Sunday, June 3, 2018

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Happy Earth Day, Hello from the Trenches - Still Celebrating the Small Things

Chrysanthemum in a pot
A nice message (below) for Earth Day from Jane Goodall! We have quail on our property. Did you know that the males and females mate for life? About 90 percent of bird species in general are monogamous. Hubby and I enjoy watching the mamas and papas, their head plumes bobbing away in rhythm as they scurry about with their tiny chicks  in tow. So-so cute. One of these days I hope to catch a photo. They move fast when they see me.

I love nature, don't you? I love watching all it has to offer, the honeybees enjoying my crab tree blooms, the robins listening for worms in the ground, the occasional crow (did you know they are as smart as a seven-year-old?), and on and on. I write a garden column for our small newspaper and found myself thinking the other day that aphids have a right to eat too. Ha-ha-ha. I know, I know, but this is how my mind works. 

So I made a batch of homemade insecticide, with Dawn soap, vegetable oil and water. It repels aphids and other insects, but I doubt if it kills them. I'll need to spray the infestation at least a couple more times. My poor snow ball bush was covered. 

But on to the real purpose of this blog....recording my writing journey. You already know about my novel The Shells of Mersing and the long, long road to publishing it. If you haven't had to chance to read, you can find it at Evernight Teen for 25% off this weekend. I urge you to take a look. I am so grateful to this publisher for taking a chance on me. There are many other books there too in different genres. Mine is an adventure mystery, a sailing journey, a sweet romance. 

Our small sailboat, Duet. Friday Harbor, WA

You've seen me in the A-Z April Challenge. I do hope that is going well for everyone. I noticed a huge number didn't participate last year. That said, I will always be grateful for this wonderful blog hop. It got me thinking about topics I had always wanted to explore. People still come to my blog to the read the A-Z posts. 

Learn something new

Dare to be yourself

I've been gardening and thinking about working on a sequel to my novel as I work. Gardening is normally great inspiration for me, as there is time to think, but my novel has been on hold since December when my mother moved into a retirement home. My focus has been on her needs, but I'm trying hard to get back to a more productive writing schedule.  
In this together
How has your writing journey been going? 
Let me know in your comments. 


Yep, still Celebrating!

Friday, March 16, 2018

This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills: Book Review

This Adventure Ends
Author: Emma Mills
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company, 2016
Reviewer: Sharon M. Himsl
Age level: 15 up, Young Adult
Pages: 308

Sloane Finch is not sure what to expect when she moves with her family from New York to Florida her senior year. She’s never been all that close with kids in school, except for maybe in elementary school. Besides, her life is plenty full—voice lessons for one, and maybe music school next year. There is also her father’s “fic” to read. Dad, publicly known as Everett Finch, is a popular literary romance writer. Sloane reviews his work faithfully, even in his current writer’s slump. Meanwhile, Mom and Dad have urged her to make new friends.

To Sloane’s surprise, her sharp-witted and sassy personality quickly wins over a group of friends who adore her honest, frank manner. Among them are Vera and Gabe, the Fuller twins, who have been grieving over the death of their talented artist mother. It doesn’t help that they have a new twenty-something stepmom to boot. When Sloane learns from Gabe that one of their mother’s paintings had been mistakenly sold, it only seems right to locate the art. She gets another friend to help, determined to surprise the twins with the lost painting.

Problems develop, however, including marital strife between Sloane’s parents, which test her overall trust in relationships. Life is no longer tied up neat and securely like her dad’s fiction. Friendship and love in the real world do not come with guarantees. Being more open with her friends and accepting their love is hard at first, but a happy outcome follows with the budding romance between Sloane and Gabe. She has never been kissed by a boy before, not once, although that is about to change. The story itself is slow to develop, as Mills sets up characters, but the intelligent and witty dialog make This Adventure Ends enjoyable to read.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Secret Agent Training Manual by Elizabeth Singer Hunt: Book Review

The Secret Agent Training ManualThe Secret Agent Training Manual
Elizabeth Singer Hunt
Illustrated by Brian Williamson 

Publisher: Weinstein Books, 2017
Reviewer: Sharon M. Himsl

Age level: 8-12, Middle Grade
Pages: 94

Learn how to make and decode top secret messages in this nonfiction companion workbook specially designed for the series Secret Agents Jack and Max Stalwart. Readers learn over twenty-five spy techniques on how to keep secret messages private. They then can send coded messages to a friend or “fellow spy.” After learning the methods, readers are challenged to test their skills at the end. The history of cryptography is also described, going as far back as ancient Greece thousands of years ago. For example, Herodotus is known to have used special code to warn his people that the Persian army was fast approaching. Drawings and plenty of fill-in boxes are used throughout the manual to work out presented problems. Readers can write on the pages as they learn, as paper is workbook quality, comparable to a coloring book. A glossary and resources are included, as well as answer keys for workbook exercises.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Ojibwe: The Past and Present of the Anishinaabe by Alesha Halvorson: Book Review

The Ojibwe: The Past and Present of the Anishinaabe“Fact Finders” 
The Ojibwe: The Past and Present of the Anishinaabe
Alesha Halvorson
Publisher: Capstone Press, 2017

Reviewer: Sharon M. Himsl
Age level: 8 up, 
Pages: 32

The Ojibwe, also known as the Anishinaabe and Chippewa, are a proud people. Their ancestral pride in the past and present are often demonstrated at powwow gatherings today. 
Ojibwe history is mostly centered in the Great Lakes region of the United States and to the north in Canada. They migrated there from the east about one thousand years ago. 

Similar to other Native Americans, their livelihood was influenced by the seasons and the locale. In spring, for instance, their wigwams were built near the maple tree groves, where syrup could be tapped from the trees. Near marshy areas, they further set up camp to harvest the wild rice that grew in abundance. Rice was considered “a gift from the creator,” as it was nutritious and good for the diet. 

Their religion centered around the teachings of Gitchi Manatou (the Great Spirit). Spiritual communication often came to individuals in dreams. Still important today, their basic belief states that everything has a spirit. The Ojibwe are one of few tribes to have recorded their religious beliefs, which were discovered on ancient birch bark scrolls. 

As the third largest tribe in America, 170,000 in the U.S. and 60,000 in Canada, there are 150 bands in existence, but survival was not always easy in the beginning. When trappers visited their land in the 1800s, the French and English fought for control. Sad stories of being forced onto reservations followed, including the famous “Wisconsin Death March.” Halvorson’s presentation is packed with information on current culture as well, all useful in Social Studies curriculum. A Glossary (boldface text) and Timeline are provided. Maps, photos, and sketches are on most pages.