How I single-handedly destroyed book reviewing. Or not.

Bluestalking has served as a portfolio of sorts, initially the humble offering stretched out to publicists when begging review copies, before I had actual publishing credentials. I needed proof I had a platform, and readers who dropped by to listen to me yammer about books, so other publishers would give me more books.

Circle of life.

That’s how early bloggers leveraged their experience to branch out and write for other venues. There weren’t that many of us back in 2006, not like today, when countless cool kids are vlogging and podcasting and going all Facebook live. We reviewed the old fashioned way, in actual typewritten prose. And we liked it.

Instagram? YouTube? Try Blogspot and Blogger — Typepad if you could afford the subscription, then WordPress, once you figured out how to migrate your posts and navigate their platform.

At present, the only book-review videocast that’s widely available is the Washington Post’s The Totally Hip Video Book Review featuring Ron Charles. Charles, the regular fiction critic of Post, writes sincere, uninspiring reviews. The success of the videocast is Charles’s ability to laugh at himself. The episodes are, of course, totally unhip but charming nonetheless.

– Sarah Fay, “Could the Internet Save Book Reviews?”, The Atlantic, May 7, 2012

Get off my damn lawn, lousy millennials. You and your fancily composed tableaux of books, coffee with pretty designs carved in the foam – how do you even have the time? We downloaded cover photos from Amazon.

Guess what? We liked that, too

There used to be websites tracking book blogger rankings. If you dropped your guard your nemesis would sideswipe you, sending you skidding into the tires like an even nerdier version of Mario Kart. Amazon was brand new and already becoming a review site superpower, bloggers an extension of their reach. We became the first top Amazon reviewers just by showing up. Try accomplishing that now.

Try it, punk.

the prolonged, indiscriminate reviewing of books is a quite exceptionally thankless, irritating and exhausting job. It not only involves praising trash–though it does involve that, as I will show in a moment–but constantly INVENTING reactions towards books about which one has no spontaneous feelings whatever. The reviewer, jaded though he may be, is professionally interested in books, and out of the thousands that appear annually, there 
are probably fifty or a hundred that he would enjoy writing about. If he is a top-notcher in his profession he may get hold of ten or twenty of them: more probably he gets hold of two or three. The rest of his work, however conscientious he may be in praising or damning, is in essence humbug. He is pouring his immortal spirit down the drain, half a pint at a time.

– George Orwell, Confessions of a Book Reviewer”

Upstarts like me were yelled at by literary critics of stature, academics bloviating about the ways we were ruining everything, taking their jobs by undercutting them. We weren’t specialized, had no idea what we were talking about. We were not professionals.

It’s funny to me now just how much that pissed me off at the time. Sitting in my living room in 2019, I’m frankly flattered they even noticed. It’s like getting a no thanks note from The New York Times. Usually they just ignore you; embrace the rejection.

– Dorothy Parker, book critic, The New Yorker

John Sutherland lead the crusade, positively apoplectic the great unwashed civilian book reviewers put ourselves out there — worse, that readers were responding. After one particularly insulting article I sniped back at him, though I wasn’t his primary target. On behalf of those without specific educational credentials, I felt personally affronted by his elitism. The purpose of reviews is to sell books, I told him. If you don’t sell the books, no one reads them. If no one reads them, his job was rendered moot.

As for reviewers on Amazon, why did you need a doctorate to have an opinion? He engaged me briefly, then crawled back inside his ivory tower.

It was awesome.

Nothing stands still on the web. There is emerging, on Amazon, a corps of regular ‘reviewers’, so called, trusted to kick up dust and move books. Dinahbitching is becoming institutionalised.

Why do the web-reviewers allow themselves to be recruited as unpaid hacks? Partly for freebies. But more because they enjoy shooting off their mouths. And they enjoy the power.

– the Guardian, 19 November 2006, “John Sutherland is SHOCKED by the state of book reviewing on the web”

“THE POWER!” We were mad with it: a vast conspiracy, one small step below the moon landing.

Knowing how it panned out, I can look back with a lot more empathy. His huffing and puffing appeared reactionary, half annoying and half amusing, but turns out the dude wasn’t wearing an aluminum foil hat. His fears were not misplaced.

Overall, the market for writing about books and literature has atrophied almost to distinction, comparatively speaking. Most national papers have cut books sections, those that remain no longer plump and healthy. A large percentage of literary journals have either gone belly up or migrated exclusively online, printing costs skyrocketing past the point of affordability.

It pains me to admit John Sutherland had a point.

Writing in the literary field is not a viable career path; it’s been decimated. If you’re still undeterred, you better be prepared to violently elbow other writers in the ribs and push some prams in front of speeding busses. Respect to the strugglers, but this is why I’m not quitting my day job.

Fair warning: I’d still keep an eye on that pram, not gonna lie.

The internet opened up writing and reviewing to the masses, and when publishing professionals saw that they swooped in. Given a choice between paying an exorbitant wage to an established writer or giving away a few books to popular blogger/reviewers, which do you suppose a financially-strapped publisher would choose?

Word of mouth isn’t so easily separable from book reviews. What is a good review from Michiko Kakutani but a recommendation directly from a reader to hundreds of thousands of her closest non-friends? As with word of mouth, it’s tough to measure the impact of a glowing review on sales numbers. Still, one study showed that reviews do influence libraries’ purchasing choices. Another suggested that New York Times reviews swayed sales. In 2010, GoodReads pulled charts showing massive spikes in certain books’ activity after the books were reviewed or recommended on major platforms.

-Claire Fallon, Book Critics Don’t Exist to Flatter Your Taste” HuffPo, Nov. 25, 2015

Once through the door, a lot of talented people took advantage of the opportunity and carried it further. That’s called opportunity, and it’s no bad thing.

Are book bloggers responsible for the partial collapse of formal criticism? I still say no: the two markets are very distinct. Everything we’re seeing was inevitable following the explosion of the internet. It would have happened without us.

New York Times chief book critic Michiko Kakutani steps down to write a book about Donald Trump

The arts aren’t immune to rules of supply and demand. When the walls came down, canny writers with drive were able to break into the old boys’ club, throwing their legs over a few wingbacks and grabbing handfuls of Cubans. But maybe this lot of mostly old, white men had grown too complacent. Maybe writing about literature needed an injection of fresh blood.

Shaking things up every few hundred years is no bad thing. A little scary, granted, but necessary for growth.

Blogging opened a lot of doors I’d never have found on my own. I’m still not published in Harper’s, but it’s paid off far beyond the time I’ve invested. There’s more I could be doing, but work-life-avocation balance is a consideration. And I’m not quite dead yet. I nominate myself as one of the top thousand-ish writers to watch under 60.


I appreciate the opportunity afforded to writers by the grace of the internet. It’s not all good or fair, but was it before? It’s a damn sight more accessible, this I know. It’s also dynamic, still in transition. When I revisit this in another 15 years, who knows?

The exciting part is it’s completely unpredictable; it will never, ever grow stale. As long as there are markets I can barge into, and ribs to elbow, I’m happy taking the good right along with the bad.

Good lord, is that the time?

You know you’ve been away from your blog a very long time when you not only cannot recall your password, but can’t even find the bloody website. I started typing T-Y-P-E-P-A…. then recalled I haven’t been hosted by Typepad for at least a decade.

Typepad? Really? What’s next,

I dropped off the face of the blog around the time WordPress changed its format, because I really do despise it. If I’d worked with it a bit longer before trotting off in a huff, perhaps it would be comfortable and familiar by now. As it is, I’m sitting here feeling quite annoyed I can’t even find the scroll bar.


Nothing is where it’s supposed to be. WHERE ARE ALL THE THINGS.

All this to say I can’t use the “I’m still settling in after returning to the States” excuse anymore if I’ve been back six months. Good effort, but it’s worn thin, like “I’m still carrying the baby weight” when you baby is 21. I’m also not supposed to be writing this sort of apology for my absence, according to my career coach, but I’m flying in the face of all that professional nonsense because, drat it, I OWE YOU THAT. All of you who’ve been around a while, I mean. Who’ve stuck with me through lots of nonsense over the past dozen plus years.

