving, and profound in emotional impact.

Meg Tuite White Van
The fifty pieces in this book make up a collection of prose, poetry, and hybrid pieces that unflinchingly examine the worst we humans have to offer. You’ll meet serial killers, pedophiles, and child pornographers and the women they seek to victimize as we struggle to make sense of our brutal species. With a beautifully foreboding cover by Adam Robinson, this book will take you all the places you’re most afraid to go.

Michael Loveday: Do What the Boss Says: Stories of Family and Childhood
A daughter nervously visits her father who has now become a stranger; a young Irish girl substitutes a cardboard cut-out for her presence within her own family; a naive schoolboy is tricked by a more streetwise passer-by; a child tries to impress her village by breaking the world record for stepping in and out of a doorway. This chapbook offers you a kaleidoscopic view of the pressures, conflicts and joys of childhood and family life: from surreal fables to memoir, to idiosyncratic realism, to ghost stories about weird encounters.

Michael Loveday: Unlocking the Novella-in-Flash 
Unlocking the Novella-in-Flash: from Blank Page to Finished Manuscript is the first ever full roadmap for creating your own novella composed of flash fictions, or very short stories. Whether you’ve written a novella-in-flash before, or are a beginner newly experimenting, this flexible, step-by-step craft guide will support you to produce a high-quality manuscript of linked narratives

Some Recently Published Interviews, Prose, Etc.:

  • 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 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
  • 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.

Coming soon:

  • A book review of YOUR HEARTS, YOUR SCARS (Bellevue Literary Press, January 2023) by Adina Talve-Goodman in DIAGRAM
  • A photo essay in On the Seawall featuring miniatures, houses, and a family besieged by mental illness.
  • A a hybrid flash non-fiction piece about the mysteries of ancestry in ELJ Editions Scissors & Spackle.
  • A conversation-in-review with Nicole McCarthy on her genre-defying A SUMMONING (Heavy Feather Review, September 2022) to appear in CRAFT Literary in 2023.
  • A conversation-in-review with Jamila Minnicks, on her PEN/Bellwether Prize-winning debut, MOONRISE OVER NEW JESSUP (Algonquin Books, January 10, 2023) to appear in The Rumpus.

I’ll be sharing my published interviews here, after they’ve ‘gone live’ with their various publications.

There’s more to this newsletter. Keep scrolling.

Photo by lil artsy on Pexels.com

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 canFeel 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.

THANK YOU!!

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.

Browse the Archives | Donate

Wishing you much comfort and joy in the New Year!

Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

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.

Learn more HERE.

Are you following us on Instagram?

That’s where you’ll catch bookreels, cover reveals, & bookmail : )

I support writing organizations, authors, publishers, and more. Occasionally, you’ll get a peak behind-the-scenes, too.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is logo-preview.png

Get occasional bookish news delivered to your inbox.

Musings & Meanderings: What writers need, where to submit, an archive of author interviews, book lists to tempt, building teen confidence, more

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~

Hello, Friends!

I recently had dinner with my extended family. They don’t really ‘get’ the writing life. Maybe they think writers are all heads-in-the-clouds dreamy type people, or maybe they just don’t understand it, respect it/value it, but it got me thinking about what we–readers and writers–need, as a way to sustain our art. Let this be a wish list for you…now and in the New Year.

We all need support.

This doesn’t have to be financial, but that’s good, too! What I’m getting at is someone who says, “yep–I support this.”

We all need time to think, because half (more?) of all writing is thinking.

So clear the clutter in your mind. Meditate. Walk. Exercise. Journal. It’s never ‘wasted time.’

We all need the time to write.

This could be a few minutes a day, a weekend, or however you determine it. Carving out a time and space for our work is important.

We all need feedback, even if it’s just from one other person.

Sometimes that person may just be your partner, but that’s okay. Some feedback is better than none. You can always step it up a notch and join a critique group, work with a writing/accountability partner, submit to journals, agents, etc.

We all need to read.

I cannot emphasize this enough! Read widely. Read often. Read stuff slightly out of your comfort zone. Read stuff at a higher caliber than you write. It will catapult you to the next level. Read like your life depends upon it. It does.

We all need to feel valuable or recognized.

Yep. Writing can be a slog. There’s plenty of rejection and naysayers. It’s subjective, too. When we don’t feel valued or recognized, it can feel like screaming into a void. Surround yourself with supportive and accepting individuals who value you and your writing/art making.

We all need to feel safe.

This sort of goes back to the point above about feeling valued and recognized. No one can create art, take risks, or even be themselves if safety is compromised.

We all need a vacation.

So, so true! It’s hard as a creative to fully unplug because you are connected to your brain all the time. You can’t just turn off the creativity like a switch, even on vacation. Still yet, I will often get emails from editors and publicists and authors while I’m away. They don’t know I’m on vacation. So, here’s what you do: you set an out-of-office response on your emails. You stop checking. You can still do what you want while away–maybe it means journaling, reading, snapping photos, collecting ideas/stories.

How about you? What kinds of things do you feel you need to pursue your art? Is is different than what’s above?

Respond here in a comment, or find me on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook.

xx,

~Leslie : )

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 it helps me and maybe it’ll speak to you, too.

I’ll keep my obsessions short because this time of year…our bandwidths are, too.

What’s Obsessing Me:

  • Retreats! There’s a fabulous yoga retreat I am interested in attending this fall in Montana and also Ragdale has several throughout 2023 and I’m drooling over this historic home in Lake Forest, IL. And yes…all of that.
  • Lake Geneva, WI Ice Castles! I mean, how cool would that be?!

Some Writerly Things:

  • Writing Workshops has some great offerings coming up in the New Year you want want to check out. Add it to your holiday wish list!
  • Off Campus Writing Workshops (OCWW) is new-ish to me at the suggestion of several writerly friends. OCWW offers in-person or virtual–depending on where you are/comfort level–to level up your craft. Check ’em out!
  • Archetype is interested in seeing your essays, poetry, fiction, interviews, reviews, impassioned musings, photography, and art by both emerging and established writers and artists now thru Jan 7 2023.
  • If you have some poetry, CNF, Fiction, or photography (bonus if it includes blues, greens, and teals–totally my jam!), Solstice Literary Magazine is seeking submissions for Spring 2023.
  • The Ninth Letter is looking for CNF and poetry for their next print issue. Subs are open thru Feb 28, but FREE until December 31.
  • Arvon 5-day Hybrid Writing Challenge Sign up to join the free Arvon 5-day Hybrid Writing Challenge.Each day, between Monday 16 January to Friday 20 January we will email you a writing prompt with supporting materials, guided by Tania Hershman. By the end of the week you will have a draft of a brand-new hybrid writing piece, all ready to be polished and prodded as you see fit. Tania’s 5-day Challenge will inspire you to get curious about your writing, and give you the freedom to write whatever you want to write in the way you want to write it, without worrying about labels.

