Blog Schedule

I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Banned Book Week, Being Thankful

It's Banned Book Week. In honor of this hallowed time, I'm going to offer up a few of my favorite books that have been challenge or banned somewhere in the world. I have taken the descriptions for why these books were targeted from THIS SITE.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain, 1884
The first ban of Mark Twain’s American classic in Concord, MA in 1885 called it “trash and suitable only for the slums.” Objections to the book have evolved, but only marginally. Twain’s book is one of the most-challenged of all time and is frequently challenged even today because of its frequent use of the word “nigger.” Otherwise it is alleged the book is “racially insensitive,” “oppressive,” and “perpetuates racism.”


The Call of the Wild, Jack London, 1903
Generally hailed as Jack London’s best work, The Call of the Wild is commonly challenged for its dark tone and bloody violence. Because it is seen as a man-and-his-dog story, it is sometimes read by adolescents and subsequently challenged for age-inappropriateness. Not only have objections been raised here, the book was banned in Italy, Yugoslavia and burned in bonfires in Nazi Germany in the late 1920s and early 30s because it was considered “too radical.”


To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee, 1960
Harper Lee’s great American tome stands as proof positive that the censorious impulse is alive and well in our country, even today. For some educators, the Pulitzer-prize winning book is one of the greatest texts teens can study in an American literature class. Others have called it a degrading, profane and racist work that “promotes white supremacy.”

Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury, 1953
Rather than ban the book about book-banning outright, Venado Middle school in Irvine, CA utilized an expurgated version of the text in which all the “hells” and “damns” were blacked out. Other complaints have said the book went against objectors religious beliefs. The book’s author, Ray Bradbury, died this year.


Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman, 1855
If they don’t understand you, sometimes they ban you. This was the case when the great American poem Leaves of Grass was first published and the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice found the sensuality of the text disturbing. Caving to pressure, booksellers in New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania conceded to advising their patrons not to buy the “filthy” book.

For exploring books that have been banned or challenged, go HERE and HERE. For a very extensive list go HERE. It's mindboggling.

Even the Wizard of Oz has been banned!! Read a banned book, it might just fool you.

***

Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful to books, banned or not. 
I may not read or like all genres.
I may not like all styles of writing. 
(I never cared for *gasp* Hemingway, but love Steinbeck)
But I would never tell another what he or she cannot read.

***
You still have until the 30th to win a copy of The Bowl and the Stone: A Haunting Tale from the Virgin Island. Check in at Goodreads!

What are you thankful for? Got a favorite banned book? 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Cover Reveal for Crystal Collier!

I'm delighted to help spread the love by sharing this stunning cover for Crystal Collier's newest book, which will be released on November 1st. If the cover doesn't grab you (you must not like cheese) then the blurb will.
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TIMELESS (#3 Maiden of Time) by Crystal Collier #CoverReveal



Book Title: TIMELESS (Maiden of Time #3)
Author: Crystal Collier
Genre: YA Paranormal Historical
Release Date: November 1, 2016



TIME IS THE ENEMY

In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.

In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat -- along with an unfathomable evil and her own heart -- the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.

Can Alexia escape her own clock?




Crystal Collier is an eclectic author who pens clean fantasy/sci-fi, historical, and romance stories with the occasional touch of humor, horror, or inspiration. She practices her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, four littles, and a friend (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. You can find her on her Blog, FacebookGoodreads, or follow her on Twitter.

Want the first chapter free? Sign up HERE.


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AND, you too can win an eARC by signing up on Rafflecopter below.



a Rafflecopter giveaway




And, if you're interested, I have a giveaway at Goodreads for my upcoming novel The Bowl and the Stone: A Haunting Tale from the Virgin Islands. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Titles to Write By, Being Thankful

"Titles" is an occasional blog post in which we play with a single word and turn it into, what else, titles! Afterwards the object is to pick one of them and write a little something.

It was Ray Bradbury, in his book ZEN IN THE ART OF WRITING, who taught me about making lists of words and turning them into titles. If you haven't read it I highly recommend it.


For no particular reason, 
today's word is:
Butterfly
American snout butterfly
The American snout's wingspant is between 1 1/2 and 2 inches.





Actually, I do have a reason for choosing butterfly. Last week conditions were just right for millions of American snouts (and some yellow and white ones others too) to come out in force. At times they were so thick as they flew close to the ground that they looked like leaves blowing in the wind. As of Sunday, they were still flying through.

Some of us have been driving slower in an effort to prevent the darlings from committing suicide on our windshields and grills.

This is the third time I've seen an invasion of butterflies.

Here's what I've learned:
Apparently a percentage of the larva can stay in state of suspended animation for many years, even decades, until conditions are right. It's called a diapause.

The official name for a group is a kaleidoscope of butterflies. However they are also known as a swarm or a rabble. Although I like a kaleidoscope, I think a flutter of butterflies should be nominated. All in favor, raise your hand.

Now, on to titles.

