Friday, June 16, 2017

Celebrating Another Great Book on Writing

So it's Friday and time to celebrate the small things again. This time I'm celebrating a book  The Magic Words, by Cheryl Klein. But first,  Celebrate the Small Things  is a blog hop co-hosted by Lexa Cain at: Lexa Cain,  L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge , and Tonja Drecker @ Tidbits BlogYou can go to any of these sites to add your name to the links, if you want to participate. 



So, the book: The Magic Words, Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults, by Cheryl Klein, book editor, formerly for Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, and now editorial director at Lee and Low Books; but also an author in her own right. And, as I read her book, it's inspiring, exciting, informative, encouraging, practical, useful — she knows her stuff! This is a book meant to be read and consulted more than once. 

I first heard of this book in a FB post by the children's book editor, Harold Underdown, who also writes a blog called The Purple Crayon and gives writing workshops for writers of boos for children and young adults. All I can say is, "Thank you, Harold Underdown!" I really recommend this book to other writers — even writers of adult fiction. You can learn more about Klein and this particular book HERE .

What are you celebrating today? Do you have a favorite book on writing you can share? I'm always looking for good books on writing. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Celebrate!


I'm celebrating three things today:

First, I'm celebrating the concert I'm going to hear tonight with friends. It's a concert by one of my favorite fadistas, Maria do Ceo. If you go to THIS SITE  and click on the arrow to play, you'll get an idea of how beautiful her voice is. We try to get to one of her concerts whenever we come to Galicia.

Second, an English friend we actually met in Galicia years ago is coming to visit tomorrow. We haven't seen her for about three years. It will be great to catch up on news in person, as there is only so much you can do with Facebook. 😊

Third, yesterday I did my final edit of my story collection, The Carnival of the Animals, and sent it to my publisher. He was pleased to get it, and things will start moving on that after they publish a picture book of mine later in the year. This is a happy time for me.



Celebrate the Small Things  is a blog hop co-hosted by Lexa Cain at: Lexa Cain,  L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge , and Tonja Drecker @ Tidbits Blog(You can go to any of these sites to add your name to the links, if you want to participate. )

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Celebrating a Good Book on Writing


But first: Celebrate the Small Things  is a blog hop co-hosted by Lexa Cain at: Lexa Cain,  L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge , and Tonja Drecker @ Tidbits Blog(You can go to any of these sites to add your name to the links, if you want to participate. )

So: the good book I'm celebrating is one that Fred and Joan, our neighbors across the street in Sacramento, gave us before we left on our trip. I've been dipping into it from time to time, as we've been very busy since arrival — first with our water problem I mention in the last post, and then socializing with friends and neighbors we hadn't seen for a while.  Sometimes when we're driving to town I read from it, and sometimes in the evenings I take a shot at it, although I fall asleep far too easily after all the galavanting. Luckily, it's the kind of a book you can read pleasurably in bits and pieces:

How To Write Like Tolstoy, A Journey into the Minds of Our Greatest Writers


Cohen is an author, but also an agent and editor who has handled works by several pulitzer prize winners and authors who have been on the NY Times best sellers lists. His approach to the art of novel writing (the main focus in this book) is fascinating. Each chapter heading deals with an aspect of novel writing, and in sequence, so that the first chapter is about first chapters and book beginnings; then settings and characters, etc. In each chapter, he shares what great writers of classics as well as modern day successful writers have said about each chapter theme and how they approach the problem. This book is a keeper, and meant to be re-read many times. Such a wonderful gift. (Thank you, Fred & Joan!)

Cohen's website is HERE, if you want to know more about him or his books. Also purchase sites for this one, including, but not limited to Amazon HERE.

How about you? Have you discovered any good books on writing? If so, please share titles. 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

CELEBRATING WATER!!!





Not the kind that you see in these two photos from last spring, although we are having plenty of rain, here in Trasulfe. Cold, windy rain. (And, it being mid-May, forgetting the fickleness of Galician weather, I packed summer clothes.) Right now, I haven't had time to take new pictures, but this is what Galicia looks like — only moreso!

