Friday, January 19, 2018

Celebrating Art, Writing, Blogging, and Breaks from Alll Three

I'm celebrating the "art spirit" this week. Yesterday was Art Club again, but no pictures of their work yet, because the kids got so fixated on their little masterpieces that they didn't finish in time and are going to finish them next week. I love this class. I love their commitment. Parents came to pick them up, and stood around waiting, while the kids hunched over their easels, until I finally said, "Let's make next week a finish-up week," so they (and I) could go home. These are the new easels we have this year, thanks to the South Natomas Community center. We purchased them at University Art Supplies on J Street for an unbelievably affordable price. Then I used the backs of art tablets and clips to provide a solid backing for their work. They can clip the canvas to it and have a stable surface to work on.

I'm also celebrating being back to work on a novel I started years ago that involves a ghost. I got through the whole story once, but then bogged down half way through the re-write because of a character who took on more importance and who would change many scenes, and I hadn't envisioned those scenes. So it's been cooking this long while. This week I've been working on the characters' back stories and also different kinds of timelines: one for simple events that took place in the world around them (politics, disasters, etc.) that some would remember, and then the general timeline of events plus births & deaths of characters, and then the timeline of the story itself, when it starts, when it ends, and marking birthdays celebrated or holidays and a funeral that occur within that space, ages of the various characters at the time of the story's present. It's a lot of work before I start the new rewrite, but it feels wonderful, because all the characters have come alive for me again. I feel like they are right next door — although in another century.

I'm also celebrating that I feel so much more focused after a long writing "drought" where nothing was happening. That's right. No writing. No blogging. Just the minutiae of everyday life. It seems to have been beneficial.

How about you? What are you celebrating this week? Are you working on a WIP? Enjoying respite from your writing projects? Discovering new hobbies? Just taking it easy? Any one of those can be so enriching.

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

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Celebrating My Students' Landscapes Thursday

Thursday we worked on landscapes in Art Club. These were more or less "pre" landscapes, in that I took the students step by step in a demo, mixing shades of blue in the sky, instead of using solid

blue from the bottle; making  texture in clouds and treetops, instead of round blobs of solid white or green,, and creating highlights and shadows on                             on treetops and fields by streaking in blue and yellow to let the eye mix the color green. This was in preparation for next week's lesson, when we will use landscapes by the Impressionists for inspiration. These kids always run with the lesson, as you can see. Students are normally 8-to 12, but this year I have a returning student who is 16 and a newcomer who is 7. The 7-year-old did the lower right hand picture in the second set.

No matter how tired I may be toward the end of the week, these students always make me feel like celebrating at the end of the lesson. they seem to give me that extra boost of energy.

Celebrate the Small Things  is a blog hop co-hosted by Lexa Cain at: Lexa Cain,  L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge , and Tonja Drecker @ Tidbits Blog(You can go to any of these sites to add your name to the links, if you want to participate.)
How about you? Do young people inspire you? Do you get rejuvenated by contact with young people? What are you celebrating this week? 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Getting to Know Mark Noce, Author of Dark Winds Rising

First of all, many thanks to Mark for taking out time from his busy life for this interview. I did an earlier interview with him regarding his first book, Between Two Fires. (You can read it HERE. ) 

Now that the awaited sequel, Dark Winds Rising, is to be released tomorrow, here's a  closer look into his writing history and process. 

How young were you when you first started writing fiction?

Honestly, as far back as I can remember. Even before I could properly write I remember making little books with crayon pictures and stapling it together in preschool. I’ve always loved stories and always will.

When did you know or decide you wanted to be an writer/author?

I’m not sure it was ever a conscious decision, it’s simply me being me. I’ve always had these stories coming out of me, and figured that sooner or later they’d end up in print.

      Has fiction always been your specialty, or do you also write poetry?

I love writing novels, poetry, you name it. It’s all part of the wider artistic canvas. I truly believe that living life itself is a work of art, so everything we do is a form of story-making.

Have you written any books for children?

Not yet, although I make up plenty of bedtime stories for my kids, so I’ll probably have to eventually write some of those down too.

You’ve written two books about Medieval Wales and a spy story about WWII.

Yup, and I’ve got another Viking story in the mix as well.

What got you interested in Welsh history?

I’m interested in all eras of history, but I think that part of what drew me to this time period was the lack of writing that had been done on the subject. I found it all so fascinating and couldn’t believe more people hadn’t written about this place and time in more detail.

What got you interested in WWII?

I’ve always loved murder mysteries, especially British ones, so combining that with London during the Blitz was just too much fun to resist.

Who was/were your favorite author/s when you were a kid?

I really enjoyed those “I Can Read” books as a little kid, such as Sam the Minuteman. I’ve always loved history books and have also been reading about the American Civil War since I was pretty young.

Who is/are your favorite author/s now?

So many to choose from. I’m a big fan of Lawrence Durrell, simply for his incredible ability to write in such magnificent language. Tolkien is of course fun, and I was heavily influenced by The Mists of Avalon as well. Shakespeare and Homer are favorites of course too. The list goes on J

Are you working on a new novel at this time? If so, is it a new book in your Welsh series? A new spy novel? Something else?

I’ve got a few projects in the works. I’m really enjoying exploring historical murder mysteries as a genre, so you can expect more WWII era stories to come as well. But I like to keep the future pretty wide open. Often times I don’t know what I’m going to write until I actually sit down and write it.

     What advice would you give a beginning writer?

Follow Ray Bradbury’s advice. Write a lot or you’re doomed. J Honestly, the key is to keep it fun. That’s why you started writing in the first place, right?

     What advice do you wish someone had given you, and why?

