Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – 6th – 12th December 2020 – New Book, International Carols, Foods XYZ and a Christmas Party with pets.

This may take you a while to scroll through, but be sure to catch the videos. They are hilarious. Sally promotes hobby bloggers with a variety of topics. She supports authors and encourages them and displays their work in her library. I see many of my reader’s books displayed on her virtual bookshelves.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the round up of posts you might have missed this week on Smorgasbord.

What’s coming up in the next two weeks.

I cannot believe that it is the Winter Solstice and the shortest day in 9 days time. On the one hand there is a sense of relief that this year is nearly over… and a wary expectation that 2021 is going to be better.

Whilst I could sit and philosophise all day long… there are things to be done to make sure this year ends with a few projects completed so I can move on fresh in the New Year.

In the last week I scheduled all the Christmas Book Fairs so they would be finished in time for Christmas and they will go out daily until the 23rd of December. I have also scheduled an updated version of The Twelve Days of Christmas from the…

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Flying Across the United States Is A Great Time to Read

I could have watched movies if I had downloaded the United app on my computer or iPhone BEFORE the plane took off. I downloaded it before I boarded to go home, but I was already engaged with Winn-Dixie, and it was more trouble than it was worth to figure out how to use the free movie service.  Books are more accessible.

You  can read Because of Winn-Dixie by Katie DiCamillo in about an hour and a half. Mama Cormier suggested this book because she thought it sounded too similar to the one I am rewriting now. Di Camillo uses a simple style which includes repetition without being unbearable. I enjoyed Opal’s adventures, yet is well-suited to a ten-year old’s reading level. It reminded me of a picture book for younger children only the author used words instead of drawings.

Opal’s mother left her with her preacher-father when she was young. At age ten she and her father moved to a new community.  Opal’s new misfit-type friends made her feel welcome as she introduced them to her new dog found in the grocery store, Winn-Dixie. Opal, in turn, drew these strangers together into her new community, enriching their lives.  I wish I’d written this one!

Because of Winn-Dixie

I finally finished Writing the Breakout Novel by  Donald Maas. I do this every time I sit down to write – read about writing. It makes me indecisive because I start one thing, then hate it, and start over. My manuscript gets chewed up before it even gets halfway done.  Nonetheless, I think it improves some each time. At this point, I haven’t written a good word in a week, which is 1/4th of the time I have to write. I can’t blame that on Donald Maass. This might be a better book to read between writing exercises, rather than during NaNoWriMo. But DO read it.

Writing the Breakout Novel

Finally, Change of Life by Anne Stormont lapsed over into my regular schedule because my iPhone tells me it took five hours to read, and I started it just before we reached San Francisco.

I would have been happy to write this book also. With an enlarged family of characters and only a few outsiders Stormont manages to inflict everything horrible on the heroine that can possibly happen. She does things to that poor woman, that I just couldn’t bear to do in my Girls on Fire novel. She’s not very nice to her husband either. I cried a few tears with her, but I didn’t put the book down until the resolution. I think the worst secret, saved for the last pages might be little overplayed, for today’s reader, but for the time period in which it happened, not so much. Her husband kept the secret until 2009, and by that time, I didn’t think it should have had the painful impact on the heroine that the book seemed to imply that revealing the secret would cause.  I recommend this book, especially for women battling breast cancer. If I  am diagnosed with cancer, I’ll give this book to my husband!

Change of LifeThe other book I started to read, and closed quietly was The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman. I thought this book would help me write a successful first page to my new novel, but it drug me all over the writing process.  It would take me an agonizing two hours and fourteen minutes to complete the remaining 81% of the book. Instead I opted to try to sleep my way to Philly with my seatback fully reclined at 89 degrees, every itchy inch of my dry skin making me want to crawl out of it, and shivering in the controlled airplane climate under layers of thermal and flannel wrapped in a down coat.  Sorry Noah.

Tuesday: Book Review: Uphill Both Ways by J.T. Weaver

51FaVPslSPL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-44,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_I just ordered my Kindle version.

To say that I liked the book Uphill Both Ways would not be a complete opinion.  JT Weaver became a blogger friend of mine such a short time ago, but we have become good friends as though we had known each other all our lives.  Part of the reason that we have become friends is his book, Uphill Both Ways.

jt

Written all online, JT got blogger feedback as he wrote his first book that just came out.  I fell in love with his writing because in some ways it echoed my own upbringing, and few of us are writing about that, YET!  It’s almost like I – we grew up without a culture because white, middle-class was the media-saturated norm in the mid-century before our eyes opened to the rest of the world.  The way we lived, as far as we knew, was how the whole world lived, so what made us a distinct culture?

