Celebrations, 22 April, 2016 – getting back into things


22 April, 2016 Celebrate The Small Things


This is my first post in over a month.  I took a ‘repairing lease’ and unwound.  We all have times where we have to sit down and catch our breath, clear the cobwebs from our minds, and try to gain a little peace.

It helped, and I am glad I bowed out for this time.

And now I am back and celebrating.

I am celebrating the literally hundreds of blog posts I missed in these past two plus months. And I must admit that returning at the height of A to Z gives me a lot of good things to read.  Since I will be with my mother this weekend, I’ll be doing some catching up.

I am celebrating a book I picked up to read, which led to some truly wonderful moments, and gave me an author  to admire.

I will be working on a review for it.

I am celebrating the fact that my mother has decided, with no pushing from her children, that she will move into a condo-type place with other people, many her friends, where she won’t be isolated, will have activities, and won’t be lonely.  I could wish that she were closer to me than 250 miles, but if it allows her to stay where she is accustomed to be, with people she knows, I can certainly drive 250 miles to see her.

The move will cause headaches, of course, but she will be in such a better place that I can’t object at all.  She said “I feel so badly that you have to drop everything and come down here.”  And I say, “I seem to recall you and Dad doing the same for me.”  It gets the point across.

Treasure your nearest and dearest.  Time passes too quickly, and it’s best to say the things you want to while they are here.

Now to go off to work and to read other posts.

Do visit Lexa Cain and her two delightful co-hosts L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits,

Buying Books – Reading List


I have been on my repairing lease for a month now, and it was the wisest thing I could have done.  No composing.  No wheel-spinning.  Catching my breath.  Catching up with people who mean a lot to me.  I will be phoning my oldest friend tonight and engaging in a long chat.  It has been too long since I have done that.My current project is a Beta-Read that is disgracefully overdue (dear Author: expect it Sunday) involving an author I love and a book that I want to review once it is published.

…and I have been catching up on books (remember reading them?  I’d forgotten).  I just ordered a copy of a book from the 1930’s, J. B. Priestley’s The Good Companions.  That should be arriving shortly.  A nice, fat hardback book to replace mine, which, having turned Australian, I believe, has ‘gone walkabout’.
At loose ends, but pleasantly so, I started looking at books.
And then, I must confess, I went a little crazy and ordered four of them:

In downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Lou works tirelessly to build her beloved yet struggling French restaurant, Luella’s, into a success. She cheerfully balances her demanding business and even more demanding fiancé…until the morning she discovers him in the buff—with an intern.

Witty yet gruff British transplant Al is keeping himself employed and entertained by writing scathing reviews of local restaurants in the Milwaukee newspaper under a pseudonym. When an anonymous tip sends him to Luella’s, little does he know he’s arrived on the worst day of the chef’s life. The review practically writes itself: underdone fish, scorched sauce, distracted service—he unleashes his worst.

The day that Al’s mean-spirited review of Luella’s runs, the two cross paths in a pub: Lou drowning her sorrows, and Al celebrating his latest publication. As they chat, Al playfully challenges Lou to show him the best of Milwaukee and she’s game—but only if they never discuss work, which Al readily agrees to. As they explore the city’s local delicacies and their mutual attraction, Lou’s restaurant faces closure, while Al’s column gains popularity. It’s only a matter of time before the two fall in love…but when the truth comes out, can Lou overlook the past to chase her future?

This sounds delicious, with most of the elements I love in a story.  Naturally, I ordered it in paperback.  Beware when you are browsing, whether online or in a brick and mortar bookstore.  You find other things that look good.  Like this:


Http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00LEYI3PKLittle Beach Street Bakery

A quiet seaside resort. An abandoned shop. A small flat. This is what awaits Polly Waterford when she arrives at the Cornish coast, fleeing a ruined relationship.

To keep her mind off her troubles, Polly throws herself into her favorite hobby: making bread. But her relaxing weekend diversion quickly develops into a passion. As she pours her emotions into kneading and pounding the dough, each loaf becomes better than the last. Soon, Polly is working her magic with nuts and seeds, chocolate and sugar, and the local honey—courtesy of a handsome beekeeper. Packed with laughter and emotion, Little Beach Street Bakery is the story of how one woman discovered bright new life where she least expected—a heartwarming, mouthwatering modern-day Chocolat that has already become a massive international bestseller.

Well, I have never read Chocolat, but this sounds very interesting, touching, and amusing, as did this one:

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. He lives alone, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. But when a mysterious package appears at the bookstore, its unexpected arrival gives Fikry the chance to make his life over–and see everything anew.



Bakeries and bookstores are somehow connected in my thoughts.  I don’t know whether it is because I view shelves overflowing with potentially fascinating, enjoyable, sob-worthy and laugh-inducing books as akin to a glass-front bakery counter that contains (at any given time): Italian pastries, French pastries, gorgeous loaves of golden-crusted handmade bread braided (like Challah), slashed (like baguettes), overflowing with butter (like croissants), filled with herbs or cheese or…  Well, you get the idea.  I have a terrible time leaving bakeries.

And true to form I saw this as I finished my order.

Heroic bookseller Laurent Letellier comes across an abandoned handbag on a Parisian street. There’s nothing in the bag to indicate who it belongs to, although there’s all sorts of other things in it. Laurent feels a strong impulse to find the owner and tries to puzzle together who she might be from the contents of the bag. Especially a red notebook with her jottings, which really makes him want to meet her. Without even a name to go on, and only a few of her possessions to help him, how is he to find one woman in a city of millions?

Ah, Paris…  What’s not to like?  I added it to the list.  I’ll consider it part of my Repairing Lease…  AFTER the beta-read!

