Saturday, December 15, 2018

Author Interview: Donna Cameron



Author Donna Cameron explores the power of kindness in her new book, A Year of Living Kindly: Choices That Will Change Your Life and the World Around You.



Donna recently talked with Rose City Reader about her book, the concept of kindness, and her life as a writer:

How did you come to write A Year of Living Kindly?

I’ve always been awed by kind people and wanted to be kinder myself. It’s not that I was unkind, but I think for most of my life, I settled for nice. At the beginning of 2015, I decided to make a year-long deep-dive into kindness. I wanted to explore it, both from a personal, experiential perspective and also an investigative one. I saw that science was finally looking at kindness – measuring, testing, and coming up with solid evidence that kindness has quantifiable benefits. I shared my research as well as my experience and observations in my Year of Living Kindly blog. For me, the blog was a good way to stay accountable and committed.

I called it “A Year of Living Kindly,” but saw very early on that kindness isn’t something you adopt for a year and then decide to move on to learning how to salsa dance or play the accordion. I knew I was making a lifelong commitment to kindness. With some encouragement from the incredible community that was following my blog, I decided in 2016 to turn what I had learned and shared into a book.

What is your background and how did it prepare you to write a book about kindness?

I spent my career working with nonprofit groups and causes. It was there where I really saw kindness in action on a daily basis. People who work with nonprofits – whether they’re charitable and philanthropic groups, or trade and professional organizations – don’t do it for the money. Mostly, they volunteer their time and talent because they believe in a cause and they want to give back.

That undoubtedly influenced my interest in kindness. I saw its power and also saw that a lot of people mistakenly think kindness is weak or insubstantial, when, in fact, it’s a strength – a superpower.

What did you learn from writing your book – either about the subject of the book or the writing process – that most surprised you?

With regard to my subject, I learned that the deeper I delved into kindness, the more kindness filled my world. It really reinforced the oft-spoken notion that what you look for is what you will find. Wayne Muller says it best: “Whatever you are giving your time and attention to, day after day, is the kind of person you will eventually become.” And he also said, “When we do what we love, again and again, our life comes to hold the fragrance of that thing.” My world is now fragrant with kindness.

With regard to writing, as frivolous as this may sound, I learned the importance of fun. I’ve always been a writer and loved writing, but I saw more clearly than ever while writing this book – and also while promoting it – that for me, fun is a huge part of the process. Playing with words and ideas really is play, and the more I bring a sense of adventure and fun to it, the freer and more powerful the writing.

What will readers learn from your book?

I hope readers will recognize that kindness is a strength and it often takes courage, and also that they possess that strength and courage. I hope people will see what might sometimes get in the way of their kindness and how to avoid those potholes. I hope they’ll understand the skills of kindness 
 
they’re all fairly simple, but they take practice and paying attention.

I hope people will see that there’s no such thing as a small kindness and that our kindnesses create ripples that go out beyond our imagining. I hope people see that even though we seem to be in the midst of an epidemic of unkindness and incivility, we can spread kindness and change the epidemic. Because kindness really is contagious. I hope they’ll see that they always have a choice – and they can always choose kindness.

And I hope they’ll be entertained. While the book is under the broad umbrella of “self-help,” I’m not telling anyone how to live their life or claiming to have found the “true path” to anything. I’m sharing what I’ve learned about kindness and how it’s transformed my life, in the hope that readers will customize it to their own lives.

You have said that you are inspired by the idea of “pursuing unanswerable questions in good company.” Can you explain that a bit?

This is a notion the amazing Rachel Naomi Remen put forward and as soon as I heard it, its truth resonated for me. I love the power of mystery – of not-knowing and not having to have answers to every question. The enjoyment is in exploring ideas and what-ifs, and doing it with people who also share that desire – who don’t always have to be right or have certainty. While many things are black and white, the most interesting ideas are the nuances, the shades of gray. Curiosity is one of our most powerful tools – both as writers and as human beings.

Who are your three (or four or five) favorite authors? Is your own writing influenced by the authors you read?

I majored in Russian literature, and still have a passion for the great Russian authors, but my more contemporary favorites in fiction include Ann Patchett, Elinor Lipman, and the astonishing Robertson Davies. In non-fiction, I love great essayists, among them Rebecca Solnit, Meghan Daum, Anne Lamott, Nora Ephron, and many others.

