Monday, January 30, 2017

Some Stories and the Women of that Chalki Summer

Let Me Tell You A Story

Over the years I've heard or read stories about other people's lives. I've also had a few experiences that have entered into my "Let me tell you about the time" category. Some of these stories have crept into my books. Others are waiting in the wings. 

Last week I told you a bit about the island of Halki/Chalki, and I promised to tell you about the war hero who's commemorated there. His statue is famous, but when I tried to find more specific history I couldn't. Fortunately, while I was on the island, I met his sister. She was visiting her home that week, so it was only by chance that we connected and that she told our women's group the story.

It was 1944 and her brother was a member of the resistance. When the Italians came hunting for him, he hid--with the help of the locals--in one of the village cisterns. When the searchers failed to locate him, they gathered all of the men, women and children into the place where we sat that night. The sister pointed at the beautiful beach in front of us, and in spite of the many years between her loss and that night, her eyes glistened with tears when she said, "Just there they stood with guns aimed at them."

The Italians sent the fugitive a message which was simple. Either he surrender before nightfall or the villagers would be shot.

Her brother saved his village that day and the woman expressed her pride as well as her sorrow with such dignity that I envied her her noble brother and her tragedy.

I didn't take a picture of the statue. There are many of those online, but I did take of picture of the sister. She had a wonderful face.

I keep mentioning the women's group, and there are so many stories about the seminars we participated in, the trips we took together, the women themselves. Many of them had written and presented papers on women's issues in the post USSR Russia, so our seminars focused on topics like: Feminism East and West, Can Russian Women Create Themselves as Citizens of a Democratic,Capitalist State?, Soviet Women at the Crossroads of Perestoika, The Role of Women in Rebuilding the Russian Economy.

These women were from Russia, UK, Greece, US and Italy. I could spend a year telling those stories. I have notes from our conversations that reveal the humanity of each person on this adventure. However, I think, instead, I'll just show you a few of the women with a quick blurb about each. 

Here we are together by the harbor. We have seminars all morning, take a break for lunch and some fun, then back to our seminar. At four we were done and it was party time.

Their fields or occupations: Farmer, Biologist, International Education, Health Care Provider (she'd worked with Mother Teresa in India with lepers) University Professors (there were 5) , Inter-Cultural Communication, Political Activist. You can see how different we all were. 
On our way across to another small island for a picnic.

The university women from Russia: Valentina, Olga, Natasha and Natalia (daughter).

Soula was a feminine activist in the Communist party in Greece. The word was you didn't mess with Soula.

Did you know that the Greek army beat back the Italian invasion in 1940 and that Germany had to step in. The occupation of Greece destroyed 80% of its industry and 90% of it's bridges, railways and ports. 

Quote of the Week: "All war is a symptom of man's failure as a thinking animal." John Steinbeck

This is it for the month of January, and I'm taking a break during February. See everyone again in March with some more stories.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Sandra Cox Shares and Tara Tyler's Newest Book. Check Out These #InkRipples Covers

[Note: Since I have so much going on this week, I won't include Let Me Tell You A Story until next week. Otherwise, this will be one long blog post!]

#InkRipples is a monthly meme created by Kai StrandMary Waibel, and Katie L. Carroll. They post on the first Monday of every month with a new topic. They're all authors, but you don’t have to be to participate.
This month's #InkRipples is Covers, and today we have two great covers, each distinct and each eye-catching. So hold on to your eyeballs and take a look at these.

My Featured Follower for January is Sandra Cox. 
She's giving one of the peeps on my list a chance to win a copy of her book! She's also answering a couple of questions.

Me: Hey, Sandra. Where did the idea for Love, Lattes and Mutants come from?

Sandra: Love, Lattes and Mutants evolved out of a completely different WIP I was working on at the time.  Aliens turned to mutants and adults to teenagers, only the ocean remained the same.*:) 

Me: This is the kind of serendipity I love. And one more question: What's been the most exciting/daunting part of becoming a published author?

Sandra: The most exciting part of becoming a published author was getting my first contract. I had written for a number of years before I got an offer.  
The most daunting part is when I rubbed  the stardust out of my eyes and realized it didn’t automatically mean people were going to be lined up to buy my book. I think most of us are surprised, when we first start out, to learn just how much self-promotion is involved  in a writing career. 

Me: You have told it like it is, and you have told it so well! Thanks so much.

And now welcome Tara Tyler and her new book with that kid-amazing cover!
Kids and teens are usually in a big rush to grow up. But adults know it's not all staying up late partying or playing games with friends once you're there. Sure, there's more freedom when you're an adult, but with independence comes responsibility. Some people mature, making good decisions, and some don't. And a few adults seem like they're still in high school, which brings me to my topic.