No, the water I am celebrating is the water tanked into our village that allows for cooking and bathing. Like — the water system. When we arrived Tuesday, the tank was empty and we were lugging 3-liter bottles of water from the grocery stores for two days. Then we gave into the situation and have been staying at a casa rural for three days. Lovely, but not our "home away from home". You can read more about it in the Facebook posting I've copied:

"The continuing saga of the village water: So we booked rooms at Torre Vilariño for Thursday and Friday nights, right? Possibly for the whole week-end, too, we told them, since we didn't know how long the problem would last. Friday a.m. we drove back to our village (Trasulfe), and lo and behold, we had water! What a thrill. We called Torre and said, no, no need for the week-end. (We were worried they might lose another booking from saving the room for us.) Then we went out to get a bite to eat. 
     "On return, bad news: The water was gone again. Called Torre to say, "Yes, we need the room this week-end," because by now it was Friday afternoon, the problem not solved, and the workmen wouldn't be working on it over the week-end. Then we talked to our new neighbors down the lane. The workmen there were working on it, lifting manhole covers in the road, turning metered faucets on, etc., to no avail. In the meantime, they had managed to turn off Eva & Manolo's water — two of our neighbors who did have water until that point.       
     "More tinkering, with conflicting explanations of what had happened: Explanation #1: It was the incline of the land, given that the water is pumped in from a place near Escairon. (But the land has always been sloped before, right?) Explanation #2, the tank that serves the community was empty. Possible. (But why?) Just as we were about to leave to go back to Torre, everything started working again: We tested the faucets in our house. We had water. But, could we trust this? 
     "We compromised and called Torre: We only needed the room for Saturday night. (We weren't sure that we did, but they'd been so flexible with us, we thought we should show up for at least part of the booking, and, if the water conked out again, we could always rough it out one more day and then go to the town hall Monday to complain. 
     "So, this morning we came home (although we are going back tonight) and checked everything out: YES! We have water! The whole village has water! Including Manolo and Eva! All fixed. New explanation: the tank that serves the community had become clogged from debris, etc., that somehow fell into the tank. They had to clean it out. Ah well, such is life and its little surprises. We had planned to go to the wine festival in Ferreira today, but the weather is cold and rainy and windy, and it feels good to stay home and nap and then meet friends at Torre for dinner on our last evening their. Alls well that ends well. "

How about you? Have you ever gone off for a vacation and found big surprises waiting for you?

Celebrate the Small Things  is a blog hop co-hosted by Lexa Cain at: Lexa Cain,  L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge , and Tonja Drecker @ Tidbits Blog(You can go to any of these sites to add your name to the links, if you want to participate. )



Sunday, April 30, 2017

Our Favorite Get-Away Spot in California


I'm two days late for my "celebrate the small things" post, but I'm celebrating a trip we took last week to Pacific Grove/Monterey area. This is probably our favorite get-away spot in California, and this year was no exception. It's so peaceful and relaxing: the roar of the surf, the beauty of the waters along the waterfront. The weather was warm and the skies blue and sunny. Families were out along the strips of beach fronting waves and rocks. 


We usually zip over to Carmel to browse the art galleries, too, but this time we didn't. We simply enjoyed walking around in both Pacific Grove and Monterey. Along the waterfront, we encountered several painters out doing "plein air" paintings of rock and water. 

The motel where we stayed was right near the Monarch Habitat that I wrote about once before, but on this trip, so late in spring, the butterflies were gone until their next migration. In Monterey, we went to the current "Cannery Row," an out and out tourist trap not as charming as it once was, but there is a nice monument to the novelist John Steinbeck and many characters from his books. A couple of blocks in town, we came across the house and lab of Ed Ricketts, John Steinbeck's marine biologist friend cast as "Doc" in the book, Cannery Row. 



We were in the area two nights and then came home, totally refreshed, in time for the Science March the following day, which was inspiring and refreshing in another way. 

Do you have a favorite "get-away" spot? Is it tied to art? Literature? Nature?

                                            Celebrate the Small Things  is a blog hop co-hosted by Lexa Cain at: Lexa Cain,  L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge , and Tonja Drecker @ Tidbits Blog. (You can go to any of these sites to add your name to the list, and also to read some enjoyable blog posts.)

