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Storytelling and helping others was what Lakshmi did best along with her cooking and work ethics. Her life was a story to tell, and she had Maggie to listen and to learn from her stories.
THE STORY HOUR takes the reader through the lives of Lakshmi and Maggie...one the patient and one the doctor. The women met when Lakshmi tried to commit suicide.
Maggie broke the rules of patient/client protocol, but Maggie couldn't help it because she and Lakshmi were meant to be friends and confidantes. Maggie truly helped Lakshmi feel more confident as she tried to fit into the American way of life, and at the same time Lakshmi helped Maggie as she was struggling with "demons" of her own that stemmed from her childhood.
Ms. Umrigar has written another marvelous novel about an Indian woman trying to fit into her lonely, boring life with her American husband who really didn't love her. She also touches on infidelity issues with Maggie and what damage it does.
The book smoothly moved back and forth from past to present telling about the lives of both women and how their backgrounds shaped them into the woman they were today.
You will love Lakshmi just because she was a warm, caring, genuine person that you will feel sorry for but also one that you will cheer on as she struggles to overcome her shortcomings and feelings of worthlessness. Maggie on the other hand was a bit more difficult to like because she had it all and couldn't grasp how her infidelity would change things.
The writing was beautiful as well as the storyline. I would recommend THE STORY HOUR for book clubs. It has many issues, situations, and meanings worth discussing. 4/5
You have to read THE STORY HOUR in order to feel the full impact and the power of this marvelous book.
You will be immersed in cultures, food, friendships, and determination.
This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.
Between now and November, I’m posting excerpts from a work in progress called How to Write YA. You can’t buy it yet, but you can preorder Afterworlds, my book about a young novelist living in NYC, on the bottom of this page.
What Are Stories?
Okay, it’s time to get to the writing advice part of this book. Almost.
First we must talk about stories. Like, what are they?
Stories are a technology.
They’re a tool, one invented to inform, persuade, and entertain other humans. This technology is very old, probably created not long after humans came up with language itself.
Stories are also very powerful. Someone who remains unconvinced after a thousand pages of scientific data can often be swayed by just the right anecdote. Otherwise sensible people will believe absurdities as long as they appear in the context of a compelling tale, like an urban legend. We often recall the stemwinder version of an experience long after we’ve forgotten what really happened that day.
This is why some of the oldest things we posses as a culture are stories.
Here’s a little story with a very long pedigree:
There was once a donkey who found itself exactly halfway between a bale of hay and a bucket of water. The donkey was equally thirsty and hungry, so it couldn’t decide which to consume first, the water or the hay. As the day went on, the beast grew hungrier and thirstier in equal measure, so it stayed paralyzed, unable to choose. In the end, the donkey died of thirst and hunger, its decision still unmade.
News flash: this isn’t the world’s best story. It’s kind of silly (or sad, if you’re Team Donkey) and there’s not much rising action or character development. And yet this story has been told for over two millennia.
Back in 350 BCE, Aristotle used the donkey story to talk about physics. In his telling, the donkey’s desires represented the balance of forces in the world. If the donkey chose one way instead of another, nature itself would fly out of equilibrium.
In the twelfth century, the Islamic scholar Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali used the story to talk about free will. He argued that people can break stalemates like the donkey’s even if they have no reason to make one choice over the other. That’s what makes us humans special.
In 1340, the French philosopher Jean Buridan used the story to make the opposite point, suggesting that when facing two equally good choices, the only rational thing to do is wait until circumstances change.
Three centuries later, Baruch Spinoza disagreed with Buridan, but took a different tack than Al-Ghazali, saying that a rational person can always see a distinction between two choices. In other words, the world is complex and nuanced and full of differences, and if you don’t see that, you’re an ass.
Many other thinkers have weighed in since. I first heard a version of the donkey story in 1980, in a Devo song called “Freedom of Choice.” Devo’s retelling (featuring a dog with two bones) suggests that these days people have too many choices, and might prefer fewer. My teenage self could relate to Devo’s version, that the choices offered by present-day consumerism aren’t really the same as freedom.
Such is the power of this one very short story. It has been used to make countless distinct and contradictory arguments across two dozen centuries. And given that no actual donkey in that situation would hesitate for a second, this tale has managed all this despite being patently unbelievable! (This is an important thing for us novelists to remember: stories don’t have to be credible, true, or even to make logical sense, to have lasting importance.)
So why is this tale is so persistent?
Perhaps we all recognize ourselves in the donkey. We’ve all had the experience of being unable to make a choice, and of paying a price for our indecision.
And check this out: we never find out what kind of music the donkey likes, or what its politics are, or if its parents loved it enough, or what it had for breakfast. And even though the donkey isn’t involved in a hot paranormal love triangle or a million-dollar jewel heist or a revolution against a dystopian government—even though it isn’t a character at all in the modern psychological literary sense—we somehow still identify with this beast.
Crazy, right? Why should we care?
Here’s my theory:
We are all creatures who make decisions (or fail to make them) and then suffer the consequences. When you tell us stories about other creatures who make (or fail to make) decisions and then suffer the consequences, we listen.
To understand China, it is essential to understand Confucianism. There are many teachings of Confucianist tradition, but before we can truly understand them, it is important to look at the vision Confucius himself had. In this excerpt below from Confucianism: A Very Short Introduction, Daniel K. Gardner discusses the future the teacher behind the ideas imagined.
Confucius imagined a future where social harmony and sage rulership would once again prevail. It was a vision of the future that looked heavily to the past. Convinced that a golden age had been fully realized in China’s known history, Confucius thought it necessary to turn to that history, to the political institutions, the social relations, the ideals of personal cultivation that he believed prevailed in the early Zhou period, in order to piece together a vision to serve for all times. Here a comparison with Plato, who lived a few decades after the death of Confucius, is instructive. Like Confucius, Plato was eager to improve on contemporary political and social life. But unlike Confucius, he did not believe that the past offered up a normative model for the present. In constructing his ideal society in the Republic, Plato resorted much less to reconstruction of the past than to philosophical reflection and intellectual dialogue with others.
This is not to say, of course, that Confucius did not engage in philosophical reflection and dialogue with others. But it was the past, and learning from it, that especially consumed him. This learning took the form of studying received texts, especially the Book of Odes and the Book of History. He explains to his disciples:
“The Odes can be a source of inspiration and a basis for evaluation; they can help you to get on with others and to give proper expression to grievances. In the home, they teach you about how to serve your father, and in public life they teach you about how to serve your lord”.
The frequent references to verses from the Odes and to stories and legends from the History indicate Confucius’s deep admiration for these texts in particular and the values, the ritual practices, the legends, and the institutions recorded in them.
But books were not the sole source of Confucius’s knowledge about the past. The oral tradition was a source of instructive ancient lore for him as well. Myths and stories about the legendary sage kings Yao, Shun, and Yu; about Kings Wen and Wu and the Duke of Zhou, who founded the Zhou and inaugurated an age of extraordinary social and political harmony; and about famous or infamous rulers and officials like Bo Yi, Duke Huan of Qi, Guan Zhong, and Liuxia Hui—all mentioned by Confucius in the Analects—would have supplemented what he learned from texts and served to provide a fuller picture of the past.
Still another source of knowledge for Confucius, interestingly, was the behavior of his contemporaries. In observing them, he would select out for praise those manners and practices that struck him as consistent with the cultural norms of the early Zhou and for condemnation those that in his view were contributing to the Zhou decline. The Analects shows him railing against clever speech, glibness, ingratiating appearances, affectation of respect, servility to authority, courage unaccompanied by a sense of right, and single-minded pursuit of worldly success—behavior he found prevalent among contemporaries and that he identified with the moral deterioration of the Zhou. To reverse such deterioration, people had to learn again to be genuinely respectful in dealing with others, slow in speech and quick in action, trustworthy and true to their word, openly but gently critical of friends, families, and rulers who strayed from the proper path, free of resentment when poor, free of arrogance when rich, and faithful to the sacred three-year mourning period for parents, which to Confucius’s great chagrin, had fallen into disuse. In sum, they had to relearn the ritual behavior that had created the harmonious society of the early Zhou.
That Confucius’s characterization of the period as a golden age may have been an idealization is irrelevant. Continuity with a “golden age” lent his vision greater authority and legitimacy, and such continuity validated the rites and practices he advocated. This desire for historical authority and legitimacy—during a period of disrupture and chaos—may help to explain Confucius’s eagerness to present himself as a mere transmitter, a lover of the ancients. Indeed, the Master’s insistence on mere transmission notwithstanding, there can be little doubt that from his study and reconstruction of the early Zhou period he forged an innovative—and enduring—sociopolitical vision. Still, in his presentation of himself as reliant on the past, nothing but a transmitter of what had been, Confucius established what would become something of a cultural template in China. Grand innovation that broke entirely with the past was not much prized in the pre-modern Chinese tradition. A Jackson Pollock who consciously and proudly rejected artistic precedent, for example, would not be acclaimed the creative genius in China that he was in the West. Great writers, great thinkers, and great artists were considered great precisely because they had mastered the tradition—the best ideas and techniques of the past. They learned to be great by linking themselves to past greats and by fully absorbing their styles and techniques. Of course, mere imitation was hardly sufficient; imitation could never be slavish. One had to add something creative, something entirely of one’s own, to mastery of the past.