Adult Stereotypes. I'd say the majority of people grow up into decent adults and put away the pettiness and drama of high school. But we all slip up sometimes, letting a bad habit show once in a while. It's tough being "adult" about everything all the time. Thank goodness for reality TV, giving us a quick reminder of how NOT to behave!

And so, here's a fun list of Adult Stereotypes that you mostly only read about or see on TV or in movies for a laugh or for drama... They're funnier or more dastardly because adults should know better.

Gossips - These sweethearts are syrup and sugar on the outside, but live for finding out and spreading juicy stories about you behind your back. Adult bullies who make others feel bad so they feel superior. I love it when they get their just desserts! (ha ha)
Nerds - I split these into two groups - the innocent rule-followers and helpers OR the super smarties who know they're smarter than most and are condescending to the peons below them, they enjoy pointing out the mistakes of others. It's fun to see the first type become heroes or the second type get shown up.
Jocks - There are three groups of this type - health nuts, muscle heads, or couch potatoes - and they're all pretty selfish in extreme ways caring only about their bodies whether good or bad.
Partiers - They love to host or go out and drink and dance, etc. This is the worst group because they're deceptively glamorized and don't show the true consequences like alcoholism, addiction, and crime - unless it's a serious movie, then it's usually depressing.

There are more specific stereotypes, but I didn't have room to list them all, like overprotective or oblivious parents, super strict or lazy teachers, etc. Irony sells. But the great part about books and movies with these outlandish characters is they usually get what's coming to them or are taught a lesson for us to learn as well.

Do you ever use adult stereotypes to teach a lesson in your writing?

Thanks so much for having me here, Lee! This release party is making me go visit folks I haven't seen in a long time - it's been great!


CRADLE ROCK, Beast World Book Two
by Tara Tyler

Gabe the goblin just saved his town Broken Branch Falls from splitting apart. He also revealed that humans--horrible creatures of myth and legend--may actually be part of their history! But seriously? Nah!

Now Ona, Gabe’s girlfriend, is headed thousands of miles away to Camp Cradle Rock for Spring Break seeking evidence of humans. Gabe knows better than to tell a stubborn ogress she’s crazy, so he’s letting her go and spending the break at the beach like a normal teenage beast. And he’s determined to have a good time without her, whether he likes it or not.

But when Gabe hears Ona went missing, he and his friends set out for the wilds of the west to find her, no matter what dangerous creatures get in his way. Not even humans.

Check out the Book Trailer!

Tara Tyler has had a hand in everything from waitressing to rocket engineering. After moving all over, she now writes and teaches math in Ohio with her three active boys and Coach Husband. Currently she has two series, Pop Travel (techno-thriller detective capers) and Beast World (fantasy adventures). To squeeze in writing, she economizes her time aka the Lazy Housewife. Make every day an adventure!

Talk to me!
Author Blog ~~ @taratylertalks ~~ Facebook ~~ Housewives Blog

Sign up for my quarterly newsletter if you'd like to find out more and you could win something!

Quote of the Week: "The book designer’s responsibility is threefold: to the reader, to the publisher and, most of all, to the author. I want you to look at the author’s book and say, ‘Wow! I need to read that.'" Chip Kidd, Cover Designer

Monday, January 9, 2017

There's Something About Love and War

Let Me Tell You A Story

Over the years I've heard or read stories about other people's lives. I've also had a few experiences that have entered into my "Let me tell you about the time" category. Some of these stories have crept into my books. Others are waiting in the wings. 

Last week I wrote about visiting my family in Bellinzona, SW and being caught in a snow storm in the Swiss mountains where my cousin and I had to take over-night shelter in a small wooden structure. What I discovered was that during WWII many of these shelters turned into rendezvous for Swiss sympathizers and the Italian resistance. Swiss couriers--the not so neutral citizens--relayed messages between resistance fighters and allies.

There were also a few love affairs that developed in these outposts, and among those was one that affected my family. One of my cousins was a courier who fell in love with an Italian resistance fighter. They met, exchanged messages, and, I imagine, some romantic moments, then one night my cousin's lover didn't show. She waited for two days before returning to the village. At the next scheduled meeting, he still didn't arrive. She never saw the man she loved again.

Now there's a plot for some romance novelist.

Women of the Resistenza.

book on my TBR list. 

Did You Know. . .The Resistenza suffered severe retaliation at the hands of the Germans, and by war's end had lost about 50,000 men and women. However, they controlled Venice, Milan and Genoa, and they had saved their republic. 
February 4, 1945.
Piazza Garibaldi, Ravenna, the Medaglio D'Oro ceremony. 

