Arbor Day Connections

By Karen Wills

Climate change thrusts us into a heightened awareness of nature. Oceans, lakes, meadows and trees are the living matrix of which we are a part.  Trees in particular have figured in much fiction and nonfiction of late. Of course, poets have long written about and concerned themselves with trees. overstory treesAmerican poet Robinson Jeffers planted about 2,000 seedlings on his sea cliff property near Carmel, California in the first half of the 1900s.

There is a kinship of us humans to trees. Tree deprivation became as real for me when we lived on the Alaskan tundra as it was for settlers living on the virgin prairies of America. I loved the big, empty tundra with its miles of tiny wild cotton, but trees have always meant shelter, the promise of something to lean against, and shade in the glare of summer. I missed them.

In a recent blog on my website I quoted from Joanna L. Stratton’s, Pioneer Women, which tells of a woman whose husband took her along on a journey to bring home wood. She’d not seen a tree for two years. “…when they arrived at Little River, she put her arms around a tree and hugged it until she was hysterical.”

That reminded me of when we lived on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. We explored the countryside, often peering into abandoned settlers’ houses. One was a stone cottage with a small grotto beside it sheltered by trees. The woman who pioneered there had walked nearly ½ mile each way every day carrying buckets of water to keep her seedlings growing. They flourished. She is gone, but her trees remain, providing homes for birds, being natural wind instruments, and soothing the prairie with their sighing leaves and branches.

An insightful novel about those who plant, nurture, and preserve not just trees, but whole forests, is The Overstory by Richard Powers–winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. One of its most interesting characters is a Vietnam veteran who finds his purpose in life replanting clear-cut, logged-out areas for a living. But he learns that replanting rows of trees earns his corporate employer permission to clear cut more and more forests at a greater profit. That knowledge drives the veteran to desperate, reckless acts.

Another character in The Overstory is Patricia Westerford who devotes her academic and personal life to the study of forests. According to Patricia, everything that happens in nature happens for a purpose. “The environment is alive—a fluid, changing web of purposeful lives dependent on each other.” She also concludes, “We’ve been shaped by forests for longer than we’ve been homo sapiens.”

To return to Jeffers, in his poem “Ghost” he imagines himself as a spirit revisiting the new owner of his former property.  He has the following exchange with the startled man:

“I see you have played hell
With the trees that I planted.” “There has to be room for people,” he
answers. “My God,” he says, “
That still!”

This Arbor Day, enjoy the forests if you can, plant a tree if you’re able, and take a deep breath. Feel your connection to the earth of which you are still a part.

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April Book News

spring robin

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LESLIE BUDEWITZ: Seriously, Spring, we are sooo happy to see you! On the other hand, a long cold winter meant plenty of time to read and write, right? And I have news!chai another day (cover without quote)

CHAI ANOTHER DAY, my 4th Spice Shop mystery, will be out in June from Seventh St. Books. When Seattle Spice Shop owner Pepper Reece overhears an argument in an antique shop, she finds herself drawn into a murder that could implicate an old enemy, or ensnare a new friend. Don’t you just love the dog on the cover? Read an excerpt and find out where to find it on my website.

And I’m delighted that my first historical short story, “All God’s Sparrows,” is nominated for the Agatha Award for Best Short Story. Awards will be given at the Malice Domestic convention, celebrating the traditional mystery, in early May. You can read it on my website, too.

By May, spring should be truly sprung in these parts. I hope you’re feeling a spring in your step, wherever you are!

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Author Mary F. Ehrler

Photo.cropped

When the World Grows Cold, Book 4 in her YA series The Peaks Saga will be released April 25th. Its available for preorder now on Amazon, B&N, First Steps Publishing, and other bookstore outlets.

Twenty-five years have passed on Earth, in both the 21st and 31st Centuries.  Two women, Ginna and Martina, who were once connected across the GAP, now have daughters of their own, but Annemarie and Celestia have taken very different paths.  MOCK-Book-Cover-4-revisionSoon, however, all four will be taken into another GAP with many unanswered questions–including who is Annemarie’s mysterious father, why has the System returned to Earth, and why has the world suddenly gone cold? Now it’s time for the next generation to seek their own answers to the questions that have plagued their elders.

 

March Book News

march 2019 bk news

The quirkiest of quirky holidays in March

Here are a few of the whackiest special days, but be sure to check out the full list on HolidayInsights.com.