Thus when you go into a museum gallery to view pre-modern Chinese landscapes, one hanging next to another, they appear at first blush to be quite similar. With closer inspection, however, you find that this artist developed a new sort of brush stroke, and that one a new use of ink-wash, and this one a new style of depicting trees and their vegetation. Now that your eye is becoming trained, more sensitive, it sees the subtle differences in the landscape paintings, with their range of masterful techniques an expression. But even as it sees the differences, it recognizes that the paintings evolved out of a common landscape tradition, in which artists built consciously on the achievements of past masters.
Featured image credit: “Altar of Confucius (7360546688)” by Francisco Anzola – Altar of Confucius. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Please welcome Samantha Grace back to the virtual offices! She’s here to share some private facts about Sebastian, and be sure to enter the giveaway to win a copy of In Bed with a Rogue!
Hi, everyone! I’m Samantha Grace, historical romance author of the series Rival Rogues. It’s great to be back at Manga Maniac Café talking about my newest release, IN BED WITH A ROGUE. My favorite characters to write are always the males, whether it’s the hero or a secondary character, so I was very happy to see the title for today’s blog:
Top 5 things you’d never find in Sebastian’s bedchamber
I love this topic, but I needed a little help from my street team, The Social Graces, to come up with a list. Here’s what we decided…
1) A mess—You would never find anything out of place in Sebastian’s bedchamber, and not just because he has a staff of servants. Lady Helena Prestwick notices when she first has a chance to study him at the theater that everything about his appearance is intentional, from the starch of his collar to his carefree hair made to appear as if he’d crawled from bed looking like perfection, to his high-polished footwear. “A lot of effort went into his appearance, suggesting he cared a great deal how others viewed him.” And how right she is. Sebastian believes one can never be too fastidious. “People were judged on appearances, and he took pains to set himself apart from the disheveled mess his father had become in his last years.” Sebastian’s father suffered from PTDS after his military service, which started rumors of madness in Sebastian’s family. Now that he and his sister have both been jilted before their weddings, the rumors have resurfaced, and Sebastian refuses to give any more evidence to back-up the gossips’ claims.
2) A muddy pair of Hessian boots—Even if Sebastian wasn’t a bit of a neat freak, you wouldn’t find the boots in his room because he…uh…he lost them one evening when attackers jumped him outside a tavern in Whitechapel.
His assailants ripped the coat from his back while he tried to catch his breath.
Another kick to his kidney paralyzed him in a cloud of pain. Two men grabbed his legs and tugged at his boots.
“Not the Hessians,” he mumbled.
They laughed and ran off, the splash of footsteps growing faint.
“Bloody… hell…” he said between wheezing breaths. He would have given them his purse if they had asked nicely, but no gentleman should have to part with his boots.
He rolled to his back and cried out as his muscles wrenched. If he ever learned his attackers’ identities, they were in for a shocking introduction of his foot to their backsides.
Lucky for Sebastian, Helena wasn’t far away and came to his rescue when he called out for help, even though she risked having her secret discovered.
3) A Do Not Disturb sign—Sebastian would never take his conquests home for a night of fun. He has a mother and younger sister under his care, and he would never dream of exposing them to anything inappropriate. He would, however, like to bar his sister from his room, but Evie will have none of that after he is delivered to the front stoop battered, bruised, and unconscious. (I think she burned the Do Not Disturb sign.)
He was in his bedchamber. God only knew how he had gotten there.
He smacked his lips. His mouth was dry, like someone had shoved a wad of muslin in it. With eyes still closed, he fumbled for a glass of water on his side table without success. He cracked open an eye.
“Faith!” He jumped, then sucked in a sharp breath as pain sliced through his ribs.
His younger sister pursed her lips. “What happened this time? Did an irate husband chase you out a window?”
“I refuse to respond to such a ridiculous accusation.” Gingerly, he probed the bandage around his middle. How had that gotten there?
Eve slid from the edge of the bed and went to retrieve a porcelain pitcher from a tray sitting on a side table. “The doctor said you bruised your ribs and knocked your head. And don’t pretend I have insulted you. I smelled the lady’s perfume on you before your valet cleaned you up.” Despite her scolding tone, her brown eyes were sympathetic when she glanced over her shoulder. “I worry about you, Bastian. God only knows what you are doing that causes you to come home with bruises. And no coat or boots at that.”
“Well, it’s not bedding married women, not that you should know about such goings-on.”
4) A Letter of Complaint—Helena learns Sebastian knows her secret when he approaches her at a ball, and she thinks he intends to blackmail her. She invites him back to her town house so they can discuss the terms in private, but he suggests they wait to leave the ball separately so no one connects their names. In the meantime, Helena takes refuge in the ladies’ retiring room to avoid running into him again at the ball. She has the misfortune of crossing paths with Lady Lovelace and receives a favorable recommendation of Sebastian’s skills, although the Widow Lovelace insults him in the process. (Perhaps there’s a little jealousy at play?)
“I saw you dancing with Lord Thorne.” Lady Lovelace plopped onto the tufted stool and smoothed a hand over her hair. “If you’ve a rendezvous with Sebastian, you will not regret it.”
Helena’s breath hitched.
The widow’s eyes gleamed in the looking glass. “Just as I suspected. He is worth the risk, so long as no one else finds out. Most every lady desires him in her bed, but she would be mortified if others knew she’d been bedded by a Bedlamite.”
She twittered at her joke, but Helena didn’t find her amusing in the least.
“Forgive me, my lady, but you are mistaken about Lord Thorne and me.” Helena headed for the retiring room door, brushing past the attendant who wasn’t even bothering to pretend she wasn’t eavesdropping. Her owl-like eyes blinked several times at Helena.
“Oh?” The widow swiveled on the seat. “You haven’t succumbed to his charms yet? You would be the only woman whose skirts he has chased but failed to lift.”
5) An Attack Cat—One of my favorite scenes involves a stray cat Helena rescued on one of her late night excursions to Whitechapel. Sebastian isn’t likely to forget his introduction to Luna.
He swept the hair from her forehead. “I want to see where you lived. And Fergus promised to take me fishing. Perhaps you and Gracie would like to come along too. Fergus said you are quite the angler. And he said his mother, the best cook in Aberdeenshire, will bake a pie in my honor. I am not one to turn down a sweet.”
She rolled her eyes, laughing, knowing sweets were not his weakness. “When did you and Fergus become confidants?”
“I’ll have you know Fergus and I are the best of friends now.” Sebastian tugged his trousers over his hips. “He invited me fishing when he offered his congratulations belowstairs earlier.” His eyes flew open and he jumped away from the bed. “Damnation!”
Helena gasped in surprise. Luna was clawing her way up his leg, clinging to his trousers as he hopped and tried to shake her loose. When she sank her teeth into his thigh, a string of curses poured from him.
“Luna, no!” Helena scrambled off the bed to intervene, but Sebastian pried her from his leg before she reached them.
The cat hit the floor at a run, sprang onto the desk chair and desk, then slipped on the pile of post before she gained traction and dashed into Helena’s dressing room. Letters plopped to the floor.
Sebastian turned incredulous eyes on Helena. “Did you see that hellcat? He tried to unman me.”
A laugh burst from her. “He is a she, and Luna didn’t mean to hurt you. She was playing.”
His dark scowl brought about another peal of laughter.
“I’m sorry,” she said, her voice muffled by her hand over her mouth. “Are you hurt?”
He lifted a brow. When his lips twitched, she knew he saw the humor too. “You could have warned me you had a guard under the bed.”
I hope y’all enjoyed the sneak peek into IN BED WITH A ROGUE. I’d like to thank Manga Maniac Café for having me here today! I look forward to chatting with all of you.
Should we play a fun game of “In Your Pants”? The idea originally came from a Harlequin post on Facebook, but let’s put our own spin on it. I’m assuming most of us have at least one book on our bedside tables. List the title and add “In Your Pants” at the end to create a new title. I’ll go first.
The Templars and Assassins in Your Pants (That’s quite the crusade!) Now it’s your turn!
Historical romance author Samantha Grace discovered the appeal of a great love story when she was just a young girl, thanks to Disney’s Robin Hood. She didn’t care that Robin Hood and Maid Marian were cartoon animals. It was her first happily-ever-after experience and she didn’t want the warm fuzzies to end. Now Samantha enjoys creating her own happy-endings for characters that spring from her imagination. Publisher’s Weekly describes her stories as “fresh and romantic” with subtle humor and charm. Samantha describes romance writing as the best job ever.
