changes a-coming

I have mentioned before that there are changes afoot around here at pagesofjulia. Now, I’m seeking a little input.

Starting December 30, I will be a student in West Virginia Wesleyan College‘s Master of Fine Arts program studying creative writing, specifically creative nonfiction. This is a full-time commitment, so I’ll be taking my work for Shelf Awareness back to a minimal level: probably one review a month, to start with, while I find out how much free time I have from school.

This means less time (and built-in material) for pagesofjulia, too, obviously. I have found this blog so rewarding and educational an experience, and I’m humbled to have all your follows & comments. I would never want to let this thing go away. But I do have to make more time, and more space in my brain and reading/writing time, for this new priority. I’ve had some thoughts (and some input – thanks Liz) about how I might continue to keep some activity going here, and hopefully keep most of my readers more or less satisfied.

I’m thinking one post a week is a realistic goal, especially if all those posts aren’t wholly new content. And I’m interested in sharing my grad school experience with you, to a certain extent. I thought I could do some combination of reprising older posts, with comments on how my thoughts are changing, or about what books I’m interested in rereading as an MFA student (Joe Gould’s Teeth comes to mind). And I thought I’d do some quick updates on what I’m reading, what I’m writing, and what I’m thinking about on a given day. These would be super short, but hopefully follow the general theme of pagesofjulia. Maybe some teaser-style posts as I find bits of writing I want to share, too. And, the odd review for the Shelf, naturally.

So I would love to know what you’d like to see happen here as life twists and turns. If you could take a minute to answer the poll here, I would be grateful. And of course, if you have further thoughts, please do comment as ever!

The second question is about what day of the week you’d like to see me post. If you have a strong feeling about this, please let me know in a comment. Otherwise, we’ll probably be looking at nice, neutral Wednesdays.

Thanks for your support, friends. And, until the new year begins, don’t worry, I’ll see you back here tomorrow.

personal update: on the road again

This post is a bit belated, I suppose: today is the day that Husband and I hit the road for another cross-country move! It’s been just a hair under two years since we moved from Houston to Bellingham, Washington, and now we are en route to a new home in the sweet little town of New Braunfels, Texas. Two people, two dogs and two bikes (and a big precious sculpture and a tent and sleeping bags and lots of books, etc.) in a truck, southbound.

this is two years ago in a U-Haul. but we probably look something like this. Husband says: "Truck-driving Mama and Dog as her copilot."

this is two years ago in a U-Haul. but we probably look something like this. Husband says: “Truck-driving Mama and Dog as her copilot.”

The great adventure continues, y’all.

More big news: in January I will be entering the low-residency Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing at West Virginia Wesleyan College. (Read more about that program here.) This will bring big changes in my life, and is bound to bring some changes here at pagesofjulia. For one thing, I will be cutting my work for Shelf Awareness back drastically, until I get a grasp of what the school workload looks like. It saddens me to loosen ties with the Shelf, who I adore: this is far and away my favorite job I’ve ever had (although I think of the cancer hospital library fondly). It will be important to me to keep doing what work I can for them; but we’ll just have to see what that looks like.

I will almost certainly have to cut back on posting to this blog, too. I don’t yet know what that will look like. Maybe one book review a week would be a safe goal? I can continue with the occasional teaser and book beginning; but I don’t think the 5-day-a-week format will be realistic. I haven’t worked this out yet. If you have thoughts or feelings, I’d love to know them.

In the meantime, you can picture my little family visiting friends in Bend, Oregon; family in Durango, Colorado; doing some mountain biking; visiting some national parks; and moving into a rental home with a big backyard for the dogs. I will breathe deeply, and keep reading.

Posts will continue while I’m on the road, of course, and I’ll see your comments in a timely manner as ever.

