Sunday, April 26, 2015

VIGIL AT THE TOP


Photo by Annisa Lam (former member of Stock.exchng)
Licensed photo DO NOT COPY


Currently I am keeping the following in my thoughts &  prayers:



Husband is trying again to give up cigarettes...starting by doing an electronic cigarette that should work better than the last few he has tried. He will be trying to quit under a doctor's supervision. This is one of MANY attempts and I hope it works...and that we can move on to their not even being the e-cigarette.
Update: He is doing WELL on the e-cigarette and I am hoping he uses that seldom by the beginning of Summer!

-----A major aftershock has hit Nepal the day after a quake whose toll is over 1,900. A friend of a friend still hasn't sent word that they are safe.
-----A relative with two cancers...I know one is stage 4 and I assume the other is since it is in the bones of about half his body. We were told that life expectancy was about a year when the first cancer was found. He is determined to stay strong and doing the house/yardwork despite this dire diagnosis.
-----Friends of South Asian descent who are having their business vandalized because people assume they are Muslim. (Note that I am not saying there would be anything lesser about them if they were Muslim.)
-----I need to be in better physical shape and beat the symptoms of several thyroid problems. I also need to find a place that does a digital mammogram (my Mother died of breast cancer).
-----All who battle mental illness.
-----A couple I know who would like to afford getting married. This has been an issue for them for a while now.


__________________________

Note:
This post is in no particular order. Prayer/thought requests just go to the top as I hear more about what is going on. If you can think of a way to help these people, PLEASE do so. This post will be second-from-the-top during the midst of an emergency (such as an Amber Alert).

Note: I would not advise linking to this post...you will wind up with a broken link each time I have to change the post-dating to keep this a Vigil at the Top.




At JPUSA. Summer 2011.


 

Read-a-thon Progress



Rules say you have to read at least one "horror" book but it can be tamer.

FINISHED. 26 pages.
An alphabet book read with my daughter. The animals interact with each other and there are 98 of them!
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars




I have read 129 pages. :-)



"Caesar at the Rubicon: A Play About Politics" by Theodore H. White. 174 pages. There are 23 pages of Prologue before the actual play and I am on page 14. I intend to read the play aloud and try to get some exercise by acting it out versus sitting in my chair. This story concentrates on how Caeser might have felt about things and will try to show how crossing the Rubicon transformed him (Caeser did not always have the personality of the dictator he became). A giveaway from the library.




I have read 4 more pages. An engrossing read filled with a lot of philosopher's thoughts on consumerism and real world examples (both of the author and the general consumer). I wonder how I will change after having read this.


39 more pages read.
My preschool son really wanted this from the library...so, I told him we would read it a bit at a time. He had a theory that the hand reaching out is "Frankenstein from the Beetleborgs movie." Now he thinks that "Drew" might have done it.
Our preschooler has been banned from his over-abundant "Poopy Jokes." For one night we relaxed this ban and let every Nancy be Poopy instead. Phrases like "She recognized Poopy by her reputation" kept the entire family amused.



I have finished the 6 pages of Forward and I am on page 4. The forward is talking about how people who were already self-sufficient in rural areas did not suffer as much during the Great Depression.


27 pages
Preschooler wanted to read Rochelle Larken's retelling of Aladdin because he thought the genie of the lamp and the genie of the ring looked like a man with two heads (that's the illustration that made him eager to buy this above). Preschooler got this book with his piggy bank money for 10-cents at a Salvation Army store.



24 pages that weren't a part of my original goal. Fun read with toddler. :-)


I have read some of this but I am starting a re-read to make sure I comprehend well for a review, excerpt and giveaway that I am posting on the 29th. The story is of (repeated)time travel and confronting deep emotions. Characters with a long entangled history.
118 pages of 431 thus far.


32 pages X 2
I read it twice to daughter this morning. "Pouch" is one of Preschooler's favorite books. A story about overcoming fear of meeting new people(animals). Very cute and this book was a part of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library.


20 pages.
Cute book with a handle and a little lock on the side that Preschooler got from Grandparents. This read was to Toddler. Both of our young children enjoy this book (and Mother Goose in general).


I have also decided to re-read "Julie & Julia" and I am now on page 10. It is a good read...nice pace and Julia Child's recipes sound so yummy. I just don't like a lot of the things Julie Powell does as a person (even more so in the book following this, "Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat and Obsession"




AND THE HORROR MASTERPIECE OF ABSURDITY


I have read 29 pages. The white shark was introduced and we have have just met the bear. The bear seems to have less need to kill than the shark...wondering how this characterization will affect their encounter.
"Hunting aficionados will devour the shark bear action." -Kirkus Reviews

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon






IT'S TODAY!!!
(My total count was 181 pages. Stay tuned for a Wrap-Up Post!)




Pages so far..63.
I am making sure I have Anna Belfrage's "To Catch a Falling Star" well read for a review, excerpt and giveaway I am posting on the 29th. :-)



I have just finished page 118.
I am learning the different names there were for ingredients during the pioneer days (baking soda was called saleratus). I had forgotten about the presence of Laura's grandmother in the Little House stories. Laura and Almanzo's childhoods were quite different as far as ease of obtaining food.
---Codfish Balls. The author advises to do the simmering of the codfish while the people in your house are sleeping- serve it for breakfast and avoid having the smell that accompanies the cooking.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Toddler comes up to me and wraps her little hand around mine.
Toddler: Mommy, get me.
Me: Mommy, get me. What's Mommy supposed to get you for?
Toddler: Um. Um. (thinking) Ice cream cone.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Read-a-thon progress :-)



Rules say you have to read at least one "horror" book but it can be tamer.

FINISHED. 26 pages.
An alphabet book read with my daughter. The animals interact with each other and there are 98 of them!
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars





6) I have read 4 more pages. An engrossing read filled with a lot of philosopher's thoughts on consumerism and real world examples (both of the author and the general consumer). I wonder how I will change after having read this.


