Retired from Writing

Someone at work must have been getting rid of their embarrassing romance novel collection, because there were a ton of free books sitting in the break room. I can’t resist books, and every now and again, I will read a romance, just to roll my eyes at how unrealistic and sappy it is, so I picked up a few of them.

One of them was written by LaVyrle (have no idea how to pronounce that) Spencer, an author I had never heard of. The book itself was pretty good, a contemporary (for the time it was published: 1995) romance, although I found the male love interest kind of boring. But this post isn’t a review of the book. To me, romances are pretty much all the same and that one followed the same pattern.

I read some more about the author online and found out that the book I read was her last book and that she would be retiring from writing. What a luxury! But who could ever retire from writing? I remember reading that Stephen King, after he had his accident in 1999, said he was going to retire from writing. But he never did. He’s written tons of books since then.

King sure as hell didn’t keep writing because he needed the money. He must have done it because he couldn’t not write. I wonder if the same was true of Ms. Spencer. Did she truly love writing? If so, how could she just stop? Perhaps she had some kind of physical injury that would prevent her from writing. Maybe writing became too mentally taxing or emotionally painful.

Or maybe she didn’t retire from writing but from publishing. That I can understand. It must be freeing to write whatever the heck you want on any schedule you want, without worrying about publishers and editors breathing down your neck.

I don’t know what I would do if I was a published author with several novels already under my belt. Would I retire from writing if it had become like any old day job? Perhaps. It is hard to say because I have never been in that position.

Saturday Shout-Outs

I spend a lot of time talking about myself, so here’s a post in which I talk about my favorite blogs and the awesome people who write them instead. (These are all in my “I Endorse These Blogs” list.) I try to keep my favorite blog list current, so I have a bunch of favorites that aren’t on the list only because their owners have not updated them. I keep hoping they’ll come back!

Anthony Lee Collins

Anthony writes about a variety of subjects (movies, music, writing, etc.) and is posting a story called “the town hall mystery.” Always something good and interesting to be found here.

Blessed Is She

A lifestyle blog geared toward Catholic women. The Blessed Is She company also sells some very nice (but I’ll admit, very expensive) liturgical planners.

Conversational Italian! and Learn Travel Italian

These two sites are owned by my cousin, who is the Italian guru in the family. If you want to learn how to speak Italian, look no further! There are also recipes and cooking tips for those of you who love Italian cuisine. If you don’t want to refer to a blog and would rather look at a book, you can also purchase a handy guide (or two) to the Italian language.

Cover Critics

Similar to the Lousy Book Covers site I talk about below, but the authors of this blog critique book covers and give suggestions for improvement. Very useful to self-published authors who need a good idea of what to do and what not to do when creating a cover.

Dominus Pars Haereditatis Meae

This blog belongs to Fr. Angel, a Roman Catholic priest. It’s mostly a Q&A blog, where the confused masses of Tumblr ask him for advice on all kinds of matters. He gives fair, honest answers that are in line with church teaching.

Fantasy Novels by Bridgett

Bridgett posts her fantasy novels on her blog, as well as writing updates. She is persistent and talented; her stuff is well worth checking out.

Florence in Print

I’ve been following Florence for a long time, and her posts make me happy because they are so aesthetically pleasing. She does book and movie reviews and posts about writing advice. Highly recommended.

Kristen Lamb’s Blog

Kristen’s blog is very popular because it’s filled with humorous advice on the writing and publishing world. She tells it like it is, and she speaks from experience, having published books of her own.

Look to Him and Be Radiant

This is one of the best Catholic blogs out there, and it was a huge help to me back when I taught third and fourth grade religious education. The blog’s owner, Katie, teaches at a Catholic school and has a ton of great resources. Her stuff is gorgeous, and there’s lots of Fulton Sheen fangirling. 🙂

Lousy Book Covers

Honestly, I keep this site on my list because it’s hilarious to look through when you’re bored and want a reminder of what the cover of your self-published book should NOT look like.

Michael Edits

Need an expert editor? Michael is your man. This isn’t a blog per se, but I keep it on my list because I admire Michael’s mad skills.

On the Catholic Priesthood

A Catholic blog dedicated to St. John Vianney, patron saint of Catholic priests. I wrote about him here, when his relics were in town. Most of the blog is material from other sources, so I keep it on my list for my own reference.

