Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday Salon: October 20, 2013

From the Sunday Salon's original website:  Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together--at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones--and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly, mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one's earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book.  

Doesn't that sound heavenly --- that in our hectic lives we carve out a chunk of time to devote to reading and all things literary?  While I plan to use this space for that purpose, I am also going to use this entry as a way to summarize the past seven days and preview the upcoming week.

OH BOY... I had great plans to write a few posts this week, but obviously I fell short of the mark.  It was a busy week filled with extra meetings, unique outings, and serious thoughts to ponder.  I hope to do better on the blogging front next week.

Today's Weather:  Sunny and high near 70.  This will be the warmest day of the week, however, as the forecast calls for a hard frost on Tuesday and temperatures that struggle to reach 60 all week.  I'm not complaining, mind you, I am ready for the first fire in the fireplace!

What's on the menu:  After a fabulous dinner at Cooper's Hawk Winery on Friday (I am hoping to post a review this week), I think today's menu will be simple fare suitable for watching the Chief's football game:  Steak Soup (perhaps the recipe will be my Weekend Cooking post on Saturday...)

Highlights of the week:  Several highlights this week, which made for a rather hectic but exciting week:

  • Thursday night critique group:  I was brave enough to attend my first writers' critique group and I survived!  They did not bite or scare me, and in fact, I was strongly encouraged and supported in my writing endeavors.  More details below...
  • Cooper's Hawk Winery:  This was actually choice B for our Friday night dinner, but we were thrilled at the change of plans.  The waiter was delightful and knowledgeable, the happy hour was an exceptional value, and the food and wine were exceptional.  This will become our new favorite place to dine.
  • Impressionist Exhibit - opening reception at the Nelson-Atkins museum.  A first time experience that was both entertaining and educational.  More details below....

Teaching Overview:  The first of two rather low-key weeks of teaching (and I am grateful).  Brit lit finished reading Sir Gawain and is starting the Prologue of the Canterbury Tales.  Students are required to learn the first 18 lines in Middle English, which they heard for the first time on Thursday.  Of course right now they think their English teacher has lost her mind... but by October 31st they will all be able to recite it with ease and impress their parents.

English Comp is working on the rough drafts of their narrative essay at home while we review grammar concepts in class.

Currently Reading:  Well, after such great reading last week (I finished three books:  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - The Painted Girls - and Dancing for Degas), I took a nose dive this week.  I had great plans to re-read Claude and Camille as research for my NaNo project, and I have several books on writing that I would like to review before November's great event.  Oh well, there is always this week...

Writing Progress:  Ok... lots of writing focus this week, but unfortunately no writing.  I know this is not good (writers write --- they don't just think about writing) and I vow to rectify that problem this week, BUT... I gained clarity on a few issues in life that I think will help me focus on writing.  Nevertheless, here is the writing news worthy to report:

  • Thursday night critique group:  This is a small off-shoot of HACWN.  At this particular monthly get-together there were three other writers in attendance besides myself (I am told this number fluctuates greatly month to month).  All three of them brought something to share.  One published writer brought a page from the third book in her trilogy; another published author brought an online article that she is writing to help writers learn how to use social media to market their work; and the third brought the first chapter of his debut novel that he hopes to sell to a publisher at the upcoming conference in November.  All of them are accomplished writers who I believe can help me improve my craft... and they offer valuable criticism in a kind, encouraging manner.  
  • Another Networking Opportunity:  after the success Thursday night I wondered if perhaps there was another writing group in town that I might want to visit... to compare and contrast, if you will.  My google search led me to HWKT (Heartland Writers for Kids and Teens).  Since my NaNo story is for the YA audience, I decided that I would email them for more information.  Two people quickly responded with such warmth and encouragement that for the first time in my life I wondered if perhaps writing children's books is my calling.  At this point I am such a newbie to the craft that I am willing to investigate any idea until I reach a dead end.  There is no fee to join and they meet every Wednesday morning. I happen to be free this week and plan to attend.
  • New Ideas for Future Projects:  due to the above epiphany....I was consumed with researching this market (early readers, middle grade and YA) and developing some potential story ideas.  While I have never considered writing for this audience, I have always had a desire for young people to enjoy reading.  I read to my children from the time they were a month old, and I tried to instill a love for the written story throughout their school years.  It is perhaps not out of the ordinary that I would write for this group as well, to inspire them to discover the joy of escaping into literature that will last a lifetime.  I haven't been this giddy with excitement in quite some time.

Artist's Date:  Well, an artist double-date.  My husband was offered two tickets to the preview of the Impressionist exhibit and we gladly accepted.  The festivities began at 7:00pm and the entire lobby had been redecorated for the event.  There were actors in period costumes mingling among the crowd and a live band provided appropriate Parisian music. Several projectors had been set up along the hallway leading to the gallery, which showed film clips from that era.  There was a contagious excitement in the air.

The exhibit itself is quite large and features Impressionists' paintings as well as photographs that depict the country's landscape at this dynamic time in France's history.  There was too much to see in one night and the crowd was rather thick, but it was fun to be among the first to see this collection.  I anticipate several more visits - probably during the week when it is less crowded - to not only admire the talent and beauty of these masterpieces, but also to use the collection as research for my NaNo writing.

Craftiness:  No crafts this week... but I did have the opportunity to accompany my granddaughter on a visit to Michaels, which was definitely a highlight of the week.  She adored the animated Christmas houses and felt compelled to arrange all the holiday decorations on the shelf so that they were in exact alignment (she does have some perfectionist tendencies of her grandmother...).  I see many craft adventures this holiday season with this little pumpkin.

Photography:  Sadly, I made no time for photography this week.  The leaves are starting to change though and if I don't make time this week, I fear I will miss my opportunity to capture the colorful landscape.

What's on the Horizon:  I am hoping this week is not as busy with time commitments so that I can focus on planning for the NaNoWriMo event by creating detailed character sketches.  I am looking forward to some solitude in the nook.

I hope this week finds you in a festive fall spirit and you can find some time to relax with a good book and perhaps a nice cup of tea.


  1. What a busy week. I love that things were coming together for your writing.

    We may have to make it over to KC to see the Impressionists exhibit.

    Joy's Book Blog

  2. What a great Sunday Salon post! You are leading such a full-fledged life. I feel the joy of it.

  3. The Impressionist Exhibit looks to be very good. Enjoy your busy week!

  4. Awesome on finding a writer's group that doesn't bite!