writing

Find Your Own ‘Way’


1280px-Freccia_del_cammino_di_santiago

By Aracuano – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2956595

Last week I watched The Way for the first time. It’s a film about grief, family, and faith and stars Martin Sheen and his son, Emilio Estevez (also the director, writer, and producer). The movie was released in 2010, but I had never seen it. Well, it’s not the kind of movie that you’d find in a multiplex cinema (but it should be there!).

The Camino de Santiago is a thousand-year-old walking trail that has more than a dozen routes, hence this symbol:

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The French Way, the most popular of the routes, is the one depicted in the movie, and begins at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in the French Pyrenees. All the routes end at Santiago de Compostela, where the same-named cathedral stands.

Thousands of people walk (or bike or ride) this route every year. In the summer months, the route can be unbearably crowded, with ‘pilgrims’ racing ahead, hoping to secure a bed in one of the hostels along the route. This defeats the idea of a pilgrimage.

A pilgrimage is defined as a journey or search of moral or spiritual significance. Although it often is a journey to a shrine or place of religious importance (think Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Shikoku in Japan), a pilgrimage also can be a metaphorical journey into someone’s own beliefs.

Will I ever walk the Camino de Santiago? Probably not. I’m 58 years old, and the time for me to have made this journey was thirty years ago. I know my limitations, and walking for ten miles a day for nearly two months isn’t practical.

Estevez says the message of The Way is that “…it’s okay to be exactly who you are, that God loves you no matter how broken, no matter how imperfect you are.”

A fitting message for all of us.

Watch The Way on Netflix or buy your own DVD here

 

New England, March 1883


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Now that I’ve discovered the Pawtuxet Valley Gleaner at the Pawtuxet Valley Historical and Preservation Society, I’ve become a devotee. It all ties in with my love of local history and genealogy. Looking back in time can help us see more clearly, understand our shared past, maybe even foretell the future. So, what was going on around New England on this day in 1883? Have a look:

CONNECTICUT

  • ‘Henry C. Robinson, in a speech at Hartford, said that many of the mill owners of New England were educating their employees in virtue, domestic comfort, intelligence, and all good things; but he also knew of a man who was laying up $72,000 a year while paying little children 15 cents for ten hours’ work.’cartoon-or-sketch-of-mill-woman_0

VERMONT

  • ‘R. Smith, of Essex Junction, has a cow from which, within eight months, has been sold 610 quarts of new milk and 105 pounds of butter, besides supplying a family of three persons.’glass-1587258_960_720

MAINE

  • ‘The hotel to be erected at Mount Kineo is to be able to accommodate 400 guests.’kineo_cdv_1885

NEW HAMPSHIRE

  • ‘It is rumored that a new cotton mill is to be erected at Hooksett, where there is considerable idle water power.’manchester-cotton-mill-manchester-new-hampshire

MASSACHUSETTS

  • ‘A ruralist at a recent Millbury festival ate seventeen plates of ice cream.’vanilla-ice-cream-17809427
  • ‘A young man of 28, said by the Worcester Spy to be Alvin E. Ross of Blackstone, was found dead in bed in a tenement house on Mechanic Street, Worcester. About a week ago, the young man hired the room in company with a woman somewhat older, who paid for the room in advance. The woman disappeared Sunday. Ross had apparently been dead about thirty-six hours.’

RHODE ISLAND

  • ‘Newport has, it is estimated, ninety-five licensed and unlicensed rum shops, and 1,200 male adults who visit them.’
  • rum
  • ‘A three-year-old son of James Brown, of Pawtucket, pushed a sleeve button up his nose. The family was unable to remove it, and a physician was called, who found it necessary to make an opening on the inside of the mouth in order to remove it.’
  • ‘The East Providence probate court on Saturday probated the will of George F. Wilson, despite the opposition of his youngest daughter, Alice, who received in trust $22,000 in Rumford stock, and who claims her father was of unsound mind. An appeal will be made to the supreme court. By his first will, in 1880, he left $500,000 of his $800,000 to Alice, but subsequently quarreled with her because of her relations with a certain person. An unpleasant family skeleton will probably be revealed.’

Plus ça change…..


The more things change, the more they stay the same.

(Rue des Epouses, Fribourg, Switzerland)

I recently returned from an all-too-brief writing trip to my beloved Switzerland. 38+ years since I first traveled there as a wide-eyed college junior, bound for life with my classmates on a journey of discovery and appreciation. I’ve been back numerous times, with my sister, my mother, my husband, but this solo trip gave me space to contemplate.
A lot has changed in Switzerland, and I noticed it more this time. Certainly, technology plays a huge part. Mobile phones are attached to everyone, train schedules are available on the phone, tickets are scanned by the conductor’s phone. 


