December 6 Writer Birthdays

1478 – Baldassare Castiglione (Count of Casatico), a prominent Italian Renaissance author who was also a courtier, diplomat, and soldier.

1721 – James Elphinston, Scottish philologist, orthographer, and English-language grammarian.

1884 – Cornelia Meigs, American children’s author of fiction and biography, best known for her 1933 biography of Louisa May Alcott, Invincible Louisa; in addition to winning the Newbery Medal for that book, she also wrote three Newbery Honor books.

1886 – Joyce Kilmer, American writer and poet best known for his poem “Trees”; though a prolific poet whose works celebrated the beauty of nature, Kilmer was also a journalist, literary critic, lecturer, editor, and religious writer.

1904 – Eve Curie Labouisse, French-U.S. writer, journalist, biographer, activist, and pianist; as the daughter of Marie Skłodowska-Curie and Pierre Curie and the sister of Irène Joliot-Curie, she was the only person in her family who did not become a scientist and win a Nobel Prize. She did write a biography of her mother and a memoir about her experiences as a war correspondent. She was dubbed the “First Lady of UNICEF” for her commitment to working for UNICEF to help mothers and children in developing countries.

1905 – Elizabeth Yates, Newbery Medal-winning American author of children’s books who is best known for the biographical novel Amos Fortune, Free Man .

1910 – David M. Potter, Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian who wrote extensively about the American Civil War.

1949 – Linda Barnes, American mystery writer, known for the “Carlotta Carlyle” series.

1951 – Tomson Highway, Canadian indigenous (Cree) playwright, novelist, children’s author, and musician who was also the librettist of the first Cree language opera, Pimooteewin (The Journey).

1970 – Joumana Haddad, acclaimed Lebanese poet, translator, journalist, and women’s rights activist.

December 5 Writer Birthdays

1830 – Christina Rossetti, English writer of romantic and children’s poems, best known for her long poem Goblin Market.

1872 – Vir Singh (Punjabi: ਭਾਈ ਵੀਰ ਸਿੰਘ ), Indian poet, scholar, and theologian who was a key figure in the movement for the revival of Punjabi literary tradition.

1886 – Rose Wilder Lane, American journalist, travel writer, novelist, and political theorist who was the daughter of American writer Laura Ingalls Wilder; Along with Ayn Rand and Isabel Paterson, Lane is considered one of the founders of the American libertarian movement.

1896 – Ann Nolan Clark, Newbery Medal-winning American children’s author.

1934 – Joan Didion, American author of novels, essays, and literary journalism, known for her lucid prose and incisive depictions of social unrest and psychological fragmentation.

1935 – Calvin Marshall Trillin, American journalist, humorist, food writer, poet, memoir writer, and novelist.

1936 – James Lee Burke, Edgar Award-winning American author of mysteries, best known for his Dave Robicheaux series.

1954 – Hanif Kureishi, English author and playwright; The Times named him one of Britain’s 50 greatest writers since 1945.

1968 – Lydia Millet, American novelist of literary fiction with a hint of dark humor.

December 4 Writer Birthdays

1795 – Thomas Carlyle, Victorian-era Scottish satirical writer and historian.

1817 – Prince Nikoloz “Tato” Baratashvili (Georgian: ნიკოლოზ “ტატო” ბარათაშვილი), Georgian poet credited with combining modern nationalism with European Romanticism to introduce “Europeanism” into Georgian literature; often referred to as the “Georgian Byron.”

1822 – Frances Power Cobbe, Victorian-era Irish author, essayist, and activist who wrote about women’s suffrage, human rights, and animal rights.

1835 – Samuel Butler, English author and satirist, best known for Erewhon and The Way of All Flesh.

1875 – Rainer Maria Rilke (born René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke), Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist who is considered one of the most lyrically intense German-language poets.

1883 – Katharine Susannah Prichard, Fiji-born Australian author of novels, plays, and short stories, who was also a founding member of the Communist Party of Australia.

1903 – Cornell Woolrich, American novelist, many of whose works were adapted into noir films.

1905 – Munro Leaf (born Wilbur Monroe Leaf), American author and illustrator of children’s literature; he is best known for The Story of Ferdinand, a children’s classic that he wrote on a yellow legal pad in less than an hour.

1934 – Wen Shaoxian (溫紹賢) – Chinese translator, scholar, novelist

1949 – A. Scott Berg, Pulitzer Prize-winning American biographer.

1969 – Plum Sykes (born Victoria Sykes), British fashion writer, editor, and novelist.