Thanks for your support, friends.

birth/place project launch at Defining Place

A few weeks ago I asked for your help with a project. That project has now gone live: I’m calling it birth/place, and you can visit it here. I want to thank those of you who have offered to contribute, and I invite the rest of you to do so. Also, of course, you are invited to follow birth/place at that link. New images go up every Tuesday morning, so you’ll get just one ping a week (unlike the five-day schedule I keep here).

defining place
I’m having a fabulous time exploring place, and I just hope some others out there find it as fascinating a conceptual journey as I do. Thanks as always for reading, friends.

states project: can you help?

Call this a break in our regularly scheduled programming: I’d love a little help, readers. I am working on a class project that involves making contact with people born in each one of the 50 United States, as well as Washington, D.C. and protectorates like Puerto Rico and Guam. As you can imagine, I know lots of native Texans, and am doing all right with some larger or heavily populated states like California. (I am surprised at how many people I know who were born in Michigan. Why Michigan?) I could use help with some of the teenier states in New England – hello, Rhode Island – and others. I won’t list them here because I’ll probably take all comers: I am accepting multiple submissions.

Where were you born? (image credit)

Where were you born? (image credit)

I am asking for volunteers to receive an email request from me for your participation. If you choose to play, it could take as little as five minutes or so for you to contribute to my project. (There is also room, if you feel so moved, for you to spend more time on your submission, but that is entirely up to you.) If you’re intrigued, please shoot me an email at juliasbookreviews at gmail dot com, and I’ll get back with you. Of course you can always back out, too.

For my readers who were born outside of the United States (& territories etc.), if you’d like to participate, you’re welcome to drop me a line as well. I’m not sure in what form such submissions will make it into the final project, but I’d love to hear from you. It would be great to be able to expand this concept on a global scale, but as an issue of scale & simplicity, I’m beginning with just the one country.

Thanks for helping, if you choose! And always, thanks for reading.

“Landspeak” by Robert Macfarlane

Here is another that I cannot improve upon by commenting. Words and places, beautifully composed? I am sold. I’ve heard a lot about Robert Macfarlane but this short piece is all of his writing that I’ve actually read. Clearly I’ll need to find more.

Please enjoy



my anniversary in history

This post is somewhat related to a an ongoing series.


Today is the 7th anniversary of my marriage to this handsome, supportive, bike-riding, brewing Husband.

wed

On a far more sober note, some reading I did several months ago yielded these surprising coincidences. Also on April 19, in 1937:

  • Picasso began to conceive & sketch his theme for a commissioned mural that would become Guernica;
  • Canadian Norman Bethune resigned from the revolutionary blood transfusion organization he had founded & shaped in republican Spain; and
  • sent by the Nazis, twelve newly designed Messerschmitt Bf 109s arrived in northern Spain to support Franco’s forces.

These are momentous events that shaped the Spanish Civil War and its place in history, and I was struck that a day so meaningful in my life would have such larger implications. I just wanted to share.

…Thanks to Hell and Good Company, a fine book by Richard Rhodes, for these timely details.

John Vaillant at Village Books

Way back when I interviewed John Vaillant – in, I think, September of 2014 – I was living in Houston and getting ready to move to the Pacific Northwest. He mentioned that he’d be speaking at Village Books in February. And here we are: I went to hear him read and talk with Husband and Pops.

You know that I enjoyed his book; and I’ll tell you now that our interview was one of the most enjoyable (and moving) that I’ve ever done.

What I learned from this event is still more to his credit. It’s incredibly rare for an author who is this good with words – no, wait. First of all it’s rare for an author to be this good with words. But for an author like that to also be this composed a speaker; this articulate about the writing process; this calm and easy with an audience, this engaged with the people he’s speaking to; to have a strong speaking voice, read his own work beautifully; and then to be extremely funny to boot… well. I’ll cease raving and tell you just to go see him if you get the chance.

Also, I’m well convinced that his two earlier books, The Golden Spruce and The Tiger, would be up my alley. Sadly, as ever, my reading schedule is booked (ha), so we’ll see when I get around to them.

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