Friday, November 26, 2021

An Interview with Ohio Author John Thorndike

Ohio Author John Thorndike

An Interview with Ohio Author John Thorndike

 

The first time I met John Thorndike was at the 2010 Ohioana Book Festival. He was a signing author and my table was not far from his. I purchased John's book The Last of His Mind and feel fortunate that he lives in the next county over. John’s bio:

 

John Thorndike grew up in New England, graduated from Harvard, took an MA from Columbia, then lit out for Latin America. He spent two years in the Peace Corps in El Salvador and two, with his wife and child, on a backcountry farm in Chile. Eventually he settled with his son in Athens, Ohio, where for ten years his day job was farming. Then it was construction. His first two books were novels, followed by a memoir, Another Way Home, about his wife’s schizophrenia and his life as a single parent (“The directness, the honesty, the terrible plain chant of the narrative stunned me.”—Doris Grumbach.) A second memoir, The Last of His Mind, describes his father’s year-long descent into Alzheimer’s, and was a Washington Post Best Book of 2009. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly called it “a beautiful book.” A Hundred Fires in Cuba is his latest novel, and he’s at work on the next one, a half-fictional evocation of his mother’s life.

 

Welcome, John!

 

GM: What is the premise for your new book?

JT:  After writing a memoir about my father and his Alzheimer’s, I wanted to write a book about my mother. It had to be a novel, for I knew I’d be making up many details and scenes. I wrote A Hundred Fires in Cuba, which I meant to be about my mother, but you know how characters can ride off into their own stories in a book. Ginny, who started out much like Virginia Thorndike, falls in love with a Cuban revolutionary in the Castro days, and flies off into another life, nothing like my mother’s. So I wrote another book, The World Against Her Skin, which will come out next spring from Beck & Branch. As it says on the back cover,

 

The World Against Her Skin is a biographical novel in which much is remembered and much imagined. “I stay close to my mother’s story,” the author explains, “but to know the details I had to make them up.”

 

GM: How do you maintain thoughts and ideas?

JT: I try—and often fail—to keep the world at bay. I don’t have a television, I have a cell phone but rarely turn it on in my house. I stay away from Facebook and Twitter and such. I do go on my laptop, all the time, but I try not to wander around on it. I clear up my emails, I might follow some current news, but then I go into WordPerfect and try to stay there. I’m not always successful.

 

GM: Where do you like to write?

JT: Years ago I found a little stand that works perfectly for writing while lying down, and ever since I’ve written either in or on my bed. My back seems to like it, and it helps, at least slightly, to keep me in place, to keep me focused on whatever I’m writing. I’m less likely to jump up and look at something, do something, take care of something.

 

GM: Do you have a muse or other inspiration that sparks creative ideas?

JT: I don’t. At least I’ve never thought of it that way. I guess my inspiration is the book at hand. What gets me going is the work itself. I open up a file. There’s the book I’m working on. I resist it. I resist focusing on it. I’m not into it. But I start reading what I wrote the day before, and of course it needs some work. Before it’s done, I’m going to rewrite passages ten times. twenty times. The story draws me in. Perhaps this is why I’m inclined to longer books, rather than to short stories or poems. The truck is already lumbering down the road, and I must jump on and start steering, all over again.

 

GM: What are you currently reading?

JT: I always have a pile on my bedside table. Right now I’m about to finish J.M. Coetzee’s Scenes From Provincial Life, and I’ve started Peggy Gish’s Iraq, which I’d somehow never read, but bought at the Monday Creek fair. I’ve also been working for some months on Gabriel García Márquez’s El amor en los tiempos del cólera. I’ve always wanted to read it in Spanish, but that does go slower.

 

GM: Do you have advice for novice writers?

JT: I think Natalie Goldberg has some great ideas about writing: about getting it to flow, about getting scenes and characters and ideas down on paper. Among her rules:

 

Keep your hand moving. No matter what, don't stop. ...

Lose Control. Let it rip. ...

Be specific. ...

Don't think. ...

Don't worry about spelling, punctuation or grammar. ...

You are free to write the worst junk in the world. ...

Go for the jugular.

 

She explains this all in her great book, Writing Down The Bones.

 

GM: Please share your book marketing secrets...

JT: It’s infinite, the time you can spend on marketing. But of course, marketing is part of the world that interferes with writing. Still, book fairs are a great way to connect to other writers, and sometimes publishers. Radio interviews are fun. Once, to promote Another Way Home, I bought a van and lived in it for five months, driving all around the country and stopping in at 160 bookstores, just to alert the staff to my book. For A Hundred Fires in Cuba I took a booth at the Miami Book Fair, drove down there, sat and stood in the booth for four days, talking to anyone who slowed down. Lots of Cubans in Miami, so that was the place to go. I spent far more than I earned, but what fun that was.

 

GM: List 10 things your fans may not know about you...

JT: –I’m a grandfather. I will talk your ear off about my grandkids. Kinda predictable.