(Rue de Lausanne, Fribourg, Switzerland)

Tastes change, and reflect the demographics of an area. This restaurant used to be known for its raclettes (from the French verb racler – to scrape – it’s a meal of melted cheese, boiled potatoes, and gherkins). Now it offers gourmet burgers. The Lucerne train station has plenty of takeaway food shops – Indian, Middle Eastern, vegan.


(St. Nicholas Cathedral with the Schweizerhalle in the foreground, Fribourg, Switzerland)

And yet, some things remain. A cathedral dating back to 1430. 


(Pizzeria Mary, Lugano, Switzerland)

This café in Lugano, exactly as it was when my husband and I dined there in 2009. Even the  same gruff waiter was there!

(Atop Mt. Rigi)


(Marie and Marcel, proprietors of the Chemin de Fer in Fribourg, 1979)


(Brian Falzetta, Terry Cook, Mike Sirius, 1979, Fribourg)

Some friends have passed, too soon. We can hold onto memories and smile at photos.


(Martha and Fabiola Abbet-Dreyer, 2017, Chernex, Switzerland)

And when we have the chance to reconnect, we take it. ❤❤❤

I’m Here, Not There



This morning I’m here, not yet there. By tomorrow morning, I’ll be there, not here. For a time that seems not long enough, yet is the only length of time I dare be away. And I’ll be by myself, not with the man who’s been my travel partner for nearly 23 years.

There were a lot of trips abroad, mostly to Switzerland, so I do know my way around. This time, on my own, I have a purpose – to continue with a new novel I’ve only scratched out so far, but have written in my head. And I’ll be meeting up with two women – one I haven’t seen since that first year spent at the university in Fribourg, the other someone I’ve never met in person but who found me through my books. How great is that?!

And on Friday, I’ll be there, not here. Yeah, I’m okay with that, as I had no intention of watching the inauguration. It’s going to happen with or without me. And I’m not going to say anything else about it. Instead, here’s ‘there.’

Favorite Books I Read Last Year


I usually write this post before the end of the year, but I had so many issues with my computer last month (thanks a lot, Windows 10!) that I had to set it aside. No worries, because when I looked back at my reading list, it wasn’t very impressive.

What did I spend all that time doing, anyway? Well, I worked on a new novel for the first half of 2016, and no, it’s nowhere near ready. Around June, I realized it wouldn’t be complete in time for the annual ARIA  Book Expo. And I do like to have something available every December for my local authors event. So I set to turning my grandfather’s journal into a little book. And it sold well!

Anyway, back to what I read. I didn’t want to title this “My Five Favorite 2016 Books,” because I’m usually late to reading bestsellers.

all-the-light

All the Light We Cannot See  by Anthony Doerr was published in 2014. Best book I read in 2016, hands down. If you haven’t picked it up yet, make it a resolution for 2017!

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Boys in the Trees, a memoir by Carly Simon, was a favorite as well. She holds little back here, which made it difficult at times (her marriage to James Taylor).

sparrow

The Sparrow Sisters by Ellen Herrick. Her debut novel, and it was just lovely! A little bit of magic, a little more mystery.

oceans

The Light Between Oceans was published back in 2012. Honestly, I couldn’t remember if I read this book in 2015 or 2016, so I looked back at my end-of-2015 post, and the fact that I hadn’t included it in my favorite books list told me I must have read it this year. Because I definitely would have listed it in 2015. The book became a movie, but, unlike many books-turned-movies, the movie didn’t disappoint me. Still, read the book if you haven’t.

 

Now. There are many, many books on my to-be-read list. Here are the ones I resolve to read in 2017:

The Family Plot by one of my absolute favorite indie authors, Brea Brown. She never lets you down!

Fifty Ways to Make a Family by K.C. Wilder. The long-anticipated sequel to her brilliant Fifty Ways to Leave your Husband.

Mixing It Up by Tracie Banister. I’ve enjoyed all of Tracie’s previous books, so I downloaded this one as soon as it was released. Looking forward to getting mixed up in this one!

The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close. Actually, I started reading this one back in the late summer, but had to set it aside. I so enjoyed her Girls in White Dresses, and I’m happy to have this book to finish.

Moonglow by Michael Chabon. I won this book and it’s on a side table, waiting for me to open it.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I’m about four chapters in and loving it.

And finally, another book I’ve started and am really enjoying is The Pie Sisters by the writing team of Leigh Brown and Victoria Corliss. A sweet book about three sisters and their memories of long-ago summers.

So…I’ve got my work cut out for me! Writing, reading, editing. I hope that by December of this year, I’ll have a good list to present.

What book did you read in 2016 that was your absolute favorite? 

Book-a-Day #Giveaway! The Pie Sisters by Leigh Brown and Victoria Corliss


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Bonded by blood, sisters Shelby, Yeardley, and Lily Lane are three uniquely different young women. Shelby, the eldest, is a born leader and self-appointed caretaker of the people in her life. Smart and decisive, she thinks she can do it all. Middle child Yeardley is a ship without an anchor, unsure of where she’s going or where she belongs. Lily, as the pampered baby of the family, has never had to do anything for herself. But that’s about to change. At their Aunt Nola’s lake cottage where they spent their childhood summers, the girls return to a special place and time filled with familiar faces and favorite traditions. It’s a walk down memory lane that may help define their uncertain futures, as well. Set in the heart of New York’s Finger Lakes region, The Pie Sisters is a timeless tale of love, family, and the true meaning of home.

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Writers Victoria (Vikki) Corliss (on the left) and Leigh Brown are friends who became co-authors in 2009. Soon after, they published their first novel, Second Chances, followed by The Pie Sisters in 2015. Creators of women’s fiction, Brown /Corliss novels feature universal themes and literary elements that resonate and connect with most female readers. They are often asked: 1) Are they sisters, and 2) How do they write novels together? In fact, they are sisters in spirit only. To learn more about how their collaboration works, visit their website at www.Browncorlissbooks.com.

The Pie Sisters is available from Amazon, and select bookstores and gift shops in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York. Both women live with their families in Rhode Island where they are currently working on their third novel, due out next year.

Sorry, there is NO book giveaway but……….you can still WIN a $5 Amazon gift card (use it to purchase the book!) by commenting below. One winner will be chosen at random and notified by me. Contest ends one week after publication.

 

 

 

 

Book-a-Day #Giveaway! The Overlords: Legend of the Treasure by Mike Squatrito


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Your name is Harrison Cross. You’re a righteous warrior with an undying will to avenge your parents’ death and the power to reunite humanity. However, every step along your journey is met with obstacles – people stealing your prized possessions, the Scynthians (a marauding species of ogre-like beings that want to eradicate your race), the ruthless Lord Hammer of Concur and his menacing army, and a land filled with creatures that hinder your progress – but you persevere. Along the way you’re beaten, punished, and mocked for your beliefs, you witness friends dying, you’re hungry and tired, yet you persevere. Your will is your asset, both a blessing and a curse. People you meet admire you and want to help with your cause; they become friends for life. Others want to tear you down. You possess God-given physical skills that are tested each and every day. You must not only fight to stay alive, but think as well. And think you do. Your friends are your rock and you will never betray them. It’s not in your nature. You meet the love of your life and you will protect her forever. You gladly place the burden of the world on your shoulders and carry everyone with you. You persevere, the word quit not in your vocabulary. In the end, the result of your life is a simple outcome. Either you win or you die.  Intrigued?

mike-squatrito

The Overlords: Legend of the Treasure is the first book in Mike Squatrito’s Overlords fantasy series.  The Overlords: The Talisman of Unification and The Overlords: Journey to Salvation, the second and third books in the series respectively, are also available, and he is working on the fourth installment currently. If you liked the intro then please visit his webpage, for more information about Mike and his projects.

Find Mike’s books on Amazon or to purchase an autographed copy of any of Mike’s books, click here

You can WIN a copy of the book featured here! Just leave a comment below. One winner will be chosen at random and the author will contact you directly. Contest ends one week after publication.

 

Book-a-Day #Giveaway! Hunting the Merrow by Heather Rigney


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In the author’s debut novel (and first in the series) Waking the Merrow, she explores mermaid-ish beings found in Irish folklore, known as merrow, a Gaelic term. One of these creatures, Nomia, is not pleasant at all, and has made it her mission to turn Evie’s life upside down. As Evie struggles to keep her family safe from Nomia, Evie learns that her husband’s Irish roots might have some aquatic history of their own.

The second novel, Hunting the Merrow, picks up where Waking ends, further exploring the strange history of both Evie, the unlikely hero, and Nomia, the evil mermaid who might have a good reason for being so nasty. Hunting the Merrow presents readers with a variety of mermaid legends found in historic folklore throughout Europe, as both Evie and Nomia race to find their missing siblings.

Nicole Hill of Barnes & Noble Book Blog stated: You know what’s great about Rigney’s horror-ific (that’s horror-filled and terrific), hysterical debut novel? Besides the bloodthirsty merfolk, our antihero protagonist is an overweight, drunk, subpar mother, who also happens to be a funeral director. I can’t even describe the premise of this book without getting giddy, because how many times does a plot involve both vicious mermaids and Rhode Island colonists?” 5 Girl-Powered Sci-Fi and Fantasy Releases You’ll Love

Waking was also featured in Rhode Island’s Motif Magazine’s 2015 Summer Reading Guide to Classics and Local Soon-To-Be-Classics and Hunting appeared in Motif’s 2016 issue Summer Beach Reads.

