Showing posts from May, 2013

Tutoring Tales--Year's End

Wednesday was my last Reading Pals session for this year. I don't think I mentioned that I ended the year with two Pals, a 2nd grader and a 3rd grader. I'd split my sessions between the two young ladies since they were at different levels, and that seemed to work out well.  They left with bookbags filled with new and used books, and they each gave me a lovely hand drawn card to remember them by.

I cannot say enough what a delight it is to work with young readers. Even when we had our rough spots--and there were plenty of those--seeing the comprehension and skill levels rise simply from more reading made my day brighter. I've told the Reading Pals coordinators that I'm available to keep reading this summer, and I'll definitely be back in the autumn. Kudos to the United Way and the Alachua County School District for putting this program in place.

I ended the year by giving each of my Pals a special bookmark of her own. While I'm not a collector, over the years I&…

Review--Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked up my copy of Jane Eyre the other day to check on something, and found myself re-reading the entire novel. This is the first time I've re-read it since I began writing novels myself, and I find a new, deeper appreciation for Bronte's skill in crafting her heroine.

Jane Eyre has been one of my favorite novels since I first read the Classics Illustrated version as a child. When I read the novel as a grown woman, Jane is a heroine I can admire at a whole new level. She doesn't settle for what society tells her is best, she holds fast to her independence, her dreams, and sets her own course. It's much more than a gothic love story, it's a tale of a woman's growth and strength in a world where she was viewed as having limited options.

If you've never read Jane Eyre, check it out. It might surprise you.

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Eating like a local, part 5

The tables of the supper room groaned beneath haunches of
venison, pork pastries, shrimp, and fresh mullet. The rice and corn
were from nearby farms, and the squashes and vegetables were
seasoned with the hot peppers the locals loved.
--The Bride and the Buccaneer

I've been holding steady on my "Eat Local Challenge", managing to eat something local at every meal until this past Memorial Day Weekend. We went to St. Augustine for a friend's wedding (lovely and romantic) and enjoyed some great food. I couldn't be positive I ate local at every meal, like I have at home in May, but I made an effort to patronize local independent food vendors when I wasn't at the wedding festivities. It helped that our hotel was smack dab in the Old City.  I had grouper tacos for lunch, coffee from a small independent shop (locally owned), and I nixed the offer of ice cream from a major chain in favor of a delicious fresh fruit pop from a local vendor.

So I feel like I'm still…

Eating Like a Local, part 4

“You ain’t never had watermelon?” Tom piped up.
“No. It is a melon? But how do you eat it?” she said, eyeing the
large chunks of fruit.
“Show the lady, Tom.” Martha laughed.
Tom grabbed a chunk off the middle of the plate and dived in
headfirst, snapping off a sizable piece, chewing it with delight, and
then spitting the seeds out the door.
“You are joking,” Sophia said to Jack.
“No, that’s how you eat watermelon. You learn this and soon
you will be a real Floridian.”
He was grinning at her and reached for his own slice of melon,
and never one to resist a challenge, Sophia wiped her hand on her
table linen and picked up her own slice. The juice ran down her
fingers but she managed to bring it up to her lips without too much
trickling down her sleeve. She took a bite and there was an
explosion of sugar in her mouth, and a cooling sensation from the
juicy fruit.
“Oooh,” she moaned when she caught her breath, “this is
The Reavers laughed at her response, but Jack seemed

Happy Mother's Day

Katie’s babbling finally wound down and she fell asleep on
Sophia’s lap, and Martha picked the toddler up and put her in her
cot. Sophia stood and stretched legs gone numb, then went out to
their mules to fetch what she’d brought for her hostess.
“Well, I declare,” Martha said, turning the china teacup
decorated with blue flowers over in her hands.
“I brought one for Katie, too, for you ladies to use when she’s
older. Sometimes it is nice to have something pretty and special
that is just for mothers and daughters.”
Martha blinked rapidly, then cleared her throat. “You are a
thoughtful lady, Mrs. Burrell. I will keep these cups for me and
Katie, and when we use them, we’ll think of you.”
--The Bride and the Buccaneer

