Tag Archives: Carolyn See

why rabbits play checkers and you can too




Scooter Plays Checkers, a watercolor by Vicky Lorencen

Ironic, isn’t it. Rabbits eat carrots. Carrots contain vitamin A, a nutrient essential for good vision. With such great eyesight and countless stories starring rabbits, you’d think bunnies would be big on books. Not so. Nine out of ten prefer checkers. Why am I telling you this? I haven’t a clue. But it’s gotten you reading this far, and that my thimbleberry tarts, is what this post is all about.


Scooter Plays Checkers,  watercolor by Vicky  Lorencen

Since I can assume you are not rabbits, given that you’re still reading this, I want to recommend some books you may enjoy exploring this summer. Full disclosure–not of these are new. Regardless, they are worth exploring. And the fun thing is, you can pick them up, graze a bit and come back later to enjoy a bit more.

Right now I’m reading Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger. Jonah is a marketing professor at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. I admit to being a bit of a psychology and marketing geek, so his book interests me. It also surprised me. As a blogger I was deflated to learn that only about 7 percent of our daily communication takes place on social media. Seven stinkin’ percent! On the other hand, as a writer, I was comforted and motivated to think that means a whole lot of our interactions take place face-to-face and in writing–good, ol’ fashioned writing. This book would be especially valuable to anyone who is in the promotion phase with your book. Or for all of us who want to be ready for when that day finally, finally, sheeeesh-finally comes.

The Mind Map Book by Tony Buzan. This book can teach you how to unleash the creative power of your brain–and you get to color while you’re doing it. Perfection!

Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Dreamers by Carolyn See I’m going to level with you since the chances of Carolyn See ever seeing this less than zip, this book is now 14 years old, so it’s a titch out of step. But there are so many timeless insights, pinches of practical advice–like writing charming notes, and Ms. See’s delightful perspective, you can’t help but love this.

Writers [on Writing] Collected Essays from the New York Times Treat yourself to this treasure. Barbara Kingsolver, Carl Hiaasen, Susan Sontag, Joyce Carol Oates, Alice Walker, Kurt Vonnegut, John Updike, Jamaica Kincaid, Marge Piercy,  Saul Bellow, and so many more . . . it’s like an all-you-can-read author buffet. Great car trip or beach reading.


Photo by Vicky Lorencen

How about you? What are you tucking in your beach bag? Share those titles! (But not with bunnies, because you know.)

My computer beat me at checkers, but I sure beat it at kickboxing. ~ Emo Philips

anne lamott had her nostrils removed?


pinnochio frog

pinnochio frog

Has your muse gone to visit her mother in the Hamptons? Consider one of these fine reads to top off your inspiration tank. These are my five favorite go-to books . . .

Bird by Bird, Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
This book is a classic for a reason. It’s full of solid advise and insights, wrapped in Anne’s wry wit. But Bird by Bird earned a cozy place in my heart for two very personal reasons. While I read it–more like absorbed it–I saw myself in her pages. As I was nodding my head, I realized I related to Anne’s words and experiences because I really am a writer. Not a writer-wanna-be, but someone with the heart of a real writer. Mmm-mmm-mmm. That’s some good soul-sticking stuff right there.

While I’m at it, I may as well confess my silly association with this book. I recall reading Bird by Bird for the first time by lamplight, alone in my living room. My daughter came running in when she heard me let out a loud gasp. I had just read the part where Anne shares about having her nostrils removed. You read that right–her nostrils! (Silly me. My eyes transposed a few letters. Anne had her tonsils removed. Oh, right, tonsils. Sure. I knew that.)

Take Joy, a Book for Writers by Jane Yolen
Lots of reasons to love and read this little volume. First off, Jane Yolen wrote it. That’s reason enough. Secondly, I love the title because it’s based on one of my favorite quotes from Fra Giovanni–“The gloom of this world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach is joy. Take joy.” Jane’s book is a warm, lovely mixture of instruction, wisdom, observation and encouragement.

Making a Literary Life, Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers by Carolyn See
Whether she intended to be or not, I think Carolyn See is a hoot. While she does devote about half of her book to craft, in the first half she talks about things like how to pretend to be a writer (hey, we all have to start somewhere) and she offers advise I’ve never seen included in any other book on writing–how to dress for your first trip to New York (seriously–right down to the jewelry), about sending charming notes (every day) to help you make connections with publishing people, about writing a thousand words a day, and about setting up a writing account to help you make your writing life a reality. She’s so pragmatic and dramatic at the same time. And by the way, I took Carolyn’s advise on the writing account and I’m so glad I did. Whenever I sell a little article or make a bit of extra cash, I tuck it in that account. Knowing the money is there for writing-related ventures gives weight and reality to my otherwise dreamy dreams.

On Writing, a Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
I am not a Stephen King fan. (Won’t he be crushed?) He’s talented alright, but his stories are just too scary for me. (Yes, I’m a ninny.) I enjoy this memoir because I think it’s fun to learn what makes other writers tick. And that brilliant Stephen, he’s got himself some ticks. I wouldn’t read On Writing for particulars on craft or technique, but more for inspiration and insight.

Walking on Water, Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L’Engle
This is by far my favorite, favorite, favorite book on writing. (And just to be clear, Walking on Water is not a how-to book!) This book is filled with many of Madeleine’s favorite quotes (I have her to thank for introducing me to the Fra Giovanni quote I love), along with stories of her life and family, and faith, philosophy and the artistic process. Best of all, she opens her heart and reflects on writing for children and why it matters so much. I deeply admire Madeleine’s respect for children and the importance of giving them only our very best as writers.

This summer I intend to re-read all of these, even if my muse returns early from the Hamptons.

How about you? What are your favorite books on the craft of writing?

The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.~ John Steinbeck