I think I am influenced by everything I read. Everything deepens the well. I enjoy seeing how authors put words and ideas together – a fresh metaphor, a phrase that captures the essence of a concept, crisp dialogue. Fifteen years ago, I attended a four-day intensive workshop on storytelling with Rachel Remen, and what I learned has served me in myriad ways. Rachel’s two books (Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather’s Blessings) are two of my all-time favorites – books I reread every couple of years and have given as gifts countless times.

What kind of books do you like to read? What are you reading now?

I love well-crafted fiction. I love reading both memoirs and biographies. I am captivated by good essays. I also enjoy a good, character-driven mystery. My TBR list is voluminous and I keep adding to it. Currently, I’m reading Barbara Kingsolver’s new book, Unsheltered. Her books are a master class in the crafts of writing and storytelling.

You have a terrific website and blog, and are also active on Twitter and Facebook. From an author's perspective, how important is the internet to promote your book?

As long as we don’t succumb to addiction and sacrifice writing time to social media compulsion, these tools are vital. My website and blog are a place to connect with thoughtful, like-minded people. And I’ve found Facebook and Twitter to be marvelous places to create community. While there’s plenty to avoid on both platforms, the generosity of other writers and other kindness advocates is consistently inspiring. While the act of writing is of necessity solitary, the community of writers is a treasure beyond measure that many writers may overlook.

Do you have any events coming up to promote your book?

With the holidays upon us, my book events have come to a temporary halt. I do have a few speaking engagements in the new year and hope to have a few more bookstore appearances (my events are posted on my website). During these quiet weeks, I’m looking forward to more time for reading.

What is the most valuable advice you’ve been given as an author?

The tried-and-true advice on butt-in-chair, just-write-even-if-it’s-crap, and writers write, are all obvious, basic, and also truths we need to continually remind ourselves.

One piece of advice that came to me sort of through a back door happened when I was talking with another author a few months before my book came out. She said she wished she could have a do-over because she was so stressed during her publication year that she didn’t enjoy it. She said she was miserable, worrying about all the things she should be doing and all the things she didn’t have time to do, as well as all the things she might not be doing perfectly. I decided then and there that I wanted to be able to look back on this year and say (or sing), “I had the time of my life!” So I tried to have fun in everything I did and didn’t worry about the things I didn’t have time or bandwidth to do. As a result, this has been one of the most joy-filled years of my life.

What is the best thing about being a writer?

Two things:

Number one: discovery. For me writing is a process of discovery. It helps me clarify my thoughts, and come face-to-face with new ideas. There is magic in rereading something I’ve just written and wondering, “Where did that come from?” and even saying (modestly, of course), “Wasn’t that nicely put!”

Number two: touching lives. Nothing compares with the feeling one gets when a reader takes the time to comment – to say they liked your book, it made them laugh, it touched them or in some way changed them.

What’s next? Are you working on your next book?

These last six months of book promotion have been pretty intensive. I’ve continued to write blog posts and to write quite a few articles that have been placed in a wide variety of publications. As the book promotion settles down, I am looking forward to getting back into a more regular writing routine. Right now, I am feeling drawn to shorter forms. I love writing essays have several topics I’m eager to dive in to. I feel like this year has prepared me to be more bold and courageous in my writing, and also to be more playful. I’m eager to see what’s next.


THANK YOU, DONNA!

A YEAR OF LIVING KINDLY IS AVAILABLE ONLINE, OR ASK YOUR LOCAL BOOKSELLER TO ORDER IT!


10 Days to Christmas!




Thursday, December 13, 2018

Book Beginning: What's Going Well?: The Question that Changes Everything by Greg Bell

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS
THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



Since I can remember, I've been preoccupied with the question of why some people reach their full potential and others don't.

What's Going Well?: The Question that Changes Everything by Greg Bell. Greg wrote the popular and powerfully motivating book, Water the Bamboo. In his new book, he teaches how to build a habit of optimism.

Wouldn't we all like to learn to be a little more optimistic?





Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.

EARLY BIRDS & SLOWPOKES: This weekly post goes up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. But feel free to add a link all week.