Part-time hospice social worker, moonlighting author, and pilates nut, she enjoys a happy and hectic life with her real life hero and two kids in the Midwest.
In Bed with a Rogue
By Samantha Grace
September 2, 2014
He’s the Talk of the Town
The whole town is tittering about Baron Sebastian Thorne having been jilted at the altar. Every move he makes ends up in the gossip columns. Tired of being the butt of everyone’s jokes, Sebastian vows to restore his family’s reputation no matter what it takes.
She’s the Toast of the Ton
Feted by the crème of society, the beautiful widow Lady Prestwick is a vision of all that is proper. But Helena is no angel, and when Sebastian uncovers her dark secret, he’s quick to press his advantage. In order to keep her hard-won good name, Helen will have to make a deal with the devil. But she’s got some tricks up her sleeves to keep this notorious rogue on his toes…
Historical romance author Samantha Grace discovered the appeal of a great love story when she was just a young girl, thanks to Disney’s Robin Hood. She didn’t care that Robin Hood and Maid Marian were cartoon animals. It was her first happily-ever-after experience and she didn’t want the warm fuzzies to end. Now Samantha enjoys creating her own happy-endings for characters that spring from her imagination. Publishers Weekly describes her stories as “fresh and romantic” with subtle humor and charm. Samantha describes romance writing as the best job ever.
There is an excellent chance that a situation such as this could cause a wee bit of anxiety and might even make a person feel, ahem, well… darn right antsy.
So one must remember to remain calm. You see, the attention span of an ant is quite short so feigning nonchalance is best. In roughly 10 to 15 minutes the novelty of wearing your jeans will have warn off. The bored ant will soon run along to find spilt milk or some sugar to walk through.
Possession of your pants and your sanity, regained!
Just over a month ago, it was the centenary of Tove Jansson's birth. There were public celebrations in her home land of Finland, and an exhibition at the Finnish National Gallery dedicated to the paintings, illustrations, and writing of this extraordinary figure.
I believe this exhibition also included the original miniature Moomin house on loan from its home at the Moomin Museum Tampere. This is a blue, five storey building which Jansson built with her partner Tuulikki Pietilä in the 1970's. It's about three metres high,
Moomin House, Tampere (Adele Pennington)
I haven't been to see it, but my cousin and fellow Moomin-fan Ann - who lives in Norway - has. She describes how "Tove and Tuulikki built the house using materials they found washed up on the beach. The roof tiles, by the way, were made from cedar bark they found and cut into shape using nail scissors. Fish-scale pattern. And Moominpappa stands in his room which is equipped with maritime clutter, looking out of his window through his telescope. The small shy people are in tiny rooms in the basement."
But Tove didn't build this wonderful house to put in a museum. She didn't build it to market her books, or as a wonderful photo opportunity for social media. This house is a labour of love, a work of art, an act of pure creation by someone who felt compelled to write, draw and make from an early age, and for whom imagined universes arrived so fully realised in her head, they could literally be translated into bricks and mortar.
That house, along with so much else - like the sculptures and montages of scenes from the books they made together and put in glass cases - is for me a beautiful representation of why in some ways, Tove Jansson was the ultimate children's writer.
She wasn't just a children's writer, of course, not by a long stretch - but she was one of the greatest artists to write children's books.
In a famous 1961 essay, “The Deceitful Writer of Children’s Books”, Jansson writes that she writes for children not because she is particularly interested in them, or because she wants to entertain or educate them, but much more because she needs to satisfy "the childishness in herself".
This is not emotional immaturity or arrested development, of course - but rather a profound connection as an adult with the intuitive world of childish make believe and play, and a sad awareness at its passing.
Born into a somewhat madcap household of artists, from an early age Jansson was drawing, writing and making, at a dizzyingly prolific rate. It was like a compulsion, and I think any writer would - at certain times - envy that inexhaustible drive to produce and create. She developed her craft in all disciplines over many years, but in the 1970's, was able to sit down and build a toy house for her Moomins just as she might have done as a child at the beginning of the century.
Moominland is the world through the eyes of a child, captured with the skill of an adult, a synthesis of pure-make believe and acute, uninhibited natural observation, a perfect marriage of pictures and words. And it is a world of mystery tinged with an ineluctable sadness.
"It was the end of August — the time when owls hoot at night and flurries of bats swoop noiselessly over the garden. Moomin Wood was full of glow-worms, and the sea was disturbed. There was expectation and a certain sadness in the air, and the harvest moon came up huge and yellow. Moomintroll had always liked those last weeks of summer most, but he didn’t really know why.” (Finn Family Moomintroll)
The Moomins are popular worldwide, very accessible stories with pictures for readers young and old, with a warm and human cast of family characters, but the Moominvalley with its Hattifatteners and the Groke is also a strange, and occasionally frightening place - just like growing up. The mysteries of the wild country beyond are never far away:
“The very last house stood all by itself under a dark green wall of fir-trees, and here the wild country really began. Snufkin walked faster and faster straight into the forest. Then the door of the last house opened a chink and a very old voice cried: ‘Where are you off to?’ ‘I don’t know,’ Snufkin replied. The door shut again and Snufkin entered his forest, with a hundred miles of silence ahead of him.”
The genius of Jansson is her ability to take children so simply and so naturally on exciting night journeys down mysterious paths, never to deny the human impulse to grow and to wander - even if gallons of milk, berries and buns will always be waiting in a warm Moominhouse on your return.
The elegant drawings and poetic prose of the Moomins tread the finest of paths between an enticing retreat of warmth, family eccentricity and humour - that we know cannot endure forever - and the mysterious unknowable forest beyond. It's a path every child must take one day, and who better to guide you down that road than a Moomin? Which other cast of creatures so gracefully demonstrate the wonder, mystery and sadness of growing up?
If it is childish to memorialise childhood with such imagination and feeling, whether through a miniature blue house or the pages of a book, then let's always try and write for the childishness in ourselves.
Queen Victoria's Bathing Machine is a new, non-fiction picture book by Gloria Whelan, superbly illustrated Nancy Carpenter. Whelan, who is now in her 90s, is the author of several books for young readers, many of which are historical fiction that take place all over the world. While I have only read a handful of her books, I have loved and been moved by each and every one. You can read my
We have a brand new Book Giveaway for your very own autographed copy of a picture book biography (well, a real-life slice of life) of Golda Meir--just published! Details at the bottom of this post.
Happy Poetry Friday! Thank you, Renee, of No Water River, for hosting today! The link to Barbara Krasner's poem, "The Circle of Life," on a site which invites contributions of poetry and prose, is below ~
Today, we welcome author, teacher, blogger, historian, poet and conference organizer Barbara Krasner into our cozy cabin for a cuppa java.
I first met Barbara online, as she was single-handedly organizing the Conference on Jewish Story, held this May in New York. She invited me to be on the children's panel; it was an adventure and an honor to participate.
Barbara’s interests, accomplishments and energies are unending. She began writing short stories when she should have been paying attention in SAT prep classes! She majored in German and spent her junior year in Germany. Then she spent 30 years in corporate America...but the writing bug never left her. (Can anyone relate? Me, me!)
"Even at the age of nine, little Golda Meir was known for being a leader. As the president of the American Young Sisters Society, she organizes her friends to raise money to buy textbooks for immigrant classmates. It’s not easy, and when her initial plan doesn’t work, she’s forced to dream even bigger to find a way to help her community. A glimpse at the early life of Israel’s first female Prime Minister, this story is based on a true episode in the early life of Golda Meir."
Welcome, Barbara! What's a common problem your students have and how do you address it? A common problem my students have is the fear of digging deep. To compensate, they produce redundant narrative that only skims the surface. I challenge them, as my mentors have challenged me, to take a deep breath and dive in.
Thank you--just reading that made me take a deep breath. Would you share a favorite writing exercise with our readers?
I am a certified Amherst Writers & Artists workshop leader and I really believe in the power of writing to timed prompts. A classic prompt is to recall a photograph and begin your writing session with, "In this one..."
Another favorite is to write about something hanging on the wall in a room of your childhood family home.
I want to try those! What one piece of advice do you have for teachers?
Look for the strength of each student and build on that.
Barbara Krasner ~ teaching, speaking, inspiring ~
What's on the horizon for you?
I'm working on some Holocaust-related short stories and a couple of picture book biographies. In my master's program (Barbara's currently a candidate for an MA in Applied Historical Studies), I am looking for ways to take my academic requirements and turn them into literary projects. A new history book about my hometown of Kearny, New Jersey is an example of this. I am promoting my picture books this fall, such as my "What Would Goldie Do?" program at Jewish community centers (JCCs) and synagogues. I also hope to be teaching Writing Your Family History at my local JCC.
WOW, Barbara! And since it's Poetry Friday in the Kidlitosphere, do you have a poem you'd like to share with our readers?
