An Ode to Judy Blume, my hero, my guide.

I’m not really a hero kind of person. I mean, we’re all human. But I’ve been falling in love (all over again) with Judy Blume.

So this is an Ode.

Forever by Judy Blume

This is the edition that went around our sixth grade class. Ralph!

Dear, sweet, Judy, you make us feel less alone
And tell us we we’re okay just as we are.
‘Tis you I read when I’m the only one home,
Then emerge from my skin feeling a star.
At first there was Blubber, then there was God
A reminder, each, that kindness could live
Your voice comforted, assured, said human we be.
One copy of Forever shared on the quad
Feelings of angst did drain through a sieve
Through your eyes we did learn to see!

Not quite John Keats, but the heart is there.

So the question is, why is Judy Blume so damn awesome?

Let’s start a list. Judy Blume is:

  1. a pioneering writer who tackled all sorts of taboos.
  2. a champion against censorship.
  3. wise about writing.
  4. inspiring!

She also has that way about her, that unapologetic, take-it-or-leave-it way that I absolutely adore.

Judy Blume influences me today

The other day I remembered something from when I was quite young. It was a flash – one of those things you’ve forgotten about yourself, your past – until something makes it bubble up. I got to thinking about when my mom and I lived in a one bedroom apartment after my parents split up. I was ten. I set-up her word processor on the dining room table and began writing stories.

Thinking about Judy Blume the other day brought that memory back. It was Judy Blume I was reading when I began writing. It was Judy Blume who helped me navigate adolescence and understand my new feelings of longing. It was Judy Blume, I now realize, who informs my writing all these years later.

So perhaps she is not so much a hero as she is a guide. This may be why Monique commented on my last Judy Blume gush that she loves her, too, even though she’s in her 40s. Judy Blume is a guide for the ages.

What do you love about Judy Blume?

Reading as a writer: What we like

I'd like to read in this field of flowers. Assuming I don't have allergies.

I’d like to read in this field of flowers, assuming I don’t have allergies.

Yesterday, oh wonderful yesterday. You were a Sunday, a relaxing Sunday, when the day was mine. Oh, how I lament your loss. Now it’s Monday. Almost Tuesday. I’m not feeling too hot, but maybe it’s allergies? Regardless, the Zero to Hero show must go on.

Reading lists

On Sunday I discovered Katie: Librarian Lady and commented on her impressive 2013 reading list. Katie read more than 50 books in 2013 and she has got my solid respect. That’s a lot of reading.

Reading makes you a better writer — at least that’s my belief, and I dare you to disagree (nicely). Last night I was on the sofa, under the green and orange afghan my Grandma Margaret made a few decades ago, reading Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. This, by the way, is a book that Katie read in 2013. I’m trying to finish it by Wednesday for book club, our first in 2014.

Anyway, as I’m reading Eleanor and Park I’m thinking about how Rainbow Rowell is doing it, how she is making me care so much about these two characters and their relationship. I’m thinking about what RR may read, what authors inspire her, what notes she mentally takes as she’s reading, how it informs her work.

You over there and me over here

As I write this, my husband is reading The Little Black Book of Short Stories by A.S. Byatt. He was reading it last night, too. It’s totally immersive for him. Will it be for me? Unknown. Would he love Eleanor and Park? Maybe, but he probably wouldn’t stick with it. We are two people who have a similar worldview and shared interests and taste, yet our literary lives often diverge in the wood.

When I found Katie’s post, I asked her which of the many books she read in 2013 stuck with her, which were her faves. She named a few, but I had the sense it may have been difficult to choose. So now I’m left thinking about how we connect with literature. How some books speak to us as readers and writers, and what it is that builds that connection. It’s a powerful thing. What do you think it is? How do you explain loving a book?

Inspired by Day 12.

Humorous erotica? Is that a thing?

The other day my friend Michele mentioned humorous erotica. Wait. Is that a real thing, I asked? Sure, she said. Ah-ha! I thought. Maybe that’s what I wrote?

Photo of lights in branches

Romantic lights to get you in the mood.

Here’s what I know for sure:

1. Bea’s Notes is meant to be funny and realistic. It’s not sexy times through a fuzzy filter. It’s the real, awkward, deal. I loved reading Judy Blume when I was younger, so I was definitely inspired by her books. I’m thinking of Forever.

2. I started writing the short story when I realized I had a hard time writing sexy times in my novel. The scenes always ended up hilarious, even when they were supposed to be, well, sexy. So I went with it in Bea’s Notes.

Okay. So, I promise I won’t keep writing about Bea’s Notes, but while it’s available for free, I want to let people know it’s there (until January 11).

Read an excerpt:

Bea was so wet she felt soggy.

It had been raining for three days straight and everything was damp to its core. Deeply damp, Bea thought. She was rushing back to her dorm in yet another downpour, her hood pulled low over her forehead. Her backpack was heavy on her shoulders, the papers inside no longer dry. Bea didn’t believe in umbrellas, they were too encumbering. She preferred to rely as much as possible on her own brain and body, so she dashed from one overhang to the next and tried to read the sky.

Finally Bea reached Manzanita Hall, where all the biology and botany and forestry majors lived in a Tudor style industrial block. You could wring out these bricks like a sponge, Bea thought. She used her key card to get into the building and walked the three flights of linoleum stairs to the room built for two girls that now housed four. Bea would have taken the elevator except she was wearing her pedometer and wanted to be sure to reach her 10,000-step goal for the day. When she opened the door, she saw that no one else was home, so she plopped down on the bottom bunk where Meredith slept. Meredith always made her bed as though she lived in some scene from a lifestyle magazine. She had decorative pillows, with fringe and lace and everything. They were really soft but seemed sort of ridiculous because in reality, Bea knew, the room was like a business envelope: full of promise, but in actuality, filled with junk. That was something her father liked to say.

Bea had been in lab since nine that morning, recreating an experiment she’d done in high school. It was stupid, not especially challenging, but not especially easy either. Just stupid.

What do you want from a mid-tier public university? Bea had thought to herself during a lunch break of pretzels and frozen yogurt. That said, Woodland was the right place for her, because she wasn’t exactly the best and the brightest. She was mid-tier, too. It didn’t bother Bea. She was happy to be free of the pressures she saw her older sister suffer, always having to come up with some new collaborative humanitarian project or non-profit organization. Bea knew she didn’t want to go to grad school.

Whatever, thought Bea. She’ll be a virgin for ten more years and I’ve already done it three times!

Want to read about her first four times? Bea’s Notes is free for Kindle through January 11.

Don’t own a Kindle? It’s okay! Kindle books can be read using the Free Kindle Reader App for your Web Browser, iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry or Android.

Bea’s Notes is ready to tickle you.

Bea is a bio major who has had sex with Peter three times now. When she started going out with him she also started a field book. It’s filled with her notes about what they’ve tried and how it felt so that she can get a baseline experience. From there, she can start hypothesizing about what may work best for her. Now she’s ready to make her next entry.

Available for Kindle

Bea’s Notes is a short story available for Kindle. Don’t own a Kindle? It’s okay! Kindle books can be read using the Free Kindle Reader App for your Web Browser, iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry or Android.

Read more about Bea’s Notes, including an excerpt. Or, buy it now.