Friday, June 16, 2017

Celebrating Another Great Book on Writing

So it's Friday and time to celebrate the small things again. This time I'm celebrating a book  The Magic Words, by Cheryl Klein. 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 BlogYou can go to any of these sites to add your name to the links, if you want to participate. 

So, the book: The Magic Words, Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults, by Cheryl Klein, book editor, formerly for Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, and now editorial director at Lee and Low Books; but also an author in her own right. And, as I read her book, it's inspiring, exciting, informative, encouraging, practical, useful — she knows her stuff! This is a book meant to be read and consulted more than once. 

I first heard of this book in a FB post by the children's book editor, Harold Underdown, who also writes a blog called The Purple Crayon and gives writing workshops for writers of boos for children and young adults. All I can say is, "Thank you, Harold Underdown!" I really recommend this book to other writers — even writers of adult fiction. You can learn more about Klein and this particular book HERE .

What are you celebrating today? Do you have a favorite book on writing you can share? I'm always looking for good books on writing. 

Friday, June 9, 2017


I'm celebrating three things today:

First, I'm celebrating the concert I'm going to hear tonight with friends. It's a concert by one of my favorite fadistas, Maria do Ceo. If you go to THIS SITE  and click on the arrow to play, you'll get an idea of how beautiful her voice is. We try to get to one of her concerts whenever we come to Galicia.

Second, an English friend we actually met in Galicia years ago is coming to visit tomorrow. We haven't seen her for about three years. It will be great to catch up on news in person, as there is only so much you can do with Facebook. 😊

Third, yesterday I did my final edit of my story collection, The Carnival of the Animals, and sent it to my publisher. He was pleased to get it, and things will start moving on that after they publish a picture book of mine later in the year. This is a happy time for me.

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. )

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Celebrating a Good Book on Writing

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

So: the good book I'm celebrating is one that Fred and Joan, our neighbors across the street in Sacramento, gave us before we left on our trip. I've been dipping into it from time to time, as we've been very busy since arrival — first with our water problem I mention in the last post, and then socializing with friends and neighbors we hadn't seen for a while.  Sometimes when we're driving to town I read from it, and sometimes in the evenings I take a shot at it, although I fall asleep far too easily after all the galavanting. Luckily, it's the kind of a book you can read pleasurably in bits and pieces:

How To Write Like Tolstoy, A Journey into the Minds of Our Greatest Writers

Cohen is an author, but also an agent and editor who has handled works by several pulitzer prize winners and authors who have been on the NY Times best sellers lists. His approach to the art of novel writing (the main focus in this book) is fascinating. Each chapter heading deals with an aspect of novel writing, and in sequence, so that the first chapter is about first chapters and book beginnings; then settings and characters, etc. In each chapter, he shares what great writers of classics as well as modern day successful writers have said about each chapter theme and how they approach the problem. This book is a keeper, and meant to be re-read many times. Such a wonderful gift. (Thank you, Fred & Joan!)

Cohen's website is HERE, if you want to know more about him or his books. Also purchase sites for this one, including, but not limited to Amazon HERE.

How about you? Have you discovered any good books on writing? If so, please share titles. 

Saturday, May 13, 2017


Not the kind that you see in these two photos from last spring, although we are having plenty of rain, here in Trasulfe. Cold, windy rain. (And, it being mid-May, forgetting the fickleness of Galician weather, I packed summer clothes.) Right now, I haven't had time to take new pictures, but this is what Galicia looks like — only moreso!

No, the water I am celebrating is the water tanked into our village that allows for cooking and bathing. Like — the water system. When we arrived Tuesday, the tank was empty and we were lugging 3-liter bottles of water from the grocery stores for two days. Then we gave into the situation and have been staying at a casa rural for three days. Lovely, but not our "home away from home". You can read more about it in the Facebook posting I've copied:

"The continuing saga of the village water: So we booked rooms at Torre Vilariño for Thursday and Friday nights, right? Possibly for the whole week-end, too, we told them, since we didn't know how long the problem would last. Friday a.m. we drove back to our village (Trasulfe), and lo and behold, we had water! What a thrill. We called Torre and said, no, no need for the week-end. (We were worried they might lose another booking from saving the room for us.) Then we went out to get a bite to eat. 
     "On return, bad news: The water was gone again. Called Torre to say, "Yes, we need the room this week-end," because by now it was Friday afternoon, the problem not solved, and the workmen wouldn't be working on it over the week-end. Then we talked to our new neighbors down the lane. The workmen there were working on it, lifting manhole covers in the road, turning metered faucets on, etc., to no avail. In the meantime, they had managed to turn off Eva & Manolo's water — two of our neighbors who did have water until that point.       
     "More tinkering, with conflicting explanations of what had happened: Explanation #1: It was the incline of the land, given that the water is pumped in from a place near Escairon. (But the land has always been sloped before, right?) Explanation #2, the tank that serves the community was empty. Possible. (But why?) Just as we were about to leave to go back to Torre, everything started working again: We tested the faucets in our house. We had water. But, could we trust this? 
     "We compromised and called Torre: We only needed the room for Saturday night. (We weren't sure that we did, but they'd been so flexible with us, we thought we should show up for at least part of the booking, and, if the water conked out again, we could always rough it out one more day and then go to the town hall Monday to complain. 
     "So, this morning we came home (although we are going back tonight) and checked everything out: YES! We have water! The whole village has water! Including Manolo and Eva! All fixed. New explanation: the tank that serves the community had become clogged from debris, etc., that somehow fell into the tank. They had to clean it out. Ah well, such is life and its little surprises. We had planned to go to the wine festival in Ferreira today, but the weather is cold and rainy and windy, and it feels good to stay home and nap and then meet friends at Torre for dinner on our last evening their. Alls well that ends well. "

How about you? Have you ever gone off for a vacation and found big surprises waiting for you?

