Book Review: Song of the Lion

Song of the LionIn author Anne Hillerman’s latest book, Song of the Lion, Bernadette Manuelito emerges as a savvy heroine who does her job with intelligence and wit while stoically ignoring the irritation of not being respected by a fellow officer. It is not luck or pride that motivates Manuelito, it’s doing the right thing at the right time for the right reason, including trusting her instincts in a life-threatening moment of peril.

Manuelito and her husband Jim Chee, work for the Navajo Tribal Police where facts and evidence add up to answers. That doesn’t discourage Manuelito from using her intuition and connection with old ways, or Chee from showing respect for honored traditions.

Put that cultural identity and awareness into play when the two unofficially work a case, and the result is a compelling story. A car bombing outside a school gymnasium that kills an unidentified young man sets the story in motion. Add in the complication of developers wanting to make dramatic changes on tribal lands and the groups for and against the proposal. Mix in a little sabotage designed to sideline the negotiations. Season with a surprising connection between the case and Manuelito’s friend and mentor, Joe Leaphorn. What you have are all the ingredients for a fast-paced story featuring familiar characters doing what they do best. Manuelito proves to be a dedicated law enforcement officer with an unbeatable spirit.

I recommend Song of the Lion to anyone who likes a good tale woven throughout with interesting, well-drawn characters.

Praise for Song the Lion from Booklist: “Hillerman seamlessly blends tribal lore and custom into a well-directed plot, continuing in the spirit of her late father, Tony, by keeping his characters in the mix, but still establishing Manuelito as the main player in what has become a fine legacy series.”

Hillerman is an award-winning reporter, the author of several non-fiction books, and the daughter of New York Times bestselling author Tony Hillerman. She lives in Santa Fe, N.M.

Title: Song of the Lion
Type: Novel
Author: Anne Hillerman
Publisher: Harper Hardcover
Publication date: April 11, 2017
Price: $27.99

Blog Recognition: Thanks a Bunch!

My sister blogger, Aiming Flamingo, has nominated me for the Blogger Recognition Award. Thank you so much Aiming Flamingo! Readers and followers are essential elements of the conversation that happens in the blogosphere. I very much appreciate your support.

blogger-recognition-award

I’ve been blogging for several years, had a website, and created a web zine. It was driving me crazy trying to keep up with four blogs, a website and the zine. I decided a little over a year ago to put everything under “one roof,” hence the title of my blog, One Roof Publishing.

I cover a lot of territory in the blog, writing Q&A posts about events and people, posting inspirational essays, writing about health and wellness, and anything else I can think of, including occasional short fiction. I welcome Followers and am always looking for new essay and article ideas. If you would like to guest post on my site, send your query to fsharon@msn.com.

I am a writer through and through. I have indie published several books and am close to publishing a new novel. I also do writing for hire through my business, Write Stuff Writing Services.

I’m not much for handing out advice, but that’s part of the process of passing the Blogger Recognition Award around. So here goes: My two pieces of advice for new bloggers – your best shot at getting readers is to know who you want your readers to be (target marketing), and posting regularly.

Below are the sites I’m recognizing. It is indeed an eclectic mix that shares one thing in common and only one: these are all folks who have a passion for something. I find that admirable and inspiring. Passion puts the pizzazz in life.

1eclecticwriter
Dr. K. L. Register, The Ninth Life
Edge of Humanity Magazine
Momentary Lapse of Sanity
Windy Lynn Harris
Success Inspirers World
Gabriella Clark
Kate  Barnwell Poetry
Haddon Musings
Kathleen Rodgers
saneteachers
Sarah Flores Blog
Be Inspired!
Charles French
Author Kristen Lamb

 

Now it’s your turn. The rules are simple.
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to his or her blog.
2. Write a post to show your award.
3. Give a brief story of how your blog started.
4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
5. Select 15 other bloggers you want to give this award to.
6. Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated and provide the link to the post you created

I hope you can make the time to join in the support and recognition of other bloggers.

