October 20th, NATIONAL DAY OF WRITING

Here I am, a day late (and a dollar short as the old saying goes) ready to celebrate the National Council Teachers of English’s annual celebration of writing. It was designated to allow people to appreciate the value of writing in our personal and societal lives. The NCTE states,”…writing is critical to literacy but needs greater attention and celebration.” How true!

In honor of the day, here are a few quotes about writing:

“Why do I write? To investigate the mystery of existence. To tolerate myself. To get closer to everything that is outside of me.” (Jhumpa Labiri, Pulitzer Prize Winner)

“…What do average people gain by writing? I think that any time you make something and the refining and revising of that something to the best it can be, brings great satisfaction,” [which is what writing does]. (Paraphrased from Houston’s Executive Director of Imprint, a yearly scheduled series of readings and lectures by contemporary writers)

“Good writing is always about things that are important to you, things that are scary to you, things that eat you up.” (John Edgar Wideman, author)

“In both writing and sleeping, we learn to be physically still at the same time we are encouraging our minds to unlock from the humdrum rational thinking of our daytime lives.” (Stephen King) (a shout out of thanks to Maria Popova’s blog, Brain Pickings, via way of the blog Bookish Fame, which collected favorite quotes on writing)

Writing is important at all ages, and best learned young.

Celebrate writing in some way today, even if we are a day late. LOL And, isn’t this day a great lead-in to November, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

Until next time, keep reading and do some writing!

THE BRONTE PLOT by Katherine Reay: A Review

My “new” favorite author

Thanks to Carla from Carla Loves Books, my new favorite author is Katherine Reay. Carla reviewed one of this author’s books, and the race was on for me to “find them all.”

The Bronte Plot is an excelllent “escape” read, but it is much, much more. The 2015 publication is a romance, but it is much, much more. Sid McKenna , one of Chicago’s most reputable antique dealers/decorator’s, personal assistant,Lucy, is our protagonist. She specializes in antique books, often inscribed with personal notes to a giftee ,and can find just the right “fit” for a customer’s desire for a unique gift. Her father was a grifter as she grew up, shifting the family from place to place and always working a “con,” never holding down a steady job.

Enter James Carmichael, of the Chicago Carmichaels, who wishes to buy a birthday gift for his grandmother. It is not love at first sight for either of them.

Enter the fragile grandmother, striving to make a long-ago wrong right, but who needs a personal assistant to accompany her to England. Lucy is her choice.

Things immediately get complicated. Lucy has an ethical secret she has been hiding from Sid, her mentor.She travels to England with Mrs. Carmichael, looks up her father, has the opportunity to try out her designer skills at an old, inn, and develops an on-again, off-again relationship with James.

The story is easy to follow, truths are peeled away like skins on an onion, and we come to love and worry about the characters. I promise the plot will keep you turning the pages. I stayed up until an ungodly hour to finish this one!

Nine counties on the Texas Gulf Coast choose a book each year to read during the month of October.

Because I work in Harris County, the seat of Houston, and live in Brazoria County where my little hometown of Alvin is located, I belong to book groups in two counties. Both are reading

A tale of Mayan mythology set in the Roaring Twenties

to celebrate the Gulf Coast Reads, a literary activity observed every October. Nine counties along the Texas Gulf Coast read the same book and hold book club discussions, lectures, brown-bag lunch meetings, and thematically related activities and events during the month.

Reminiscent of Cinderella, Casiopeia is a slave in her wealthy grandfather’s house, frequently tormented by her evil cousin, Martin. One day when the family has traveled to a nearby town for a festival, Casiopeia opens a locked trunk only to discover bones that are the remains of the god of death, Hun-Kame who had been imprisoned there by his twin brother, Vucub-Kame while he took over as ruler of the Underworld. Hun-Kame inflicts Casiopeia with a shard of glass which allows him to draw from her life force and restores him to a human form. One problem –he is missing an eye, an ear, a hand, and a special necklace.

The story is the quest to regain the missing body parts, “take revenge and reclaim” the throne of Xilbaba wrested from him years ago. It is a story of the strange relationship between the two main characters as they travel from Merida, then to Veracruz, and finally to Baja, California. Along the way, they meet zoot-suited demons, jazz playing underworld “gangsters,” and the women who serve and sometimes command them. Blood sacrifices are demanded, hungry ghosts seek to feed on Casiopeia, and Despair enters the story. It is a time of loud music, sexy dancing, and outrageous laughter and joy–The Jazz Age. Casiopeia learns to drive a new-fangled automobile, travels unchaperoned with a man, and even walks the Black Road in the Underworld before their journey is over. The ending is satisfactory and not what I had expected.