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. )

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Our Favorite Get-Away Spot in California

I'm two days late for my "celebrate the small things" post, but I'm celebrating a trip we took last week to Pacific Grove/Monterey area. This is probably our favorite get-away spot in California, and this year was no exception. It's so peaceful and relaxing: the roar of the surf, the beauty of the waters along the waterfront. The weather was warm and the skies blue and sunny. Families were out along the strips of beach fronting waves and rocks. 

We usually zip over to Carmel to browse the art galleries, too, but this time we didn't. We simply enjoyed walking around in both Pacific Grove and Monterey. Along the waterfront, we encountered several painters out doing "plein air" paintings of rock and water. 

The motel where we stayed was right near the Monarch Habitat that I wrote about once before, but on this trip, so late in spring, the butterflies were gone until their next migration. In Monterey, we went to the current "Cannery Row," an out and out tourist trap not as charming as it once was, but there is a nice monument to the novelist John Steinbeck and many characters from his books. A couple of blocks in town, we came across the house and lab of Ed Ricketts, John Steinbeck's marine biologist friend cast as "Doc" in the book, Cannery Row. 

We were in the area two nights and then came home, totally refreshed, in time for the Science March the following day, which was inspiring and refreshing in another way. 

Do you have a favorite "get-away" spot? Is it tied to art? Literature? Nature?

                                            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 list, and also to read some enjoyable blog posts.)

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Beauty of Monet's Paintings

Two weeks ago we went with friends, Sue & Bert Collins, to see the Monet Exhibit and the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, a remarkably beautiful building dating back to the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exhibition. You can learn more about it and see both a photograph of the building and a painting of it by Edwin Deakin HERE . But I couldn't resist taking this photo looking back at the Golden Gate Bridge from the grounds. It prepares you for the beauty of the landscapes to come.

The exhibit focused on Monet's early works, starting from his first exhibited painting, when he was 18, and ending with his paintings in 1862, when he was only 32 years old. I have loved prints of Monet, exhibits of the Impressionists that featured his work, including his later works of the waterlilies and moon bridge in his garden, calendar pictures that I've shared with my after school art class. But it took my breath away to see how accomplished Monet was at the young age of 32 — how many masterpieces he had created. Have a look at a few of the photos I was permitted to take in the museum.

                     There are more,  but I'll stop here. For those who like the work of Monet and are interested in his life,  Stephanie Cowell wrote a wonderful historical novel about his life, Claude & Camille. (Camille was the love of his life, the mother of his children, and his muse for so many of his paintings.) 

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You can order this through Amazon (as well as many other sites.) 

Stephanie also has a nice page about this book on her enjoyable blog:   

Do you enjoy art? The impressionists? Novels about famous artists? Share a favorite book about art or artists.

And have a great day. 

Friday, March 31, 2017

Celebrating a School Visit at Crocker Riverside Elementary

                       Today I'm celebrating school visits:
Yesterday I read chapters of my book to two classes at Crocker Riverside Elementary School, a charming school on a tree-lined street in Sacramento. Several people were invited to read to various classes, and since Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls is for readers who are 8-to-12-years old, I read to Mrs. Buerger's sixth grade class and Mr. Repass's fifth grade class.

Both classes were wonderful! They were so attentive while I read and then asked wonderful questions, mostly about writing and the writing process. These were students who love to both read and write, which says great things about their teachers. Also, they wanted to know my favorite author, my favorite series. Some of them very shyly showed me the book they were reading. Sharon Creech's Walk Two Moons was a great favorite of theirs (and is a great favorite of mine.) Also, they love, love, loved the Harry Potter series. (Quite a few of them liked Sherlock Holmes, but I think mostly from TV and movies.)

The fifth graders wanted my autograph and had post-it notes ready for me to sign. I also took some postcards and bookmarks, and they had me sign those, too. A number of students said they wanted to order my book. (Happily, for those who can't, there are two copies in the public library system, and I let them know that.)

I love school visits. I loved teaching, and now I love going back and connecting with the kids again as an author. Here are a few more pictures that Mrs. Buerger took while I read to her class. I forgot to give my camera to Mr. Repass, but both classes were great fun to interact with.

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Each class gave me a potted plant as a thank you gift. Those plants came at the right time, too. My husband and I have been talking about planting more flowers in one section of our back yard. Plants are a nice way to preserve good memories, as well, and these will certainly be a nice reminder of an enjoyable morning.

An interesting side note to the morning: This was a short day for the school and the morning was devoted to readers and visitors from other occupations. As I came into the school, outside, I noticed policemen on horseback. The policemen kindly let me take pictures of their horses. (Those horses must have been a big thrill for the kids!)

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

How about you? Does your school have special programs to invite authors and other speakers? Are there special reading events to encourage students to read? Do you like animals — especially horses? Who was your favorite author and what was your favorite book when you were elementary school age?