FACEBOOK: Rose City Reader has a Facebook page where I post about new and favorite books, book events, and other bookish tidbits, as well as link to blog posts. I'd love a "Like" on the page! You can go to the page here to Like it. I am happy to Like you back if you have a blog or professional Facebook page, so please leave a comment with a link and I will find you.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Instagram, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I try to follow all Book  Beginnings participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

TIE IN: The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING

12 Days to Christmas!




Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Teaser Tuesday: A Year of Living Kindly by Donna Cameron




Kind is very different. Kind means connecting; it means being aware and intentional about the impact my words and actions have; it means expending energy and effort, and caring about the outcome.

-- A Year of Living Kindly: Choices That Will Change Your Life and the World Around You by Donna Cameron.

My New Year's resolution is to read Donna Cameron's book and to practice a year of living kindly!



Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by The Purple Booker, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.

14 Days to Christmas!




Monday, December 10, 2018

Mailbox Monday

Three different types of books showed up at my house last week. What new books did you get?



What's Going Well?: The Question that Changes Everything by Greg Bell. This latest book from the author of Water the Bamboo teaches how to build a habit of optimism. We can all work on our optimism skills!




The Adults by Caroline Hulse. Ex-es decide to spend Christmas together for the sake of their daughter. Then they decide it would be OK to bring their new sweethearts. Chaos and comedy ensue. Looks like the perfect book for a cozy Christmas weekend!



Speaking Volumes: Conversations with Remarkable Writers by Ramona Koval. Koval is an Australian journalist known for her interviews of authors. This book collects 28 of her interviews, including Ian McEwan, A. S. Byatt, and Saul Bellow.




Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday, a weekly "show & tell" blog event where participants share the books they acquired the week before. Visit the Mailbox Monday website to find links to all the participants' posts and read more about Books that Caught our Eye.

Mailbox Monday is graciously hosted by Leslie of Under My Apple Tree, Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit, and Martha of Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf.

15 Days to Christmas!




Thursday, December 6, 2018

Book Beginning: Warnings Unheeded by Andy Brown

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS
THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



“Fairchild Police to all posts and patrols, we have an alarm at the ER. Informational, we have an individual in the hospital running around with a shotgun.”
-- Warnings Unheeded: Twin Tragedies at Fairchild Air Force Base by Andy Brown.

Andy Brown is the Air Force Security Forces airman who ended the 1994 mass shooting at Fairchild air force base. His new book chronicles the history of that event and an intentional airplane crash four days later, drawing on his own experience, medical records, police reports, and first-hand accounts.





Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.

EARLY BIRDS & SLOWPOKES: This weekly post goes up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. But feel free to add a link all week.

FACEBOOK: Rose City Reader has a Facebook page where I post about new and favorite books, book events, and other bookish tidbits, as well as link to blog posts. I'd love a "Like" on the page! You can go to the page here to Like it. I am happy to Like you back if you have a blog or professional Facebook page, so please leave a comment with a link and I will find you.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Instagram, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I try to follow all Book  Beginnings participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

TIE IN: The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING




19 Days to Christmas!




Wednesday, December 5, 2018

2018 CHALLENGE: European Reading Challenge Wrap Up

COMPLETED

This is my personal wrap up post for the 2018 European Reading Challenge.

If you have completed the 2018 challenge, please got to the official wrap up page and add a link to your wrap up post. To post a review for a 2018 book, please go to the review page.

The 2019 challenge will be posted ASAP.

BOOKS I READ

The Virgin in the Garden by A. S. Byatt (UK)

The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra (Russia)

Long Ago in France: The Years in Dijon by M. F. K. Fisher (France)

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson (Sweden)

Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald (Germany; National Book Critics Circle Award winner)

The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride (Ireland; James Tate Black Memorial Prize winner)

Nemesis by Jo Nesbo (Norway)

Exodus by Leon Uris (Belgium)

Waiting for Sunrise by William Boyd (Austria)

The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin (Turkey; Edgar Award winner)

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante (Italy)

I visited a total of 11 different countries for this challenge, which is pretty good for me. What is better, for me, is that four of the books were translated to English from the authors' native languages. I read a lot of books set in other countries, but not usually by authors from other countries.






