Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sentimental Serendipity

Recently I made a special trip to Powell's Books in Portland, Oregon. It is said to be the largest bookstore in the world. With several floors and an entire city block full of books - I don't doubt it! (However, I know of bookstores in both Toronto and New York City who also claim this title.)
My friend and fellow writer, Kriston, and I checked out the Newbery Award books that the store keeps in their own special section. They nearly go back all the way to the year 1922! I couldn't resist adding to my book collection-so I settled on a copy of "Whittington" by Alan Armstrong. It was a Newbery Honor book in 2006.
Our main reason for visiting Powell's this particular evening was to attend a reading and slide show of the book, Portland's Goose Hollow, authored by our friend, Dr. Tracy Prince. Check out her historical book -
It was a fascinating evening of reliving history. Tracy and former Portland Mayor, Bud Clark, signed my copy of her book at the close of the event. Northwesterners remember Mayor Clark's famous, "Whoop! Whoop!" - he did it once to the delight of the audience!
In addition to Kriston and myself, we were joined by our friend, Franki deMerle (center) for the evening. She is a published author of three books. Franki was our guest at the  Magic Pen Critique Group last Tuesday night. Check out her author page-

Friday, April 29, 2011

Storyteller's Journey

Looking back over the month of April I realize there was an unexpected theme in my life...visiting bookstores. Not just any bookstores - independent bookstores. On April 2nd I visited Cover to Cover Books and Espresso in Vancouver, WA. On April 9th I visited the Elliott Bay Book Company while in Seattle, WA. Then on April 15th I visited Powell's Books in Portland, OR. (See tomorrow's post!) These three are great examples of small, medium, and large bookstores. What they all have in common is that they have their own distinct personality.
     Cover to Cover Books and Espresso is a small town bookstore with a ton of tenacity. After having to move due to a fire - they are starting over. I have no doubt they will bounce back, Smedley the bookstore cat will see to that!
     The Elliott Bay Book Company is a medium sized bookstore- but very big in character. Its beautiful woodwork and frequent author readings give this store a unique Northwest personality.
     Then there is Powell's Books. This store is world famous, yet what makes it special to me is its quirkiness. From its retro sign outside, to its cracked concrete floors inside- it resists changing, at least if it's only for appearance sake.
     These three are very different, yet they all have the same independent spirit. In these tough financial times, don't forget your own city's independent bookstores. They give texture to our society...and have always been friends to writers and poets, as well as readers.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

Bibliophile's Corner

The Color of Fire
by Ann Rinaldi

Flap Copy description:
It is 1741 and, as a colony of Britain, America is at war with Spain. The people in New York City are in a heightened state of alert, living in fear of Catholics acting as Spanish secret agents.
     Phoebe lives with Master Philipse and his wife, who afford her several liberties: they hire the teacher Mr. Ury to tutor her in reading; she travels through town unescorted; and she even collects medicinal herbs for her mistress from the traveling Doctor Harry. But soon the town  erupts into mass hysteria when the whites accuse the black slaves of setting fires to buildings to start an uprising, and Phoebe's best friend, Cuffee, is charged in the plot. The King's men promise not to burn him at the stake if he names names and identifies the leader, who they assume is Catholic and white. And ther is a rumor that Mr. Ury is a priest.
     With people implicating one another at every turn, Phoebe has to decide if she's willing to save her friend from the blazes of fire on earth, knowing her actions might result in his eternal damnation. As the reins are tightened around her, will her quest for her own freedom prevent her from doing what she knows is right?