Butterfly and Bee: A Love Story
The Butterfly Dragon, or, The Dragon Butterfly (that's for you, Lee McKenzie)
The Zebra Butterfly
Butterflies Rule!
To Be Part of the Kaleidoscope: The Autobiography of a Butterfly

***
Because the word butterfly appears I offer up  Little Wing by Jimi Hendrix. The lyrics are so beautiful.
jimi hendrix- little wing lyricss from kmkm on Vimeo.

Well she's walking through the clouds
With a circus mind
That's running wild
Butterflies and zebras and moonbeams
And fairy tales,

That's all she ever thinks about

Running with the wind

When I'm sad she comes to me
With a thousand smiles
She gives to me free

It's alright, she says
It's alright
Take anything you want from me
Anything

Fly on, Little Wing


Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful for butterflies.
Tiger swallowtail on Esperanza. (By the way, Esperanza means "hope" in Spanish.)

Deep into the nectar. 
***
What are you thankful for? Ever seen a kaleidoscope of butterflies? What would you call a swarm? Care to share a butterfly title in the comments? Do any of the ones I've given inspire an idea?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

IWSG

Posting the first Wednesday of every month, The Insecure Writer's Support Groupis  the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate. 

To change things up a bit, every month, we'll announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.


Today's question is: How do you find the time to write in your busy day?

I don't have any excuses. I'm retired. I can write or not write whenever I damn well please, or feel like it, or not. I've never been one of those sit-down-every-day-at-such-and-such-a-time-and-write-for-X-amount-of-time-or-until-I-have-X-number-of words. I used to feel guilty about that, but not any more. When I am writing, I'm rather prolific. When I'm not...well, I'm not, and I don't sweat it.
Konfuzius-1770

Which brings me to this quote from Confucius.


It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.




As for other news... I'm pleased to say that some loose goals I set for myself have been met. (I'm not big on making goals.) All the guest posts I committed to for my October Book Tour  (except for one) have been written and sent to my various hosts. I have quite a line-up that I'm rather excited about. Every post will be different, even if the subject is the same. I hope when October comes you'll hop around with me. I'll let you know where I'll be when the time comes.

Also, I'm doing my first Goodreads giveaway for The Bowl and the Stone, which you can enter HERE, and which ends on September 30th. Also, come October I'll be doing my first Rafflecopter in which you have another chance to win an autographed copy of my book.

All in all, I'm not feeling so insecure these days. How about you?
***
Are you excited about the next IWSG anthology contest? Are you going to enter? Is it easy or hard for you to find time to write? 



Monday, September 5, 2016

Labor Day! Question of the Month, Being Thankful

That goes for us writers as well. We need a break too. Some people might not think writing is work, 

but I say nuts to them! We know differently. We know the literal and figurative blood, sweat, and 

tears that goes into producing any piece of writing. So...


Give yourself permission to take a break! Here are some suggestions of what to do.




Take a stroll by a river, 
or walk among some trees.





Relax at your favorite beach, lake, or river.




Chillax in a hammock. 












Build some cairns.






Go sailing. (Yes that's me at the tiller, with my childhood best friend Jay.)


Have fun!


***

I've joined this monthly bloghop because answering thoughtful/challenging/interesting questions is one way to expand one's mind and to share a little bit about myself. Hosted by Michael D'Agostino at A Life Examined, the question this month is: 

What kind of music best speaks to you?

Not fair! All kinds of music speaks to me, depending on my mood.
Classical, Jazz (in it's various styles), New Age,  Rock (in it's various styles) ... If you have the time, here are a few samplings from each.


One of my favorite pieces of  Classical.


When the band, particularly Robert Plant, exuded sexuality.


The First Lady of Song, whose ability to scat put all "modern" singers to shame.



For rest a relaxation there's nothing like Tibetan Bowls, perfect background music for Labor Day.


Being Thankful
So what am thankful for today? Nature in all its varied forms. Music in all its varied forms.
***
That are you thankful for? Doing anything special today? Does a particular kind of music speak to you?

Monday, August 29, 2016

Celebrating One Hundred Years

Last week, the 25th of August, marked 100th birthday of the National Parks. I thought to celebrate I'd post some pictures of the Virgin Island National Park. Most of the *park* resides on the island of St. John which was established in 1956 when Laurence Rockefeller bought up about two thirds of the island and donated it to the National Park.

Annaberg, one of many sugar plantations on the island, was under cultivation by 1731. By the 1800 it was one of the largest sugar producers on the island. This picture was take some time after 1933.
(Source)

The windmill was added sometime between 1820-1830. 
Up to that point the horse mill was used to grind the cane. 
You can see a part of it in the above picture to the far left, what looks like a curved wall.

 The factory building where the cane juice was boiled down to make sugar, molasses, and eventually rum. The wall to the right is part of the horse mill.

Boiling vats inside the factory building. Just one of the large iron pots remains in place, in the center of this picture.

 Looking through a window of the factory building at the windmill. 

 Catherineberg. During the slave revolt of 1733, the slaves used Catherineberg as their headquarters.
 It is the only windmill on the island you can walk under. 

Reef Bay. The last operating sugar factory ended production in 1908.