Happy Halloween

Joy Riding

Hootie tunes and shrieking screams
scary thingies in your dreams.
On this haunted, hunted night
what next on tap will give you fright?
Creeping, leaping, jumping, sneaking
is that a ghost at whom you’re peeking?
Tiptoe back, slither down the hall
when spooky phantoms on you call.
Get into a warm and comfy bed,
pull the covers o’er your head.
Sweet visions conjure into being,
ignore the specter on the ceiling.
Come out and play, he moans,
Halloween lasts but a day, he groans.
Laugh, laugh away your silly fear,
the pumpkin grin will bring you cheer.
Gliding ghouls are hosts to you
waiting, waiting, and then – BOO!

_____________

Except for the photo, this is a retread from last year. The picture was taken at a hotel in Albuquerque where the employees were having a contest for the best carved pumpkin. They were all good, but this was a stand out. It’s the one we voted for :). Have a safe Halloween.

 

Autumn’s Favor

Chili Ristra

Come autumn, Mom couldn’t pass up
a roadside farm stand.
She had to stop, shop, buy.
The bright array of produce
– juicy apples
– plump pumpkins
– piquant chile peppers
– green and yellow squash
and more,
much better than any store.

Vibrant color,
mixed aromas of melons,
dirt from the field,
sawn wood of newly built
display stands, wobbly
yet able to bear the weight
of succulent bounty.
It made Mom grin,
and drew her in.

Chilly shopping in the open air.
Backdrop of plowed fields,
trees turning golden,
dropping leaves like confetti,
ristras glistening in the sun,
peppery red and lush,
green chilies turning in barrels
drenching the air
with the bouquet of fall,
a seasonal signal of winter’s call.

Good food
from the good earth,
to make into enchiladas,
tacos, rellanos,
beans with chicos,
cornbread sprinkled with green chile
and kernels of fresh corn.
The kitchen a place of comfort
where love settled in every nook
and came in waves from the cook.

Autumn’s favor comes
in memories
of home, warmed by
the heat of an oven
baking a surprise
fresh from the field.
Memories interwoven with time,
a yearning to go back
and see my mother’s smile,
if only for a little while.

 

________________
Image: clipart.com

Yea! New Book Published

Book CoverI just indie published a new book. 25 Days of Christmas, An Advent Journey rejoices in the birth of Christ through poetry. Words and phrases that evoke Advent, a time of expectant waiting for the Child of Wonder, inspired each poem. The accompanying scripture reflects on the promises of old, when prophets spoke of a Son, a King, a birthplace, a promise.

25 Days of Christmas, An Advent Journey contains poems in the acrostic style with the first letter of each sentence based on the title. The poems were shared on my publishing blog, www.oneroofpublish.com in December 2015. A friend asked if the poems would be available in printed format. The seed was planted and has grown to be this small offering of celebration.

Now is the time to buy this short book of poetry, which also provides a space for you to add your thoughts about the season and what it means to you. It’s a fabulous gift idea for pre-Christmas giving or as a gift for 2016. It is evergreen in that as an Advent calendar, it can be used in any year.

I am also available to talk to groups about indie publishing and, of course, about my latest book. My schedule currently is to be at Noon PagesKiwanis on June 1, and Rotary on June 28. Contact me at fsvandermeer@gmail.com if you are interested in a foray into indie publishing.

Order info:
Title: 25 Days of Christmas, An Advent Journey
Price: $7.50
Available: Online at amazon.com.
Available: Sharon Vander Meer (A discount will apply to books purchased directly from me when the purchase is for multiple copies.) When *ordering directly from me, type New Book in the subject line.

__________________________

­*Shipping costs will apply on orders outside Las Vegas, NM.

I am old, but that’s okay

Amaryllis in Bloom

Every once in a while I catch my reflection in a store window and am puzzled by the stranger looking back at me. Yes, I do look at my reflection every day when I’m putting on makeup, but that’s different, that’s a feature by feature application that doesn’t require looking at the whole picture, the big picture you might say.

