This one is Media Bistro:
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"There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories."
— Ursula K. Le Guin
Need a rhyming dictionary? (chances are that you do, even if you don’t realize it yet.)
Then check out the Rhyme Zone.
This is incredibly useful and extremely easy to use, and can also be handy with the thesaurus application. I found it an incredibly valuable resource when I was writing a villanelle poem about Abraham Lincoln (don’t ask. The only thing I got from that experience is that I’m obviously not very good at writing villanelles.)
6:00pm Informal poetry workshop with local writers: bring your poems!
7:00pm Poets on Poetry: a Q&A with poets/meet & greet with other chapbook poets
8:00pm Chapbook poets live readings
10:00pm Open Mic Poetry. All ages. All genres.
If you're in the Wilmington area, swing by. Mention that you saw it Noveltrails and I'll treat you to a coffee-type beverage of your choice. Honest.
Leaving the Comfort Cafe centers around the adventures of Blythe Shelley, a redneck who has had one curly perm too many, who earned 1600 on her SAT, a full scholarship to Cornell, but never went. Instead, she decided to wait tables at the Comfort Cafe, a small "mom and pop" restaurant in Eastern North Carolina. Austin, the fresh-out-school, newly hired town manager, is determined to learn why Blythe turned down her scholarship and gave up on her dreams.
--Following is a scene where Austin first meets Blythe while she's waiting tables at the Comfort Cafe...
“Mercy, children!” A frizzled, bright red perm slathered into sight, connected to a young woman with bright blue eye shadow and even brighter blue fingernails. With a smooth, almost disturbing movement of her wrist, she slammed a huge tray of food directly in front of him. She shook her head, shut her eyes and let out a low groan.
“You okay?” he asked.
“Yeah, hon. It’s just my stomach. I’m on my period.”
“Oh.” Austin tried not to stare. Dear God, please don’t let this be my waitress.
“Here you go, sir,” she said. “One plate eggs over easy with the decorative parsley carefully stacked to the side and not touching the food. Grits and hash browns, bacon and a side of sausage. Don’t you love places that serve breakfast all day? They were out of fresh blueberries for the pancakes, but we do have some of the canned stuff, though grandma over there won’t tell you it’s canned, so I wanted to hold off because I know the canned stuff makes you irregular. Here’s your
check. Comes to five seventy-five and I took the liberty of already adding in my tip—since you obviously never do—and an extra fifty cents for a pretty smile.”
Her bright pink lips parted to reveal well-kept, surprisingly straight, teeth.
“Now, if there’s nothing else you’ll be needing, I’ll take that whenever you’re—”
“Uh, miss...I’m sorry, but this is not my order.”
“Whadaya mean it’s not…” Her pale fingers darted into her apron pocket, pulled out a small, black notebook, and scurried through the pages, searching for the culprit. “Then if this isn’t yours, you must have ordered the tenderloin steak?”
“The ham hocks?”
“Barbecue? Caesar salad?”
“No and no. I ordered—”
“You ordered the fifth of vodka.”
“Just foolin’. I remember now. Grandma over there told me. One slice of pecan pie. Coffee.”
“Decaf.” Austin gently reminded her.
“Decaf coffee. That’s like saying ‘I want to spend the night with you, I just don’t want to have sex.’”
“Excuse me?” He raised his eyebrows.
“Sorry. Didn’t mean to say ‘sex’ before two o’ clock.”
Austin wondered why the time made any difference.
“And I guess this delectable feast was for…ooo….” Her eyes curved into narrow slits, looking through the window and pulverizing the mayor with what Austin could assume would be a felony assault. “I always thought that man would skip out on his bill one day. I don’t care who he is. I don’t care if his grandfather fought in the such-and-such war. I don’t care if his ancestry dates back to Stonewall Jackson. I don’t care if he helped tie up the Mayflower when they put it in dry dock. I even don’t care if he’s related to Jesus. That man is not skipping out on his bill.”
“I think he’s just outside talking to some folks. He’ll probably come right back.”
“That sonofabitch.” She hauled the overloaded tray up on her shoulder as if she were burping a baby and darted out the front door.
Austin couldn’t hear the conversation that followed, but he could tell by the mayor’s startled expression and the animated bobbing of the waitress’s head that the discussion was definitely, and enthusiastically, one-sided. She pushed the entire tray into the mayor’s arms. As he struggled to balance the tray, a few biscuits tumbled onto the pavement where a constituent’s beagle was more than happy to help himself to a free sample. The waitress then reached into the mayor’s back pocket, pulled out his wallet and removed funds to pay the bill.
She returned into the café casually, confidently, totally unaware of the stares and whispers beginning to sizzle from the background. Some country music station was playing on the kitchen radio, and she seemed to walk in easy rhythm to the music.
“Sorry about that, dear. I always knew he was going to slip out on me.”
“I think that was actually my fault.” Austin was almost afraid to volunteer who he was. “You see, I’m the new town manager and I don’t think he was pleased with—”
“Town manager?” Her bosom was uncomfortably close to Austin’s eye level. “I didn’t know we had a town manager. I thought the town just managed itself.”
