Monday, January 25, 2016

The Classics - Opening Lines: A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

As narrated by Dr. Watson:

"In the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the course prescribed for surgeons in the army. Having completed my studies there, I was duly attached to the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers as Assistant Surgeon."

(Published 1887) (This short novel introduced Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson)

I love the classics and plan to share some "opening lines" over the coming months. Comment if you like, or read for inspiration. Writing styles were different then, but were they really?

Sharon M. Himsl

Writer/Author. Blogging since 2011. 
Published with Evernight Teen: 
~~The Shells of Mersing

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Book Review - Voices of the Civil Rights Movement by Lori Mortensen

Image result for Voices of the Civil Rights Movement: A Primary Source Exploration of the Struggle for Racial Equality“We Shall Overcome” (Series)
Voices of the Civil Rights Movement: A Primary Source Exploration of the Struggle for
Racial Equality
Author: Lori Mortensen
Publisher: Capstone Press, 2015
Ages 8 to 10, Nonfiction
Pages: 32

The voices of key Civil Rights activists come to life through documented primary sources in Mortensen’s Voices of the Civil Rights Movement. Readers learn the different points of view, and how participants in the movement actually felt. Photographs show the emotions on people’s faces, their actions and reactions, and elsewhere in quoted speech, the words they spoke. 

After slavery was abolished in 1865, “Jim Crow” laws quickly fell into place in the southern states, separating the black and white races. Hate groups and mob activity rose against African-Americans, threatening all who disobeyed. Blacks grew weary of being separate and not equal. In 1955, Rosa Parks of Montgomery, Alabama, said she “was tired of giving in.” Mortensen describes the bus boycott that resulted when Parks went to jail over a bus seat she refused to yield to a white rider. Leaders on both sides of the argument rose. 

Alabama Police Commissioner Clyde Sellers argued that the law had been broken, plain and simple. Black leader Martin Luther King Jr. initiated a nonviolent protest, in which blacks in Montgomery refused to ride on the bus line. The boycott gained national attention and protest spread throughout the south to other areas of concern, such as school segregation. Black leaders Thurgood Marshall and Daisy Bates spoke out, demanding more action, against objections by Governor Orval Faubus and George Wallace, who fought against racial integration. Freedom Riders made the news, like Jim Zwerg, a white Civil Rights worker who was beaten. 

The fight for freedom changed America, Mortensen writes. White prejudice continued to surface and more lives were lost, but southern viewpoints eventually changed. The Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964 and America's first African-American president was elected in 2008. A Glossary and Critical Thinking Using the Common Core section are included to generate classroom discussion. A good primary source for teachers to introduce, as well as for interested parents.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Independent Publisher Books Awards: 2015

The IPPY Awards. The Independent Publisher Book Awards were created in 1996 in recognition of independent authors and publishers. Since then there have been thousands of IPPY Awards, and the number is growing. Included are genres reviewed here, but there are plenty more at their site.

Fiction: Juvenile

GOLD: Jack the Castaway, by Lisa Doan; illustrated by Ivica Stevanovic (Darby Creek Publishing)

SILVER: Project Superhero, by E. Paul Zehr (ECW Press)

BRONZE: My Brother's Story, by Allen Johnson Jr. (Premium Press America)

Fiction: Young Adult

GOLD (tie):
-The Belief in Angels, by J. Dylan Yates (Chenery Press)
-Words and Their Meanings, by Kate Bassett (Flux Books / Llewellyn Worldwide)

SILVER (tie):

-Spirit Legacy: Book 1 of the Gateway Trilogy, by E.E. Holmes (Lily Faire Publishing)
-Spelled, by Kate St. Clair (Black Hill Press)

BRONZE: Melt, by Selene Castrovilla (Last Syllable Books)

Fiction (Multicultural): Young Adult

GOLD: The Clever Swallow, by Christopher Lee, illustrated by Yoom Thawilvejakul (Ammonite Films Publishing)

SILVER: Walking Two Worlds, by Joseph Bruchac (7th Generation)

BRONZE: The Parrot Matchmaker: An African Lovers Tale, by Felix Adeoti Oguntoye (Asalako Press)

Nonfiction: Young Adult and Juvenile

GOLD: Smile & Succeed for Teens, by Kirt Manecke (Solid Press, LLC)

SILVER: How to be a Space Explorer: Your Out-of-this-World Adventure, by Mark Brake / Lonely Planet Kids (Lonely Planet Pub)

BRONZE: The Electrifying Story of Multiple Sclerosis, by Vanita Oelschlager; illustrated by Joe Rossi (Vanita Books, LLC)