20 Days to Christmas!




Monday, December 3, 2018

Mailbox Holiday Monday: Grit and Ink

One new book came into my house last week.



Grit and Ink: An Oregon Family’s Adventures in Newspapering, 1908–2018 by William F. Willingham, new from OSU Press.

Astoria and Pendleton are on opposite sides of Oregon, but were linked by two newspapers and two families for generations. This book tells the story of how and why these connections were important for those communities and for the state.

It would make a good holiday gift for readers interested in local journalism, the newspaper business, and Oregon history.


Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday, a weekly "show & tell" blog event where participants share the books they acquired the week before. Visit the Mailbox Monday website to find links to all the participants' posts and read more about Books that Caught our Eye.

Mailbox Monday is graciously hosted by Leslie of Under My Apple Tree, Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit, and Martha of Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf.

22 Days to Christmas!




Sunday, December 2, 2018

2018 Challenge Update: European Reading Challenge

This is just a little refresher on the 2018 European Reading Challenge, in preparation for posting the 2019 challenge page.

As a reminder, the idea is to read books by European authors or books set in European countries. You complete the challenge by reading your chosen number of books (1 - 5), and each book must be by a different author and set in a different country – it's supposed to be a tour. Reviews are not necessary, but the person who reads and reviews books from the most countries wins a prize. Go to the main challenge page for more details. 

If you met the qualifications of the challenge in 2018, it is not too late to sign up now, at the main page

If you have completed the 2018 challenge, please got to the official wrap up page for the 2018 Challenge and add a link to your wrap up post. Wrap up posts are especially important if you are in the running for the prize, because I can't guarantee I will accurately catch all your reviews or keep track of the different countries for you.

To post a review for a 2018 book, please go to the review page.

Thank you to all the 102 participants! The 2019 challenge will be posted ASAP and  I look forward to seeing you on the tour again!




23 Days to Christmas!




Saturday, December 1, 2018

Author Interview: Amy Maroney



Writer Amy Maroney recently turned her hand to historical fiction, launching a series centered around a 16th-century female artist. The first book, The Girl from Oto, tracks the heroine from Scotland to Spain. The second book, Mira's Way, just came out this fall.


Amy recently talked with Rose City Reader about her books, female artists, and what drew her to historical fiction:

How did you come to write The Girl from Oto?

I worked as a nonfiction writer and editor for many years, always dreaming of writing fiction. During travels with my family through Europe in 2010-11, I began working on my first novel, a pharmaceutical thriller with the working title The Sunscreen Caper. While I was thrilled by museum visits, our two young daughters were not. We wandered through great halls of Renaissance-era paintings, and I mourned the lack of female artists. Meanwhile, the girls stared at portraits of frozen-in-time people in their gilt frames and were unmoved. I wished we knew more about the stories behind those portraits.

Then I visited Oxford University and saw a 500-year-old painting of a mysterious woman, attributed to female portrait artist Caterina van Hemessen. I was floored. So there were women painters in those days! I dug into history and learned that women have always been artists. Their work was often attributed to men or kept anonymous, but it exists. I decided to weave research and imagination together, bring one of those mysterious old portraits to life, and create a place in history for its maker. My goal with The Miramonde Series (The Girl from Oto is Book 1) is to write page-turners that shine a light on history’s silenced stories.

Your historic mystery tracks the story of a 16th-century female artist Mira from Scotland to Spain. What drew you to this setting for your novel?

The same year I visited Oxford, I traveled with my family to Scotland and spent time in the far north. The people and the landscape made an indelible impression on me. Then we visited the Pyrenees mountains in Aragón, Spain, and we stayed in a restored medieval tower in the tiny hamlet of Oto. The artist Miramonde de Oto (Mira) came to life for me over the few days we spent exploring that beautiful region of the world.

The action in Mira’s story takes place in the Pyrenees along the pilgrim’s route of Camino de Santiago (also known as the Way). From the middle ages onward, this was a major trade route between what is now Spain and the rest of Europe. The mountain communities evolved with the constant presence of traveling pilgrims, itinerant merchants and artisans, smugglers, refugees, and nomadic shepherds. This created a dramatic brew of tensions, culture clashes, religious differences, unlikely alliances, the spread of disease, and a constant flow of news. Add into the mix the looming presence of the mountains themselves, and it’s a writer’s dream come true!