Some Readerly Things:

  • Books make great gifts! Check out this list from LitHub ‘s staff featuring their favorite books of 2022. Consider ordering from or visiting your local bookstore and give everyone on your list a book this year. Inscribe it. It’s better than a card. Beats even a gift card. No local store nearby? Try Bookshop.org. My shop is Always with a Book.
  • More of a non-fiction reader? Check out this list from Bookmarks on the best reviewed nonfiction of the year.
  • I’m in the midst of reading Lauren Camp’s award-winning poetry collection, TOOK HOUSE (Tupelo Press, 2020) which is about so many things, and sort of hard to describe, but the cover is a pretty good indication that it’s about space and what dwells there, along with nature. Here’s a gorgeous description from the back of the book,

“TOOK HOUSE navigates a landscape of bone and ash, wine and circumstance.”

  • Can’t make book club this month? One person I know, who’s book club I am not in, says they don’t read a book for December. Instead, they go out to dinner and chat about books for the upcoming year. What a great idea!
  • Being a teenager is tough! We were all one once before…maybe we’re raising teens now…this book might be just the ticket and makes a great gift this season. Check out Derek T. Freeman’s BUIDLING UNSTOPPABLE SELF-CONFIDENCE FOR TEENS.

Some Recently Published Interviews, Prose, Etc.:

  • 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 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
  • 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.

Coming soon:

  • A book review of YOUR HEARTS, YOUR SCARS (Bellevue Literary Press, January 2023) by Adina Talve-Goodman in DIAGRAM
  • A photo essay in On the Seawall featuring miniatures, houses, and a family besieged by mental illness.
  • A a hybrid flash non-fiction piece about the mysteries of ancestry in ELJ Editions Scissors & Spackle.
  • Other interviews forthcoming in HippocampusMagazine…Juliet Patterson’s SINKHOLE: A Natural History of a Suicide (Milkweed, September 2022).
  • A conversation-in-review with Nicole McCarthy on her genre-defying A SUMMONING (Heavy Feather Review, September 2022) to appear in CRAFT Literary in 2023.

I’ll be sharing my published interviews here, after they’ve ‘gone live’ with their various publications.

There’s more to this newsletter. Keep scrolling.

Photo by Loow Invernissi on Pexels.com

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 canFeel 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.

THANK YOU!!

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.

Browse the Archives | Donate

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.

Learn more HERE.

Are you following us on Instagram?

That’s where you’ll catch bookreels, cover reveals, & bookmail : )

I support writing organizations, authors, publishers, and more. Occasionally, you’ll get a peak behind-the-scenes, too.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is logo-preview.png

Get occasional bookish news delivered to your inbox.

Musings & Meanderings: Taking risk with your art, going hybrid, planning your 2023 writing year, classes and workshops, where to submit, author interviews, reading recommendations

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~

Hello, Friends!

I shall now tell you an embarrassing story about myself.

You may know this, but I am a Type A Personality. I am also very stubborn. I usually have my reasons. [If that doesn’t sound stubborn!].

Listening to others is important because I like to consider lots of alternatives, because, also: I am an overthinker.

Most of the time I ignore these thoughtful folks and do what I want anyway. I am a grown woman and responsible for my own life, right? Often I lead with my gut–my heart–my intuition, and it turns out swimmingly. Sometimes not. I’m totally okay with that, I would regret not trying or doing or saying something.

You might be wondering what the thing was that I did…and while it doesn’t really matter, it made me pause.

Did I do something wrong? No.

This person and I are just different. We have different expectations, different modes of being, different experiences. I could dwell on the negative things, because that’s what humans do. But really, there are positives here. I know who I am. I operate out of heart and compassion.

We have about three-and-a-half weeks of the year. That’s plenty of time to take risks with yourself and your art.

If you’re not ready to take a risk, who the eff cares? You do! Why not gear up for the risk?

I have this idea to write about something in an unconventional way. It will involve narrative of course, but some experimental stuff, too. Vignettes. Maybe some visual elements–photographs, collages, floorplans–and I love this idea. I tell others and they just kind of look at me as if I have six heads.

But then I discover books like this and think–aha!–they did it! I can, too.

I made a binder for this project (did I mention Type A?). I hate outlines, so I created a ‘guide.’ Just that word alone makes me feel like I am not in HS Honors English all over again! I secured a writing partner.

She said she loved it. She said, “I LOOOVE what you’re doing here…you could tone it down to make it less weird and more commercial, but I don’t think you should. The readers who need it will find it.”

I’m going to keep that in mind.

When she mentioned that the experimental stuff was good, but a little distracting, I’m going to listen to that. Maybe less of it. Maybe it’s about placement within the narrative.

I really want to some fun stuff, some risky stuff. Where I spend my time approaching the book from different angles that have more to do with aesthetics rather than nuts and bolts.

So here’s what I’m doing:

Reading lots of poetry every day.

For one, I gotta attain my reading goal for the year (Type A!). Two: It helps with writing concisely. It helps with really cool words.

Sometimes just researching.

That means digging into the internet to look at images of my childhood home, going to Ebay and finding this Colorforms set I loved as a kid featuring the cross-section of a house. Maybe it means coming up with a playlist for certain sections of my book.

Visiting with a childhood friend.

I spent time with a friend whom I have not seen or spoken to in at least twenty-five years this past fall. Oh the memories! We picked up right where we left off and it was crazy-fun how much we remembered from some of our really young years. I mean, like, when we were five!

Discovering art & literature from the time period I am writing.

I just read (well, haven’t finished) Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing and it was published in the 1990s. That’s approximately when I am setting this story. I also came across other work–art installations, sculpture, movies, that were popular then, too. It helps.

How about you? What kinds of things are you doing to take your work to the next level? Are you taking some creative risks?

Respond here in a comment, or find me on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook.

xx,

~Leslie : )

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 it helps me and maybe it’ll speak to you, too.

I’ll keep my obsessions short because this time of year…our bandwidths are, too.

What’s Obsessing Me:

  • Lights. I don’t know…I’m noticing them everywhere. In bathrooms, lampposts, in tiny houses (like figurines), fairy lights, in trees…maybe it’s because the winter solstice is fast-approaching, maybe because I just like twinkly little things.
  • Books that use unconventional narrative, flash, that kind of thing.
  • Collage and art. How fragments make up a whole.
  • Speculative non-fiction…and is that like creative non-fiction? Is that splitting hairs?
  • Ragdale. Pretty sure I’m going to attend a retreat there and I really cannot wait.
Photo by Izabella Bedu0151 on Pexels.com

Some Writerly Things:

  • Writing Workshops has some great offerings coming up in the New Year you want want to check out. Add it to your holiday wish list!
  • If you have some poetry, CNF, Fiction, or photography (bonus if it includes blues, greens, and teals–totally my jam!), Solstice Literary Magazine is seeking submissions for Spring 2023.
  • The Ninth Letter is looking for CNF and poetry for their next print issue. Subs are open thru Feb 28, but FREE until December 31.
  • And if you’re writing stuff that’s kind of on-the-edge, or maybe a hybrid thing, you might want to check out the U.K.-based Fieldnotes.