*March 1 Peanut Butter Lovers’ Day
              *March 2 Old Stuff Day                              *March 3 If Pets Had Thumbs Day
*March 6 National Frozen Food Day                          *March 9 Panic Day     
*March 10 Middle Name Pride Day                 *March 11 Worship of Tools Day
                 *March 13 Ear Muff Day            *March 15 Dumbstruck Day       
*March 16 Everything You Do is Right Day            *March 18 Supreme Sacrifice Day
         *March 20 Extraterrestrial Abductions Day          *March 20 Proposal Day  
*March 25 Waffle Day                    *March 27 National “Joe” Day
*March 22 National Goof Off Day                    *March 23 Melba Toast Day
*March 28 Something on a Stick Day                 *March 28 Weed Appreciation Day

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WRITING WITH FEELING

betty.ed (2)

 

Author: Betty Kuffel

Through the Lens of a Writer

Writers have a special way of looking at things. Envisioned scenes are painted with feelings, smells, sounds and touch. Delving into a character’s thoughts with interior dialogue adds depth, revealing desires and motivation.

Smells are a strong part of memory storage. A recalled odor conjures up acute memories of time and place. If the wind blows from the wrong direction across a Montana landscape, the smell of a nearby feedlot might drift to a beautiful outdoor wedding and overwhelm the sweet smell of flowers carried by the bride. When her marriage turns bad, she may recall the smell of manure on that fateful day. Or the sweet smell of pipe tobacco may instantly bring to mind the image of your loving grandfather.

Using comparisons and stark contrasts enhance description:

+My pet rat’s sandpaper tail wrapped beneath my chin as her silky body snuggled against my neck like a miniature kitty.

+Moonrise inched over the Rocky Mountains slashing the black slate of Flathead Lake.

Coloring your writing:

cinnamon hair in rain.ed (2)

Cinnamon hair

fiery sunrise.med (2)

A fiery sunrise

pomegranate.ed (2)

Pomegranate jewels

Unique colors descriptions produce immediate images in the reader’s mind.

Using background music when you write adds to setting and feeling:

Many writers use music to set mood when writing scenes. Free internet sites allow you to choose specific songs, genres and themes to write by (Pandora, Spotify). Novels set in a certain era bring popular songs to mind and can be used to solidify and enhance a setting. Playing the songs can get you in the mood to write about the period in your novel.

“Without music and dance, life is a journey through a desert.” ― Pat Conroy

Additional quotes from Beach Music written by Pat Conroy, one of my favorite authors:

Touch and feelings:

“The water was pure and cold and came out of the Apennines tasting like snow melted in the hands of a pretty girl.” ― Pat Conroy

“My own tears seemed landlocked and frozen in a glacier I could not reach or touch within me.” ― Pat Conroy

 

Write scenes as if painting a picture. Happy reading and writing.

Thanks for stopping by.

Betty

Amazon Author Page  

 

February Book News

feb 2019 bk news

Marie F Martin’s new novel is now loaded on Amazon and is available on both kindle or paperback.

 

A simple game of chance results in Corinne Cooper’s best friend’s death and set her on a collision course with a detective still nursing hate from the past.

Three years of lonesome widowhood leads Corinne Cooper to a simple need. She wants a man. She cons her friend Edgy Brewster into helping her find just the right guy. They visit a honkytonk, the biggest church in town, and a bingo parlor looking for an eligible bachelor. Nothing goes as planned. Now Corinne is the prime suspect in a murder and must prove her innocence. Any of the four men she has met could have committed the heinous act. But which one?

Here is a short link to the amazon page if you want to have a look see. https://amzn.to/2Hoaloj

Marie F Martin 

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: So happy to share the news that my first historical short story, “All God’s Sparrows,” has been nominated for the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story. Originally published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine (May-June 2018), it features real-life historical figure Mary Fields, aka Stagecoach Mary and Black Mary, who was born in slavery in Tennessee in 1832 and moved to Montana Territory to care for the ailing Mother Superior at St. Peter’s Mission near Cascade in 1885. In “All God’s Sparrows,” Mary and a young nun encounter a young mother and her daughter whose plight requires an inspired intervention. Read it via pdf on my website. The second Stagecoach Mary story, “Miss Starr’s Goodbye,” will appear in Alfred Hitchcock later this year. The Agatha Awards are given by the Malice Domestic mystery convention in early May.