29 more pages read.
My preschool son really wanted this from the library...so, I told him we would read it a bit at a time. He had a theory that the hand reaching out is "Frankenstein from the Beetleborgs movie." Now he thinks that "Drew" might have done it.
Our preschooler has been banned from his over-abundant "Poopy Jokes." For one night we relaxed this ban and let every Nancy be Poopy instead. Phrases like "She recognized Poopy by her reputation" kept the entire family amused.



I have finished the 6 pages of Forward and I am on page 1. The forward is talking about how people who were already self-sufficient in rural areas did not suffer as much during the Great Depression.



24 pages that weren't a part of my original goal. Fun read with toddler. :-)


I have read some of this but I am starting a re-read to make sure I comprehend well for a review, excerpt and giveaway that I am posting on the 29th. The story is of (repeated)time travel and confronting deep emotions.
I am on page 16 right now.



AND THE HORROR MASTERPIECE OF ABSURDITY

I have also decided to re-read "Julie & Julia" and I am now on page 10. It is a good read...nice pace and Julia Child's recipes sound so yummy. I just don't like a lot of the things Julie Powell does as a person (even more so in the book following this, "Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat and Obsession".

I have read 14 pages. The white shark was introduced and we have have just met the bear. The bear seems to have less need to kill than the shark...wondering how this characterization will affect their encounter.
"Hunting aficionados will devour the shark bear action." -Kirkus Reviews

Friday, April 17, 2015

Spring Into Horror Read-A-Thon...
Goal Post



Rules say you have to read at least one "horror" book but it can be tamer. I am not sure what my horror selection(s) will be yet.

1) "Caesar at the Rubicon: A Play About Politics" by Theodore H. White. 174 pages. A giveaway from the library.

2) Starting "The Shadow of Blooming Grove: Warren G. Harding in His Times." 691 pages. A book I inherited from my Mother and I want to use it in our homeschooling. I plan to read it slowly with Google nearby...I know nothing about President Harding.

3) The Horizon Book of Daily Life in Ancient Rome. 127 pages. Published in 1975. I found this among the giveaways at the library today. There are 5 books in this series (5 ancient lands, I think). I want to see if I can find the rest of the series for homeschooling.




4) Notes from a World Music class I took. 83 pages. Yes, for my purposes, I am counting this as a book. I will not officially count it in the final post but it will be a very good accomplishment for me to go through this again.

My moment of silence.....
Brief pause here to reflect on the fact that I found my Mother's medication list at the bottom of a book box I was unpacking. I inherited the vast majority of her books (about 5,000) when she died of breast cancer in 2013. The medication list is extensive...she was battling Stage 4 breast cancer. She also found she had diabetes and was in heart failure from a silent heart attack when she was first diagnosed with the cancer. The medicine list was from 2009 and there was about a dozen things she had/was taking on it.I can only imagine what that list looked like by the time she passed.



5) An alphabet book that I am reading with my daughter.





6) I am on page 51. An engrossing read filled with a lot of philosopher's thoughts on consumerism and real world examples (both of the author and the general consumer). I wonder how I will change after having read this.


7) My preschool son really wanted this from the library...so, I told him we would read it a bit at a time. We are on page 19. He has a theory that the hand reaching out is "Frankenstein from the Beetleborgs movie."



8)
277 pages. The forward is talking about how people who were already self-sufficient in rural areas did not suffer as much during the Great Depression.



AND THE HORROR MASTERPIECE OF ABSURDITY

Friday, April 03, 2015

Redfield Farm



Ann Redfield is destined to follow her brother Jesse through life – two years behind him– all the way. Jesse is a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and Ann follows him there as well.
Quakers filled with a conviction as hard as Pennsylvania limestone that slavery is an abomination to be resisted with any means available, the Redfield brother and sister lie, sneak, masquerade and defy their way past would-be enforcers of the hated Fugitive Slave Law.
Their activities inevitably lead to complicated relationships when Jesse returns from a run with a deadly fever, accompanied by a fugitive, Josiah, who is also sick and close to death. Ann nurses both back to health. But precious time is lost, and Josiah, too weak for winter travel, stays on at Redfield Farm. Ann becomes his teacher, friend and confidant. When grave disappointment disrupts her life, Ann turns to Josiah for comfort, and comfort leads to intimacy. The result, both poignant and inspiring, leads to a life long devotion to one another and their cause.







MY THOUGHTS:
An excellent (fictional) memoir of the time a Quaker family spent helping conduct passengers along the Underground Railroad. A bold author whose characters are not all good or all bad. Not much is shown of the actual slavery that is being run from...but there is one moment with a slave catcher that really shows what it was like to be owned. The world needs more people like the Redfields to take a stand so intensely...let's be honest, history could have used more people taking a stand like this!
My rating:  5 out of 5. It will go in our homeschool library for the older years.
Smile: My copy is autographed. I see my daughter inheriting a complete set of Judith Redline Coopey books someday. :-)








AUTHOR BIO:
Judith Redline Coopey, born in Altoona, PA holds degrees from the Pennsylvania State University and Arizona State University. A passion for history inherited from her father drives her writing and a love for Pennsylvania sustains it. Her first book, Redfield Farm was the story of the Underground Railroad in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. The second, Waterproof, tells how the 1889 Johnstown Flood nearly destroyed a whole city and one young woman’s life. Looking For Jane is a quest for love and family in the 1890s brought to life through the eyes of Nell, a young girl convinced that Calamity Jane is her mother. Her most recent work, The Furnace: Volume One of the Juniata Iron Trilogy, is set on an iron plantation near where she grew up and tells the story of an ill conceived marriage of convenience as it plays out over a lifetime. As a teacher, writer and student of history, Ms Coopey finds her inspiration in the rich history of her native state and in stories of the lives of those who have gone before.


