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Shakespeare said it – Part 5

Witches were as popular in Shakespeare’s time as vampires are today, both sure bets to grab an audience’s attention. And so Shakespeare inserted witches in several of his plays. In “Macbeth,” three witches open the drama, but their most memorable line comes in Act IV, Scene 1: “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and [...]

Meet Jerol Anderson, a small-town crime writer

Jerol Anderson lives up the road from me, a bit north of Stoughton, Wisconsin. But she launched her writing career before she moved here, when she was living in Seattle. “I started The Queen Anne Fox, my first published novel,” Anderson says, “ because the area [Queen Anne] was such a beautiful setting, nestled in [...]

Enjoy the holiday

This is Labor Day, the last hurrah before the serious start of school and college, before we clean out the garage – we’ve promised the spouse all summer we’d do that – before we pick apples and make apple butter and fresh cider, before we get the yard and garden ready for the long sleep [...]

Facebook . . . You never know who you’re gonna meet – Part 3

All right, I’m a sucker for a good pitch. Phoenix Bailey wanted to be my Facebook friend. Now who names their child Phoenix? Apparently Mrs. Bailey. But other than her? The name Phoenix by itself, that wasn’t going to get me. However, when he said on his info page that he was a werewolf in [...]

A Night in the Bookstore – Part 1

It’s time for some fun. How about a week’s worth? When my writers group gets together for a social evening, we have a writing challenge – write a 400-word story on some agreed-upon topic. Last week, we met at Booked for Murder, our independent mystery bookstore here in Madison, Wisconsin, so for our writing challenge [...]

How many books in your library?

I’ve got a wall full of them, authors I respect and titles I love. But my collection wouldn’t fill a bookcase, or even a corner of one in George Vanderbilt’s library. George, of the super-wealthy Vanderbilt family, built the 250-room Biltmore House outside of Asheville, North Carolina, to keep up with his relatives who were [...]

Words that deserve the axe

We writers love words. They are – to use a cliche – the tools of our trade. So we follow Wordsmith Anu Garg, Word Spy Paul McFedries, and others who write about words. And we rejoice in the OED’s and Merriam-Webster’s announcements of their words of the year. Some of us also look forward to [...]

A week of Christmas – today The Nutcracker in the Castle

The Castle is the Paine Art Center in Oshkosh, here in Wisconsin. Every December, the staff and volunteers transform this massive mansion into the Nutcracker in the Castle. They decorate each room on the main floor as if it were a set for the ballet – The Stalbaums’ ballroom, the battle of the mice and [...]

A week of Christmas – today The Nutcracker on ice

The first performance of The Nutcracker I saw was almost two decades ago in Knoxville, Tennessee. At an ice arena. Yes, the Nutcracker wore silver skates. So did everyone else in the cast. You see, that arena gave skating lessons, and they had lots of students, from 3-year-olds – they start ’em young – to [...]

A week of Christmas – today at the governor’s mansion

Six trees, each decorated with its own theme, grace the public rooms of the Governor’s mansion in Madison. Marge and I have made the tour Saturday, for the second year now – along with a great crowd of other people – to see the mansion decked for Christmas, to see the trees and to say [...]