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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

Welcome 2015!

May this year bring you happiness, success, joy, love, peace, good health and many wonderful books to read!

Photo Source 

My best to you all,

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Music of Christmas

The Music of Christmas
By: Megan Easley-Walsh
December 2014 

In the stillness of the morning
Comes the dawning of the bells
In the quiet of all nature
The nightingale begins to tell

There is music in all of Christmas
from the branches of each tree
Here below, where angels trod
And where sheep bow on bended knee

In the silence of each whisper
In the hope of each bell's tune
There is more than notes of longing
As the owl greets the loon

In the singing of the choir
In the bright lights red and green
There is music in each moment
There is more than eyes have seen

Listen for the songs of Christmas
In your heart and in your day
Listen for the joys here gathered
Here is where true peace will stay

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Writer Wednesday: The Real Saint Nicholas

Hello! It's time for Writer Wednesday, when I discuss another author and his or her book. Today's book is The Real Saint Nicholas: Tales of Generosity and Hope from Around the World by Louise Carus.

Santa is a popular part of Christmas. Just look in any mall, in several classic Christmas movies or on a street corner. He is known by many names around the world. He's been depicted as a mouse, a bear, a short jolly man, and a man that shook like a bowlful of jelly. Long before his address was at the North Pole, though, he wore the robes of red and white of a bishop and was the real Nicholas in present-day Turkey. Later, he became a saint. In this fascinating book, tales are gathered from across the centuries, including some of the earliest tales of St. Nicholas up through the twentieth century, and across cultures and countries. The book is divided into the areas of Gifts of Life and Freedom, A Friend for the Journey, Bread and Cookies, Tricks and Transformations, and Healing Body and Spirit.
If you love Christmas or are interested in tales from many cultures and places, then this is sure to be a book that you'll enjoy!

My best to you all,

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Top Ten Books I've Read This Year...

From The Broke and the Bookish 

On today's top ten Tuesday, the theme is top ten books I've read this year. I'm going to restrict this to top ten books that I read for the first time this year and even that is difficult to do! I'm also not including books that are primarily photographs.

The War that Ended Peace by Margaret MacMillan

Why I liked it: History and historical international relations is my background in academics. I loved Paris 1919 and knew that I had to read this. It's fascinating to discover the decisions and events of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, that led away from peace, toward escalated tensions and ultimately war, especially now that it is the centenary of the beginning of WWI.

A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor

Why I liked it: I loved the British Museum when I went and told my husband that I could camp out there for about a month just exploring everything. This book takes 100 objects from the British Museum collections and explains the history of the world, across cultures and geography.

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards

Why I liked it: Art is one of my interests. Typically, a left brained activity, it was very interesting to learn the science behind the mind and to approach drawing from a new angle. By practicing new exercises, I do feel that I made advances in my drawing. A new way to learn about something is always exciting- especially when it works!

A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson

Why I liked it: Motivation is something of interest to me, as a person, but also an author. It is essential to create believable characters. Life and actions are motivated by fear or by love. All choices stem from which direction we're moving toward and what are motivation is: fear or love. The goal is returning to what is true: love.

Washington by Ron Chernow

Why I liked it: This was the longest book I read this year (at over 900 pages) and details Washington's life from his birth through his entire life. Washington leaps from the page, a full-bodied character- complex and interesting, a man of his times and an enduring legend in ours.

Juliet by Anne Fortier

Why I liked it: This is the kind of story I like to read and to write- a beckoning of the past intermingling with characters of another age. Mystery, intrigue, suspense, and inspiration from Shakespeare all interact with a timeless tale of love: Romeo and Juliet.

An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris

Why I liked it: This is a fictional account of The Dreyfus Affair and the anti-Semitism that surged through France in the late nineteenth century. It is told from the point of view of the commanding officer that was responsible for condemning Dreyfus and then the change of heart in the aftermath and the secrets that he unravels.

How to be a Victorian by Ruth Goodman

Why I liked it: This is a practical guide of all components of Victorian life, especially for the middle and lower classes. Schooling, clothing, food, work, even dreaded wash day- it's all included. This has become research for some of my writing this year.

