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?