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Beauty of Monet's Paintings




Two weeks ago we went with friends, Sue & Bert Collins, to see the Monet Exhibit and the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, a remarkably beautiful building dating back to the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exhibition. You can learn more about it and see both a photograph of the building and a painting of it by Edwin Deakin HERE . But I couldn't resist taking this photo looking back at the Golden Gate Bridge from the grounds. It prepares you for the beauty of the landscapes to come.


The exhibit focused on Monet's early works, starting from his first exhibited painting, when he was 18, and ending with his paintings in 1862, when he was only 32 years old. I have loved prints of Monet, exhibits of the Impressionists that featured his work, including his later works of the waterlilies and moon bridge in his garden, calendar pictures that I've shared with my after school art class. But it took my breath away to see how accomplished Monet was at the young age of 32 — how many masterpieces he had created. Have a look at a few of the photos I was permitted to take in the museum.





                     There are more,  but I'll stop here. For those who like the work of Monet and are interested in his life,  Stephanie Cowell wrote a wonderful historical novel about his life, Claude & Camille. (Camille was the love of his life, the mother of his children, and his muse for so many of his paintings.) 

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You can order this through Amazon (as well as many other sites.) 

Stephanie also has a nice page about this book on her enjoyable blog:   

Do you enjoy art? The impressionists? Novels about famous artists? Share a favorite book about art or artists.

And have a great day. 

Friday, March 31, 2017

Celebrating a School Visit at Crocker Riverside Elementary

                       Today I'm celebrating school visits:
Yesterday I read chapters of my book to two classes at Crocker Riverside Elementary School, a charming school on a tree-lined street in Sacramento. Several people were invited to read to various classes, and since Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls is for readers who are 8-to-12-years old, I read to Mrs. Buerger's sixth grade class and Mr. Repass's fifth grade class.

Both classes were wonderful! They were so attentive while I read and then asked wonderful questions, mostly about writing and the writing process. These were students who love to both read and write, which says great things about their teachers. Also, they wanted to know my favorite author, my favorite series. Some of them very shyly showed me the book they were reading. Sharon Creech's Walk Two Moons was a great favorite of theirs (and is a great favorite of mine.) Also, they love, love, loved the Harry Potter series. (Quite a few of them liked Sherlock Holmes, but I think mostly from TV and movies.)

The fifth graders wanted my autograph and had post-it notes ready for me to sign. I also took some postcards and bookmarks, and they had me sign those, too. A number of students said they wanted to order my book. (Happily, for those who can't, there are two copies in the public library system, and I let them know that.)

I love school visits. I loved teaching, and now I love going back and connecting with the kids again as an author. Here are a few more pictures that Mrs. Buerger took while I read to her class. I forgot to give my camera to Mr. Repass, but both classes were great fun to interact with.



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Each class gave me a potted plant as a thank you gift. Those plants came at the right time, too. My husband and I have been talking about planting more flowers in one section of our back yard. Plants are a nice way to preserve good memories, as well, and these will certainly be a nice reminder of an enjoyable morning.




An interesting side note to the morning: This was a short day for the school and the morning was devoted to readers and visitors from other occupations. As I came into the school, outside, I noticed policemen on horseback. The policemen kindly let me take pictures of their horses. (Those horses must have been a big thrill for the kids!)



















Celebrate the Small Things  is a blog hop co-hosted by Lexa Cain at: Lexa Cain,  L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge , and Tonja Drecker @ Tidbits Blog(You can go to any of these sites to add your name to the links, if you want to participate. )

How about you? Does your school have special programs to invite authors and other speakers? Are there special reading events to encourage students to read? Do you like animals — especially horses? Who was your favorite author and what was your favorite book when you were elementary school age?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Submission Time


SUNDAY, MARCH 26, 2017


Submission Time 




Today I'm celebrating that I have finally compiled a publisher list and an agent list to get ready for submitting my cozy mystery. Contests, too. But first: 

Celebrate the Small Things  is a blog hop co-hosted by Lexa Cain at: Lexa Cain,  L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge , and Tonja Drecker @ Tidbits Blog(You can go to any of these sites to add your name to the links, if you want to participate. )

Back to the lists: They are simply rough lists at this point, but then I'm going through them to see (in the case of the agent list) which agents in the agencies handle mysteries and what types of mysteries, then check specific submission requirements (1st 50 pages, 1st 3 chapters, etc.). Also, I'm not interested in submitting via snail mail, so those that go off the list. My next step will be to see what mysteries they have published (in the case of publishers), or handled and marketed to publishers successfully (in the case of agents.)  Luckily, I have a pretty good query letter, though I do need to work on my synopsis. All of that is so much work, but I seem to have a new burst of energy for this, coming out of a procrastination and distraction period.