How did you research the historical information and detail found in your book? Do you have an art history background? Did you do on-site research?

I am a history nerd. I worked as a nonfiction writer and editor before turning to fiction, plus I did graduate work in public policy, so I’m no stranger to research. I’ve always loved art history and I began a drawing and painting practice after our two daughters were born; I take an art workshop or class just about every year. When The Miramonde Series began to coalesce in my mind during our travels, I did on-site research everywhere we went. Some of my favorite research spots were monasteries and convents. I speak and read French pretty well so I had some great research days holed up in libraries in various towns and cities along the southern spine of the Pyrenees.

You now have three books in this series – Book 1, The Girl from Oto; Book 2, Mira’s Way; and a prequel novella, The Promise. Why do you call it The Miramonde Series?

In the first chapter of The Girl from Oto, the protagonist of the series is born into dangerous circumstances during the Renaissance era. Her mother names her Miramonde, "one who sees the world." Growing up, she becomes better known as ‘Mira’—a young woman driven to fulfill the promise of her name.

What did you learn from writing your Miramonde books – either about the subject of the books or the writing process – that most surprised you?

This series was originally meant to be one book. As I researched it, I was blown away by the complexity of the historical world I was creating. It quickly became apparent to me there was no way I could tell this story in one book, unless I wanted it to be 1200 pages long. I chose to use a dual-narrative format that weaves together a historical and a contemporary narrative, which requires a lot of left-brain thinking (not my best side). But I was determined to show readers how art conservation has evolved to the point where we can see beneath layers of paint and discover truths that have been buried for centuries.

I’ve also been surprised by the emotional impact these characters have on me. Mira’s very existence is precarious from the start, and she spends her early years navigating obstacles, dangers, and heartbreak that would challenge even the most formidable spirit. Zari, her modern-day counterpart, possesses a lot of the same characteristics as Mira. Though they live centuries apart, they share the same impulsive, curious nature. They are passionate, creative, and have strong moral compasses. When they grieve, I grieve with them. When they’re victorious, I am over the moon. I also have a real soft spot for Elena, a character many readers cite as their favorite.

Do you know right away, or have an idea, how you are going to end your books? Or do the endings come to you as you are in the process of writing?

I’ve learned endings for a series can be tricky. Obviously I want people to finish the books wanting more of the story, because if I end Book 1 in a way that’s 100 percent satisfying with total closure, why will anyone want to read Book 2? On the other hand, people can get really mad if they feel a book leaves them hanging on too big a cliff. So it’s a delicate balance. I knew how I would end Book 1 very early on, but the ending for Book 2 came during the writing process. And I’m actually writing the ending for Book 3’s historical thread now. I sometimes lie awake at night wondering how the next twist in the story will go and worrying about my characters—this is the grand finale for the series, so I want to get it right and honor all of them.

Who are your three (or four or five) favorite authors? Is your own writing influenced by the authors you read?

I am definitely influenced by my favorite authors. I aspire to reach their level of craft someday.
As a young woman I was influenced by Wallace Stegner, Barbara Kingsolver, Isabel Allende, Henning Mankell, Anne Lamott, Mark Reisner (author of Cadillac Desert, a nonfiction page-turner about California’s water wars. I interviewed him for a magazine article when I was a 23-year-old freelance writer—my voice was shaking, I was so starstruck...but he completely put me at ease.) I also study narrative devices used by other authors (narrative point of view, balance of exposition vs. dialogue, sentence length, chapter length, etc.) to help organize my writing.

What kind of books do you like to read? What are you reading now?

I’ve always read a mixture of nonfiction and fiction, and to “escape” I like to read historical fiction, mysteries, and thrillers. Some of my recent favorites include The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck, News of The World by Paulette Jiles, Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, and Educated by Tara Westover. I love Mary Oliver’s poetry and any story that has a poet’s touch at its core, like The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivy. Because I have teen daughters I sometimes dip a toe into the young adult world. I think Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle books are fantastic and next on my YA list is Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi.

What is the most valuable advice you’ve been given as an author?

