31 August 2008

Jasper Fforde on Writing

The fiction site on About.com has an interview with Jasper Fforde about his writing process.

I love Fforde. Read the interview.

When the Leaves Change: Summer 2008 in Review

This has been an eventful summer for me. I left my teaching position, started a business, became an auntie, and adopted two new kitties (Azshara and a boy kitty whose name is to be determined). I've read (though not as much as I would have liked), written (more than I expected I would), and made a breakthrough in the writing of my book. Overall, it's been a good summer. Sure, there are things I wish had happened differently, but I don't regret anything. I did what I thought was best at the time.

On Starting a Business
When I quit teaching to become a full time freelance writer, I expected to spend the bulk of the summer seeking clients, building relationships, and doing almost anything to build a portfolio. Shortly after "opening," a kind fellow freelancer passed my name to a client who needed projects done on a tight deadline (too tight for her), and I picked up some projects for a few months. I was a paid writer!

A month or so later, I applied to a writer's assistant position working for another freelancer who had too many projects and needed help 15 or so hours a week. It was a little shaky, but I got the position, and it has been the best thing for my career so far! The woman with whom I work is a wonderfully sweet woman, and we have a lot in common. We work well together, and write well together. It's been a wonderful experience already, and my portfolio has gotten so big I had to start a couple of extra file folder to contain the hard copies!

I'm not making very much money yet, but I already consider myself a successful freelance writer. There is quite a bit more I would like to do (and expect to do) in my writing career, and this summer has been a wonderful start to it. I'm already doing better than I thought I would, and if this summer was any indication of how things will be in the future, I may have to start posting less frequently!

On Becoming an Auntie
I'm so excited my little sister is a mama! Ashlie Elizabeth is a beautiful, beautiful baby girl, and she is going to be spoiled with love for the rest of her life. It's a bit strange. I always assumed I would have children before her, so I thought that, by the time Sis had kids, I'd be able to sit back and chuckle at her stories, empathize with her pains, and share (unsolicited) advice about everything. Instead I'm an auntie and I get to spoil Ashlie and give her candy (when she's old enough, obviously) before sending her home to Mommy and Daddy wired and unable to sleep.

I'm not going to lie: I'm a little jealous. I love babies, and I'm looking forward to when Hubby and I are able to have children of our own. Until then, though, I'm going to enjoy peppering my personal blog with pictures and bits of information about my darling niece.

On a House of Fur Babies
I've always loved cats, and when Hubby and I adopted Jaina back in October 2007, I couldn't imagine a home without animals. This past June, Hubby suggested we get another kitten as a playmate for Jaina and though I was unsure, we found Azshara and fell in love with her energy and friendliness. So we brought her home. Jaina wasn't so sure about having another kitty around, but after a few days they became best friends.

Just prior to Tropical Storm Fay hitting Orlando, a stray cat started hanging around my in-laws' house. Since Mom-in-law is allergic, we agreed to take care of the stray at least through the storm so he wouldn't be out in the weather. When we brought him home (and cleaned him up) we thought Azshara would take to him immediately but that Jaina would be a bit standoffish as she was with Azshara. We were surprised that, instead, Jaina started mothering him right away, and for several days, Azshara hissed and growled anytime he went near her. Everyone is friends now, though.

When we first brought the stray home (we originally called him Thrall, but we settled on Warrington after the Cheshire Cat in Fforde's Thursday Next series), I couldn't believe we had three cats at our house. Three! That seemed so many! But each of them has such different personalities, now I don't know how we could have less than three cats in our home!

I love all our fur babies, and I'm thankful we took Warrington in to rescue him from the storm.

On Expectations for Autumn 2008
As eventful as the summer has been, I know the fall is going to be even more eventful. In addition to freelancing, I plan to finish the first draft of my coffee house book (hopefully prior to the insanity that will be NaNoWriMo 2008), read more, and achieve some of the goals I've set for my personal life.

I'm optimistic about the rest of the year. There are things I'm greatly looking forward to in the near future (including visiting my family for Christmas this year), and it will be a good way to close 2008 before starting a great 2009.

I think things are looking better.

30 August 2008

Book Burning

Dana has a post about the burning of books on her blog. She also has a post on Tennyson (including "The Charge of the Light Brigade" in the post--delicious).

She's starting to ooze writerly and definitely showing me up...I may have to do something about that.

I got my eyes on you, Hunter.

Watch it.

28 August 2008

27 August 2008

The Seven Sacraments Series: Confession

The Sacrament of Confession (also called Reconciliation) can be a confusing sacrament. Being raised Protestant, I always prayed directly to the Lord when I sinned, so when I converted to Catholicism, it was a concept I had difficulty with a little bit.

Since converting, I've learned quite a bit about Confession, and people have given me better explanations of the sacrament, so I think I'll be able to explain it to you.

The first question I asked about Confession in RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) was "Why confess?" For those who are new to Catholicism, going to a priest to verbally confess sins when only the Lord can forgive seems unnecessary. Perhaps it's just a way for the Church to keep tabs on what the members are doing in that Puritan way that Hawthorne knew so well.

Only the Lord can forgive our sins. Mere men do not have that power. And all Christians should confess their sins to the Lord even if they never go to Confession.

However, the clergy in the Church are authorities in the Church, and can help us better understand the teachings of the Church and Scriptures, and grow closer to the Lord through that understanding. And through that understanding, we can combat the temptations to sin again, and understand why we should behave in a certain way as Christians.

In addition to the actual confession of sins, priests can assign a penance for the Christian confessing. While the act of penance is not part of the forgiveness, it gives us an opportunity to take time with the Lord and grow closer to him. It can also help show the Lord that we are, in fact, contrite.

When children admit to their parents they've done wrong, parents often tell their children to do something to sort of "make up for" what was done wrong. In the Church, penance is sort of the same idea. After I confess, the priest may tell me, for example, to pray an extra Rosary each night for a specified amount of time. By doing that penance, I'm able to show the Lord I'm willing to do what is asked of me to show him I am sorry, and that I am trying to do better in life to strengthen my relationship with the Lord.

So what is required for Confession? Scott P. Richert says, " Three things are required of a penitent in order to receive the sacrament worthily:
  1. He must be contrite—or, in other words, sorry for his sins.
  2. He must confess those sins fully, in kind and in number.
  3. He must be willing to do penance and make amends for his sins."
The Church urges us to confess whenever we have a mortal sin on our hearts, though we are encouraged to confess frequently. The Church recommends going to Confession in preparation to receive Communion for Easter, even if we are only aware of venial sins.