 

–I ran an organic farm in Athens for ten years in the late Seventies and early Eighties. Organic produce was new at the time, almost unknown and eventually I took my organic sign down as unproductive. This was after hearing one woman explain to another, “It means it’s full of bugs and things.”

 

–For one eight-month period, when we were living on a farm in Chile, my wife and I bought only four foods: wheat, salt, cooking oil and yerba mate. Everything else came out of our garden and the hen house.

 

–I’m a founding member of the Men’s Noncoercive League. Well, after all these years there are still only two of us—and the other member is no longer a man, she has emerged as a woman.

 

–My two favorite books are Annie Dillard’s The Maytrees and James Salter’s Light Years. They sit between my mattress and headboard, and I read them over and over.

 

–I’ve been a volleyball fanatic since I played on the OU club team in the mid-Seventies, and I’ve made almost a hundred videos of the Bobcat women’s team, all posted at MatchPointOhio on YouTube.

 

–Like my father, I’m a bit of a nutcase on grammar. No, you’re not laying on the ground, you’re lying there. My dad kept his mouth shut about it, and I try to.

 

–My parents have died, many friends have died, and the topic creeps into half my conversations. I don’ resist it.

 

–For thirty years, the bumper sticker on my car has been a quote from my son: I Do What I Feel Like  –Janir

 

--I have an ancestor, George Jacobs, who was hanged (not hung, my father would point out) as a wizard at the Salem witch trials.

 

Books by John Thorndike:

Anna Delaney’s Child

The Potato Baron

Another Way Home

The Last of His Mind

A Hundred Fires in Cuba

 

Connect with John Thorndike:

www.johnthorndike.com

Amazon Author Page






 

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Thanksgiving Day by Sandra Russell


 Original Art & Story by (c) Sandra Russell

Thanksgiving Day

Bring what food you can, but above all bring
the three most important things.
 Faith, Hope, and Charity.
This is what Thanksgiving Day celebrates.

Thanksgiving Day approaches and with it more than a little melancholy. People do want that feeling of the perfect family union. For some of us that means a loving white haired grandmother who is the best cook in the valley, smiling and rosy cheeked, able to lift a 20 lb. turkey in and out of an oven, and who has all the pure vanilla ($20 a bottle) and chocolate chips, pumpkins to scrape and transform into pies, sweets, and healthy stuff you could want, (but this healthy stuff also tastes like heaven). It would be nice if a grandpa with a pipe sat in a plaid shirt by a roaring fireplace. In his company a sweet cat, and maybe a collie lies quietly dreaming  on the hearth. Someone just got a new puppy, and he greets you playfully as an old friend?

We have these fancies or some similar expectations. We go visiting not to ‘get away from it all’ but to get it all.  We want to find this warmth, these scents, this bond of sharing. This is a time we expect to live in the moment with a delicious sensual feast. We want time to stand still but also want the past to be there too; we get very nostalgic.

Some of us have family nearby who are close, we have grandparents living and puppies or a sweet cat, maybe a fireplace and a TV. But often some of us are far from ‘home’ - some of us are alone and so feel cheated somehow that this picture is just for other somebody else’s life. Well that could be true.

Consider the first American Thanksgiving and how uncomfortable and afraid the people must have been. No grandpa with a pipe, no collie, no vanilla…Gosh…but what they did have was friendly neighbors who shared fears of starvation in winter and brought them supplies and showed them how to store and prepare unknown grains and meats, nuts and fruit. They had their faith, and they had love in their hearts. So that is the number one thing you need to bring to any potluck you host or attend. True appreciation. Bring what food you can, but above all bring the three most important things. Faith, Hope, and Charity. This is what Thanksgiving Day celebrates. Love and warmth, sustaining the dark and cold winter ahead. Not a bad thing to appreciate.   

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Loud Poetry from a Quiet Girl


I am a poet who has been hiding all her work in a journal and wants to share it with the world. I want to be able to offer insight and encouragement to those who need it. As well as validate those who feel very out place and alone. Let them know that they aren't as alone as it feels, because I completely understand that feeling. I hope my work can offer that relation and inspiration one needs.

Follow on Instagram @ whorespeak



 

Monday, November 22, 2021

Milliron Monday: Thanksgiving

 

Milliron Farm: Photo from the Smith Family archives


Abbott "Pete" Smith D.V.M.
June 16, 1938 - February 22, 2010
Welcome to Milliron Monday where every Monday we celebrate the legacy of Pete Smith, D.V.M., and  Milliron: Abbott “Pete” Smith, D.V.M. The Biography (Monday Creek Publishing 2017), including his wife Jody (1938-2021). 

"Everything was over the top."

Thanksgiving should be revered for family ties - parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends. Last Wednesday I asked Jessica about her childhood memories of Thanksgiving...

"We always traveled to Mansfield, Ohio. We went to my Uncle Gary Franklin's and Aunt Aggie's house. Aunt Aggie gave us our Christmas presents on Thanksgiving. She had the presents all wrapped and packed so that we could take them home and open them on Christmas Day. Her home was impeccable - white carpet, etc.