Interview with Judith Redline Coopey!
Ann and Jesse's family were quite industrious. What homesteading skill do you wish you had?
I’ve always thought spinning and weaving would be interesting. I have a copy of a diary of a young Quaker woman from Bedford County around the time of the Civil War. I was struck by the endless list of tasks, all of them hard work, that women faced every day.

Do you find yourself to be more like Ann or more like Jesse?
Interesting question. I think Ann is much nicer than I am and more dedicated. Jesse is an interesting choice, since he was a self-starter and a mover in the Underground Railroad, I would like to think I was more like him, but I think they’re both unique characters, unlike me, but sharing my values.

I notice a lot of good cooking mentioned through the book (foodies always pick up on these things). What are your favorite comfort foods? Are there any foods that are particularly Quaker that you have liked or would like to try?
I guess there’s nothing like roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy. I don’t know much about Quaker cooking, but I do have a Quaker cookbook. My daughter is the foodie in the family. She makes her living teaching cooking, whether classes offered by various cooking schools, or individual small groups. If I asked her, she would come up with a whole menu based on traditional Quaker foods. Since my family had lost touch with our Quaker roots, I can’t say whether any of our traditional foods had Quaker origins.


Have you visited any of the known sites of the Underground Railroad. What were they like?
Better yet, I’ve visited places in the immediate area where the story takes place and seen hiding places in attics and between two partitions in a room. I’ve also seen an entrance to a church from the river bank and up through from the basement. Every time I see one of these, I marvel at the dedication it took for people to go to such lengths to modify their homes or public buildings so they could help people escape. I plan to visit museums in Marietta, Ohio and Maysville, Kentucky this summer.

What did the Fugitive Slave Act entail? Were there other events in Pennsylvania that contributed to the Civil War?
The Fugitive Slave Law said slaves were property, and as such, they had to be returned to their owners if caught. Anyone found hiding a fugitive slave was liable to incarceration or a heavy fine. It wasn’t enforced as fully in the north where local officials often sided with the fugitives and did what they could to prevent the slave owners or slave catchers from taking them back. But the people who took part in the Underground Railroad did so at the risk of jail, fines, injury or even death.

Tell us some about your research process for "Redfield Farm."
I love research. Once I decided on the topic, I gathered all the books I could find on the Underground Railroad. When I read articles I make a note of sources the author used and looked them up for further reading. I own about thirty books on the Underground Railroad, and I’ve read maybe twenty more. Sometimes a whole book will be valuable and I’ll want to own it so I can refer to it again and again as I write. Some of the best are: Levi Coffin’s memoir which has a very long title, but if you enter his name into your search engine, you’ll come up with his book; The Underground Railroad From Slavery to Freedom by Wilbur Henry Siebert, Let My People Go by Henrietta Buckmaster and Bound For Canaan by Fergus M. Bordewich.

What are your upcoming projects?
I may very well write another book on the Underground Railroad. It won’t be for a while because I have two more books for the Juniata Iron Trilogy, but after that, I may return to a book I started some time ago about a white Southerner, born and raised in a slave-holding society, whose hatred of slavery led him to oppose it throughout his life, even to the point of stealing his uncle’s slaves and shepherding them to Canada. It’s a great story and it keeps calling to me, so….


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________________________________________





Looking For Jane





MY THOUGHTS:
Nell is an orphaned teenager who feels unaccepted and like she has no place in the world. When Nell is to be adopted into a bad situation, she decides to run away.  Nell travels the rivers and river towns, to the Badland and to Deadwood, South Dakota...all looking for her mother. Nell would really like it if her mother turned out to be Calamity Jane! Predictably, she learns a lot about family. Many adventures and an enjoyable read though certain aspects came together a little too fast/vague at the end.
My rating:  4.85 out of 5 stars


BUY IT:


AUTHOR BIO:
Judith Redline Coopey, born in Altoona, PA holds degrees from the Pennsylvania State University and Arizona State University. A passion for history inherited from her father drives her writing and a love for Pennsylvania sustains it. Her first book, Redfield Farm was the story of the Underground Railroad in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. The second, Waterproof, tells how the 1889 Johnstown Flood nearly destroyed a whole city and one young woman’s life. Looking For Jane is a quest for love and family in the 1890s brought to life through the eyes of Nell, a young girl convinced that Calamity Jane is her mother. Her most recent work, The Furnace: Volume One of the Juniata Iron Trilogy, is set on an iron plantation near where she grew up and tells the story of an ill conceived marriage of convenience as it plays out over a lifetime. As a teacher, writer and student of history, Ms Coopey finds her inspiration in the rich history of her native state and in stories of the lives of those who have gone before.
JudithRedlineCoopey.com
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Interview with Judith Redline Coopey!

What advice would you give young Nell about bullies?
I think Nell knew she was no match for the Tormenters, so she avoided them as much as possible. That’s the first and often the best strategy but if there was no place to hide, then I think she would have had to stand up to them in the only way she could: Point out the error of their ways and hope for either reason on their part or rescue. I was bullied as a child, and avoidance was the only strategy I could turn to. The bullying took place outside of school. So there was no teacher to help. I learned to be pretty adept at avoidance.

Of the places Nell and Jeremy visited, which do you find most interesting?
I think the Badlands and Deadwood were the most interesting places. I went there in the summer before the book came out so that I could be sure I wasn’t saying anything inaccurate or unclear about the area. I even went to Wounded Knee and was touched by the thought of unarmed Native Americans, mostly women and children, being mowed down by Gatling Guns. I visited the Mt Moriah Cemetery where Calamity Jane was buried, and I read a great book about her, "Calamity Jane: The Woman and the Legend" by James D. McLaird. Deadwood is pretty touristy, but if you dig a little deeper than the saloons and souvenir shops downtown, you can get a sense of how it was.