My thoughts:
The Color of Fire is an unusual historical fiction novel for middle grade readers. Ms. Rinaldi has written a tale drawn from an actual event in New York City in 1741; which was called "the great Negro plot," by the whites. Thirteen black men were burned at the stake, seventeen were hanged, and two white men and two white women were hanged. All were sentenced with little or no defense - many were known, for a fact, to be innocent.
     Through the eyes of the young black slave-girl, Phoebe, these events are woven into a captivating story. Being someone who enjoys history I was surprised I had never heard of these specific atrocities in our country's past. So too was the author, Ann Rinaldi, she states: "I felt it worth telling, worth explaining."
     As Americans we have been told this type of treatment of slaves occurred in the South - I hadn't heard of such brutal acts in the North. I strongly recommend this book to readers of all ages.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Incredible Inspiration

Twas Easter-Sunday. The full-blossomed trees filled all the air with fragrance and joy.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

     Happy Easter!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Storyteller's Journey

Along with whimsical words and alliteration, I find that structuring a sentence in three parts is very satisfying. There are many resources that agree; authors would do well to write with the power of three. Evidently our minds can only easily process three segments at a time. Reading in a pattern like this improves our memory of the text as well. You can have three phrases, three subjects, or three verbs in a sentence, it doesn't really matter how you construct your tripartite sentence. The important point to understand is that readers (myself included) find reading sentences with a good deal of this writing style in them akin to enjoying comfort food; like eating chocolate, drinking coffee, or having a warm bowl of soup! There are many on line resources related to this subject. I have attached the link to one of my favorites:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Potpourri of Poetry


                               Musing about metamorphosis
                               brings fascination to my mind.
                               Complete metamorphosis is a miracle-
                               leaving egg, larva, and pupa all behind.

                              When will mankind embrace a change?
                              Yes it means pain, struggle, and humility;
                               but it also brings peace, joy, and love.
                              Would we not change to save humanity?
    Photo: Public Domain                                                                                           V.L.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Bibliophile's Corner

The Curse of the Romany Wolves
by S. Jones Rogan

Jacket Copy description:
     The creatures of Porthleven are sick with what looks like "febra lupi," an illness known as the Curse of the Romany Wolves. Wolf fever is deadly - and -has no known cure.
     But Penhaligon Brush is determined to find one. He simply must or everyone he holds dear may perish! The one clue he has points him in the direction of Howling Island - a much-feared and supposedly haunted land. But ghosts are the least of his worries after he sets sail on the "Jagged Claw," a leaky ship under the command of Captain Elgato Furrari. Furrari may be a greedy double-dealing feline, but he's a pussycat next to the pirate captain Odiferous Dredge, a foul ferret who kidnaps Penhaligon. And even Dredge looks friendly next to the sea serpent chasing the ship!
     Penhaligon is in a race against time as he tries to outwit the pirates, uncover rhe secrets of Howling Island, and sail home with a cure...before it's too late!

My thoughts:
S. Jones Rogan - yet another gifted author from the British - has penned a delightful MG animal fantasy: The Curse of the Romany Wolves. This exquisitely written tale includes: colorful characters, a suspenseful plot, and beautiful descriptions of the old world countryside. Ms. Rogan states she gains inspiration from scenes around her childhood home of Snowdonia Wales, where she visits often. She now resides in Los Angeles, California. A copy of this book will soon find a place in my personal library - I loved it!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Incredible Inspiration

Sailing on the Columbia River
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

             Mark Twain

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sentimental Serendipity

                 L-R: Michael, Victoria, David, Kevin, & Brian                     
     Satiated in Seattle

Last Saturday our family had a chance to get together in Seattle. If your family is like mine, coordinating schedules takes some doing. This afternoon we enjoyed lunch at Ivar's at Pier 54 on the Puget Sound. It was a great way to catch up...and it was David's birthday!
We took the chance to do some sight-seeing which we hardly ever do. This troll, under an overpass, is a favorite tourist attraction. Our youngest son, Brian, decided to climb the creature and stick his arm up the monster's nose! (Reminds me of the scene with Harry Potter and a troll in J.K. Rowling's: A Sorcerer's Stone.)