The Story of the Jews by Simon Schama

Why I liked it: As mentioned above, history and historical international relations is my academic background. I find it really interesting when history shows the overlaps and interactions of various groups of peoples. This is what is accomplished in this book- how the Jews affected and were affected by the different geographies and people of over 2000 years from 1000 BCE to 1492 CE.

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

Why I liked it: I'm becoming a Ray Bradbury fan. Last year I read my first Bradbury: Something Wicked this Way Comes. So this year I read The Halloween Tree. I then read his short story collection: The Illustrated Man and Fahrenheit 451 is high on my list to read soon. The Halloween Tree tells the story of Halloween through time, spanning cultures and continents.

Bonus- The magazine that I read
National Geographic

Why I like it: History, science, art, culture, and more. This is the magazine that I read and look forward to it arriving each month in the mailbox!

What are your top books you've read this year?

My best to you all,

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Writer Wednesday: The Story of the Jews


It's time for Writer Wednesday, when I discuss another author and his or her book. Today's feature is The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words, 1000BCE -1492CE by Simon Schama.

Hanukkah begins next week and celebrates the miraculous longevity of oil, a fundamental component of life, especially in a time before electricity.

Words too empower life and are essential to our livelihoods. Within this book, Schama examines not just the enduring Jewish population, but the longevity of their words as well. Against persecution and obstacles at times, this is somewhat of a miracle in itself.

Schama also though illustrates a story beyond common knowledge, one that challenges assumption. There were populations of Jews who mixed peacefully with Arab neighbors for centuries. There were mosaics in some Jewish synagogues depicting animals and even people. Both Christianity and Islam interacted with Judaism-- at times at odds, yes, but also learning customs from each other that influenced practice. Did you know that the separation of Jewish men and women in the temple was not an ancient custom but only came about later? Did you know that much of Westminster Abbey was financed by a Jewish family whose wealth was confiscated upon their deaths? Within these pages are many little known or even unknown stories, spanning over two thousand years of Jewish history. As Schama illustrates, though, this history includes the Middle East, Africa, Europe and every major religion of the time. Therefore, Schama insists, and I am inclined to agree, that the Jewish story is a human story, of all of our histories- in its rich interplay of culture and time.

From a literary perspective, this book is also fascinating because it is the story of the words of the Jewish faith, the writing of the Talmud and the Mishna, what influenced their creations and how the surrounding cultures accepted or rejected their ideas.

In this holiday season, where all observant hearts are more inclined toward peace, it is important that the stories of the past be told, so that a greater understanding can be achieved. Simon Schama's book contributes to that cause.

My best to you all,

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The end of NaNoWriMo


On the 1st of November, I wrote saying that this year for the first time I was participating in NaNoWriMo. My word count meter showed 0 of 50,000. I'm happy to say that on this last day of November, it now shows that I have successfully completed the NaNoWriMo challenge. Here's my meter today.

50665 / 50000

How did it go for everyone else who participated? Did you reach your goal?

My best to you all,

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving, Shopping, Gratitude and what it all means...

Hello! Happy Thanksgiving!

I've seen a lot about sales happening on Thanksgiving and whether one should go to them. Some people are very adamant. Here are my thoughts. Remember that the best you can give anyone is your time. With that in mind, it's ok to shop for big sales- it's great even that Americans are so generous. We recently tied for the top most giving nation in the world. It's wonderful that the holidays inspire giving at soup kitchens, food pantries and angel tree donations and that people are so willing to give to complete strangers. Shopping for loved ones is also not just commercialism, it's wanting to give. That's commendable. 
Today, though, it's ok to pause to say thanks first for what already is present, without having to acquire more. Your family and friends most want you, not what you wrap for them. As much as I love Christmas in Europe, as an American married to a European, I like that in the States we pause first to say thanks, to be grateful, at the beginning of our holiday season. So, maybe today, pause- say thanks and then when you do go out to shop, you'll be less busy, more focused, and with a heart full of gratitude. That's the best way to begin. 
That's what I'll be doing today, as I bake pies in my great-grandmother's pie dishes and think of the early American settlers and the Native Americans that are a part of my cultural and personal ancestral heritage.