I am an independent author, which means I publish books under my own imprint, Artelan Press, and I hire a team of professionals to help me with editing, cover design, and formatting. I’ve met some inspiring writers who have been publishing books independently for many years, have loyal readerships, and are making a great living at it. They all share this message with me: This is a long game. Just keep going. It can get isolating doing this, and like most writers I have episodes of self-doubt. Independent publishing is still regarded as inferior to traditional publishing by some, and while that is fading, it can still sting. But the reality is, if people like your stories enough to buy your books and ask for more, you’re doing something right—even if an agent or a publishing house didn’t give you permission. When I hit a rough patch or encounter a naysayer, I remember the advice of my mentors and just get back to work.

You have a terrific website, and are active on social media, like twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. From an author's perspective, how important are social networking sites and other internet resources to promote your book?

Getting discovered is the biggest challenge for indie authors. Social media is a great tool for making connections with other writers and spreading the word about my books. I have a network of author friends on Facebook and Twitter. We do joint Internet promotions when we launch books or have other big news. My website is designed to introduce people to me and my books and hopefully inspire them to stay connected via my readers’ group (I send out monthly emails with news, book deals and free reads I find around the Web, and the occasional giveaway. This month I’m giving away a silver scallop shell necklace like the one my character Zari wears on the Camino). I also blog about being an independent author and about the research and inspirations behind my books.

Do you have any events coming up to promote your books?

I had a launch event for Mira’s Way at a California bookstore this summer and I plan to have a similar event in Portland when I publish Book 3 in the series. I’ll post details on my website. Also, I enjoy meeting with book clubs and will be doing more of that in the future.

What’s next? Are you working on your next book?

I’m working away on Book 3 in The Miramonde Series and plan to publish it in 2019. I’ve been getting requests to write a spin-off series about some of my historical characters, and I must admit I’m not quite ready to step away from that world yet. I’ve been reading a lot of mysteries and thrillers lately and I want to keep going in that direction. I’m interested in writing contemporary thrillers that have a historical element (like Henning Mankell’s The Man from Beijing). Then there’s the book that started it all: The Sunscreen Caper, still sitting on the back burner. Every time I think about it I laugh.


THANKS, AMY!

THE BOOKS IN AMY'S MIRAMONDE SERIES ARE AVAILABLE ONLINE, OR ASK YOUR LOCAL BOOK SELLER TO ORDER THEM.  



24 Days to Christmas!



I love Christmas and Christmas traditions! This is the 11th year I've posted an advent calendar of vintage Christmas cards here on Rose City Reader.

Enjoy! And Merry Christmas to my fellow Christmas merrymakers! 

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Book Beginning: A Year of Living Kindly: Choices That Will Change Your Life and the World Around You by Donna Cameron

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS
THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



Stories of kindness are everywhere . . . if we look for them.

-- from Chapter 1, "Being Nice Isn't the Same as Being Kind," in A Year of Living Kindly: Choices That Will Change Your Life and the World Around You by Donna Cameron.

I loved the idea of this book as soon as it caught my eye. I can't wait to dive in and the title of the first chapter intrigues me. What does this mean, being nice isn't the same as being kind?




Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.

EARLY BIRDS & SLOWPOKES: This weekly post goes up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. But feel free to add a link all week.

FACEBOOK: Rose City Reader has a Facebook page where I post about new and favorite books, book events, and other bookish tidbits, as well as link to blog posts. I'd love a "Like" on the page! You can go to the page here to Like it. I am happy to Like you back if you have a blog or professional Facebook page, so please leave a comment with a link and I will find you.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Instagram, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I try to follow all Book  Beginnings participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

TIE IN: The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING




Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Teaser Tuesday: Pay to Play: Sexual Harassment American Style by Tootie Smith



But let's consider the more hidden forms of sexism, which I believe are more prevalent in their influence in our workplaces and in our play-places and are most always ignored. For lack of a better term, I'll call it locker room talk

-- Pay to Play: Sexual Harassment American Style by Tootie Smith. Smith is a public speaker and consultant whose timely book offers a lively explanation of sexual harassment as well as common sense solutions.



Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by The Purple Booker, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Mailbox Monday: Essays Everywhere!

I picked up three books of essays last week. What books came into your house?



The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup: My Encounters with Extraordinary People by Susan Orlean. I saw the movie adaptation of The Orchid Thief, but have never read her books. Now I will.