Here's a link to my poem, The Circle of Life on The Jewish Writing Project site, which invites contributions of poems and more.
We'll close with a preview of Goldie Takes a Stand! (enter for a chance to win it below):
Thank you so much for coming by today, Barbara!
Book Giveaway Enter for a chance to win an autographed copy of Goldie Takes a Stand! This giveaway ends on September 26.
Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter via 1, 2, or all 3 options specified. If you choose the "comment" option, share a comment to today's blog post about your experience with writing or teaching historical fiction. And please include your name in your comment, if it's not obvious from your comment "identity." (If you prefer, you may submit your comment via email to: teachingauthors [at] gmail [dot] com.)
"Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement." ~ Golda Meir
Rated by the British Medical Journal as one of the top 15 breakthroughs in medicine over the last 150 years evidence-based medicine (EBM) is an idea that has become highly influential in both clinical practice and health policy-making. EBM promotes a seemingly irrefutable principle: that decision-making in medical practice should be based, as much as possible, on the most up-to-date research findings. Nowhere has this idea been more welcome than in psychiatry, a field that continues to be dogged by a legacy of controversial clinical interventions. Many mental health experts believe that following the rules of EBM is the best way of safeguarding patients from unproven fads or dangerous interventions. If something is effective or ineffective, EBM will tell us.
But it turns out that ensuring medical practice is based on solid evidence is not as straightforward as it sounds. After all, evidence does not emerge from thin air. There are finite resources for research, which means that there is always someone deciding what topics should be researched, whose studies merit funding, and which results will be published. These kinds of decisions are not neutral. They reflect the beliefs and values of policymakers, funders, researchers, and journal editors about what is important. And determining what is important depends on one’s goals: improving clinical practice to be sure, but also reaping profits, promoting one’s preferred hypotheses, and advancing one’s career. In other words, what counts as evidence is partly determined by values and interests.
Let’s take a concrete example from psychiatry. The two most common types of psychiatric interventions are medications and psychotherapy. As in all areas of medicine, manufacturers of psychiatric drugs play a very significant role in the funding of clinical research, more significant in dollar amount than government funding bodies. Pharmaceutical companies develop drugs in order to sell them and make profits and they want to do so in such a manner that maximizes revenue. Research into drug treatments has a natural sponsor — the companies who stand to profit from their sales. Meanwhile, psychotherapy has no such natural sponsor. There are researchers who are interested in psychotherapy and do obtain funding in order to study it. However, the body of research data supporting the use of pharmaceuticals is simply much larger and continues to grow faster than the body of data concerning psychotherapy. If one were to prioritize treatments that were evidence-based, one would have no choice but to privilege medications. In this way the values of the marketplace become incorporated into research, into evidence, and eventually into clinical practice.
The idea that values effect what counts as evidence is a particularly challenging problem for psychiatry because it has always suffered from the criticism that it is not sufficiently scientific. A broken leg is a fact, but whether someone is normal or abnormal is seen as a value judgement. There is a hope amongst proponents of evidence-based psychiatry that EBM can take this subjective component out of psychiatry but it cannot. Showing that a drug, like an antidepressant, can make a person feel less sad does not take away the judgement that there is something wrong with being sad in the first place. The thorniest ethical problems in psychiatry surround clinical cases in which psychiatrists and/or families want to impose treatment on mentally ill persons in hopes of achieving a certain mental state that the patient himself does not want. At the heart of this dispute is whose version of a good life ought to prevail. Evidence doesn’t resolve this debate. Even worse, it might end up hiding it. After all, evidence that a treatment works for certain symptoms — like hallucinations — focuses our attention on getting rid of those symptoms rather than helping people in other ways such as finding ways to learn to live with them.
The original authors of EBM worried that clinicians’ values and their exercise of judgment in clinical decision-making actually led to bad decisions and harmed patients. They wanted to get rid of judgment and values as much as possible and let scientific data guide practice instead. But this is not possible. No research is done without values, no data becomes evidence without judgments. The challenge for psychiatry is to be as open as possible about how values are intertwined with evidence. Frank discussion of the many ethical, cultural, and economic factors that inform psychiatry enriches rather than diminishes the field.
Reading opens the doors that take the child beyond all borders.
From castles and great forests,
To ocean storms, island kingdoms,
Talking animals and magic stones.
From fear and darkness,
To light and peace.
For a child who has found the stories,
There are no borders to the imagination
. The illustration, The Defense of the Sampo, from the Finnish Kallevala, is by Akseli Gallen-Kallela ................................
Reimagining Mythology, Tolkien's Heritage and Movies
Peter Jackson has become the primary reinventor of J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth Sagas. He has brought his vision of Tolkien to millions of people, young and old. His medium is film, and on December 17, 2014, the latest of his epicHobbitmovies, The Battle of the Five Armies, will thunder its way to movie theaters around the globe.
Tolkien, in turn, was inspired by and borrowed from mythology including Beowulff, the Norse Fables,and the Finnish Kalevala.
In the National Geographic News, Brian Handwerk, in an article entitled Lord Of The Rings Inspired by an Ancient Epic, wrote: "While the author's imagination was vast, Tolkien's world and its cast of characters do have roots in real-world history and geography, from the world wars that dominated Tolkien's lifetime to the ancient language and legends of Finland."
Tolkien, in his letters, said: "The germ of my attempt to write legends of my own to fit my private languages was the tragic tale of the hapless Kullervo in the Finnish Kalevala."
"After all, I believe that legends and myths are largely made of 'truth', and indeed present aspects of it that can only be received in this mode; and long ago certain truths and modes of this kind were discovered and must always reappear."
Tolkien also wrote that he was, in many ways, a Hobbit.
"Fairy tales since the beginning of recorded time, and perhaps earlier, have been a means to conquer the terrors of mankind through metaphor.”-- Jake Zipes, professor emeritus, University of Minnesota, translator, author of many books, including The Irresisitable Fairy Tale: The Cultural and Social History of a Genre. The illustration of Kullervo is by Akseli Gallen-Kallela
Adults Are Crossing the Borders of Imagination Into Teenland
In September, 2012,Bowker published the results of a survey that revealed that adults were buying YA (young adult) books in startling numbers. The article said that 55% of YA book purchases were by adults and 78% of those adults acknowledged that the books were for their own reading. The turning point was said to be the Hunger Games movie and the popular Hunger Games book trilogy.
Controversy has followed the article: should so many adults be reading books written for 12-17 year olds?
My interest is primarily in younger readers; however, it seems the age lines today are blurred for all. Movies seem to have precipitated the situation, and the children's market today also crosses into Teenland. How many kids today, who went to see films like E.T., Harry Potter, and the Lion King, are now going to the Hunger Games, Divergence and the Lord of the Rings Saga? I don't know the answer, but I do know their is a huge degree of difference in the violence quotient.
In defense of adults reading YA, there is respected YA Author (Cut, Purple Heart, Sold) Patricia McCormick:"Why are so many adults reading young adult books? No need to page Dr. Freud. This isn’t about the guilty pleasures of communing with one’s inner child...It’s because adults are discovering one of publishing’s best-kept secrets: that young adult authors are doing some of the most daring work out there. Authors who write for young adults are taking creative risks -- with narrative structure, voice and social commentary -- that you just don’t see as often in the more rarefied world of adult fiction."
Also defending YA books and encouaging adults to read them is popular YA author( Deviant, Orgins, Sleeping Beauty, Vampire Slayer) Maureen McGowan. She concluded her Kindle post with this thought: "I could list more reasons why I love YA but, bottom line, I’ve found most books in this category to be engaging, entertaining, thoughtful and well written."
On the other side of the controversy, journalist (Atlantic, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe) Ruth Grahamcreated a firestorm when she wrote an article in Slate with this headline: "Read whatever you want. But you should be embarrassed when what you're reading was written for children."
Here are excerpts from Ms. Graham's article..."I know, I know: Live and let read. Far be it from me to disrupt the “everyone should just read/watch/listen to whatever they like” ethos of our era. There’s room for pleasure, escapism, juicy plots, and satisfying endings on the shelves of the serious reader... But if they are substituting maudlin teen dramas for the complexity of great adult literature, then they are missing something...
But even the myriad defenders of YA fiction admit that the enjoyment of reading this stuff has to do with escapism, instant gratification, and nostalgia. As the writer Jen Doll, who used to have a column called 'YA for Grownups,' put it in an essay last year, 'At its heart, YA aims to be pleasurable.'"
Pioneers In An Untrodden Forest
Seth Lerer points out that the comment, "We are pioneers in an untrodden forest" made in 1884 to his staff by James A.H. Murray, as presiding editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, also describes how the Grimms felt about their work in publishing their "nursery and household tales".