I'm grateful for my family and friends- for all of you- and I want to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!
And now a beautiful reminder of those simple gifts... 

My best to you all,

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday- Minor Characters with their own books

From The Broke and the Bookish

Hello! Today's Top Ten is "ten characters you wish would get their OWN book (minor or just maybe a semi main character you wish a book was from their POV)". 
Mr. Darcy- Pride and Prejudice

Image result for the great gatsby book
Daisy- The Great Gatsby

The White Rabbit- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland 

Mina- Dracula

Boo Radley- To Kill a Mockingbird

Mrs. Hudson- The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Mr. Toad- The Wind in the Willows

Tiny Tim- A Christmas Carol

Brom Bones- The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Friar Laurence- Romeo and Juliet

Monday, November 10, 2014

A new way to remember veterans and St. Martin

In honor of Veterans Day and St. Martin's day, both of which are commemorated tomorrow, I am reprinting this post from last year.

Armistice and St. Martin
Today, we pause to remember the veterans. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, the guns of the first world war fell silent in armistice. War that had entangled the world because of a series of diplomatic treaties forever changed the landscape of the European fields and trenches that the war was fought in, but also the psyche of humanity. Pages could be written alone on the war and its remembrance, but I'd also like to talk about something else today.
It is also St. Martin's Day, a holiday that is still celebrated in Germany through the creation of lanterns, a parade led by a man on a horse, and the eating of sugar pretzels beside a bonfire.  So, who exactly was St. Martin? He was a Roman soldier who tore his cloak to give half of it to an old beggar man on the street. St. Martin and veterans have much in common. St. Martin shared his cloak with the beggar in need, laying down his comfort and his warmth as the soldier set aside his own comfort in the trenches and the fields. A sacrifice laid down for another is a mark of both St. Martin and the soldier. St. Martin's day lanterns will line the streets of Germany tonight and candles, a flame of hope and remembrance, is lit in tribute to those who have gone before. Perhaps, the greatest act of remembrance to veterans and in honor of St. Martin is to reach out our hand to those in need, even in small everyday acts of kindness.

My best to you all,

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Saturday's Quotation to Inspire: Reach for the Stars

Today's quotation to inspire comes from Hariet Tubman. It is also the end of the first week of NaNoWriMo. How's everyone doing who's participating? Last Saturday, I put the word count meter up officially showing the start at zero. I'm happy to say that the meter now stands at over 12,000 words, or 24%. Best of luck to you all!

My best to you all,

Friday, November 7, 2014

Book Cover Reveal! The Missing by Necole Ryse

Hello! Today, I'm taking part in a book cover reveal as part of YA Bound. 

The Missing (The Birthright Trilogy Book 2)
Release Date: 12/16/14
Cover Designed by: Najla Qamber Designs

Summary from Goodreads:

Reeling from her boyfriend's
disappearance, Raevyn Jones is shocked to learn that she is considered suspect
number one. To make matters worse, rumors are swirling that golden boy, Jeffrey
Donnelly, isn't just missing...he may never be coming back.

And Raevyn is being framed.

Her second semester at Benjamin Wallace Fitzgerald University, the nation's
first Ivy League institution for African Americans, is full of twists and

Soon Raevyn will learn not to trust anyone, not even the people she calls

Book One:

The Legacy
Release Date: 06/17/14

Summary from Goodreads:
Nineteen-year-old Raevyn Jones has never worn a designer gown. She's never had access to unlimited champagne or chauffeured limo rides.

But when she is dropped in the midst of the Black Ivy League--against her will--she has to pretend that everything is normal, as if she belongs.

When her new friends start to question her sketchy past and her shaky legacy at Benjamin Wallace Fitzgerald University, Raevyn realizes she will have to rely on her street smarts more than ever before.

Raevyn starts to receive cryptic text messages and emails from an anonymous sender and she soon discovers that not only does someone want her to leave B.W.Fitz--someone also wants to end her life.

About the Author

Necole Ryse graduated from Towson University with Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications.

Bored with life as an adult, Necole decided to follow her dreams to write fiction and she hasn’t looked back. She joined theWinslet Press family to release her first novel, THE LEGACY.

