Monday, August 16, 2010

Review: Summer Time...and The Living is Easy...Come in...and be captivated!

Cover of "Under the Tuscan Sun"Cover of Under the Tuscan SunThe Write Place At the Write Time

Editor-in-Chief/Founder: Nicole M. Bouchard
Assistant Editor: Denise Bouchard
2 Year Anniversary Issue
Summer, 2010

I must admit that I felt right at home when I stopped at The Write Place At the Write Time. Immediately I was offered a comfortable chair and given a cup of tea--artificial sweetener please... “I know, I know...,” as the waitress smiled at me conspiratorially, as she also was overweight... "but taking the sweetener makes me feel better!”

OK, so there wasn’t a waitress there, but I was encouraged to step into another world, so I did! The first thing I always notice are my surroundings, the space in which I’ll be visiting. The artwork and the beautiful “Peace” right at the doorway definitely pulled my eyes, so I spent some time studying this painting and others throughout the Place. I had been invited to create a review of the site, so I would be visiting often. I quickly added the location to memory (or the electronic version of it) planning to stop by whenever I had a little time or the need for a cup of tea! One of the wonderful things about this site is that you can do just that—there is so much to read and experience, yet there is the ability to leave when you must, knowing that you can return when it fits your schedule.

Some sites make you very welcome and you want to visit! On the two-year anniversary issue commentary/reflections page, Editor-in-Chief Nicole M. Bouchard writes, "I envisioned something, a safe harbor, a warm, alive, freely accessible artistic venue that would combine high professional standards with heart; personal touches on every single aspect, including design." The Write Place at the Write Time certainly fits into that category. Frankly, I have been known to leave a site immediately if I cannot easily find my own way! Having worked with computers for nearly 50 years, I know the potential and what is possible!

I have three important issues I consider when I’m asked to provide a site review: Here’s my overall personal opinion for The Write Place at the Write Time:

Ease of Use Excellent
Content Excellent
Overall Appearance Excellent

As I earlier mentioned, the Introductory welcome to the site and beautiful art work set the tone of my visit. I could plan to visit often and enjoy myself! And I had so much to enjoy!

The site provides a literary magazine within a quarterly publication. But you can also easily access all of the archives, which in my opinion, is very important since we are all so busy and must squeeze out time of our own when we can!

At first, I started to visit as guided, so I met Frances Mayes. But even before I was introduced to her, I stopped to once again enjoy “The Farm” by Hermes Hernandez, which certainly added the right touch of imagery for Under the Tuscan Sun, Bella Tuscany and A Year in the World. Fortunately, I was not a participant in the interview, so I sat back and enjoyed listening to everything. Indeed, Mayes almost speaks poetically as she talks about the home, “where we cook, eat, and talk.” Listen to just one more thing and you’ll know how the whole interview went, “My reader, I hope, is like a friend who comes to visit...” And you, yes, you may meet Ms. Mayes anytime you want just by visiting! Check around the archives and find out what other writing greats you'll run into there...

I’m usually one who will wander off to see what is there on my own, so I chose to visit the Fiction section next. There, I found my favorite painting for this quarter, “Wave and Sand” by Jim Fuess. Actually, I wished I had brought my tea just so I could sit in front of Fuess’ work and fill my eyes for as long as I wanted, which, of course, I did do, but without the tea!

“Land Underneath” was the first featured story. Written by Jackie Dawn, it seems as though it must surely have been based upon a personal experience of loss, because you could not help but feel the anguish of the mother and father who had lost their child. I must admit it was so realistic and beautifully shared that I left for that day to ponder the story...

Later, I visited again and read “The House of Stone Light” by Denise M. Bouchard. It is wonderfully mystical and full of possibilities... It was my favorite! Read it for yourself and you will know why I loved the story! But then I went on to read “Killing the Writer's Block” by Mayra Calvani and found myself laughing at the intriguing possibilities presented!

I came another day to read “Our Stories” which were nonfiction memoirs from various people. As is natural, I was soon remembering my own family as pictures of “Evening in Paris” perfume was mentioned and I’d envision the small blue bottle on my older sister’s dresser and how I would sneak in to just smell and enjoy what I would be able to wear in years to come. My favorite there was “Confessions of a Writer” by SuzAnne C. Cole. The account of her passion for writing is told through an imagined circumstance where SuzAnne’s family performs an 'intervention' and she is sharing at a local “Writers Anonymous” group. I’m afraid though I laughed through this story, I won’t be talking about it with my family and friends. After all, I’ve already joined a group and admitted I’m a Book Addict!

Coming back again, I went to check out my first love, so I clicked for the latest book that had been reviewed. It was Losing Camille by Paul Kilgore, one I had not read. Great! I liked the format, a short bio and a short excerpt along with the review. Alas, the book didn’t sound too interesting and I wondered if I was interpreting the review more than the book...Still it’s fun to read somebody else’s thoughts about books, don’t you think?

I stopped by briefly at the Writer’s Contest, but didn’t stay. I tend to remember concepts from one book or another, so it really must be intriguing to get me to write responsively—I’d just rather read what the writers’ wrote!

Next I stopped by the Writers’ Craft Box! Ah, I was told to have fun, so I thought I would poke around in the big chest that was highlighting the corner... Here’s what I pulled to write about: a very old music box that plays Fur Elise, a small stuffed kitten that was clearly someone’s favorite...and a tiny crystal swan. What would you pull from the Box? This was cool... I’ll be back here often!

I briefly visited “Exploration of Theme,” saw a fascinating painting and a discussion of The Phantom of the Opera and knew I’d need to spend much more time visiting here! But could I write and express my feelings about The Phantom? Yes; it's part of the invitation. Actually, I have two books I’ll be reading soon...but...what would you say?

Visiting Poetry last was intentional. I love to read poetry but words in some poems do not speak to me. I know I don’t have training in its appreciation, so I tend to read literally. I skimmed the titles and chose the first to read by that process. As with the fiction stories, there were many to choose from. Denise Bouchard’s, “In the Land of Dementia,” seemed to express my thoughts:

“I try to understand the language there...”

But then, I really did understand her words... and the love felt as she watched what dementia does to precious family members. I’ll go away again right now, this one has saddened me, made me think of my mother and how my own memory doesn’t seem as good as it used to be.

But I’ll be back, Denise and Nicole, to The Write Place at the Write Time, because there is fun and happiness to be found here as well as sadness. This certainly is the right place to be...when it is the right time to stop for a cup of tea—and more! Readers, it’s all here in one spot! Bookmark it and visit often...let me know when you’re there and we’ll talk over a cup!

G. A. Bixler

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