So, if the book were a movie, who would you have play Nell and Jeremy? Who could portray Nell's mental image of Calamity Jane?
Hmmm. I don’t know much about actresses and actors today, but I guess a young Jodie Foster would make a good Nell. As for Jeremy, I can see Michael Weatherly of NCIS in that role. As for Jane, I think Meryl Streep could put a twist on her as a character. You can tell I don’t know a lot about current movies.

How did your father pass on his passion for history to you?
It was what he talked about, what he read and what he loved. When we would take a car trip, he would make it a moving history lesson, stopping to point out the remains of old forts or battlefields from the French and Indian War or the Revolutionary War along the way. He’d slow down along the highway and tell us how some historical figure led an expedition right through here on the way to wherever. He was always up for a visit to a museum or an expedition to some local historical point of interest. He talked about history much of the time, and while I wish I’d listened better when I was young, his take on American history stays with me.

What I have read of your writing so far is varied in style. What genres and authors do you particularly enjoy in your personal reading?
My reading tastes are varied so I often read prize winners, like the Pulitzer or the National Book awards. My reasoning is that since there are so many books and so little time, I find a prize winner usually guarantees a good read. Not always, but often. I love John Steinbeck’s work, but I’ve read all of them, so I have to move on. I love Willa Cather’s books and I’ve read all of them, too. Among contemporary authors, I enjoy Lee Smith’s books, set in Appalachia, and I like Molly Gloss and Jeannette Walls. There’s no rhyme or reason to my reading tastes. I read the same way I write: I look for a good story, well told.


What are your upcoming projects?
Right now I’m working on a trilogy, a family saga set against the 19th century iron industry in Pennsylvania. The first volume, The Furnace is out. Volume Two is well on its way, and Volume Three is still percolating. That will keep me busy for at least the next year and a half, but I have more ideas for books than I have time for. Family sagas are interesting because I love genealogy and it is so interesting to see how families ebb and flow from one generation to the next. Great stuff to write about.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Waterproof





Fifty years after an earthen dam broke and sent a thirty foot wall of raging destruction down on the city of Johnstown, PA, Pamela McRae looks back on the tragedy with new perspective.

When the flood hit, it wiped out Pam’s fondest hopes, taking her fiancé and her brother’s lives and her mother’s sanity, and within a year her father walked away, leaving his daughter

—now the sole support of her mother—to cope with poverty and loneliness.

The arrival of Katya, a poor Hungarian girl running away from an arranged marriage, finally gives Pam the chance she needs to get back into the world; Katya can care for her mother, and Pam can go to work for the Johnstown Clarion as a society reporter.

Then Davy Hughes, Pam’s fiancé before the flood, reappears and, instead of being the answer to her prayers, further complicates her life. Someone is seeking revenge on the owners of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, the Pittsburgh millionaires who owned the failed dam, and Pam is afraid Davy has something to do with it.



EXCERPT!


MY THOUGHTS:
"Waterproof" truly reads like a memoir of a person who has been scared by memories of a horrible event. This is the story of the Johnstown flood survivors, their healing and recovery...particularly a young woman named Pamela. When the flood strikes Pamela loses all of life as she knows it...eventually finding herself living in poverty and the sole caregiver to her invalid mother. We follow along through Pamela's extensive, and sometimes cloudy recollections, as she tries to gain closure. Eventually, Pam is able to work at the newspaper and finds a guilt-tinged happiness at her independence. When the young man she loved, Davy Hughes comes back things start turning sinister in all of Johnstown...it seems her fiance may be seeking greater and greater revenge on the people he sees as responsible for the lives lost in the flood. As the recovery, relief and healing efforts go on it is clear that pretty much any person who lived in Johnstown during The Great Flood of 1889 is not "Waterproof."
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars. Another great historical fiction find for the high school years of our homeschooling!


BUY IT!



AUTHOR BIO:
Judith Redline Coopey, born in Altoona, PA holds degrees from the Pennsylvania State University and Arizona State University. A passion for history inherited from her father drives her writing and a love for Pennsylvania sustains it. Her first book, Redfield Farm was the story of the Underground Railroad in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. The second, Waterproof, tells how the 1889 Johnstown Flood nearly destroyed a whole city and one young woman’s life. Looking For Jane is a quest for love and family in the 1890s brought to life through the eyes of Nell, a young girl convinced that Calamity Jane is her mother. Her most recent work, The Furnace: Volume One of the Juniata Iron Trilogy, is set on an iron plantation near where she grew up and tells the story of an ill conceived marriage of convenience as it plays out over a lifetime. As a teacher, writer and student of history, Ms Coopey finds her inspiration in the rich history of her native state and in stories of the lives of those who have gone before.
JudithRedlineCoopey.com
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Interview with Judith Redline Coopey!

I can take a guess but do you think the  South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club was in some way responsible for the Johnstown flood?
Yes, I do. I don’t think they were intentional in their responsibility for the flood, but I do think they were negligent. The dam was certainly not properly maintained, and while individual members couldn’t be held responsible for that, the club as a whole could. I see their actions in the aftermath as reprehensible. They had the wherewithal to go a long way toward making things right, but they chose to stonewall and give little or no help.

We are homeschooling and plan to visit all 50 states in some meaningful way before our children turn 18. What are some of the lesser known areas that you would recommend visiting when learning about Pennsylvania history?
I think Johnstown would be a good place to start. The 1889 flood was such a major event and so tragic. Outside of Pennsylvania, few people know about it, but it was the greatest loss of human life in the United States prior to Pearl Harbor.
Altoona is another interesting place because of its railroad history. The importance of the railroads in the development of our country can’t be over emphasized. There is a fine railroad museum there, and the Horseshoe Curve on the Pennsylvania Railroad is an engineering marvel.
Nearby is the Portage Railroad National Historic Site which was another engineering marvel. It carried canal boats up the Allegheny escarpment before the railroads came.
Another important, but little known historical site is Drake’s Well at Titusville, the first commercial oil well in the United States.
I could go on and on about Pennsylvania, but these are a few lesser known points of interest. There’s plenty to learn at Gettysburg, Valley Forge and Philadelphia, but it’s nice to know about the less popular places.