Quote of the Week: “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” 
― G.K. Chesterton, Writer

Next week: 

  • Another Story. 
  • My featured follower of the month, Sandra Cox, speaks out.
  • Tara Tyler with her new book, Cradle Rock.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Guess What? It's IWSG Time.

Brain Child of Alex J. Cavanaugh

The awesome co-hosts for the January 4 posting of the IWSG will be Eva @ Lillicasplace, Crystal Collier, Sheena-kay Graham, Chemist Ken, LG Keltner, and Heather Gardner!

I think I'm more exhausted than insecure this month. While I took some time away from social media, I packed the hours with a road trip, lots of cooking and family gatherings. With so many events back-to-back insecurity slipped a notch on my list of concerns. 

However, it's still there lurking and waiting to trip me up. 

Here are the two areas that have me up tight:

I'm testing out a new blog format to see if 1) I can actually do it, and 2) if anyone will care enough to read it.

I'm ready to plunge into draft #2 of the last book in my Pete Riley trilogy, but I'm still not happy with some of it.

Question: What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?

I absolutely hate show don't tell. I'm a storyteller and I like to tell stories. Some of the best books ever written "tell" a story. So leave me alone with the telling. 

Want to see what others in this group are saying about their insecurity and how they answer this question? Here's your chance.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Fresh Start and Featured Follower for January

Last year I said I wanted to change up my blog to keep me interested in blogging and hopefully to keep my readers interested as well. So here we are in 2017, and while my look is the same, some of my content is different.

Featured Followers in Review

In April 2016, I started this feature on my Email Connect, and nine authors played with me. Here they are again:

Chris Ledbetter

If you're interested in joining my Email Connect,  just sign up. The form's in the right margin of this blog.

January's Featured Follower

Welcome Sandra Cox, author of the three book series Mutants. I'm featuring her and book #1, Love Lattes and Mutants, but be sure to check out her other work.

Like most seventeen-year-olds, Piper Dunn wants to blend in with the crowd. Having a blowhole is a definite handicap. A product of a lab-engineered mother with dolphin DNA, Piper spends her school days hiding her brilliant ocean-colored eyes and sea siren voice behind baggy clothing and ugly glasses. When Tyler, the new boy in school, zeroes in on her, ignoring every other girl vying for his attention, no one, including Piper, understands why.

I read this book in an afternoon. It's fun. It's light with adventure and some clean teen romance. Who can resist a story about a beautiful girl with a dolphin blowhole?

Connect with Sandra.

Let Me Tell You A Story

Over the years I've heard or read stories about other people's lives. I've also had a few experiences that have entered into my "Let me tell you about the time" category. Some of these stories have crept into my books. Others are waiting in the wings. Here's one I remember from a trip to visit relatives in Switzerland.

My Swiss cousin was a great hiker, so we hit it off right away, and I couldn't wait to follow her up into the mountains that are the backdrop for Bellinzona (my fraternal grandparents' home). 

We started early while the sun was out and only the hint of snow clouds in the distance. But because we're hiking nuts, we went farther than than we should, and before we stopped and looked overhead, the snow was already floating down on our heads and shoulders. We'd never make it down before the storm hit. I had visions of freezing right there above my ancestral home, but we had water and some food, so we found a small wooden shelter along the ridge and ducked in for the night. She told me that as a kid she and friends often camped in shelters like these. "The trick to a really comfy, deep sleep," she told me, "is the ferns." They'd cut them and put them on the floor. She said none of them stayed awake very long, and they slept late into the mornings on their fern beds. 

We tested her fern beds that night, and they worked! Although it was cold and the ground hard, I don't remember a better night's sleep--even after a good hike. It seems ferns give off a dose of hypnotic flavonoids that induce sound sleep. 

When I did some research, ferns are the plants recommended you have in your bedroom. Here's a quick list other sleep-enabling plants I found online. 

The shelters themselves have an interesting history having to do with WWII, and I'll tell you about that next week.

Did You Know. . .Plants can suffer from sudden blasts of light and that it can affect their growth? Scientists are working to mitigate those negative effects and boost efficiency of photosynthesis. So what does this mean? People like Professor Niyogi, UC Berkeley, are working toward increased crop production to meet the food needs of future generations. Sci-fi writers, how can you use this little bit of science news in your next book? I'm imagining The Plant That Ate New York.

Quote of the Week: "Only spread a fern-frond over a man's head and worldly cares are cast out, and freedom and beauty and peace come in." John Muir