As JT let us peer into the windows of his life, we could see that even white, upper middle-class folks had their mountainous ups and downs, unlike the Cleavers or the Ozzie Nelson’s picture-perfect family squabbles.  Divorce imploded JT’s 10 year-year-old way of life, and brought drastic changes in stability, living conditions and status. Three years after the divorce, JT entered a military school for yet additional significant differences.  JT recorded painful details that most people wouldn’t tell others, so that his children would know the humanity behind the myriads of photos he would eventually leave behind.

Not surprisingly, the blogging public loved his work.  The product of a man who wants to open his heart to his children warms the hearts of those whose fathers never did that for them.  For mid-century historians, this is a primary source document, memories of an intelligent, thoughtful, and vulnerable human who lived through difficult experiences during otherwise prosperous times.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

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• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!   (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I just finished reading The Sea and the Silence by Peter Cunningham, and rather than doing a complete review here I’ll give you a teaser.  I loved the book, by the way.

His instructions were clear.  He was to read the contents of these parcels. Then he was to destroy them.

Full review will follow at a later time, but for now, this is all you get!  I’m such a tease.  🙂

Blog and Retirement Management

Books are in place.  I’m open for business.“What business?” you wonder, then you advise.  “Well, Marsha, now that you are retired and blogging you ought to blog about things that are everyday here, and other people have probably never seen.”  Great idea – I wrote the first article like that about picking table grapes  – as I came up on it.  It’s soon to be a best-selling book, I’m sure.  So far there are no comments.  I drove by a field of walnuts being shaken.  Dust spiraled into the blue sky giving it that aged look.  I had an appointment, so I had to hurry on.  When I came back, the shaker and the dust was gone.  Missed opportunity, and that only rolls around once a year.

“Marsha, you ought to write a blog about retirement.  Just go day by day and tell people what it’s like to be retired.”   Great idea – so that’s what I do every day when I blog.  I’m doing it.  I’m retired.  Therefore retired people might do this kind of thing.“Marsha, it just seems like retired people are so driven by their schedules, and it’s not as important as the working person’s schedule.”   Yes and no.  I haven’t established a schedule yet.  I exercise every day I’m home.  I fix more meals, and do more grocery shopping.  I write every day, but times vary. I may stop to talk to someone on the phone, do laundry, run an errand for myself or someone else, but I’m still too new at retirement to have set times for retirement activities.  And thus a month has zoomed by and I haven’t accomplished anything of great import other than working on the CCSS Bylaws and Standing Rules, arranging my books, and committing to cyberspace a journal of my life.“Marsha, we could take off for a month and just drive.”  Great idea – we’ll see how that one plays out.I could quilt.  I’m almost set up in the other room – no pictures yet – it’s wall to wall mess right now.  But I’m set up with enough quilt ideas to last me the next 20-30 years without buying a single book, or coming up with a single idea of my own.  AND I have friends who share the interest.  That one has definite possibilities.

I am taking classes on things I want to learn.  Photoshop is first, so today I practiced renaming this batch of photos at the touch of a button.  It wasn’t nearly as easy as when Steve was right there guiding us through it.  Some folders work.  iPhoto acted like it didn’t have any files, therefore I couldn’t choose them to alter, and I couldn’t save altered files to iPhoto.  I did save them all as low quality gifs, and that took about 2 seconds.  The hardest part was finding them after they were done.  They are all supposed to have a watermark on them as well, but I sure can’t find it.  So I still have a lot of work just implementing that simple lesson.Yesterday I spent quite a bit of time photoshopping Puppy Girl into a picture she didn’t get into.  That was quite time consuming, then at the last second, when I thought it had been saved, and saved again, I pressed “do not save”, and it didn’t.  Retirement and learning new skills is frustrating.  I think I should tone her down a bit because this was a picture of her outside in the sun playing with Mama Kitty.  Obviously the tones are a bit more muted in here.  Nonetheless, I thought she came out pretty well.  I used the marquee tool, the eraser tool and the clone tool, and it took about an hour the first time, and about 15-20 minutes the second.I thought I could do book reviews of all the great books I never had time to finish (start) when I was working.  “And Marsha, you could put the reviews in the form of power points, so they’d be ready to use.”   Great idea.  Oh yes, and my newest professional history books are in the car still from my last presentation.  Not to mention the ones I have on Kindle.  Since I haven’t done an official review, just a couple of blog reviews, I’m not sure what that all will entail, but one thing is for sure – I have a lot to read!

So now I feel overwhelmed.  Think I’ll listen to Tale of Two Cities for a while as I load in some more reading material, then sit down to knit a hat before working out.  One thing for sure.  I won’t be bored!!!!