Missing Toni Morrison

I was so sad to hear about Toni Morrison dying on August 5th. For best first lines of novels, for not settling until every single line of a novel — a novel! — resonated and percussed like poetry, for writing stuff that you want to read out loud just to hear it said — well, for all that (and so much more) I am grateful for Toni Morrison’s writing.

I first came across Toni Morrison the summer of ‘88. I was a college student working in Cambridge, Massachusetts and that summer I lived in a dorm room on the top floor. It was exceedingly hot and my room had a window but no fan. At night, I would pick up my Toni Morrison novel, arrange myself carefully on the bed (so as not to stick) and read. I still associate Toni Morrison’s writing with heat, and not wanting to move. That summer, I must not have moved much because I read a stack of her novels.

Here’s my Toni Morrison list:

  • Never read Toni Morrison? I’d start with The Bluest Eye. It’s shorter and it’ll give you a feel for her writing, which is dense and thoughtful, and yes, like poetry. After that, my favorite novels are the earlier ones: Sula, Tar Baby, Beloved, and Song of Solomon.

  • I enjoyed these podcasts about Toni Morrison: Fresh Air compiled three interviews in one HERE. I also liked this one on BBC 4 Front Row.

  • There’s this documentary too!

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Jo's Scribbling Suit!

Every few weeks she would shut herself in her room, put on her scribbling suit, and “fall into a vortex,” as she expressed it, writing away at her novel with all her heart and soul, for till that was finished she could find no peace. Her “scribbling suit” consisted of a black woolen pinafore on which she could wipe her pen at will, and a cap of the same material, adorned with a cheerful red bow, into which she bundled her hair when the decks were cleared for action. This cap was a beacon to the inquiring eyes of her family, who during these periods, kept their distance, merely popping in their heads semi-occasionally to ask, with interest, ‘Does genius burn, Jo?’

— Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Here’s my “Scribbling Suit.” Ha! Anybody else want to share what they wear when they work from home? I’d love to see it! Send it to me at writeamywriteATgmailDOTcom.


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What's going on? August News

I’m working at my husband’s office this summer.

I’m working at my husband’s office this summer.

Hope you’re having a good summer!

To recap what I’ve been doing lately: I’m working on a three-book series called SKUNK & BADGER (to be illustrated by Jon Klassen). SKUNK & BADGER (Book one) will come out in Fall 2020, published by Algonquin Young Readers. The series has sold some foreign rights (very exciting!) and as soon as all the contracts have been signed, I’ll pass that information along. (I REALLY want to tell you, but can’t yet.) Also, English rights have been sold in Canada, UK and Australia/New Zealand.

Done last month? Continued work on Book Two. It’s coming along steadily. AND — drum roll — I found a title for Book Two! WhooHOO! I want to share it, but I don’t dare do it because titles change so often in the book-making process. STILL, it’s causing me to do little dances around the house and making me grin. I think you’ll like it, particularly when you know Skunk & Badger.

To do next month? Keep my head down — more Book Two work to do.

AND I just found out I’ll be at the Texas Library Association Conference in Houston in March 2020. It’s my first time. If you’re going, find me and say hello. I’d love to meet!

Stay cool everyone and read some good books!


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