Literary Wanderings: Sleepy Hollow, New York

IMG_1523I pulled into the town of Sleepy Hollow on a Thursday evening, just before the cemetery closed. In the dying light, the stones looked slanted, the trees, twisted and sinister. It wasn’t hard to understand why Washington Irving chose it as the setting for his famous story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. It did, in fact, look like a place where people might be “given to all kinds of marvelous beliefs,” and “sunbeams seem to sleep so quietly, one would think that there at least the dead might rest in peace.”

I started off on foot, but the cemetery was larger than it had seemed at first glance. I began to worry that the gates might shut, and I would be stuck among the stones when the bronze statue of the woman in the chair (rumored to prowl the property each night) woke up.

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I climbed back into my car and drove along the looping roads until I came to the famous bridge.

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The bridge in the cemetery is a replica. The real site is in town, but this one seemed spooky enough. A dirt path led up to and from it, upon which it was easy enough to imagine Ichabod running, just before he and the horseman disappeared into thin air.

After visiting Irving’s gravestone, I visited the Old Dutch church, said to be the place where Ichabod sought refuge from the Headless Horseman. It is, in fact, a stop on a walking tour that traces the path he took as he fled.

IMG_1531Before I left, I took a quick tour of the town. Although not as spooky, Sleepy Hollow and nearby Tarrytown were picturesque and also worth wandering through.

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My Book Has a Cover!

I have the cover for Bright Coin Moon, and I am excited to share it with you. Here it is:

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Here is the description:

Set against the colorful backdrop of immoral psychics and dishonest scam artists, Bright Coin Moon tells a story of longing and loyalty and the emotional burden of sacrifice.

Seventeen-year-old Lindsey Allen is an A-student who has her heart set on becoming an astronomer. But first she must break away from her mother, an eccentric failed beauty queen who has set up a phony psychic reading shop in their Oregon garage.

Lindsey is biding time until she graduates high school, reading tarot cards for the neighbors in her mother’s shop and recording the phases of the moon in her Moon Sign notebook. Her life changes when her mother, Debbie, decides they should move to California to become Hollywood psychics to the stars. As they pull out of the driveway, Lindsey looks up at the silver morning moon. It’s a bright coin moon, which means only one thing: what we leave behind today will rise up tomorrow.

When mother and daughter arrive in Los Angeles with new identities, they move into a leaky, run-down building and spend their nights stalking restaurants and movie premieres to catch that one celebrity they hope will be their ticket. When it seems they will never make it in LA, Lindsey is assigned a new mentor through her school. Joan is a lonely, wealthy widow who can’t get past the death of her husband, Saul. Debbie is convinced they’ve hit the jackpot, and plans for a future séance commence.

Bright Coin Moon will release on November 4, but you can pre-order it now here.

 

Poem In Your Pocket Day

IMG_0740Today is Poem In Your Pocket Day. The idea is simple: pick a poem you like and put it in your pocket. Then, throughout the day, as you run into friends and family, share it. The Academy of American Poets has some more ideas about how you can celebrate on their website.

The poem I chose today is by a 13th century Persian poet named Rumi (Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī). Here it is:

Spring Giddiness

By Rumi

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.
I would love to kiss you.
The price of kissing is your life.
Now my loving is running toward my life shouting,
What a bargain, let’s buy it.

Daylight, full of small dancing particles
and the one great turning, our souls
are dancing with you, without feet, they dance.
Can you see them when I whisper in your ear?
All day and night, music,
a quiet, bright
reedsong. If it
fades, we fade.

How about you? Are you celebrating Poem in Your Pocket Day? What’s your favorite poem?

Five For Friday: Contests and Links

1. The Rising Star Contest for writers of women’s fiction.  It offers the chance for  feedback from three published authors, plus the opportunity to break out of the slush pile and land on the desk of five final round judges, all acquiring agents of women’s fiction.

2 The Leapfrog Fiction Contest is open for entries until May 1. The prize is publication by Leapfrog Press. There is a middle grade / YA category as well as a category for adult fiction.

3. The Nowhere Spring Travel Writing Contest is looking for travel stories. The prize is $1,000 and publication in the upcoming issue of Nowhere.

4. Jane Freidman brings you a guide to query letters that get manuscript requests.

5. A writing game from The Los Angeles Times.

Have a great weekend everyone!

 

On Spring

IMG_0741March went out like a lion with one last blast of snow, but now it’s April, and I’m seeing the signs. Just this morning, a flock of about 20 Canada Geese settled in my yard. They startled when the mail truck arrived and took off in the direction of the pond. The maple trees in my back yard have sprouted red blooms, and last night, when I stepped out on the porch, I’m pretty sure I heard Wood Frogs. I’ve moved my runs from the treadmill to outside, and it seems like everything path I turn down I see something new. It’s started me thinking about the way we notice things, and how this relates to writing, and how truly astonishing the world really is.

In Walden Pond, Thoreau writes:

“One attraction in coming to the woods to live was that I should have leisure and opportunity to see the Spring come in. The ice in the pond at length begins to be honeycombed, and I can set my heel in it as I walk. Fogs and rains and warmer suns are gradually melting the snow; the days have grown sensibly longer; and I see how I shall get through the winter without adding to my woodpile, for large fires are no longer necessary. I am on the alert for the first signs of spring, to hear the chance note of some arriving bird, or the striped squirrel’s chirp, for his stores must be now nearly exhausted, or see the woodchuck venture out of his winter quarters.”

He goes on to measure the water, and the dimensions of the pond, and to talk at length about the booming sound the ice makes each night as it breaks up. Everything is studied. Everything is noticed. Everything is pointed out. I’ll never go off to live in the woods by myself, and really, I wouldn’t want to, but this spring, as I write, I hope to capture some of that wonder. And I hope that for you, too.

 

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day and Some Writing Links

Photo by Delphabar

My daughter and I are wearing green rubber band bracelets to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. We made two armfuls of these things last week, and they are surprisingly fun and addictive.

photo-16We are also planning to make green shamrock shaped Rice Krispie Treats. Recipe here. This will probably be the extent of our celebration. How are you celebrating? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Now, for some fun links:

Vuse brings you eight Irish Authors to try.

Spoonful explains how to make a leprechaun trap here.

The Washington Post has some great St. Patrick’s Day recipes.

Guardian Books brings you a podcast of Irish Writers.

The Huffington Post brings you the 5 best places to celebrate the holiday.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! May the luck of the Irish be with you in all of your writing endeavors.