Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Potpourri of Poetry


        The first flowers of Spring
        emerge timid, but free -

        They survey the earth
        in their Simplicity.

        Their short lived time
        is no matter you see -

        It's the beauty they bring
        in their Simplicity!


Monday, March 28, 2011

Bibliophile's Corner

The Blue Sword
by Robin McKinley

Flap Copy description:
When Harry Crewe's father dies, she leaves her Homeland to travel east, to Istan, the last outpost of the Homelander empire,where her elder brother is stationed. Harry is drawn to the bleak landscape of the northeast frontier, so unlike the green hills of her Homeland. The desert she stares across was once a part of the great kingdom of Damar, before the Homelanders came from over the seas. Harry wishes she might cross the sands and climb the dark mountains where no Homelander has ever set foot, where the last of the old Damarians, the Free Hillfolk still live. She hears stories that the Free Hillfolk possess strange powers- that they work magic-that it is because of this that they remain free of the Homelander sway.
     When the king of the Free Hillfolk comes to Istan to ask that the Homelanders and the Hillfolk set their enmity aside to fight a common foe, the Homelanders are reluctant to trust his word, and even more reluctant to believe his tales of the Northerners: that they are demonkind, not human.
     Harry's destiny lies in the far mountains that she once wished to climb, and she will ride to the battle with the North in the Hill-king's army, bearing the Blue Sword, Gonturan, the chiefest treasure of the Hill-king's house and the subject of many legends of magic and mystery.

My thoughts:
The author, Robin McKinley, is fast becoming one of my favorites. In this Newbery Honor Award winning book, The Blue Sword, she weaves her magical and mythical world of Damar with skillful, beautiful writing. I can't wait to read the third book in this trilogy - The Door in the Hedge.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Incredible Inspiration

La Push, Washington

The ocean...cold and wild the surf, rushing in to overwhelm the beach, the wind, stinging my cheeks, enveloping me in total freedom.

Scott Holman

Friday, March 25, 2011

Storyteller's Journey

Keeping to a schedule is important for me. I'm one of those Type A people who lives by a list. (This drives my husband bonkers!) Everything I hope to accomplish in my day goes on the list. This trait carries over to my writing style. I must have an outline before I begin seriously writing. I know there are two camps on this subject. The other group writes from what I call, "the seat of one's pants!" Seriously, like so many things in life, there's more than one way to approach writing. What is important, is that you know your own style and stick to it. Ultimately, the bottom line is: WRITE!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bibliophile's Corner

Moon Over Manifest
by Clare Vanderpool

Back Cover description:
     The air in Miss Sadie's parlor was hot and thick. I thought that sitting on one of those red velvety couches chock-full of fringy pillows was akin to suffocating. I took a deep breath and ventured around the room.
     The double doors of the parlor whooshed open. A large fleshy woman stood before me in full regalia. Her eyes were all made up; her earrings and bracelets jangled. The sign in the window said Miss Sadie was a medium. From the look of her, that was a bit wishful.
     Thinking she hadn't seen me, I turned to make a clean getaway.
     "Sit down," she said, her voice thick and savory, like goulash. She put her hands flat on the table. "Let us see if today the spirits are willing to speak." Suddenly, it became clear: A diviner. A medium. This woman was a fortune-teller and a spirit conjurer. If you believed in that sort of thing.

My thoughts:
Moon Over Manifest has been high on my list of books to read since it was announced as this year's Newbery Medal Award winner in January. This is Clare Vanderpool's first published book - what a beginning! This middle grade historical fiction novel contains: beautiful, skillful writing; great character development & voice; and wonderful descriptions of the American Depression Era - complete with "down-home" anecdotal advertisements that are hilarious! The author weaves a tale of small town middle America through the eyes of the young girl, Abilene Tucker. The town of Manifest has many secrets that are revealed through a tapestry of colorful characters; chief among them, Miss Sadie - the town fortune-teller. The twists and turns of this story will hold you captive until the last page. Congratulations, Clare Vanderpool!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Incredible Inspiration

The Japanese Garden - Portland, Oregon

in the shadow of the cherry blossom

complete strangers

there are none...

Kobayashi Issa

My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan,
in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Storyteller's Journey

Part of my journey as a writer includes the activity I'm participating in right now - Blogging. Starting and maintaining my blog has been a very positive experience. It has given me the opportunity to network with fellow writers, friends, and family - while practicing my writing skills. It has also caused me to follow blogs by published authors, which has been enlightening and entertaining. Last, but not least, my research has shown me that literary agents like having a blog to examine by prospective clients. Most writers I know who are opposed to starting a blog fear the commitment to keeping it up; however, you can post a number of entries ahead of time. So if you're an aspiring author start a blog; when you get published it won't be optional! (Now my friends want me to get going on Twitter - we'll see.)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Writer in the Woods

Recently, we visited our cabin after a long winter absence. The Olympic National Forest never fails to inspire me. When I returned home I had a whole new perspective on the MG novel I'm writing. Can't you just imagine a wood elf peeking around the trunk of this old knobby tree? Maybe even a leprechaun, it is St. Patrick's Day!

(Although I have read The Twilight series, own the books, and have seen the movies, I've never even caught a glimpse of Edward Cullen, Isabella Swan, or Jacob Black in this rain forest just south of Forks, Washington!)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Potpourri of Poetry

                  Waiting for Spring

Rain, rain, rain... waiting for the season to change.
Waiting for sunshine, for flowers, for Spring.

The Earth is stubborn, not desiring to change.
The dark, gray, winter days are unrelenting.

