Holiday Cookies, Recipes, Gløgg, Minnesota, and Mysteries

Tis the season of mysteries. What’s wrapped under the tree? Which liquor spiked the eggnog? Who will surprise us with a sudden yet abiding kindness? For the devout, mysteries underlie faith—the miracle of lights that burn throughout Hanukkah, the divine birth of Jesus under the light of a star, the burning Yule logs celebrating the…

Read More

Research, Diversity, and Writing the Not Me

When I was attending a regional middle school in rural Maine, I wanted to work for the United Nations. It seemed cool—the building’s international design, the New York City setting, the languages, the people of different colors from diverse countries, the mission. At the time, I was enduring mean-girl culture. Snip-snap, realign, re-friend, repeat. Maybe…

Read More

Heroes, Alfred Hitchcock, Pandemics, Cary Grant, and Formulas

  That crop duster. The cornfield. Watch it. Isolated at home during the Covid-19 pandemic and a dreary rainy spell, I watched in Technicolor glory Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 film North by Northwest. Its lumens were intensified by the star power of Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, and James Mason. Cinematic thrills when my day was…

Read More

Back to School with the Craft of Writing: Lessons from Charles Baxter, Walter Mosley, Elizabeth George, Ben Percy, and Richard Russo

I can write. I can write a statement like “Where’s the coffee?” and realize that it is not a statement but a question fraught with suspense. Then I can write “We’ve run out” and realize that a crisis will ensue. Conjuring up a fat novel out of thin air, however, is not a basic Reading-Riting-Rithmatic…

Read More

Adolescence, Social Media, Cyber-bullying, and Scene Stealing

The internet seems a custom fit for the adolescent brain: it is instantly receptive to impulses, secrets told beyond the hearing of adults, silly truth or dare games. Adolescents can find through social media the paradoxical assurance that a) no one has ever felt the way they do, they’re special; b) someone else has felt…

Read More