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Book Review ~~ The Colonel and the Bee by Patrick Canning

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A Review ~~ The Colonel and the Bee

There is one thing that delights me above all else and that is to discover a writer who can write. One who weaves words with charm and skill. Patrick Canning does this in spades! I have been reading for 55+ years and I have never come across  a Fantasy/Adventure such as this. It really doesn’t fall into any particular genre. You could read it with your kids (with a tiny bit redacted) or adults can read it. Like Spearmint gum, Double your pleasure, Double your fun!

My favorite character in The Colonel and the Bee is the ‘Ox’.  The Oxford Starladder (so aptly named) is a kind of hot air balloon.  But where we picture a simple woven basket large enough to hold two or three people, the ‘Ox’ is a four story wicker house that has a kitchen, staircases, bedrooms, library, and nursery (plants). In fact the Colonel grows rattan bamboo that ends up growing into the structure of the house as a constant form of repair. Genius! 

There is a well known epigram: ‘it’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” For me this book is ALL about the journey. The Colonel and his new-found friend, Beatrix flying above the earth in the ‘Ox’ picking up and dropping off people, having adventures along the way. I don’t know if spending all that time up there is why the  Colonel has such a lovely perspective on life and people but I wish I were one of his friends. 

My readers know me well. I don’t write spoilers or story synopses in my reviews. In my case, it’s always a review of the writing. The writing in this case is superb.  “The tick of the clock still speaks our pace.”  Word magic abounds in this book. 

I loved  the characters, the locations, and the story. Whimsical, captivating, and bewitching. The story could happen. It could be true and if it isn’t the reader so wants it to be possible. I read the end of this story twice when Bee arrives at the Hearth. It was a surprise and left the door cracked for a sequel. From my lips to God’s ear. 
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. September: Jonathan Rabb.  October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December: Molly Gloss. Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)

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Book Review ~~ Invitation to Poetry by Mihai Brinas

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4 out 5 quills  ~~  A Review 

I rarely review books for writers I’m not familiar with…and before you judge me…I’m not a book snob. I don’t review those books because I don’t want to have to write a tough critique. New author/writers should be encouraged and lifted up. Not torn down.  But this poet intrigued me. His poetry had something to say. 

let there be rain ©

he was feeling different
he was just waiting to be seen by the world
a world that did not read poetry books anymore
you could not even find books
as if somebody had burnt them in a huge incinerator
as he was different he has gathered up there
the ashes of poetry books
he is scattering it above everybody
with just a single blow
so it may rain with poetry

Mihai stops us and makes us see a camera shot of the lonely, exhibit guard; the invisible ones. Hidden Truths hurt my heart and what more could a poet ask for. The Healed Healer  was truly beautifully written.  I wish the titles of the poetry were shorter in some cases, but that’s just personal taste. The English translation could be cleaned up….but no….that is perhaps part of the charm. 

I agree with Mihai that poetry is forgotten and not read enough. If you feel the need for a little poetry, I highly recommend his books. The verse is not shallow and you may want to read a poem over a second time…but it’s certainly gratifying and worth the reader’s time. 

 

Bio:  Mihai Brinas is a young (25) poet, living in Arad, Romania. He has published two poetry ebooks .’Invitation to Poetry’ in October 2017 and ‘Alignment of Thoughts’ in February 2018. He ‘loves life, poetry, reading. His favorite place is the town library where he enjoys seeing and touching random books while walking among the shelves.  The smell of books. To be able to choose and read one book or another.’ He writes: ‘when the emotion takes the arm of my thought and asks it out for a stroll.’