What books, fiction or non-fiction, would you recommend for further reading on the flood?
The best book I’ve come across is David McCullough’s The Johnstown Flood. He’s synthesized all of the older accounts and it really is a comprehensive and very readable account.
(Interviewer note: The video I posted is narrated by David McCullough.)

Please tell about your experiences visiting the sites of the flood.
There are two flood museums, one in the city of Johnstown itself – not to be missed. It includes an “Oklahoma House” like the one Pam lived in, and well-done exhibits showing the path of the flood and first hand accounts of the devastation.
The second museum is fourteen miles away from the city where the dam itself was located. You can still see the broken breast of the dam and the original clubhouse owned by the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club. This place is the National Flood Memorial, run by the Dept of the Interior.
I found both places extremely interesting and informative. I’ve gone back several times to gather details to include in my book.

"Waterproof" is a story of much sadness. How did you maintain your emotional health while writing this book?
I’ve often been curious about how the human spirit can get over, rise above or just survive a catastrophe like the flood. I think we have much more to learn about the effects of trauma on the human psyche, and events like this help us to realize that human beings are resilient, strong and compassionate. Stories of survival always contain an element of hope which sustains and strengthens. As a person, I’ve always been optimistic and I try to create characters who share that trait. I think ultimately Pam was an optimist struggling against Davy’s pessimism.

Of course, with a disaster like this great change comes into many lives. Did you sometimes have a hard time making decisions for your characters while writing this book?
I don’t recall having trouble making decisions for them. Once you create a character you know who they are and how they’ll think. So the characters take on their own identity and it is the writer’s responsibility to keep true to that identity. They do what they would do, given who they are and how they think.

You seem to be a very busy writer! What are some of your upcoming projects?
My immediate project is Volume Two of the Juniata Iron Trilogy which is coming out in November. After that will be Volume Three, so my work is cut out for me for the near future. I have more projects I’d like to tackle beyond that – maybe another book about the Underground Railroad, which seems to be a theme people find interesting. One thing is for sure. I’ll be writing as long as my brain keeps working!



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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sudetenland

Publication Date: September 30, 2014
Published by: BookBaby
Format:  eBook

Sudetenland is the premiere novel by author George T. Chronis. The book delivers suspenseful and sweeping historical fiction set against Central European intrigue during the late 1930s leading up to 1938’s Munich Conference. Having swallowed up Austria, Adolph Hitler now covets Czechoslovakian territory. Only France has the power to stand beside the government in Prague against Germany… but will she? The characters are the smart and sometimes wise-cracking men and women of this era – the foreign correspondents, intelligence officers, diplomats and career military – who are on the front lines of that decade’s most dangerous political crisis. If Czechoslovak president Edvard Beneš ignores the advice of French premier Édouard Daladier and refuses to give up Bohemian territory willingly, then Hitler orders that it be taken by force. The novel takes readers behind the scenes into the deliberations and high drama taking place within major European capitals such as Prague, Paris, Berlin, Vienna and London as the continent hurtles toward the crucible of a shooting war.



EXCERPT:

So this was how it was to be. Abandoned like a faithful spouse to the vagaries of a cheating scoundrel. Despite all of the warning signs and the advice of good friends, the fleeting hope that the one who you had invested so much history with would not betray that which had taken so long to build, was dashed. What Masaryk had said on the phone was right: screw them!
Štefan Osušky could not remember when he had felt so embittered. The Franco-Czechoslovak Pact was dead. It had been dying for months through the long summer. For the last hour Bonnet had hammered the death certificate onto a public wall. Osušky had been summoned to the Quai d'Orsay to meet with the French foreign minister. Daladier and his cabinet ministers had been meeting since ten-thirty in the morning at the Élysée Palace to approve or reject the Anglo-French plan that Daladier had crawled back to Paris with from London. When they had finished, Osušky was to be waiting at Bonnet's office to hear the results. No audience with the premier was available.
Osušky held no illusions as to what Chamberlain had proposed to Daladier. The newspapers had been shockingly detailed in their presentation of the expected major points. So many leaks to such a plethora of reporters usually suggested a raison d'être behind the disclosures. Osušky calculated there was a chance those ministers in Daladier's cabinet that opposed ceding Czech territory to Hitler might be setting the stage for an uprising against Chamberlain's cravenly acquiescence to the dictator… but a very small chance.
When Bonnet arrived back from Élysée Palace he got right to the point. Daladier's cabinet had unanimously approved the Anglo-French plan. As Bonnet read off the terms it was just as the press reports had purported. The only difference was that Bonnet had the full list while most of the newspapers lacked one component or another. The next hour was a blistering back and forth between the two diplomats. Osušky reminded Bonnet of the last two years of French assurances, to which the Frenchman countered the break-up of Czechoslovakia was, the least unpleasant solution. Osušky went on to reiterate the fullness of France's treaty obligations only to be instructed they were mere words on paper. The British had said in no uncertain terms that if Prague refused the Anglo-French plan then Britain would disassociate itself from the dispute. Without British solidarity the assistance that France could offer Czechoslovakia was of no effectiveness. The Czechs would not be allowed to drag France into a war over three-and-a-half million Sudeten Germans. Osušky's further protests only fed Bonnet's burgeoning hostility. France demanded that Czechoslovakia accept the plan. That was the message Osušky was to take to President Beneš without further argument.
There was nothing more to say to such intransigence so Osušky made his leave. Heading down the hall to the main entrance, Osušky felt his own emotions exploding as he replayed Bonnet's words in his head. The ostiary opened the tall, narrow door Osušky had been through so many times in better days and the Czechoslovak envoy stepped out to overlook a courtyard full of anxious correspondents. He couldn't restrain himself.
"Do you want to see a man condemned without a hearing?" Osušky played to the crowd while descending the stairs. "Here I stand!"