Lerer goes on to quote Wilhelm Grimm, who, in referring to these tales, wrote, "that these were the 'last echoes of pagan myths...A world of magic is opened up before us, one which still exists among us in secret forests, in underground caves, and in the deepest sea, and it is still visible to children...(Fairy tales) have existed among the people for several centuries.' And what we find inside those secret forests, caves and seas...(are) fairy tales full of families, full of parents who bequeath a sense of self to children, full of ancestors and heirs whose lives play out, in little, the life of a nation from its childhood to maturity."
The forest plays a very prominent part in the 1812 edition of the Grimm's tales as it did in the lives and imagination of people. Two thirds of the 210 tales take place in the forest. It is also worth noting that the lives of all people in the land of the Grimm's was in was in constant turmoil and change during the time that the Grimm's collected, wrote, and published their books. The quote, above, is from Seth Lerer's book, Children's Literature, A Reader's History from Aesop to Harry Potter.
The top illustration is by Julius Diez for Sleeping Beauty; the other illustration is by Hermann Vogel for the Three Little Gnomes in the Forest. Both tales are from the brothers Grimm 1812 edition of fairy tales.
“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them” - Antoine de Saint-Exuprey
The True Magic of the Imagination
This was the headline on BREEZES FROM WONDERLAND, Maria Tatar's Internet forum for storytelling, folklore , and children's literature.
Ms Tatar wrote about a New York Times report, Harry Potter Casts a Spell for Tolerance. Written by Annie Murphy Paul, the article reports on a study that describes the "Potter Effect", citing it as an example of how reading can positively influence young minds regarding bigotry and intolerence...
"...The study, which will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, concludes by noting that the Harry Potter novels may be especially effective at increasing the tolerance of their readers precisely because they concern themselves with made-up categories like Muggles and Mudbloods. More overt attempts to change readers’ views about real-life groups, Mr. Vezzali and his co-authors note, could prompt defensive or resistant reactions. By identifying with the fictional character of Harry Potter, and by drawing connections, conscious or not, between his treatment of people different from him and their own attitudes toward stigmatized groups, readers of these novels work their own kind of wizardry: the magic of the literary imagination."
Ms Tatar comments:"Is anyone surprised that children’s books, which often feature outsiders, quirky kids, adventurous orphans, and nomadic heroes turn us into more empathetic people in real life?"...she continues her comment with a related personal anecdote from her own childhood.
A long-time therapy dog owner, advocate, coordinator, and volunteer Nancy George-Michalson, sent us news of the latest Angel On A Leashevent to benefit the Ronald McDonald house in New York where children from around the world with cancer -- and their families -- come to stay when receiving hospital care..."Here a child with cancer plays and grows, surrounded by other children and families sharing similar experiences, supported each day by volunteer therapy dog teams waiting to meet and greet them as they return from a grueling day at the hospital. "
Ronald McDonald House New York - Angel On A Leash
3rd Annual “Family Fun Dog Walk”...a day to support therapy dogs and the courageous children who love them.
This fun-filled event is a 2k walk open to the public, with proceeds from funds raised going to support children battling cancer, and the therapy dog teams that bring smiles to their faces on a daily basis. There will be raffle baskets and prizes for the best dressed big dog and the best dressed little dog. Participants must be registered walkers and in attendance to win. David Frei and Cat Greenleaf will serve as the judges.
Date: Saturday September 20, 2014, Rain or Shine. Time: 10 AM-12PM. Location: Carl Shurz Park, East End Avenue, 84th St promenade entrance
"You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
"Sometimes,' said Pooh, 'the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”
“The things that make me different are the things that make me.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
Penguin U.K. will issue this month a fiftieth-anniversary edition of Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” under its Modern Classics imprint. I find the cover design disturbing, inappropriate, and misleading.
In a very insightful New Yorkerarticle entitled, Meant For Kids, Margaret Talbotwrote about this cover, and the cross over book market. Here are excerpts:
"Why did the cover of a novel about five kids and a wonderful—if admittedly bizarre—candy-maker look like a scene from ‘Toddlers & Tiaras’? Commenters on Penguin’s Facebook page called it ‘creepy,’ ‘sexualized’ and ‘inappropriate garbage'... It seems likely that the Modern Classics cover of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is an example of a new trend: enticing older readers to buy books intended for children and young adults by publishing them with covers that look sophisticated. Read it on the subway, read it in a bar—no need to feel sheepish..."
How do you explain loyalty to children? Does loyalty have a place in the world outside? Is it a virtue? Does loyalty bring trouble and problems? Or is it rewarding?
Does loyalty have a beginning and an end? Where can a child find examples of loyalty that they can experience and understand? In stories? In daily life? In computer games?
Dogs offer a wonderful way for a child to understand loyalty. Dogs are the embodiment of loyalty and a story with dogs can illustrate loyalty...
Suppose it is long, long ago...A sister and brother, are on a journey that will take them home. They have stopped for the night and are sleeping at a campsite in the woods. They have been riding on horseback, accompanied by two soldiers who are believed to be loyal to their father, and by their two dogs.
Betrayal...But the men are not loyal. They are traitors and the children find that they have been kidnapped. The children's dogs appear to be dead.
Thus begins a hard journey for the children, through the mountains to the land of the Forest people. There the children are imprisoned in an old castle. Their father cannot rescue them, because he does not know where his children have been taken. The children are dismayed and frightened.
Loyal Dogs...Until one cold foggy night, with the forest and the castle enveloped in mist, the sound of howling dogs is heard by the imprisoned children. Their dogs, their loyal dogs, have found them. Hope returns. And thus unfolds the story of the Castle In The Mist .
The illustrations above , from the book Castle In The Mist, are by Stella Mustanoja-McCarty
The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”
"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself Any direction you choose."
Borders Of The Imagination
The Boxtrolls are coming...
Alan Snow, author, designer, and illustratorcreated a 501 page illustrated fantasy story book, Here Be Monsters.I haven't seen the book, except on the Internet, but it looks rather amazing. This month , on the 26th of September, Laika Studios, creators of the excellentCoraline movie, will bringBoxtrolls, their reimagined film version of Here Be Monsters, to movie theaters. The trailer (link below) is very enticing. The stop-motion annimation looks to be riding the borders of imagination.
Five Canine Heroes Receive Recognition and Rewards
I belatedly learned about these meaningful Awards. Here is an excerpt from the article by Cheslie Pickett in the Canine Chronicle that tells the story...:
"The AKC® Humane Fund announced today the winners of the 15th annual AKCHumane Fund Awards for Canine Excellence (ACE). These awards honor five inspirational dogs that have made significant contributions to their communities and truly exemplify the power of the human-canine bond. One award is presented in each of the following five categories: Exemplary Companion, Uniformed Service K-9, Search and Rescue, Service and Therapy dog. This year’s winners include a faithful companion that saved her owner from a bear, a heroic K-9 (Bruno) that took a bullet in the line of duty, an international search and rescue traveler, a blind therapy dog bringing comfort to abused children and ACE’s first mixed breed winner, a service dog to a U.S. veteran raising awareness of the profound impact service dogs can have on trauma survivors." I found the summaries of each award winner to be rather awesome; each is shown in a photo, including the blind recued therapy dog.
The photo is of Bruno ("who took a bullet in the line of duty") and officer R.J. Young
Books to Have and to Hold
Author, journalst and Yale Professor, Verlyn Klinkenborg, wrote about the difference in reading an ebook as opposed to a physical book Here are excepts...
"I finish reading a book on my iPad — one by Ed McBain, for instance — and I shelve it in the cloud. It vanishes from my “device” and from my consciousness too. It’s very odd.
When I read a physical book, I remember the text and the book — its shape, jacket, heft and typography. When I read an e-book, I remember the text alone. The bookness of the book simply disappears, or rather it never really existed. Amazon reminds me that I’ve already bought the e-book I’m about to order. In bookstores, I find myself discovering, as if for the first time, books I’ve already read on my iPad.
All of this makes me think differently about the books in my physical library. They used to be simply there, arranged on the shelves, a gathering of books I’d already read. But now, when I look up from my e-reading, I realize that the physical books are serving a new purpose — as constant reminders of what I’ve read. They say, “We’re still here,” or “Remember us?” These are the very things that e-books cannot say, hidden under layers of software, tucked away in the cloud, utterly absent when the iPad goes dark.
This may seem like a trivial difference, but that’s not how it feels"...
Planet Of The Dogs Is In China The publishers, Chongxianguan Books of Beijing, have created new illustrations and covers. The stories remain the same.
Complimentary copies of the English version of the award-winniong Planet Of The DogsSeries are available for therapy reading dogowners and organizations. Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Simple Ways to Test Dog Intelligence
Here's an excerpt from Nancy Houser's outstanding blog for dog owners (and dog lovers).