Havanas in Camelot: Personal Essays by William Styron. Sophie's Choice is a gobsmacker of a book. I've never read his nonfiction.



A Hymnal: The Controversial Arts by William F. Buckley. I've been reading, and enjoying, Buckley's fiction and nonfiction since I was in high school. It's rare I find one of his books I don't already own, so I was excited to find this one.



Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday, a weekly "show & tell" blog event where participants share the books they acquired the week before. Visit the Mailbox Monday website to find links to all the participants' posts and read more about Books that Caught our Eye.

Mailbox Monday is graciously hosted by Leslie of Under My Apple Tree, Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit, and Martha of Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Author Interview: Stevan Allred


Stevan Allred is one of the most imaginative writers around. His new novel, The Alehouse at the End of the World, follows the hero on a quest to find his beloved on the Isle of the Dead. It's the latest title from Forest Avenue Press, with another eye-popping cover from Gigi Little.


Stevan recently talked with Rose City Reader about his new book, his inspiration, and what's up with the title: 

The Alehouse at the End of the World takes place in the sixteenth century, sort of, in a world filled with myth, lore, bird gods, adventures, and a very sexy goddess. What inspired such an imaginative story?

I stumbled my way into this novel without a plan or an outline. I wanted to write something untethered by the constraints of the everyday world. Inspiration came from books I have loved for decades, books from my childhood (The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, Winnie-the Pooh), books from my youth (Frank Herbert’s Dune, C. S. Lewis’s Narnia stories, J. R. R. Tolkein’s Middle Earth novels), books from my adulthood (Ursula LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, Jan Morris’s Last Letters from Hav, Christopher Moore’s Lamb: the Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal). I put some brushstrokes of what might be called magical realism into my first book, A Simplified Map of the Real World. I hoped I was ready to go full bore into something fantastic, something I came to think of as mythical realism.

What is your professional and personal background and how did it lead to writing fiction?

Professionally I am a property manager, which is a people business, and affords me the chance to get to know lots of different kinds of people whom I might never meet otherwise. Sometimes I find moments of revelation in my day job that work their way into characters on the page.

I absorbed a love of books and writing from my mother, who valued a life of the mind while doing yeowoman’s work as a stay-at-home mom. I wasn’t an athlete, growing up, though I dearly wished I were, even though I lacked the coordination and strength to compete with my peers. But I was a very good student, academically speaking, and books were my companions, especially books that told a good story. My mother was interested in everything – science, religion, history, the natural world – and I grew up with her broad curiosity informing the casual conversation of our home life.

How did you come up with the title?

The title eluded me for a very long time, all the way through two complete drafts. Usually I would know the title of a work by then, but for three years this novel was known on my computer as Great Fish, a phrase I borrowed from the story of Jonah in the King James Version of the Bible.

Early on in the third draft the title came to me in the manner that Annie Dillard has famously described:
One line of a poem, the poet said – only one line, but thank God for that one line – drops from the ceiling. Thornton Wilder cited this unnamed writer of sonnets: one line of a sonnet falls from the ceiling, and you tap in the others around it with a jeweler's hammer. Nobody whispers it in your ear. It is like something you memorized once and forgot. Now it comes back and rips away your breath.
It was a couple of weeks before I realized that the title of my first book, A Simplified Map of the Real World, landed on the same word as the title of this novel. It was another six months before someone pointed out to me that I had unconsciously echoed the title of a Douglas Adams novel, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Douglas Adams and I are very different writers on the page, but our worldviews are not so far apart.

Did you know at the beginning how you were going to end the story, or did it come to you as you wrote the book?

In the beginning I had the fisherman, an incident with a whale, a quest that would lead the fisherman to the Isle of the Dead, and not much more. The rest I made up as I went along.

I like to discover the story as I write it. I like to let the characters and their language drive the writing forward. Had I planned the whole thing from the outset I don’t think I would have finished it. For me, the joy of writing a story is all in the discovery.

What did you learn from writing your book – either about the subject of the book or the writing process – that most surprised you?

I took great delight in stretching my imagination. The more I used my imagination, I discovered, the more I could use my imagination. It was like going into training for a marathon, building up the stamina and the range that would allow me to solve all of the problems my crazy version of the afterlife presented.