Finally, a breakthrough; time for the clocks to change!
Soon we will see the sunshine, the flowers, the Spring.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Bibliophile's Corner

The Hero and the Crown
by Robin McKinley

Flap copy description:
Aerin is the only child of the king of Damar, and should be his rightful heir. But she is also the daughter of the witchwoman of the North, who died when she was born, and the Damarians cannot trust her. But Aerin's destiny is greater than her father's people know, for it leads her to battle with Maur, the Black Dragon, and into the wilder Damarian Hills, where she meets the wizard Luthe. It is he who at last tells her the truth about her mother, and he also gives over to her hand the Blue Sword, Gonturan. But such gifts as these bear a great price, a price Aerin only begins to realize when she faces the evil mage, Agsded, who has seized the Hero's Crown, greatest treasure and secret strength of Damar.

My thoughts:
The Hero and the Crown is a beautiful adventure fantasy whose style is reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings. This is no surprise since the author, Robin McKinley, states that J.R.R.Tolkien is one of the authors who most influenced her. In a twist, the protagonist is a beautiful young woman, but gritty and tough nonetheless. This book won the 1985 Newbery Medal Award - I thoroughly enjoyed it. (The Hero and the Crown is the prequel to The Blue Sword.)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Incredible Inspiration

Leisure is a form of silence, not noiselessness. It is the silence of contemplation such as occurs when we let our minds rest on a rosebud, a child at play, a divine mystery, or a waterfall.

Fulton J. Sheen

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sentimental Serendipity

Volunteering at our local library , twice a week, has truly been a blessing. I help teach a group of adult ESL students who are the salt of the earth! We have had adults from: China, Egypt, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Taiwan, Ukraine, Viet Nam, and on and on. What I have found is that although language is sometimes a barrier, once that is conquered, we're really all the same. It is impossible to convey just how much this international group of friends means to me.     

    (Photos by Amy Lee)

Seated at the left side of the table are Anna (Russia) and William (China). On the right side are Lang (Viet Nam) and myself. Recently, William became a U.S. citizen and he brought a cake to class to celebrate. When we realized one of the volunteers was having a birthday we sang Happy Birthday to him as well. William spontaneously sang it in Chinese. Then it was sung in Ukrainian, and then in Spanish. It was one of the most moving experiences I've ever had. (I told you these folks are special!)                               

Friday, March 11, 2011

Storyteller's Journey

Belonging to a writers' critique group is my secret strength. The Magic Pen Critique Group was born out of the Writers' Boot Camp we attended a couple of years ago. Due to the fact that we all received the same teaching and got to know and respect each other in class, our group has been successful for the last nine months.We boast seven members, although one writer did move and can only visit occasionally. (She does stay connected to the group on-line.) We come from different backgrounds, age groups, and religions. We are also interested in different genres of writing. The one thing we all have in common is our passion for writing. We support honestly, and critique honestly. It goes without saying we wish the best for one another. We have been told, more than once, that what we have is special. I'm not sure if we're special, but I do know that my Magic Pen friends are important to me. If you have the opportunity to join, or form, a writers' critique group, I would strongly encourage it. Writing is a solitary endeavor and when you get the chance to hang out with other writers don't miss out; you just might learn something - and have fun as well!
Two other MPCG members have blogs, check them out:  http://capablegarnet.blogspot.com/   http://kristonjohnson.blogspot.com/

Monday, March 7, 2011

Bibliophile's Corner

The Underneath
by Kathi Appelt

Flap copy description:
A calico cat, about to have kittens, hears the lonely howl of a chained-up hound deep in the backwaters of the bayou. She dares to find him in the forest, and the hound dares to befriend the cat, this feline, this creature he is supposed to hate. They are an unlikely pair, about to become an unlikely family. Ranger urges the cat to hide underneath the porch, to raise her kittens there because Gar-Face, the man living inside the house, will surely use them as alligator bait should he find them. But they are safe in the Underneath ... as long as they stay in the Underneath.

My thoughts:
Kathi Appelt's, The Underneath, left me with two conflicting opinions. The first being that this book was written with a rhythm like a song being sung, rather than a story being told - simply beautiful, poetic writing. The second opinion is that the "song" has a very discordant emotion to it. On one hand it is the age old good vs. evil story, but on the other hand (for most of the book) it felt like the evil was winning. Personally, the mixture of hatred and violence in the text bothered me and I have to wonder if it is appropriate for readers below twelve years of age. (The flap cover states: Ages 10 and up.) The author received a Newbery Honor Award for this book in 2008.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Incredible Inspiration

In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream wins - not through strength but by perserverance.

 H. Jackson Brown

Friday, March 4, 2011

Storyteller's Journey

When one sets out on a journey it is important to pack the necessary items for the trip. I set out on my storyteller's journey, in earnest, about four years ago. Up to that point I had only dabbled in short stories, poetry, and some journaling. It didn't take long to learn what I didn't know! Some of the first items I placed in my "writer's knapsack" were a few creative writing classes. The person who taught my Writers' Boot Camp course was the drill sergeant, Carolyn Rose. Whoops! I mean the author, of several books, Carolyn Rose. Besides all the great information I received from her, she was also very supportive of my efforts. (Not to mention that she and her author/husband - Mike Nettleton, are extremely funny!) So, if you're an aspiring author, like me, learn from those who are farther along the path to publication - or like Carolyn, have actually been there and back a number of times.   Visit Carolyn's Amazon author page

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Potpourri of Poetry

        Little Blue Jay

Little blue jay looks at me,
he picks at the grass.
Little blue jay looks at me,
he grabs a worm.
Little blue jay looks at me,
tugging, tugging-at last!
Little blue jay looks at me,
he flies away in joy.