Thanksgiving 2008 will always be remembered by my family as the year my grandmother brought a stomach bug to dinner.

Mammam Edie was a lovable curmudgeon. None of us — her children or grandchildren — ever had any doubt she loved us, but often her affection took the form of reminding us we were pains in her ass. She was stubborn and feisty and straight-talking, and she was God-fearing and kind and funny. She lived her entire adult life in Pennsylvania, but when she called us “Baby” or “Sugar,” the traces of the Southern drawl from a North Carolina upbringing…

Simple Ways to Have a Better Day

I’m a teacher. It was the last weekend of summer, and I was headed back to school. I love my job, and I don’t usually mind the end of the summer. Usually by then I’m ready for structure, routine, and social interaction. Last summer, though, I lost about a month to an emergency appendectomy, so I wasn’t quite ready to go back and I was feeling a bit gloomy. …

This feminist has a confession to make: In the 2016 Democratic primaries, I supported Bernie Sanders. As eager as I was — and still am — to see a woman elected president, Sanders’s progressive policies were far more aligned with my beliefs than Clinton’s. My feminist dream was in conflict with my liberal ideology, and ideology won. Even though I knew Sanders was unlikely to get the nomination, I cast my primary vote for him because I wanted him to stay in the fight and continue moving the conversation to the left.

Before you insist that I be cast out…

“Intersections” is a publication that grew out of “Yoga Stories,” a yoga and writing workshop at Union Street Yoga in Worcester, MA. The yoga practice is led by Heidi Chase, and the writing practice is led by Diane Mulligan.

This is how Heidi describes the series:

The Yoga Stories workshop series combines creative writing and yoga wisdom. It is about diving deeply into the practice. With a commitment to yoga and writing, we create the intention to express our heart’s deepest desires; on the mat through specific movements and meditation, and off the mat through our stories.

Yoga and writing…

A view of the US-Mexico border

There. I said it. From one well-meaning white lady to another, I feel bad for you, Jeanine.

It’s saying a lot that I feel bad for Cummins, given that in general when I see an author with a runaway, smash hit, all I feel is writerly envy and a sincere wish that my own books could find such success. In this case, though, I’m happy not to be in Ms. Cummins’s shoes.

It was a beautiful fall day. Or maybe spring. Maybe it wasn’t beautiful; maybe it was raining. She wasn’t wearing a jacket, so it must not have been very cold, but she knows she was wearing jeans and her favorite, pale pink, mock turtleneck, so it wasn’t summer. Her hair, she remembers, was in a french braid. Some of the pieces at the front had escaped and she had to keep tucking them behind her ears. She no longer wore glasses; she had recently begun wearing contact lenses.

There are many things about that day that she does not remember…

“Desk at night” by El Villano is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

I was doing that most time-sucking of all activities earlier today — scrolling through Facebook — and I saw a post about self-publishing in one of my groups. The poster wondered what the group thought about self-publishing. She confessed that she hasn’t made any attempt to find an agent or land a deal at a small press, perhaps for fear of rejection.

As a self-published novelist, I was curious to see how the group responded. One reply stood out. …

This week I had the privilege of attending the International Boys’ Schools Coalition annual conference. The topic of the conference was the arts. How can we engage boys in the arts and integrate the arts meaningfully into our students’ experiences to help them succeed personally, academically, socially, and emotionally? It was an inspiring few days that filled me with ideas to bring back to my own school, and it got me thinking about the difference between creativity and originality.

“Creativity” by mrsdkrebs is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Several times I heard presenters offer the disclaimer that what they were presenting “wasn’t original.” Some said that they were offering…

Last week I turned forty. I still do not know how I feel about that. I don’t know if I feel forty, because I don’t know what forty feels like. Most people tell me I don’t look forty, which is nice. I don’t know what it means to act like a forty-year-old, so I can’t say if I do, but my husband and I tend to live like overgrown children, so probably I don’t act forty most of the time.

#ThisIs40 — The author celebrating on a camping trip in Western Massachusetts.

The last time I had a birthday where I could identify with my age was twenty-one. Twenty-one felt like freedom…

“Game of Thrones Sigils” by Jig Ignacio is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Contains spoilers galore. You’ve been warned.

Last night Game of Thrones came to an end in a spectacular display of anticlimax. Everyone got what they wanted way back in season one. The Starks rule the day. So why is everyone disappointed?

The writers of Game of Thrones had an impossible task in bringing the series to its rapid conclusion. Be honest: There was no satisfying way to end the series. Because the series could not go on indefinitely, a dizzying array of interwoven plots had to find their way to one, single logical ending. All that dramatic world building, those…

Diane Vanaskie Mulligan

novelist, teacher, sourdough enthusiast, dog-lover, folkie and a whole bunch of other things, too.

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