Our son, Kevin, acted as our guide since Seattle is now his home. He knew I wanted to visit the city's legendary, Elliott Bay Book Company on Capitol Hill, so we made that stop as well. A wonderful independent bookstore with lots of Northwest charm. While its selection is not as large as the franchise bookstores, it more than makes up for it with its selection of unusual titles, lots of children's books, and a cafe as well. The old hardwood floors and open beams give it an atmosphere of being invited into an eccentric professor's home. A must-see in Seattle!

After a full afternoon of fun we finished up at the Gas Works Park on Lake Union. Seattle's skyline is distinctive with the Space Needle on the right. Although it is overcast in this picture; we did have sun breaks-and no rain! Thanks to my husband, Michael, for snapping photos of this afternoon I'll long remember.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Storyteller's Journey

A couple of weeks ago the Magic Pen Critique Group had an insightful discussion regarding cultivating creativity. Since that evening I have continued to mull over that topic in my mind. It seems to me that creativity is a bit like love; the passion has to be there, but a good amount of work is required as well. What I mean by that is that having only passion puts you at the mercy of your moods. (I used to be that type of writer, so I'm speaking from experience!) If you feel like writing you do, if you don't you say,"I'm just not inspired today," or "I have writer's block." If your life is like mine, it doesn't take much to be distracted: family, friends, bills,etc.etc. It wasn't until I carved out a specific block of time for writing, and told my family and friends about it, that I began to make progress as a writer.
On the other end of the equation is the variable of effort. Lots of writing, without stopping for reflection or inspiration, can cause your writing to come off somewhat dry, like reading a math book! For me finding the balance in writing was tied to finding the balance in my own life. Every writer comes to his or her own writing desk from a different place - that's what makes us all unique. Hopefully what we all have in common is passion and discipline. Stay tuned to see if this philosophy gets me published!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Potpourri of Poetry

                Share the Joy

To experience joy for one's self  is wonderful;

to share the joy of one's child is amazing.

Watching them change, and grow, and succeed -

is to me the greatest wonder of the world!


Monday, April 11, 2011

Bibliophile's Corner

Jacob Have I Loved
by Katherine Paterson

Flap Copy description:
"Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated..." With her grandmother's taunt, Louise knew that she, like the biblical Esau, was the despised elder twin. Caroline, her selfish younger sister, was the one everyone loved.
     Growing up on a tiny Chesapeake Bay island in the early 1940's, angry Louise reveals how Caroline robbed her of everything: her hopes for schooling, her friends, her mother, even her name. While everyone pampered Caroline, Wheeze (her sister's name for her) began to learn the ways of the watermen and the secrets of the island, especially of old Captain Wallace, who had mysteriously returned after fifty years. The war unexpectedly gave this independent girl a chance to fulfill her childish dream to work as a waterman alongside her father. But the dream did not satisfy the girl she was becoming. Alone and unsure, Louise began to fight her way to a place where Caroline could not reach.

My thoughts:
Katherine Paterson's, Jacob Have I Loved, is a gritty MG novel - not for the faint of heart. The struggles that the main character, Louise, encounters are realistic, insightful, and sometimes excruciating in her journey to becoming an adult. Set in a small New England community during the onset and duration of World War II, the extreme sibling rivalry between Louise and her sister Caroline is not resolved until "Wheeze" leaves home and makes her own way. Ms. Paterson won the Newbery Medal Award for this book (1981); as she did for Bridge Over Terabithia(1978). In both stories she gives great respect to young readers in that her texts read more like adult novels. (Katherine Paterson is one of only five authors to win multiple Newbery Medal Awards.)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Incredible Inspiration

April has put a spirit of youth in everything!

                   William Shakespeare

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sentimental Serendipity

Last Saturday night Cover to Cover Books & Espresso had its Grand Re-Opening. Pictured here are, from left to right: author-Mike Nettleton, author-Carolyn Rose, and the evening's hostess and bookstore owner, Mel Sanders. (She's also a writer!) Smedley, the bookstore cat, is seated at the lower right.