You know who you are. And I love you for it.

What I’m supposed to be doing is posting book reviews and generating interesting original content. More interesting than whining, which interests me and me alone. It’s self-indulgent, counter-productive and lots of other hyphenated words and phrases. I fully realize that.

I just needed to get this out of the way. I needed a placeholder, I don’t care what anyone says. Something to say yes, there was a gap, but I’ve been off in the world doing worldly things. I’ve not been slacking off in the slightest, and slapping up a book review published elsewhere without a word of explanation just seems silly.

That’s out of the way, and thank goodness for it. My palate’s cleansed, I’ve acknowledged my sins, and I can resume regular programming.

Also, I found the scroll bar.

Now we can all rest happily.

May be a bit of a lag.


Goodbye, Edinburgh. And goodbye, UK.


I have a post in draft form about my visit to London to meet up with online bookgroup friends of nearly 15 years, however, I’ve had to up stakes and change plans entirely. I’m not long for the UK, friends.

The Landlaird’s broken this camel’s back via a grievous breach of privacy and wearisome jealousy, both professional and personal. The rest of the world has friends; sorry you’re incapable of sustaining relationships, but I have a lot of them. Try dropping the unprovoked hysteria and paranoia, and keep to your wee niche. And, fuck’s sake, find and use spell check.

Barely worth the energy of an eye roll.

I may or may not post properly before I leave for the States. I’ll try very hard to at least push the London post through, but it will be tough.

It’s also not escaped me that it’s the end of the year already, time to wrap up 2018 reading. Well, I’ll do my level best.

Meantime, happy advent. Hope your holiday season’s bright. Here’s to a 2018 packed with lessons and a 2019 with possibilities.

Och, aye.

From January through March or April-ish, Bluestalking exploded with activity like it hadn’t for ages. Then a Big Life Decision came knocking, consuming all my attention. The issue? Should I, or should I not, return to Scotland.

The answer, after weeks of torturous back and forth: Yes.

Pulling up stakes once again, selling or storing possessions not crucial to day-to-day existence, I’m again living with Scottish friend and fellow writer/blogger Chris. I can only describe last year’s attempt to build a relationship as a complete crash and burn. Not without good times, the volatility ultimately lead to a swear-laden shouting match, ending with me stomping out, slamming the door behind me. I flew home three months early. The friendship, I thought, was smashed to bits, beyond repair.

But angry passion is still passion. A few months’ fuming outrage releasing the fury, I didn’t believe the story was over.

It’s a somewhat wonky relationship built not on romance, but a friendship evolving over five years’ worth of on-again, off-again communication about reading, writing, and the banality of life. After the demise of my marriage I approached him first about the idea of my moving to Scotland, but the timing was off. Biding my time two more years, something clicked. He asked me to come live with him. Working out the details of moving abroad was exhausting, but I managed. Living in the same house was awkward, sometimes contentious. It morphed into something explosive and unhealthy.

Yet, I knew it wasn’t the last chapter. Somewhere deep inside I knew there was something there.

Five or six months later, tentative communication started. I don’t remember who approached whom first, but I kept writing and the Scot continued replying – terse and snarling, but he answered. He hadn’t forgiven me for walking out. A month-ish later I came out with it: should we try again? It was crazy. Insane.

It was inevitable.

Last year I was relatively flush; this time around the money’s tighter. Distant travel will have to give way to local trips, of which there are still a plethora. Living a short distance outside Edinburgh, you bet your arse I’ll explore the capital city extensively. Though staying in the Lowlands, the Highlands are accessible. Scotland is a small country.

Edinburgh’s been christened The City of Literature, birthplace of writers major and minor, home to a plethora of literary festivals, bookshops and book events. There’s a literary salon I plan to join. I’m considering options for other endeavors, including blogging about Scottish literature.

At home, life so far is smooth. Can I predict the outcome this time around? Not a chance. There’s sniping, but much more sedate. Sedate is good.

I don’t know where I’m headed, professionally speaking. I need to decide soon and get on with it. Reviewing won’t stop. It’s more a matter of specializing or staying more general. My life situation would translate well to articles, not to mention the knowledge and creativity accumulated throughout my life. I have options. I need to pick one or three and get cracking.

Once I do, I’ll post. Wish me luck.


Reading at the tail end of 2017: Ethical dilemmas thereof, and the future of my blog


It’s a real problem for the reading and book tracking obsessed: must you add books half-finished at the end of 2017 to that year’s tally (post-mortem, as it were), even if you don’t finish them until 2018, or is it morally justified migrating them to first reads of 2018?

My Code of Ethics Regarding Reading Protocol doesn’t cover this. Time to go rogue and make up my own rules:

Books finished in 2018 count as 2018 reads! 

Such a saucy minx.

30 December 2017: Books in Progress


Classics Group Read: An Easy Choice


A no-brainer. The classics group that chose Nicholas Nickleby doesn’t meet for discussion until late January. I have no qualms saving this for 2018’s list.

Is it the book’s fault I needed the full four weeks? I think not. Only eight chapters in, there are still 50,000 pages to go. It is Dickens, after all. The man doesn’t do short – though you’d have to ask Ellen Ternan for the official word on that.

HAHAHAHA! Sorry. Nerd humor.

Paid by the word and long-winded, some dislike him for it. Despite the fact his tangents run to dozens of pages, I adore him. The wonky characters and snarky side-comments, even the sentimental plots, have made him one of my favorite writers ever. His insights into human nature are spot on, still relevant.

That is the definition of classic literature.

My favorites of his novels are: Our Mutual Friend, Bleak House and Great Expectations. I do wish I could time travel back to the Victorian era and destroy all copies of Little Dorrit. It’s like Paul McCartney’s collaboration with Michael Jackson… very bad judgment. Almost reputation ruining, teeth grittingly bad work.

Ah, but the rest of his canon makes up for it.

I wonder how the group will like it. Recently returned after several years’ hiatus (I was an original member back when it was first formed, six or so years ago), I vaguely remember a few aren’t fond of the Victorians. It will behoove me to step up and defend the literature I love best. There are also new members, wild cards. I can’t predict their reactions.

Was Nickleby the best choice to reel in the uncertain? An early novel in his career, it’s nowhere near on par with the titles I love best. A number of film adaptations have been done of it, so it has some staying power.

Fingers crossed I won’t find the response too negative. I can argue points like its length and diversions, but flowery Victorian prose isn’t for everyone.


It’s not you, it’s me. Or maybe it’s you,


Whole new problem, if I abandon a book begun in 2017, is it cheating to carry on reading it a bit past the New Year with the intent of listing it as a DNF (did not finish, for the uninitiated) for early 2018?

So much dilemma.


Newly married, newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband’s crumbling country estate, The Bridge. With her new servants resentful and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie only has her husband’s awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. For inside her new home lies a locked room, and beyond that door lies a two-hundred-year-old diary and a deeply unsettling painted wooden figure – a Silent Companion – that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself…


Frustratingly, the elements sound fascinating – the execution not so much.

It sounded such a delight I ordered it from the UK, paying international shipping. I hate paying international shipping for new books. They’re such a crap shoot. Classics, yes. Persephone or other reliable-quality editions, of course. Vintage Penguins, certainly!

But books recently published are just plain risky.

Eighty pages in, it’s not gripping me. The writing is loose, there’s no tension, no sense of menace above the barest trace. The haunted house should loom, not feel vaguely creepy in a pedestrian sense. A door closes and locks itself. Woooooo!!!

Not scary.

When I read a gothic, I want to be spooked, half looking back anticipating a cold hand dropping heavily on my shoulder.

I’m left with a dilemma: do I keep going despite its mediocrity, considering I’ve spent the money, or write it off since the money’s gone, anyway, and I can’t recoup it through squandering precious reading time.

One or two more chapters. I’ll give it only that.

