Congratulations to Susanne Dietze and Gina Welborn on the release of The Most Eligible Bachelor Collection from Barbour Publishing. It's Susanne's debut!

Congratulations to Julianna Deering aka DeAnna Julie Dodson for Murder at the Mikado being an INSPY award finalist.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Summer Reading

Summer is going fast already! Of course, not liking heat, bugs, sweat, dirt, yard work and high utility bills, I am not a fan of summer. However, I do love to curl up with a cold drink and "an improving book" (as my beloved Jeeves would say), and I have a huge stack that I'm eager to dive into.

Here are a few I'm especially looking forward to:

Until That Distant Day by Jill Stengl and Sactuary for a Lady and The Soldier's Secrets by Naomi Rawlings. Having just finished a French Revolution book myself (Decadent Deceit, coming out at the end of August, 2015), I can't resist other novels set during that period. And, in Christian fiction at least, they are few and far between.

Melanie Dickerson's fairytale-inspired series, starting with The Healer's Apprentice. I love fairytales, and I've been wanting to dive into this series for a long time now.

Marylu Tyndall's pirate series, starting with The Reliance. I read and loved the first two books years ago and just had the privilege of reading the ARC for the fifth book in the series, The Reckoning. The pirate hero reminded me of Killian Jones, and  how could I possibly resist that?

Heartless by Anne Elisabeth Stengl and the rest of her fantasy series. I started the first book several months ago and was captivated by the writing and the story. Then, sadly, other obligations got in the way and I had to set it aside. I'm eager to get back to it.

Lisa Bergren's River of Time Series. This was another series I started and really enjoyed and then was forced to set aside because of real-life deadlines. I loved the characters in these time-travel books, and I want to get reacquainted.

Tiger's Paw by Kimberly A. Rogers. This is a novella, the prequel to her long, ambitious urban fantasy series. Rogers is imaginative and has the skill to touch minds and hearts with her writing. I'm eager to find out where her characters will take me.

And, somewhat related to each other, I want to read The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah and Poirot and Me by David Suchet. Hannah's book is a new Poirot mystery sanctioned by Agatha Christie's estate, and how could I miss the story of how actor Suchet spent twenty-five years as the incarnation of Christie's classic Belgian detective?

I could go on for several pages on the subject of books I want to read. And I have deliberately not included any of the wonderful books by my fellow Inkwell writers. First off, there are too many to list here. And if you want to see them all, you can look at our books page.

So what's in your TBR pile? And why?

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Fairies Next Door

Of all the silly things I don’t have time for, making a fairy village is near the top of the list. But of course, I’m planning for the new Fourth of July family tradition. Last year, we started with ‘fairy village in a pot’.  My granddaughters were all over this like s’mores on a toddler’s face and hands. My grandson politely said, "no, thank you." Part container garden, part fairy homestead.
First we painted small wooden houses. Not exactly the wood tones I would have chosen (I guess these were rasta-fairy-ian fairies.) but the painting went well, as did the landscaping.  This included both live plants of the small variety, and artificial flowers popped into tiny little vases. (The vases were tossed out with old science equipment—some sort of lab mini plastic vial).
I knew that horticulture degree would come in handy.

Granddaughter #1 with her creation
We added dried moss, gossamer-like fabric (left over from a butterfly wing costume, of course), seashells, and sea glass.

The project was successful, but only made me more expectant for season two, and the upgrade to a full village in 2015. I expect there will be some grout involved somewhere. I mean, you’ve seen all the samples on Pinterest, right? 

Last summer, we visited a Fairy House competition. Everything in each set up was completely natural, as in, no artificial flowers or paint.  While I won’t be competing anytime soon, it was a lot of fun and sparked our creativity.
One of many Fairy Houses in the competition (Corn Hill Festival, Rochester NY)
Our fairies go to North Carolina for the winter. (Thankfully… we had two feet of snow most of the winter) But they’re back and looking for an upgrade.

If you don’t think I’m telling the truth, then how did ‘shed’ fairy wings, end up in the bed of one of our houses?