The important thing to remember is that confession is not about being punished for sins. We have been forgiven for all sins through the Blood of Christ. Confession is about a relationship with the Lord. By voluntarily confessing our sins to the Lord, we are recognizing a need for that relationship to be close and full of grace instead of marred by sin. Sin separates us from God, and by confessing our sins and seeking forgiveness (even knowing we're forgiven already), we show how important our relationship with the Lord is to us.

26 August 2008

Budgeting Time

This week is a bit of a crazy week at CSW. I have a couple of tight deadlines, so I have to be careful how I budget my time to make sure I get everything done on time (or early, even). Over the years, beginning even in high school, I've learned a few tricks to help keep me on track with deadlines, and am always aware of what projects I have.

I write everything down. A lot of times I'm able to remember what's going on and what I have to do each day, but I'm always afraid that I might not remember.
  • I have a day planner I use to write down all my deadlines and appointments as soon as I get them. And when I complete a project or go to an appointment I cross it off on my calendar so I know I did it.
  • At the beginning of each week, I create a task list of projects and things to do that week (with deadlines written in to remind me of priorities). I add to it as I need to, and as each task gets completed, I cross it off the list. I always write this list on a piece of yellow paper from a legal pad so it doesn't get hidden among the other (white) papers on my desk and in my portfolio.
  • At the beginning of each day, I look at my weekly task list and create a to-do list for the day from the projects and things I have to do during the week. That way I don't feel overwhelmed by looking at my weekly list. I'm able to break things down day by day to make sure I get everything done.
  • I also keep a stack of notepaper on my desk. Whenever I have a piece of paper that's clean on the back that would normally be recycled or thrown away, I cut it into quarters and add to the notepaper stack. These papers are bigger than post-it notes, so I don't lose track of them as easily, and I'm able to take notes on them without wasting paper.
I have a file organizer by my desk for active files. When I have an active project, I stand that file up in my file organizer by my desk for easy access to the file and notes within it. That way I don't have to go to my file box when I need information about a project or client. Everything is right there next to me.

I budget breaks into my schedule. If I work too long without a break, my eyes get tired and I get a headache. Sometimes I'll get frustrated with what I'm working on, too, unless I can step away from it for a bit. So I usually take a mini-break every hour or so, even if it's just a five- or ten-minute break to refresh my drink and stretch my back. (If you're having trouble taking breaks, there are free, download-able programs that will automatically remind you when it's time to take a break. I used one until I got in the habit of taking regular breaks. Here's an example of one.)

These are just a few of the things I do to help me manage my time wisely. Others have different methods. A colleague/client of mine, for example, lays out all of her projects in an Excel document to track what needs to be done, when things are due, and what files she needs for the projects. Another friend of mine just keeps a daily to do list on a half-sheet of paper.

What do you do to help keep your time budgeted?

25 August 2008

Giving is Sharing What You Don't Have

There are many people I know who work very hard every day without complaint, pushing themselves as far as they can go to get done what they need to get done. And I admire that. I am often amazed by the things people are willing to do and the sacrifices people are willing to make for the people they love.

Parents who go without so their children will have what they need (and want).

Siblings who open their homes when a brother or sister needs a place to stay until they get back on their feet.

Friends who send what little extra money they have to friends who don't have enough.

There are people who find ways to give even when they barely have enough for themselves. They are the people who can always be counted on to help you move or babysit your kids or pick up your mail while you're on vacation. They do it with smiles, never grudgingly, and don't expect anything in return, even if their schedules are full of work and family obligations with no time to relax.

I do what I can for others, and I try to do it without complaint. I'm not always successful at that second part, but I'm working on it. I see people give when they have almost nothing themselves, and they keep nothing for themselves, so why can't I give when the Lord has blessed me?

What do you do to share your blessings?

22 August 2008

Your Coffee Kitchen

When I got married, one of my favorite things to do (you know, besides actually getting married) was starting our bridal registry. Wandering through the store with our little scanning gun let us think about exactly what we wanted in our home, and for me, the most important room was the kitchen. And the first place I went, scanner in hand, was the coffee makers.

For anyone who wants to make good coffee at home, the tools used are important. From the coffee maker to the grinder to the beans, you should make sure every item in your coffee kitchen meets your coffee needs.

Your Coffee Grinder
A coffee grinder is not necessary in a coffee kitchen (you can purchase coffee grounds instead of beans), but I recommend grinding your own beans prior to brewing your coffee. Ground coffee stales more quickly than beans, which alters the flavor of the brewed coffee. If you've never had freshly ground and brewed coffee, you probably won't notice a difference, but those who drink fresh coffee know how quickly the grinds go stale, even when stored carefully.

When selecting a grinder, you have to decide how much control you want over the grinding of your coffee. Some grinders allow you to just pour in some beans, push a button, and grounds appear. Others allow you to select how coarsely or finely the beans are ground.

Gourmet Coffee Zone has a good explanation of the different kinds of grinder available that can give you information about what kind of grinder best suits your coffee needs.

Your Coffee Maker
Before you go to a store and buy the biggest, fanciest coffee maker that can be programmed to make coffee at the same time every morning with pods of pre-measured coffee that even adds your preferred sweetener to the cup before your alarm clock even goes off, you should decide what kind of coffee-drinker you are. After all, if all you consume is that morning cup with your eggs, you probably don't need a coffee maker that can make twenty cups at once. Conversely, if you're one of those coffee-drinkers that uses a thermos for each "cup" that's kept filled all day, you probably don't want a French press or coffee maker that brews one cup at a time.

Once you determine the size of your coffee maker, you should decide how much control you want over the brewing of your coffee. Are you a coffee drinker that wants to simply pour in the grounds and water, push a button and walk away? Or do you want to be able to decide exactly how long the water runs through the grounds, and at what pressure? This decision will also help tailor your coffee kitchen.

This article at Facts on Coffee will give you some good information on selecting a coffee maker, as well as this article on different stlyes of coffee makers.

Remember: the coffee you make at home is in your hands! You have decide what you want out of your coffee kitchen, then make the product choices that best meet those needs. Make sure you find out all you can about the different products available, then make an informed decision.

And once you get everything home, cleaned, and set up, enjoy your coffee!

