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? 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Celebrating Good Books and Submissions

I had mentioned earlier that one of my New Year's resolutions was to write more. Well, I've been scribbling notes for WIPs and new works, but more importantly, I've been submitting work—last week, a picture book and a chapter book. Today, I submitted10 poems to a contest.

On another note, I'm celebrating two good reads: I ordered and have begun to read, Anne Bronte's The Tenant at Wildfowl Hall (which I mentioned in last week's post). And I'm halfway through Amy Thomas's The Detective and the Woman and the Winking Tree. Expect positive reviews for both in posts to come.

What a pleasure good books are!

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. )

What are you celebrating this week? Did you make New Year resolutions? If so, were you able to start applying to at least one of them? If not, are you somewhat skeptical of resolutions, and do you just go with the flow or wing it each year? Any good reads to share?


Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Madwoman Upstairs, A Fantastic Read

I have been a fan of the Brontës most of my life, and I was always fascinated by the idea of those tiny books the siblings wrote (complete with maps). When I was around twelve or thirteen, I tried to make and write in an itty-bitty book like they did, and I could hardly get six or seven words to a line with a pencil. How on earth did they manage whole books with metal dip pens and messy ink? I'm also a lover of books that take place in Victorian England, and I'm hooked on mysteries, particularly those with a gothic tone, so this book was a triple pleasure!

The Madwoman Upstairs, by Catherine Lowell, doesn't actually take place in the Victorian era, but the protagonist is a student at Oxford. Her research is focused on the Brontës, so there's quite a bit of delving into their famous books and lives. And how did Samantha Whipple become so interested in the Brontës? She's the last remaining descendant of this intriguing family. I've read Emily's Wuthering Heights and Charlotte's Jayne Eyre more than once, and I've seen many movie versions of both stories, but I never read anything by the younger sister, Anne. It was always my understand she was the dull writer. The Madwoman Upstairs led me to order a copy of Anne's The Tenant of Wildfowl Hall, which I'm now eagerly awaiting.

The plot of this engaging novel involves a mystery surrounding the Brontë estate Samantha is thought to have inherited from her eccentric father. Estranged from Samantha's mother, he homeschooled her until he died in a fire. At Oxford, books start mysteriously appearing in strange places, one by one—books Samantha thought had burned up in the fire that took her father's life. Another professor is trying to find the estate Samantha doesn't think exists. Meanwhile, Samantha is slowly falling in love with her advisory professor, curt, cryptic, distant, and as eccentric as she is. For Samantha is eccentric, and their awkward, often antagonistic, cerebral, budding romance is one of the more delightful relationships I've read in a long time. Samantha's one-liners, whether in dialogue or internal, are just terribly witty and funny.

And, for a novel that involves so much literary probing and history, it was a page-turner. When daily life intruded, I seriously hated to put this book down. I plan to read it again. History, humor, mystery, and the Brontës are an unbeatable combination for me! And there's a reason for the title. Mad women apparently appear in more than one Brontë book. And there are parallels between Samantha's life and the women in those books.

You can order The Madwoman Upstairs at
 (My computer is acting funny, so I wasn't able to do the usual link thing.)

How about you? Are you a Brontë fan? Do you like history mixed with mystery? And do you like mysteries that involve famous people? I'm always looking for new reads that combine those elements. If you know of some, do leave the titles in your comments.

Happy New Year, and best wishes for a 2017 filled with peace, love, happiness and health.