Some Readerly Things:

  • Books make great gifts! Check out this list from LitHub ‘s staff featuring their favorite books of 2022. Consider ordering from or visiting your local bookstore and give everyone on your list a book this year. Inscribe it. It’s better than a card. Beats even a gift card. No local store nearby? Try Bookshop.org. My shop is Always with a Book.
  • And this one, too: ZIG-ZAG BOY (W.W. Norton, Feb 2023) by Tanya Frank, who’s youngest son develops psychosis while away his Freshman year of college.
  • Can’t make book club this month? One person I know, who’s book club I am not in, says they don’t read a book for December. Instead, they go out to dinner and chat about books for the upcoming year. What a great idea!

Some Recently Published Interviews, Prose, Etc.:

  • 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 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
  • 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.

Coming soon:

  • A book review of YOUR HEARTS, YOUR SCARS (Bellevue Literary Press, January 2023) by Adina Talve-Goodman in DIAGRAM
  • A photo essay in On the Seawall featuring miniatures, houses, and a family besieged by mental illness.
  • A a hybrid flash non-fiction piece about the mysteries of ancestry in ELJ Editions Scissors & Spackle.
  • Other interviews forthcoming in HippocampusMagazine…Juliet Patterson’s SINKHOLE: A Natural History of a Suicide (Milkweed, September 2022).
  • A conversation-in-review with Nicole McCarthy on her genre-defying A SUMMONING (Heavy Feather Review, September 2022) to appear in CRAFT Literary in 2023.

I’ll be sharing my published interviews here, after they’ve ‘gone live’ with their various publications.

There’s more to this newsletter. Keep scrolling.

Photo by Loow Invernissi on Pexels.com

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 canFeel 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.

THANK YOU!!

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.

Browse the Archives | Donate

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.

Learn more HERE.

Are you following us on Instagram?

That’s where you’ll catch bookreels, cover reveals, & bookmail : )

I support writing organizations, authors, publishers, and more. Occasionally, you’ll get a peak behind-the-scenes, too.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is logo-preview.png

Get occasional bookish news delivered to your inbox.

Musings & Meanderings: Is time linear? Does it fold over itself? What about time-travel? For real? In a book? Susen Edwards talks about that, plus her debut, WHAT A TRIP, plus the frenzy to the finish line of 2022, planning for the new year, more

A curated newsletter on the literary life, featuring ‘4 questions,’ reading & listening recommendations, where to submit, more

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is leslie-lindsayalways-with-a-book-27-1.png

Leslie Lindsay|Always with a Book

~MUSINGS & MEANDERINGS~

Hello, Friends!

I don’t know about you, but I feel I have upped my normal frenzy to my fancy holiday, year-end frenzy. It can be a little overwhelming between work, kids, end-of-semester, prepping for the holidays, and more.

I like busy. I might thrive best when I have a few spinning plates. Sometimes, though, those plates get a little full. And they all seem to be made of my grandmother’s fine china, delicate and fragile, should I drop one.

Is it always crunch time? How do you manage? Is there a way to balance or pre-plan? Hey…I’ve got some tips for that in my obsessions section–and a workshop you may want to attend with Esme Weijun Wang. I just signed up! There’s another one I have my eye on, too (DailyOM has some really great offerings). Be sure you scroll to those offerings below.

In the spirit of thinking about the past, and the New Year ahead, what are some of your goals and aspirations? It doesn’t have to be BIG, life-shattering stuff, like in today’s insights with Susen Edwards’ novel, WHAT A TRIP (SWP, November 2022), but maybe smaller pebbles in the watery change of your daily life.

Tell me what you think–I’d love to hear!

Respond here in a comment, or find me on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook.

xx,

~Leslie : )

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 it helps me and maybe it’ll speak to you, too.

I’ll keep my obsessions short because this time of year…our bandwidths are, too.

What’s Obsessing Me:

  • Clutter. And not just physical clutter (though there’s plenty of that, too). I’m talking about the creative clutter, the swirling ideas. In that spirit, I came across this offering from The DailyOm, which I really think I’m going to take advantage of. By the sounds of it, you get a new idea to consider each day about being a little more mindful, clearing your life from the things that are holding you back. There’s a sliding scale fee for this, so pay what you feel comfortable. Starting at $19 for the series.

“Do you love stationery and geeking out over spreadsheets?”

…[frantically nods head and grins]…

Come figure out your 2023 goals with me. I’ve saved you a seat—and you’ll get to spend time with a bunch of other people who doing the same thing that you are. You’ll also get a gorgeous workbook, and if you aren’t able to make the live workshop, there will be a downloadable recording of the main event for you to peruse at your leisure.” The workshop will be at 11 AM PT, December 17, 2022. Learn more, and sign up, RIGHT HERE.


New! 4 Questions mini-interview

Insights|Susen Edwards

WHAT A TRIP: A Novel

Photo credit: L.Lindsay @leslielindsay1

“A coming-of-age slice-of-life in which a young woman finds herself in the turbulent 1960s. . . . Their talk and fears and conflicts. . . are highly specific and yet in many ways also timeless, ​the hearts and minds of young people convincingly rendered, feeling towards their own truths and tragedies as their nation verges on a crackup.”


–Publisher’s Weekly Booklife, October 10 2022

Leslie Lindsay:

Without responding in complete sentences, what would you say WHAT A TRIP is about?

Susen Edwards:

Coming of age. Female friendship. First love. The political and social upheaval of the Vietnam War era.

Leslie Lindsay:

Where did you write WHAT A TRIP? Do you have any special writing routines or rituals? Do they change with each project, or remain constant over time?

Susen Edwards:  

My home office is a former second floor “sleeping porch” (a partially enclosed room used to “cure” tuberculosis patients in the late 1800s and early 1900s). I sit in front of a bank of six windows overlooking an ancient oak tree. The cathedral ceiling and teal walls provide an expansiveness that brings the outdoors inside. I love the solitude and tranquility of the space.

My writing routine remains constant. I start my day with a cardio workout to get my blood flowing followed by a yoga session to calm my overactive mind. After a shower, I make a cup of green tea and something yummy to eat and begin writing.

Leslie Lindsay:

If you weren’t writing, you would be…

Susen Edwards:

A dancer, a singer, or a painter. Considering I have two left feet, no sense of rhythm, and can’t carry a tune, a musical career will remain a fantasy. I have a good eye for color but no artistic training, so my painting is limited to changing the colors of the rooms in my home.

