Honor Our Vets Every Day

I’m honored to be able to live with, meet, or talk to these wonderful vets or their family. The interactions with the 95th nurses (or their children) was in researching the book (A Burnished Rose) and the TV pilot screenplay for a series about the 95ht nurses – think Band of Brothers but about 95th Evacuation Hospital nurses. You’d be amazed by what they went through. Their story needs to be told!

Author and Illustrator Visit: Esseboe Kwami Nyamidie and Pamela Christiansen

Esseboe Kwami Nyamidie has recently published this story for young readers is lovingly illustrated by Pamela Christiansen that will entertain both child and adult alike.

Esseboe and Pam answered a few questions for us.

 

Esseboe:

  1. What is your motivation in creating this book? 

    Night Critters Play is a poem I really love. It is from my earlier book of poems, Ready for your love and other poems.  As a book project, it began eight years ago when I discovered the work of Pamela B. Christiansen. She is a printmaker and art teacher on Bainbridge Island here in the Pacific Northwest. It took Pam several months to illustrate the poem. Then I left it. I revived the project when my partner Michele Plumb Stowell was diagnosed with terminal cancer. In addition to the chock of the news come a sense of powerlessness and death staring you in the face. I decided to revive this one of my book projects in her honor and claim a measure of agency in the situation.
  2. Death has been a major motivation in your writings.

    Yes, it has. I began to write poems seriously in my sophomore year in high school. A brilliant student called Anthony Dzodzoe died during the Christmas holidays. I thought that if he could die as a teenager, then the potential for me to die is always there. Poetry became a tool for me to immortalize myself and my subjects. 
  3. Ready for your love came out in 2004. When are you coming up with a new book of poems?

    I have been engaged in other creative activities since then.  Thirst No More A Fable of Hope and Forgiveness came out in 2017. I have several fiction and nonfiction projects going on. I am also working on a collection of poems that continue to address the problem of death and our human condition. This will be coming out in the next few years.
  4. What will children like about Night Critters Play?

    The book is layered with different meanings and the illustrations have hidden images. Different readers will take different things from it. The hope is that parents and educators will use this as a springboard to introduce children to another way of looking at the natural world. More than anything, Night Critters Play is a meditation on the environment. I also hope that parents and educators will understand the extraordinary skill and energy poured into creating the illustrations and appreciate their depth, beauty, and uniqueness.
  5. Who are the poets that influence your poetry? 

    It’s difficult for me to list all the poets that influence me. I discovered Emily Dickerson in high school. From her, I learned that poetry needs not be complicated to be deep. I studied the John Donne and the metaphysical poets. Charles Baudelaire, considered the consultant poet, has echoes in my writings. I read all the poetry books in the African Writers Series when I was younger so I have all of these influences in my poems in varying degrees.

 FROM PAM

  1. Tell use about the beautiful illustrations. How did you make them?

    The illustrations are monotypes. Monotyping is a technique that generally yields only one good impression from preparing a plate and running it through a printmaking press one or many times. Monotypes are prized because of their unique textural qualities. They are made by drawing on glass or a smooth plate with printer’s ink.
  2. How long did it take you to do the illustrations?

    Several months
  3. Where else can people find you?

    I illustrated Seasoned with Gratitude, a cookbook, by Kathryn Lafond.  These plates are pen and ink drawings and gouache paintings.

You can pick up this lovely book at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

You can find out more about Esseboe at his website: nightcrittersplay.com

CKBooks Publishing
Where Publishing Dreams Become Reality

If I Were You by Lynn Austin

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Got this from my mother-in-law, who is a BIG reader. It’s historical fiction, so I thought I’d give it a go.

Stats: Published in 2020, 464 pages for the paperback.

Blurb: 1950. In the wake of the war, Audrey Clarkson leaves her manor house in England for a fresh start in America with her young son. As a widowed war bride, Audrey needs the support of her American in-laws, whom she has never met. But she arrives to find that her longtime friend Eve Dawson has been impersonating her for the past four years. Unraveling this deception will force Audrey and Eve’s secrets–and the complicated history of their friendship–to the surface.