21 August 2008

Things To Do When You Don't Have a Freelance Project

  1. Catch up on the laundry (every item of clothing in our house is clean).
  2. Work on fiction.
  3. Make egg salad for lunch.
  4. Start making holiday travel plans.
  5. Watch the weather.
  6. Play with the kitties.
  7. Watch Law & Order.
  8. Look at baby pictures.
  9. Read.
  10. Check the weather again.
  11. Work on fiction some more.
  12. Spend time with Hubby.
  13. Do yoga.
  14. Clean the kitchen.
  15. Do some research.
  16. Look for freelance gigs.
  17. Organize writing portfolio.
  18. Blog.
  19. Play video games.
  20. Organize freelance files.
  21. Upload father-in-law's birthday pictures from camera.
  22. Work on fiction again.
  23. Hang pictures on the walls.
  24. Go for a walk.
  25. Take a nap.

20 August 2008

My Beautiful Niece

The Seven Sacraments Series: Holy Communion

The Sacrament of Holy Communion (often referred to as the Lord's Supper in the Protestant tradition) is the third of the seven sacraments. Holy Communion is a Sacrament of Initiation (with Baptism and Confirmation) because it brings us into the fullness of our life in Christ.

Catholics believe the Eucharist to actually be the body and blood of Christ received in the form of the Communion wafer and wine. During the Communion Rite, the priest celebrating Mass consecrates the bread and wine, causing transubstantiation, which is the transformation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ while still retaining the properties of bread and wine.

We are required by the Church to receive Communion at least once a year as part of our Easter Duty, but we are urged to receive Communion frequently. There are spiritual benefits to receiving Communion. According to Scott P. Richert:
[In receiving Communion], our souls become more united to Christ, both through the graces we receive and through the change in our actions that those graces effect. Frequent Communion increases our love for God and for our neighbor, which expresses itself in action, which makes us more like Christ.
Holy Communion is not just a connection to Christ, but a way to remember the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. Every time we receive Holy Communion, we are reminded of Christ's death on the Cross, which was to forgive our sins.

In preparation for Communion, we should examine our hearts. You should not have any mortal sin on your heart when you receive Communion, and the Church recommends participating in the Sacrament of Reconciliation (or Confession) before taking Communion.

After Communion, I also always take a few moments to pray, thanking the Lord for Christ's sacrifice, and asking Him to nourish my heart and soul the way bread nourishes my body. Taking those few moments helps me keep Communion as a Sacrament instead of a weekly obligation. It prevents me from hurrying through it at Mass, instead giving it the importance in my life that it deserves.

My Interview

  1. How did you come to be a writer? I think I've always been a writer, but I didn't decide to pursue it as a career until college, when a professor (who would become my academic advisor) read a short story I sent him and enjoyed it. (On a side note, he's always been incredibly supportive of my writing, and it's his encouragement that keeps me believing I'll be able to publish a book someday.)
  2. Tell me a little about what you're working on right now. How did you come to start working on it? In addition to working on various freelance projects, I'm working on a book (working title: Prasad(a)) that is about an indie coffee house in a college town. Right now it's somewhere between a collection of short stories and character sketches and a novel.
  3. What are you reading right now? I'm finishing up The Poet and the Murderer by Simon Worrall, and beginning a rereading of The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde.
  4. What's your favorite piece (that you've written)? Why? I think "Casual Conversation." I wrote it for my short fiction class in college. It's a story that is all dialogue with no tags. It was a lot of fun to write.
  5. Who's your favorite character? Why? My favorite character is Deirdre Mason (the protagonist in a novel I've set aside for the time being). She and I have many similarities, but in many ways, she's much braver than me.
  6. Where do you see yourself as a writer in ten years? Five? One? In ten years I see myself able to focus on my fiction, perhaps with a Master's degree in Creative Writing, perhaps teaching college writing courses. In five years I see myself balancing my fiction and freelance writing, and able to rely on my freelancing as a viable income. This time next year, I want to be able to consider myself a successful freelance writer, and be ready to submit Prasad(a) to a literary agent.
  7. Who's your favorite author? Why? I used to say my favorite author was, unquestioningly, Jasper Fforde. However, due to recent readings, I've also fallen in love with A. S. Byatt and Diane Setterfield.
  8. What's your favorite published work? Why? I have two favorite published works, both novels. One is Possession by A. S. Byatt, and the other is The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. Both are excellent.
  9. What's the most difficult lesson you've learned as a writer? The road to publication is not like in the movies.
  10. Is there anything you regret? If so, what? I don't regret anything--I did what I thought was best at the time.
  11. What's the most annoying question you've been asked by a writer? "Can you look at this?" (Although there are a few writers for whom I would read/proofread all day.)
  12. What's the most annoying question you've been asked by a non-writer? "Can you look at this?"
  13. What do you want new writers to know about the craft that they may not learn in academia? One of my favorite authors received 76 rejections before finding a home for his first novel. Each rejection is one agent/publishing house closer to finding your story a home.
  14. What is one short-term writing goal you've set for yourself? To finish a draft of Prasad(a) by Thanksgiving.
  15. Write your autobiography in six words. "Writes often, loves fiercely, drinks coffee."

19 August 2008

The Interview

  1. How did you come to be a writer?
  2. Tell me a little about what you're working on right now. How did you come to start working on it?
  3. What are you reading right now?
  4. What's your favorite piece (that you've written)? Why?
  5. Who's your favorite character? Why?
  6. Where do you see yourself as a writer in ten years? Five? One?
  7. Who's your favorite author? Why?
  8. What's your favorite published work? Why?
  9. What's the most difficult lesson you've learned as a writer?
  10. Is there anything you regret? If so, what?
  11. What's the most annoying question you've been asked by a writer?
  12. What's the most annoying question you've been asked by a non-writer?
  13. What do you want new writers to know about the craft that they may not learn in academia?
  14. What is one short-term writing goal you've set for yourself?
  15. Write your autobiography in six words.
My answers tomorrow. Feel free to answer the questions yourself (either here or by posting the questions on your own blog).

Dana Says...

Be sure to check out Dana's post on troubles with writing. Though her numbered list is specific to her current project, the general troubles are things most (if not all) writers have dealt with at one time or another!

18 August 2008

Movies, Research, and a Bit of Navel-Gazing

I watched the movie Possession yesterday, and it made me want to do literary research. In fact, I started to look into what Master's programs would give me the education to work in a library, researching the authors I admire, and/or acquiring manuscripts and letters and scribblings of those authors for a library or museum's collection.

