Sandra / Poets & Writers / Ed Harcourt

Of the 50 GB of podcast episodes I currently have in my library, one of my favorites is the first season of Sandra. This podcast is scripted sci-fi. I loved it.

The synopsis:

“A world where artificial intelligence isn’t so artificial.
Helen thought her new job would help her forget her dreary hometown, but working behind the curtain on everyone’s favorite A.I. isn’t quite the escape she expected.”

The three big actors in the series are Alia Shawkat (who I know only from “Arrested Development,” but she’s done a lot lately), Kristen Wiig, and Ethan Hawke. There are only seven episodes in the first season, and each of the episodes is about a half hour long. It’s so good — the story is interesting and creepy, but I think the most satisfying component of the whole thing is that we’re hearing Wiig and Shawkat and Hawke without seeing their awesome faces.

Right now, I have 1,876 unread e-mails in my inbox. (I have a system for catching the important ones.) The newsletter I’m trying to catch up on this week is Poets & Writers. What I like about this newsletter is that in most editions, there is a poetry prompt, a fiction prompt, and a creative non-fiction prompt. It also features a book about the writing practice. All of this is useful, I just never get around to using its usefulness…

As far as music goes, I haven’t gotten into this week’s album yet, but I’m looking forward to it. I heard Ed Harcourt’s song, “There’s a Light Below,” and got his album “Furnaces” as a result. I’ll get to it this week.

Any good music out there?

I write: Flash fiction and what it’s doing for me

I am writing. I am in a quasi-habit of writing on a somewhat regular basis. I’m in a writers’ group of four fiction writers, and I’m loving that. The feedback is always great, but mostly I’m happy to have a deadline and to have other people expecting something from me.

I’m nearly ready to submit a flash fiction story. I will try to have that out by next week. I’m going to send it to three places, and see what happens from there.

Flash fiction is so much more accessible and attainable for me right now. I would love to have the stamina and organizational skills to attempt to write a novel (and frankly, I’d love even more to have the time and space), but I’m lucky right now to get a few minutes in the fringes. I love flash fiction, though — writing it is fun because I know I can finish the thing, and reading it doesn’t take more than a few minutes.

I have had a lot of trouble getting a routine down, so I’ve decided to screw the routine and write whenever and however I can. I’m getting used to writing on my phone. I’m happy to write in the car while my kids sleep.

So. I’m writing. I’m happy for that.

Here is a story of mine that was published:

The Dog in the Moonlight

Any good writing podcasts out there?

I read: Brain Rules for Baby and The New Yorker: The Writer’s Voice podcast


It’s Tuesday. I’m writing this in the car. Rather, I’m writing this in my office. (I am in this car more than any other place, I think.) My kids are snoring in the backseat, and I drug along my computer for this very purpose: To do something while they allowed it. And they’re allowing it now, as I am allowing them to push back their bedtime tonight…

Anyway. I have Book Club this week and haven’t even started the book. Dang it. I have a new rule: I cannot start a book until I have finished two of the books I’m already reading. So I’m trying really hard to finish a book so that I can start White Houses, by Amy Bloom. I know it’s a novel, but truthfully I’m not excited about it. But! I really wasn’t that into the book that I’m trying to finish until I gave it a chance, and now I’m loving it, so there. That one is Brain Rules for Baby, by John Medina. I haven’t read many books about parenting or baby development since I gave birth to my first new person almost five years ago. This book was recommended by an Early Childhood Family Educator, and I’m into it. It covers brain development from pregnancy through five years, and looks at how all kinds of things do and don’t affect the baby’s brain at certain stages. One of the take-aways I have is that the stress a mother feels while pregnant can be truly detrimental to an unborn child (I mean, sure, I knew that, but reading it here really brought that home). Something else in the book I liked was the reference to growth mindset parenting, in which I can applaud the effort that my kids employ as opposed to acknowledging only that they achieved something or won something or what have you. I was so proud of my two-year-old the other day when she was trying to get herself into her car seat but fell out, and instead of being really pissed and embarrassed and frustrated, she actually said, “I need to try again,” and did so. I praised her for her effort. That was awesome.

Now, I need to finish this book before I can start the book that I have to have read by Friday night.

My husband told me that my phone is holding 50 MB of podcast episodes, waiting sweetly for me to hear each and every one of them, whenever in life that might be.

The podcast I’m into this week is The New Yorker: The Writer’s Voice. I love it. I’m pretty current with this one because it’s new to me (though I’ve been listening to The New Yorker: Fiction for many years). In “The Writer’s Voice,” a writer who is published in The New Yorker simply reads his or her story. I love, love, love the episode story, David Gilbert Reads “Fungus”.

It’s fantastic.

Another thing I’m really into lately: Newsletters. Is that weird? One of my very favorites is Brain Pickings, by Maria Popova. Some of the articles in the most recent edition are titled “Marcus Aurelius on How Meeting Reality on Its Own Terms Helps Us Live Through Our Difficulties,” “Amanda Palmer and the Decomposers Cover Joni Mitchell’s ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ in Tribute to Rachel Carson,” and “The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics Pioneer Norbert Wiener on Communication, Control, and the Morality of Our Machines.” And more, in just one newsletter. Man, it is so, so good. So good.

Oh, and finally, I just finished the album “Freetown Sound” by Blood Orange. I had heard the song “Best To You” and had decided to give the album a shot, but… it won’t make my Favorites playlist. It’s a lot of R & B with some shimmery 80’s to it. I didn’t love it. Next! (I’ll be listening to Ed Harcourt next week.)

Anything good out there?