Lowcountry Bribe by C. Hope Clark is the perfect fall read. It is the kind of book you curl up with for a weekend along with your coffee and a warm blanket. But be warned! It is hard to put down once you start reading. I finished it in two sittings. Lowcountry Bribe is a fast-paced mystery with an amazing protagonist, Carolina Slade. First, I love her name! Second, she is a great protagonist. She is not Ms. Perfect. She is flawed in her own unique ways and that is refreshing. She makes mistakes and poor judgments (as we all do) and we get to witness the consequences for the choices that she makes. Carolina Slade isn’t the only loveable character. There is also Wayne, the hunky but somewhat troubled investigator who often butts heads with Carolina Slade, and Carolina’s quirky and energetic best friend Savvy. In addition to these loveable characters, C. Hope Clark gives us plenty of unlikeable and suspicious characters, enough to make us wonder who the guilty party really is all the way until the end.
Besides the great cast of characters, I also loved the fast pace of Lowcountry Bribe and how C. Hope Clark ended each chapter in such a way that it was nearly impossible to put the book down without reading just…one…more…chapter. The development of the characters was done really well, too. Even though I feel like I was given a satisfactory ending to the book, I can’t wait to read the next two books in the Carolina Slade Mystery series (Tidewater Murder and Palmetto Poison) and to see where she takes the characters. And if that isn’t enough, C. Hope Clark has a new mystery series, The Edisto Island Mysteries, and has just released the first book, Murder on Edisto.
I wrote a proposal for funding and other support to start a writing group last month, but my proposal was rejected for reasons that are complicated but completely understandable. However, that doesn’t make it any less disappointing. I had taken a lot of time to put my ideas on paper and to select the items that I wanted to purchase for each participant so that I could create a budget. It felt so good to complete the proposal and I was excited by the possibilities. It was a major letdown to not be able to move forward with my plans.
A few weeks later I was talking to a friend of mine who had read some of my memoir pieces and she mentioned that she had always wanted to write down her life experiences but didn’t really know where to start or how to do it. Her son was leaving for college and I wanted to get her a gift that would help fill the gap that her son moving away would leave. Then something clicked in my mind. A journal! Now that would be the perfect gift. She would have the time to write and I could provide her with the tools necessary to do so. I ordered The Spirit of Flight journal and a Pentel Arts Slicci metallic pen with violet ink. She loved it!
After she received her new journal I noticed something extraordinary. I would be having a conversation with someone and a little voice would say, “She needs a journal!” And so I began sending these journals as special gifts to women who are important in my life. As I sit here, I imagine us all filling blank journal pages with our life experiences, hopes, dreams, fears, and adventures and our collective empowerment being sent out into the universe. At the beginning of Leslea Newman’s book Write from the Heart: Inspiration and Exercises for Women Who Want to Write there is a quote by Muriel Rukeyser: “What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.” I want to help make that happen! I want to begin a journal revolution. Won’t you help me? Listen to those you talk with. Listen to the small voice when it tells you: “This woman needs a journal, a gift, a safe place to split her world wide open.”
If you decide to join the revolution and send a journal to a woman you know (or one you don’t) come back here and leave a comment. I would love to hear about it!
Inventing the Truth is comprised of a collection of essays that address the art and craft of memoir by authors such as Annie Dillard, Frank McCourt, and Toni Morrison. I found many of the essays to be helpful in their offering of advice on writing memoir. Many discuss the author’s evolutionary writing process; their research techniques; the length of time to complete their memoirs; and how they dealt with writing about people close to them that were still living (some asked permission and offered to take out anything disagreeable, others avoided writing about the living altogether). In the back of the book is a bibliography of important books to Zinsser and to each of the authors in their writing journey. This is an invaluable resource for any writer. I was inspired by the wide variety of approaches to writing memoir included in this collection of essays. It gave me a greater understanding of how important it is to do the research and then develop my own approach. I also learned a great deal about organizing my research and writing which I have already begun to put into practice.
This book covers the basics of writing memoir. The first section includes “teaching boxes” that are great for quick reference when writing. Topics in these boxes include voice, first person, and narrative. The book also includes suggestions for writing at the end of each chapter which are a great way to get your creative mind flowing and to practice what Barrington discusses in each chapter. Barrington addresses what memoir is; the all-consuming question many memoir writers obsess over: Who Cares?; finding form for your memoir; the law and writing memoir; and a discussion on truth which is a very important debate among memoir writers. My favorite section is on the writers’ myth which includes the belief that one must be depressed or suffering from some sort of addiction in order write. Also addressed in this section is the belief that in order to write a memoir you must already be famous or know someone who is famous (something I have personally worried about). The end of the book includes an Index to Authors and Titles that is a fantastic reference for additional reading. I recommend this to any writer working on memoir. Even experienced writers can benefit from what Barrington has to say about the memoir writing process and the suggestions for writing she includes at the end of each chapter.
This was a quick exercise we did in class on Tuesday night after reading Terry Tempest Williams’ essay “Why I Write.”
I write because it connects me to a lost part of myself. I write to recover memory. I write to release pain and shame. I write to bring myself to life. I write to never forget. I write to tell secrets I’m never supposed to tell. I write to share my life with the world. I write so that others will be compelled to write too. I write to bring about change. I write because it’s all I have ever wanted to do. I write because it keeps me from being lonely. I write because it helps me feel less afraid. I write to silence the demons. I write to quiet the ghosts. I write to heal. I write to understand. I write to forgive.
If you decide to do this exercise and post on your blog, please come back and leave a link so that I can read it.