I love books and literature and history, and I would love to spend my career making information about literature and authors known to everyone instead of just scholars.

I admit I am an English nerd, and I enjoyed writing research papers in school. I enjoyed learning new things, and I loved going to the library to find out what I could about those new things.

I think that's why it's so easy for me to research things for writing. When I research a topic (specialty coffee, rental agreements, found art), I enjoy learning about it for whatever I'm scribbling. It's not an aspect of writing I dread or put off until the last possible moment.

I could see myself as a research assistant somewhere.

17 August 2008

I'm an auntie!

My sister gave birth early, early this morning (4 a.m., EST) to Ashlie Elizabeth. She weighs 5 lbs, 13 oz, and is 18.5" tall. She has black hair. As soon as I have pictures, I'll be posting them!

Mom and Baby are doing fine, and according to my mom (who is a first-time grandma), Megan is "tired and happy."

Hooray for auntie-hood!

Weekly Reflection: the Peacefulness of Prayer

Last week was an emotionally eventful week for my personal life.

My sister, whose baby is due any day now, had a doctor's appointment last week and was put on bed rest due to high blood pressure. She has another appointment early this week to check in and see how she's doing.

One of my best friends had a scary doctor's appointment last week to check out a lump she found. She was nervous about it, understandably. Thankfully, it was benign.

And while all this was going on, I had a couple of writing projects due at the end of the week. One of the projects just didn't feel right to me, and though I worked on it and tweaked it and eventually sent it in (on deadline), I still feel that something was off about it.

All week I felt as though I was going from one minor crisis to another (some bigger than others, of course). By the end of the week, I was emotionally drained.

Friday evening, Hubby and I went to Mass with the in-laws for the Feast of the Assumption. It was a welcome break from the chaos of the week, and gave me an opportunity to spend time in worship and prayer away from the distractions of the office and everyday life.

During Mass I prayed (as I always do) in the quiet moment after the homily, and immediately began to feel more at peace, more emotionally balanced, and relaxed. In that moment, I was able to concentrate on my prayer and my personal, spiritual life, and the frustrations and anxieties of the week seemed to slip away and I could breathe again.

Today's society is full of attention-getting devices. TV, radio, and the Internet fill our senses with sounds and images and help us keep our lives full of stimulation and noise. That's fine, but there comes a point when I just need quiet, and in those quiet moments, I find myself in prayer. And with that prayer comes peace.

When I pray, I'm able to turn my thoughts inward and step away from the outside distractions of life. I think it's that introspection that allows me to recharge myself and get ready for another week of distractions and chaos. The peace I feel in prayer at Mass steadies me to face whatever trials I meet head-on and without fear or doubt, and to keep on keeping on.

15 August 2008

Back to School: how to keep learning about writing

This is the time of year when children are frantically active, trying to cross those final summer tasks off their list before their parents gleefully pack them onto the bus to go [DRAMATIC MUSIC] back to school!

And while many of us are happy to send the kids off to school while we maintain our routines, others of us may miss the days of schoolbooks and notepads, desks and reading assignments. And the writers of us know it's important to keep learning about writing even if we think we have a pretty good understanding of the craft.

There are lots of ways to continue learning about writing after graduating from college.

Take a continuing education class. Lots of colleges offer writing courses for adults that meet once or twice a week for as few as six weeks or as long as a semester. These courses are designed to help you brush up on an area or give you a base understanding of a new area.

Join a message board/forum. Writers can learn from writers. By joining and posting on a forum, you can ask questions from writers who may have gone through the same things as you, and get up-to-the minute responses from people in the industry.

Read, read, read. Not only should you read other authors in your genre, but don't skip the Writing/Publishing section at Barnes & Noble, either. Lots of successful writers go on to publish books offering advice to other writers, and these books can give you great information on specific questions you may have about writing.

Go to a writing workshop. These events offer the opportunity to network with others in the writing industry, attend talks and lectures, and even have manuscripts looked at by agents and editors. What's better, some of the connections you make at workshops are friendships that continue afterward, giving you support as you write.

Keep writing. Pianists don't learn to play and the only play when they have concerts. So why would writers only write when they're working on a novel or an upcoming article? Writing, like any other craft, requires practice. Keep a journal, and use it to scribble little scenes or character sketches or whatever comes to mind. Barnes & Noble has writing exercise books/workbooks to help spark your creativity and keep you writing.

Whatever else you do, keep learning. Writing is not just talent. There are techniques that can (and should) be learned, information that can be absorbed, and above all, remember writing is a craft. It should be treated as a craft.

Keep learning.

And happy scribbling.

The Feast of the Assumption (August 15)

According to Catholic Online:

The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 15 August; also called in old liturgical books Pausatio , Nativitas (for heaven ), Mors , Depositio , Dormitio S. Mariae .

This feast has a double object: (1) the happy departure of Mary from this life ; (2) the assumption of her body into heaven. It is the principal feast of the Blessed Virgin.

THE FACT OF THE ASSUMPTION

Regarding the day, year, and manner of Our Lady's death, nothing certain is known. The earliest known literary reference to the Assumption is found in the Greek work De Obitu S. Dominae . Catholic faith, however, has always derived our knowledge of the mystery from Apostolic Tradition. Epiphanius (d. 403) acknowledged that he knew nothing definite about it (Haer., lxxix, 11). The dates assigned for it vary between three and fifteen years after Christ's Ascension. Two cities claim to be the place of her departure: Jerusalem and Ephesus. Common consent favours Jerusalem, where her tomb is shown; but some argue in favour of Ephesus. The first six centuries did not know of the tomb of Mary at Jerusalem.

The belief in the corporeal assumption of Mary is founded on the apocryphal treatise De Obitu S. Dominae , bearing the name of St. John , which belongs however to the fourth or fifth century. It is also found in the book De Transitu Virginis , falsely ascribed to St. Melito of Sardis, and in a spurious letter attributed to St. Denis the Areopagite. If we consult genuine writings in the East, it is mentioned in the sermons of St. Andrew of Crete , St. John Damascene , St. Modestus of Jerusalem and others. In the West, St. Gregory of Tours (De gloria mart., I, iv) mentions it first. The sermons of St. Jerome and St. Augustine for this feast, however, are spurious. St. John of Damascus (P. G., I, 96) thus formulates the tradition of the Church of Jerusalem :

St. Juvenal, Bishop ofJerusalem, at the Council of Chalcedon (451), made known to the Emperor Marcian and Pulcheria, who wished to possess the body of the Mother of God, that Mary died in the presence of all theApostles, but that her tomb, when opened, upon the request ofSt. Thomas, was found empty; wherefrom the Apostles concluded that the body was taken up to heaven.