Meanwhile, my goal this week is to submit to the contests — three. Cross fingers. I really want to get this manuscript out and about so that I can concentrate on something new.

What are your goals this week? Do you tend to procrastinate on submissions? Do you find query letters and synopses daunting? 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Charm of a French Boutique Hotel




This week I'm celebrating a trip my husband and I took to San Francisco for three days, during which we stayed two nights at a charming hotel, The Cornell Hotel de France, which bills itself (justifiably) as a "French boutique hotel".  (This is a day early for the Friday "Celebrate the Small Things", but sometimes it just works out that way. ☺️) You could say I'm celebrating the hotel, because it looks as if it has been whisked out of the 19th century, even the 18th, with it's beautiful paintings and decor — lots of gilt everywhere.

I like anything remotely historical, and especially anything that smacks of Paris, so this hotel was a find for sure. All the hallways sported prints of famous French Impressionists (my favorite artists), with a particular artist assigned to each floor. Our floor was the Stage Gauguin; the one below was Talous Lautrec. Other floors Van Gogh, etc. In the rooms are different artists. We had a couple of Klimt. Here is a close-up of "The Kiss",  and someone had done a gilt painting around the wall switch! There were lamps on delicate furniture, and the overhead light sported an upside-down Tiffany style shade.

Klimt's "The Kiss"
Light Switch
Overhead Shade
There is also a restaurant,  Jeanne D'Arc, which was closed for renovations while we were there, but I understand the food is very good — and very French.


Restaurant Window
Stature of Jeanne D'Arc
Birdcage Elevator
The Jeanne D'Arc theme was highlighted all through the hotel, in paintings and plaques and statues. There was also a charming, if rackety, old-fashioned birdcage elevator painted with French style decorations on the doors. (Those are reflections you see in the glass tops of the doors.)

The hotel serves breakfast in a basement cafe (included in the overall bill), and it isn't the run-of-the-mill croissants, coffee, cereal and fruit. No, you get a choice of waffles or pancakes, omelette, or eggs served in any style. Or you can have cereal. Or fruit. Each breakfast comes with toast, hash browns, and fresh orange juice. And some of the best coffee anywhere! I wish I had thought to take my camera to breakfast, because the cafe was awesome in its decor, painted to look like stone columns and plaster walls, all of which were decorated with lovely hand-painted art work following scenes from Ste. Jeanne's life and story. You must go there yourself if you can and enjoy it.

Meanwhile, I did think on leaving to take a picture of the staircase going down to the cafe. And a little sitting lounge where you could read the newspapers and enjoy a cup of coffee, if you so wished. And the outside plaques that give you some idea of the hotel's standing as a tourist spot.


















How about you? Are you enamored of French culture and themes? Have you been fascinated by the history of Jeanne D'Arc? Do you like French food?



Celebrate the Small Things  is a blog hop co-hosted by Lexa Cain at: Lexa Cain,  L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge , and Tonja Drecker @ Tidbits Blog. (You can go to any of these sites to add your name to

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Celebrating a Wonderful PBS Series, VICTORIA


This week I'm celebrating PBS Masterpiece Theater's series Victoria, which you can learn more about HERE. You could say I've been celebrating it for a few weeks, on Sunday evenings. Tomorrow is the final for season 1, and I have been completely drawn into this series. Here's why:

(But first: Celebrate the Small Things  is a blog hop co-hosted by Lexa Cain at: Lexa Cain,  L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge , and Tonja Drecker @ Tidbits Blog. (You can go to any of these sites to add your name to the links, if you want to participate. )

So, why am I so drawn to this series? To begin with, I've always been fascinated by Victorian London and the era itself, when inventions we take for granted were just beginning: Electricity, the railroad, the telephone, etc. These were the big things people talked about, while they traveled by stage coach and hansom cab. From stories I read growing up, there always seemed a magical element to the clip-clop of horse hooves against cobblestones and buildings swirling in fog and the gas street lamps and the lamp lighters in the earlier part of the era. 

