Serendipitydoodah! Part 4, The Final Piece of My Interview Series with H. P. Wood, Author of Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet

Coney Island is as much a character as Kitty is in Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet.  H. P. Wood’s novel really piqued my interest about the bathhouses and bars, sideshows and secret lives.  I happened on photographs by Diane Arbus, a singular photographer who met her first group of midgets at the Ringling Bros. circus.  She focused on getting to know them, talking and listening without shooting, only gradually moving in with her camera. Everything was grist for her lens.

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WWWW:  I’m thinking writing is like photography, everything is grist for the pen.  What advice would you give to an unpublished aspiring writer?

HPW: My advice would be what I wish somebody had told me, which is to avoid getting so wrapped up in “I wanna get published” that all the joy gets sapped out of what you’re writing.

What happened to me was, I wrote a different book (my first try) and almost got an agent but then didn’t. Getting “so close” ended up really spinning my head around. I wasted a lot of time being mentally blocked and depressed over my perceived failure.

So my advice—and I hope this does not sound obnoxious coming from someone who has a book out—is, don’t rush to get an agent, don’t rush to self-publish, don’t rush to professionalize yourself. The most fun you are going to have is right now, before there are any business concerns at all. Ambition is fine but don’t let it get in front of the indescribable pleasure of creating something exist that didn’t before.


WWWW: Thanks for that honest advice from the heart.  So, in this new era of publishing, writers often bemoan that writing the book is the easy part and getting the book into readers’ hands is now a far greater challenge. How’s the marketing journey going?

HPW: I strongly suspect that it was ever thus. Because of social media just we hear each other complain more now.

As for me, on the one hand it is incredibly fun to have people reading this book finally. My friends and family have been so overwhelmingly supportive, I can’t even describe it. So that’s wonderful.

On the other hand, I am very much looking forward to getting back to writing, rather than being so outward-facing in terms of how I spend my time. I long to go back to my own Overlook Hotel where I (pretend that I) don’t care about anybody else’s opinion.


WWWW:  So, for my last question, I’m giving it to you – is there something that you wanted me to ask that I didn’t? Spill it here!

HPW:   Question: “Will you sign intimate body parts at the Hickory Stick Bookshop on June 18 at 3pm, or will you only sign books?”

              Answer: As long as you buy a book, I will sign anything you want!


WWWW:  Ok, so there may not be rollercoasters and peeping attractions in Washington CT, but you definitely suggest there will be thrills.   Thank you, HPW, for your time and candid interview.  I’ll be at your book signing, asking you to sign who-knows-where.  I invite you all to join me at the Hickory Stick Bookshop in Washington CT, Saturday June 18 at 3PM.

Ladies and Gentlemen, complete info and directions are here. 



Toni 6/16/16

“No one is able to enjoy such feast than the one who throws a party in his own mind.” Selma Lagerlöf, first female writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, is my kind of gal.

It's Our 6th

Flashback, April 2010.

Patty and I sit at the project table in the Apple store.  Tap, tap.

Leave out the part that people skip, Elmore Leonard whispers.

Tap, tap. Sigh.


Words We Women Write goes live.  There’s a rush of gaiety in the store.

(Possibly because, at long last, we’re leaving.)


4/2010, Our First Post (if you are so inclined)

Today we’re starting our blog. For years we’ve sipped great coffee, nibbled tasty treats, talked through the life dramas, and read our writing to each other. Frequently we’ve had a silent partner in all this: Ted Kooser, Jane Yolen, Lary Bloom, Art Plotnik, Anne Lamott. We’ve read their books about writing and let their wise words inspire us. This blog is going to be another silent partner we think, but right now getting going with it is a bit like trying to get clear, cool water from the faucet. We need to run the water for a while to swish out whatever’s been lodging along the old pipes. Sometimes those pipes clank and the water sputters. Sometimes we curse and talk about whether or not the plumbing’s ever going to be right. And then it happens. Luscious, clean, boy-is-this-well-good-or-what water. That’s the way it will be with our fussing with a writing blog. Just keep the tap on we’ve decided. It’ll come.

And come it has.cropped-22symonds-vf-slide-tnw5-jumbo2.jpg


Words We Women Write was born out of, well, unbridled curiosity and wonder.

The adventure of uncertainty lured us in. (That, and there was nowhere else we needed to be.)

Six years later, betwixt trials and triumphs, we’ve birthed two more ~

Click here to read Patty’s novel blog, Isabel the Storyteller…..


…and here to read Toni’s poetry blog, mental crumbs ~ in love with carbs and poetry.

tea-party-vintageHaving awesome stats means never having to wear plastic glasses.

We still fuss with the plumbing. The Apple geniuses help us tinker, WordPress Happiness Engineers make the irreversible reversible.

And Readers, you are why we’re still having a good time, all the time.

Thanks for coming to the party.

xo, Us







Where do you come from? is WordPress Erica’s prompt for this week’s writing challenge, Digging For Roots. Scan 42 My grandmother, Maria Giovanna Colangelo, chases the fat brown hens

through dusty blue grass and scrub on the hillsides of Avigliano,

peels fresh figs and splits open their pulpy redness with her freckled hands,

carries water up steep hills, past tall cypresses, through iron gates

to the piazza where Mussolini exercised on Saturday mornings.

My grandmother prays to the Madonna as she polishes the altar rail,

strokes her father’s hand and whispers in dialect,

offers purple berries to her husband and sings lullabies to her children

behind the shutters until the day she sails on the Duca D’Aosta to Ellis Island,

registers the mole on her left cheek and scratches her mark on the paper.

My grandmother, Alien Number1051939.

Toni 12/4/14