Kathleen Maher

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I write fiction that’s fast and fun but doesn’t belong to a genre. Plot and character development run neck and neck—at least that’s the balance I’m aiming for. I love to write, and to rewrite, and strive for prose that’s natural, rhythmic, and intimate.

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Kathleen Maher Usually, my "writer's block" feels the same as writing. If it's fiction, I'm determined that ultimately, it'll prove worthwhile. Ultimately, people…moreUsually, my "writer's block" feels the same as writing. If it's fiction, I'm determined that ultimately, it'll prove worthwhile. Ultimately, people will read it and feel their time well spent. I'd love to be more casual about it. Some successful writers are. But while they may be writing what I love to read, they aren't writing what I want to write. Everyone's different. A few times I've been encouraged to learn that writers whose work I love struggle much the way I do. Nothing's guaranteed.
Ideas and characters come to me almost too fast. I'll write 20 or 30 pages in two or three days--NaNoWriMo can't help me--and spend at least a week rewriting them until 2 or 3 pages remain. That's when the work begins. I revise, refine and read outloud those 1000 words or so however many times it takes--at least dozens. After a week or two of this, I generally push ahead. I'm far too dogged to quit before finishing, even if my intuition sends up flares that I've lost a story I never really had. In some cases, I'll think I'm nearing the end when I discover the end has changed--meaning I need to take another run at it from a different direction, i.e., start over. That's one kind writer's block, but for me it's also just part of process.
My rule, which initially seemed severe but has become obvious, is to store the draft, no matter how long it took me to "perfect," for a year, minimum. The ones I store may be duds. If I pull it out, look through it, and my pulse doesn't beat faster, I throw it out--another covert, prolonged kind of writer's block.
I had shelved but not thrown away "Diary of a Heretic," after spending 15 years putting it through this process. I doubt I would have ever thrown it away. At most, I would have occasionally posted blog excerpts of it, which I did for years. My husband put it up as an e-book after reading it almost as many times as I had. He reread it after a longer than usual interval and still laughed at something on every page. It's not exactly a laugh outloud book but the main charcter, Malcolm, has a knack for being simultaneously sublime and ridiculous.
When I started writing, I was desperately afraid of failing. The process then was slower and scarier. Luckily, I was ignorant of most mistakes and false approaches. I wrote whenever I could and no weekend passed without six or eight hours dedicated to writing, or rather pacing the room and wringing my hands. A bad day of writing meant sore feet. If that happens again, I'll know: I'm back at a starting line, a different one. (less)
Kathleen Maher Most especially the following five things:
1. The adrenaline rush! Good day writing or bad, a surge of energy takes over. I love that. I love more the…more
Most especially the following five things:
1. The adrenaline rush! Good day writing or bad, a surge of energy takes over. I love that. I love more the possibility of using that energy to create a world that might> eventually welcome and affect a reader.
2. The big and small surprises that arise: coincidences between or among characters; discovering an unexpected window within a phrase; and sometimes developments appear that bring the characters and plot into unique accord. (These delights may turn out to be my own illusion but either way I enjoy them. Then, too, sometimes they persist.)
3. Real or imagined, the sense of knowing a spirit other than my own, a guide or voice that's not entirely reliable, not always available, but feels like a gift.
4. The wonder of five minutes proving to be several hours.
5. This quote from Flaubert defines what I imagine every fiction writer experiences: “...to be no longer yourself...Today, for instance, as man and woman, both lover and mistress, I rode in a forest on an autumn afternoon under the yellow leaves, and I was also the horses, the leaves, the wind, the words my people uttered, even the red sun that made them almost close their love-drowned eyes.”
(less)
Average rating: 3.78 · 36 ratings · 19 reviews · 2 distinct worksSimilar authors
Underground Nest

3.82 avg rating — 22 ratings — published 2012 — 3 editions
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Diary of a Heretic

3.71 avg rating — 14 ratings — published 2013 — 4 editions
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* Note: these are all the books on Goodreads for this author. To add more, click here.

RIP Roy Hargrove

In August, 2012, I heard a trumpet playing that was so brilliant and happy, I jumped from my desk to follow it. I found Roy Hargrove playing a free concert in City Hall Park. His trumpet playing gave...



