Tuesday, January 31, 2012

It's a "Stunning, Unforgettable Collection!" The Beautiful Anthology--coming soon!

"Subverting time-worn clich├ęs about beauty and self-acceptance, The Beautiful Anthology delivers a fresh exploration of everything from body art, freckles, and big noses to the misfortunes of musical “perfection,” misguided parenting, birth, and death. It’s a stunning, unforgettable collection."

--Diana Spechler, author the novels Who By Fire (Harper Perennial, 2008) and Skinny (Harper Perennial, 2011).




Established and emerging writers from across the globe are featured together in an exciting new anthology of essays, poems, and art from TNB Books (the publishing imprint and offshoot of the popular literary Web site, The Nervous Breakdown). Edited by Elizabeth Collins.


Includes essays, stories, poems and art by Robin Antalek, Matthew Baldwin, Jessica Anya Blau, Nora Burkey, Elizabeth Collins, Ronlyn Domingue, Melissa Febos, Rich Ferguson, M. J. Fievre, J. E. Fishman, Gina Frangello, Marni Grossman, James Irwin, Quenby Moone, Uche Ogbuji, Greg Olear, Victoria Patterson, Judy Prince, Rachel Pollon, Lance Reynald, Steve Sparshott, Tyler Stoddard Smith, Stephanie St. John, Catherine Tufariello, Angela Tung, Stephen Walter, and Zoe Zolbrod.



Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Get Ready for The Beautiful Anthology

Here is the full cover. The Beautiful Anthology goes on sale JUNE 9, 2012! You can buy the paperback on Amazon, or Powells, or B&N. An e-book is also available.

I am very excited for and proud of this great collection of creative writing that I edited (slavishly, for a year). 27 writers participated--myself included; I was asked to contribute and then I was asked to be editor. There is such diversity of talent and content here. I have read every piece countless times, but I never get tired of this book. It's that engaging.



Includes essays, stories, poems and art by Robin Antalek, Matthew Baldwin, Jessica Anya Blau, Nora Burkey, Elizabeth Collins, Ronlyn Domingue, Melissa Febos, Rich Ferguson, M. J. Fievre, J. E. Fishman, Gina Frangello, Marni Grossman, James Irwin, Quenby Moone, Uche Ogbuji, Greg Olear, Victoria Patterson, Judy Prince, Rachel Pollon, Lance Reynald, Steve Sparshott, Tyler Stoddard Smith, Stephanie St. John, Catherine Tufariello, Angela Tung, Stephen Walter, and Zoe Zolbrod.


Release Date:  Spring, 2012 (never fear: I will announce when the book goes on sale!)
Genre:            Essays, Poems & Art

An exciting compilation of personal stories about beauty (or lack thereof). Thought-provoking, shocking, and altogether entertaining.

What Caused the Deficit Problem? Who Ran up the Debt?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Why Liberals Offend the GOP: Because Liberals Help People


And here, for your reading pleasure, is a snippet from my upcoming memoir, 
Too Cool for School. I think it complements the ad above.


Now that an extra, unexpected person was here, the chairs in the principal’s office were  inadequate. ____ to my shock, took the seat next to me, the chair intended for the principal—it went with the man’s desk. My new neighbor scooted very close to me, right in my face, and accused me of all sorts of asinine things—mostly concerning being a "liberal.” This word was spat, repeatedly, like a curse. All of these accusations of my purported “liberal democrat” status had nothing to do with the issue we were there to discuss.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Reason for the Quiet

I have not been blogging lately (really, only re-posting interesting things I've seen) because of health reasons.

It's not that serious: I just hurt my back (I am not quite sure how; I think the pain began after I sat on the couch one afternoon--something I really never do--to keep my flu-ish daughter company). 

This new back pain, which has been ongoing for about three weeks, makes it very difficult for me to sit in a chair. It also makes it difficult to write or do any computer work. 

I have always been one of those people who thought of others who complained of back pain, "Oh, get over it. You have to keep moving or it will only get worse!" Back pain sufferers were, I always thought, a bit whiny. 

Now, I have empathy. Now, I understand. When back pain strikes, everything is hard. 

Grocery shopping is very difficult right now. So is reaching for the sea salt in a tall cabinet. So is putting on socks or standing up from a supine position.

I think the back pain is easing (it's not as bad as it was, not hardly), but just when I think it's almost gone, it comes back. I am really not sure if it's a pinched nerve, or arthritis, or what.