Leslie Lindsay:

What book did you recently read that you can’t stop thinking about?

Susen Edwards:

As I was leaving my local library last week, I found a small black and brown softcover book in the used book rack: Alan Lightman, Einstein’s Dreams. Lightman explores Einstein’s life as a patent clerk in Berne, Switzerland as he is completing his theory of relativity.

Einstein meditates on time and its complexities. Is time linear? Does it fold in upon itself? Does it exist at all? The novel is playful, creative, and explores some of the deepest questions of the universe and humanity.

I am fascinated with the mysteries of time and time travel, and completed the book in no time. I am going back to page one and plan to read it again. Who says you can’t go back in time?

You can connect with Susen via her website. For more information, or to purchase a copy of WHAT A TRIP, please visit today’s Bookshop

Browse all of my 2022 recommendations at Bookshop.org|Always with a Book

Photo by Teona Swift on Pexels.com
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is turnpage-home-banner2-white.jpg

Recently-published Stuff You Might Have Missed:

  • Kathryn Gahl in conversation 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.
  • 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.
Photo by moldy vintages on Pexels.com

Coming soon:

  • A book review of YOUR HEARTS, YOUR SCARS (Bellevue Literary Press, January 2023) by Adina Talve-Goodman in DIAGRAM.
  • A photo essay in On the Seawall featuring miniatures, houses, and a family besieged by mental illness.
  • A a hybrid flash non-fiction piece about the mysteries of ancestry in ELJ Editions Scissors & Spackle.
  • Other interviews forthcoming in HippocampusMagazine…Juliet Patterson’s SINKHOLE: A Natural History of a Suicide (Milkweed, September 2022).
  • A conversation-in-review with Nicole McCarthy on her genre-defying A SUMMONING (Heavy Feather Review, September 2022) to appear in CRAFT Literary in 2023.
  • A conversation-in-review with Jamila Minnicks, on her PEN/Bellwether Prize-winning debut, MOONRISE OVER NEW JESSUP (Algonquin Books, January 10, 2023) to appear in The Rumpus.
  • Tanya Frank’s ZIG-ZAG BOY: A Memoir of Motherhood & Madness (W.W. Norton, Feb 28 2023), a review and conversation to appear in Hippocampus Magazine, spring 2023.

I’ll be sharing my published interviews here, after they’ve ‘gone live’ with their various publications.

There’s more to this newsletter. Keep scrolling.

Photo by Claire Morgan on Pexels.com

Happy Reading:

I’m in the middle of a forthcoming debut from Jamila Minnicks, MOONRISE OVER NEW JESSUP, a PEN/Bellwether Winner for Socially Engaged Fiction (Algonquin Books, January 10 2023), and it’s opening my eyes to a new-to-me approach to segregation during the early civil rights movement. Look for my interview with the author to appear in The Rumpus this January. Isn’t the cover stunning?!

Images designed & photographed by L.Lindsay

Happy Listening:

I recently went through the vast archives of Tin House’s Between the Covers podcast hosted by David Naimon. I didn’t realize he had been conducting these conversations since at least 2010! I added some oldies to my list, but also some more recent ones, too. I love his insights, the bright, articulate authors, the way I am almost always scrambling for a piece of paper to jot down a title, insight, or phrase. Seriously, if you’re not already listening to Between the Covers and you consider yourself a bookish person (writerly or readerly), this is a must-listen.

L.Lindsay archives.

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 canFeel 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.

Photo by Anthony : ) on Pexels.com

Let’s walk this bookish path together.

THANK YOU!!

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.

Browse the Archives | Donate

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.

Learn more HERE.

Are you following us on Instagram?

That’s where you’ll catch bookreels, cover reveals, & book mail : )

I support writing organizations, authors, publishers, and more. Occasionally, you’ll get a peak behind-the-scenes, too.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 960x0.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is logo-preview.png

Get occasional bookish news delivered to your inbox.

Musings & Meanderings: Memoir Monday Sarah Fawn Montgomery chats with me about nostalgia, finding home, feeling creatively moored, disconnection, and so much more

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~

Hello, Friends!

I’ve been a little remiss in updating author interviews here, as they go out, as promised. If you’ve been with me for any length of time, you know that I have been in the practice of interviewing bestselling and debut authors right here, on my website, Always with a Book. I’ve done this for a good decade or so.

What I learned was many authors were simply ‘too busy’ to contribute to a blog. I shifted my focus to publishing in lit journals. So, if you’ve been wondering where all my interviews went, that’s where.

But I want to catch you up!

Going forward, I will do my absolute best to re-post those interviews here, incase they slipped past. Also, in my newsletter, ‘Musings & Meanderings,’ I always make mention of them. Just click on the link and it’ll take you directly to the piece.

Juggling a website and several pages on Facebook was just too much. The world is a mind-swirl of images and electronic platforms, am I right? Something had to give.

So come on over, grab a drink, and settle in as we chat with Sarah Fawn Montgomery, assistant professor and author of this deliciously good memoir in essays, from Split/Lip Press (November 8 2022), about her youth growing up in California, moving to Nebraska for grad school, and now living on the East Coast. No matter where she is, she’s always HALFWAY FROM HOME.

Other ways to stay in touch: Instagram and Twitter.

xx,

~Leslie : )

There’s more to this newsletter…keep scrolling!

Leslie Lindsay :: Originally published in Hippocampus Magazine :: Nov 13 

If you like this, you may be interested in my earlier interview with Sarah Fawn on QUITE MAD

This one is all about home, nature, rootedness, time, feeling haunted, creativity, unearthing the story, and so much more. And the writing!

Image designed and photographed by L.Lindsay

INTERVIEW: Sarah Fawn Montgomery, author of Halfway From Home

“Every page contains stunning details, often rendered in sensuous language . . . An accomplished collection of thoughtful meditations on home, nature, and family.”

Foreword Reviews

In a way, all spaces are haunted. In a way, all spaces are about memory. In Halfway From Home (Split/Lip Press; November 8, 2022), a lyric essay collection by English professor and author Sarah Fawn Montgomery, readers are invited to sit and feel and think and remember. Throughout this nonlinear collection, Montgomery explores how we try to preserve our lives in things—in our homes, our forests, our oceans, our bodies. Her writing—her use of language—is at once brilliant and visceral, “rolling sentences in my mouth like bright berries,” and when she describes a wasp’s nest like that of a ‘womb, a wound,’ I found myself tremulous.

What began as a collection of nostalgia carved out in the recesses of time, Halfway from Home is a blend of autobiography, social and cultural critique, about searching for home during a time of emotional and environmental collapse.

