Friday Five

1. Kiva Update. Here is the latest on my Kiva loans. Melissa Lizeth is repaying her jewelry business loan, but she’s a bit behind schedule. However the Mapatano group in Kenya, who borrowed money to purchase fabric to sell in the local market, is 75% repaid. That gave me enough funds in my account to make a new loan.

This time, Ana from Mozambique was looking for money to purchase sheets, curtains, blankets and clothes to sell in the marketplace. Her goal is to build a booth inside the market which would be a more permanent structure. She is married and has two children, one of whom still attends school. She needs USD $700 to make this happen which is tough when the annual average income is $1,300.

For those of you not familiar, Kiva is a non-profit that connects lenders and borrowers around the world to help alleviate poverty. Through their site, you can find someone in need of a micro-loan and send a donation to fund their dreams. If you’re considering trying out Kiva for the first time and you use this link, I’ll get $25 in my basket to make another loan. Or you can visit the Kiva main page for more info.

2. My 15 minutes. I was recently interviewed for a website called Your Lovely Life which is about cultivating beauty and joy every day through books, recipes, articles, quotes, anything that might bring a smile to your face. It’s the brainchild of two people I admire for the way they walk the walk: Tammy Strobel from Rowdy kittens and Courtney Carver from Be More with Less. (I’ve written about Tammy’s tiny house here.) I’d contacted them about the possibility of featuring on Your Lovely Life some of the folks who’ve appeared on Shine. Then Courtney wrote asking if I’d like to answer a few questions about my lovely life.

~ blush ~

I’d been interviewed when The Subway Chronicles was published, but it was all book related. No one ever asked me the tough questions, ones that made me really think about how I relate to the world around me. So here it is. I’m sharing it with you in the hopes that if you or someone you know has a Shine-worthy experience to share you’ll get in touch with me.

3. Talk about Shine-worthy… Meet Willard Wigan, nano-artist. What’s a nano-artist? Mr. Wigan creates art that can’t be seen by the naked eye. It’s so small it fits on the head of a pin or inside the eye of a needle. These pieces are fully formed, painstakingly detailed pieces of sculpture. In order to do this he must go into a deeply meditative state so as to slow his breathing enough to keep his hands steady.


He has created Charlie Chaplin on the end of an eyelash, an elephant carved from a grain of sand, Marilyn Monroe on the edge of a diamond. He paints with a hair. Unbelievable, right? Watch Mr. Wigan show you how he does his work.

“It’s very painstaking work, but the best things come in small packages,” he says. It leaves me speechless, which you all know, is rare.

If you have a few extra minutes, watch his incredible TED talk where he describes his childhood, how his dyslexia caused him to retreat into this micro-world and how he creates this incredible art.

Have you had to look at the world in a different way? 

4. Never let go Jack. Did you ever wonder why Jack didn’t just climb on the door with Rose at the end of Titanic? Me too. The cool guys starring in the television show Mythbusters have finally put to rest the question we’ve all been asking since the movie came out. Here they decided to test it out by replicating that pivotal scene of the movie.

I don’t think I’m giving anything away here. I mean, if you haven’t seen Titanic by now, you’re probably not going to, but that said…spoiler alert.

After the ship sinks, Jack and Rose find a door floating among the detritus. She uses the door as a raft while he hangs on the side with most of his body in the sub-freezing water. The guys at Mythbusters determined that Jack and Rose could have both survived on the floating door with just one simple fix — attaching the life jacket Rose was wearing to the bottom of the board. Doing that gives the door enough bouyancy to keep both Jack and Rose out of the water and alive until they could be rescued.

This all made me think about a little issue I’m having with a story.


5.  Truth in fiction. The above example just goes to show that audiences expect realistic narrative in stories, even if they are fiction. (Rose and Jack were fictional characters, of course.) In fact, I have a friend who cries foul particularly when movies or television episodes set in Manhattan have inconsistencies. You’re not riding the 6 train to the Upper West Side, bub. It’s these little details, like the size of a door or getting take-out from Battery Park to Washington Heights while the food is still hot, that help bring the reader into the world of the story, while the inconsistencies will take them out.

Salman Rushdie said that even if you have a fantastical element like a magic carpet in your story, you still need to consider how the carpet behaves in a realistic way: What would that be like if you were standing on a carpet and it levitated? Would it be difficult to keep your balance? Would the carpet be rigid or would the movement of the air under the carpet make the carpet undulate? If you flew very high, wouldn’t it get very cold? How do you keep warm on a flying carpet?

And so, this is where I’m a bit stuck. I recently finished a short story which I was very satisfied with. (I’ll refrain from saying that I loved it or that I even “like liked” it. I’m a writer and a tinkerer.) The characters keep coming back to me, and my beta reader said that this is what I should be working on next. I think it’s a much longer story, maybe a novel. The story doesn’t have any magical realism elements like Rushdie mentioned above, but I’m afraid to dig in because I’m afraid of these inconsistencies. Briefly, it is set in the French countryside in the early 1900s. The main character has a job which is particular to this country at this time period. I have never been to France and the only French I know is pret a porter. How am I supposed to recreate this world for the reader?