“Believe me, I wish it did.”
She brought out a cup and poured his coffee.
Austin noticed the handle on the coffeepot was black, not the bright orange that signified decaf. She also brought him the pie a la mode, though he didn’t ask for it that way. But after seeing what she did to the mayor, he decided not to argue
My reflections on the writing residency at the Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities
“Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli”
I love that line from “The Godfather,” and it seems that it sums up the way my fellow writers and I pack to go to Weymouth. It’s not a matter that we bring too much stuff, it’s a matter of WHAT we bring. Granted, the environment here is so wonderfully casual, but I find that my clothes and toiletries make up a scant ¼ of what I bring. The rest? Books. Books on writing, copies of Writer’s Digest, notes about places to submit things, books of notes that I’ve taken for future books, printed out copies of books that I want to edit. And of course, the laptop and printer. I'd forget a washcloth before I'd forget that (in fact, I did ).
Also---though I rarely buy books at retail price---I always have one impulse buy of a book at the Country Bookstore, an independent bookstore here. Sometimes it’s a writing journal or bookplates. It’s my little treat for myself and a way to support local businesses [this is an AWESOME bookstore --support your local bookstores!!!!]
Below: the gorgeous view from my bedroom window of the Weymouth grounds.
ASIDE—if anyone is interested, this time that book is “The Reader” which was made into a movie with Kate Winslet. I didn’t want to see the movie before I read the book. I confess, it was the back of the book jacket that intrigued me; a teenager is rescued by a woman twice his age, and they become lovers. Then she disappears. The next time he sees her, she’s on trial for a terrible crime. It’s hard for me to say what really pulled me into that story (all “Mrs. Robinson” comments aside) but it was simply a fascinating read. Be forewarned, it is also kind of dark , but a very, very compelling story [and to my friends who may be more easily offended than I—the first part of the book has some R-rated material].
One day when I was here with my writer friends, we discussed how ironic it was that for female writers, (well, at least for the three of us) “over packing for Weymouth” didn’t mean 8 pairs of shoes, but rather 8 books stuffed into a duffel bag. We were perfectly content to arrive with no makeup, only one “dressy” outfit (in case an opportunity for a “first lady function” arose) and yet we would have to make an Office Depot run if we didn’t arrive with our favorite type of pen. (As any writer can tell you, we are very obsessive compulsive when it comes to the type of pens we deem "favorites." These are the ones we hide in our desk drawer and don't let anyone borrow. For the record, mine is the Pilot Precise V7--NO BALL POINT PENS. )
The things that were “important” took on a new meaning. It was then that I joked, “Leave the gun, take the cannoli.” I don’t know if it made sense in that context, (it’s been a long time since I’ve seen “The Godfather”) but my friends were nice enough to laugh.
The site administrators here (and at every residency I’ve been to, including Wildacres) have been more than kind and absolutely wonderful and professional. There is no TV at Weymouth, and while I mainly use my TV at home for “white noise,” it is so nice to be able to train myself to be comfortable with silence. But to be comfortable with silence, you have to be comfortable with yourself…which is maybe why we have to have so much noise in our lives.
I’ve scattered some pics of Weymouth around my blog. If there’s something that needs explanation, I'll place a cutline.
And speaking of cutlines... below is a photograph of the house from the back. My window is the second from the right. It's one of the two lights you see burning in the window. >>>>>>>>>
“Things I’m working on…aka the big cannoli”
* I’m trying to get a group of short stories together for a fiction collection---but those are notoriously hard to sell. It’s easier to get them all published in different literary magazines and then get a collection (or so I’m told)
* I’ve already proofed (with thanks to my cool daddy friend) a short story and sent it off for the Doris Betts Fiction Prize. (Doris was my creative writing prof at UNC by the way, and she is amazing!) It is so much easier to get editing done here when a million things do not conspire to get in your way.
* I need to do some nitty-gritty stuff (update my website, send out some writing PRS, call places about book signings.
* I wrote (and am now rewriting) a short short “flash fiction” story for a magazine. Flash fiction is a genre (or maybe form is the better word) I’m relatively new to it, so I cant’ tell if I’m any good at it or not. To fit the theme of the magazine (which is “glass rooster”) I needed to write a story no more than 300 words with a glass rooster. Some writers finds that this stifles their creativity, but I think it actually kind of stretches my writing muscles---like running the 100 meter dash when you’re used to running cross country. In the end, trying new things is almost always good. My cool daddy writing buddies from ECU are going to exchange manuscripts with me (shout out to Will and Stuart)
* Finish the book proposal for my non fiction book---and send some query letters out to agents.
* I’d like to get a lest a few more chapters done in novel #3…but it’s nowhere near the querying stage right now….
* And then of course, one category that I simply call “being open to the universe”---at the risk of it sounding “New Age” this just means if we open ourselves up to the unexpected, I think it helps opening up the channels for God to show us new things. As CS Lewis so eloquently put it, “Our problem with God is not that we expect too much, but that we expect too little---we are like a child making mudpies in the slum because we cannot comprehend a holiday at the beach.”