With chapters titled “excavation,” “in search of nostalgia,” “chronostasis,’ and ‘something from nothing,’ one gets a sense of the way one may try to summon remembrance, while in the dearth of a pandemic. With a poet’s precision, Montgomery leads us through fossil beds and tangled grass prairies of Nebraska, stomps through snow and sleet and ripe berries of New England, and meanders fragrant orchards and tidepools and monarch butterflies of California. She polishes rocks and digs in dirt, revealing miniature worlds.

Montgomery uses a common convention in creative nonfiction where the writer has a personal passage followed by a scholarly-type passage expounding on the main theme of the previous passage, in which ideas and motifs circle back. Montgomery takes a tedious task of braiding research with emotion, creating a strong foundation for affective or sentimental attachment to the rest of her story.

Like Montgomery, I found myself creatively moored during the pandemic. While I suddenly had ‘more time,’ my attention was divided; writing was hard to come by. I began contemplating permanence; time. The paradoxes of humanity crept into my thoughts as did the concept of ‘home,’ an obsession that has remained before and after; this idea that we are all haunted by the past—and perhaps, the present, too.


Leslie Lindsay: 

Halfway From Home begins with “Excavation,” in a sort of vignette style essay in which you list ‘dig sites,’: your childhood backyard, perhaps with your father, a fence builder, and the treasures you unearth. I found this such a sentimental way to start the collection: earth, fathers, trinkets. You’re building a world here—for the collection and the essay—in a sense, beginning with the end. How does this essay connect to the rest of the collection?

Sarah Fawn Montgomery: 

I’ve always had a fascination with digging, with getting beneath the surface to unearth the story below. This was fueled by watching my father excavate earth as a fence builder, as well as by digging in my childhood treasure hole and finding all sorts of natural wonders and human artifacts. Halfway from Home is a collection about digging through the past in order to understand where we come from and where we might be headed. It’s about unearthing precious memories, family secrets, our own shames, our shared histories and hopes. It’s about trying to memorialize what is gone and trying to preserve what is still here. The act of digging, of turning to the natural world to cultivate curiosity is something that extends throughout the collection, which explores trying to find yourself by losing yourself in place—the coasts of California, the prairies of Nebraska, the tangled forests of Massachusetts.

The wonder we feel as children is easily buried by the burdens of the world if we are not careful, so I wanted to preserve this sense of exploration and discovery by weaving the child’s perspective and voice throughout this opening essay and the collection. The child who collects what she pulls from the earth—stones and shells, beads and bones—eventually becomes the adult who is still digging through natural and human history to understand where she comes from and where she is going. This is a collection about watching personal and political worlds change until they are unrecognizable. It is a collection about endings—of homes, families, natural worlds. This essay and the collection sift through the strata of memory and longing to try and uncover artifacts that display, the fragmented cohesion of our lives.

Photo by Serena Koi on Pexels.com

LL:

I want to talk about this idea of a fence builder for moment, because that carries a very emotional and metaphorical weight. Your father built fences for a living, he also was obsessed with creating more space. In way, those concepts are a paradox: expand or contain. And yet, expansion, in terms of biology is about survival.  

SFM: 

This collection is very much about my father, who taught me to dig and to build a home. As a fence builder, he constructed the borders and boundaries that made the world make sense. I’m from a small community and my father built the majority of the fences in our county during his 30 years of construction, so growing up it seemed as though he built my entire world. This mythos impacted me greatly—respect for boundaries at the same time that I understood that a fence border only stretched so far underground, that a fence, unless well-constructed, would not stand forever. Though his work, my father taught me paradox—contain but expand, boundaries but boundless.

He did the same at home. Our working-class roots and unusual family (I am one of eight siblings ranging in age from 50 to 15, many adopted from various families) meant that we were always trying to make something from nothing, always trying to survive on what we had. My father built rooms within rooms in our family home in order to fit everyone, but each time the number of rooms grew, the space shrunk. As a result, my sense of home was associated with security but also scarcity, with comfort but also chaos, with the idea that overnight my family could double with new adoptions or the many adults in need my parents allowed to stay with us over the years. Home was a place of permanence and impermanence, a place where my role and identity was always shifting.

These are the ideas that govern the book. How do we understand ourselves when our identities and the landscapes that contain us are constantly in flux? How do we build a home when our histories can be harmful? How do we contain the stories of our lives across great stretches of time or place? How can we contain our collective grief to sustain ourselves through hard times while also sharing our stories in order to make meaningful change? How does memory create the borders of our lives and what happens when the fences we have constructed around ourselves for purpose and protection come falling down or simply wear away with time?

LL:

Would you say your father—and maybe you in these pages—were in the process of building a home when those connections are being stripped away? Is it about ‘making meaningful connections when we’re all ‘just hanging by a thread?’

SFM: 

Absolutely. This collection is a search for a place or time, a person or version of yourself to call home when our personal, political, and environment worlds are collapsing. My nontraditional family structure was my parents’ attempt to build connection despite the fragmentation of so many biological families and so many histories of addiction and abuse. My journey to find home has been much the same. In many ways, my search and this collection mirror my family structure—fragments brought together to form cohesion, an attempt to build connection at the same time that connection is being destroyed.

And this extends beyond my father or my family. It is increasingly impossible for many in this country to make a home when ownership is reserved for the privileged, when paying rent is a struggle, when the safety of home can be taken away—by inflation, by illness, by natural disaster—at any moment. It is hard to find connection in a social and political climate that continues to separate us from one another, when we are physically separated due to a pandemic, when even the natural world is disappearing beneath our feet.

But as much as Halfway from Home is about disconnection, it also about hope. It is possible to connect to ourselves, to connect to others, to connect with natural and human histories, to connect with the environments in which we live. We can’t feel at home or at peace when we are disconnected from place and our role within it. In order to understand ourselves, we must seek to understand our communities and to extend this understanding outward to others and even back in time to see where fragmentation first began so we can work to build a sustainable world for ourselves and others in the future.’

Photo by Sena on Pexels.com

LL:

I found myself haunted while reading Halfway From Home. The images and motifs came to me in dreams, they followed me throughout the day. I dwelled in the silence, the deaths, the overdoses, the doom. I felt tangled in the root systems, attacked by the wasps. I felt sparkling bits of dust on my skin; it was a visceral read. Instead of abandoning darker passages, you expanded on them. You reimagined place. Can you talk about that, please, this idea of being haunted?

SFM: 

I’m so glad these images resonated! Longing, yearning, and nostalgia are a kind of haunting. Memories are spirits that return to us time and again, a presence we feel for reasons we do not always understand, specters that inform our past and present and have the power to shape our future if we do not confront them. I have always been haunted by bittersweet memories of childhood, but I am increasingly haunted by the encroaching darkness. This collection is about witnessing my family struggle with violence and addiction and illness, and about the ways trauma can transform people into strangers. It is also about witnessing our social and political landscapes actively destroyed in recent years and the struggle to imagine a future during so much devastation. And it is about being haunted when the places I’ve called home are impacted by climate change. Now California is helpless to fire, Nebraska endures months of tornados, and Massachusetts is ravaged by winter storms that leaves us abandoned in the cold and dark for too long each brutal winter.