Nonfiction (Multicultural): Young Adult and Juvenile

GOLD: Amazing World Atlas: Bringing the World to Life, by Lonely Planet Kids (Lonely Planet Publications Pty Ltd)

SILVER: All About China, by Allison Branscombe (Tuttle Publishing)

BRONZE: Because I Am a Girl, by Rosemary McCarney with Jen Albaugh and Plan International (Second Story Press)

Picture Books: Children (7 and under)

GOLD: The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm, by LeVar Burton and Susan Schaefer Bernardo; illustrated by Courtenay Fletcher (RR Kidz Inc)

SILVER: The Great Googly Moogly, by Courtney Dicmas (Child’s Play International Ltd.)

BRONZE (tie):

-The Night Before My Birthday Book, by Joni Rubinstein; illustrated by Juana -artinez-Neal (Three Hearts Presents LLC)
-Luna Luna, by Sam Ryan; illustrated by Hazel Mitchell (Mascot Books)

Picture Books: All Ages

GOLD (tie):
-Cyparissus, by Marta Sanmamed; illustrated by Sonja Wimmer; translated by Jon Brokenbrow (Cuento de Luz)
-T.L.C., by M.H. Clark (Compendium Inc.)

SILVER: Fred and the Monster, by Scott Sussman; illustrated by Yves Margarita (Octopus Ink Press)

BRONZE: The Coal Thief, by Alane Adams; illustrated by Lauren Gallegos (Rodina Press)

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Classics - Opening Lines: The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper

"It was a feature peculiar to the colonial wars of North America, that the toils and dangers of the wilderness were to be encountered before the adverse hosts could meet. A wide and apparently an impervious boundary of forests severed the possessions of the hostile provinces of France and England." (Published 1826)

I love the classics and plan to share some "opening lines" over the coming months. Comment if you like, or read for inspiration. Writing styles were different then, but were they really?

Friday, January 15, 2016

Celebrate the Small Things: Winter Beauty in the Columbia Basin

As we do not normally get a lot of snow in Desert Aire (over Christmas the ground was covered), I'm celebrating snow on the Umtanums. I see these out my windows. Aren't they beautiful?

View across our river/lake - Priest Rapids Recreation area

One of the roads I drive. 

Golf course clubhouse in distance. Yep, that's sage brush in front.


There are hiking trails in the Umtanums, but hikers should know there are rattlesnakes during the summer. I think I'll pass on hiking the Umtanums and just enjoy the beauty they offer from my window. 

Happy Weekend Everyone!!

Celebrate the Small Things: To join, visit Lexa's Blog for the rules. We post every Friday about something we are grateful for that week. It can be about writing, family, school, general life or whatever. Originated by VikLit, co-hosts are: L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Katie @ TheCyborgMom

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Classics - CLOSING LINES: The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

"Will Hyde die upon the scaffold? Or will he find courage to release himself at the last moment? God knows; I am careless; this is my true hour of death, and what is to follow concerns another than myself. Here then, as I lay down the pen and proceed to seal up my confession, I bring the life of that unhappy Henry Jekyll to an end." (Published 1886)

I love the classics and plan to alternately share some "CLOSING lines" over the coming months. Comment if you wish, or read for inspiration. Writing styles were different then, or were they really?

Thursday, January 7, 2016

IWSG - January: Fictional and Real Characters

A recent reflection on fictional and real characters - A true story

"She was a filthy woman," Dad said, describing my great grandmother Ada.

It left an image in my mind of toilet bowls with yellow rings and urine stains on the rim. So she was a lazy woman, I supposed, but what a terrible legacy to leave behind. Would leaving my home dirty and dying suddenly (as Ada had) have a similar effect on my ancestors? As I sat there watching my dad ponder the past, I thought about the seedy bathrooms at old gas stations I'd sometimes been forced to use over the years, the kind that stunk before you even opened the door and had all the tell-tale signs of e-coli or worse.

Dad smiled. "She was a concert pianist once." 

What? More probing uncovered that Ada also had taught piano in her home. So there it was. Ada loved, lived, and breathed music, a far better and kinder depiction than the "filthy" woman Dad had first described. But the more I thought about it, Dad's words had been an honest reflection, a little boy's memory.

Dad had been raised in Lawton, Oklahoma in what must have been a well to do home. Dad remembered the family had a black mammy, which would have been sometime after 1926. When I first learned about the mammy, my understanding of mammies was on the level of what I'd seen in the movie Gone With the Wind. I'd grown to believe it was a deep south practice during the Civil War period. But apparently not. Dad's father was an army officer and his mother an officer's wife. They had the money and photos of them as a young couple revealed a glamorous lifestyle.

