A Christmas Carol Challenge

My favorite story of all time is Charles Dickens’ 1843 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. I hear some of you groaning. But hear me out. Have you read the book? While there is sentiment, there is also a brutal portrayal of the times. The themes of selfishness and redemption transcend generations. Dickens balances light and dark beautifully, which helps make the payoff so great.

Because of some overly sentimental versions the story is often dismissed. That is a mistake. Dickens condemns the London of Ebenezer Scrooge as he tells the story of redemption. Some of these scenes are difficult to watch (or read), and they are often cut. I am thinking specifically of the scene that Marley shows Scrooge of the ghosts who have lost the power for good, and are condemned to walk the earth powerless to help. Or the two children (Ignorance and Want) that the Ghost of Christmas Present has under his robe. Or Old Joe…

Knowing that I love this story (and I do) I have set up my own December Challenge. To write about a different version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL every day. Think that is impossible? I have a dozen DVDs sitting here right now that give me a good head start on the project.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the daily offerings. The Christmas Carol Challenge 2010 begins tomorrow–see you then!

Level Best Books and Regina

This weekend I am going to Crime Bake. During the weekend I will be on a signing panel for THIN ICE, the new anthology by Level Best Books. “Tag, You’re Dead” is the first story I’ve ever had published. Here’s the blog post that featured me as an author. I am thrilled to be part of this collection. For a lot of reasons.

I missed the first Crime Bake, but have been to every one since. My friend Regina went with me that first year, 2003, the year  Level Best Books first anthology was released. Regina bought it, and walked around asking everyone to sign their stories.

“Wouldn’t it be cool to be in it some year?” she asked me.

Maybe next year I said.

But next year Regina wasn’t able to make it to Crime Bake. She had been diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer in May, and was in the hospital.  The next year she was gone.

Regina was a force. I didn’t know her long (we’d met in a mystery writing class),  but I do think of her every year around Crime Bake.  This year another friend of ours is also in THIN ICE. When I sent Mary a congratulatory email, she wrote back.

“Wouldn’t Regina be proud?” she said.

Regina would be very proud. As am I.


Did you watch SHERLOCK on PBS? Didn’t love the ending (not a fan of indeterminate amount of time cliff hangers) but I loved the too short series. A wonderful homage to the stories. Fabulous updates within the spirit. I especially loved the retake on John Watson. In many ways this is his story as well, and it is a good one. If you missed it, find it. And let me know what you think.

The Oxygen Mask

I have been missing from this blog for a while. It is not because I have nothing to say. Far from it. It is because I am having issues with my oxygen mask.

We all know the analogy. Emergency plane procedures say put your oxygen mask on first, and then help others afix theirs. I preach this to my friends with families. Take care of yourself. One challenge with being single and childless is that I don’t always think I need to worry about balance in my life. Sure, I’ll be on this committee. Of course I will read your play/story/manuscript. Happy to speak at this event. Run a race? Sign me up. All good, but then layer on work and trying (and failing) to write. Balance off.

I have been blogging (see here and here). And I have been thinking. But mostly I’ve been off balance. Of course this always happens at this point in the semester–treading until Thanksgiving. But still. Gotta work on my oxygen mask.

The Shirley VT Marathon

My friend Stephanie and I went to the BCA on a Saturday and saw all three Shirley VT plays. Haven’t heard of them? You will. If not them, you will know about the talented playwright, Annie Baker.  All three plays take place in the fictional town of Shirley VT, but Ms. Baker and her voice are the thread that weaves them together.

I liked them (as you will see in the video), but more than that, I was grateful for them. Because they are plays. Not screen plays on stage.  They are theatrical, contained within their world and helping you explore your world through them.

CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION closes Sunday. BODY AWARENESS and ALIENS close on the 21st. If you live here, don’t miss them. Ben Brantley didn’t.