The Good Luck of Right Now, by Matthew Quick

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As I read The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick I couldn’t help but think about how part of the message behind the book relates to how I met a dear friend of mine.We met because I stumbled across a wonderful essay he had written. I loved the essay and chose to write about it on my blog. The writer then found my post and chose to reach out to me. From those two choices, we became friends and remain friends to this day. I certainly feel richer for this friendship and I’m grateful we–misfit writers–made these choices. This experience is much like the experience of the characters in The Good Luck of Right now, who learn about being open to experiences and possibilities, making choices, and understanding the importance of human connection.

At the core of this wonderfully wacky book are a group of misfits desperate to find something to believe in. It is only when the world around them seems bleakest that they create their own miracle and that miracle is about opening ourselves and our hearts up to those around us. That miracle is about being open to family and friendship when we are feeling most vulnerable and alone. Bartholomew Neil could have likely spent the rest of his days alone after his mother died, but instead he allowed himself to be vulnerable. He finally heard and understood what his mother had been telling him all those years:

“We don’t know anything. But we can choose how we respond to whatever comes our way. We have a choice always. Remember that!”

Life is not all roses but it is not all thorns either. Especially if you choose to believe Bartholomew’s mother’s overarching message:

“Whenever something bad happens to us… something good happens–often to someone else. And that’s The Good Luck of Right Now.”

Of course, like most of us, it takes Bartholomew a while to fully buy into his mother’s message and to open himself up to life’s possibilities, but when he does, he becomes his own savior.

I loved this book. I think you will, too.

THE BOOK OF LANEY — ARC and bookmarks

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I received the best text today from my editor, Andrew Scott, at Lacewing Books. He sent me a photo of THE BOOK OF LANEY in book form, which means this version of the book will soon be going out to reviewers and other bookish gatekeepers.

Even though it won’t be officially published until March, it is available for preorder  now from Lacewing Books, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, and Amazon.

I should have a copy in my hands early next week. Until then, I will salivate over this photo. I am in love! Thank you, Andrew!

 

THE BOOK OF LANEY

THE BOOK OF LANEY

mango

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I was in a Mexican restaurant in Topeka, Kansas when a man taught me how to peel an avocado. We had driven downtown, past the hate signs, through the empty streets. A town without pedestrians.

This is the way you do it, he demonstrated with his empty hands. This is how you separate the skin from the meat.

It might’ve been a mango.

I learned how to peel something and then I forgot.

It was something about the texture of the skin beneath your fingers.

Something about the flesh beneath the skin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

GUEST POST: Bonnie ZoBell: My Writing Process

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Below is a guest post written by Bonnie ZoBell.

Bonnie ZoBell: My Writing Process:  Blog Tour

Today I’m taking part in the #MyWritingProcessTour. It’s so interesting and instructive to see how other writers go about their work. I was nominated by my friend, Susan Tepper, writer extraordinaire.  Be sure to get a copy of Susan’s latest book, The Merrill Diaries, beautifully written and a thought-provoking romp through the U.S. and parts of Europe.

The awkward part about writing this blog post is that at the moment I don’t have much of a writing process because besides teaching, I’m in the process of birthing my newest book, What Happened Here: a novella & stories. I’m doing everything I can to ease her passage into the world, making sure she’s nurtured in every possible way, and giving her a good wholesome introduction with the hope people will be as good to her as they’ve been to me. At the moment, it’s on pre-release and available only on my site, but she’ll be officially launched on May 3rd. What I’ll do here is write about my process when I’m writing. I warn you: This process isn’t entirely the healthiest for children and other living things, in other words younger writers. Don’t show this to your students.

 

Final Cover What Happened Here 1-10-14 What am I working on?

I’ve gone back to an old novel, most recently called Animals Voices—which I worked on for many years—because I think I’ve finally figured out a solution to a problem I was having. The story starts out with some young kids, the boy very curious about the unusual girl, after he gets over her strangeness and the way all his friends make fun of her, because she can communicate with animals. They grow up and marry and he is diagnosed with AIDS in the early years. Communication is difficult when no one will acknowledge the disease, probably even more so than communicating with owls. Then I’m going to go back to another novel that I also spent years on called Bearded Women, about a woman who goes to an electrologist because she’s hirsute. There are class issues between her and the electrologist, and it comes down to the main character needing to pluck other parts of her persona as well.