The Silent Companions reminds me of overblown books of “gothic horror” like David Mitchell’s Slade House and Audrey Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry. The two of them were just not scary, yet readers loved them.  Their premises sounded perfect; they didn’t deliver.


David Mitchell is capable of brilliance. Audrey Niffenegger, for great ideas with results somewhat lacking. Most writers occasionally drop a dud. Such is the nature of the beast.

Like truly funny books, works of gothic horror are tough genres to nail. They must be perfect, taut as hell, without a single moment’s lapse.

I have not read a truly great work of gothic horror in a very, very long time. One title that springs to mind is Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Brilliant book. It’s not white knuckle terrifying, but a very good gothic. A couple others are just on the edge of my memory, elusive. One was about a house with a shifting staircase. Really spooky. I’ll think of it in the middle of the night and hate myself for forgetting it.


Forgotten female writers, a love of mine


Anne Royall was quite a rebellious woman, indeed. I’ve barely started the book; already I love her for that.

Publishing her first book in 1826 at the age of 57, Royall reinvented herself as a “women politico” a generation before the Women’s Suffrage Movement. She was a pioneering travel writer and satirist who broke ground on the wagon trails a generation before Mark Twain, and an investigative journalist who took on bankers and prison conditions a half century before muckrakers Ida Tarbell and Nellie Bly. She was the author of 10 original books, and publisher of a newspaper in Washington, DC for 25 years until the age of 85.

One of the most famous, sharp-witted and controversial women of her times, Royall was raised in the backwoods of the South but educated herself in one of the great libraries in the region. She openly cohabitated with her husband prior to their wedding, but was then left widowed and destitute after her husband’s family declared their marriage invalid. Turning to writing, Royall acquired fame and then enemies for her scathing and hilarious denouncements of corruption, incompetence and the blurry lines between church and state.


Author Jeff Biggers was the inadvertent cause of one of my biggest embarrassments as a newly-minted library programmer. Hiring him to come speak about a previous book about Appalachia as well as the writing process, I was devastated when no one showed.

It certainly wasn’t his fault, not was he upset. Relying on the public to care one whit about literature is precarious. Writers know this.

He stayed a while and talked with me, but I had a hard time getting past the humiliation I wasn’t able to fetch him an actual audience. I took a lot of things much too seriously back then, and I wasn’t as used to hanging out with writers as I am now. I’ve since learned they’re Actual People, not demigods. I love them, but they don’t intimidate me anymore.

Did I tell you about the time I chatted with Salman Rushdie and made him laugh? Because I pretty much tell everyone about that. How about the time former poet laureate Billy Collins left NOT ONE but TWO messages on my home answering machine, regarding an upcoming interview?

I’m slacking if I mention neither of those, at the very least.

His latest is one I’d like to devote serious attention to, not merely skim. I have to put reading time in reserve, as the chances this book will lead me to others is high. I’ll need a lot of note-taking time.

Most definitely a 2018 read.

All the Rest

Not members of my Ethical Reading Dilemma are books I’ve dipped into so superficially I don’t consider I’m technically reading them. Winding up next to or in bed with me, I page through them before I turn off the light. Not in the official reading queue, they’re transitional bedtime rituals.

2018 for sure.

Future Tense: Where am I going; where have I been

I did want to talk more about 2018 formal reading plans before the New Year, but I’m afraid I’ve already flooded you with posts. After a long drought, the dry ground of Bluestalking may not be equipped to absorb so much new blathering.

We all know my 2017 was amazing, that I don’t expect to see its equal again, though I dearly hope I will. Early plans for 2018 – another topic I’ve teased about – are awfully adventurous as well, though perhaps not quite so much as leaving the country for good. Leaving the area, perhaps. In fact, probably.

Don’t ask where… Mum’s the word.

Whatever becomes of me, Bluestalking is on track to change course a bit. My new tagline may be temporary, but gives an idea how I’m going to proceed. I’m not just a reader and writer, I’m also past the strict definition of mid-point in my life (unless I live past 100, and I have no plans to). Living alone and content, having had one wild rollercoaster of a life, I’d like to write more personal posts, keeping the literary slant.