1940. Eve and Audrey have been as different as two friends can be since the day they met at Wellingford Hall, where Eve’s mother served as a lady’s maid for Audrey’s mother. As young women, those differences become a polarizing force . . . until a greater threat–Nazi invasion–reunites them. With London facing relentless bombardment, Audrey and Eve join the fight as ambulance drivers, battling constant danger together. An American stationed in England brings dreams of a brighter future for Audrey, and the collapse of the class system gives Eve hope for a future with Audrey’s brother. But in the wake of devastating loss, both women must make life-altering decisions that will set in motion a web of lies and push them both to the breaking point long after the last bomb has fallen.

What I liked: It is an interesting premise and seems plausible. And do I give too much away when I say it has a happy ending?

What I didn’t like: I have never read anything by Lynn Austin before so I don’t know her writing style, but in general I don’t like stories where the writer tells you the obvious and this book is written in this style. I am also guessing her other books are Christian books, as this one is. I have not read Christian books before and it seems it’s not for me, even though I am a Christian. Not exactly sure why. Maybe because it seems a bit preachy. Not a lot but more then I liked.

Rating: 3/5

“Kernels – Stories” Author Interview

I recently helped Mary Behan publish her third book – a collection of short stories.

Back Blurb: This debut collection of short stories by author Mary Behan showcases her relentless curiosity and insight into the human condition, and displays her considerable talent for evoking an emotional reaction in the reader.  In settings ranging from Ireland to Iowa, from Norway to New York and beyond, her characters embark on journeys that leave them indelibly changed. These are tales of loss and pleasure, of poignant relationships and chance encounters. Reading Kernels, one experiences heart wrenching moments of sorrow intertwined with unexpected surprises of joy and comfort.

A question and answer with Mary

Where did you grow up and how has this influenced your writing?

My first 25 years were spent in Ireland, a country where language is everything. Reading was a huge part of my life, not just in boarding school but also at home. I remember saying to my mother that I was bored one wet afternoon during the summer holidays. Her reply — part censure, part challenge, part encouragement — was instructive. “Don’t you have a book to read?” she said.

The Irish are good at conversation. It’s often said that ‘talk’ in Ireland is a combat sport! We love to tell a good story, so it’s not surprising that I turned to writing when I had the time.

How did Kernels come about?

I had just finished writing my first novel, A Measured Thread, a 3-year journey that left me feeling elated but at the same time spent. After it was published I found that I didn’t have a clear idea for a second novel. I didn’t want to stop writing, so I came up with a plan: I would write a short story every month for a year, get some feedback from beta readers, and eventually one story would rise to the top and become the candidate for my next novel. I remember pitching the idea to a group of friends at a local coffee shop after Yoga practice, telling them this was an experiment as I had never written a short story before. Several of them volunteered to be beta readers for which I am immensely grateful.

The first story, Dangerous Building, was written in October, 2019. I sent out the final story, All That Glitters is not Gold, to my beta readers in December, 2020. Missing the deadline didn’t seem very important at the time, especially with Covid-19 all around. I gathered my beta readers’ comments each month but held off reading them until January, 2021. That’s when I began to revise the stories. Some revisions were easy but others more challenging, especially when two or three readers disliked the same part of a story, or suggested a completely different direction that required a major rewrite. Towards the end of March, I had the makings of a book and that’s when I approached Christine. She liked many of my stories, but challenged me with some unexpected questions about others. More revisions ensued over the next couple of months, and I could see the improvements. I’m very pleased with the way the stories have turned out. 

Where did you get your ideas for the stories?

The first story I wrote, Dangerous Building, had been lurking in the back of my mind for a long time. It was a place I remembered from childhood, a big country house where my sister and I went to play during the summer holidays with the three kids who lived there. I suppose I must have been 9 or 10 or thereabouts. The place has lingered in my mind for the last 60 years. About five years ago when I was back in Ireland, I went to see it. The description of the house and its surroundings is completely accurate, but the rest is pure fabrication. I needed a story. That’s when the magic of story-telling took over. It was such a powerful feeling: to create characters, have them interact, give them a voice. There’s a tiny kernel of truth in the story, but not much more.

As the months went by I found that about three quarters of the way through each story a new idea would pop into my head, almost demanding to take over. On the last day of each month I would send out a finished story, and force myself to take a week’s break so that the new one could sort itself before I began to type. During a long walk or a bike ride or a solitary drive I’d find the pieces of the story beginning to assemble themselves into a coherent arc.

What is your next project?

I don’t think that any of the short stories have the makings of a novel. Mind you, several of my beta readers disagree with me. That’s encouraging, so maybe I’ll change my mind in a year or two. Interestingly, as I was writing these stories I began to entertain the idea of writing a sequel to A Measured Thread. That hadn’t been my plan at all, and I was somewhat taken aback. I have an outline in my head: a beginning for certain, and a rough idea of an ending. But the middle is less clear. It’s going to be a hard book to write, not just structurally but also emotionally. So, I’m putting it aside for now; I’ll know when I’m ready. 

My sister and I wrote a memoir about our childhood in Ireland, especially our time together at boarding school, called Abbey Girls. We had such a wonderful time wandering through our childhood that we are going to write another memoir together, Travels with Mick. Our father, Mick Behan, had a delightful and quixotic approach to travel that each of us experienced both as children and adults. We have a treasure trove of letters, diaries and photographs to dig into, and will laugh endlessly as we combine our memories into a story for everyone who knew him and those who wished they had.

Will you write more short stories?

When I began to write short stories for Kernels, several of my beta readers asked who were my favorite writers in this genre. I had to admit that I didn’t read short stories, preferring full-length novels. It seemed foolish not to dip into some of the well-known writers in the genre so I read James Joyce, Alice Munro, Joyce Carol Oates, William Trevor and Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen). I read stories in the New Yorker Magazine and American short Fiction. Oddly enough the exercise was unsatisfactory, perhaps because I couldn’t see my own stories reflected in any of theirs. Recently a friend suggested reading stories by Guy De Maupassant, and it was there I found a kindred spirit who will eventually lure me back to writing more.

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If you’re interested in getting Mary’s new book or connect with Mary, below are the links.

Amazon  

Goodreads (paperback and e-book)  

Barnes and Noble (paperback and NOOK)  

Smashwords  

Apple Books  

Rekuten Kobo  

Mary’s previous booksAbbey Girls and A Measured Thread

 

CKBooks Publishing
Where Publishing Dreams Become Reality

It’s Beatrix Potter’s Birthday!

I share a birthday with Beatrix Potter!

CKBooks Publishing

How did I not know that Beatrix and I shared a birthday? She was quite before her time. I can not claim anything like that, and my skill with art is quite pedestrian. Oh well. We’re both writers!

Click the link below to learn a bit more about this amazing woman via Maria Popova’s post.

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“Imagination is the precursor to policy, the precondition to action. Imagination, like wonder, allows us to value something.”

Source: Beatrix Potter, Mycologist: The Beloved Children’s Book Author’s Little-Known Scientific Studies and Illustrations of Mushrooms – Brain Pickings

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Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

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This was a blind pick audio book from my library.

Stats: Published in 2019. Print book is 355 pages, audio book is 12 discs, narrator: Jennifer Lim

Blurb:

In a small town in Virginia, a group of people know each other because they’re part of a special treatment center, a hyperbaric chamber that may cure a range of conditions from infertility to autism. But then the chamber explodes, two people die, and it’s clear the explosion wasn’t an accident.

A showdown unfolds as the story moves across characters who are all maybe keeping secrets, hiding betrayals. Was it the careless mother of a patient? Was it the owners, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? Could it have been a protester, trying to prove the treatment isn’t safe?

What I liked: I liked most everything about this story. The characters are very real. I especially like how Kim explores those dark and very natural thoughts we all have at times. Things we don’t want to think or even admit we think about our lives or the people we encounter or live with. The situation seems real (even though it’s a bit far-fetched). The way Kim parcels out the bits of information makes for a very interesting read (or listen) and I think it is one of the big pluses to the story. I also liked how the wife stuck up for herself and what she believed was right, at the end. Would someone be able to do that in this situation is a good debate to have after reading this story (a good book for a book club read). Jennifer Lim does a great job with the narration.

Great debut novel! I’m jealous!

What I didn’t like: That the author lets a couple people off the hook at the end is a bit disappointing, but as she says in the audio version interview, it’s more realistic, which it is.

Rating: 5/5 (and I don’t give many of those 5’s away. Thought of giving it 4.5 but can’t really think of why, so 5/5 it is 🙂 ) I also agree with the author and editor, I like “Miracle Submarine” for the title.