Sunday, May 27, 2012

Hello Summer—Let's Play!

I've spent the last few days at Bethany Beach, DE visiting my dad. Way to many kick back moments to write about, so I'm going with the old, "A picture paints 1000 words," philosophy.

I made a movie about "kick back" summer moments using Windows Movie Maker—my first try. Maybe now, I can make my own trailer for my soon to be released novel. It sure would beat paying CreateSpace $1200 for 30 seconds and ten images. Unbelievable!!! The music ends a little too early, but I had fun playing  with it. Let me know what you think.

By the way, the narrative section of Kick Back Moments is short today. I just finished the final edit of my novel before sending it to the printing press. The word bank in my brain is empty. So, let's go to the movies:    

Happy "Unofficial" Summer!       


Since the theme this week is summer, I'll pick Three Junes by Julia Glass.

Since there aren't any words left in my brain, I'll let Oprah tell you about it:

"One of the most soulful books I've read, it's another story that deals with the passage of time—in this case, in the lives of a Scottish bookseller in New York and his father and siblings in Europe. You see the family from three perspectives; the story traces their disappointments, love, challenges, their health and their illnesses—what happens to people over a lifetime and how one generation leaves its imprint on the next."
Read more:


The upbeat jazz instrumental you hear as background music on my movie is:  Big Windy Cat by Nick Colionne.


"If you're not barefoot, you're overdressed."


Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Essential Independent Bookstore

In celebration of their latest book release, The Emotion Thesaurus, Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, hosts of the The Bookshelf Muse, are throwing a kindness party and you're invited.

 Here's what the invitation says:

"Kindness is POWERFUL. Even the smallest gesture can fuel a person and keep them going.

All over the blogosphere, you'll see Random Acts of Kindness toward Writers.These are by people who want to share their appreciation for those who have helped or supported them at some point along the Writing Path.

We've seen a lot of changes in the Industry lately. Change can lead to great things, but there's always growing pains that go along with it. Today is a day to forget what divides us and instead remember what unites us. We all share a passion for the written word. Today, let's celebrate those who write!"

I choose independent booksellers as the recipient of my random act of kindness gift. These individuals provide a haven for readers and writers. In this era of digital downloads and online ordering, bookstore owners are struggling to survive. Albert Greco, a Fordham University professor who studies book marketing, says, "Chain and independent stores have never been under more pressure, and it's not all digital." When Borders was still in business, Greco calculated that Amazon had 22.6% of the book market—ahead of Barnes & Nobel (17%), Borders (8.1%), Books-A-Million (3%), and independents (6%).

A bookstore is my favorite place to take myself on a date. I cringe when I read headlines like this: Figures Show Dramatic Collapse in Independent Booksellers (from the Guardian, 10/4/11

Bookstores are the heart of a community. Keep that heart beating. 

Here are a few of the reasons I love my community bookstore, East Line Books: 
  • A cozy atmosphere that turns book browsing into an enjoyable experience.
  • A cup of coffee and cookie to add a bit more pleasure to my search.  
  • An owner who is ready to assist with missions like, "I need a unique book for my father's 80th birthday gift basket."
  • A gathering place for events such as author book signings, book clubs, workshops, creative writing classes, poetry circles and guest speakers.
  • Conversations with strangers who turn into friends.
  • East Line Books is often involved in, and even initiates, community events, such as used book sales for charity. 
Just read this passage from the East Line Book Website:

"Robyn, the bookseller, is dedicated to providing the best selection of books, the best classes, the best service, and the most welcoming environment to all of the wonderfully diverse people of our community."  

That's why my contribution to the Celebrate Writers Through Random Acts of Kindness party is to encourage all to buy a book at an independent bookstore. Keep these treasures alive. If everyone who reads, buys one book per month in a store, these shops will continue to be a cherished member of communities.

Please share something special about a book store you love in the comment section.


Buy a Book in a Store!    


Morning Morgantown by Joni Mitchell—a beautiful song about the simplicity of small town living. I love the first line:  "When morning comes to Morgantown, the merchants roll their awnings down."


    The Ghost and Mrs. McClure by Alice Kimberly (The Haunted Bookshop Mystery Series)
    Protagonist Penelope Thornton-McClure owns a mystery bookstore in a small seaside town in Rhode Island. It happens to be haunted by Jack Shepard, a private investigator who was killed in 1949. The pair work together to solve crimes in five installments of the series published between 2004 and 2009.


    "Standing there, staring at the long shelves crammed with books, I felt myself relax and was suddenly at peace."
    Helene Hanff, Q's Legacy


    Saturday, May 12, 2012

    Wise Words From My Sons

    Whoever said, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me," was wrong. Words are powerful. They can hurt, but they can also heal. This Mother's Day I'd like to recognize word gifts that my sons, Max, 23 and Greg, 21, gave me. Words that I often think about. Words that help me make decisions. Words that relieve difficult times.

    When Greg was 8 or 9 years old, I was going through a turbulent period with career, finances, personal problems—the works. I tried to hide the stress I felt from my sons, but kids aren't stupid. They can detect emotional discord. At one point, Greg asked me, "What's wrong, Mom?" I explained my frustrations to him sensitively, in terms I hoped he would understand—told him that many of my hopes and dreams weren't coming true, and that I was feeling very disappointed. His reply to me was, "Maybe you're just supposed be doing something different."

