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Monday, December 30, 2013

Year in Review in Books

As 2014 approaches, I thought I'd take a look back at the books I've read this year. Thanks, Goodreads, for the email alerting me to this to give me the idea! This is a partial listing, as I joined Goodreads only in June. So, here are some of the books I've read this year.
 All the best for 2014 and may you always find a wonderful book to read! :) 

My best to you all,

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Saturday's Quotation to Inspire: Christmas Charity

“Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart. ”
― Washington Irving

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Writer Wednesday: A Christmas Carol


It's time for Writer Wednesday, when I discuss another author and his or her book. For December, I am talking about some seasonal greats.

A Christmas Carol, remade many times for movies and tv, stands in its most perfect form in the printed words of Charles Dickens. It is many things: a glimpse into Victorian life, a cautionary tale against miserly behavior and greed, and a triumphant celebration of memory and tradition (Christmas past), good friends, family, food and fun (Christmas present) and hopes, dreams and wishes (Christmas future). Marley may have been dead to begin with, but this story is anything but-- 170 years after it was first published, it still dances with the liveliness of Fezzigwig's party. As Tiny Tim observes, "God bless us, everyone".

Merry Christmas!

My best to you all,

Monday, December 23, 2013

Watching for the Christmas Star

Each year I write a Christmas poem.
 I was requested to read this year's poem at a carol and lesson service yesterday.
 Today, I am sharing it with you. 

Watching for the Christmas Star
By: Megan Easley-Walsh 
Christmas 2013

Will you watch for the Christmas star?
Will you remember that it's not so far?

From the fields they stand in awe
As they raise their cheerful “baa”

King of prophets, Lord of Love,”
Proclaim the angels from realms above

Manifest here in cradled appearance
As God on High now draws nears us

Tucked inside the weary stable
The Carpenter of a tired world is able

Sheep bleat, birds cried
Below them, darkness is defied

Pause, then, see the Christmas star
Transforming light, where'er you are

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Saturday's Quotation to Inspire: Christmas Bells

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday Fun - Victorian Christmas

It's time for Friday Fun! Many of the customs of Christmas come from the Victorians. Christmas trees first appeared in Germany, but Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's husband, brought them to England and they soon became widespread in the Anglo-American world. Christmas cards also were a Victorian invention.
If you'd like to make some Victorian Christmas crafts, decorate like the Victorians or even make some Victorian Christmas food, visit here.

My best to you all,

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Writer Wednesday- Seeker of Stars

It's time for Writer Wednesday, when I discuss another author and his or her book. For December, I am discussing books of the season.

The Biblical Christmas story is well-known, but Susan Fish gives it a new angle in Seeker of Stars. She writes about a young weaver, interested in astronomy and his journey- through his past, his present and his future- toward the stars and the Star of Christmas.

This is a relatively short book and so I won't say much to give away the plot, but if you're interested in hearing the Christmas story through fresh eyes then Seeker of Stars accomplishes that.

My best to you all,

Monday, December 16, 2013

Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh for Writers


Last week, I discussed helpful websites in author gifts. Today I would like to discuss three traditional Christmas gifts presented by the magi and their application for writing.

Gold- Gold is beautiful, instantly attracting attention but it is also very valuable.

Author Translation: A story must have a hook, to catch the attention of the reader. It also must have plenty of substance, though, not just flash that fails to deliver.

Frankincense- Frankincense is incredibly fragrant, used both in incense and perfume as well as in religious ceremonies.

Author Translation: Include the senses, all of them, in your writing to really engage your reader. Make your writing fragrant- able to be seen, heard, smelled, tasted, and felt. Remember that your characters not only do action but also have thoughts. Also, they may perceive things or shades of things, that they may not fully comprehend at the time. Sometimes it takes awhile to figure things out; this is true for people and should be for characters as well.

Myrrh- Myrrh was used in embalming.

Author Translation: Your writing must have staying power. The gold hooks a writer, but the myrrh of the story keeps the reader interested. Interesting, true-to-life dialogue that reveals plot points and moves the story forward is one way to accomplish this- no matter what the genre. Many stories will also include some sort of mystery, intrigue or suspense- on a psychological level or in terms of action.

My best to you all,

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Saturday's Quotation to Inspire: Meaning of Christmas

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!” 
― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday Fun - The Beauty of the Abundance of Art

It's time for Friday fun! I'd like to tell you about a website that I've recently learned about. It's a Google Art Gallery, that can be found here.  Actually, it's many many galleries! The idea behind the project is that you can find your favorite art pieces and compile your very own gallery. How exciting is that? Happy gathering of paintings!... I'll take a Monet... and a van Gogh and a Canaletto and...

My best to you all,

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Writer Wednesday: The Autobiography of Santa Claus


It's time for Writer Wednesday, when I discuss another author and his or her book. For December, I am talking about some seasonal greats.

Today I want to tell you about a book that I adore. Part history, part magic, full of the Christmas spirit and fully irresistible is Jeff Guinn's The Autobiography of Santa Claus.