Uncle Gary, who was a dentist, would do all of our dental work on Thanksgiving Day. Sometimes he would do dental work before dinner, sometimes after. Sometimes we were unable to eat.

My Aunt Aggie would make the meal. Mom helped in the kitchen. My Uncle Gary and my Grandfather Peter Franklin Haley would go pheasant hunting in the mornings. When they came in, we would eat. They all wished they were watching football, but Uncle Gary would haul us over to his dental office and crank away on our teeth."

I asked Jessica where her dad, Pete, was all this time. "He was either getting his teeth cleaned or sleeping. He would be asleep within seconds of being at the house. He loved eating Aunt Aggie's food - sweet potatoes with nuts, turkey. Everything was over the top."

As we journey to Thanksgiving Day, may we all find fond memories, sift the good from the bad, and make new memories. 

Happy Thanksgiving!


Through captivating, powerful, and emotional anecdotes, we celebrate the life of Dr. Abbott P. Smith. His biography takes the reader from smiles to laughter to empathy and tears. Dr. Smith gave us compelling lessons learned from animals; the role animals play in the human condition, the joy of loving an animal, and the awe of their spirituality. A tender and profound look into the life of a skilled veterinarian.

 

Saturday, November 20, 2021

An Interview with Ohio Author Robin Melet

Author Robin Melet at the Monday Creek Book Festival, November 2021

An Interview with Ohio Author Robin Melet


Robin Melet was born in Trotwood, Ohio. She has a in B.A. Mass Communications, Wright State University. Melet’s prior employment includes Freelance Columnist with The Impact Weekly in Dayton, Ohio, and a Feature Freelance Writer with The Dayton City Paper, which also used to be in Dayton, Ohio. Melet is an eleven-time published poet with Eber and Wein Publishing Company. Her first poem was called, "I Am Worth More than THAT!"

 

Melet has a compassionate heart and her soul really vibes with people, both men and women, especially those in abusive relationships or healing from abusive patterns. She loves people who dare to just sincerely be themselves. Melet is certified by the State of Ohio as a NAMI Facilitator and I have a Certified Dementia Practitioner's license. She is a caregiver who takes care of the elderly population in their homes. Melet’s specialty for the last nine years has been with people who have brain challenges like Dementia, Alzheimer's, Aphagia, etc.  

 

Melet says, “My writing is my gift. God gave me the courage and inspiration to be a writer who likes to inspire, encourage, enlighten and empower with  written and verbal words. My book, Through the Sliver of a Frosted Window-A Story of Hope and Faith is my gift to the world. I hope it will help others to not give up when life seems too tough."

 

Welcome, Robin!

 

GM: What is the premise for your new book?

RM: My book is my gift to the world. I hope it will inspire people. I want to reach one million minds and more.

 

GM: How do you maintain thoughts and ideas?

RM: I maintain thoughts and ideas with all writing projects by writing them down as soon as they come into my head. Since this is an autobiography, I had to ask myself, "Where do I start?" My reply, as with any story, is at the beginning. :)

 

GM: Where do you like to write?

RM: I love to write near water and by nature. I love to listen to music when I write. Sometimes, angelic meditation music, sometimes just plain classic rock and roll!

 

GM: Do you have a muse or other inspiration that sparks creative ideas?

RM: I enjoy reading other poet's poetry, taking walks in the woods and looking at art. I especially love interior designed homes. They are always so pretty.

 

GM: What are you currently reading?

RM: I am currently reading "Publish, Promote, Profit," by Rob Kosberg

 

GM: What are you currently writing?

RM: I am finishing up my first poetry book with illustrations by my best friend, Annie M. I plan to get it published within the next couple of months.

 

GM: Do you have advice for novice writers?

RM: I love to share tips about my craft. Sometimes, less words are best. Get to the point without getting in the way of your characters or story. Know your audience. Who do you want your writing to affect? What do you want your story to tell? Always try to show, rather than tell your readers what to think. I like to use many adjectives. Be disciplined in knowing your work has value. It is YOUR special gift to the world. You alone, are unique and only you will create your original. Be courageous in being yourself. Be proud of yourself. Be patient with yourself. Very important tip...Set aside, for example, 2-4 hours of just being with your creation. Turn off all social media. Don't even look at your emails, texts or Tik Tok! Lol! Schedule in your time every day, every week. Be genuine and believe in yourself. I believe in you!

 

Thank you for this amazing experience! I would like to close with this wonderful quote from Wayne Gretzky - "You miss 100% of the shots you didn't take."

 

Connect with Robin…

Publisher: Rebecca Benston with Higher Ground Books and Media

Publisher's email: highergroundbooksandmedia.com

 

Amazon – Available in Paperback, eBook, and Audible

 

Robin Melet's email: rockinwriter0131@aol.com

facebook and Intsagram (Robin_Melet)




An Interview with Ohio Author John Thorndike

Ohio Author John Thorndike An Interview with Ohio Author John Thorndike   The first time I met John Thorndike was at the 2010 Ohioana B...