What kind of books do you like to read? What are you reading now?

I read a lot, mostly fiction, and my tastes are pretty broad. I love speculative fiction, and I love reality-bound fiction. I read YA novels from time to time, like Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus – so good I read it twice, back-to-back. I also read history occasionally, mostly with an eye toward the often astonishing accomplishments of our forebears, and the unintended consequences of those accomplishments. In that vein I am much enamored of Charles C. Mann’s two works, 1491 and 1493.

Right now I am reading Paul Souder’s excellent Arctic Solitaire, which is Souder’s account of going after the perfect polar bear photograph in the northern reaches of Hudson’s Bay. Before that Stranger in the Pen, Mohamed Asem’s memoir about being detained by immigration as he re-entered the UK after a trip abroad – my highly recommended, must-read for these troubled times. I’ve recently finished three exemplary novels, all of which are well worth the time: Octavia Butler’s Kindred, Tayari Jones’ An American Marriage, and Eva Hornung’s Dog Boy. I love books that take me somewhere I’ve never been and make that world come alive.

What is the most valuable advice you’ve been given as an author?

It is far easier to make a bad sentence better than it is to try to write the perfect sentence in the first place. Writing is rewriting. You have to learn to live with your own bad writing until you figure out how to make it better. If you can learn to do that, and you get your butt in the chair on a regular basis, you’ll be okay.

Do you have any events coming up to read from or promote your book?

I have many, and you can go to my Stevan Allred website to keep up.


THANKS, STEVAN!

THE ALEHOUSE AT THE END OF THE WORLD IS AVAILABLE ONLINE, OR ASK YOUR LOCAL BOOK SELLER TO ORDER IT. IT WOULD MAKE A GREAT HOLIDAY GIFT FOR ANY READER WHO LIKES A GOOD YARN!



Thursday, November 22, 2018

Book Beginning: The Shame of Losing by Sarah Cannon

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



On October 30, 2007, I was volunteering at a local arts center in our suburb, preparing for an auction.

The Shame of Losing by Sarah Cannon. This new memoir looks at how an ordinary wife and mother coped -- and didn't cope -- with her husband's traumatic brain injury. It's really good.





Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.

EARLY BIRDS & SLOWPOKES: This weekly post goes up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. But feel free to add a link all week.

FACEBOOK: Rose City Reader has a Facebook page where I post about new and favorite books, book events, and other bookish tidbits, as well as link to blog posts. I'd love a "Like" on the page! You can go to the page here to Like it. I am happy to Like you back if you have a blog or professional Facebook page, so please leave a comment with a link and I will find you.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Instagram, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I try to follow all Book  Beginnings participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

TIE IN: The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING





Happy Thanksgiving!




Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Teaser Tuesday: Give to Live by Arlene Cogan



Many of the families I’ve worked with wanted to give to charity, but also wanted to be able to take care of loved ones. You’ll be happy to know that you can do both.

Give to Live: Make a Charitable Gift You Never Imagined by Arlene Cogen. This seemed like an appropriate book for Thanksgiving week.

Arlene's new guide to philanthropy provides easy, straightforward, thorough information about charitable giving for individuals and the professionals who guide them.






Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by The Purple Booker, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Mailbox Thanksgiving Monday

What books came into your house last week? I got three nonfiction books, which seems appropriate for Nonfiction November.



A Year of Living Kindly: Choices That Will Change Your Life and the World Around You by Donna Cameron. As soon as I saw this book, I wanted to buy it. It will be the first book I read in 2019.



The Little Book of Lykke: Secrets of the World’s Happiest People by Meik Wiking. I loved The Little Book of Hygge. This new one is about lykke (LOO-ka), “pursuing and finding the good that exists in the world around us every day."



Warnings Unheeded: Twin Tragedies at Fairchild Air Force Base by Andy Brown. This is the true story about a 1994 mass shooting at the air force base, and an intentional airplane crash four days later, written by the man who ended the shooting spree.



Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday, a weekly "show & tell" blog event where participants share the books they acquired the week before. Visit the Mailbox Monday website to find links to all the participants' posts and read more about Books that Caught our Eye.

Mailbox Monday is graciously hosted by Leslie of Under My Apple Tree, Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit, and Martha of Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...