My reading companion of 17 years, Kenya

Monday, May 6, 2019

The Good Earth

A story for every age in every part of the globe.  China may have been the  only country that bound women's feet, but women's voices are silenced in  every section of the globe.  In the writing of this story, Pearl S. Buck gave O-lan the voice she never had.

The story revolves around  Wang’s desire to become a good farmer and his understanding that he needed a wife to take care of life's necessary chores so that he could be the person he wanted to be.  He was tired of having to get up early in the morning and boil water for his father's tea. He needed someone to take care of his aging father, someone to give him sons, someone to boil water, make meals and clean up when the day is done and then start all over the next day and not make any demands on him.  He found that in O-lan, a kitchen slave from the great House of Hwang.

O-lan is the true heroine of the story.  She has learned much from her life as a slave and can bear children alone, work in the fields and long into the night.  She could do much of this because her feet were not bound as a child.  Wang was disappointed  that her feet were never bound because that meant they were not dainty little feet he could admire. Those with bound feet could not walk as the toes were bent back in childhood so they couldn't run, or work in the fields as O-lan was able to. But all Wang saw was her big feet. When he went searching for a wife, he understood the cultural norm/belief that only men of wealth and leisure needed beautiful women with dainty feet for their pleasure.

For decades, Wang and O-lan worked the fields  and over time the good earth provided them with plenty of silver to feed and house their sons and daughter. Unfortunately as the good earth provided him more silver for leisure pursuits, he became that wealthy lord who believed it was his right to have   beautiful women with dainty feet. It was at the House of Tea in the Village that Wang found Peach Blossom and brought her to his house to live as a 2nd wife.  He even built onto the house a separate living area for her.  He took O-lan's prize possession of two small pearls and had them made into earrings for Peach Blossom.  There was no end to feeding his own desire.

O-lan dies in the story and the good earth so prized by Wang becomes just a tool for wealth for his sons.  They were eager to sell the land for they had no desire to farm but they had  to wait for their father to pass away before doing so.

In many ways this is the same old story about greed and lust that is a part of every generation.What sets in apart is the writing and the passion in which the story is told. This should be a must read in high schools everywhere.

After reading this, there’s no doubt why Pearl S. Buck received the Pulitzer Prize in 1935.  She was the first American  women to be awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1938.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Tucson Festival 2019

 Great day today at the Tucson Festival.   The festival is a full weekend of everything book related: great for writers, great for readers, great for publishing houses and a great time for agents to discover new talent.  The first workshops/presentation at began at 10:00am and the last starts at 4:00pm.  Thousands of book lovers attend this festival.

 As a writer I attend as many craft workshops I can.  While some workshops are ticketed, many of them are free.  Over the years I have been to at least 20 and they have all been worthwhile.

Whack Wordiness, Decluttering your Writing was my 10:00 workshop.  I couldn’t pass it up.  As a professional designer I often help clients embark on the task of decluttering the rooms in their homes.  I tealished learning from Barbara McNichol the secrets to decluttering my writing.
She did not disappoint.  Thank you Barbara.

I stopped by Arizona Star Tent to listen to advise about freelancing from Michael Perry.  He is very enthusiastic when he talks.  I think he was born to be on stage.  He offered good advise and offers more on his web page www.seasoned cows.  I will be sure to check that out when I get back.

My favorite session was Fom a Certain Point of View.  All 4 authors were energetic and offered solid information regarding POV in a very entertaining manner.  The hour presentation seemed like 20 minutes.  One noteworthy take away:  3 out of the 4 authors prefer writing in multiple POVs.  It is generally believed that readers prefer one point of view formats yet all these authors have sold a good number of books.  I prefer to write with miltiple POVs so I found this encouraging.

I am on the road back home now with a few more books and plenty of good information.  If you have never attended this festival I suggest you put it on your calendar for next year.  I promise you won’t regret it. It is always held in March.

A special thank you to the Changing Hands Bookstore for providing bus transportation along with some breakfast treats.  Both Adam and Alissa did a great job in entertaining the bus load of book lovers and in keeping things running smoothly.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Tucson Book Festival

On my way to the Tucson Book Festival this weekend.  It is one of the mayor book festivals in the nation.  This will be my 3rd year in attendance.

