11 Favorite Quotes from Classic Literature

11 Favorite Quotes from Classic Literature

 On art and literature: “A great deal has been written about art, but only recently has research begun in earnest about what goes on in the mind and brain when reading literature.” – K. Oatley & M. Dijikic in the New York Times, 12/21/14   One of my annual goals is to read. I find if I don’t set a goal, I don’t make reading a priority, and I don’t read. And since reading great books is one of my greatest enjoyments, I make the time to read. Like the number of miles I hope to run on the elliptical in a year to stay in good health, I set a book goal. Each year since 2010, I’ve set the goal at 50 books. I’m on my 56th and 57th right now. But for 2014, I decided I wanted to enhance those 50 by reading several classics I’ve always heard about, thought sounded intriguing, but had never read. Reading and great books open doors to a better world, and reading helps us to become more fully ourselves. I read an excellent article in the New York Times this past week on how reading transforms us. I love to read, and really enjoyed many of the books I read this year (link to my favorites of 2014, and at Great New Books). But the classics I read surprised me. They’re brimming with beauty. 11 Favorite Quotes from Classic Literature (I’ve read this year) The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner This is my favorite title of all books, and it’s because of the title I wanted to read The...
My Pitch for The Golden Willow

My Pitch for The Golden Willow

This week, I’m attending a writers conference called Muse and the Marketplace run by the esteemed Grub Street Writers in Boston. All sorts of bookish people will be there, including some of my favorite authors, writers, literary agents, and editors. I’ve heard much about it and have dreamed of going for more than four years. This year, I’m excited to get to go! (A big thanks to my husband for holding down the King fort for a few days!) In preparation for the conference, I’ve been practicing the pitch for my novel THE GOLDEN WILLOW, and I thought I’d share it here. My Pitch for The Golden Willow: The short, one-sentence hook: THE GOLDEN WILLOW is set in New Orleans and coastal Italy and is about a woman trying to recover a painting of her grandmother lost in World War II, which reveals a woman and a story that no one has ever known.   The Longer Pitch: I’ve recorded my paragraph-length pitch on video. Though it’s not an Academy Award performance, it’s me talking about a story I love and am excited to share with others.   The Golden Willow pitch video from Jennifer Lyn King on Vimeo. Thank you for your support, encouragement, and prayers. It’s sure to be a great week! xo JK Related posts: The Golden Willow: Inspiration for My Novel Voice and The Golden Willow: Heather Webb’s Blog Hop Pitch Like a Rock Star Workshop: Water Lily BackSpace: the Excellent Writers Conference Author: A...
The Rooms Are Filled by Jessica Null Vealitzek

The Rooms Are Filled by Jessica Null Vealitzek

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” – Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft   Two years ago at a writers conference, I stood in the hallway of a hotel in midtown Manhattan, and said hi to one of the first faces which smiled my way. She was from Chicago and had two small children at home. We found we were assigned to the same table for our manuscript critiques, where two literary agents would listen to about a page of what we’d written and offer feedback. I remember listening to the way the very young literary agents offered their opinions on what each of the fifteen at our table had written. It was a skewering, painful for all of us, but, of course, educational. When Jess read her novel opening, it stood out. It sounded like a novel I’d want to read. It was a story that was subtle, yet strong. I liked that she could make jokes and still smile despite the tremendous pressure. I knew then that I would admire Jess and her work for a long time to come. We exchanged cards and kept in touch after the conference. I lived in Prague at the time; she lived in the Midwest. When the idea of GreatNewBooks.org lifted off the ground, Jess joined the team and has recommended books which speak to her unique and excellent taste. I love getting to be part of a team with her, and keeping up with each others’ lives on a week-by-week basis. One of the biggest, most exciting events in the time I’ve known Jess happens today, April 22,...
FALLEN BEAUTY by Erika Robuck: the Novel to Read This Spring