There are not enough blogs written by Women of a Certain Age, not enough that speak frankly about concrete realities of living a solitary life. I’ll also feature more photographs, like I used to long ago. I replaced my DSLR camera, and am retraining myself in how to take decent pictures.

There are still many to share from 2017, as well.

I’m very excited about it all, looking forward to 2018. Thank you to everyone who’s followed me on my journey so far, for all the support and kindness on and off the blog over the past decade plus. I hope you enjoy where I’m taking things in the next stage of my life, that you’ll hop in the backseat and ride along.

Much happiness and health to you in 2018. All my very best.



Live, from Scotland!


Edinburgh Castle, as if you didn’t know

Coming to you live from Bonnie Scotland. I’ll be reviewing for UK publishers and venues through the next few months, up and running here at Bluestalking. You’ll find me at the Edinburgh International Literary Festival in August, attending events, standing very close to authors, reading and buying books, enjoying the roar of the grease paint, the smell of the crowds.

I’m getting settled in my new situation, setting up my digs.

Since I’ve been here I’ve attended the Boswell Book Festival, and am currently reading the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction Shortlist, in preparation for attending the Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival, Melrose, for the presentation of the award.

Exciting stuff!

Meantime, I’ll be bringing you all the British – particularly Scottish – book info I can fit into my schedule.

Slàinte, and all that.

On blogging and reading, past and present


a sampling of my vintage Modern Library collection

a sampling of my vintage Modern Library collection

When I started writing Bluestalking, it was a place to share my pure love of literature with other bloggers and readers of blogs. I wasn’t a reviewer, hadn’t yet known the sweet, sweet bliss of a steady stream of free review books in the mail.

Book blogs were on the rise, but not nearly as plentiful as they’ve become. Back then it was easier to stand out in a much smaller crowd.

Once I started building a reviewing reputation, I  became a girl who couldn’t say no, my head easily turned by the latest sexy-hot book. No longer did I read the old stuff, the books that made up the vast majority of my reading in the early days.

A literature major, I’d always been mad for the Victorians. In the early 2000s, writing of the 18th century obsessed me. I went through an intense Samuel Johnson/James Boswell phase, on to Fanny Burney and Henry Fielding, with stops for various under-appreciated females such as – unsurprisingly – the Bluestockings, for good measure.



If you’d asked, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you much of anything about contemporary writing.

Things have changed just a bit since then. Over the past decade I’ve read hundreds of books by hundreds of contemporary writers.  I’m having a difficult time remembering the last time I read anything from any century before the 20th, much less works from the traditional Western Canon.

Once upon a time, classic literature was all I read, period.

books, glorious books - and a bit of my own art therapy

books, glorious books – and a bit of my own art therapy

I’ve built up an amazing personal library other bibliophiles would be thrilled to own, but there they sit, gathering dust.

I’ve lost touch with book bloggers I once chatted with regularly, stopped reading the posts of blogs I loved in my earlier days. I don’t participate in group reads, themed reading and interactive bookish love.

There’s just no time.

I miss the camaraderie and friendships – the reason I started blogging about books in the first place. I miss sharing photos of recent book hauls. Hell, I miss having book hauls. I went to a used book sale today for the first time in so long I can’t even remember. All my reads have been fresh off the press for years. Handling used books, coming across serendipitous finds – books about books, vintage Modern Library editions with illustrated covers, obscure biographies of Victorian writers like Lewis Carroll – brought it all home to me.

I miss the old days.

I’ve decided I’m going to read more books for myself. I’ve lost some of the pure joy of books, of pulling a book off the shelf on a whim, and not because I’d been assigned to read it. No grand pronouncement – just something that simple.

Because I’ve missed it.

All these books looking back at me, it’s time to grab one and just read. For the pure joy of it.


well, it’s like thiz…

I haven’t been here in so long I’ve actually forgotten how to post.

How to post.

How to post.

How to post.

I’ve been blogging for what, a decade? And I totally forgot the steps it takes to go from letterz to wordz to a coherent grouping of said letterz in order to form wordz.