I'll keep everyone posted. I have 4 workshops to attend and many authors and book enthusiast to meet up with in a variety of events.


Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Saints for All Occasions

I met Ms. Sullivan at the Writer's Digest Conference in New York City in 2018.  She was part of a 3-women panel who shared their varied approaches with the craft and the process of writing.  Saints for All Occasions is her latest book. It follows two sisters as they leave their families in Ireland to start new lives in Boston.  As Ms. Sullivan talked about the book, her emotional connection to these fictional characters pulled me into the story and I confess that I found the title intriguing.

Nora and Theresa Flynn were 21 & 17 when they ventured off to America.  It's a well known story plot but I wanted to see how the author handled the heartache and the cultural shock that the girls would experience as their world changed. Ms. Sullivan did not disappoint my expectations.  I found the characters well developed and their reactions to the situations they encountered believable.  Each character remained true to her role throughout the book.

I enjoyed the story.  I think the end was a little rushed though.  Much was left unsaid which is often the case when someone has to adjust from one culture to another, but I wanted the last few scenes to last a little longer.

This was a good read and I recommend it especially to people who have Irish immigrants in their family.  There is much Irishness in these pages.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Re-inventing Is A Life Style

To reinvent is to be renewed
To stop the process
To start anew

It's the rewriting of a book
Or the changing of clothes
  for a different look

To be who you want
To define your style
Makes life interesting
Makes it worthwhile

The trick is not to go too far
Not to change the core
And always be who you are.

Monday, February 10, 2014

To Pitch and Publish - Indie Author Publishing Conference - 2014

Hats off to Changing Hands Bookstore for  organizing another great conference for writers/publishers this year.  We are lucky in the Valley to have an independent bookstore that is so community oriented.  The Conference was hosted once again by the  Phoenix Burton Barr Central Library.

Evo Terra & Jeff Moriarty:  Demystifying the Ebook Process
The Indie Author Publishing Conference & Pitchapalooza  is a full day of education and networking.  Starting at 8:30 with check-in and coffee time and the energy level is always high.  The Keynote speaker this year was John Mutter, Self-Awareness editor-in-chief who shared his vision of the future of publishing and trends developing within that market.  Mr. Mutter talked briefly about Barnes and Nobel closing more stores than it is opening but he was quick to point out that the Publishing world is both expanding and contracting at the same time.  He mentioned the hybrid bookstore concept such as the Sepulveda Card Wash and Bookstore in the LA area.  The new  Changing Hands Bookstore in Phoenix  when it is completed can also be considered a hybrid with its inclusion of the First Draft wine and beer area in the bookstore.  Expansion seems to be mostly at the Indies level since sales are up for the Independent Bookstore and they are opening more branches. One thing he also said that would resonate with a writer is that: "easier to publish; harder to reach readers." 

Evo Terra and Jeff Moriarty did as MCs keeping things moving at a good pace.  Their workshop on Demystifying the Ebook Process  was also filled with lots of good tibits.  After attending their workshop you may want to download Scrivener if you don't already use it.

Pamela Slim:  Books As Business
Pamela Slim offered valuable insights in her presentation, Books As Business.  "Build things around your book" was her main message and she gave the attendees five ways to achieve this starting with understanding who your beloved reader is and creating a plan that can keep you focused and moving forward.

Grael Norton from Wheatmark Publishing presented After the Manuscript  to a fill room.  If you haven't tuned into his free webinars  you may want to do yourself a favor and sign up:  If you  are a member of the Phoenix Writers Club, I have  this link in the monthly newsletter.

The workshop on Crowdfunding  101 given by Safwat Saleem was very interesting and filled a void in my knowledge base since it is a trend that  I know almost nothing about.  If I have any applications for Kickstarter in the future I will not hesitate to do it.

It was a very enjoyable and informative day and ended with the high-energy of the Pitchapalooza.  If you didn't get a chance to go this year then make sure you go next year.  It's well worth the investment.