It’s hard to give advice, because often I need to learn things myself the hard way for it to really stick. I’d say the key is to remember that not everyone is your audience, so don’t try to please everyone or you’ll end up pleasing nobody at all.

     Do you foresee a time when you will be a full-time author?

It’s a tricky question. Most authors have a day job (even famous ones – Joyce was a teacher, Dickens an editor, Vonnegut a Technical Writer, etc.). As nice as the image of a cabin in the woods sounds for an author, I think that by having a day job and continuing to be in the everyday struggle for life only adds inspiration and authenticity to a writer’s work. That being said, I know I could fill my day full time with writing if given the chance. J

Thanks again for having me here, Elizabeth!

My pleasure, Mark, as always.

Those of you who want to know more about the author can visit his website HERE and learn more about his books, his blog, and his appearances and events.

You can also visit him on Facebook and Twitter. Just click either of these two to go visit his pages.
Here's the publisher's link that can give you several different places to order it by one click: Go HERE
For those who want to start at beginning, you can also order Between Two Fires at all those sites HERE but these are each "stand alone" books. You can enjoy each story for itself.

Readers, what is your favorite period of history? What countries interest you? Do you tend to read series novels or stand-alones?  

Friday, December 1, 2017

Celebrating a Coming Interview with Mark Noce - Stay Tuned

Today I'm celebrating a coming interview with Mark Noce about his soon-to-be-released historical novel, Dark Wind Rising. I've already pre-ordered it and really enjoyed the first in the series, Between Two Fires. I've blogged about the new book and Mark at my "next door" blog, Elizabeth Varadan's Fourth Wish.  Why not go next door and have a look while you stay tuned for the coming interview? You can also find information about how to pre-order it before its release, Tuesday, Dec. 5th, or order it later after release.

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

How about you? What are you celebrating this week-end? Do you have any interviews coming up? Any friends having book releases? Are you a fan of historical fiction?

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Celebrating an Interview at "Journey To A Dream"

Craig Briggs interviewed me for the "Some-day Supplement" issue of his blog, Journey to a Dream. Stop by and have a look. The "Some-day Supplement" is always a fun issue, containing a fabulous recipe laid out step-by-step by his wife, Melanie, a travel article by Craig, an interview with an author, and fabulous pictures Here's the LINK .

Craig and Melanie
Their sweet dog, Slawit
The Ribera Sacra region
close to where they live

Craig and Melanie live in Canabal, (a village in Galicia , the autonomous region of Spain where Rajan and I visit twice a year.) So the main heading for the "Some-day Supplement" is Canabal Chronicle. For those of you who like to read about far-away place and enjoy a little history about foreign cities, this is a site to book-mark.

That's my news for today. Please hop on over and take a peek.                                                                       

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

How about you? Do you enjoy good recipes? Travel pictures?

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Celebrating Being Home

I seem to have fallen by the wayside when it comes to blogging in recent months. Preparing for travels, our trip to Spain and Portugal, and trying to put finishing touches on notes for recent books, all distracted me from both blogs. We got home Monday evening, and I've been busy ever since then, catching up. But I do have things to celebrate:

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

Now to the celebrations:

1. As some of you know, I discovered last year that I have glaucoma. It was really severe, too, when the opthamologist discovered it. I've had surgery in the eye most severely affected, and I've been taking drops in both eyes to bring the pressure down. I am diligent in taking my drops. Still, one can't help but be nervous. So in my last exam -- GOOD NEWS: The pressure came down some more in both eyes. I am so happy about that.


2. As mentioned earlier, my picture book, Dragonella, was released October 20th (in time for Christmas.) Here is the LINK if you want to order a copy for a little one: 

3. But I also have a contract for my story collection for children, The Carnival of the Animals, which will  come out next year. As you can imagine, I feel like turning somersaults of joy.

4. A book I ordered came in my absence: Memoirs from Mrs. Hudson's Kitchen, by Wendy Herman-MarsawAs many of you know, I am a great Sherlock Holmes fan. (My book, Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls, includes him among the characters.) This book includes many details of Victorian society during the time of the Sherlock Holmes canon, as well as recipes for meals served in various classes — all through the eyes of the Great Detective's landlady.   And here is a LINK for it.

5. I'm submitting my cosy mystery novel now, and waiting with bated breath for the sound of the pebble landing somewhere. 

I'm also caught up on a lot of things, now, so I expect to be blogging more faithfully, both here and on my Fourth Wish blog next door. 

How about you? Have things distracted you from blogging? Have you had good health news lately? Are you submitting your writing projects? Do you have any good summer 

Friday, October 27, 2017

A Wonderful Site for Those Looking for Children's Books

I'm celebrating a marvelous site provided by SCBWI (Society of Book Writers & Illustrators) until end of November. It's called Book Stop, and this is a perfect place to Christmas shop for young readers. There's an embarrassment of riches in store for you!

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

Okay, the link to SCBWI Book Stop: You can look up books published by traditional publishers or independent publishers. It's up to you.  You can go directly to their site HERE

My own page for Dragonella  is among the pages for independent publishers (Belanger Books. Check them out HERE, they are currently open for submissions.)  

You can go to the link for my book stop page  HERE . I hope you will stop by and sign the guest book. Also, I hope you will spread the word among those with children or grandchildren the appropriate ages (5-8).  

Here are the front and back covers. (I lucked out with a wonderful illustrator, Brian Belanger!) 

Wishing you all a Happy and safe Halloween. Do you have special plans? Are you taking children Trick or Treating? Attending a Halloween party instead? Offering a Halloween party to friends & neighbors instead? 

I have such fond memories of my own childhood Halloween ventures. I loved the dress-up part of it more than collecting candy. What are some of your best Halloween memories?