MY THOUGHTS:
A long and thorough read. This is one that I will be re-reading with Google close at hand...checking out the history. The book spends time with MANY characters and gives us a sweeping glimpse of what those in influence attempted (either for or against Hitler's goals). A lot to be admired in the many journalists, military and government who threw themselves determinedly into their chosen stances and strategies! The scenes bustle with the chaos and suspense of 1930s Central Europe and one can almost close their eyes and see the clandestine meetings, people protesting, daily news and WAR looming just around every corner. Kudos to the author who took on an era that is fraught with complexity and what-ifs.
My rating: 5 out of 5!
Cons: Slowness at times when there is just pure history involved. That includes the beginning.
Thing I love: This book covers 8 years and also took 8 years to write. :-)
Homeschool: This will be a part of our Senior Year reading list!




My father was in World War II and I wish he were still here to talk with about this book.





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AUTHOR BIO:
After years as a journalist and magazine editor, George T. Chronis decided to return to his lifelong passion, storytelling. A lover of both 1930s cinema and world history, Chronis is now devoted to bringing life to the mid-20th Century fictional narratives that have been in his thoughts for years. Sudetenland© is his first novel. Taking place during turbulent times in Central Europe during the 1930s, the book took eight years to research and write. The author is already hard at work on his second novel.
Chronis is married with two daughters, and lives with his wife in a Southern California mountain community.




Sudetenland
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Friday, March 20, 2015

Misc. Recipes

----- Zucchini Crust Pizza looks so YUMMY. If our store keeps having zucchini (most of the time you can't get it in our area), I am definitely making this next month.
-----Blood Orange Cinnamon Rolls. The blood oranges make the icing a pink color.
-----Sweet Onion Jelly. "Serve with cream cheese for crackers or bagels or use as a condiment on beef, pork or chicken. Also great on hot dogs, sausages and sandwiches."
-----Roasted Roma (or Plum) Tomatoes. I can come up with all sorts of uses for these. :-)
-----Yukon Gold Potato Salad
-----I am interested in trying Pomegranate-Glazed Duck.
-----Sunrise Bumblebee. Pretty little tomatoes that are described as being sweet.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

H.A.L.F.: The Deep Beneath



H.A.L.F. 9 has taken his first breath of desert air and his first steps in the human world. Created to be a weapon, he proved too powerful for his makers, hidden from humans and sedated. But H.A.L.F. 9 has escaped the underground lab he called home, and the sedation has worn off. He has never been more alive. More powerful. Or more deadly.
Erika Holt longs to ride her motorcycle east until pavement gives way to shore. She bides her time until graduation when she’ll escape the trailer she shares with her alcoholic mother and memories of her dead father. But a typical night in the desert with friends thrusts Erika into a situation more dangerous than she ever imagined.
Circumstances push the two together, and each must make a fateful choice. Will Erika help H.A.L.F. 9 despite her “don’t get involved” rule? And will H.A.L.F. 9 let Erika live even though he was trained to kill?
The two may need to forget their rules and training if either is to survive the dangers of the deep beneath them.






EXCERPT:
H.A.L.F. 9 took his first ever inhalation of desert air. The arid breath filled his lungs and burned. He had become accustomed to the dank, humid recycled air of A.H.D.N.A.’s underground lab. A chill ran through him, but it was not from the coolness of the night. His senses, dulled by the humid conditions he had been kept in, were coming fully alive for the first time in his seventeen years.
Though capable of emotion, he had lived a sedated life and had not experienced the full gamut of feelings one typically experiences by their late teen years. He had learned to strain his facial muscles into a smile when he knew a smile was expected. But the smile that came to his face now was natural and easy, not forced. He was overcome with the joy of the freedom he had longed for all his life.
He was alone and nearly naked save for the A.H.D.N.A. standard-issue light blue cotton elastic-waistband pants and rubber flip-flops. The night was young but already dark, only a few stars dotted the inky sky. But the darkness was no matter for him. His large eyes allowed him to see clearly without light.
H.A.L.F. 9 stretched his arms over his head, bent and touched his toes, then ran. He didn’t care that rocks poked his tender feet through the thin rubber of his flip-flops, or that desert shrubs scratched his legs. He knew only that he was compelled to put distance between himself and the abandoned mine shaft from whence he came. Commander Sturgis probably already knew he was missing. They would soon come for him.

MY THOUGHTS:
Erika and "Half 9" each led a life of confinement, in one way or another, until they met. Now 4 angsty teens, one of whom is part alien, must put aside their survival rules and trust in order to be rescued. Erika and friends have a long process to get out of the massive situation they find themselves in. The nemesis in this story are for the most part unbelievably dark or weak-willed...very well-written and it will be interesting to find out more about the motivations of Dr. Sturgis in future books of this series. An entertaining read for older teens.
My rating: 4.85 out of 5 stars. I plan to read the rest of the story.




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AUTHOR BIO:
Natalie is the author of H.A.L.F., a young adult science fiction series, and The Akasha Chronicles, a young adult fantasy trilogy. She lives in the high desert of Tucson, Arizona with her husband, tween daughter, and two young cats.
Natalie spends her time writing, reading, gaming, geeking out over nerd culture and cool science, hanging out on social media, and meeting readers and fans at festivals and comic cons throughout the western United States. She likes to walk in the desert, snorkel in warm waters, travel, and share excellent food and conversation with awesome people. Natalie supports the rights of both humans and non-humans to live a life free of suffering caused by people. She was raised an Ohio farm girl, lives in the desert Southwest, and dreams of living in a big city high rise.