Today, the belief in the corporeal assumption of Mary is universal in the East and in the West ; according to Benedict XIV (De Festis B.V.M., I, viii, 18) it is a probable opinion, which to deny were impious and blasphemous.

THE FEAST OF THE ASSUMPTION

Regarding the origin of the feast we are also uncertain. It is more probably the anniversary of the dedication of some church than the actual anniversary of Our Lady's death. That it originated at the time of the Council of Ephesus , or that St. Damasus introduced it in Rome is only a hypothesis.

According to the life of St. Theodosius (d. 529) it was celebrated in Palestine before the year 500, probably in August ( Baeumer, Brevier, 185). In Egypt and Arabia, however, it was kept in January, and since the monks of Gaul adopted many usages from the Egyptian monks ( Baeumer, Brevier, 163), we find this feast in Gaul in the sixth century, in January [ mediante mense undecimo (Greg. Turon., De gloria mart., I, ix)]. The Gallican Liturgy has it on the 18th of January, under the title: Depositio, Assumptio, or Festivitas S. Mariae (cf. the notes of Mabillon on the Gallican Liturgy, P. L., LXXII, 180). This custom was kept up in the Gallican Church to the time of the introduction of the Roman rite. In the Greek Church, it seems, some kept this feast in January, with the monks of Egypt ; others in August, with those of Palestine; wherefore the Emperor Maurice (d. 602), if the account of the "Liber Pontificalis" (II, 508) be correct, set the feast for the Greek Empire on 15 August.

In Rome (Batiffol, Brev. Rom., 134) the oldest and only feast of Our Lady was 1 January, the octave of Christ's birth. It was celebrated first at Santa Maria Maggiore, later at Santa Maria ad Martyres. The other feasts are of Byzantine origin. Duchesne thinks (Origines du culte chr., 262) that before the seventh century no other feast was kept at Rome, and that consequently the feast of the Assumption, found in the sacramentaries of Gelasius and Gregory, is a spurious addition made in the eighth or seventh century. Probst, however (Sacramentarien, 264 sqq.), brings forth good arguments to prove that the Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary, found on the 15th of August in the Gelasianum, is genuine, since it does not mention the corporeal assumption of Mary ; that, consequently, the feast was celebrated in the church of Santa Maria Maggiore at Rome at least in the sixth century. He proves, furthermore, that the Mass of the Gregorian Sacramentary, such as we have it, is of Gallican origin (since the belief in the bodily assumption of Mary, under the influence of the apocryphal writings, is older in Gaul than in Rome ), and that it supplanted the old Gelasian Mass. At the time of Sergius I (700) this feast was one of the principal festivities in Rome ; the procession started from the church of St. Hadrian. It was always a double of the first class and a Holy Day of obligation.

The octave was added in 847 by Leo IV ; in Germany this octave was not observed in several dioceses up to the time of the Reformation. The Church of Milan has not accepted it up to this day (Ordo Ambros., 1906). The octave is privileged in the dioceses of the provinces of Sienna, Fermo, Michoacan, etc.

The Greek Church continues this feast to 23 August, inclusive, and in some monasteries of Mount Athos it is protracted to 29 August (Menaea Graeca, Venice, 1880), or was, at least, formerly. In the dioceses of Bavaria a thirtieth day (a species of month's mind ) of the Assumption was celebrated during the Middle Ages, 13 Sept., with the Office of the Assumption (double); today, only the Diocese of Augsburg has retained this old custom.

Some of the Bavarian dioceses and those of Brandenburg, Mainz, Frankfort, etc., on 23 Sept. kept the feast of the "Second Assumption", or the "Fortieth Day of the Assumption" (double) believing, according to the revelations of St. Elizabeth of Schönau (d. 1165) and of St. Bertrand, O.C. (d. 1170), that the B.V. Mary was taken up to heaven on the fortieth day after her death (Grotefend, Calendaria 2, 136). The Brigittines kept the feast of the "Glorification of Mary" (double) 30 Aug., since St. Brigitta of Sweden says (Revel., VI, l) that Mary was taken into heaven fifteen days after her departure (Colvenerius, Cal. Mar., 30 Aug.). In Central America a special feast of the Coronation of Mary in heaven (double major) is celebrated 18 August. The city of Gerace in Calabria keeps three successive days with the rite of a double first class, commemorating: 15th of August, the death of Mary ; 16th of August, her Coronation.

At Piazza, in Sicily, there is a commemoration of the Assumption of Mary (double second class) the 20th of February, the anniversary of the earthquake of 1743. A similar feast (double major with octave ) is kept at Martano, Diocese of Otranto, in Apulia, 19th of November.

[ Note: By promulgating the Bull Munificentissimus Deus, 1 November, 1950, Pope Pius XII declared infallibly that the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was a dogma of the Catholic Faith. Likewise, the Second Vatican Council taught in the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium that "the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, when her earthly life was over, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things (n. 59)."]

13 August 2008

The Seven Sacraments Series: Confirmation


In the West, Confirmation is received as the third sacrament, following Baptism and First Communion. However, it is considered the second sacrament by the Church because it is regarded as "the perfection of Baptism." The introduction to the Rite of Confirmation says:
by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.
The main aspect of the Rite of Confirmation is the anointing of the faithful with chrism oil with the words, "Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit." According to Scott P. Richert, "This seal is a consecration, representing the safeguarding by the Holy Spirit of the graces conferred on the Christian at Baptism."

It's important, also, to note the words used at Confirmation: "Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit." (Emphasis added) Faith in the Lord, receiving the Holy Spirit, is a gift to us. A gift is something given without expectation of reciprocity, and something that must be consciously accepted. By receiving Confirmation, the faithful are making a public profession of the acceptance of that gift, and their faith in the Lord.