She enjoys chocolate covered pretzels, Criminal Minds marathons, and all things Harry Potter. 

Author Links:
 photo iconwebsite-32x32_zps1f477f69.png  photo icongoodreads32_zps60f83491.png  photo icontwitter-32x32_zpsae13e2b2.png  photo iconfacebook-32x32_zps64a79d4a.png

Cover Reveal Organized by:

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Have you voted today?


Yesterday was election day in the US. No, I'm not a day late. I'm wondering if you've voted today.

Have you voted to make the most of today?
Have you voted to try your best?
Have you voted to learn something new?
Have you voted to do something good for your health?
Have you voted to achieve one more step toward your goals?

If we elect to do these things each day, then every election is a win.

My best to you all,

Saturday, November 1, 2014

NaNoWriMo- Alphabet Soup

Today it is cold, rainy and windy- very much a soup kind of a day. It is also officially the first day of NaNoWriMo, where the challenge is set to write 50,000 words during the month of November for a novel. Most finished works tend to be nearer 75,000-90,000 words for the genre that I write, but 50,000 is the official word count designation that determines when a novella becomes a novel. Technically, I've completed this challenge before- in terms of writing 50,000 words in a month. I've never officially attempted NaNoWriMo though. My editing is now complete on the work I'd been writing and so the timing coincides perfectly. This year, I am going to participate in NaNoWriMo!
I'll keep a word count meter on the blog here to track progress. So, here it is- all ready to go on day 1!

0 / 50000

Best wishes to those of you also participating! Are you a repeat challenger or is this your first time also?

My best to you all,

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Autumn's Mirth

Happy Halloween!

Autumn's Mirth 

Whisper wind through Harvest's door
Enchanting with your welcome lure
Have you seen the man in wait?
Standing by the open gate
Crows gather by his feet
Waiting for October's treat
Red and yellow 
Fall to earth
Green and orange
Bring Autumn's mirth
Nestled on the lane below
Pumpkins wait in twilight's glow

Megan Easley-Walsh 
October 2011

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Writer Wednesday: The Halloween Tree

Hello! It's time for Writer Wednesday, when I discuss another author and his or her book.

Ray Bradbury is an icon of twentieth century writing. The first Bradbury I read was The Martian Chronicles. Last year, at Halloween, I read Something Wicked This Way Comes. This year, it was The Halloween Tree. Bradbury is enchanting and his stories are transportive into a realm of science fiction, horror and intrigue. In an interview about Universal monsters, Bradbury relates his early experiences with the Universal horror movies of the 1920s and 30s and their impact on his writing. I too have drawn from the appeal of the Universal classic monsters in my writing.

The Halloween Tree is especially interesting as it delves into the meaning of Halloween symbols. Historic time periods that have given their traditions to current celebrations from ancient Egypt to modern Mexico are explored. Bradbury's imagery is captivating and both its beauty and simplicity work to deliver an effectively scary atmosphere. Bradbury's work is infused with love for genre, words and the light of humanity striving in a troubled world.

My best to you all,

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday- Halloween!

From The Broke and the Bookish 
Today, I'm taking part in the Broke and the Bookish Top Ten Tuesday for "Top Ten Books/Movies To Read Or Watch To Get In The Halloween Spirit". 

You're getting a bonus here, as I provide both 5 great books and 10 movies. Enjoy! 

from Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein


1) The Legend of Sleepy Hollow - Washington Irving
2) Frankenstein- Mary Shelley 
3) Dracula- Bram Stoker
4) Something Wicked this way comes- Ray Bradbury
5) The Halloween Tree- Ray Bradbury 

from Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein


1) Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein-1948
2) Bride of Frankenstein-1935
3) House of Dracula- 1945
4) Shewolf of London - 1946
5) The Mummy - 1932
6) The Ghost Train- 1941
7) The Mystery at the Wax Museum- 1933
8) The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari- 1920
9) The Return of the Vampire- 1944
10) It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and bonus
Disney Halloween Classics including The Legend of Sleepy Hollow from 1949 and 

The Skeleton Dance 1929

from The Bride of Frankenstein

Don't be scared! Dive right in to some Halloween treats!

My best to you all,