 

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!  April: International adventurer, writer, Tal Gur.  June: Manning Wolfe. July K.M. Ecke. August: Mega best selling author, Susan Mallery. September: Jonathan Rabb.  Coming this winter: Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)

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New Poetry

Haiku   (haiku)

to write haiku is
to distill to perfection
with only three lines

 

after life (haiku)

believe in after
if there is none beyond this
does not signify

 

The School   (Renku)

halls run with blood, red
brains and flesh smear locker doors 
hearts beat the last drop

children creep and hide
a dark shadow haunts the school
bursts of bullets kill

soft crying stifled
will the nightmare never end? no, play dead,
be still

finally, silence
except the whispered pleas heard
 to god, to anyone, please please

haiku, poetry, pen and ink art, poems, Japanese haiku,

 

 

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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    March: Mystery (and Western) writer, Larry D. Sweazy.  April: International adventurer, writer, Tal Gur.                                                                                   
                                        
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Storytelling…a Cultural Imperative!

What is a cultural imperative?  ‘Peoples living within the encompasses of cultures associated with very different ethnicities often imbue radically different moral imperatives, through identification processes carrying across generations. Such cultural imperatives prevalent within one culture may not have any direct equivalent within another culture…’ * 

Glaring examples of this are the ethnic groups who, putting themselves at risk for censor or abuse, have insisted on keeping their native language, rituals, and religions alive. ‘one culture may not have any direct equivalent within another culture…’  But the one imperative that has crossed all ethnic and cultural groups is storytelling. 

What is this imperative that most people feel….to tell stories?  It seems, to me, to be hardwired into our DNA.

We begin at an early age: making up stories (to ourselves) as we play with our dolls or cars. A child has no inhibitions when it comes to weaving a fantastical tale, frequently out loud, as they play. 
A mother or father sits at their child’s bedside and makes up stories until they fall asleep.
A comic book writer tells his stories with a few words, facial expressions, and action illustrations.
A poet tells their stories through rhyme, lyric or free verse.
A playwright creates their story so that others can tell it.
Another storyteller sees their stories happening in the far future. 
Another goes to the dark side of human nature and writes stories about things that go bump in the night.
A teacher tells a story to enhance the lesson. (I miss you, Miss. O’Connor.)
The novelist weaves a longer tale; taking their characters on adventures, discovering love, suffering defeats, and usually conquering all in the end. 
……even gossip could be considered storytelling.

I have worried out loud (and written about it here) that storytelling will die, be a thing of the past.  But now I believe that many of us do have that cultural imperative to tell and write down our stories. After all the synonyms for imperative are: involuntary, necessary, nonelective, obligatory, peremptory, required. 
 I don’t think storytellers can help themselves. We have to tell stories!

 

 

* IdentityExploration.com/Culture_Imperatives
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    January: Sue Grafton ~ In Memory
March: Mystery (and Western) writer, Larry D. Sweazy.  April: in60Learning ~ A unique, non-fiction mini-book read in 60 minutes.
                                                                                   
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Motivational Moments…for Writers! #42

                             There’s a reason I’ve chosen this image for each of my ‘Motivational….’. Read it! I have been there so many times. A sentence, a paragraph, even a chapter, that is perfect, that I can’t live without. But in truth, it doesn’t work as wonderful as it may be. It’s not germane to the story, IT HAS TO GO!   So with time, this writer has grown to love the delete key.

It’s hard, I know, but ya gotta do it!     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can’t and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it.” ~~Robert Frost

“The reward of a thing well done, is to have done it.” ~~- Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Genius is the talent for seeing things straight. It is seeing things in a straight line without any bend or break or aberration of sight, seeing them as they are, without any warping of vision. Flawless mental sight! That is genius.” ~~– Maude Adams
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   October: Alretha Thomas. November: Joe English. December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss and February:  Patrick Canning.
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Motivational Moments…for Writers! #34

The first thing that makes a buyer reach for your book is the COVER!  Is it professional? Does it convey a visual story? 
The second thing that keeps the book in their hand is the BACK COVER and what it says about your story!
The third thing that keeps them from putting it back on the rack (or swiping their tablet for more choices) is that all important, FIRST SENTENCE!

 For example:

Swamp sludge dripped off the massive head while the cold, murderous, purple eye watched them.’

‘As I stepped into the street I didn’t notice the bus bearing down on me.’

‘I sat in the prison waiting room about to interview a convicted killer.’

‘Slow down, Al,” Vi screamed and laughed from the back seat of the car that was plummeting down the mountain side. “You’re gonna kill us.’