FALLEN BEAUTY by Erika Robuck: the Novel to Read This Spring

“You see, I am a poet, and not quite right in the head, darling. It’s only that.” -Edna St. Vincent Millay   Today, my dear friend and writing critique partner, Erika Robuck, has her fourth novel, FALLEN BEAUTY, out on shelves! To celebrate, I’d like to share a bit about Erika and also have a giveaway for one autographed copy of Fallen Beauty (details below). It is the novel to read this spring. “This finely tuned, lyrical novel is Robuck’s strongest work to date, and destined to become an American classic.” -Simon Van Booy, Award-Winning Author of The Illusion of Separateness and Everything Beautiful Began After (which I personally loved) Fallen Beauty by Erika Robuck Fallen Beauty is a historical novel set in 1928 in a fictional town in Upstate New York near Steepletop, the home of the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. Like two of Erika’s previous novels, Fallen Beauty prods at the hearts of prominent American writers through the lives of other characters close to them. Her prior subjects and novels: Ernest Hemingway in Hemingway’s Girl and Zelda Fitzgerald, overshadowed wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald in Call Me Zelda, all published by NAL/Penguin. Posts about those novels can be found here and here. In Fallen Beauty, Millay consigns the town seamstress, Laura, to create her reading costumes. However, Erika took on the voice of Millay in first person in Fallen Beauty as well, which differs from her previous two, and is, in my opinion, the most amazing part about this book. Millay was a poet and human being like no other. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry...
What It Means to Be an Artist: 8 Truths on Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt from I ALWAYS LOVED YOU

What It Means to Be an Artist: 8 Truths on Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt from I ALWAYS LOVED YOU

Art is a mystery. From my first memories, I’ve always loved to draw, to write, to create. I still do, and write and paint regularly, daily. But as I’ve grown older, I wonder about art — the why and how behind it, and often, the meaning. Creating is hard. Art is important. To be an artist is to dig deep to find what it is that must be created, and to do the hard work of creation. Often that is much more difficult than it sounds. It feels impossible. It is from pushing through those times when I deeply appreciate learning about artists who have gone before. I’ve recently finished reading a stunning novel called I ALWAYS LOVED YOU by Robin Oliveira. It is a historical novel about the relationship between American painter Mary Cassatt, her art, and her sometimes-inspiration, Parisian artist Edgar Degas. The story is meaningful, beautiful, and exquisite. As I read, I began making notes with a pen, which by the end of the book had become notes on What It Means to Be an Artist. If the Masters felt and experienced the same feelings, doubts, criticisms as we do today, and yet persevered, then we have much to learn from their lives. Here, 8 notes I made on … What It Means to Be an Artist: On Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt, from I ALWAYS LOVED YOU by Robin Oliveira 1) Art takes work: “It’s extraordinary. It looks effortless.” “Effortless?” Degas’s placid expression twisted… “What do you think? That this is easy for me? That I could decide to paint something and then it magically...
6 Things Saving Me in This Long Cold Winter

6 Things Saving Me in This Long Cold Winter

“God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.” -J.M. Barrie (creator of Peter Pan) There are winters, and then there are winters. I’m talking about the latter. These winters are the kind that solidify the blood in our veins and make us stronger people, in general. I believe that; I do. I also am a firm believer in the philosophy of taking a difficult situation (like this frigid winter) and turning it into something useful. While I’ve thought about how to make this long, cold winter into something useful and positive, I’ve realized there are 6 things saving me right now … The 6 Things Saving Me in This Long, Cold Winter 1. Painting I love to paint, but I admit I haven’t made enough easel time in recent years. For 2014, I’m determined to paint and finish 1 canvas each month this year. Here’s what I’ve been up to: I painted the one above this fall (2013) and finished the one below last weekend (Jan ’14).   2. Photography Winter has unbeatable low lighting and dramatic shades of monochromatic blacks, grays, and whites. This winter, in particular, has been cold and stunning.   3. Flowers In the dead of winter, I need flowers — whether it’s forcing bulbs to bloom indoors or dreaming up what I might plant this coming spring, I need the thought of new growth and life in the dead of winter.   4. Books: Writing and Reading It’s a long process, working on a novel, polishing it and submitting it and waiting … it’s one that requires much faith and...
The Golden Willow: Inspiration for My Novel