So while you’re enjoying the silence after the holiday (and are shopping online in your warm jammies!) maybe head on over to Amazon.com. Waking the Merrow would be a great gift for an individual who enjoys fun historic books based in the Ocean State! It’s FREE for today, so go ahead and gift it! (Psst -No one will know that you didn’t pay full price!) Did you know you can gift an ebook? You can! It’s underneath all those purchasing buttons on the right on any Amazon page.

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Heather Rigney is a native Rhode Islander and author of Waking the Merrow and Hunting the Merrow. Both books are based in Rhode Island’s own Pawtuxet Village and adjoining Narragansett Bay, as well as Cape Cod, Ireland, and Europe. These dark historical fantasy novels take readers on a journey through pre-Revolutionary War Rhode Island, then jump to present day, where narrator Evie McFagan, alcoholic funeral director and hot mess mom, fights a centuries-old mermaid posing as a playground mother for her family’s safety.

You can WIN a copy of this book (or Heather’s first in the series – your choice)! Just leave a comment below. One winner will be chosen at random and the author will contact you directly. Contest ends one week after publication.

Book-a-Day #Giveaway! Claiming Space by Patricia Hinkley


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Claiming Space introduces a novel perspective: You have a right to claim time and space to be happy and feel truly alive! That is your right!

A fast pace and information overload can leave you stressed, out of control, and unhappy. Why? All of nature, including humans, require intervals of action and rest. Cell phones, social media, and multi-tasking interrupt an innate balance and fragment our minds. We even teach children busy-ness by over-programming them. This has consequences. Non-stop availability drains your recovery and hides what you really care about beyond the phone calls, computer games, television, and distractions. Neglecting the impulse toward quiet time wired into all humans is unnatural and ultimately unhealthy.

It’s your choice— keep the pace—or interrupt it for less stress, more calm, and untroubled happiness in the space between actions.

Well-being and happiness are inside jobs. Claiming Space shows you how with simple ways get to a more natural state of harmony, health and a peace of mind connection beyond the mundane of everyday life.

Time for self also leads you to become more alive and linked to your place on earth. Your actions at this critical time matter to the planet we call home.

A reader wrote, “Claiming Space is priceless in its vision and breadth of detail about what claiming space is and isn’t, and how to find ways for each unique individual to claim space. The writing and ideas in this marvelous book lifted me up in times of sadness. Your book is one that readers will reach for again and again in moments of forgetting to love ourselves enough to take care of our self. Claiming Space, what power in those two wonderful words!”

 

pat-hinkley

Patricia Hinkley holds a BS in Nursing and a Master of Arts in Holistic Studies and Psychology. She raised two grown children, served clients, was an artist, and made time to be active in her community. Through it all she has learned the value of finding the stillness within. What she has learned is worth sharing. Claiming Space is Pat’s first book.

You can WIN a copy of this book! Just leave a comment below. One winner will be chosen at random and the author will contact you directly. Contest ends one week after publication.

Book-a-Day #Giveaway! Life is All This by Sheila Blanchette


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In the summer of 1975, Samuel Ryder sets off to hitchhike to the Grand Canyon where he realizes life is very good. Standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona the road ahead appears to be one neverending smooth ride full of fun, adventure, and pretty women.

Late at night in a vacant hotel lobby in South Florida, decades later Sam finds himself trying to come to peace with the fact that plans do not always work out and the life you imagined is not always the life you end up living. Alone at the front desk, he writes novels and communicates via email with his wife who has left him and now runs a food truck in Colorado. The two of them alone but at the same time together, trying to work things out, trying to hold onto a marriage that has moved just out of reach.

With a sharp eye for the world around him, Sam’s memories wander through the decades of his life as a traveling salesman, husband, and father. His story takes the reader on a journey from 1960’s New Hampshire where he writes letters to his brother in Vietnam, to Boston and New York where he and his wife raise their young family during the tumultuous years at the turn of the century, to South Florida during the Great Recession.

Against the backdrop of the conflicts and anxieties of a changing world, Life Is All This is the story of a modern American family facing life’s hardships with hope, optimism, and humor while discovering that pain, loss, and distance can strengthen their love and enrich their lives.

sheila-blanchette

Sheila Blanchette is the author of three novels, including Take Me Home and The Reverse Commute. All are available here

You can WIN a copy of this book! Just leave a comment below. One winner will be chosen at random and the author will contact you directly. Contest ends one week after publication.