It’s those unexpected sightings of myself when I stop and think, “Who is that old woman?” And then the rude awakening, “Oh, right, that’s me, the girl who used to weigh 97 pounds soaking wet (yeah, that’s been a while ago), and the one with – at varying times – dish-water blonde hair, black hair, blonde hair, red hair, and now nearly entirely white hair.

Being old doesn’t bother me, maySharon Vander Meerbe because I’m blessed with good health and don’t have to deal with the issues of a failing body and wandering mind, at least not right now. I’m happy to get up in the morning and look out into the patio to find an amaryllis in full bloom that’s been around for at least 50 years, its blossoms as brilliant and showy as if sprung new from the ground for the first time. It blooms twice a year without fail, with two to three spikes bearing three or four brilliant blossoms. Oh, that as I age I continue to blossom in my own way. I hope by the end of every day I have done something that made someone smile or laugh or think.

And then there are my friends. I don’t have many, by the way, only a few. Yes, I know many people, and I treasure those relationships, but a friend is someone who will listen to you blather on and pretend what you say matters. A friend is someone who will ask you the right questions without trying to give you her version of the right answers. A friend is someone who has known you for a long time and still likes you. A friend is someone who doesn’t judge you or the choices you make. A friend is someone who knows you want an honest answer to the question, “Do these pants make me look fat?” So, yeah, the only way you have old friends is if you are getting old too.

Life in general is as happy as we each want it to be. Make a conscious choice every day to be happy. If life has taught me anything it is to be forgiving, not only of others, but of oneself as well. Carrying around the baggage of discontent can plumb wear a person out. Taking on the stress dealt out by life is a time and energy waster. Guilting over past mistakes is to allow other people or circumstances to control your life, and why would you want to do that? Try to right the wrongs you can, and trust in the Lord for the rest. I learned the hard way that I can’t make other people happy no matter how hard I try, but I can make me happy, and by doing so hopefully have a positive impact. Life Lesson 101 – Count your blessings, they far outnumber your disappointments.

So, yes, I’m old, but that’s okay. I do count my blessings, and being able to write these words and share them is one of them. Aging is more than a physical process. It is to a degree mental. I agree with columnist Doug Larson who wrote, “The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball.” I can’t wait for the next snowfall. I’m ready to make my pitch.

Something Different

If  you’ve never been to my site before you won’t see anything different, other than the fact I haven’t done much since my marathon poetry writing self-challenge in which I wrote a poem a day from Dec. 1 – 25. I’ve written a couple of other blogs since January 1, but that’s it.

notebooks.jpgIf, however, you are a follower you will note a new look. The “new look” may be new again tomorrow, I can’t say for sure. I’m in flux right now, wanting to write but being frustrated by what to write and who my audience is, or who I think it is. Unfortunately I’m not sure I’ve figured that out yet.

And then I remembered. According to one of those cockamamie tests on the internet, my word for 2016 is Innovative.

With that it mind I decided to think outside the box. Unfortunately someone hid “the box” and I can’t find it anywhere. So here is what I’ve come up with, which applies to any blogger out there who wants to have readership:

  1. Write.

Okay, that’s it. Every day sit in the spot you feel most creative and write. Even when it’s bad writing you’re flexing your brain and developing ideas you can make something of down the road.

I have two almost finished novels. They’re just sitting there waiting. I’m the roadblock to these books being completed. Whether I’m blogging or writing poetry or short stories, or working on a novel, the first step is to write.

In an interview with Noah Charney, Jodi Picoult, whose last seven books have all hit number 1 on the New York Times bestseller list, talked about her approach to writing.

“I don’t believe in writer’s block. Think about it — when you were blocked in college and had to write a paper, didn’t it always manage to fix itself the night before the paper was due? Writer’s block is having too much time on your hands. If you have a limited amount of time to write, you just sit down and do it. You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”

Discipline leads to success, maybe not Jodi Picoult success, but success at some level. If nothing else there is satisfaction in knowing you tried and knowing you did your best. I’m preaching to me, now, because right at this moment I need a kick in the pants and nobody can give me that other than me or better than me.

Tune in tomorrow for more on my innovative approach to writing and blogging.