Truth is, I’ve been really busy getting divorced, which is why I’ve not been forming wordz with letters talking about bookz and writerz and other crazy thingz. I’ve also apparently picked up some sort of letter impairment, in which I’ve confused zs and ss. Essesss. Zeeees.

Hard to write that without improperly using apostrophez. Suddenly, I’m almost identifying with people who don’t know how to punctuate correctly or who take the easy way out when the going gets tough.

But not quite. I still judge you by your grammar and punctuation. Spelling, too, because COME ON THERE’S SPELL CHECK.

It’s important to note I have been reading. It wasn’t so for a while but recently I’ve remembered how to do at least that with wordz. And though it doesn’t make much difference in the world, I will soon come back to talk about all the bookz I’ve been reading, which is actually a pretty fair number. Because, hell, I’m not working so what else do I have to do with myself right now? Drape myself over the sofa, personifying the word LANGUID, that’s what. And while that’s really pretty fun to do for dayz and hourz and weekz on end, my doctor tells me that, at some point, I should probably get off my azz.

So, yeah. Divorcing and moving and not working a paying job. Splitting belongingz and moneyz and all the fun thingz you do when you split up a marriage of 25 yearz. Then there’s also weeding my book collection by an astonishing amount, as my apartment is not a very big 3-bedroom house. It is a decent-sized 2-bedroom space. I’m not even sure the building codes allow for as much weight as my full collection of bookz would have required, plus, when your belongings reach a certain critical mass it’s like they own YOU, not the other way around.


This iz my balcony and this was my lunch: spinach and pepper cheese quesadilla. It waz good.

And there you have it.

Watch this space.


Must I do everything?


Hang onto your hat, Lucille

I know I change themes a lot. I get restless, okay? But there’s this new theme at WordPress, a premium theme you have to pay money to get.

And I lust it.

So, I think I’m going to switch. But this will be, I promise, my forever theme.

Unless I change my mind.

Which I must NOT do.

I don’t want to clean house for the party



I’m chatty of late. But I need something to do, to stop my fidgety widgety. I also want to avoid cleaning house and take my mind off  the creepy feeling I get when my piece (stop it) is back in the hands of an editor, after corrections. Know that almost unbearable feeling of exposure when someone is looking at you and you know it, without looking? Your hair stands on end, dead fingers lightly trace your spine. Worse, when you feel someone looking at you but when you turn there’s NO ONE THERE…


And I write for the Chicago Tribune? Children, let this be a lesson. Keep bothering people and, eventually, something good will come your way. Or, every editor in the world will get so sick and pale with grief that thou, her plague, art far better published, so you’ll shut the fuck up and leave her alone.

If I publish this will you stop? Yes? It will run on Sunday. TAKE YOUR DAMN CHECK, BITCH!

Judging from the debilitating cringing feeling I’m suffering today, I don’t know how I’ve had anything published. Writing short, snappy reviews for Library Journal and Booklist takes lots of time but is so formulaic it doesn’t feel nearly as personal (nice English!). Right now I’m suffering such paranoia, which I guess is natural taking such a big leap from professional reviewing to a byline in the third biggest newspaper in the country. OHJESUS. Maybe I should be more cringy about my old windbag blog and unfortunate habit of over sharing. You’d think, but no. Writing a review for a MAJOR NATIONAL NEWSPAPER is much, much worse. Much worse partially because I play free and easy (would you quit?) with grammar rules here and have to sit up straight when someone’s paying me. I don’t like the Oxford comma for instance. The, Oxford, comma, for, instance. if it were up to me thered be no punctuation hell why stop there screwthedamnspacesbetweenwordstoo


Look at the depths to which I’ve been reduced. Gee, thanks, Chicago Tribune. Thanks for RUINING MY LIFE!

Oh, hell. I really have to get back to work. No one should have to see the place like it is. We’re probably in violation of several village codes and maybe I can keep us out of jail if I pick up a little, wipe off a bit of dust. Because they’re watching me, the village. (If not the village, my goddamned PRESIDENT.) I can sense it…