As well as being ‘man’s best friend’, dogs with excellent dog intelligence are capable of performing some pretty amazing feats. We’ve all heard stories about our canine companions alerting their masters to fires. Or, protecting their owner from an attacker or intruder. And then there are those who are visually impaired who rely on ‘seeing eye dogs’ in order to go about their daily lives. A dog’s intelligence is measured by its ability to think and problem solve...Here is a link to read it all: Dog Intelligence The illustration by Stella Mustanoja McCarty is from Snow Valley Heroes, Vol 3 in the Planet Of The Dogs Series
Sponsors of Banned Book Weekinclude the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Association of American Publishers, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the National Association of College Stores, the National Coalition Against Censorship, the National Council of Teachers of English, PEN American Center and Project Censored.
Thoughts on the Borders of the Imagination
"We don’t need a list of rights and wrongs, tables of dos and don’ts: we need books, time, and silence. Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but Once upon a time lasts forever.”
"After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”
“There are some themes, some subjects, too large for adult fiction; they can only be dealt with adequately in a children’s book.”
Phillip Pullman, Author of His Dark Materials (trilogy), Fairy Tales from the BrothersGrimm and many more.
Empowerment Through Rescue
by CA Wulff
There’s a saying in rescue that saving one dog won’t change the world, but it will surely change the world for that one dog. Except that just isn’t true. The truth is that saving one dog most certainly changes the world. It changes everything.
First, it changes YOU, because once you save an animal it awakens an empowerment in you. You come to realize that you can affect change wherever you apply yourself. Secondly, it changes the world for that animal, who has been given a second chance at life…and there is nothing more joyous and grateful than an animal who has been saved. They become loving and faithful companions. They protect and comfort their families.
They teach the children in the family to love and respect animals. They bring hours of joy and laughter to their people keeping them healthier in body, mind and spirit.
And there is always the possibility that a dog you save will become a service dog, or a therapy dog or a search and rescue dog. There’s no way to measure the impact you can have by advocating for just one animal.
"I wonder if I've been changed in the night. Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I'm not the same, the next question is, "Who in the world am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle."
-Lewis Carrol, Alice In Wonderland
A Rescue Story from the Rescue People at Sunbear Squad
Meet "Muddy Puppy," named because he was found in a muddy ditch in the pouring rain. Hit by a car and with two painfully broken back legs, someone did care enough to try to protect him from the driving rain with an old jacket. But not enough to offer him relief from his painful suffering and overwhelming fear. Instead they just drove off leaving this 4-month-old puppy to slowly and painfully die all alone. All hope gone...Visit Sunbear Squad and read the upbeat ending to this story from Oklahoma Beagle Rescue
What should you do, what can you do, if you see an injured dog or one in distress? You can be prepared...Sunbear Squad offers guidelines, wallet cards, and information.
"A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before sitting down -- Robert Benchley
There is an excellent chance that a situation such as this could cause a wee bit of anxiety and might even make a person feel, ahem, well… darn right antsy.
So one must remember to remain calm. You see, the attention span of an ant is quite short so feigning nonchalance is best. In roughly 10 to 15 minutes the novelty of wearing your jeans will have warn off. The bored ant will soon run along to find spilt milk or some sugar to walk through.
Possession of your pants and your sanity, regained!
Please welcome Angela Dennis to the virtual offices today!
Thanks so much to Julie and Manga Maniac Cafe for hosting me today. Brenna, the heroine in my Shadow Born books, has had a pretty crazy life, and that life has left her with a few personality quirks. That being said, let’s find out….
Five Things You Would NEVER Find in Brenna’s Bedroom
5. Flowers or Plants. Although she’s a healer, Brenna has the brownest thumb imaginable. She’s tried for years to keep a garden in the courtyard of the boarding house, but between the horrible soil and her tendency to forget plants need water, nothing has managed to survive.
4. A picture of her and her father. At this point, he’s made three attempts to kill her, he’s not going to show up on her nightstand.
3. A bottle of synthetic blood. She’s a Shadow Bearer, not a vampire. Blood doesn’t make her world go round, it just refuels her magic. Only pure Shadow Bearer blood will work, but she can live without it, although, now that she has Gray, there’s no need.
2. Anything that reminds her of her home world. Brenna has no desire to return home. Any love or loyalty she had to that plane was stripped away when the Council banished her to Earth. She’ll lose Gray if she doesn’t return after the war is over, but that’s a problem for another century.
1. Keegan. No matter how hot he is, or how hard he might try, it’s NEVER going to happen. After all, Gray would kill him, and he’s too valuable an asset to the war.
Darkness embraced Brenna like a thick wool blanket. It wrapped around her, blocking the dim lamplight as she walked toward the seedy bar. Glass residue from the riots crunched beneath her leather boots. Mixed with snow, the bits of broken beer bottles and smashed windows glittered like an army of broken icicles. She breathed deeply, inhaling the cool night air. It smelled of sour beer and clove cigarettes and left a bitter taste on her tongue.
Shadows embraced the sides of the stone structure that housed the Dirty Ruby, one of the few multi-species bars in Denver proper. They stalked across the snow and mixed with the night to merge into a black mass. From its midst stepped a man. Well over six feet, he moved with grace in contrast to his size. The moonlight played across his face, highlighting his chiseled features.
Brenna’s pulse quickened and she took an involuntary step forward. Self-conscious, she ran a hand through her copper curls, freeing them from the careless bun. The thick strands streamed down her back like fire as she moved, her breath coming in quick harsh bursts. She slipped off her black leather duster and draped it across her arm. Without it the tight black corset left her taut belly and back exposed, but she didn’t feel the cold. She never did around Gray.
“Four demons. Thirty humans. Keep the casualties to a minimum.” Brenna brushed past him, tossing him her coat. “I’ll bring them out. You send them back to hell.”
“Hell?” Gray grinned. His teeth gleamed in the moonlight. “You speak human now?”
She shrugged. “When in Rome.”
Her back to him, she turned toward the freshly white-washed door. But before she could move, he had her shoulder in a vise grip. His fingers twined in the hair at the base of her skull. His breath hot against her cheek. “I know your other partners let you boss them around.” He turned her to face him. “I’m not them.”
He stepped forward, forcing her back. They moved in an awkward dance until her ass hit the stone wall. Trapped, she stared at him, wary. A shadow fell across his face hiding all but his piercing violet eyes.
“We enter together. Once they’re dead, we leave.” He stepped back, loosening his hold.
“Won’t remember a thing.” He crushed his lips to hers even as he slid the duster across her shoulders. “And I’m not your coat rack.” Releasing her, he stepped back.
Brenna rubbed the back of her hand against her bruised lips. Gray would be the death of her.
If she didn’t kill him first.
She leaned against the wall to regain her bearings as he stepped into the light. He moved like a jungle cat. Ropes of strong muscles slid beneath his bronzed skin as his wild untapped power stirred beneath the surface. Akin to a force of nature, he would never go unnoticed. Even incognito, only a fool wouldn’t recognize Gray was dangerous. He was a beautiful, powerful thing to behold. And he was hers.
If she wanted him.
His black hair shimmered in the pale lamplight. It was tied with the usual brown leather strap, but a few pieces had slipped free. They curled around his face, softening his features. The sight of him stirred memories of what they had been to each other. Memories she had struggled for nearly a hundred years to repress. But she still wanted him with a fervor that was both frightening and exhilarating.
A sigh slipped from her lips as she pushed off the wall to follow him into the bar. Wooden planks creaked beneath their feet as they stepped inside. The room was crammed wall-to-wall with sweaty bodies. Humans surged on the dance floor, moving in chaotic abandon. Brenna stripped off her duster. The heat from the wood stoves was overpowering. Sweat beaded on her forehead. It dribbled down her face, sliding across her bare skin to pool between her breasts.
She threw the duster on the seat of a red plastic booth then slid in beside it. Her leather pants moved across the slick fabric like silk as she took a quick inventory of the room. Humans clanked beer bottles together, their shouts drowning out the death metal band screeching in the far corner. She closed her eyes to focus and searched for her prey. It took several minutes, but she found what she was looking for. The stench of rotten flesh and brimstone. It was subtle, but unmistakable. The demon was here, but he wasn’t alone.
Her seat shifted as Gray slid into the booth beside her. “This is new. They don’t usually hunt together.” He tossed a muscular arm across her shoulders.
Brenna leaned into his body. Her head against his chest, she breathed him in. He smelled of sage and wood smoke. “I doubt they’re aware of each other. Demons are territorial. They don’t play nice, and they’re not that bright.”
Gray shrugged. “There’s a first time for everything.”
He brushed a stray curl from her face. Unable to resist, she closed her eyes and enjoyed the simple touch.
“You take the males. I’ve got the females.” His breath was hot against her skin.
Her body tightened. She pulled back, a false smile playing on her lips. Beneath it she cursed her inability to keep him at a distance, even on a job. With a quick nod, she tossed back the shot of whiskey he shoved across the table. She leaned into him, her hands pressed against his chest. “We’ll meet at the van.”
“Agreed.” Gray kissed her lips. “Sam knows the drill.”