NatalieWrightAuthor.com

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

How to Write a Book (Even if You Never Have


How to Write a Book (even if you never have) is the brainchild of Now Novel co-founder Bridget McNulty – a culmination of all the advice and tips she's been sharing with the Now Novel writing community over the last year. It’s a fantastically helpful resource for anyone wanting to write their first book, a guide for all those who love writing and want to tackle the Mount Everest of writing projects (a novel) and a reference for writers at any stage of their careers who need reminding of the building blocks of novel-writing: ideas, mood, theme, plot, setting and characters. It’s also, quite simply, a great read.
Find out more about the Now Novel online novel-writing process at nownovel.com


EXCERPT:
The importance of motivation and discipline in writing a novel cannot be underestimated. Without these two qualities, the most talented novelist in the world will not be able to complete a book.

Writing a novel is a matter of putting words down on a regular basis. It doesn't have to be daily, but it needs to be regular enough that you have created a habit and have a good sense of where you are in the book each time you sit down to work on it again. The good news is that motivation can be increased and discipline is a skill that can be learned.

In this chapter, we offer a number of tips that can do just that. You can learn to motivate yourself and stay disciplined through activities like morning pages as well as through working with mentors. You can even make Monday, the worst day of most people's weeks, work for you.

Writing a novel is a marathon and not a sprint. Whether you devote an hour in the morning or evening to your writing or set aside a few hours every weekend for the next few months, it is slow and steady progress that will take you to the finish line and not a single burst of furious activity.

Motivation does not mean that you will never doubt your novel; the secret to motivating and disciplining yourself to go the distance is to persist through doubt. When you can continue writing your novel despite your fears and worries about it or other distractions, you will succeed in finishing it, and the following chapter will show you how.



MY THOUGHTS:
A treasure trove of inspiration and tips for the first-time writer! A good book, of course, starts with a good idea...and the first chapter has plenty of ideas where to get the idea that will be worthy of sustaining an entire novel. Then we move on to mood and theme (and how to change it when appropriate). There is thorough coverage on how to achieve believable characters, settings and plot. The writing process is discussed (and how to stay motivated-a chapter I sorely needed as longevity is my weakness when it comes to attempting fiction). The final chapter is about publishing...all the nuances of the rapidly growing world of self-publishing.
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars. I will be constantly re-reading this book and another as I participate in Camp NaNoWriMo in the month of April...expect to hear a lot more of my thoughts on the book!




AUTHOR BIO:
Bridget McNulty is a writer and editor with a passion for helping people write novels (even if they never have). She studied Creative Writing at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and went on to publish her first novel, Strange Nervous Laughter, in South Africa with Struik Publishers and in the USA with St Martin’s Press. Since then, she has co-founded an online novel-writing process, NowNovel.com, that helps aspiring writers start – and finish! - their books, and founded a diabetes lifestyle magazine, Sweet Life, that focuses on the positive side of the condition. She lives in Cape Town, South Africa, with her husband and son, and spends her days reading, writing and drinking tea.
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Friday, March 13, 2015

How to Write a Book (Even if You Never Have)
EXCERPT and GIVEAWAY


How to Write a Book (even if you never have) is the brainchild of Now Novel co-founder Bridget McNulty – a culmination of all the advice and tips she's been sharing with the Now Novel writing community over the last year. It’s a fantastically helpful resource for anyone wanting to write their first book, a guide for all those who love writing and want to tackle the Mount Everest of writing projects (a novel) and a reference for writers at any stage of their careers who need reminding of the building blocks of novel-writing: ideas, mood, theme, plot, setting and characters. It’s also, quite simply, a great read.
Find out more about the Now Novel online novel-writing process at nownovel.com


EXCERPT:
The importance of motivation and discipline in writing a novel cannot be underestimated. Without these two qualities, the most talented novelist in the world will not be able to complete a book.

Writing a novel is a matter of putting words down on a regular basis. It doesn't have to be daily, but it needs to be regular enough that you have created a habit and have a good sense of where you are in the book each time you sit down to work on it again. The good news is that motivation can be increased and discipline is a skill that can be learned.

In this chapter, we offer a number of tips that can do just that. You can learn to motivate yourself and stay disciplined through activities like morning pages as well as through working with mentors. You can even make Monday, the worst day of most people's weeks, work for you.

Writing a novel is a marathon and not a sprint. Whether you devote an hour in the morning or evening to your writing or set aside a few hours every weekend for the next few months, it is slow and steady progress that will take you to the finish line and not a single burst of furious activity.

Motivation does not mean that you will never doubt your novel; the secret to motivating and disciplining yourself to go the distance is to persist through doubt. When you can continue writing your novel despite your fears and worries about it or other distractions, you will succeed in finishing it, and the following chapter will show you how.



AUTHOR BIO:
Bridget McNulty is a writer and editor with a passion for helping people write novels (even if they never have). She studied Creative Writing at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and went on to publish her first novel, Strange Nervous Laughter, in South Africa with Struik Publishers and in the USA with St Martin’s Press. Since then, she has co-founded an online novel-writing process, NowNovel.com, that helps aspiring writers start – and finish! - their books, and founded a diabetes lifestyle magazine, Sweet Life, that focuses on the positive side of the condition. She lives in Cape Town, South Africa, with her husband and son, and spends her days reading, writing and drinking tea.
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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

In My Life.....

The flowers that Husband bought me have opened beautifully! 