The Golden Willow: Inspiration for My Novel

  The entire panel of the wall bumped out toward us, where Luc felt for another hidden latch. “Literature and art—my father always says those are the two connectors to the past, to our histories.” The thick piece disengaged from its resting spot and creaked open on shackle-like hinges. “Which is why we have this place.” The odor of earth and stone filled the air. “What is this? A crypt?” “Of sorts. Come, I’ll show you.” -a scene in The Golden Willow Over the past year and a half, I’ve worked steadily on my novel, through drafts and rewrites, more rewrites and beta-reads, and more revisions and polishing. It’s been a lot of work, but for me, it’s been exciting — I love the story and I’m delighted with the way it’s come together. My novel is currently titled THE GOLDEN WILLOW. As I’ve stepped into the next phase of the process, toward traditional publication, I’ve been reflecting on the various things which inspired me in its creation. Many were from travels in Europe or from places I’ve lived, which I often blog about here. But a few of the other inspirations are special … Inspirations for The Golden Willow 1. The Sleeping Beauty Apartment: Several years ago, I read about an apartment which is sometimes coined The Sleeping Beauty Apartment, in Paris, which had been rediscovered after 70 years of abandonment. Truly, everything about its story picked at me until I couldn’t help dreaming up ways to weave it into a novel. 2. Actual travels: I love history, but especially after living in and traveling through Europe. I...
Life in Prague as an Artist & Writer

Life in Prague as an Artist & Writer

“Art is the queen of all sciences communicating knowledge to all the generations of the world.” -Leonardo da Vinci One of my favorite parts of the internet world is getting to know other writers and artists. Writers and artists aren’t folks who are easily known. We don’t have cards we hand out or wear certain spiffy suits to mark us as doing something notable. But in the cyberworld, we tend to find each other. One such friend is Lisa Ahn. Lisa wrote me a few months ago and asked me if I would write a guest post for her excellent blog, The Hatchery. Out of admiration and based on years of writerly camaraderie, I agreed. “Of course!” I said. “What would you like me to write about?” Lisa didn’t hesitate. “What it’s like to be a writer and artist in a city like Prague.” There is so much to say about living in Prague– the language barriers, the people, the incredible places and sites, the natural beauty. But there is also something deeper which is hard to put a finger on. For me, that is the feeling of so many lives that were lived there–the history, the people, the art. So that is where I began for my piece on Life in Prague as an Artist & Writer. I tried to put a finger on the significance of my experience in Prague, and how it changed me as a person. Here is the beginning of my piece for Lisa … Life in Prague as an Artist & Writer When I was very small, I loved to watch my grandmother...
The Books I Loved This Summer

The Books I Loved This Summer

“Oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install, a lovely bookshelf on the wall.” – Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (aka. my philosophy in life :) ) I’ve read a few books this summer … … and I’ve loved so many of them. Books to Read 2013: One book has made my all-time favorites list, and in reading it, I discovered a new favorite contemporary author: Jojo Moyes. I read her ME BEFORE YOU and have been thinking about it for all the weeks since I turned the last page. It is a book that makes you F-E-E-L and ask many questions, about yourself, about life, about those you love, about the meaning and value in each and every day. I loved it. Since ME BEFORE YOU, I’ve read one more of Moyes’s books, THE LAST LETTER FROM YOUR LOVER, and liked it. And now, as I write this, I’m about halfway through her newest novel, which came out last week, THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND. It’s also fantastic (but I don’t want to jump ahead of things, as I haven’t yet reached the end). Another book I loved this summer is Yangsze Choo’s THE GHOST BRIDE. It is receiving many (well-deserved) awards, and I’m talking about it and recommending it over at Great New Books.org today. Please venture over there (click here) and enter to win a copy. We have 4 to give away. As always, I’m working hard, daily, on my novel. It’s coming along … I can’t wait until I can share more...
10 Favorite Quotes by Madeleine L’Engle

10 Favorite Quotes by Madeleine L’Engle

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” – Madeleine L’Engle The writer, Madeleine L’Engle, wrote over 60 books in her lifetime, and is best known for her Newbery Award-winning book, A Wrinkle in Time. But I fell in love with L’Engle’s non-fiction, beginning with her profound Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art. Over the years, I’ve dog-eared, underlined, and marked up each of the books I’ve read of L’Engle’s work. Her words speak to me deeply and help refine my perspective on life, faith, art, and purpose. I hope they connect with you, as well … 10 favorite quotes by Madeleine L’Engle: “Story makes us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving. Why does anybody tell a story? It does indeed have something to do with faith, faith that the universe has meaning, that our little human lives are not irrelevant, that what we choose or say or do matters, matter cosmically.” –The Rock That is Higher   “We tell stories because we can’t help it. We tell stories because they fill the silence death imposes. We tell stories because they save us.” –The Rock That is Higher   “My great-great-grandmother, great-grandmother, grandmother, mother are alive for me because they are part of my story. My children and grandchildren and I tell stories about Hugh, my husband. We laugh and we remember. .. I do not believe that these stories are their immortality–that is something quite different. But remembering their stories is the best way I...