She could still taste him as he walked away, and that treacherous part inside her yearned for more. The best way to blend in was to act like a couple, but they needed another option. She was already sexually frustrated, and the night had barely begun. But there was nothing more cathartic than a good hunt.
Brenna glanced at the demon. It lounged on a barstool, deep inside a human man around thirty. With a bored look, he watched as a young woman, her shirt in tatters on the dirty floor, straddled him. Her skirt hiked to her crotch, her body trembled as he drained her life force. A second woman stood behind him. Clad in tiny purple panties and a lace bra, she swayed to the music. Glassy eyed, breasts heaving, she waited her turn. It was disgusting.
It had been a human war that had ripped through the Veil between the planes of reality, and the humans had paid the price. Supernatural creatures, the humans now called deviants, had poured onto the Earthly plane, only to be trapped once the Veil had healed. The humans had managed to survive the onslaught by allying themselves with sympathetic deviants, but they had gotten too comfortable. And the demons were taking full advantage.
Brenna slammed the shot glass on the table. Time to play human.
About the book:
Everyone has a breaking point.
Shadow Born, Book 2
Her hundred-year penance lifted, Shadow Bearer Brenna Baudouin returns to the Earthly plane with her partner, Gray Warlow, to keep the peace between humans and supernatural creatures—and to prevent another apocalyptic war from happening.
The attraction between them is nearing a critical point, but their checkered history has left Brenna unable to trust either her heart or her instincts.
It’s chaotic business as usual until humans begin turning to statues of dust. There is no explanation, no sign of magical foul play or a biological toxin. The humans are convinced it’s the work of a deviant supernatural faction, twisting the knife in the already tense relationship between their species. Brenna and Gray agree—the deaths have a former comrade-turned-rogue stamped all over them.
In a race against time, they enlist the help of both friend and foe to save the human race and stop the impending civil war. Along the way, they are forced to come to terms with their past and decide, once and for all, whether they will come together or fall apart.
Warning: Contains a heroine who knows her weapons but not her own heart, an outbreak of supernatural proportions, copious bloodletting, and a race to save an endangered species—humans. All tied up in a tight bow of sexual tension.
Angela Dennis lives outside Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband, son and a sheltie with a hero complex. When she is not at her computer crafting stories, she can be found feeding her coffee addiction, playing peek-a-boo, or teaching her son about the great adventures found only in books.
*Please join Rose City Reader every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author's name. *Taken directly from Rose City Reader's Blog Page.
This week's book beginnings comes from LAST BREATH by Kimberly Belle.
"Some guy on Oprah last week said there is no such thing as an accidental lapse of memory. That every phone call you forget to return, every errand you forget to run on the way home is a whisper of your subconscious."
That first line drew me in immediately. I forget a lot of things lately. :)
"Later, Mary will trace the first signs of the Lord's displeasure back to a hot July morning in 1672 when she pauses on her way to the barn to watch the sun rise burnt orange over the meetinghouse. She feels a momentary sinking in her bowels as it flashes like fire through a damp haze, putting her mind in the terrors of hell."
It is an account of how folks had to live in Early, Puritan America. It was a good historical book.
What are you reading that you can't keep to yourself? :)
The Sun newspaper has teamed up with some of the most popular children’s authors and entertainers to introduce a new weekly feature encouraging parents to read with their children.
Specially written ten-minute stories from authors including David Walliams (Mr. Stink), former children's laureate Michael Morpurgo (War Horse) and Derek Landy (Skulduggery Pleasant) will be published in Saturday editions of The Sun.
The Get Kids Reading campaign is part of a wider Read On, Get On campaign with Save the Children that calls on the government, local organisations and parents to tackle illiteracy and get children reading.
David Dinsmore, Editor of The Sun, said: Illiteracy in Britain should be something our schoolchildren know only from the pages of their history books. Getting kids to read about things they're interested in is half the battle. With exclusive stories by top children¹s authors and free e-book offers, we will be helping parents find ways to make reading an easy everyday part of life.
Justin Forsyth from Save The Children said: We want every child to be given a fair and equal chance to learn to read well. We applaud The Sun for getting behind this campaign, and look forward to working with its readers to restore literacy to its rightful levels in the UK.
Other contributors who have supplied ten-minute reads are Susanna Reid, Rizzle Kicks and David Baddiel. The newspaper is also running a national competition to find the next budding children’s author with the winning story published as the final instalment of the series.
The Sun bus is visiting schools giving away books throughout October and free children’s e-books will be available to download for Sun members.
Disclaimer; I received no financial compensation for writing this post and have no material connection to the brands or products mentioned.
Autumn has definitely arrived in Somerset. The dahlias are at their best, and the apple trees are laden with fruit. Yesterday, we received a visit from a hummingbird hawk moth and could hardly believe our eyes! What on earth is it, we asked? A baby hummingbird? A bug? Terry rushed for his camera, and I rushed for the Internet! The moth was too quick for the camera, but the Internet revealed all.
According to the BBC Nature Website Hummingbird hawk-moths are found in Britain all summer long, especially in Southern parts and in Ireland (odd that this is the first one we’ve seen?) They beat their wings at such speed they emit an audible hum. Their name is further derived from their similar feeding patterns to hummingbirds. Hummingbird hawk-moths are strongly attracted to flowers with a plentiful supply of nectar such as honeysuckle and buddleia. The one we saw was flitting between our honeysuckle and a neighbour's buddleia…
The photographs that follow were all taken in our garden…
In the Other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires See the smoke trail!
Pleasant summer over And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes, The gray smoke towers.
Sing a song of seasons! Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer, Fires in the fall!
Autumn Fires by Robert Louis Stevenson (from A Child’s Garden of Verses, 1885)
Michael Seitz is a talented designer based out of Minneapolis with a knack for creating work that is smart, sophisticated and effortlessly timeless. After stints at Modernista! and space150, he now serves as a Senior Art Director at Colle + McVoy. Recently, Michael launched a new site which features a wonderful sampling of the award-winning projects he’s produced over the years. See all the good stuff here.
I always love getting mail from readers and I often get questions which, because I could talk/write/draw about running all day, I’m always happy to answer. The other awesome thing about bloggy-land and our cyber-culture is constantly making new friends. I enjoy hearing updates back from the runners I’ve ‘met’ after they’ve sent questions and it’s always cool to watch them go on to run healthy and set new PR’s.
Well because great minds think alike, or at least I’m certain questions I’m emailed are ones others probably have, I decided to share a few. If you’ve got a questions feel free to email me at: email@example.com
Without further adieu:
Q: Hi! Do you do your calf strengthening exercises before or after running or on days off? Just curious… I am 45 and returning after a 2 month hiatus. After a 14 day streak (7 @ 20 min and the 7 @ 30 min, my calfs are starting to get cranky)
Do you think everyday is good for us over 40 runners or should I be taking days off?
Thank you so much. Your pages are very helpful?
~ Dan in Portland, OR
A: Hi Dan! Thanks so much for your readership! First off, CONGRATS on finally getting back to running!!
As for your questions: I’d suggest doing the strengthening exercises every other day, but do lots of stretching every day. Always post-run on both of those, for the stretches do the standing wall stretch both standing with your leg straight and and then with a slight bend in the knee, that will work both calf muscles. Also do one with a heel drop, so stand on a stair and just let your heel drop, slowly working deep into that achilles stretch.
As for your running, every single person is different, so it’s a matter of figuring out your running ‘sweet spot’. For now, with being cautious for your cranky calfs, tailor back to 4-5 days and you can totally do some cross training that doesn’t bother it. Then as the calfs calm down, gradually try increasing total time running, be that either running longer OR with added days running. Aim for only increasing 10% total miles each week, then let those calfs be your guide.
Finally, don’t overlook that the body is a whole unit, so be sure to check out if you’ve got other imbalances that could be setting you up for calf pain, and stretch the whole body. Check your biomechanics and you might need some insoles for added support. Also, make sure you’re running in the right shoes and they’re not ‘dead’…you’d be surprised how ‘easy’ things like needing to replace your shoes can totally clear up your symptoms!
Hope that helps, sorry for the novel reply, and say HI to Portland for me…miss that awesome city!
Suddenly it is August again, so hot, breathless heat. I sit on the ground in the garden of Carmel, picking ripe cherry tomatoes and eating them. They are so ripe that the skin is split, so warm and sweet from the attentions of the sun, the juice bursts in my mouth, an ecstatic taste, and I feel that I am in the mouth of summer, sloshing in the saliva of August. Hummingbirds halo me there, in the great green silence, and my own bursting heart splits me with life.
First, there are the plants with no fruit. We wait and wait for the first green marbles to ripen.
Then, suddenly, there are so many that we just about can't eat them all. I consume them carelessly, by the handful.
Now that the end of the productive season is in sight, I am back to savoring every one.
Such is life, no? The longing, the time of plenty, the loss.
Happy Friday -- enjoy a tomato today, and head over to Renee's place at No Water River for the roundup.