Here's to all the mothers who have tea parties with their sons and daughters and who get to celebrate their special day today.  I still haven't received the diamond tiara I earned for all those years of wiping snotty noses, hugging messy people and getting sticky k…

Owl Post

She must have drifted off, because the next thing she knew an
explosion of cawing with a barking finish brought her sitting
straight up.
“What was that?”
“Owl. Go back to sleep.”
“An owl? Owls don’t sound like that, they make a ‘hoot’
sound. I have heard owls in England! That sounds like a wild,
monster dog in the trees!”
“It’s an owl. Do not let your imagination run away with you.”
“How do you know it is not a panther?”
Jack sat up and scrubbed his hands over his face. “Sophia, I
have heard panthers and I have heard owls. That is an owl. You
insisted I accompany you on this lunatic treasure hunt because I
know the land. I know a hawk from a handsaw and an owl from a
panther. Now, go to sleep!”
“Do not blame me if we are nothing but bones by morning,”
Sophia grumbled, but she lay down beside him again, snuggling
closer. He rolled over and fitted himself to her, spoon fashion.
After a few moments she said, “You are not asleep.”
“Yes, I am.”
“No, you are not. You are poking me from behind.”
“I can do that i…

Review--Let it Be Me (The Blue Raven, #5)

Let It Be Me by Kate Noble
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I adored this novel, an illustration of what's best about Historicals. The author's research, the depth of knowledge of music and musical history, the charming love story, characters who are flawed but likeable, and a love story that's not based on a Big Misunderstanding; all of it makes for a delightful reading experience.

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The Light at the End of the Writing Tunnel

I got in some quality writing time on [working title] The Hot Pirate's Secret Baby, which I'm fairly certain will end up being titled The Pirate's Governess. I realized while walking the diva dachshund this morning that I could be finished with this first draft by the end of the month. My normal routine at that point is to set it aside for at least a week and do some research. This way, when I come back to the book I'm (ideally) seeing it with a fresh eye.

The next step is to go through it, fix obvious errors, and replace brackets. This is where I've been in the middle of a scene, and rather than stop and take time to add description, unless it's integral to the story, I write [DRESS] and come back later to fix it. I believe I learned that from Diana Gabaldon, so a tip of the hat to a mistress of the craft of writing. If I have to stop to research or check something, it can break the flow of the story. This is especially true when I'm in the middle of a scen…

Eating Like a Local, pt. 2

Let's see," he said, wiping his forehead and looking out behind the house. "You have got cabbage palm, mangoes, tomatoes, and if I'm not mistaken, some yams and peppers gone wild in that garden."
Amanda was impressed.
"For a sailor you know a great deal about the things growing here."
"When I'm on land, Mrs. Stephenson, I usually stay at my farm."
"You're a farmer?"
His silver eyes twinkled.
"Shocked you, have I? I enjoy growing things and bought some property on the St. Johns River years back to farm. Nothing grows on the ocean," he said softly, looking back out over the garden. "Some of the sailors on the Zephyr were farm boys who ran away to sea. And I wanted nothing more than to run away from the sea and spend my days on my farm, eating fresh food I grew myself."

--Captain Sinister's Lady
I'm on track with the Eat Local Challenge, where for the entire month I try to eat something locally grown, produ…

Eating like a local

North Florida, 1843  When she took a break, some oranges from the trees in the front
yielded two tin mugs of juice, one set aside for Washburn with a rag
over it to keep the flies out. She drank hers down while sitting on the
front veranda, feeling the sweetness explode into every pore. It wasn’t a
bad piece of land, she thought as she looked around. The oaks kept the
yard shaded, and the house was laid out to take advantage of the light
and the breezes off the creek. There were figs and alligator pears and a
grapevine, and she recognized some of the crops growing in the field—
corn and squashes and new greens behind a fence where beans climbed.

--Smuggler's Bride
I signed up on May 1 for the "Eat Local Challenge" from Hogtown Homegrown, a month long event where you try to build your locavore cred. Each day you have to eat some locally grown foods (like putting fresh local blueberries on your oatmeal) and only eat at locally owned, independent restaurants that incorporat…