Then, of course, there was the world of Sherlock Holmes, that uncannily brilliant detective who solved cases by observation and thought. (I'm not big on today's mystery/suspense novels that are solved by forensics and all forms of technology. They don't seem half as interesting.) 

Of course, I was unaware of all the faults of the era: the London of misery rather than the London of mystique and the English inheritance laws that could leave a woman anywhere destitute, the starving and wretched in crime infested warrens, rather than the elegant neighbor hoods where women enjoyed theater and endless parties. All of my awareness of London's social stratification came later. (Commendably, under Victoria and her husband, Albert, many social reforms took place. ) 

But especially interesting in this series is how it brings to life the difficulties of a strong-willed teenager who suddenly found herself Queen of England and who had the determination and savvy to navigate quite a number of plots against her even after her marriage to Albert. From the get-go, she was both assaulted by political rivals and sustained by her own intelligence. And the love affair between her and Albert is so heartwarming for an era where marriage was usually a political alliance first and foremost. They literally fell in love with each other and never got over it. (This season only brings a viewer up to Victoria's first pregnancy, but since they had many children and achieved many social reforms, there really is material to look forward to.)

And then there is the acting: Jenna Coleman is perfect as the young Victoria. Rufus Sewell shines as Lord Melbourne, her mentor, friend, and political advisor. Tom Hughes is endearing as the besotted Albert, who still must earn respect from Parliament and forge his own role as more than an echo of the queen. This is a stellar cast, with those in supporting roles holding their own, and together they bring Victoria's world convincingly to life. 

If you've missed episodes of Victoria, you can probably find reruns of it on other evenings on PBS.

Do you have a favorite series? If so, is it contemporary? Or historical? Are you a devoted fan? Do you set aside time each week to watch it?

  

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Celebrating That I'm Walking More

One of my resolutions at the turn of the year was to walk more for general health. Well, I started keeping that resolution three days ago. (Yeah, it took me that long to work up to it.)
But first: Celebrate the Small Things  is a blog hop co-hosted by Lexa Cain at: Lexa Cain,  L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge , and Tonja Drecker @ Tidbits Blog. (You can go to any of these sites to add your name to the links, if you want to participate. I recommend it, because it's always fun to see news that others are celebrating, and to share your own as well. )         

So—walking more: 

1. On Friday, I walked 18 blocks to the central branch of the public library, spent some time looking up book publishers, and then walked the 18 blocks home again. That basically translated into walking altogether about three miles. (It also combined my writing resolution with my walking resolution, which made me feel double good.) This week I'll be investigate all the publishers online to see if they are still current and analyze their requirements if they are. I got these from the 2016 Writers Market, because the 2017 was checked out. But the good news is that the nice young man at the reference desk arranged to have it sent to my neighborhood branch 7 blocks away when it comes in, so I can check even further. Meanwhile, it was so pleasurable to be in a library again, I plan to hang out there more this year.

2. Yesterday, my husband and I walked 18 blocks to the Women's March that began at T and 6th streets and ended up at the State Capitol plaza for a rally. It was truly inspiring, and I'll be blogging about it more this week at my Fourth Wish blog "next door", along with posting pictures. But here are a could I put on my Facebook:


That's my husband next to me in the first picture. The sign wasn't mine—we didn't have time to make signs—but the man who took the picture let me hold his. I was especially glad, because that sign resonated with me as a former teacher.  



Today, I only walked two miles. A mile took me to my favorite bookstore here in Sacramento, Time Tested Books. (It's where I had one of my book signings a year and a half ago for Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls.) I stopped by the store and had a good browse, and naturally the owner is saving a book for me to come back and buy this week. (I purposely walk without my purse. It's nice to be un-encumbered.) When I left to come back, I walked a mile in a heavy rain! I had to change clothes when I got home, but it was a wonderful and refreshing walk. 

So I plan to do more of this: Two miles a day, and hopefully, three miles many days.

How about you? Are you a walker? A jogger? Do you attend marches? Do you have a favorite bookstore where you hang out? Do you hang out at your local library? Did you make any resolutions this New Years Day?