Erma Bombeck

With her usual wit and humor the writer Erma Bombeck wrote, “It’s frightening to wake up one morning and discover that while you were asleep you went out of style.” Erma may have predicted her future.   I went to the local used book store hoping to find at least one of her twelve books, nine […]

The Wow Factor: A Visit to Mark Twain’s Grand Mansion in Hartford

“This entry hall really has the ‘wow factor,’” our tour guide drily announces, gesturing at the lavish dark-wood staircase spiraling above the foyer. The Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut, built in 1874, is a towering mansion in the High Gothic style. Home to Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain), his wife Olivia, and their three […]

In the Footsteps of Louisa May Alcott

During a literary pilgrimage to Concord, Massachusetts a few years ago, I visited Orchard House, the home of Louisa May Alcott. Louisa lived there with her parents and sisters in the only permanent residence the Alcotts ever knew. Upon entering the two-story farmhouse, I immediately left the twenty-first century and stepped back in time. Nearly […]

American Authors of Short Stories – Part One

Stories are a part of life.  They’re everywhere.  We relate them over the phone to friends who live miles away.  We share some tales of our youth to our children during those rare moments when we have their undivided attention.  We hear their own stories when we ask how their days went at school.  We […]

Author Evaleen Stein and her “Little House of Dreams”

I live across the street from the former home of early-twentieth century author, poet, and artist Evaleen Stein. When Evaleen and her mother built their home in Lafayette, Indiana, in 1910, complete with a lush, well-planned side garden, they named their sprightly cottage Little House of Dreams. Evaleen painted a verse above the fireplace where […]

On Regret

We often think of a well-received, award-winning, widely-read piece of published writing as a triumph not only for its writer, but for those who enjoyed reading it and appreciated its perspective. It is easy for us to overlook the possibility that there are, sometimes, regrets involved in writing. Annie Proulx’s story “Brokeback Mountain” appeared in […]

Writing Out the Bad Stuff

Last summer someone gutted my new bike. Both wheels and the seat, gone. They left just the sad, lonely frame still locked to the bike rack, looking severely inadequate next to the other bikes. When I first came across it, I stopped walking and stared at it for a while, as if the wheels would […]

Friend or Foe: Writers and their Feuds

Friction among writers has all the earmarks of a good fiction story, but make no mistake; it does exist in real life. Writers have long been associated with harboring resentment over the success of their colleagues, especially when their work has not reached the same levels of popularity. Competition does not always occur on the […]

Faulkner’s Rowan Oak

Slipping through a cold metal turnstile, I enter Rowan Oak, William Faulkner’s home in Oxford, Mississippi. The gatekeeper, an Ole Miss graduate student reading a worn-out Thomas Pynchon paperback and wearing leather sandals, accepts my $5 ticket and waves me through into the house. Rowan Oak, a primitive Greek revival house set on four acres […]

“Such Friends:” Maxwell Perkins and F. Scott Fitzgerald

By: Kathleen Dixon Donnelly Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins [1884-1947] and author F. Scott Fitzgerald [1896-1940] were born 12 years and thousands of miles apart. In my research into Perkins’ management style, I learned the details of the interesting story of how they were brought together. When Scott attended the Newman School in New Jersey, he […]