It was one of two factories that used a steam engine for grinding cane.
Above Reef Bay on a gut (a water course that runs after it rains) there is a waterfall with pools. The pools have water in them most of the year. Carved into the rocks above one of the pools are these petrogylphs believed to have been put there by the Taino (Arawak) Indians, the first inhabitants of the St. John. There is evidence people lived on the island as early as 1st century AD. They were gone long before Columbus arrived in 1493.

Maho Bay, which includes left to right, Francis Bay, Lillie Maho in the middle, and Big Maho.

Cinnamon Bay, taken from the sea, and home of the National Park campground. 
The building on the beach is an old Danish warehouse

Trunk Bay, is one of the most photographed beaches in the world. I've posted about it many times. This is the beach my grandparents bought in 1928, and where my grandmother had her first guesthouse. It's where I learned to swim. Now part of the National Park, it's a favorite place for visitors to come. There's even an underwater snorkeling trail that follows part of the shoreline of Trunk Cay. (The island to the far left is Jost Van Dyke, a British island. Dead center is Whistling Cay. Behind it is Thatch Cay. Thatch Cay is also British. The point of land to the right of Whistling Cay is Mary Point, which forms part of Maho Bay.)

Hassel Island, St. Thomas.
In 1671 Denmark successfully colonized St. Thomas and by 1680 the port of Charlotte Amalie was a thriving free trade hub. During the American Revolution, powder, arms, and shot were sent to the Continental Army by way of St. Thomas.

To protect the harbor, Prince Frederik's Battery was built in 1788. It sits right at the entrance to the harbor. During the Napoleonic Wars, Denmark was friends with the "Little General." St. Thomas was such an important port that the British occupied Hassel Island, once between 1801-02 and again between 1806-15. Both times they expanded or build new batteries and forts. During the British occupation, Prince Frederik's Battery, acquired its present name, Fort Willoughby.




The British built the Garrison House which was also used for storing munitions. It's construction is unique, and as far as I know, the only one like it in the world.













It's the only building in the islands that has wooden windows  covered in copper.














Fort Christianvaern, St. Croix. Christiansted, where this fort is, was established in 1735 and became the capital of the Danish Virgin Islands in 1755.
I hope you've enjoyed this brief tour of the Virgin Islands National Park. If you can't visit this one, do take  take the time to visit a park near you. We are blessed to have these lands set aside for us in perpetuity.

Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful for, what else? National Parks.
Here are some Parks and Monuments I've visited (not including the Virgin Islands. :)
Yellowstone
Grand Titons
Grand Canyon
Yosemite
Petrified Forest
Saguaro National Park
Death Valley National Park
Golden Gate National Recreational Area
Muir Woods National Monument
Redwood National Park
Mesa Verde National Park
Everglades National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park
Fort Larned National Historic Site
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
White Sands National Monument
San Antonio Missions National Historic Park
Lincoln Memorial
National Mall
Jefferson Memorial
Washington Monument

There may be others...

***

What are you thankful for today? Have you been to any parks or monuments? Do tell!


Monday, August 22, 2016

Titles to Write By, Being Thankful

"Titles" is an occasional blog post in which we play with a single word and turn it into, what else, titles! Afterwards the object is to pick one of them and write a little something.

It was Ray Bradbury, in his book ZEN IN THE ART OF WRITING, who taught me about making lists of words and turning them into titles. If you haven't read it I highly recommend it.



For no particular reason today's word is: 
Olympic




Well, there is a reason for using Olympic. One is that I've watched more of the Summer Olympics this year than I ever have in the past. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's because there's been nothing better on TV. Whatever the reason, it's been a delight to see so many records broken, so many gold medals won. The U. S. women's gymnastic team,  the women who won gold in the relay race, watching  Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky swim for gold, all were awesome. And lastly, getting to see Usain Bolt win his 9th gold for Jamaica was icing on the cake.

Another reason is, the job/task of preparing for my book blog tour in October is Olympian. I'm think I'm doing pretty well. I have about half of my guest posts written and sent and I still have the whole month of September to work with! So, I'm feeling kind of up-beat in that department, like I have a chance at winning gold.

So, here are some titles to write by using the word Olympic and its various variations. 

Sunrise at Olympus Mons
Say Olympic Enough Times and it Starts to Sound Funny
O. Lym Pic, Photographer
Olympia: The Winner Who Limped to Victory
Olympic Hurdles Writers Face and How to Hurdle Them
A Visit to Mount Olympus: How I Survived The Gods
The Olympic Garden
The Olympic Heart

I'd take on of these title and write a little something, but for write errrr, right now, I'm busy writing other things and don't feel particularly inspired.
***
Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful for
MORE RAIN!
Yes, we've had a lovely batch of rain all last week and this week-end. 
Over 7 inches. 
It was a slow soaking rain.
Making the ground soft and the plants go "ahhhh."
I'd say it was an Olympian feat of Nature,
but I think it comes easy to her 
if all the right ingredients are in place.

***
What are you thankful for? Have you been watching the Olympics? Do any of my titles inspire you? Care to share some titles of your own?