Your next question is very logical. Didn’t you write the short story? A short story is simpler because, well, it’s short. Or as author Emma Donoghue put it, it’s like a honeymoon whereas a novel is like a marriage. I will get started on the research required because the story is compelling me to do it. I’ll need to circle around it for a bit before diving in.

Have you ever worked on a project when your lack of knowledge made you nervous to start? 

Have a great weekend, everyone! 



  1. I’m French, maybe I can help. If you feel like writing that book – do it. You can ask me all the questions you want, if I can’t answer, I’ll ask my father who might know (you’ve got my e-mail).
    That tiny art is amazing…


    1. Thank you, Caroline! I’ll be taking you up on that offer. I’m so fortunate to have this wonderful community of people with a wide variety of experiences who may be able to assist in some of these finer details.


  2. Erin Morgenstern, who wrote The Night Circus set in (I think?) set in the 19th century said she didn’t do any historical research, and I certainly couldn’t tell that reading the book. I think I would feel bogged down with too much research, but I’d want to do enough to have the fact right. I am going to watch the nano artist right after I’ve posted this comment! Speaking of comments I’ve been having trouble with login/posting and have written you about 10 comments which wordpress then wiped! I’m going to make a backup of this one so you definitely get it!


    1. So wonderful to hear from you. I was wondering if you’d gotten bogged down with house details.
      I’m so sorry to hear that WP has been wiping your comments. I’m going to check my spam folder now. Maybe the comments ended up there.
      I hope you enjoyed the video of the nano artist. Amazing, isn’t he?


  3. I once read that fear is excitement without breathing, and I try to remember that when I tackle a new challenge. Definitely write the book and find a reader familiar with that time in history. I’m fluent in French, so feel free to ask about vocab. anytime.

    So nice to see you–you are lovely!


    1. I’ve never looked at it that way, but you know, I do hold my breath when I get fearful. But when I take a deep breath that fills my lungs I always feel a bit better.
      Thank you for the translation assistance. I may need it, especially when I come across these websites in French.
      That is so nice of you to say! I’m probably the least photogenic person on the planet. I’m fortunate my eyes were open for this one. 🙂


  4. All creativity is now. That makes so much sense to me. I don’t even care why I haven’t seen it before, I’m just glad you did.

    Speaking of things I’ve missed, I hate I’ve been missing SHINE. I’ll be fixing that problem.


    1. I really hope you like the SHINE entries, Oma. If you know of anyone who should be features, please let me know.
      Also, I think I’m going to put a little badge in the sidebar to draw people’s attention to it.


    1. It’s been a bit nippy here the past few days but that’s okay. The mums are out. The farmers market is serving apple cider. The leaves are starting to turn.
      Reggie is looking forward to Halloween because all the kids drop candy on the sidewalks. He makes out like a bandit!
      Have you had any leaf peeping in your neck of the woods?


  5. Oh, Jackie, congrats on the interview. Can’t wait to click over and read. And goodness, that art is incredible. I thought I had been know to work small. Lordy! Hope you and Reggie have a great weekend.


  6. There’s so much here! For one thing, yes, I’m working on a story right now that I’m having language issues with! So I know exactly what you mean about being nervous to start — not sure how to write the dialogue and descriptions I need to write. Also, that nano art is INCREDIBLE. I can barely THREAD a needle, so I’m so impressed (maybe I need to get a microscope!). That’s great news about Kiva and I loved the interview with you! I agree wholeheartedly about honoring each moment. I spend too much time worrying and later wish I was just in the moment, so I agree: it’s all about right now. Great post, Jackie, one of my favorite Friday 5’s ever!


    1. I’m sorry that you’re having similar issues with your story, but selfishly glad to know that I’m not alone. Frustrating, isn’t it? But I guess this is what makes it interesting. You never know where your characters are going to take you.
      It’s hard to imagine even deciding to create Charlie Chaplin on the end of an eyelash! I was also thinking that i can barely thread a needle.
      Thanks for taking the time to read that interview. Hope you had a great weekend!


  7. Thanks for sharing the interview. I totally understand when you say you learn from Reggie. Miles teaches me every day to slow down and to take it all in. He knows how to enjoy life.


  8. Can’t wait to read your interview, Ms. C! Sounds awesome!
    That was a pretty cool episode of Mythbusters, too (for a while I was concerned the results might turn out a bit differently… because I had always questioned the logic in that scene, too). Just imagine how many actors Willard Wigan could have fit on that chunk of wood! Absolutely INCREDIBLE!!! 🙂


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