But we cannot navigate darkness unless we explore it. While I certainly explore the beauties of my family—picking bright berries with my parents as a child or pulling treasures from the earth—I also have to shine a light on the darkness that haunts our family tree. I cannot know how we are to grow if I don’t get underground to examine our roots, the many secrets and shames we have buried. And I can’t share the abundance of the places I’ve lived if I don’t also examine how and why they are now in peril. As much as this is a book about things that are gone, it is also a book about what remains, for hauntings are also a kind of hope.

LL:

I want to shift to this concept of time. What is time? Is it a vessel? A voice? A clock? A passage? A photograph? Did any of these objects inform your writing? What about other, non-tangible things…is time a sigh, a gasp, a fragment?

SFM:

 All these things! Time is a construct, a myth made of all the objects we use to mark its passing, and all the abstractions—yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness—we’ve created to understand our longing for more of it. I’ve always been fascinated by time, by the way it is both meaningful and meaningless, by the way we live our lives by its passing yet so often fail to honor the past, live in the present, or prepare for the future.

Time is one of the central themes woven throughout the collection, the voice of a child juxtaposed with that of an adult, natural and human histories examined alongside the present, memories presented as artifacts of time. One essay, for example, explores the invention of clocks and various timepieces throughout history alongside an examination of the ways children learn to tell time and how our perception of times shifts as we age, adults perceiving time going more quickly than it does when we are children and a golden summer or afternoon stretches slow and seemingly forever. I also have an essay about reflections and photographs, and the ways these capture time while also evading it, for both photos and mirrors do not reveal a true image, and the time it takes for us to perceive the image means that we and the world have already changed.

Time influenced my craft as well as my content. I wrote much of this book during the early months of the pandemic, when time was limitless but seemed fragmented. Like many, I was sick with nostalgia, missing my home and my family and the many lives I’d lived before the social, political, and environmental worlds started to fray. I struggled to make meaning of the new world, so I wrote in fragments, sections, weaving memories across great stretches of time together in a way that made sense of my past, allowed me to cope with the present, and tried to give me faith for the future.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

LL:

Finally, in an attempt to draw personal and professional boundaries, you reorient yourself from west to east, traveling from California to Nebraska to Massachusetts for your education, your career. Now, in the Boston area, you are physically located as far from your origin as possible. I’m mulling over this idea of west to east. West to East. WE. It’s a way of reinvention, or rearranging, and perhaps: repurposing but also reattaching, reimaging. I find that poetic and powerful.

SFM: 

Movement has always been tied to education for me. As a first-gen student, I attended college very close to home, but then moved further away in California for my MFA, and further still to Nebraska for my PhD. Now as a professor in Massachusetts, I live more miles away from my parents than those that divide the width of the country. While I grieve the distance that exists between me and my first home, I also credit movement with my sense of security, for in many ways I have escaped my family’s struggles with violence and addiction, illness and increasing financial insecurity.

I have been fortunate enough to carve out a life and a career that I could never have imagined when I was a child in my tiny town with no stoplights, no stores, just a railroad rattling to somewhere better and fires that swept across the dusty land each year. Mine was a place where no one ever left and yet I have built a life around leaving in order to begin again.

As I write in the book, endings have always overwhelmed me with grief and nostalgia and longing, and so movement has been a way to reimagine life as full of beginnings, promise, hope. I cannot stop the places or people I love from ending, but I can reimage conclusions as introductions, leaving as discovering. But this doesn’t mean I turn my back on any of the selves I have been or the places I have called home—even though the place where I live in Massachusetts is the curve of land that reaches into the ocean as if to escape, it also curves back home to California, as if pointing the way back to my roots.

Today’s Bookshop

Leslie Lindsay

Leslie Lindsay’s writing has been featured in The Smart Set,The Cincinnati ReviewBrevity, Fractured Literary, The Millions, The Florida Review, Levitate, The Rumpus, ANMLY, The Tiny Journal, Essay Daily, Hippocampus, Psychology Today, Mutha Magazine, Ruminate’s The Waking, Visual Verse, Manifest-Station, Literary Mama, Pithead Chapel, Cleaver Magazine, Motherwell, with forthcoming work in ELJ, On the Seawall, DIAGRAM, and CRAFT Literary. She was recently accepted to the Kenyon Writer’s Workshop and has participated in continuing education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Northwestern University, Story Studio Chicago, and Corporeal Writing. She resides in the Greater Chicago suburbs and is at work on a memoir excavating her mother’s madness through fragments. She is a former Mayo Clinic child/adolescent psychiatric R.N. and can be found @leslielindsay1 on Twitter and Instagram where she shares thoughtful explorations and musings on literature, art, design, and nature.

Sarah Fawn Montgomery

Sarah Fawn Montgomery is the author of Halfway from Home, forthcoming in November 2022 with Split/Lip Press. She is also the author of Quite Mad: An American Pharma Memoir (The Ohio State University Press, September 2018) and the poetry chapbooks Regenerate: Poems of Mad Women (Dancing Girl Press, 2017), Leaving Tracks: A Prairie Guide (Finishing Line Press, 2017), and The Astronaut Checks His Watch (Finishing Line Press, 2014). Her work has been listed as notable in Best American Essays for the last several years, and her poetry and prose have appeared in Brevity, Crab Orchard Review, DIAGRAM, Electric Literature, LitHub, New England Review, The Normal School, Passages North, Poetry Foundation, The Rumpus, Southeast Review, Terrain, and numerous other journals and anthologies. She holds an MFA in creative writing from California State University-Fresno and a PhD in English in creative writing from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is an Assistant Professor at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts.

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 canFeel free to find my book suggestions on bookshop.org, and also check out the authors I’ve hosted in in-depth interviews HERE.

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Memoir Monday: A romantic notion of a man hitting the open-road in search of himself–but this is about a young women–plus: dealing with myths, lies, remnants, ghosts, and more in a conversation with Erin Keane on RUNAWAY

By Leslie Lindsay

A curated newsletter on the literary life, featuring ‘4 questions,’ reading & listening recommendations, where to submit, more

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Leslie Lindsay|Always with a Book

~MUSINGS & MEANDERINGS~

Hello, Friends!

I’ve been a little remiss in updating author interviews here, as they go out, as promised. If you’ve been with me for any length of time, you know that I have been in the practice of interviewing bestselling and debut authors right here, on my website, Always with a Book. I’ve done this for a good decade or so.

