March 27 ~ Q & As
By Ana Brazil
March 28, 2020

This Friday—it is Friday, isn’t it? Because the more we shelter-in-place, the less we know exactly what day of the week it is—the Paper Lantern Writers continue to navigate the strange new world of Creativity and Writing in the Time of COVID-19.

Linda wants to know What are your TOP FIVE shelter-in-place activities?

Kathryn starts our activities with a countdown:

5. Knitting while video chatting with family and friends, which has compelled me to put on some lipstick.

4. Walking up and down my street noting the lovely spring blooms that didn’t get the memo to shut down and catching up with neighbors at a safe distance.

3. Gardening and by that I mean pulling weeds while listening to podcasts.

2. Cooking/Baking from my once well-stocked pantry supplies which are rapidly dwindling.

1. Reading the books piled on my night table, along with War and Peace through #TolstoyTogether.

Katie’s response is a little more tongue in cheek:

5. Wiping down the bottoms of my shoes with Lysol wipes when I come home. 

4a. Attempting to watch a “grown up” show after my child “goes to bed.”

4b. Having a “bed time.” 

3. Organizing all the cookies and bread from stress baking. In my mouth. 

2. Doing children’s yoga with my toddler, which devolves into an impromptu Judo class as he launches himself onto my back. 

1. Singing along to the Fireman Sam theme song, and discussing secondary homoerotic plot points with my spouse.

Ana offers, “I don’t have a hierarchy, but this is what’s been meaningful to me since sheltering-in-place in the Bay Area:

  • I put our flag out every morning before I walk my dog. It’s a reminder to me that we are stronger when we stick together. (We also put some of our holiday lights out, hoping to bring a cheerful glow back to our neighborhood. It’s true that people aren’t out much between 7-10pm, but if we brighten one neighbor’s journey, it’s worth it.)
  • I’m also watching out for a few neighbors on my block, trying to make sure that they stay connected and have what they need.
  • Since my husband’s working from home and not eating breakfast/lunch out, I’m cooking more! I’m trying new recipes as possible (if I have the ingredients).
  • Online jigsaw puzzles!!! One friend made one comment on Facebook and I had to try the puzzles. I got sucked in, but in a fun way. Current favorite: Jigsaw Explorer, which has lots of “big building” puzzles.
  • I’m writing! I had to hunker down to research and write this week’s PLW blog, digging into the online pages of Gilded Age New Orleans newspapers.”

C.V. offers her list:

5.  Trying to get back into an exercise routine, which isn’t going so well.

4.  Reaching out to friends and family via letters, calls, texts, etc.

3.  Looking for a job as I am now technically unemployed.

2.  Editing and re-writing my WIP.

1.  Exploring my domestic side; making bath bombs, learning to make artisan bread, and when the weather is nice, making a batch of homemade soap.

Eliza J. Nicholson!

Finally, Linda provides her list:

5. Social Media — When the news is horrible and focused on disaster, I turn to social media. I can visit various Facebook groups, scroll my feed, and post on three pages that I manage. I can read and write blogs and peruse Instagram, Twitter and Goodreads. What really consumes the hours is Facebook games. They are mindless distraction, which I sorely need right now.

4. TV Binges — My husband and I had always wanted to check out The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. We binged on all three seasons and enjoyed them immensely. The quick pace and well written layered humor kept our attention. Other series we’ve binged in the past include Jack Ryan, Shameless, and What We Do in the Shadows. We have eclectic tastes.

3. Baking — I have always baked my way through crisis. After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, when my sons were very small, I baked two coffee cakes and ate one all by myself. Yes, baking is a great stress relief. In the first week of the pandemic, I’ve made brownies and blueberry scones—all from scratch. I don’t use mixes. Next I think I’ll try some of the recipes I just discovered that came from my husband’s grandmother—maybe Apple Streusel Muffins.

2. Writing—Putting writing in second place is a little misleading. Writing consumes me. It’s always my number one. When the stay at home was first announced, I eagerly looked forward to having hours at home to write. I don’t have children to home school or a job to worry about, so writing was perfect. As the crisis worsens, though, focusing on anything becomes more difficult. I have three chapters done in my new novel. I’ve rewritten them twice and only managed to complete chapter 3. I am determined to keep trying. I don’t want to look back on this time and regret wasting it.

1. Reading—I have always been a voracious reader, and I’d rather read than do a lot of other things, like housework. I read all genres, but a good novel can provide entertainment and escape all at once. I just finished The Photographer, by Petra Durst-Benning, which I started yesterday. I put it down and picked up A Well Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler. The first chapter is very promising! I did receive two books I ordered (and wiped them down outside before bringing them in) but they are nonfiction research and require more concentration than I currently have. Maybe next week, when this whole crisis has become business as usual.

Ana Brazil
Written by Ana Brazil

Ana Brazil writes historical crime fiction celebrating bodacious American heroines. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, the Historical Novel Society, and a founding member of Paper Lantern Writers.
Ana’s award-winning historical mystery FANNY NEWCOMB & THE IRISH CHANNEL RIPPER is set in Gilded Age New Orleans. Her upcoming October 17 2023 release is THE RED-HOT BLUES CHANTEUSE, a Viola Vermillion Vaudeville mystery set in 1919 San Francisco.

View Ana’s PLW Profile

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