 ‘My first audition since I had arrived in Hollywood and what if I fail?’

‘The teacher grabbed my math work book and marched to the front of the room. He began to read my poetry aloud.’

‘As the saloon doors creaked back and forth, the trail weary cowboys backed away when they saw him saunter in.’

“Mother must be spinning in her grave. Not in her wildest dreams, or mine for that matter, would she imagine her daughter in a prison.” Kitty muttered, as her chauffeur drove up the long driveway to the main entrance of the State Prison.

Since the buyer hasn’t put your book down yet, you have to ‘hook’ them with your first sentence. Make them ask, ‘what happens next’?
                                                    *************

“No one is free, even the birds are chained to the sky.” ~~Bob Dylan

“I never could have done what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one subject at a time.” ~~ Charles Dickens

“None but ourselves can free our minds.” ~~Bob Marley
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MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    September: Dylan Callens.  October’s author was Donna Kauffman. In November we say hello to Rita Avaud a Najm. In December we will be saying hello to English mystery writer, J.G. Dow. 
                                                                                   
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Just Published! I WANNA BE a WRITER, Journal and Handbook

‘A stunning new journal with more instruction and extra tips about writing fiction, stage plays, and poetry.’ Midwest Book Review

The newest in a series of Journals/Handbooks. For new and experienced writers alike, this Journal offers more instruction,
tips and more hand-picked quotes by other authors, actors, playwrights, philosophers, and poets. Meant to inspire the creative mind.  A handy size that will fit in a backpack or tote.  

 

WHAT TO EXPECT:   
How To Begin
How To Develop Exciting Characters
How To Tell A Story
How To Write a Stage Play
How To Write Poetry
How To Write Haiku Poetry

 

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MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    September: Dylan Callens.  October’s author was Donna Kauffman. In November we say hello to Rita Avaud a Najm. In December we will be saying hello to English mystery writer, J.G. Dow. 
                                                                                   
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Argentina Students Gift Me with an Original Poem

    

Argentina Adult English Class

Periodically I have talked about my friends in Argentina.  In 2009 I traveled there and was hosted by the most beautiful people whom I’d only met via email. So warm and generous with their time and attention. Highlights were: getting stuck (for a short time) in a nation-wide airline strike and being on the only plane to leave Bueno Aries for Villa Maria. A sister of one of my hosts, who had never met me in her life, vacating her apartment and handing it over to me for my stay. A beautiful university campus where I was honored to be a guest speaker for 10 days. A music department whose ‘final’ exam was to compose and perform their own music. (Amazing!) A high school putting on a play which I was able to attend and teach an impromptu, master-class in acting. And visiting a dairy farm where ‘frozen’ sperm was the subject of the day (lol) and how it was purchased, stored and implemented.  

Since that time I have been in close contact with one of the professors, Mariana Falco, and I consider her the dearest of friends. 

Mariana in center. Fulbrigh teaching assistant at St. Mary´s College

She also teaches English as a second language to adult students. She is a lovely, giving person and a wonderful teacher.

  Mariana and her class Skype with me and we have a hilarious time!  There is no language barrier when there is love! 

So, yesterday, the class surprised me by sending me a poem that they had written….(I blush)…about me! 

 

  TRISHA SUGAREK     (by O.Lopez  and Classmates)

Cierro mis ojos, en letargo                                     Close my eyes, lethargy overtakes me

Creo ver en mi sueño                                               I think I see in my dream

Su diminuta pero firme mano                               her tiny, but, firm hand

Un mágico movimiento                                         a magical movement

Esta se deslizaba sobre el papel                           this slides on the paper

Sosteniendo el lápiz entre sus dedos                    holding the pencil between her fingers

Las palabras que habitan en su mente                the words that inhabit in her mind,

Sabias ellas……….van cayendo                              wise them, begin to drop

Toda la sabiduría en la hoja                                  all the wisdom on the paper

Testigo fiel de lo que ella quiere decir                 the faithful witness of what she wants