The Sacrament of Confirmation confers special graces of the Holy Spirit on the person being confirmed. The Catechism of the Catholic Church lists five effects of Confirmation:
  1. It roots us more deeply in the divine filiation [as sons of God] which makes us cry, "Abba! Father!".
  2. It unites us more firmly to Christ.
  3. It increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us.
  4. It renders our bond with the Church more perfect.
  5. It gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses to Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never be ashamed of the Cross.
In the Roman Catholic Church, the Sacrament of Confirmation is received by teenagers, years after First Communion, but many also receive Confirmation as adults (as I did, through RCIA). According to the Church's teachings:
All those who have been baptized are eligible to be confirmed, and, while the Western Church suggests receiving the sacrament after reaching the "age of reason" (around seven years old), it can be received at any time.
Confirmation is the conscious and outward profession of faith that began in Baptism. The faithful who choose to receive Confirmation in the Church are making a public profession of faith in the Lord.

12 August 2008

Announcement: Addition to Blog

In addition to writing about coffee, I enjoy faith-based writing, and have been maintaining a separate blog for my faith-based writing. Unfortunately, with the addition of writing gigs and life commitments, I haven't had time to accurately keep up both, so I'm streamlining my blogging life and adding my faith-based writing to this blog.

This begins August 13, and I hope those who read my blog will continue to enjoy this added aspect of CSW.

10 August 2008

Yes, I still write fiction.

I recently posted in my personal blog a brief post about the fact that I do, in fact, still write fiction. I realized later it might be a good idea to have the same sort of post here since this is, in fact, my writing blog. So here is a little information about my fiction-writing life.

I've been working on the coffee house book (working title: Prasad(a)) a little lately, and I'm looking forward to spending a good deal of time with it next week. I've adjusted my work schedule around so I can fit more fiction into it, and I want to get as much work done on Prasad(a) as I can before November. (That will definitely be a crazy month, since Hubby and I are going to try and visit my family for Thanksgiving in addition to my attempt to once again write 50,000 words of fiction in 30 days. Insane, perhaps, but possible! I finished in about four days last year.)

I've missed writing fiction, so I'm specifically setting time aside to work on Prasad(a).

Don't get me wrong--I love freelancing, and I'm happy it's my career, but my passion is fiction. I love it. I always have. Even in my personal journal I have more scribblings of characters and scenes and notes about stories I've started than personal journaling. Some of my favorite college memories were in my short fiction writing class or working on assignments for my short fiction writing class. I just heart writing fiction.

I reworked the outline for Prasad(a) recently, and I think the new outline will work much better for what I'd like to accomplish (as well as easier to write!). I'm toying with the idea of reworking it again, but I'd like to get a bit more work done on it first since my newest idea would just be an ordering adjustment that wouldn't really take rewriting. Plus, I don't want to get so caught up in tweaking the outline that I'm not actually getting any writing done. I can be a bit obsessive-compulsive when it comes to organizing my thoughts, and I don't want to spend all my writing time working with my outline and background information.

I do have to decide how to present the story. Originally, I was going to write it as a collection of scenes and character sketches that could be a collection of short stories or as one larger story when read from beginning to end. This concept appealed to me because I thought it would be fun to write, and I loved the challenge of writing the story in such a way to let the scenes fit into the story as well as stand alone. However, since reworking the outline, I'm not sure if I should continue with that original presentation idea, or if I should write a more traditional novel with what I have. Or perhaps some combination of the two ideas.

I don't want to reveal too much about the story since it's still developing, but I will say the more I work on it, the more excited I am to write it. Now that I've developed a stronger theme, the writing flows better, even when I jump around to write different sections. It's also helping me keep my thoughts together a little bit better while I'm working on background information, which gets me to working on the actual story quicker, which is important since I promised a dear friend I'd send her a bit of the story for her amusement.

The writing is going well, but I'm afraid I'm not capturing enough of the coffee house's atmosphere on paper. I have a pretty specific image in my mind, so I'm trying to accurately translate that to prose without the text turning purple on the screen. I know I'm still in the rough draft stages, but I don't think it's coming across the way I want. I wish I knew of a little indie coffee house nearby I could use for further research and inspiration, but most of the coffee houses around here are all a little more...corporate. Too bad I can't just open my own coffee house around here. Maybe someday....something like The Ink Stained Mug or something equally as writerly.

09 August 2008

First Gold of the 2008 Summer Games

(Photo by Cheng Gong)

(BEIJING, August 9) -- Katerina Emmons of the Czech Republic won the first gold of the Beijing Olympic Games today when she won the Women's 10m Air Rifle.

Emmons, 24, was in scintillating form, breaking Olympic records in both the qualification and final rounds.

In the qualification round, Emmons shot a perfect 400, which equaled the World Record and set a new Olympic Record. The previous Olympic Record was 399.

In the final round, Emmons shot 103.5, giving her a final score of 503.5, which eclipsed the previous record of 502.0 set by China's Du Li at Athens 2004.

The gold medal is Emmons' second Olympic medal, following her bronze at Athens 2004 in the same event.

Emmons never looked threatened throughout the event, despite solid shooting performances by silver medalist Lioubov Galkina of Russia and bronze medalist Snjezana Pejcic of Croatia, who shot final scores of 502.1 and 500.9 respectively.

The day was full of disappointment for Athens 2004 gold medalist Du Li of China and World No. 1 Sonja Pfeilschifter of Germany. Du finished fifth after shooting poorly in the final, finishing with a total score of 499.6. Pfeilschifter just missed out on making the final round.

08 August 2008

Caribbean Elite Christened at Port Canaveral

EP (Elitist Press)--The first-ever luxury liner designed entirely for elitist bastards was christened today by Dana Hunter, founder of the Carnival of the Elitist Bastards and inspiration for the ship.

The luxury liner is the largest to date, and the guests are permitted on board only after a rigorous screening by the High Mistress of Elitism, Dana Hunter. PZ Myers applied for the position, but was turned down after his declaration that the ship would, in fact, sail empty because no one could possibly meet his high criteria for the guest list.

Captain NP has been secretive about the ship, stating only in press conferences that the Caribbean Elite is "the quintessential experience in elitist travel." No press has been allowed onboard for interviews or photos, having been told they are unqualified to do justice to a description of the ship or any write-up of the event.

The christening was attended by elitists of all areas, none of whom spoke with the press. The event took place in Port Canaveral, Florida, which is where the ship will first set sail on Sep. 27 for a seven-day Caribbean cruise.

If I had a nickel for every post, I'd have $5!

In celebration of my 100th post as The Coffee-Stained Writer, I'd like to share 100 things about myself (in no particular order). Enjoy (or skim, if you want)!