What I learned was many authors were simply ‘too busy’ to contribute to a blog. I shifted my focus to publishing in lit journals. So, if you’ve been wondering where all my interviews went, that’s where.

But I want to catch you up!

Going forward, I will do my absolute best to re-post those interviews here, incase they slipped past. Also, in my newsletter, ‘Musings & Meanderings,’ I always make mention of them. Just click on the link and it’ll take you directly to the piece.

Other ways to stay in touch: Instagram and Twitter.

Juggling a website and several pages on Facebook was just getting to be too much. The world is a mind-swirl of images and electronic platforms, am I right? Something had to give.

So come on over, grab a drink, and settle in as we chat with Erin Keane, EIC at Salon, and author of this razor-sharp investigative memoir, RUNAWAY (Belt Publishing, September 2022) about her young mother who ran away at first at 13, then again at 15, met and married her father (who was a whopping 36!).

This interview was originally published in Autofocus on November 12.

If you like this one, you’ll also want to check out my interview with Sheila O’Connor, author of EVIDENCE OF V (Rose Metal Press, 2019), which was published in Fractured Literary in October.

xx,

~Leslie : )

There’s more to this newsletter…keep scrolling!

THE MYTHS THAT MADE ME:

An Interview with Erin Keane

Leslie Lindsay :: Originally published in Autofocus Lit Mag :: Nov 12 

From The Brothers Grimm to Woodstock, Woody Allen to The Gilmore Girls, The Pogues and Star Wars and even Tarot cards, Erin Keane’s Runaway: Notes on the Myths that Made Me (Belt Publishing, September 2022) is a razor-sharp investigative memoir with a biting edge.  

Keane, known for her essays on cultural criticism with the verve and sophistication of a trained journalist, delves deep into forensics, films, and fashion as she bravely—and obliquely—walks us through her family’s complicated dynamic.

As the editor-in-chief at Salon, Keane is privy to social and cultural touchstones, pop culture, art, and more. What she didn’t know was why her mother ran away from home thirteen-years-old in 1970. She didn’t understand how her parents came to meet and marry, her mother a mere fifteen-year-old, her father thirty-six.

She didn’t know there were rules to hitchhiking, but she does now:

1.      Never get into the back seat of a two-door car.

2.      Never fall asleep in someone else’s car.

3.      Never believe a word the driver says; everyone’s liar in these situations.

4.      It’s not easy for two people to get picked up

5.      It’s easier for a boy to hitchhike with a girl; it makes him seem less dangerous,

Throughout this nonlinear collection of essays, Keane sifts through the dusty history of how she came to be, by making sense of the myths she was told, discovering in the process, that it’s not just hitchhikers and drivers who are liars, but her own parents. Keane’s writing is shrewd and lucid. 

What began as an inquiry based on pure speculation, Keane dug her journalistic chops into (re)creating, (re)imagining, and (re)living her parents’ lives.

We never learn Keane’s parents’ names, their real ones, that is. Her mother started as Someone Else, became Megan Shane for a couple of years, and then, Alexis. That was 1972, when she was fifteen and met Keane’s would-be father at a bar in NYC.

I found myself relating to this tale, not because I was a runaway, nor was my mother, but I started to believe my mother was a ‘saved runaway,’ that she had the potential to be exactly a runaway.

 ____


Leslie Lindsay:

Erin, I read this story of your young mother running away from her Atchison, Kansas home with an eye toward my own mother. Our mothers are approximately the same age, which means you and I might be, too. Our mothers were also both nineteen when we were born. My mother grew up in Missouri. She wore bellbottoms, she told a plethora of lies and did drugs. She married my father a month after turning eighteen. It’s natural to believe stories like this don’t happen in the wholesome Midwest, instead we conjure grittier landscapes: Detroit, Chicago, Jersey City. Let’s start by clearing some of the clutter: runaways come from all towns and socioeconomic backgrounds. What did you learn about the concept of ‘the runaway,’ in general? And can you speak to this idea of mothers and daughters being close in age, because, like you, I got the ‘you must be sisters’ comment frequently, which I hated.

Erin Keane:

Traditionally there’s this romantic notion of the young man hitting the open road in search of himself,

or America (same thing, I guess). But a girl in search of such experience? That experience is assumed to be sexual, and she’s cast as a bad girl, a dangerous girl. Or else she’s a damaged waif who needs rescuing. Or both at once. So the meaning of “runaway” changes with gender; you have Jack Kerouac, or even Huck Finn, on one side, and Joan Jett, Cherie Currie, Lita Ford, and Sandy West ripping through “Cherry Bomb” on the other. In reality, boys of that era, the early 1970s, were also often written off and discarded; many of the teenage boys who were victims of the horrific Houston Mass Murders were just assumed to be runaways when they disappeared, when in fact they were abducted and killed. Dozens of boys going missing like that for that long before anyone connected them was shocking to me until I read that somewhere around a million kids had run away during that early-‘70s period.

So many of the stories I found on runaways from that time did end up being crime stories. In 1971 more than 200,000 kids were arrested as runaways. In 1972, 55 percent of girl runaways in New York City were in the 11-14 years old range. That’s a highly vulnerable group, and the response was to form a special NYPD task force to target the problem. I suppose they thought arresting those kids was better than the alternative as they often saw it, abuse or trafficking or addiction or death, or all of the above. Nationally, the U.S. needed federal legislation in the form of the Runaway Youth Act to standardize a structural response more robust than throwing them in jail, and it didn’t go into effect until 1974.

But while there are elements of a crime story in my book, I also thought it was important to show my mother in her more independent and strong moments. I wanted to show her having a good time, too. Girls have agency and an impact on other people. They aren’t just having things done to them.

Growing up, I resented the pop culture trope of the “cool young mom” who treats her daughter like her sister because that seemed like an utter fantasy to me. My mom was a cool mom if that meant she had a closet full of great vintage outfits and good taste in music. But she wasn’t permissive at all. She was pretty strict. And I think that had a lot to do with her knowing how dangerous it could be for a girl to be running wild out there, how un-invested the rest of the world would be in looking out for me. But also, raising her kids to be polite and well-behaved was important, I think. We were proof that she could be a good mom even if she hadn’t been “a good girl,” if that makes sense.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com


Leslie Lindsay:

You take an interesting dive into forensics when you uncover—somewhat—the skeleton of a young girl, Sandy, who was also a fifteen-year-old runaway no one claimed. The Smithsonian apparently got ahold of this ‘specimen,’ but then, ironically, couldn’t locate it. You juxtapose that with this skull grandfather carried from his days as an Army officer, which was passed to your dad. How did you see these two pieces fitting together? Are they sort of one in the same: a remnant or a remain of who you thought your parents were? A skull, a shell? A structure?