Rachel Poli

I love Rachel’s writing blog because it is so well organized. She puts a lot of work into keeping it running and having a consistent flow of content. She recently published her book of short stories on Amazon as well.

Rod Dreher

Rod is the author of The Benedict Option (highly recommended), and his blog can sometimes be controversial because much of it is pointing out the crazy stuff the left side of the political world (and sometimes the Trump side) is doing these days.

Simcha Fisher

Simcha literally wrote the book on NFP, and she writes about that and many other topics (Catholic related) on her blog. I like her style because she is realistic and tells the truth without sugar-coating or being condescending.

Sushi Writes About Things

Sushi is a ridiculously prolific NaNoWriMo guru and something of a celebrity in the NaNo-verse. She’s always writing (or Tweeting) about something interesting.

Test Everything

A Catholic blog run by an old friend of my husband’s. Deacon Matthew is insightful, informative, and wise beyond his years. He posts homilies, musings on being a deacon, and some very good apologetics.

The Office of Letters and Light

The official NaNoWriMo blog! A must-follow if you’re into NaNo. Here you can find writing tips and pep talks galore.

Used Books

I have been a fan of Vickie since way back in the 90s when she kept websites related to the old computer game series Petz. This link is to her DeviantArt page, where she posts a well-drawn comic called Used Books and some adorable pictures of her pet rats.

Victoria Writes

Victoria is a published author from England. She posts about the books she has read and of course, her own books. I like her blog because the pictures she publishes with her posts make me happy.

Writers in the Storm

Great writing advice, and one of the blogs I’ve been following for the longest time (actually since I joined WordPress). Always good content, and it’s kept current, which is rare to find.

The Dogs of March

SPOILER WARNING!!

As far back as I can remember, my parents owned a book called The Dogs of March (Ernest Hebert). When I was a kid, it fascinated me because the word “dogs” was in the title, but there was no picture of a dog on the cover, just a bleak winter landscape. The font was too tiny for me to read, and there were no pictures, so I put the book down and went back to Berenstain Bears or Henry and Mudge.

Fast forward 20-something years later, and I’ve moved out of my parents’ house. I’m unpacking books at the apartment, and there’s The Dogs of March, sitting inexplicably in my book pile. I guess I must have grabbed it without thinking. Likewise, without thinking, I put it on my bookshelf and didn’t think of it until I picked it up again pretty recently and thought, “Well, it might be time to finally read this.”

I’m glad I waited as long as I did to read it. If I had read it when I was a kid and somehow gotten to the end, it would have given me nightmares. That’s not to say it was a bad book. Absolutely the opposite. I would say that The Dogs of March was one of the better books I have read in the past few years, and now I understand why my parents kept it around.

The novel chronicles the life of Howard Elman, a poor, mostly illiterate everyman from rural New Hampshire. He’s got four daughters who pay him no mind, a son who’s gone to college and thinks he’s an intellectual, and a wife who is fascinated by the Roman Catholic religion. Howard has recently lost his job, and the rich lady who’s just moved in next door wants to buy his house and his land, on which he’s parked a bunch of old, rusty cars that he shoots at with his gun when he’s bored.

To be honest, there’s not much of a plot. The book is more of a slow-burning literary novel, and the “dogs of March” is a metaphor. Apparently, in the woods of New Hampshire in the winter, the neighborhood dogs run deer and get uncharacteristically vicious as they roam in a pack away from their owners. At some parts of the book, Howard is the dogs, and at other parts, he’s the deer.

The Dogs of March had its depressing moments. Actually, it was the literary equivalent of the most depressing song in the known universe: Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car.” I swear, every time I hear that song while driving in my own car, I get so blinded by tears that I feel like smashing into a bridge abutment. But the book did make me consider the futility of some things in life. You can work hard and meet all the “adult” milestones but still be missing a lot, and life will go on around you after you’ve passed on.

The book ended nicely, perhaps a little too nicely for something that started out so dreary. I learned that it is actually the first in a series, but I’m not sure whether I want to read the others. Even so, I enjoyed The Dogs of March; the author managed to blend the funny parts of life with the realism and the notion that we’re all just human after all.