When Apple bonks writer

imagesMy agent Courtney says that her clients divide into pantsers (those who write by the seat of their pants) and planners (who ignore pants and plan). I’m a planner. By necessity. If I had to worry about plot at the same time as all the rest: theme, pacing, character, dialogue, imagery, setting, diction, etc, etc, I’d absolutely short circuit.

So I plan out what happens in each chapter (a couple lines for each), and then flesh out this into a few pages, sort of a list, before starting a new chapter. That way the first draft goes if not quickly, then more quickly.

I was working away, actually with good speed, on chapter 3 of book 4 when suddenly my Apple begins methodically underlining everything. Grammar wrong. Spelling wrong. In one wild paranoid moment, I took this as Apple’s judgement on the whole novel: it wouldn’t work at all. This is distressing.

I calmed down a tad and checked to see if maybe there was a language issue. Indeed, the language had set itself to Italian. Which is spooky since of all the scores of languages that Apple can be judgmental about, Italian is the only one I know. Except that (Hello, Apple!) I’m writing in English. So I select English (US) and set the default English, start writing, the underlining begins again, but now comes the dreaded whirling rainbow circle which means to the non-geek: “I am not responding to you. I don’t care about you. I will NEVER stop whirling.”

I figured I knew what to do. Shut down and start up. Same problem, response, shut down again. The third (or fourth) time, now Apple will be happy with nothing but Dutch. My first book was translated into Dutch. Does Apple know this?

Despondent, confused, a seat-of-the-pants Apple user, I unplugged and packed up the Apple with the idea that my smart friend Melissa I was meeting for lunch would figure this out. But when I started up the Apple in Yassim’s Falafel House, all was fixed. Was it the smell of falafel?

Come home, happy. But no. The same thing. Back to Italian. Very distressed. I will work on my iPad until my husband comes home. Writing is hard enough without an Apple on your case. To be continued.

Posted in Writing

Prompts for Awakening

imagesI just finished a four-session writing workshop on the theme of awakening with my magnificent poet-friend Linda Parsons Marion. She did two sessions on poetry and I did two on narrative. This being the beginning of spring and all, awakening seemed a good theme.
Here are some of the prompts I used for one exercise. The idea is connect one of these phrases to a moment of awakening in your life (or your character’s) life and write, just write for 10 minutes. Quantity is your goal. Try for a full page in ten minutes. Revise later and don’t pay any mind to that insidious critic voice in our heads. Just open the spigot and write. You’ll be amazed. Personally, I like free-writes with pen and paper—it feels more organic, but tastes differ. Have at it, and enjoy and if you feel moved to share the process or product, I’d be grateful.
I see him/her so differently now
Now I see why
I was so much younger then
This is what parenting really means
I can do this!
I’m free!
Now I’m in (or out of) this relationship
There’s a side of all this that I never saw before
NO! I won’t do this.
This may not look like the place, but it’s the place.
I never thought this would happen. It just did.

Posted in Writing

Our Irish-Bulgarian Cabbage Connection

Are you pondering Sphotot. Patrick’s Day? I modestly propose a fusion pairing of Irish corned beef and Bulgarian cabbage. The recipe for the later was part of our daughter Emilia’s patrimony when we adopted her at age 10 from Bulgaria. With no English, she took us shopping for the ingredients in Austin, TX while we waited for her citizenship hearing (citizenship wasn’t automatic then). It was the first dish she cooked for us and we were quite impressed. The next time you’re hankering for Irish-Bulgarian Fusion, or just delicious winter food, try Emilia’s cabbage. You’ll need:
1 cabbage, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4-6 slices of thick, smoked bacon
4 T paprika
T Vegetable oil
2 T olive oil (optional)

Saute the onion in the oil. In a separate pan, saute the bacon. Chop the cabbage and put in large, flat baking dish. Mix with 2 T paprika. Add bacon and its grease and onion and its oil. Mix well with another 2 T paprika. I know, it’s a lot of paprika, but your goal is that the cabbage looks like the picture, sort of rosy. And this is Eastern Europe, remember. Paprika Land. Emilia drizzles on a couple more T of olive oil because she likes oil. You can do this or not. Bake for about an hour at 350, turning several times.

Posted in WWWS

imagesI’m in the Prohibition Era for my book in progress and found this charming, linguistic plan of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union to rid European immigrants of their nasty drinking ways and steer them straight to apple juice and Coca-Cola.