If you have any words of wisdom, do share. Trust me, I know all the exercises.I do the Tibetan Seven. I use a heating pad. I take joint pain supplements. I think I need a new bed, but aside from that (and realizing that sitting makes the pain worse), I am out of ideas.

I have not seen a chiropractor since I felt that the chiro I saw 10 years ago basically ripped me off. I have seen a masseuse a couple of times. I think that helped, but I know that the issue is still there, inside somewhere.

Anyway, enough about my back! If you have back pain, I sincerely do empathize. You might try what I've tried, in case it helps you. In the meantime, I will blog again with a vengeance when my tailbone can stand it. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Did John Hughes Movies Make a Difference for You?

I, too, grew up on John Hughes movies. The essay below made me feel sentimental, but it also articulated for me (something I never did for myself as a young teenager) why Hughes' writing and films resonated, and still do.

This is a good read (and I think the title misleads; Wager clearly adored John Hughes, as did so many of us):

See Hilary Wagner's post on PROJECT MAYHEM: How John Hughes Ruined My Life

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Great Ideas for Boosting Brain Power

I'm rather obsessed with helping other people think faster, be sharper, and perform better on all types of academic projects. I also believe that we can help ourselves be smarter. We can enjoy life more and be of more use to society if we specifically train our brains.

That's why I was thrilled to read a huge "Get Smarter" spread in Newsweek (January 9 and 16, 2012, double issue, on sale now).

Some of these tips are things I already do and already teach--such as The Pomodoro Technique, reading a wide variety of materials, exercising regularly, always eating yogurt (seriously!), meditating and developing personally meaningful memory retention strategies.

Other ideas were new to me, but I will certainly try them and urge any reader here to do the same. 

Here is a list of especially intriguing tools and tips for getting smarter:

1. We all know that the internet is a time suck, don't we? It's hard to disconnect sometimes, and the e-mail constantly trickles in. I either have to physically remove myself from online access, OR...I just read something great: There is special software (it's called Freedom--how apt!) that will block the internet so that you can concentrate.  Brilliant! Now, I don't have to jet off to the middle of nowhere. I can stay right here and still be productive.

2. I am always talking about making flashcards; I prefer them hand-wrtten, as it turns out that writing by hand uses more parts of the brain and thus, aids in retention of information. Still, when you are in a rush (go back later and hand-write a flashcard!), try SuperMemo. Write those facts down fast, before you forget them; SuperMemo will nudge you to review the information.

3. Train your brain. Word games, memorizing poetry, reading Shakespeare, watching the English Al Jazeera, learning a new language, knitting, and specifically working on memory drills or focusing, for a month or so, on learning a new task--it's all cognitive exercise.  It's all good for you and literally builds up your brain. The point is that we have to specifically push ourselves to learn new things. Don't give up if something doesn't come to you easily (for example, I really have no patience for knitting, but I know it would be good for me to do, so I haven't given up yet). Our brains can increase their synapses through training, and we can train ourselves to be smarter! Conversely, our brains will become weaker if we don't read and if we watch too much TV.

4. Follow your passion. Most of us realize that if we really don't care about a subject, we are going to have a hard time remembering much about it. But can passion, interest and attention be developed? I think so; you just need to pay attention to connections. See what interests you. Follow that interest to the next thing that intrigues. Keep going. Keep reading (example: reading about Russia reminds a reader of the Ballet Russes; then she reads about Coco Chanel; then, she is on to Bauhaus architecture--always nudged along by interesting tangents in her original reading). 

5. Take free courses at iTunes U.  I did not even know such a wonder existed, though I have long been a fan of the Great Courses (this is a catalog; they sell DVDs of profs teaching fascinating courses).

6. Read the Great Books. It's a personal goal. I've done it. You could be able to say that you've done it, too. Read the entire Bible (which I've also done). Read Ulysses. Do something big and inspiring. Let yourself take as long as you need to; just don't give up!

7. Rest. It is by daydreaming, taking a break, zoning out and going for a walk that we can best spark creativity. I personally find that carving out a break time (I walk) always gives me new ideas, especially when I am working on a novel.

8. Think critically. Also, think analytically. Write book reviews. Write consumer reviews. Write anything! Start a blog. The more you write, the more you will realize you know. Writing is always great practice--not only for its own sake, but also for developing thinking skills.

For a full list of tips, see Newsweek's 31 Ways to Get Smarter--Faster. 

Happy brain training, and Happy New Year!