-----Glazed Carrots in Blood Orange Juice
-----Blood Orange Chicken

-----I am making this Pull Apart Garlic Bread with the kids pretty soon. A simple Taste of Home Recipe. The only frozen white bread dough at our store (Rhodes Frozen White Bread Dough) contains soy and Husband is allergic (bummer). Our picky eater Preschooler might enjoy cooking with me and the pull-apart...plus he REALLY likes butter. :-)
-----I am planning to try a mac & cheese that contains Velveeta. I hate Velveeta. It was on the Rachel Ray site, contains a ton of cheese and comes from someone called "Sweet Pie" (I will find the time to look up who that is later).
-----Ah, now I get it...Sweet Pie is part of a cooking show on Oprah's network. I will have to check that out.
-----If I could afford it, I would love the Phillips Pasta Maker. $100 off on Sur la Table right now! The extruders like Play-doh would make my children smile and my Husband would love the ease of operation (like a bread machine).

Pushing the Wall: A Memoir



What kind of idiot would run a marathon without training for it first? Me. 
Sure, I’d heard all the horror stories. Endurance athletes always fear “hitting the wall,” that point where the body runs out of energy and, BAM! Roadkill. With no conditioning, I feared smashing into this wall hard enough to leave a dent.
I wanted to train for the 2010 St. George Marathon, but after breaking my foot, the only marathon I could handle was on Netflix. When the race came, I just wanted to pick up the shirt I paid for, but peer pressure and the energy of the other 7,000 runners convinced me to go for it. My plan? Push the wall past the finish line. Then I could grab some ice cream, crawl into my truck, and drive home.
This memoir details my love/hate affair with running, why I didn’t prepare, and how I survived 26.2 grueling miles that I had no business attempting. This book also includes running tips for anybody looking to maximize their training experience, covering topics like:

---Finding the right running pace
---Speed workouts
---Running safely at night
---Tapering and carb-loading before a race
---Basic first aid for runners
---Injury prevention
And more!

It’s whimsical, yet educational. It’s whimsucational!
Foreward by Aaron Metler, winner of the 2010 and 2014 St. George Marathons.


EXCERPT:
Setup: I signed up for the marathon the next year. That night, I thought I'd take it easy and not jinx myself for a run. Instead, this happened:

My son had a better idea. He and his friends wanted to play a little baseball and asked if I’d drive them down to the local softball field. I love baseball—it’s one of my favorite sports—and I agreed to not only drive them down but ended up participating as well. Out of everybody there, I was the only one who could consistently put a fastball over the plate, so they elected me the full-time pitcher.
We only had a handful of players, so it wasn’t a real game. The kids took turns batting while the other kids went into the outfield to throw the balls in. I pitched a bucket of balls until it emptied, then we filled it back up and moved on to the next batter. One kid popped up and I chased after it, thinking it would be an easy out.
Then I rolled my foot.
The kids in the outfield were throwing the balls back in as they retrieved them. There just happened to be a ball on the ground and my left foot came down on it. Yep, the same foot I had rolled the year before. Again, the flash of pain. Again, I screamed. I fell, unable to sustain weight on my foot any longer.
My wife was nearby walking the dog and came running over. “What’s wrong? What’s wrong?” All the kids had come in as well, overcome with curiosity. None of them knew what happened. They’d just seen the ball go up in the air, heard me scream, and saw me go down on the ground.
Remember earlier when I said I’d done a lot of stupid stuff to my body? My wife started going through the list.
“Is it your back?” she asked.
“No.” I’d hurt that trying to dead lift a power generator. Don’t ask….
“Your shoulder?”
“Not this time.” I’d had rotator cuff repair surgery only a year prior.
“Your head?”
My head? Where had that one come from? Oh, yeah, I once played chicken with a tree while skiing with some friends—the tree won. I wondered how many accidents she was going to rattle off until she got to the real problem. Despite the pain, I started laughing.
“What?” she asked.
“My foot!” I finally said. “I stepped on a ball and rolled it. The same foot as last year.” I was still cracking up at this, despite the fact that I was in agonizing pain.
The kids began to chuckle uncomfortably, wondering what joke they were missing. My wife asked, “So what’s so funny?”
“I signed up for the marathon this morning!” My wife and my son burst into laughter. Two years in a row I end up rolling my foot the same day I set my sights on the marathon. Oh, the humanity!


MY THOUGHTS:
So, I have been thinking of running a half-marathon, and eventually a marathon, more and more...and, after reading "Pushing the Wall," I am thinking of that part of my Bucket List more and more. James Duckett tells of how he came to run a marathon with little training...but it is clear there was much education beforehand and strategy along the way. I am thankful for having read this. The book is a great look at the processes one goes through when beating the series of mental hurdles a marathon raises. I could easily see myself running, walking, people-watching and coming to truly appreciate Bengay. :-)

I sit here as a woman whose thyroid is trying to die out (used to be underweight and now I struggle with overweight/bloat), flat-footedness, bow-legedness, pigeon-toed, a long history of sciatica, suffering Raynaud's phenomenon (so must avoid cold sensations and stress) and having a good chance of asthma. Yet, I feel it is just a matter of pushing "the wall" further, strategy and recovery strategy..I am sure others run with worse. My goal is 5 years from now to run one of the Walt Disney World events and the Army 10-Miler (the Pentagon). I need to do a bunch of research and save for some really good shoes. Most of all, I need to stop procrastinating about starting training because I am afraid of announcing I actually have a serious intent on this (I have a few overly critical people who live to criticize just about anything). I guess I should thank Mr. Duckett for helping me run my own race already. Today is my Training Day 1. :-)


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AUTHOR BIO:
James loves to write, but he doesn't like to brag. Just kidding, he totally loves to brag. And refer to himself in the third person. Because both those things are cool. Right?
Right?
James Duckett is a founder and Chief Technology Officer of the Authors' Think Tank Facebook Group and Podcast. He wrote his first story in the 2nd grade and has been excited about writing ever since. He wrote his first book when he was 14, but one of his friends did the world a favor and accidentally threw it away.
“Pushing the Wall: A Memoir” is his first book. A contemporary romance (yeah, you read that right) novella will appear in an anthology on March 31st, 2015. He's introverted, geeky, funny looking, unpredictable, and easily distracted by the latest gadgets.

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