This charming book takes the reader from Turkey, where the real life St. Nicholas is encountered as a young boy, through his life and then... it just keeps going. Through the centuries, St. Nicholas begins to walk across the world, meeting historical and mythical figures, to include King Arthur, St. Patrick, and Amelia Earhart to name only a tiny fraction. This book fuses historical accuracy with beautiful storytelling and a good dose of magic. Explanations of stockings, chimneys and how St. Nicholas became Santa Claus are all included. Mrs. Claus is present and the reindeer as well. The one notable exception is that Santa's special helpers are not elves in this book. Some people have been disappointed about this, but I think their omission lends to the true-to-life acceptance of the magic. For example, King Arthur may have been mythical, but he at least was a person who could have existed.

The book is divided into one chapter per day in December, but they are relatively short and you can dive right in mid-month. Happy reading!

My best to you all,

Monday, December 9, 2013

Author Gifts


'Tis the season of giving-

For all fellow authors, these websites are valuable and I hope that they will help you on your writing journey.

1) AbsoluteWrite
Absolutewrite is a writing community comprised of several forums and it offers information on all stages of the writing process- from grammar to publicity.

2) Querytracker
Part of writing is waiting. But, how long is typical to wait to hear from an agent and what are agents looking for specifically? This site has all of that information.

3) Association of Author Representatives
There are many agents who are reputable, who are not part of AAR, but this website lists all members and what they are particularly looking for. AAR members subscribes to a code of conduct to protect authors.

4) Preditors and Editors
Need to look up to see if someone is reputable or a scam? You can search for agents and publishers as well as contests on this website.

Happy Writing!

My best to you all,

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Saturday's Quotation to Inspire: Seasonal Magic

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ”

― Norman Vincent Peale

Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday Fun- St. Nicholas Day

Hello! It's time for Friday Fun!

Today is St. Nicholas Day, that celebrates the real life saint, the bishop of Myra, who lived in present-day Turkey during the third century. He left coins in the stockings of girls who were unable to marry, due to their poverty. Good deeds of St. Nicholas, in the form of small gifts and treats, began making their way across the world, inspired by the man's generosity. Years later, when Dutch colonists settled in New York in the 1600s, they told English children about St. Nicholas. They heard St. Nicholas as Santa Claus and the rest is history!

Here is the St. Nicholas center, with lots of interesting information and activities. In countries such as Germany and the Netherlands, shoes are still left out for small gifts of chocolates, apples, and nuts on St. Nicholas Day.

Stories of St. Nicholas capture the heart of the season and the joy of giving.


My best to you all,

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Writer Wednesday: The Night Circus


It's time for Writer Wednesday, when I discuss another author and his or her book. Today, I'll be discussing the magical, charming and hugely compelling The
Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

Seemingly, The Night Circus might be better related to Halloween and I indeed did read this book in the build up to Halloween. The day also features heavily throughout the story, but the magic of Morgenstern's tale reminds me of a panto. Swept into a tent, anything can happen. The ice tent also portrays this wintery landscape. Part magic, part mystery and part love story, The Night Circus sweeps you away into the festive wonder of the season. And, of course, who wouldn't want chocolate and delicious cinnamon treats at this time of year?

My best to you all,

Monday, December 2, 2013

Writing Lessons from the Movies

Lights! Camera! Movies!

In addition to my own writing, I've taught a writing class and thought I'd offer a few Hollywood inspired tips today.

Movies and books often go together, but I'm not talking about Hollywood's versions of the best sellers today. Instead, I'm talking about the inspiration that authors can gain from movies. It's true that you have to read a lot to write well, but there is also something to be said for studying the craft of film making. Considering that other books aren't an author's real competition, but other forms of media are- it makes sense to study some of the ways that people enjoy having a story told to them. At its heart, that's what a book or a movie is- a story transmitted from one person or group of people to another. While literature and movies clearly divide in some areas- visual effects will only work on screen for example- there are some writing tips that can be gleaned from classic films.

First- Casablanca-
This is one of my favorites, because it's Casablanca! In terms of writing, though, there's an important gem. Only present characters' back stories after we already care about the character. That's exactly what happens with Rick and Elsa in the movie. I've heard many agents and editors say that they don't like to have an "info dump" of a character straight away. It makes sense. In real life, we don't meet a person for the first time and instantly know everything about them. It takes time to make a friend and getting to know a character should also take time. The key is getting the reader to stick around to care.


ForeSHADOW twists-  If you've seen the movie, you know what I mean by that, specifically the bold type. Twists and surprises are wonderful in literature. They're even better when the reader says, "I can't believe I didn't realize that! All the signs were there all along!" It will also make the story a lot more believable, if a scene doesn't appear out of nowhere. Magical rabbits appearing from hats are entertaining; plot devices appearing out of nothing are not as charming.

Do you have any tips related to movies and classic cinema?

My best to you all,