    It stopped me cold. Lightning had struck. "Something different!" Maybe what I wished for wasn't meant to be. Maybe it was "Something different." Maybe I was right where I was supposed to be—discovering how to live independently, growing in a job, learning how to manage money, solving problems. Sure, life was hard  but the challenges were making me stronger; enhancing my character. Since the day Greg gave me that advice, I view periods of discontent differently. I view them with acceptance, patience and wonder. After all, it's during those thorny times that we often discover a beautiful rose.

    Now for Max. He started driving to high school when he was a senior. Not wanting to deal with the traffic in the student lot, he parked in a small dirt space nearby. One day when he arrived, Max saw a group of guys roughing up a meek young man. Appalled, Max stepped out of his car, and demanded that the bullies leave the kid alone. After some verbal banter, the guys took off and Max walked to school with the relieved victim. When he came home that day, Max told me about the incident. The humanitarian in me admired my son's altruistic behavior. The mother in me imagined the worst case scenario—visiting my son badly beaten in the hospital. I told him that I highly regarded his actions, then added, "Just be careful. You could have gotten really hurt." Max replied, "It would've hurt more to walk away."

    My heart swelled with pride. It was one of my finest moments as a parent and, oh, the times I've pulled those words out of my life toolbox. For example, I work for a high needs school district, and occasionally become frustrated as I try to help disadvantaged students achieve with limited resources and rigorous academic demands. Sometimes I just want to quit. Why don't I?

    "It would hurt more to walk away than it would to stay."

    I write novels, along with tens of thousands of others. Traditional publishers only accept about 200 titles from new authors each year, so the chance of seeing my work in book form is slim (unless I self-publish). I pour myself into my writing with little recognition. Some days I want to quit, but it feels so wrong. Why?

    "It would hurt more to walk away than it would to stay."

    When we become intimately close with people, they bring us joy and pain. Inevitably, we go through periods when the pain outweighs the joy, and we feel like giving up on that relationship. Why don't we?

    "It would hurt more to walk away than it would to stay."

    Of course, there are occasions when it hurts more to stay than it does to walk away. That's when things get really tough.

    So during this Mother's Day week, I would like to thank my sons for the gift of those beautiful words. They have served me well. You two are the best!!! 

    This week, I'd love it if you'd share a favorite quote, or story, that helps you along life's journey. Maybe we can acquire a collection of wise words and I'll post them soon.


    And the Whippoorwill Sang by Micki Peluso. A memoir that will warm your heart, then break it, then help it to heal. This story grabbed from the beginning, and will never let me go. Do yourself a favor and read it. Here are the first few lines from Amazon's description:

    "Happy times, a sunny day, a driving drunk, eight lives forever changed. A mother's account of actual events of her family, filled with laughter, love, loss, and survival. It is a day like any other, except the intense heat wave has broken and signs of early fall are in the air. Around the dining room table of her 100 year old farmhouse, Micki Peluso's six children, along with three of their friends, eagerly gulp down a chicken dinner. As soon as the last morsel is ravished, the lot of them is off in different directions. Except for the one whose turn it is to do the dishes. After offering her mother a buck if she'll do them, with an impish grin, the child rushes out the front door, too excited for a hug, calling out, "Bye Mom," as the door slams shut. For the Peluso's the nightmare begins.


    My Wish sung by Rascal Flatts. The lyrics express "My wish," for my sons this Mother's Day, and always.



    Happy Mother's Day!


    Saturday, May 5, 2012

    A Walk of Many Colors

    Most weeks I write about an event that I experienced that was easy on the mind, spirit and wallet. Events that are available to us everyday, but are missed because we are too busy with the demands that life often hands us.

    This past week I did something that I do every year, but paid closer attention to the details. I took a stroll through my hometown, Saratoga Springs, when the spring flowers and buds were in full bloom. My goal was to focus on the blossoms and nothing else. Well, maybe traffic signals too. To my surprise, and delight, I was not only treated to the beauty May brings, I also received a dose of color therapy. Come take a walk with me and I'll show you what I mean.

    I started on upper Broadway and walked into town.
    Green, nature's color, is believed to relieve stress and help heal. 

    A bouquet of blossoms just for you.
    White, a symbol of purity and cleanliness.

    Sunshine in a daffodil.
    Yellow is associated with joy, happiness, intellect and energy.

    Pansies preparing to spread their glory. The orange peepers
    will certainly add fun and flamboyancy to the group.

    This red pansy will add passion and a thirst for action
    to the flower patch.

    This pink magnolia blossom added some romance to my walk.

    Theses purple blossoms ignited my creative energy 

    Brown, the color of earth, provided me with a sense
    of stability and wholesomeness.

    I caught a bee hard at work. Can't wait to taste the honey.

    And, of course, dependable and trustworthy, blue
    accompanied me for the entire walk. Yes, we can
    always count on the sky to be there.  

    So, during a simple walk through town, the colors I saw had the power to leave me feeling calm, cleansed, energetic, happy, passionate, creative, romantic, wholesome and trustful. Try to package that in a pill. Nature really does have it all. I'm glad I took the time to notice.

    What's your favorite color? How does it make you feel?        


    Summer Breeze from The Element Series. This video is ten minutes long, but the flowers, music and color will calm you within a minute. Beautiful! 


    The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton.The descriptions in this book about a girl who is abandoned on a ship traveling from England to Australia, engage the reader from the beginning. The girl is rescued by the dockmaster and is raised as part of his family. When she discovers this secret at the age of 21, she begins a search to discover her true heredity. I was mesmerized by this story when I read it a few years ago. Morton also spices this novel with original fairy tales that you'll find yourself reading again and again. Kate Morton tells you more about The Forgotten Garden: