Saturday, June 8, 2013


Major Announcement #1:

Starting today, Words from the Sowul has a new home:

Yes, I now have my own self-hosted website! After you're done here, click over to the new site to see the "Welcome" post, which will explain why I chose to move the blog. Please leave me a comment and/or sign up for email notifications when new posts are published!

This will be my last post from Blogger. Most of you click through from Facebook, Twitter or StumbleUpon, so you don't need to worry; I'll just be directing you to the new website. If, however, you went old-school and bookmarked this blog, please change it RIGHT NOW to the address above, or you will be out of the loop on future Words from the Sowul posts. Ready? Go!

Did you change it? Good!

Major Announcement #2:

I've just finished a big revision of my novel, Waist, and am looking for new readers. If you are interested in reading the novel and giving me your thoughts, please email me at (or Facebook message me if that's easier). I'm looking for people who are familiar with the historical and literary fiction genre, and are willing to give me feedback somewhere beyond "I liked it" or "I didn't like it." There will be no deadline or pressure, though if you want your feedback included in the next draft, I would need to hear from you by the beginning of August. I look forward to your responses!

Farewell, Blogger! I am very grateful for your generous hosting over the past 2 years.

Here it is, once more:

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Lesson of the Boggart

This morning I was listening to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and I had one of those (all too frequent) moments when I thought, "J.K. Rowling is a genius."

The scene I was listening to was the first Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson taught by Professor Lupin, where he introduces Harry and his class to a creature known as a boggart. Boggarts live in dark, concealed places. No one knows what shape they take when alone, but when they come into contact with a wizard, they assume the form of the thing the wizard most fears.

The way to get rid of the boggart, Lupin tells the class, is to say the spell, "Riddikulus" while simultaneously thinking of a humorous way to change the thing you most fear. For example, Neville Longbottom most fears evil Professor Snape, so Lupin suggests that Neville picture Snape in Neville's grandmother's green dress, feathered hat, and red handbag. When Neville succeeds in forcing the Snape-boggart into his grandmother's clothes, the class laughs, and after a series of similar shape-changes and more laughter, the boggart is defeated.

Isn't that the most wonderful analogy? Think of the thing you fear, figure out how to make it humorous, and voila, your fear is defeated.

For example, I'm afraid of heights. Well, falling from heights. I don't have a problem with airplanes or tall buildings, but I hate Ferris wheels and tall ladders. I picture myself falling through the air and shattering on the ground. But what if I changed my mental image? What if, instead of picturing myself falling, I pictured a bunch of balloons sprouting from my head, raising me up into the sky so I could float at my leisure? What if I pictured myself growing wings? Or having the ability to reverse the ground and the sky? Maybe having that mental image would help me not take my fear so seriously. Maybe if I could think of a strange and silly outcome, and laugh at it, I could actually get on that Ferris wheel and enjoy myself.

What is your boggart? How would you "Riddikulus" it away?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

CI 4

Yesterday I finished editing draft 6 of my book. Ahhh! I would say it feels good to be done, but I'm going right into draft 7 on Monday. It won't be a revision on the scale of draft 6, but there are few scenes I want to fix before sending it off to more readers.

In the meantime, here are some of my recent Current Influences:

What I'm reading/recently read and LIKED:

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. A must-read for all women and all lovers of sociology.

Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz. Very long and too padded with detail about the Princeton admissions process, but well-written with a strong, very flawed female protagonist. (The admissions information is interesting, but there's too much of it. Skim if you must; it's worth the read.)

Angel Falls by Kristin Hannah. Beautifully written, as her novels always are, but kind of forgettable.

Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella. A fast, fun, whimsical read in true Kinsella style.

What I'm reading/recently read and DISLIKED:

Family Pictures by Jane Green. I used to love Jane Green. I still love her earlier stuff- her writing style is so refreshing, like a fast ramble. But this one was extremely far-fetched and based on impossible coincidences. Though the characters were well-formed, the relationships between them felt awkward and forced, and the story jumped around way too much.

Summer Breeze by Nancy Thayer. Amazon kept recommending Thayer to me, I think because I buy a lot of Elin Hilderbrand's beach-themed books. Thayer is nothing like Hilderbrand. Her writing doesn't flow well, and lacks detail.

I've read others that I didn't actively like or dislike, but wouldn't recommend either way.

What I'm watching...

I finally finished The Dick Van Dyke Show, so now I'm floundering for a new series. So You Think You Can Dance just started, but I don't like the audition episodes, so I'm waiting for the Top 20 episode. I watched 1 1/2 episodes of Smash on Amazon, and I like it so far. Also recently watched:

Inside The Actors Studio. I love this show, and Bravo has been airing a lot of reruns recently to celebrate its 250th episode. My favorite guest so far has been, surprisingly, Jim Carrey. I was so impressed with the elasticity of his face! He truly is an artist. George Clooney was incredibly modest; Kate Hudson was lovely and charming.

Mona Lisa Smile with Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst and Julia Styles. A great movie for anyone interested in the social position of women in the 1950s.

What I'm listening to...

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban narrated by Jim Dale. This is how addicted I am to Harry: it's only been 6 months since I finished listening to the series, and now I'm starting again. Years ago, I borrowed all the audiobooks from the library (except Sorcerer's Stone) and loaded them, one track at a time, onto iTunes. It was frustrating and painstaking, and I had to re-order the tracks several times, but it was worth it.

The Freakonomics Podcast. Economics meets sociology: love, love, love.

Have a beautiful June day!