“We must have a regiment of American workers, who will learn the German language, love the German people, work among the German children and young people until we get them to love clear brains better than beer. There must be others who for the love of country and dear humanity will learn the Scandinavian language and be real neighbors to the many people of this nationality who have come to make homes in America. Again others must learn the French and Italian and various dialects, even, that the truths of personal purity and total abstinence be taught to these who dwell among us. We must feel it a duty to teach these people the English language to put them in sympathy with our purposes and our institutions.”

What d’ya think? Gonna work?


Posted in New novel

What’s cooking, 1910’s?


I’m developing my fourth novel, set after World War I, and as always, interested in finding out what people were eating. Here’s some of the new foods on the market and around town. In some cases, the dates are the appearance of a food in a major cookbook.
1914: Chicken fried steak, fettuccine Alfredo
1915: Hush puppies, peanut butter cookies
1916: Apple crisp
1917: Icebox cake, black cow, Moon Pies, Marshmallow Fluff, and 55 Ways to Save Eggs
1918: Fannie Farmer’s Boston Cooking School Cookbook
1919: Hostess Cup Cakes, chocolate truffles
1920’s: Comes the explosion: Egg creams, chiffon pie, Eskimo Pie, Good Humor ice creams, Yoo-hoo, cube steak, Wonderbread, zucchini (in the U.S.) Vegemite, Girl Scout cookies,Texas hot weiners, Kool-Aid, Jujyfruit, Twinkies, Jiffy, Heinz 57, Gerber’s, dry soup mix, cheese puffs, Vidalia onions, Frisbie Pies, tacos (in LA), sliced bread.

Which of these wonderful inventions are you most grateful for?

Posted in Food

“Why Men Drink,” p. 22

why-men-drinkIn research for my next book, I was looking for early 20th C magazines accepting fiction from unknowns. The American Magazine read submissions blind, and published many new writers along with some of the great writers of the day: Sherwood Anderson, Graham Greene, Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Upton Sinclair, etc. And they neatly answered vexing questions, like “Why men drink.” But alas, I can’t see page 22. Apparently it has to do with little cannons . . .

Posted in New novel, Writing

Under the Same Blue Sky blurbs

51Sp1fJm5DL._AA160_I’m happy to share our first blurbs from advance copies of my coming-in-May third novel, Under the Same Blue Sky.
“From the smoke-filled streets of Pittsburgh to the war-ravaged landscape of Europe, Under the Same Blue Sky is the story of one woman’s wonderfully determined journey through a world at the edge of war to seek her family’s past and her own future.”—Jessica Brockmole, author of Letters from Skye
“The past returns in this story of the Great War, to tell of some who survived and some who didn’t. Hazel Renner is a hesitant healer, a young woman afraid of her gift. When the power to cure physical ailments deserts her, she tries instead to mend the human spirit. Rich in historical detail, this novel describes what it is to be gentle in a world gone terribly mad.” —Rita Legansky, author of The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow
Absorbing and layered with rich historical details, Schoenewaldt weaves a tender and at times, heartbreaking story about German-Americans during World War I.  With remarkable compassion, the author skillfully portrays conflicted loyalties, the search for belonging, the cruelty of war, and the resilience of the human spirit.”—Ann Weisgarber, author of The Promise and The Personal History of Rachel Dupree


Posted in Under the Same Blue Sky

Under the Same Blue Sky, publication! May 5, 2015. Launch at Laurel Theater, Knoxville on May 7 @ 7 pm.

Monday, April 6, 2015. Making it Real: Research Techniques for the Smart Writer. Blount County Public Library, Maryville, TN

April 9-11, 2015. Tennessee Mountain Writers Conference. Workshop on historical fiction and panel on agents. DoubleTree Hotel, Oak Ridge, TN

Thursday, May 14. Shell Shock & PTSD: Fiction & Fact. Lawson McGhee Public Library, Knoxville, TN

Swimming in the Moon to be published in German.

Recent Review
"A testament to the love and enduring bond between mothers and daughters, childhood friendships and adopted family, Swimming in the Moon is a must read for anyone who enjoys beautiful, richly drawn characters and a historical setting so realistic one would believe they had been transported into another time. A glorious, unforgettable novel. A+" Pittsburgh Examiner

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts.

Join 1,783 other followers


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,783 other followers

%d bloggers like this: