A Fall Walk

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I wrote a poem about taking a walk when the air was chilly and the leaves were turning colors. I passed one tree where there must have been a thousand birds on its branches. It sounded like the tree was chattering...

AUTUMN CHATTER

The trees are chattering today,

Whispering tales

Above my head.

Leaning over to pass

Along some bit of gossip,

Turning a shameful red.

Swaying with amusement

That I,

Far below,

Cannot hear their indiscretions.

Myself a child amidst

A grownup circle of

Women with nothing better to do.

The trees are chattering today,

But soon the air will be silent

As winter moves in

Dampening this hot deliciousness

As birds fly south

And leaves fall.

Another site of mine to visit...

This summer I haven't been keeping up with my writing site because I was sailing for two months on our boat Sirius. We, my husband and I, took the months of July and August off and just sailed north.  We got as far as Cape Cod Bay's Provincetown.  It was a spectacular trip and a wonderful shakedown cruise.  Along the way we met many friends, both old and new. We created a website to chronicle our journey. If you'd like to visit it, please go to www.sailingsirius.com. I hope you enjoy our blogs and pictures. 

Baltimore Book Festival

Getting ready to sell Little Leona of Monsters and Fire this Saturday at the Baltimore Book Festival.  I will be near the Visitor's Center on the Waterfront.  It's supposed to be a gorgeous day, some come out, explore the book festival and drop by to say hi.  Since it's so close to Halloween and fire is red/orange/yellow, I'm excited to try to jazz up my booth with Halloween lights!

Baltimore Book Festival

On Saturday, September 24, I will be exhibiting Little Leona of Monsters and Fire at the Baltimore Book Festival.  I've never been to this festival before, but it supposed to be one of the largest in the area and it's free!  Come spend the day in Baltimore.  There will be readings, music and food and over 100 exhibitors Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  

Talk at Hill Center in DC

Just went to a talk at the Hill Center in SE Washington near the Eastern Market.  Lovely neighborhood.  If not for the heat and humidity, I would have walked around more after the workshop was over.  The Hill Center is the old Naval Hospital building converted into a cultural center.  The Writer's Center has classes there.  I attended a workshop on "How to Promote Your Book"  which I found fascinating, relevant and very informative.  The speaker, Cherrie Woods, was knowledgeable and a dynamic speaker.  Anyone interested in hiring a publicist should check out her website, www.eclecticpr.com.  Hopefully, with her tips and strategies, I'll be able to market Little Leona more effectively.  Or maybe I'll just hire her to do it for me!  Here is a picture of the Hill Center.

Translations...

I was surfing the Internet the other day, looking at all the entries for my book.  Don't know why.  Perhaps I was just bored.  Of course, the first few Google found were Amazon and my website.  But a little further down on the first page of search results was a website called Bokus.com.  Curious, I clicked on the link and discovered the cover of my book surrounded by another language.  I copied and pasted some of the text into a translator and discovered that it was Swedish.  What fun!  I guess Swedes can now buy my book too!  Also, 232 Swedish Krona equals just over $27.  Wow.

My Library Visit

          I needed to do some research for my writing and visited the regional library on West Street a few days ago.  If you remember from a previous post, the library is now carrying Little Leona of Monsters and Fire.  So after I finished my work, I walked over to the children’s section to find my book.  I looked and looked and couldn’t find it anywhere.  I thought it might be misfiled, since kids often return books to the wrong shelf.  But no luck.  So I went to the librarian to ask for her help.  She looked my book up in the computer and then apologized to me that I couldn’t have it because IT WAS CHECKED OUT!  

          “Really,”  I said. “Are you sure?” 

          “Yes, but I can see if we have a copy in another location…”

          I then explained that I was the author which she said accounted for the silly grin on my face.  Checked out.  Without any effort on my part, someone decided to read it on their own.  Wow.  I am so honored.  There is nothing sweeter for an author than someone else providing this kind of validation. 

Learning About Festivals

There is another life out there.  A place where people gather to appreciate beauty, cuteness and the art of the sale.  I was a vendor at the Annapolis Arts and Crafts Festival this past weekend.  And as I arranged and manned my little booth, I was struck by the people around me.  Other vendors were kind with words of encouragement and offers to help me raise my tent or fold my tarp.  We watched over each other, spelling  our neighbors so they could eat or use the restroom.  When I was gone, they tried to keep customers close until my return.  No one touched my purse sitting on my chair.  There was an honor code of watchfulness and protectiveness evident.  And no one, ever, tried to lure a customer away from another's stall to their own.  

But people did more than that.  They offered to take a picture of my booth, to post it on social media.  People suggested contacts and suggestions, freely and openly.  Even customers were in my corner, wishing me luck, buying my book to support a local author, offering contacts and networking I had no idea existed.

The more kindness that was sent my way, the more I felt obliged to reciprocate in kind.  The day was hot, but we bought lemonades for each other.  As I tried to lower my tent at the end of the festival, fearing the gusting winds would send it flying, an elderly lady immediately appeared to offer to help me.  No one was alone.  We were a village in the purest sense of the word.  And we laughed and enjoyed each other's company during the many long hours of heat and humidity.  

I am happy that I attended the festival this year.  I sold many books but that's not why I'm feeling good.  During this brutal election year, when you hear so much negativity,  I was honored to be among some very fine people this past weekend.  My faith in mankind has ticked another notch upward.

Annapolis Arts, Crafts and Wine Festival

Come one, come all!  I will be selling Little Leona at this festival next weekend, June 4-5 from 10-6.  Lots going on including wine, jazz music and of course, many vendors.  It is in the Navy Stadium, rain or shine.  See link for details:  http://www.annapolisartscraftswinefestival.net.

Fake Fire Part 2

I was going to make fake fire.  I found the idea on Pinterest (that site can be addicting!) and ordered all the supplies.  The first to arrive was the plastic...

It looked innocent enough.  But it was rolled so tightly, I had to flatten it for several days weighing it down with heavy books on my dining room table.  Next I had to cut out paper flames, then use these to cut out the plastic shapes.  I had purchased red and yellow dye so then I had to cook the plastic on the stove top in the dye.  So far so good.

Not having a heat gun, which you use to form the plastic, I bought one!

 First gun I've ever owned!

First gun I've ever owned!

The final step was to heat the plastic shapes and form them into flames.  All was going swimmingly and I was feeling rather proud of myself until I went to move the gun out of the way.  Without thinking (of course, who would think to do this!) I picked it up by the metal end which was very very hot.  I immediately found some ice cubes to stop the burning on my fingers.  

Then I called my sister.  She had shared that her adopted Polish grandmother (long story) had told her to use baking soda on burns.  She had burned herself recently trying to move a casserole fresh from the oven.  She inserted her hand in a bowl of the stuff and left it there for hours.  The next day her hands were normal!  I needed this miracle.

So I did exactly what she did.  I have to tell you the pain went away almost immediately.  I left my hand in baking soda (just dry, no water) for about 12 hours--I burned myself in the morning and kept it in the bowl until bedtime.  That night I went to bed and the next morning, voila, my hand was almost as if I'd never been burned.  

Of course, while my left hand was in baking soda, I knew I needed to finish the fire I'd started.  I plugged in the heat gun and went back to work, being very very careful this time.

Here is the finished product.  I won't show you a picture of my hand since you'd just say it looks normal!

  

Getting Burned By Making a Fake Fire!

Okay, I know that I've written a children's book about fire safety and it's just too ironic that I got burned, but let me start at the beginning...

I wanted my booth at the upcoming Gaithersburg Book Festival to be attractive and engaging.  I bought two jars to hold candy.  One will have red licorice Twizzlers (the Fire Hoses) and the other will have candy corn (the Fire Drops).

Next I purchased a doll with blond hair.  Since she came with hair down to her knees, I had to cut it all off.  Her bangs were all wrong (basically she didn't have any) so I cut them too and had to train them to stay on her forehead with scotch tape.  I dressed her the best I could (can't believe I found doll Uggs at Michaels!) and used a pipe cleaner for the cane.

Finally, I wanted some fire because, you know, Leona fights a dragon and there's lots of fire.  Of course, I knew I couldn't have a real fire.  I went online and found a way to make a fake fire out of plastic that I had to speciality order.  This blog has gone on long enough.  I will continue the story in the next posting...

Little Leona in local libraries!

After much form filling out and emails, I now have my book in two Annapolis libraries:  Annapolis Regional Library on West Street and Severna Park Library.  I was so excited to see it in the card catalogue, I had to look for it on the shelves.

And there it was!  I almost cried.  Now on to school libraries...

Gaithersburg Book Festival

We are only days away from the Gaithersburg Book Festival, scheduled for Saturday, May 21.  This is my first book festival and I'm excited to be included.  I've been trying to figure out how to decorate my booth.  I convinced my sister to sew a fire flag I found on Pinterest.

 If there's just a little bit of wind, it should make for a nice effect.  I've also decided to make a small fire out of plastic.  

 

I am totally out of my depth here.  Also on Pinterest, it looks easy enough.  It would be ironic if I started a fire while trying to promote my fire safety book!

Tackling A Book

Years ago I came up with an idea for a book.  I won't go into the details of the book right now, but it was to be a creative nonfiction piece.  I have worked on this book on and off, sorting through the events in my mind and writing bits and pieces.  In the past six months or so, I haven't even tried to work on it, I was so absorbed in my other writing, the children's book I hope to publish soon and getting this website up and running.  Lately, however, my thoughts have returned to this project.  The thought of an entire book is overwhelming, so I've decided to work on writing vignettes about separate experiences and then at some future point, assembling the essays to see if they work together as a whole.  My enthusiasm has returned and today I have finished my first vignette.  I know I must not edit it or it will slowly dissolve into fragments that I will deem unworthy of the finished whole.  So I will let it sit and  tomorrow I will write another.  Piece by piece I will create the fabric squares that later I will stitch together.  It's been a good day.

On Writing...

I have been inside a lot lately.  The hours just fly by, I so love what I'm doing.  Still, you cannot write in a vacuum.  Periodically you must go outside and live in order to have something to write about.  The past is always there; this is true.  But a past without a present will start to diminish.  This balance is hard for me, for I tend to be single-minded and focused to the extreme.  Either I'm doing nothing but writing, or I'm writing nothing at all.  Fortunately I have a dog.  He loves his walks and I must oblige.  So while he sleeps at my feet as I write, he also forces me to get out in the world and enjoy the changing seasons. I hate being pulled away from my desk, but once outside I'm astonished by all that's going on.  I talk to neighbors.  I watch the wind through the trees.  I get annoyed at a car driving too fast or my dog for trying to chase the car.  I see the birds flocking south and can smell rain in the air.  I gather my coat around me as the wind permeates my layers and remember how lucky I am to have a warm house to return to.  When I finally do sit down at my desk again, I am eager to write.  And all that sensory imagery from the walk helps my words grow.  I am a reluctant but appreciate gardener.

Website Launch

Launching a website is like trying to publish an essay.  You put yourself out there hoping that someone else finds your words as thrilling and consequential as you do.  You prepare yourself for criticism and convince yourself it will be for your own good.  You prepare yourself for outright rejection or worse, no  response at all.  It’s only polite to respond, right?  And so it is with this website.  Though I tried to make it reflective of who I am, both in the design and the poems and essays I posted, I was not completely sure what effect it would have on a broader audience.  As the compliments, encouragements and criticisms are now pouring in, I am convinced I met my goal.  From all the words in all the emails a picture is emerging.  It is clear to me that people are reacting to the website, as they would react to my work, as they would react to me.  That’s the best I can do.  If my voice can permeate and project who I am through whatever means, then I have succeeded.  Because in the end, that’s why I write—not just to be heard, but to have others relate to and understand me.