After a fire caused the bookstore to close several months ago, this evening represented a true rising from the ashes. The new facility is larger, newer, and already has a wonderful bookstore atmosphere.
It was great to see some of the local writing community come together to support this awesome independent bookstore. The first Saturday of each month it hosts a Writers' Mixer where a featured guest (usually an author) speaks on a topic related to writing and/or publishing. In addition to that event there is also an evening of poetry reading once a month. This evening many authors shared good news regarding upcoming book publications from the "open mic." Mike Nettleton, and his wife, Carolyn Rose are not only authors but could work as stand-up comics as well! This night proved to be a night of good fun, good food, & a chance to make more good friends. Best Wishes Cover to Cover!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Storyteller's Journey

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned I was thinking of opening a Twitter account. By looking at the right side of this page you can see that I am now "tweeting." (My husband's new name for me is Twit - can you believe it?!) In any event, this experience can only be described as being akin to opening Pandora's Box. What I mean by that is this: although I enjoy reading other tweets on the subject of writing, and can definitely appreciate the value of networking with a larger number of people in the field of literature, there is one lurking drawback - it can be distracting to writing. Now that the curiosity of my new "toy" has worn off I have begun to settle back into my routine. I did , however, place a regulation on myself - no tweeting between one and four PM on weekdays. (That's my writing time.) So, if you catch me breaking my own rule you can say: "What is that Twit doing tweeting?!"

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Whimsical Word of the Week

Foofaraw -

1) Excessive or flashy

2) A fuss over a trifling

Monday, April 4, 2011

Bibliophile's Corner

Crispin - The Cross of Lead
by Avi

Flap Copy description:
"Asta's son" is all he's ever been called. The lack of name is appropriate, because he and his mother are but poor peasants in fourteenth-century medieval England. But this thirteen-year-old boy who thought he had little to lose soon finds himself with even less - no home, family, or possessions. Accused of a crime he did not commit, he has been declared a "wolf's head." That means he may be killed on sight, by anyone. If he wishes to remain alive, he must flee his tiny village. All the boy takes with him is a newly revealed name - Crispin - and his mother's cross of lead.
His journey through the English countryside is puzzling, amazing, and terrifying. Especially difficult is his encounter with the juggler named Bear. A huge, and possibly even mad, man. Bear forces the boy to become his servant. Bear, however, is a strange master, for he encourages Crispin to think for himself.
Though Bear promises to protect Crispin, it becomes clear that the boy is being relentlessly pursued. Why are his enemies so determined to kill him? Crispin is gradually drawn right into his enemies' fortress, where - in a riveting climax - he must become a different person if he is to save Bear' life and his own.

My thoughts:
Crispin - The Cross of Lead is an historical fiction middle grade novel set in medieval England. The author, Avi, masterfully weaves his tale of a timid young man struggling to survive, while learning to merge his faith with common sense. Ultimately, he must confront his enemies to gain his own self esteem. This old world adventure story won the Newbery Medal Award of 2003. It is a great book for readers of all ages, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Incredible Inspiration

Spring slips into even the most hidden places of the countryside and transforms them into mossy-green mansions of delight.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Storyteller's Journey

Am I always about Alliteration? No, but it may seem that way from time to time. Truth is, I love to string words together that form an entertaining sound to my ears - and hopefully to yours. Hence, my themed posts: Whimsical Word of the Week; Sentimental Serendipity; and Potpourri of Poetry; were born out of my enjoyment of alliterative sounds. Can you have too much of a good thing? Yes, of course you can. When writing on my MG novel I use alliteration moderately. My blog, however, is where I let my hair down and have some fun! That being said, I found an amusing quote by Doug Savage I thought you'd enjoy: Alliteration? An author affliction and awful addiction avoiding any actual artistic achievement. (Wow!)
For further serious discussion regarding Alliteration see the attached link: