Leaving Time: A Family Mystery with Elephants

I read many, many books over the course of a year—usually more than 100.  Most are enjoyable on some level; some are a waste of time; and a precious handful are the ones I recommend to customers at the bookstore where I work, give as gifts, and put on my forever favorites list.  Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult […]

On Genre

So I’m writing a book. Rather, I wrote a book. A novel. Years ago – when it had emerged from the hatchery but was still weak and blind and needed basically everything from me – I bashfully called it a “project.” After a few months of nurturing it, I told a few family members about […]

Fried Neck Bones and Some Home Fries: Delectable History through Southern Regional Food

I am a salmon candy junkie. Salmon candy, alternately called Indian candy, is made of salmon strips that are smoked for an extended period of time and, in addition to smoke, are often flavored with something sweet, like maple or brown sugar. I first encountered salmon candy in Harrison Hot Springs, British Columbia, in a […]

Freshly Baked Books: The Empire of Night

Journalist and spy extraordinaire Kit Cobb is at it again in Robert Olen Butler’s latest novel, The Empire of Night.  Recently published by The Mysterious Press, an imprint of Grove Atlantic, the thriller shows Christopher Marlowe Cobb and his mother, renowned stage actress Isabel Cobb, joining forces to help England find out who is behind […]

My Dog Ate My Homework, or Why I Couldn’t Do My Assignment on Concrete Imagery

Dear Editor, I know I promised to write about how concrete imagery draws a reader into a story, but I’ve had such a week that I just couldn’t. Several months ago we had a huge Red Oak tree cut down after it dropped a large limb onto my neighbor’s driveway.  Unfortunately, she was in the […]

Blogs Are Old News: A Brief History of American Journalism – Part One

Five years ago, when I taught Journalism, my syllabus was set. We began with a brief discussion of colonial gazettes, then focused on objective news. Until recently I hadn’t connected those two dots – how American news writing evolved from opinionated essays to what is now considered fair and accurate reporting. This connection turns out […]

Freshly Baked Books: Shadow of a Smile

Valerie Joan Connors’ latest novel, Shadow of a Smile, is about a woman discovering her mother’s hidden past. Recently published by Deeds Publishing, Shadow of a Smile takes its name from Johnny Mercer’s “The Shadow of Your Smile,” a song that helped launch Anastasia Springfield’s brief singing career. Anastasia is 30-year-old Meredith Springfield’s mother, and […]