This is a special book, and reading it along with so many others simultaneously is a special experience.

SATURDAY MORNINGS FOR KIDS

This grownup really enjoyed today’s selection.

Almost Famous by David Getz is a 182 page marvel. It “stars” Maxine, who is obsessed with Phil Donahue, who was a TV talk show host years ago. She keeps writing him to let him know she is “almost famous,” and he’d better invite her on his show while he can. What is she famous for? Well…nothing yet, but that doesn’t keep her from trying to invent something. What she’d like to invent is a machine that would make her little brother, Wat’s heart beat correctly.

Wat doesn’t want to sleep (He refuses to at kindergarten nap time.) because of his bad dreams about his heart murmur and other daily occurrences. Another person who can’t sleep is Maxine’s classmate, Toni’s grandmother. It seems that when grandma tries to go to sleep, instead she gets sad and scared. She nods off in the daytime, but she stays up all night and fails to take care of herself. Toni must cook for her and take care of her daily needs.

Maxine receives a strange letter announcing an Inventions of Children Contest, and she persuades the unwilling Toni to enter with her. What follows are some of the most hilarious “inventions” and invention-attempts the reader could imagine. Through it all, Maxine learns how to be a friend, something she has never learned. The ending is surprising and heart warming. This book is something you won’t want to miss.

FIRST LINE FRIDAYS

The author writes,” ‘How do we change?’ and answers with ‘in relation to others.’ ”

My firstliner today is from my current read. I am on page 229, but the first line reads as follows:

“Chart notes, John: Patient reports feeling ‘stressed out’ and states that he is having difficulty sleeping and getting along with his wife. Expresses annoyance with others and seeks help ‘managing the idiots.’ ”

Gottlieb not only writes about patients’ cases, but her own, in a behind-the-scenes look at therapy and the therapists who offer it. It is at times humorous, always empathetic and helpful because every reader will find herself/himself in the situations of the “cases” in this book.

SATURDAY MORNING FOR KIDS ON SUNDAY NIGHT

Ok, so I’m behind; waaayy behind: on schoolwork on reading blogs, on writing posts on my blogs, on housework–I’m behind. Usually on Saturday mornings I recommend a book especially for kids, often about kids. An eleven-year-old narrator tells the story of WWII U boats and war efforts near Carucao, “the largest of the Dutch islands just off the coast of Venezuela in Theodore Taylor’s The Cay.

Shown here are Timothy and Stew, the cook’s car with Phillip in the background

When I saw the cover of the book, I assumed “The Cay” referred to the huge Negro, giving him an ethnicity or tribal identity or something. Actually, the Cay is an island, surrounded by a volcano-created atoll and reef, hiding the little island on which Phillip and Timothy are washed ashore after a German submarine torpedoed the ship Phillip and his mother were on. Timothy was a worker on the big ship and has the strength of many men, despite his advancing age.

This is a story of survival, of friendship, and of changing attitudes and prejudices. It is an adventure story, but so much more. Taylor’s imagination for catastrophe will have you holding your breath only to help you release it in moments of warmth and life lessons learned .

This book is appropriate for all children eleven and up, but especially life-changing for middle school students. I highly recommend it.

RELEASE DAY: HIDING CRACKED GLASS by Jay Cudney

Book 2 in Perceptions of Glass series

I could hardly wait for the sequel to Jay’s book, Watching Glass Shatter. I had followed the dysfunctional Glass family wondering about a strange letter the father had left behind. The new book, Hiding Cracked Glass also revolves around a letter, a threatening, blackmail letter. Unfortunately, the adresse’s name is blurred, so we are not sure whom the threat is toward. Olivia, the matriarch of the family, both my favorite and least favorite character in this series assumes the threat is made towards her; but is it? It could be made toward any member of the family, for this is a family that keeps secrets.

The letter’s arrival happens right in the “middle of things,” where and when Cudney’s catastrophes usually occur–right at the worst possible moment. In the next eight hours, all hell breaks loose, complete with misassumptions and miscommunications galore. A few new characters are added to the mix of Olivia and her five sons. Cudney’s strongest skill is his outstanding characterization, something I use as a criteria for every novel I read, and Jay earns an A+ in this area for sure. What a page turner!

Jay is offering a giveaway with this publication. See his blog, This Is My Truth Now for details. http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/eSee1a9220/?

The hardback, paperback, and Kindle versions are available today! Get your copy now and get reading!