Saturday, November 24, 2007

Laura Joh Rowland

My friend Laura Joh Rowland, author of the Sano Ichiro mystery series, has promised to be a guest blogger on Sphinx Ink. However, this week she's proofing galleys for a new book and hasn't time to send an article--instead she sent a photo from her recent trip to China, with a little comment:

Hi, Sphinx Ink,

Thank you for inviting me to be a guest on your blog.

Last month I went to China, my first time since 1978. I found it spectacularly transformed. (For more on that subject, check my website at, where I'll be posting a photo essay about my trip.) Here's a picture of me cruising the Li River in Guilin.


Laura's newest book in the Sano Ichiro series, The Snow Empress, was released earlier this month, and has garnered kudos and honors--Publishers Weekly not only gave it a starred review, but also named it one of the best books of 2007. PW says, "Demonstrating an impressive level of sustained excellence, Rowland’s mysteries set in 17th-century Japan form one of the best recent series in the genre.... Compelling pacing and well-rounded characters enhance the intriguing plot and will draw in new readers as well as longtime fans."

In addition, PW published an interview with Laura on September 24, 2007, which you can read via this link.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Hallinan on Managing Writing Sessions, Part 3

Tim Hallinan has posted the third (and final) segment of his essay "The Writing Session." Key phrases: getting there, tuning in, opening up, and turning on the sorter. Thanks, Tim, for an inspiring and helpful series.

For a good laugh, see his Nov. 22 entry, "America’s Next Top Writer."

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Hallinan on Managing Writing Sessions, Part 2

Tim Hallinan has posted Part 2 of his blog essay on managing writing sessions. (For a link to Part 1, see my previous entry.)

This one discusses how to have a productive session. It's excellent. Read it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tim Hallinan/Managing Writing Sessions

Check out Tim Hallinan's The Blog Cabin for a good post on managing writing sessions. In "The Writing Session (1)" Tim gives some solid advice to those of us who despair of ever finishing a manuscript. He deftly puts together some tips on overcoming the fears that stop some of us from completing stories or novels we start writing. I admit, I've seen all these tips before in one form or another, but I like the way Tim organizes them and sets them out.

I have no problem at all writing nonfiction. I write legal opinions in my day job and have been doing it for so many years it is second nature. I edited a newsletter for a writers' group for several years, which included writing most of the copy for the newsletter, and I always found it easy and enjoyable. My writing problems arise when I try to write fiction. Despite my long-professed desire to be a novelist, I have the greatest difficulty making myself work on my manuscripts-in-progress. When I sit down to work on one or another of the several novels I've started, my mind goes blank, I become uncontrollably restless, and everything I set down seems trite or stereotypical or something everyone's done before.

Tim has promised a Part II of "The Writing Session," and I look forward to reading it.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Memento Mori II: All Saints Day

Today marks the anniversary of my first posting on this blog. On November 1, 2006, I wrote "Memento Mori," in which I talked about our South Louisiana custom of visiting the cemeteries and remembering our dead on this day, All Saints Day. In keeping with our custom, I plan to visit my family's plot in Metairie Cemetery, one of the most beautiful and historic cemeteries in New Orleans. Buried in our plot are my maternal grandparents; my brother and a cousin, both of whom died in their early 20s; several uncles, an aunt, and other more distant relatives.

Setting aside any religious overtones, I find the practice of remembering our dead soothing and comforting. It's good to revive memories of those we loved. And don't we all hope we, too, will be remembered when we're gone? I shed a few tears when I follow the yearly rite, but tears are good for the soul.

For more information about New Orleans' cemeteries, visit "New Orleans Cemetery Tours" on my friend Sharon Keating's New Orleans for Visitors blog. The photo above is by Sharon Keating.

(Oh yeah, another good thing about All Saints Day is that I get the day off work.)