A few months later, Dad passed away and I inherited a box of heirlooms, some of which belonged to Ada. Imagine my delight when I then discovered that Ada had had a writer's heart. She wrote on scraps of paper, on the margins of her bible, sheets of notebook paper, in the piano book where she had recorded her students, and on various other keepsakes, all documenting what she believed to be important. A goldmine.

I learned that Ada was born in Illinois to a mother (Margaret) of striking beauty, something Ada was not in photos. She was rather plain but had a strong, confident face. The family moved to Oklahoma when Ada's attorney father, Montraville McCammat Duncan, "made the run" in Kingfisher, OK for land during Oklahoma's famous land rush in 1889. There Montraville served an "unfinished" term as Kingfisher's first mayor.

Ada married James at age 22. "A home wedding," she wrote. "The first in Kingfisher" and "a band serenaded us." But sadly, the joy of that day was lost with the death of two infants: a girl on their first wedding anniversary and a boy the year of the "Snyder Cyclone." My grandfather, their only living child, was born eight years later. The family eventually settled in Lawton, OK.

James died at age 59, possibly of TB (he had spent time in a sanitarium prior to his death), but his ailment was never fully disclosed. Tuberculosis was the Aids of that generation. The newspaper wrote that James had been a well known local pioneer, businessman, and member of the Masonic Lodge, but this was of little aid to Ada. As a widow at 51 her financial position plummeted overnight. Her apartments grew "smaller and smaller," she wrote, and she was forced to move in with her son and wife (my grandparents, the glamorous couple with the mammy). Unhappy with this arrangement, as Ada made known in her notes, it's likely she bickered some with my grandmother.

At some point, Ada had come to know the imprisoned Apache chief, Geronimo, someone my grandfather later recalled visiting as a four-year-old boy in the Lawton prison. My family has the beaded belt that Geronimo gave my grandfather as a gift, proof of one visit in particular, but we can only speculate on the relationship between Ada, my grandfather and Geronimo. My grandfather further claimed to have been the only non Indian to attend Geronimo's funeral. Tall tale? Feel free to comment!

Geronimo's belt, a gift to my grandfather 1903-1904
(shown in 3 sections).  P. H. are my grandfather's initials.

If I were to write about Ada today as a fictional character and the people in her life, I could take her story in several directions, which might be fun to do, but her real story is just as fascinating to me.

When you write fictional characters, how true to life are your characters? Do they start out as someone you know or have read about, and evolve from there, or are they strictly an invention of your mind?

Curious how that works for you. 


The Insecure Writers Support Group meets online every first Wednesday of the month. Founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh, IWSG was created to support and encourage all writers in every phase of their work, from writing to marketing. Click here to join, and for information, writing tips, and more.

January's awesome co-hosts today are L.G. Keltner, Denise Covey, Sheri Larsen, J.Q. Rose, Chemist Ken, and Michelle Wallace!

Congratulations IWSG Winners of the Anthology Contest!! 

The Mirror People by Crystal Collier
Ground Zero by Michael Abayomi
The Seventeen by Hart Johnson
Rainers by Sandra Cox
EVER-TON by Yolanda Renee
WIN by Sylvia Ney
Haunted by Melanie Schultz
Folds in Life and Death by Cherie Reich
Scrying the Plane by Tamara Narayan
Felix Was Here by L.G. Keltner - Winner overall!  
(L.G. will be published in the anthology :) 

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Classics - CLOSING LINES: White Fang by Jack London

JackLondonwhitefang1.jpg"Then his weakness asserted itself, and he lay down, his ears cocked, his head on one side, as he watched the puppy. The other puppies came sprawling toward him, to Collie’s great disgust; and he gravely permitted them to clamber and tumble over him. At first, amid the applause of the gods, he betrayed a trifle of his old self-consciousness and awkwardness. This passed away as the puppies’ antics and mauling continued, and he lay with half-shut, patient eyes, drowsing in the sun." (Published 1906)

I love the classics and plan to alternately share some "CLOSING lines" over the coming months. Comment if you wish, or read for inspiration. Writing styles were different then, or were they really?

About Me

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You could call me an eternal optimist, but I'm really just a dreamer. l believe in dream fulfillment, because 'sometimes' dreams come true. This is a blog about my journey as a writer and things that inspire and motivate me.