 

Q&A With Marianne Eloise: A Woman of Taste

Marianne Eloise, a brief bmarianne-webio: I am a writer and MA Film Studies graduate living in Brighton, UK. I currently work in the media but I have been a poet for several years, and have been running www.februarystationery.com for three. I write across a few mediums; including academic, poetry, prose, and journalism. When I’m not working I can be found reading, watching films, or by the sea.

Q. In one sentence, who is Marianne Eloise?
A. A viewer and writer of stories prone to thinking about things a little bit too much.

Q. What do you wish people knew about you as a writer?
A. Nothing, I mostly just want people to think I’m good! No, but I want them to know I am serious and my work comes from a genuine place. I just want people to enjoy my work and start a dialogue about it.

Q. You wrote your MA dissertation on taste cultures. Why that topic, and what did your research reveal?
A. Taste cultures is such an important topic for me as I found throughout my life that the tastes I had in film, TV, and literature were perhaps not the “right” ones to have. I saw through personal experience that the media being admonished was often for younger people or women, and I saw an inherent bigotry in the way that we deem certain tastes “correct” rather than others. To say that opera is better than film or James Bond is better than Twilight carries certain classist or sexist connotations, and at the end of the day neither party is right. I eventually became disillusioned with academia due to its inherent class and taste systems, and it wasn’t a great fit for me. In the end my research revealed that we make snap judgments on the quality of media based on our bias and prejudices, and that many consumers who genuinely “enjoy” the “wrong” media will lie about it to seem better or smarter. I essentially learned that nobody is right, we should all be nicer, and if film entertains you, that’s all it needs to do. It’s okay to criticise media on its genuine downfalls, but you should look at your own prejudices when you make a snap decision – if you think something is bad because you aren’t its key demographic, or because it’s “for girls” you’re probably a little bigoted.

Q. Why are your blogs named February Stationery and February Film and TV?
A. I wanted to start a blog, I didn’t have a title, and I pulled a lyric from the song Deer by Manchester Orchestra. When I came to making my film blog, I applied similar logic as a temporary measure but it stuck.

Q. In what ways do art and media affect society, or does society influence how art and media evolve?
A. This is such a poignant question. I believe that art and media have the power to educate society. Art can show us the world from so many different perspectives and corners of the earth, and can be persuasive enough to educate the most closed-off of minds. Society influences art in that we are always inherently influenced by our environment. I think Science Fiction is the most potent example – the Science Fiction film and literature of an era will always directly reflect the fears or hopes of the masses. The Cold War, new technology, new frontiers, apocalypse…

Q. Talk about your poetry. Cactus appealed to me because it seemed personal and revealing. Does personal experience drive your poetry?
A. Thank you! Cactus is about how much I suffer with winter and thrive in sunlight, essentially. I find myself best functioning in a dry, California heat – like a cactus – so a Brighton December is always tough. As such, I named my first poetry collection – which is about places – Cactus. Personal experience and longing are often the only factors in my poetry, selfishly enough. I am primarily motivated to write poetry when I am angry or desperate or looking to the future – it’s my way of exploring myself and often the only way I can be sincere or honest is by dressing up the truth in rhymes! I also write to capture a place or time before I forget it. I would say that personal experience is 90% of what I write.

Q. What challenges you about writing poetry?
A. I love poetry because it isn’t too challenging for me! It can be hard work, but mostly poetry is enjoyable and comes naturally to me. I write because I need to, and that’s what makes it easy.

Q. What do you hope people get from reading your work?
A. I mostly want people to be entertained for five minutes. I want them to see a bit of themselves, and maybe gain some insight into myself and my work. I sometimes write in the hope that someone I know will read it and understand what I really want to say. But mostly I want people to get the same thing I get from literature – inspiration, enjoyment, solidarity.

Q. In your writing are you an influencer, an observer, or a reporter and why?
A. I am probably a cross between the last two – as much as any one person wants to think of themselves as an influencer, there is no way to really quantify it! I write based on things that have happened to me, things I feel, things I miss. I observe everything around me and report back on it, I suppose.