…Which brings me to this lovely blog hop:Lexa Cain and her two wonderful co-hosts L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits.

Check them out and be prepared to smile!

Celebrations 20 March 2015 – Skipping (Reading Essentials)


Welcome to the March 20 edition of the Celebrating the Small Things blog hop, started by VikLit and now run by Lexa Cain, our fearless new leader and her two wonderful co-hosts L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge
Katie @ TheCyborgMom

Today I am celebrating a wonderful reading (and writing) tip:

 
SKIPPING

Skipping Through Books…

I have a terrible confession to make.   It has required a lot of courage on my part to take this step, especially on a public forum (more or less, since mine is not the most widely read blog by a long shot).   I don’t know too many people who would willingly admit to it, at least not in this modern world where people take pride in reading every single word of a book.  Certainly, only one other person I know will admit to this particular practice.

The thing is, the practice has enabled me to circumvent unpleasant things and get to the meat of a book and then, armed with confirmation of the book’s quality, go back and have another go at the unpleasant parts.  Since I have seen the whole of the book, I can now inspect its separate parts.

What am I talking about?

Skipping.

One of my favorite authors (C. S. Lewis) has this to say:

It is a very silly idea that in reading a book you must never “skip.” All sensible people skip freely when they come to a chapter which they find is going to be no use to them. In this chapter I am going to talk about something which may be helpful to some readers, but which may seem to others merely an unnecessary complication. If you are one of the second sort of readers, then I advise you not to bother about this chapter at all but to turn on to the next.

Lewis was speaking of philosophical and theological subjects, but I have found that the advice is equally valid to those who are trying to plow through a passage of purple prose that threatens to derail them (Dickens has a lot of this), or who are having heavy going with a particular scene that has no apparent bearing on the rest of the book, (Melville’s digression on the history of whaling in Moby Dick, for example) or the discussion of gardening practices in Lady Chatterly’s Lover, per the reviewer in Field and Stream.

Just look at what not skipping does to your face!

I have gone skipping through most of Dickens, happily thumbing past his description of the nasty things that the law did to the fellow who they decided had killed the happily late Marquis de Saint-Evremond, and his various disquistions in all his books on society, injustice and the method a gentleman should employ while chasing a runaway hat on a windy day.

With this useful, and previously forgotten, technique, I am able to sit down, pick up The Pickwick Papers , and read what I enjoy, going back when I have more fortitude to suffer through enjoy  the parts I skipped.

That’s worth celebrating, don’tcha think??

So what are you  celebrating?  (And have a wonderful weekend!)

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IWSG February 4, 2015




The Insecure Writer’s Support Group

The first Wednesday of the month is the time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. This is the once-a-month blog hop started by Alex J. Cavanaugh .

IWSG = Insecure Writers’ Support Group (click for the link).  We share our insecurities and support each other with empathy, sympathy and  practical suggestions. 

Visit the site – and visit the co-hosts:
Gwen Gardner, Dolorah, Sarah Foster, and M. Pax!

This month I’m talking about ‘Clone Wars’.  Not the Star Wars type.  I mean the fear people have about copying others.  Bec0ming too much like others, losing their sense of who they, themselves, are.  Getting overwhelmed by something that causes them to lose their voices.

We are told that writers need to read.  That writers who do not read end up shriveling up and blowing away.  So we must read.  Read a lot, read widely, read to enjoy, read to learn, read in order to learn how to write, much as an apprentice used to sit and watch the Master make a masterpiece.

And at the same time, we are cautioned against plagiarism.  Now, I am absolutely against plagiarism.  I have seen some shocking examples lately from groups that expose plagiarism.  Often, someone has cut and pasted something from fanfiction.  You can’t do things  like that.  It is illegal, immoral and stupid.  But what of the person who encounters a way of looking at things, a way of describing things, that he or she embraces wholeheartedly and seeks to imitate.  Not copy: imitate.

 

But what if you find something so overpoweringly fabulous, you end up lost in it, overwhelmed by it,  transfixed by it to the point that you can’t say what you want to say, feel as you think you ought.  You are stunned, almost like someone who has fallen in love at first sight.  I remember the almost stammering reaction I had to the magnificent end of the third episode of Star Wars  (not the prequels – don’t get me started on them).  I felt breathless.

So…  it could be bad.  But it could be good.  Okay, I get that – but why is it so important?  What could I possibly gain from that – and what do I stand to lose?
 
What do you stand to lose?
 
I think of the great books I’ve read, some of which are actually acknowledged to be great books. Watership Down, Eagle in the Snow, The Lord of the Rings, The Rose of Old St. Louis (not a classic book, but an indispensable), The Dean’s Watch, Green Dolphin Street,  and many more.  They made me see things with new eyes, to stand back and evaluate how I felt about tings, what moved me.  Some left me breathless.  With each of them I felt as though I were looking at my world through new eyes. 
Did I feel overwhelmed?  Not really.  I think it was more a feeling of finding what was right, what was true. 
I found a quote I love:

“Expose yourself to excellence, and you will be excellent. Expose yourself to mediocrity, and you will be mediocre. Read the right books, watch the right shows, eat the right foods and engage with the right people. The rest is just a distraction from excellence.”

Celebrations, July 25, 2014 – Reading


Welcome to VikLit ‘s blog hop, celebrating the things we tend to overlook, that make our lives richer.

The information on the hop is below.  Why don’t you join us? 

Today I am celebrating catching up.  The past four weeks have been too crowded to accomplish many of the things I had wanted to do, including keeping up with my blogging friends and holding up my end of a promise. 


So I am celebrating sitting back and reading.  And commenting.

It should be most enjoyable.

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