                                                                                    to say

                 _____________                                                 __________________

De repente se detiene                                             Suddenly, she stops

Lee atentamente …… y vueve a leer                    reads attentively and reads again

Entrecierra sus ojos                                                squints her eyes

Y una bonachona sonrisa                                      and a good-nature smile

Ilumina su rostro                                                    lights up her face

Sus pupilas se agrandan e iluminan                   her pupils get enlarged and illuminate

Detrás de los lentes se ilumina y…piensa        Behind her glasses, she lights up and

                                                                             Thinks,

Y se dice a si misma                                              and she says to herself

Si es un buen trabajo,sencillo y correcto          it is a good work, simple, and precise  

Su nombre es Trisha, una gran escritora          her name is Trisha, a great writer

Y es…………¡nuestra amiga!!                              And she’s ………our friend!!!

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MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?     In August we say ‘hello’ to Cheryl Hollon.   September: Dylan Callens and October’s author is Donna Kauffman.
                                                                                   
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Like an Animal, You Have to Lay Down and Wait…

Charles Bukowski, writing, creating, writers  I posted this several years ago and it bears repeating:

I had not worked on my latest novel (#9) for several days and I was getting itchy.  I have learned that it’s okay…not to write. 

I have several good ideas rattling around in the ‘attic’ and I am reading voraciously and posting on my blog.  It’s a recurring theme, from me to my readers,  about not forcing it, not to beat yourself up because it is not coming.

Summers are hot and humid here and not my favorite weather so I spend a lot of time indoors.  I spent this summer with the man in my life…poet, Charles ‘Hank’ Bukowski.  God!  I love his genius!  And the best thing about having an imaginary playmate is that they always agree with you.    He wrote this beautiful metaphor about laying down and waiting for the inspiration and creativity to come to you.

And you know what?  This can apply to how you live your life too.  Don’t push it!  Wait!  Be patient and good things will come.

in the center of the action (c)
by Charles Bukowski

you have to lay down like an animal
until it charges,  you
have to lay down
in the center of the action

lay down and wait until it charges
then you must get up
face it, get it
before it gets you

the whole process is more
shy than
vulnerable so

lay down and wait sometimes it’s
ten minutes sometimes it’s years sometimes it
never arrives but you can’t rush it push itfamous quotes, famous writers, Bukowski, Churchill, famous men
there’s no way to cheat or get a
jump on it you have to

lay down
lay down and wait like
an animal.

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MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    July: Janet Macleod Trotter, author of Tea Planter’s Daughter and in August we said ‘hello’ to Cheryl Hollon.   September: Dylan Callens and October’s author will be Donna Kauffman. 
                                                                                   
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How to Write Creatively to be taught in Argentina

This is just one class of adults wanting to learn to speak and write English, in Argentina!  The professor is a long time friend, Mariana Falco.  She and her colleagues graciously hosted me, when I traveled to their University several years ago.  We keep a vibrant friendship going. 

She expressed a wish to use my newest book, How To Write Creatively, as a tool in her classes.  I was honored to comply. 

These Argentinians are some of the most gracious and warm people on the planet.  Once in a while one of the students will send me something that they have written.  I always respond.  Like recently, someone from the class (pictured here) sent me a letter about wandering along a stream in the autumn.  It read like poetry so I tweaked it and returned it back (via Mariana) in poetry form.  That spurred a young 7 yr.old from next door to draw a picture for me of how the ‘poem’ spoke to him.

And so the river of creativity flows!

Argentina Special Dinner

 

Autumn

leaves fall, carpet of colors 

i walk by the river, 

lazy with autumn’s ebb

a tree in silhouette shade, 

creates  a six legged creature

creeping along 

its branches move

on the breeze

Mariana…second from the right. During my trip to Argentina!

of a cold day

Mariana in center. Fulbright teaching assistant at St. Mary´s College

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MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?     Johan Thompson (South African author)  joined us in April.   June: Mehreen Ahmed.  July: Janet Macleod Trotter, author of Tea Planter’s Daughter and in August we say ‘hello’ to Cheryl Hollon.
                                                                                   
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