December 3 Writer Birthdays

1807 – Gamaliel Bailey, American journalist, editor, and publisher

1857 – Joseph Conrad, Polish author who wrote in English after moving to Britain and became one of the best-known authors in the English language; he is famous for such classic novels as Heart of Darkness and Lord Jim.

1897 – Kate O’Brien, Irish novelist and playwright.

1914 – Alaíde Foppa de Solórzano, Guatemalan and Argentinian poet and human-rights activist

1923  – Malcolm Franklin, Shanghai-born American author who was the stepson of writer William Faulkner and wrote about his life with him.

1924 – Francisco Sionil José, novelist and short-story writers who is one of the most widely read Filipino authors in the English language.

1929 – John Howie, American author and philosopher.

1937 – Morgan Llywelyn, American-born Irish author known for her historical fiction.

1942 – David K. Shipler, Pulitzer Prize-winning American nonfiction author.

1944 – Craig Anthony Raine, English poet who is one of the best-known exponents of Martian poetry.

1953 – Boris A. Novak, Slovenian poet and translator.

1955 – Michael Musto, American journalist, author, and Village Voice columnist.

1962 – Francesca Lia Block, American author of young-adult novels, short stories, screenplays, and poetry, best known for her “Weetzie Bat” series.

1980 – Zlata Filipović, Bosnian writer, author of the bestselling journal Zlata’s Diary which she wrote when she was between the ages of 11 and 13, during the war in Sarajevo.

College Craziness

Help! It’s college application time. My son tends to wait until the last possible moment to get his applications in, which is increasing the stress levels associated with this whole process. And the stress levels, in any case, are high. So many applications (and application fees) to pay. So many requirements to fulfill, essays to write, questions to answer, details to track down, financial aid packages to apply for, and red tape to cut.

I believe he’s a good candidate for all of the schools he’s trying for. He has better than a 4.0 average, stellar SATs (with a perfect score in math), and plenty of AP classes. Even more important (for the music schools, especially), he really is a gifted composer. On the other hand, a lot of students are good candidates. So he’s applying to his list of schools, and then we’ll see what happens.

He applied Early Action to UVa, so that one had to be in by November 1.

This week, he submitted applications by yesterday’s December 1 deadline to Boston Conservatory at Berklee School of Music and to Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University.

I was really hoping he would get his Johns Hopkins application in at the same time as the Peabody App. He wants to get into the Dual Degree program. Students who apply and get accepted at both the Homewood campus of Hopkins (that’s the main campus) and the Peabody campus can double major between the two. But the Hopkins application isn’t due until January 1, so he does have some time on that one. I would just like him to submit more applications soon, and be that much closer to finished.

His next due date: December 16 for the notoriously selective Curtis School of Music.

Fingers crossed.

This is the dorm Jon Morgan lived in for two weeks in July 2018, when he attended the High School Composition Intensive Summer Program at Boston Conservatory, which is part of Berklee School of Music. It’s in the lovely and vibrant Back Bay neighborhood of Boston, very close to Fenway Park.

December 2 Writer Birthdays

One tradition I’d started years ago on the first version of the Petrini Page is posting lists of writer birthdays. I still don’t have a list put together for every day of the year, but I’m getting close. I don’t claim that these lists are inclusive, but I am trying to post a wide variety of writers, from various cultures and time periods. Here are the birthdays I’ve found for December 2.

1728 – Ferdinando Galiani, influential Italian economist & writer.

1868 – Francis Jammes, French poet.

1885 – Níkos Kazantazakís, Greek novelist.

1897 – Rewi Alley, writer, educator, and social reformer.

1909 – Joseph P. Lash, American political activist, Eleanor Roosevelt biographer, and author who won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

1910 – Russell Lynes, art historian, critic, and author who was also managing editor of Harper’s Magazine.

1914 – Adolph Green, American lyricist and playwright.

1929 – Dan Jenkins, American author and sportswriter.

1929 – Leon Litwack, Pulitzer Prize winning author and historian.

1935 – David Hackett Fisher, Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian.

1937 – Brian Lumley, English author of horror fiction who first became known for writing in H.P. Lovecraft’s shared universe centered on the Cthulhu Mythos; winner of the Bram Stoker Award for lifetime achievement in horror writing.

1939 – Yaël Dayan, Israeli political activist, novelist, and journalist.

1944 – Botho Strauss, Germany playwright, novelist, and essayist.

1946 – David Macaulay, bestselling Caldecott Medal-winning British-born American author and illustrator of picture books for children and adults; his books, including Cathedral and The Way Things Work, combine text and highly detailed illustrations that explain architecture, design and engineering.