  1. My zodiac sign is Taurus.
  2. I use letter-size legal pads to take writing notes.
  3. I have two moles on my right palm (one on the pad of my pinky finger, the other on the side of my index finger).
  4. I have shamrock and NaNoWriMo stickers on my laptop.
  5. I write more productively when I'm watching Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, or Law & Order: Criminal Intent.
  6. I have to write things down to keep track of them, so instead of throwing away a piece of paper, I cut it into quarters and use the back as scrap paper (I have a stack of scrap paper on my desk).
  7. I’m left-handed.
  8. When I was in high school, I planned to be a high school band director after college.
  9. My favorite meal is corned beef and cabbage cooked in the slow cooker all day.
  10. I have Irish heritage.
  11. I was in class in 2001 when the planes hit the towers and the Pentagon.
  12. I talk to my cats about my writing.
  13. When I make my bed, I have to do it the way my mother taught me. I’ve tried to be sloppy with it, but I just can’t.
  14. I love wrapping gifts.
  15. I’m afraid of heights.
  16. I've had chicken pox twice.
  17. My favorite dessert is cheesecake.
  18. I once played Mrs. Pearce in my high school's production of My Fair Lady. I wore a fat suit.
  19. When someone wakes me, even if they’re quiet and extremely gentle about it, I get startled awake.
  20. My favorite movie is Stranger Than Fiction.
  21. I prefer black ink over blue.
  22. I lived in Germany for three years when my father was stationed there.
  23. My skin reacts badly to yellow gold, but I can wear white gold.
  24. My husband and I got married a few yards from where we originally met.
  25. The first story I ever wrote was about the adventures had by a red kite, which included being stuck in a tree.
  26. I buy purses only if they’re big enough to hold a book and a pad of paper.
  27. My favorite coffee mug has the faces of literary women on it.
  28. I have a girl crush on Mariska Hargitay.
  29. I’ve always wanted to learn to quilt.
  30. I have pens hidden all over the apartment.
  31. I was on my high school’s speech team.
  32. My favorite author is Jasper Fforde.
  33. I’m a bit of a packrat.
  34. I play a night elf druid on the Sargeras server of World of Warcraft.
  35. I keep fortune cookie fortunes.
  36. I took a directed study in college that allowed me to listen to an epic poem written and recorded by my professor.
  37. If I could, I'd live on a cruise ship (as a guest, of course).
  38. My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving.
  39. I never make edits in red ink.
  40. The only soda I really drink is Dr. Pepper.
  41. When I find a penny, I put it in my left shoe for luck.
  42. When I was about thirteen, I wanted to be a psychologist.
  43. The style of my wedding dress was discontinued a week before I purchased my dress (thankfully, I was able to get one that was altered to fit!).
  44. When I have trouble with a character, I do some cleaning, and usually I come up with what I need.
  45. My favorite visual artist is Vincent Van Gogh.
  46. When I was a kid and my siblings went to the toy department while Mom shopped, I went to the home office aisles to gaze longingly at pens and paper.
  47. I paid for college on my own.
  48. I love sweet iced tea.
  49. I don’t buy ground coffee.
  50. I have a green, plastic piggy bank to hold my pocket change. When it’s full, I cash it in and my husband and I do something fun with it (last time it held $57).
  51. I love to have pictures of my friends and family around me.
  52. I love having plants around me, but they usually die in my care.
  53. I hate not knowing what time it is.
  54. I like to watch people, then write character sketches about who I think they are based on what I saw of them in observation.
  55. I’m supposed to wear my eyeglasses more often than I do.
  56. I like to scrapbook in my free time.
  57. My coffee house book started as an idea for NaNoWriMo.
  58. When I want to learn about something, I research it almost obsessively until I'm satisfied with my level of knowledge.
  59. I do my best to not regret the decisions I make.
  60. I hate doing dishes, but love doing laundry.
  61. I married my college sweetheart.
  62. I played B-flat clarinet in school, and my junior and senior years, I was the drum major for the school's marching and pep bands.
  63. I love Boho style clothing.
  64. I'm very particular about how my books, office space, and writing are organized, but am pretty laid back about the rest of my organization skills.
  65. My favorite mixed drink is a margarita over ice (with salt, thanks).
  66. I love to watch reality television shows when I have nothing else to do.
  67. I would go barefoot everywhere if I could.
  68. After graduating college, I spent some time traveling all over central and southern Illinois recruiting students for my alma mater.
  69. I’ve never been totally happy with a hair style I’ve had.
  70. I feel terrible when I have to discipline my kitties, so a while after that, I give them cookies (cat treats) to show them I'm not mad anymore.
  71. I’m a first-generation college graduate in my family.
  72. My favorite Christmas carol is O Come, All Ye Faithful.
  73. I’ve moved 19 times in my life.
  74. My cats are named after characters from World of Warcraft.
  75. My coffee house book might include a short story that’s all dialogue.
  76. I have a 100% organic cotton t-shirt.
  77. I’m a huge advocate of domestic violence awareness.
  78. My favorite hot tea is Earl Grey.
  79. I sang a duet at my high school graduation ceremony.
  80. My favorite photo of my husband and I was one of the first taken of us together.
  81. I like reading stories about people that play with reality vs. imagination (“The Yellow Wall Paper,” The Bell Jar, The Catcher in the Rye, Finding Alice, etc.).
  82. On my desk chair I have a sit-upon my mom made me when I was a Brownie Girl Scout out of a rag rug and some old towels (she also stitched my name on it in pink yarn).
  83. My favorite pair of jeans are so worn that the label on the back is completely gone.
  84. I had surgery in 2005 to have a few cysts removed.
  85. My favorite color is green.
  86. I've never seen Animal House.
  87. I make a task list every week, then create to-do lists each day based on that list.
  88. My favorite summer smell is a fresh lilac bush.
  89. When my husband and I get our big house, I get a library.
  90. And a huge wrap-around porch.
  91. I load my dishwasher the way my mother taught me.
  92. I take notes with ball point pens, but "important" writing is always done with roller ball pens.
  93. I created a drink recipe at the coffee house I worked at in college (now closed...the coffee house, not the college).
  94. I went dumpster-diving to rescue books from being trashed and, as a result, got a few books that were published in the early 1900s. (Yeah, I know. I'm awesome!)
  95. If I ever win the lottery, I'm going to become a rare book collector.
  96. When I get frustrated, my head gets itchy.
  97. I still have my tonsils and appendix.
  98. I would be content to be a day sleeper and night writer.
  99. When I decided to pursue a career in writing, I thought I'd have to "settle" for journalism until I finished my novel.
  100. If I could visit anywhere in the world I would choose to visit India.