Yes, while cleaning up over Memorial Day weekend, my granddaughter found dragonfly wings in the bed of her house. Imagine my surprise when she pulled out real wings!

Granddaughter #2 showing off the fairy wings she found. I don't know how fairies lose their wings.
Maybe I don't want to know.

I promise to share this year’s results with you later this summer. 

Do you ‘village’ like I do? Small or big? We allow gnomes in ours, too, of course.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Vivian Maier-Quiet Genius

By Lisa Karon Richardson
With a consummate eye for composition, tone, and mood, Vivian Maier captured mid-century urban America as no one else. One of the most talented photographers of the 20th century she was nevertheless a complete unknown until the time of her death. It wasn’t until a storage unit she had rented was auctioned for non-payment that the world was introduced to her genius. Luckily an amateur historian, John Maloof, bought thousands of her undeveloped negatives for $380.

When he began looking through them he knew he had found a treasure. He then went on a search for their creator, but he found her obituary instead. She had slipped on ice and hit her head. Since then he has championed her work, bringing it to worldwide acclaim.

An exceedingly private woman she nevertheless left an incredible body of work of over 100,000 images as well as audio and video recordings that reveal much about America from the 1950s to the 1970s.

Vivian Maier was born in New York City to a French mother and Austrian father. It doesn’t appear that her home life was particularly settled. By the age of 4, census information indicates that she and her mother were living with Jeanne Bertrand, a famous portrait photographer. Shortly thereafter she and her mother went to France where she spent several years. She returned to the US in 1939 with her mother, and then again in 1951 alone.

Upon her return she went to work as a nanny. An occupation she held for the rest of her working life. She moved from New York to Chicago, and loved to travel the world, and she gravitated toward the less fortunate wherever she went.

Personal accounts from people who knew Vivian indicate that she was a non-conformist, also opinionated, highly intelligent, and intensely private. She wore a wide brim hat, a long dress, wool coat, and men’s shoes. And she was never without a camera when she left the house. On her days off she would obsessively take pictures, but she never showed her photos to anyone.
Self-Portrait, Vivian Maier

Vivian captured the transient moments of the day-to-day and ended up documenting an era. I find her story fascinating. Part of the reason is, I think, that I can identify with her. Doing an ordinary job, but craving the chance to create something more. To be something more.

Can you identify with the urge to create; be it art, or stories, or music?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Uh Oh!

by C.J. Chase

If you follow current events at all, you’ve no doubt heard the name Rachel Dolezal this week. She’s the white college professor who for years successfully passed herself off as a black woman. In order to do that, she changed her appearance and invented an entirely new background for herself, complete with different parents of a different race.

She has gone so far as to claim that there’s no proof (in the form of a DNA test) that the white couple who raised her are her biological parents. The major question that has arisen: is it a sham or is she so deep into her make-believe life than she can't separate her delusions from the truth?

It was in this context that I first heard the phrase “fantasy prone personality.” Psychology Wiki describes it asdisposition or personality trait in which a person experiences a lifelong extensive and deep involvement in fantasy.”

But…isn’t that normal? No? Uh oh.

This fascinating New York Times article suggests about 4% of the population spends half (or more) of their time living in internal fantasy worlds with “fully articulated plots.” You mean, 96% of the population doesn’t spend their days conversing with imaginary people? So what goes on in their brains all day then?

Fortunately, the researchers say this is only a problem if the person can’t distinguish between fantasy and reality. Whew! I was afraid they were going to say it was a serious problem if you couldn’t stay in the right fantasy—you know, like when your contract says you’re supposed to create a “fully articulated plot” set in 1857 Virginia and your mind keeps sidetracking you to 1796 France or 1881 Montana instead. (Not that this has ever happened to me, understand.)

So, let's discuss. What about you? Are you a 4%er? (Or, like I, do you believe that the number has to be higher than that? After all, it sure seems like everyone and his brother wants to write a book.) Do you think an overactive imagination is a hindrance or an advantage in "real" life?

Oh, and if your flights of fancy become too debilitating, you can always check out this Wiki page for How to Deal with Maladaptive Daydreaming. After you wrap up that "fully articulated plot," that is.