James Bond and the Girls of Woodstock

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Published on November 03, 2018 10:30

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Kathleen Maher rated a book it was amazing
Milkman by Anna Burns
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Tour de Force

Thorough and fascinating stream of consciousness! Middle sister’s thoughts as she lives through a country’s troubles rang true on every level for me! What seemed allowed to an eighteen-year-old woman in a town divided by a government and
...more
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Normal People by Sally Rooney
Normal People
by Sally Rooney (Goodreads Author)
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The Past by Tessa Hadley
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The Master Bedroom by Tessa Hadley
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Wondrous in Every Way

Absorbing story, I found difficult to pull myself out of; smart, full characters; heart, soul, and a resonating interplay among friends, family, and personal histories with tracings to WWs. Sublime prose that flows at a pleasant
...more
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Frederick Douglass by David W. Blight
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Inspiring

The biographer thoroughly describes the great man’s heart and mind, his struggles and extraordinary triumphs. The descriptions of Douglass’s vanities and foibles took me aback at first. Especially because Frederick Douglass never viewed wome
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Small Mercies by Eddie Joyce
Small Mercies: A Novel
by Eddie Joyce (Goodreads Author)
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Rings True

Not sure how I ended up reading this. Maybe my husband downloaded it. The story is familiar to me. Every detail rings true. The narrative structure brings every character within a multi-generational family to life. The author shows remarkab
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Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
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Stirring

Min Jin Lee’s novel Pachinko showed me a place and history I hadn’t known before, but the characters and their continual struggles resonated as if I had always known—and admired—them. The sweep of history, family, and individual people were t
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Transcription by Kate Atkinson
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This World or Any Other World by Dan Leo
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This World or Any Other World: Volume Two of the Memoirs of Arnold Schnabel by Dan Leo intensifies the stakes and the comic timing. The first volume unfolded at Cape May, New Jersey during several weeks in the summer of 1963. The perfectly titled sec ...more
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Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead
Astonish Me
by Maggie Shipstead (Goodreads Author)
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Masterful, Intriguing, & Fun

A masterful work of literature I read straight though, and am starting again, & will no doubt read several more times without pausing a beat.
More of Kathleen's books…
“...I tried to pretend that what we were enacting was nothing more than an intricate kind of handshake." ~Malcolm”
Kathleen Maher, Diary of a Heretic

“A dismal omen: ...this morning a woman handed me a dollar bill that was translucent from age, as soft and warm as living tissue.”
Kathleen Maher, Diary of a Heretic

“(Via Malcolm)"...For the moment, I have this incredible gift...It just happened. I bend, whisper, sing, shout—and a radiant light surrounds and then emanates from people.”
Kathleen Maher, Diary of a Heretic

“Most events are inexpressible, and take place in a sphere that no word has ever entered. Most inexpressible of all are works of art, existences full of secrets whose life continues alongside ours, while ours is transitory.”
Rainier Marie Rilke

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you.”
Walt Whitman

“Sometimes a crumb falls
From the tables of joy,
Sometimes a bone
Is flung.

To some people
Love is given,
To others
Only heaven.”
Langston Hughes
tags: luck

“The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seemed filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster”
Elizabeth Bishop, The Complete Poems 1927-1979

“For years, copying other people, I tried to know myself.
From within, I couldn't decide what to do.
Unable to see, I heard my name being called.
Then I walked outside.”
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Kathleen Maher Mathilda Savitch
Mathilda Savitch is a brilliant, moving story told by a girl (approximately thirteen-years-old) whose sixteen-year-old sister died a year ago. Her parents remain numb, remote, and bereaved. The mother has taken a leave of absence and Mathilda worries that Ma drinks all day and has resumed smoking.

Mathilda's simultaneous anxiety and resentment swirl through her days. Her grief coexists with a middle-schooler's burgeoning social life, and bounces through vivid, denial-related dreams and whimsies.

Her parents have retreated so far into their despair that Mathilda often wonders--and tests to see--if they're aware of her. Sometimes they are, but remotely. Mathilda usaully makes do with a word from Da and a rarer flicker of recognition from Ma.

Yet this girl doesn't accept anything docilely--Mathilda wants to be bad. Using her sister's dresses, taped singing, and email, she torments Ma, half-hoping for outrage. The most she gets is a stern, "No more of that."

We're told of Mathilda's copious weeping initially and her confusion that Ma cannot weep. With embellishments, Mathilda is preoccupied by her sister's death and yet never loses touch with her real life, school, dog, friends, and their shifting allegiances. The reader follows her as she begins to sleuth out the facts of what happened and why.

Her generosity and tolerance at the end are amazing. It's not something I could do now, let alone at thirteen. (I lost an eight-year-old sister to a drunk driver many years ago. When a writer relies on sentiment, second-hand wisdom, the famous five phases, or a belated sister's angel--I am outraged!) Lodato's story is fiction than rings truer than any first-hand report. Or living sister's memoir.

His balance of powerful emotions, an adolescent's swinging moods, and acute verisimilitude is a minor miracle. Lordato's prose displays perfect pitch--noticeable, however, only if the reader happens to be a writer wondering how he does it. The voice and dialogue are always spot-on. His writing is never showy and yet, exquisite.

Mathidla Savitch is unflinching and enjoyable. Powerful but fun-to-read. The novel creates extreme feeling tightly woven with comic flares.


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