Erin Keane:

The idea of remnants—of ghosts and hauntings and the power of the physical pieces of ourselves we leave behind—does play a large role in this book. Megan, my mother’s first chosen identity, was a kind of ghost; a girl who died, in a way, when my mother went home the first time, but who left something of herself behind in the world that I could feel but not see or name.

My father’s absence haunted me through much of my life, until I learned more about him through my investigation.

I guess maybe it was weird that a human skull was such a normalized part of the home décor? My mother was a nurse and her father was a war veteran—family dinner conversations often veered into talk of death, bloody injuries, medical grotesqueries. I think we were all just pretty used to the idea of death—I don’t remember, really, a time in my life before I knew that someone could just disappear from your life forever.

The story of Sandy stayed with me because she was abandoned in the end. My heart aches for her unresolved death, how nobody has been held responsible. I suppose Sandy is a kind of shadow twin of my mother, but she is also only herself, and deserving of her own story. I hope someone finds it.

Leslie Lindsay:

While Runaway is technically a memoir, it’s not exclusively about you, or even your direct response to events, but contains a good deal of investigation, interrogation, and piecing together, which I love. In some ways, it dances around facts by peering through the lens of movies and counterculture. Can you give us some insight into your process, how you chose this structure? Maybe it chose you?

Erin Keane:

I would classify this book as memoir-plus—or, to be even more granular, an essay collection that blends personal narrative and family memoir with cultural criticism, original reporting and research—

about what we lose when we downplay the complicated lives of girls and women in favor of men’s stories and narrative lenses. This book is an attempt to use the frame of my family’s story to explore the idea that men who abuse their power over girls and women, such as the celebrity men exposed by #MeToo reporting, aren’t special, even if the ones we read about in headlines occupy a heightened level of notoriety. They are products of (and in some cases, creators of and collaborators in) a culture that privileges and elevates men’s perspectives and experiences—which includes, but isn’t limited to, their excessive or destructive behaviors—over those of women and girls. Those imbalances of power and narrative are replicated at pretty much every level. Along the way I attempt to detangle a version of the truth from the myths I believed and had a hand in creating and perpetuating, and that’s work that I found more suited to essay than to straightforward narrative memoir, at least for the writer I am. I’m a journalist and a culture critic first, so I approached this project with those sets of tools.

Photo by Alex Andrews on Pexels.com


Leslie Lindsay:

Your father died when you were young. The American Journal of Psychiatry, as you state in the book, indicates the loss of a parent (presumably to death), is one of the most traumatic events a child can experience. That might also apply to loss of a parent through other means: abandonment, substance abuse, prison, mental illness. Can you talk about, please? Did that loss propel your investigation?

Erin Keane:

Definitely. I thought I was writing a book that would explain how my father could have become the person who made such a terrible decision—marrying a 15-year-old girl—because if I could explain him, I could reconcile the difference between the man I loved and missed so much and the reality of what he did. It was only after I had done the first big round of reporting that I realized this tendency to want to explain Why The Man Did What He Did is part of what keeps men’s stories in the foreground even when we are ostensibly focused on the women they’ve harmed. Why did he do it? Because he could. Because she agreed to it and even made it happen. (I doubt he would have been as resourceful as she was in the procurement of the fake documents needed to get around the law.) Because he made the choices that made the most sense to him given the tools he had to navigate life at that time. Because a lot of people around him were invested in him finding stability, which was seen as more important than a girl’s future, so they didn’t intervene.

After I finished writing the book, I discovered that I don’t long for my missing father in the same way anymore. I found him on the page and made my peace.


Leslie Lindsay:

There’s a lovely line in the book—and I’m paraphrasing—but something about filling in holes in understanding the past when so much of the world doesn’t make sense. I think that’s an elegant way of putting it: when we feel moored in the world, we try to make sense of what we can: our own past. Can you expand on that?

Erin Keane:

I think humans are driven by narrative, and we tend to want to craft narratives that make sense, even if it means working around some blank spaces,

because so much of existence does not make sense. We want to resolve the dissonant notes and make the picture snap into focus. Sometimes we overcompensate and tell ourselves a story that isn’t entirely true. Every family has these stories. Sometimes they can do more harm than good. But also, every story gives us opportunities for revision and reclamation.

Leslie Lindsay:

Let’s shift to the subtitle for a moment: Notes on the Myths that Made Me. I’m interested in word ‘myth,’ because it could easily transform to ‘fantasy’ or ‘lie.’ This idea of a lie surfaces frequently: accept lies you’re told and make them yours…the best lies are close to the truth…white lies even…in the end, it’s about identity and self-preservation. Could it be that we are all a conglomerate of what we’ve been told, our memories, our experiences? Would you agree with that, or did I miss the mark?

Erin Keane:

I do believe that. But I’ll also push it a little further. We’re all capable of reassessing the soundness of the myths that made us and changing our minds about what we believe. When it comes to celebrities, I think often we are reluctant to admit that we had been fans of, say, the man now in the headlines for doing the bad thing—or, if we want to remain fans, to admit that the man could have done the bad thing in the headline—because fandom can be such a strong element of identity. We need to embrace the idea that actively changing our minds can be a good thing, not always a betrayal.  

Today’s Bookshop

Leslie Lindsay

Leslie Lindsay’s writing has been featured in The Smart Set, Brevity, Fractured Literary, The Millions, The Florida Review, Levitate, The Rumpus, ANMLY, The Tiny Journal, Essay Daily, Hippocampus, Psychology Today, Mutha Magazine, Ruminate’s The Waking, Visual Verse, Manifest-Station, Literary Mama, Pithead Chapel, Cleaver Magazine, Motherwell, with forthcoming work in ELJ, The Cincinnati Review, On the Seawall, DIAGRAM, and Craft Literary. She was recently accepted to the Kenyon Writer’s Workshop and has participated in continuing education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Northwestern University, Story Studio Chicago, and Corporeal Writing. She resides in the Greater Chicago suburbs and is at work on a memoir excavating her mother’s madness through fragments. She is a former Mayo Clinic child/adolescent psychiatric R.N. and can be found @leslielindsay1 on Twitter and Instagram where she shares thoughtful explorations and musings on literature, art, design, and nature.



Erin Keane is a critic, poet, essayist, and journalist. She’s the author Runaway: Notes on the Myths That Made Me (Belt Publishing, 2022), three collections of poetry, and editor of The Louisville Anthology (Belt Publishing, 2020). Her writing has appeared in many publications and anthologies, and in 2018, she was co-producer and co-host of the limited audio series These Miracles Work: A Hold Steady Podcast. She is Editor in Chief at Salon and teaches in the Sena Naslund-Karen Mann Graduate School of Writing at Spalding University.

Image courtesy of the author, E. Keane.

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 canFeel free to find my book suggestions on bookshop.org, and also check out the authors I’ve hosted in in-depth interviews HERE.

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