Q. Please include links about what’s current or next for you, or write a blurb about your current work.
A. I have just released a collection of poetry entitled Cactus, centered around themes of place and home. You can find it here. (This is the currently updated link.)

Otherwise you can find me here:
Poetry: www.februarystationery.com
Film: www.februaryfilmandtv.com
And I publish my 2005 diaries at: http://www.newhive.com/marianneeloise

 

Q&A with Windy Lynn Harris: Getting Past “No”

Windy Lynn HarrisQ. In one sentence describe who you are as a writer.
A. I’m that woman peeking out from behind the pole over there, studying human behavior, sorting through the data.

Q. What is a market coach for creative writers?
A. A Market Coach is a mentor who reads your short prose and helps you figure out who’d like to publish it. I discuss long-term and short-term publishing goals with writers and point them toward the shortest route to both. I teach writers the industry standards of query letters and manuscript formatting, contract negotiation and professional etiquette.

Q. You have been a speaker at writing events. What is the most common question people ask and what is your answer?
A.
Writers who come to my presentations want to know where to send their stories and essays and poems. Luckily, there are several hundred literary magazines out there looking for writers. My favorite resource is The Review Review, an online magazine dedicated to helping writers navigate the world of lit mags. I’m the Tips editor there now, but I’ve been reading TRR since long before I joined the staff. You’ll find a searchable database under the Magazines tab and there’s also a monthly Classifieds section with calls for submissions. You’ll never run out of places to submit your prose!

Q. Where you are in your novel writing?
A.
My virtual computer drawer contains one terrible novel, two sort-of-okay novels, a pretty good novel (that came close to selling), and the second draft of a project that I think has a real shot at filling shelf space someday. The current project is a war-of-the sexes story set during a time when men and women have been separated for their own health. And it goes horribly wrong, of course.

Q. You have more than 70 bylines in a variety of magazines. What is the secret to getting a “yes” from a magazine?
A. When you send a polished piece of writing to the right editor for your prose, you’ve got a potential match. Up your chances of publication by behaving professionally. Query a specific person, for a specific reason. Format your manuscript. Follow the submission guidelines. Write your best stuff and then send it to magazines you like.

Q. How is writing for print different from writing for online magazines?
A. The lines have really blurred between these two mediums in the world of short literary writing. Online and print both offer writers a chance to be read by a wide audience.

Q. What do you wish people knew about you as a writer?
A. I get more rejection letters than almost every other writer I know. Yes, I get published a lot, but the “no thank you” bin outweighs the “yes” bin every darn month. There isn’t some magical number of bylines you need before it gets easy to publish your work. You gotta keep at it.

Q. Are you more invigorated by writing or by helping other writers?
A. I just love being in the world of writers. Many of my clients come as referrals from editors and writing instructors, but a lot of writers find me on Twitter too. Some have been writing short stories, essays and poems for years, and some are just starting their journey. Some are novelists and memoir writers who’ve been told that publishing short writing can establish a platform before approaching agents and publishers. And others are creating shorts as their primary art form. I am eternally inspired by all of the different paths available and all of the writers I get to meet.

Q. You wrote in a guest blog about taking risks (as a writer), what does that mean for you at this point in your career?
A. I’m six months into a personal challenge: write shamelessly. To me, writing shamelessly means to tell the stories that come out of me without letting that annoying internal editor stomp through my page. Some days I think I’ve mastered this skill, but then I have an attack of self-doubt. I, and my process, are still evolving.

Q. What are you working on you want people to know about?
A. Breaking news: there’s a Market Coaching for Creative Writers book in the works! I’m finalizing the proposal for that this month, and I’m gearing up for a January Market Coaching session. There are a few spots still available. Details here: www.windylynnharris.com

I’ve also got a story out in Pithead Chapel this month, and another forthcoming in Literary Mama. Just signed a contract for an anthology project with Crack the Spine that will publish this summer, and I’m gathering stories for my first short story collection. More about all that at www.windylynnharris.com.