The end.

07 August 2008

"Casual Conversation"

When I was in college, I took a creative writing course that focused on short fiction. In the class I wrote a story called "Casual Conversation" that was all dialogue (with no tags) that took place in a coffee house. It was a lot of fun to write, and as I've been working on my coffee house book, I've discovered there might be a home for that story (or part of it, at least) in the book. I don't know yet if I'm going to use snatches of conversation here and there or if I'll take the whole story and include it in one of the scenes.

I really like this story because it was a time I took a risk and it worked. And it has an atmosphere I'm trying to create with the coffee house book.

Even if I decide to leave it out, I'm going to play with it in the manuscript and see what happens. After all, who knows what could develop from trying to add even snippets of "Casual Conversation" into the story. It could take yet another turn and come out even stronger!

I'm going to need to do some research this week on landlords, leases, renter's insurance, etc. for the section on the landlord. There won't be a ton of jargon in the story, but I need to have a better idea of how renting works from the landlord's perspective, as well as needing to know about renting commercial/retail property. It will help me understand the relationship between the landlord and the owner of the coffee house. The landlord makes...interesting decisions...and there needs to be strong reasoning behind them, even if that reasoning is flawed.

If I keep working the way I have been, I should be in a place to set the coffee house book aside for November, which would be a good thing. I wouldn't feel like I have to divide my time between NaNo and the coffee house book.

What's even better is that I'll be able to send some scenes out to readers to satiate them, at least for a while. (Thank you for being so patient!)

06 August 2008

Paris Hilton for President

See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die

I'm diggin' her energy policy.

Finding a Thesis in Fiction

According to Essentials of Writing to the Point by Allan Metcalf and William Kerrigan, the first step in writing effectively is to develop a strong thesis statement. A thesis is a one-sentence summary of your piece that requires further explanation. Kerrigan's guidelines for a basic thesis statement (called a Step 1 sentence in the book) are:

  1. The Step 1 sentence should be opinion or judgement, not simple fact.
  2. The Step 1 sentence should require further explanation, prompting the reader to ask why or how it is true.
  1. The Step 1 sentence should be specific and focused, not general, so it is clear what kind of explanation will be required.
  2. The Step 1 sentence should avoid mere description, narration, or statement of a process.
  3. The Step 1 sentence should avoid statements of personal preference, which also usually do not call for further explanation.
  4. The Step 1 sentence should be a declarative sentence, making a statement rather than asking a question or giving a command.
  5. For now, the Step 1 sentence should be short and simple.
  6. For now, the Step 1 sentence should make one statement, not more.
  7. For now, the Step 1 sentence should avoid "should"--that is, it should avoid sermons about what should be and tell what is.
  8. For now, the Step 1 sentence should avoid comparison and contrast, because these require concentrating on several things at once.
A thesis statement is what drives a piece because it ties everything together. It gives the reader an idea of what the piece is about, and helps keep the writer focused on the topic at hand.

Though Essentials of Writing to the Point is used to teach (college) students to write a basic five-paragraph essay, it's important to remember that fiction, too, needs a "thesis," some thread that ties the piece together. It may not be a sentence, but could be a theme, motif, character, or something else. In A. S. Byatt's Matisse Stories, for example, each of the stories in the collection contains a different painting by Henri Matisse.

Without a "thesis," your piece may not flow as well as it should, or be "choppy," making it difficult to follow for readers. You need to find (or create) something that can be a thread throughout the piece, holding it together, as well as giving readers a reference point within the story. It's that cohesiveness that will help draw readers into the story. Otherwise, all you'll have is a collection of scenes centering around a set of characters.

One of the troubles I was having with my coffee house story previously was that there was nothing to tie the piece together and drive it forward. I needed something to point to as a thesis. Once I found that connective thread, I've found the writing has come quite a bit easier. I think the story flows considerably better, as well.

As you're writing, think about elements that tie the story together. Think about things that appear throughout the story that emerge as motifs or themes. You may, after all, already have a thesis! If you find a connectivity, make sure it's strong enough to tie the story together, but you must also find a balance between finding a tie that connects your story and beating your readers over the head with the theme, which can be a bit frustrating, speaking as a reader.

Though you may learn about writing theses for non-fiction, remember that much of what you learn for non-fiction can be carried over to fiction writing. And a thesis is one of those things.

Happy scribbling!

05 August 2008

The Coffee Host(ess): Social Aspects of Coffee

We've heard it often: people offering guests coffee while they chat, a cup of coffee after a meal, inviting a love interest to get a cup of coffee. There is also the reference to a "coffee break" in an office setting, allowing employees to take a break to have the drink, perhaps allowing the caffeine to recharge them for the rest of the day.

The social aspect of coffee may have originated with the social norm of offering food and drink to visitors and travelers to express hospitality. Though much of society has changed, coffee is still offered to visitors; my grandmother, for example, makes a fresh pot of coffee every time her doorbell rings. (If her home doesn't smell like coffee, they're usually on vacation!) Offering a warm drink to company is a sign you, as host(ess) want your guest to be comfortable, feel welcome, and share in what you have at your home.

The first coffee house was opened in the 18th century, and created a central place for people to go and drink coffee for the pleasure of drinking coffee, as well as the public social aspect of coffee-drinking. Since then, coffee has become a common part of social culture, popularized by literature, art, and Friends, as well as the increasing popularity of Starbucks.

Now coffee is often used as a medium for conversation. If friends meet up after having been away for a period of time, their first instinct is often to get a cup of coffee and "catch up."

According to Positively Coffee:
Coffee not only gives us an increased sense of pleasure, and enjoyment of life, but this in turn makes us more than ready to indulge in that most human of activities – social interaction – the sharing of experiences, and the simple but enduring pleasure of enjoying each other's company and conversation.
Thanks to the development of coffee as a social activity, coffee itself has developed. Instead of simply regular or decaf, coffee-drinkers can choose from a wide variety of coffee drinks (or non-coffee drinks) at coffee houses, satisfying their specific tastes while still adhering to the social norm of getting coffee with friends or coworkers.

So the next time you're around, give me a call and we'll get some coffee!