As we have had quite a few scrapbook paper designs on P&P this week I thought I would finish off by featuring them as today's Friday eye candy post. We start with Echo Park Papers where I really liked their 'Simple Life' collection by Deena Rutter. Echo Park describe the collection as "full of soft water-colour images and day-in-the-life icons". As spotted online here at Echo Park.
Sir Donald Sinden most recently appeared on television as Sir Joseph Channing in Judge John Deed
Theatre, film and TV actor Sir Donald Sinden has died at his home aged 90 following a long illness, his son has confirmed.
He made his name on stage as a Shakespearean actor and appeared in more than 70 film and TV productions.
He had been suffering from prostate cancer for several years, and died of the disease at his home in Kent. Sir Donald's family described his death as a "huge loss" and asked for their privacy to be respected.
He was appointed a CBE in 1979 and then knighted in 1997 for his services to drama.
Although renowned for his theatre work, he was arguably best known to the masses for his TV appearances - in the sitcom Never the Twain and the BBC crime drama Judge John Deed.
His son, actor Marc Sinden, said that his career was "probably unique in our business".
The veteran actor often performed Shakespeare on stage and television
"He worked out that he only had a total of five weeks' unemployment between 1942 and 2008," said Mr Sinden of his father.
"Even though his death was expected, it is still a huge loss to his family and we, his brother, his son, his four grandchildren and great-grandchild will all miss his humour and knowledge.
"We would all like to share our appreciation for the Pilgrims Hospice and the carers that looked after him and us with such dignity, consideration and care until the end."
According to Marc Sinden, Sir Donald was the last person living to have known Oscar Wilde's lover Lord Alfred Douglas and was one of only two people to attend his funeral.
Sir Donald trained at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts in London.
He made his film debut in 1953 with The Cruel Sea and went on to make about 30 films.
He also performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company in leading roles such as King Lear and Malvolio in Twelfth Night.
Sir Roger Moore was among those to pay tribute to "a wonderful actor" with whom he had worked on 1975 film That Lucky Touch.
"Sad to wake up to news another mate has left us," wrote the former James Bond star on Twitter. "Awful week."
Speaking on Radio 4's Today programme, Dame Penelope Keith said he had been "a great man of the theatre" who was "always joy, always fun".
"A light's gone out, I feel," she continued. "Donald enjoyed life and enjoyed being an actor.
"He seemed to be ubiquitous. He could go from television to films to stage to telling stories on Parkinson. He had this ability to do anything."
Magician Paul Daniels also paid tribute, remembering Sir Donald as "a great actor but more than that, a truly nice gentleman with a wonderful sense of humour".
His rich and resonant voice was much admired and often imitated
(That's me playing my kazoo in celebration. You didn't know I was a kazoo virtuoso, did you? Just another of my many talents. I am also a whiz at removing toothpaste "mints" from the sink :))
Welcome back to another year of Perfect Picture Book Fridays!
I am so looking forward to all the new picture books we're going to share!
Parents, teachers, readers, and writers take note! There will be something for everyone to enjoy and learn from :)
I am thrilled to be presenting a wonderful book for the 2014-2015 PPBF kick-off, written by none other than your friend and mine, Laura Sassi. Since this is part of her blog tour, we are fortunate to have her here with us today, sharing her thoughts on the illustrations and how parents and teachers can engage their kids through them. She and her publisher, Zonderkidz, are also generously offering a giveaway, so one lucky reader will win a copy of this delightful book! (U.S. residents only - street address, no P.O. box - publisher's stipulation.) Laura's thoughts and the giveaway will appear below the book listing.
Title: Goodnight, Ark Written By: Laura Sassi Illustrated By: Jane Chapman Zonderkidz, August 2014, Fiction
Suitable For Ages: 4-8 (according to publisher, but I think ages 2-3 would enjoy it too :))
Themes/Topics: animals, bedtime, fear (of thunderstorms), language fun (rhyme, onomatopoeia)
Opening: "Beds are ready. Food is stored. Noah hollers, "All aboard!" Guests rush forward. Furry, scaled, woolly, feathered, swishy-tailed."
Brief Synopsis: Two by two, the animals board Noah's ark. They're supposed to settle down and go to sleep... but the heavy rain, thunder and lightning frighten them, so two by two they climb in bed with Noah! How much can one bed take? And will anybody get any sleep?
Links To Resources: talk about onomatopoetic words - what onomatopoetic words can kids think up? Words for eating sounds? Engine noises? Musical sounds?; Noah's Ark coloring page #1, Noah's Ark coloring page #2; talk about the bible story of Noah's ark - how is it like GOODNIGHT, ARK and how is it different?; talk about fears - is anyone afraid of storms? What other things are frightening? What can you do to feel safe and secure when you're frightened?; the animals are described as "furry, scaled, woolly, feathered, swishy-tailed" - what animals can you think of that are furry? scaled? etc.; please see Laura's thoughts below on ways to use the illustrations; here's the link to book trailer (in case it doesn't load properly here :)) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRsc-pKmKwM
Why I Like This Book: This is a delightful story - an entertaining, clever, child-friendly twist on the original Noah's ark. The text is the perfect length for young attention spans. The rhyme is filled with fun onomatopoetic words that kids will enjoy joining in with. The art is bright, colorful and engaging, filled with small details that will keep young listeners busy. But possibly my favorite thing is the skunks who have a whole story of their own going on in the illustrations. Start looking for them in the 4th spread and watch what happens :)
The Importance of Illustration - Thoughts From Laura Sassi
(A lesson for writers, and an opportunity for parents, teachers, and kids :))
Author Laura Sassi Visit her Blog Like her on FB Follow her on Twitter
One of the basic rules of picture book writing is that writers need to let the illustrations tell part of the story. I understood this in principle, but it wasn’t until I saw Jane Chapman’s delightful illustrations for GOODNIGHT, ARK that it really hit home. I mean, WOW! Her illustrations truly show that principle in action and are a great reminder for me, that as a writer, I should curb any lingering tendency to over-describe or over-prescribe my texts and let the illustrators do their jobs.
Here, then, are some great examples of how Jane used illustration to add humor and even extra plot details to GOODNIGHT, ARK. You’ll have to look carefully, for they are subtly sprinkled throughout her rich and colorful spreads:
1.Extra Animals: In addition to the key players, Jane adds extra animal guests. I found nine extra pairs. Can you?
2. Extra (funny!)provisions: The text makes no mention of specific provisions, leaving lots of room for Jane to add humorous extras like the canned cat food that rolls across the floor on the tippiest page in the story. It took me several reads to notice them! What other funny provisions do you see?
3. Underwear!: Every child I’ve read my story to has howled at Jane’s humorous inclusion of polka-dotted boxers quietly hanging on the line to dry. We’ve also chuckled over the toothbrush. Both nice touches, I would never have thought of. What other humorous extras can you find?
4. Extra Plot Layer: I don’t want to give away the most exciting part, but a certain pair of creatures is instrumental in restoring balance on the ark. In her illustrations, Jane brings out the personality of this pair in a darling way, even hinting through their gestures that they planned the whole stinky thing. I LOVE that extra layering!
Thanks, Laura! To see the other stops on Laura's blog tour (6 completed, 4 upcoming) please click HERE for the links.
And now for the giveaway! All you have to do to be entered is leave a comment telling us something funny about bedtime: a favorite trick for getting kids to bed? an unusual bedtime routine? something kids won't sleep without? some clever way kids try to get out of bedtime? Anything fun and bedtime-related. Bonus point if it includes an animal in some way :)
My example (which does not include animals except as occasional topics of discussion) is that when my son was little, he was never ready for sleep when he got in bed. Instead, he had what he called his "thinking time" which inevitably (Every. Night!) involved him getting up numerous times and coming to ask me such can't-wait questions as, "How much is infinity?", "Where does wind come from?", "How many teeth does a tyrannosaurus rex have?", and "Why is it called the Milky Way?" To which I would respond knowledgeably, "Uh......." :)
Please leave your comment by Sunday September 14 at 5 PM EDT. A winner will be chosen at random and announced next week. One note: the publisher stipulates that the winner must reside in the U.S. and have a street address, not a PO box, so please let us know if you're commenting just for fun and are not eligible.
PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you! Hurray! Can't wait!!
Each morning, my husband and I stumble bleary-eyed toward our espresso machine. His drink is a single shot, the shorter and blacker the better. My drink is an Americano, the taller and milkier the… Continue reading →
In The Moscow Times Kit Rees reports on an art installation at the Gogol House Museum, in Gogol Lives Again in New Wing of House.
The exhibit is called #АВТОРЖЖЕТ and looks pretty neat; certainly a welcome effort to push audiences to engage with an author in additional ways.
(Yes, my preferred method of engagement is to actually read the author's work, but if you're going to go visit an author's home or museum you're probably expecting something more than just the words.)