1948 – Elizabeth Berg, bestselling American novelist, playwright, registered nurse, and rock-band singer whose books have won many awards.

1948 – T.C. Boyle (Thomas Coraghessan Boyle), prolific American novelist and short-story writer who has been awarded the PEN/Faulkner prize for fiction.

1950 – Benedict Fitzgerald, controversial screenwriter who co-wrote the screenplay for the 2004 film The Passion of the Christ.

1958 – George Saunders, American writer of essays, short stories, and children’s books.

1963 – Ann Patchett, American novelist who won the Orange Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award.

1971 – Jüri Reinvere, Estonian poet and composer.

December 1 Writer Birthdays

1083 – Anna Komnene (also spelled Comnena), a Greek princess, scholar, doctor, hospital administrator, and the daughter of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos of Byzantium; she wrote the Alexiad, a historical account of her father’s reign.

1886 – Rex Stout, American writer of detective fiction, known for the character Nero Wolfe.

1895 – Henry Williamson, English author known for his natural and social history novels.

1942 – John Crowley, American author of fantasy and science fiction.

1948 – Azar Nafisi (Persian: آذر نفیسی), Iranian-born American writer and professor of English literature, best known for her book Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, which was on the New York Times Bestseller list for 117 weeks.

1949 – Jan Brett, American author and illustrator of children’s books, focused mainly on Scandinavian cultures.

1956 – Claire Chazal, French romance writer, journalist, and television news director.

1958 – Candace Bushnell, American author of the international best-selling book, Sex and the City.

1960 – Sergio F. Bambaren, Peruvian writer, noted for his love of the ocean and unknown horizons, and for his books related to surfing.

1964 – Jo Walton, Hugo Award-winning Welsh-Canadian science-fiction and fantasy author, best known for her novel, Among Others.

King of the School Story

I am so sad to hear that author Andrew Clements passed away yesterday, at the age of 70. He wrote 80 books for children and young adults, and was best known for Frindle and his other middle-grade “school stories.” In fact, few authors write a school story as well as Andrew Clements did, and young readers responded by clamoring for more. It’s sad to think there are no more new Clement books to look forward to.

Photo Friday – Street Art, With Pup

I posted many photos on my old blog. On this new iteration of the Petrini Page, I intend to keep posting my own photography, including on “Photo Fridays,” starting now.

I was walking in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood and came across a street artist putting the finishing touches on a mural. I later learned that her name is Lauren Asta, that she’s based in San Francisco, and that she travels around the country painting freehand murals and “doodle art” on any wall she can get her hands on. As I watched her work, I was struck not only by the amazing mural she was creating, but by the little dog and fuchsia water bottle that sat on a ledge on the wall, with those amazing black and white doodles as a backdrop.

Welcome to My Blog!

Hello, I’m Cathy. I have had a blog, The Petrini Page, since 2007. But my old host company has become a problem, so it’s time to upgrade to a new one. I hope to copy a lot of my old posts onto this new page, but it could take a while, so bear with me.

In the meantime, for those of you who are new to The Petrini Page, here’s a summary of who I am and what I hope to do on this site.

I am a published author of 28 books for children and young adults, a former magazine editor, and the mother of a high-school senior. I’ve written 20 books for Sweet Valley High and other teen series, all under pseudonyms. My nonfiction kids’ books, under my own name, are on topics ranging from Dragons to Stonehenge to the Cherokee Indians. Currently, I’m writing a science fiction novel, a picture book, a teen time-travel fantasy, and a historical teen fantasy. In other words, I am trying to do too much at once and not making a lot of progress in any of them. But I’m closing in on a decision about what to pursue first, and I’ll let you know when I sort it out.

I’m a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, the Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators, and the National Federation of Press Women, among other groups.

In my spare time, I enjoy reading, drawing, traveling, taking photographs, and ruining my son’s life by making him do homework instead of letting him play video games all day. Other hobbies include releasing books into the wild for BookCrossing, filling my Little Free Library with books, and sending postcards to correspondents all over the world through Postcrossing. I also run an arts contest for children and teens at 220 schools across Northern Virginia, and help arrange fundraising and communications for my son’s high-school orchestra.

I hope to use this blog for talking about writing, reading, and parenting, as well as, at times, politics, art, and history. I know, it’s broad and unfocused, but so is life. Right?

I hope this will be interactive. Please respond if you want to chime in, agree, disagree, or otherwise add to the conversation. I ask you to keep it respectful, and to steer clear of spamming and scamming.

Thank you for tuning in!