 

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’d call what I write literary fiction, though I’d like to write more magical realism. Oh, give me anything to read that contains beautiful language and a good story, and I’ll devour it. Perhaps mine differs because of my love of setting. I’m thrilled going back to Animal Voices, getting the chance to revisit the southern part of Del Mar in San Diego, land filled with an estuary, all kinds of unique crawly life, and the magnificent Torrey Pine trees. These gnarled pines grow crooked because they’re on the bluffs right above the ocean and therefore get a lot of strong winds. They’d be creepy if they weren’t so beautiful.

I’m no minimalist, though I try to be as spare as I can. I like to think that sometimes I’m successful at writing beautiful, in-depth descriptions that let you see images in life in a unusual way without going overboard.

I’m whimsical.

Why do I write what I do?

I write because I love language and because writing fiction helps me figure out the world. I’d be lost without it.

How does my writing process work?

This is the unhealthy part: I’m a binge writer. I can go for days, weeks, even a couple of years and do nothing but write. I ignore my husband and animals, my hair gets dirty, my bills don’t get paid, and I wear clothes that should have been recycled some time ago if I get really passionate and possessed about what I’m writing. But it takes a toll. So after doing this for a while, it’s hard to allow myself to go back there—there’s so much deprivation. Unfortunately, the other side of it is that I can also go for a long time not writing at all. That’s where I am right now while I promote and regroup from my collection. But I’m daydreaming about those Torrey Pine trees

My tags

I’m tagging four of my favorite writers who will take the baton next and telling you about their writing process:

Myfanwy CollinsLiveson the North Shore of Massachusetts with her husband and son. She has published her debut novel Echolocation, a short fiction collection I Am Holding Your Hand, and her YA novel The Book of Laney is forthcoming.

James ClaffeyJames’ collection Blood a Cold Blue was published earlier this year. His writing has appeared in numerous journals, magazines and anthologies, and he is currently working on a novel based on his childhood in Ireland.

Tamara Linse – Writer, cogitator, recovering ranch girl ~ broke her collarbone when she was three, her leg when she was four, a horse when she was twelve, and her heart ever since. She lives in Wyoming, and just released her collection, How to Be a Man.

 

 

Get used to it.

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There was a little girl dressed in a costume in the check out line today. She was cute and said to her mother, “No one will recognize me.”

Then she turned to me and took off her mask and I said, “It’s you! I had no idea it was you.”

She turned back to her mother and said, “See? I told you.” The mother then attempted to engage me in conversation about how ridiculous it was that the woman who ran the changing room gave her a hard time that her daughter wanted to wear the costume out of the store.

Apparently, the attendant said, “I’ll get in trouble.”

The woman told me she said back, “I’ll take the trouble on.”

Really? Will you? So does that mean if this elderly woman is threatened with losing her job, you’ll lose your job instead? She just could not wrap her head around why her daughter, who really wanted to wear her costume, maybe shouldn’t have been allowed to because it was against the rules and could possibly cost someone her job.

So she let her daughter do what she wanted to. In fact, she stood up for her daughter doing whatever she wanted to no matter what it cost anyone else.

Her daughter is in third grade and she already believes she is more important than the people who serve her. This is not good.

I see this kind of thing all the time. The children are like little gods. They walk into a waiting room with their parents and the children sit down and the parents stand beside them because there is no other chair. Even worse, the parents let their children continue to sit even when elderly or infirm people enter the room and then must crouch against a wall (though I offer my chair and so that doesn’t last long).

Children, you are NOT more important than anyone else. You exist along side us all. You may not wear your costume out of the store. Wait until you get home. Get used to waiting. It’s good for you. Really. I promise you that it will only make you a better person. I have not lied to you yet.

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john-muir “It took more than three thousand years to make some of the trees in these Western woods — trees that are still standing in perfect strength and beauty, waving and singing in the mighty forests of the Sierra. Through all the wonderful, eventful centuries … God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand straining, leveling tempests and floods; but he cannot save them from fools — only Uncle Sam can do that.” – John Muir, Our National Parks (1901) chapter 10.