Friday, October 28, 2011

Praise For Goodnight Moon


This is our family's personal copy. All four of my children loved this book, and now I'm enjoying  it all over again with my grand children.

This book review is brought to you by one of the newest readers on the planet earth:


Look at those beautiful blocks of color! Listen to the rhythm of the words. 

Future Novel Reader

And one more bonus just for babies:It's just as interesting when read upside down!


Thank you, Tristan Cooley! 



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Paintings For Ember and Tristan

my palette


Two years ago when my first grandchild was born, I decided to paint something especially for her -- to be hung in her bedroom. I wanted the subject matter to be something she wouldn't outgrow quickly, and include things she'd encounter during future walks around her neighborhood.



My painting for Ember Rose, Nov. 2009


My plan was to continue the tradition as each new grand baby came into my life. That happened almost exactly a year later, and I have been so busy playing with these two babies that I haven't finished the second painting... 


But...I have a goal to finish it before Nov. 1st when my novel-writing challenge begins. I thought it would be fun to share the painting-in-progress with you.




painting for Tristan
Here's what it looked like in June.

Here's what it looks like today.
The letters in his name will be painted over and around the  creatures.



I have lots of fun still ahead on this one. Every painting is a new experiment.


If I don't finish it before Nov. 1st, at least I will be close.


Happy Creating Everyone!



Thursday, October 20, 2011

National Novel Writing Month



November is National Novel Writing month!  
I have no idea who "said so," but I do know that most writers know about it. In keeping with this month-long focus on writing novels, the people at NaNoWriMo are sponsoring a contest. 

I first learned about the contest last November from my friend, Emily. I wasn't ready to try it then, but this year I'm excited to say that I'm participating! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

This contest has been held every November since 2000, and participation just keeps growing. The challenge is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days -- not a finished novel ready for publication, of course, but a first draft. Last year there were 200,500 participants and 37,500 winners.

For me this will mean writing 1,666.6 words a day for thirty days!!! I don't even know if I can do that, but I'm going to try. Participants are allowed to outline their novels before the contest begins, and I've been having fun doing that . 

The contest includes some special features geared to school age kids, so spread the word to any young writers you know. There's still time to join the challenge.The contest begins in 11 days. Happy writing!



Here are a few commonly asked questions (taken directly from the NaNoWriMo website):


Why bother writing a huge novel in 30 days? Why not just write a real novel later, when you have more time?

For one month, you get to lock away your inner editor, let your imagination take over, and just create!


How do you win? Are there judges? What are the prizes?

You win NaNoWriMo by writing to your word-count goal by midnight on November 30. Every year, there are many, many winners. There are no "Best Novel" or "Quickest-Written Novel" awards given out. All winners will get an official "Winner" web badge and certificate, and bragging rights for the rest of their lives.

Do I have to start my novel from scratch on November 1?

This sounds like a silly rule, we know. But bringing a half-finished novel into NaNoWriMo won't be the same. You'll care about the characters and story too much to write with the anything-goes approach that makes NaNoWriMo such an adventure. Give yourself the gift of a new idea, and you'll tap into parts of imagination that are out of reach when working on pre-existing fiction.

I think some of my readers have participated in the past. How grueling was it? 



Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Book Review: Shifting by Bethany Wiggins

Firsts are exciting. This week I read my first "Uncorrected Advance Proof," also known as an "Advanced Readers Copy." It means the book was privately released by its publisher before being released for mass distribution. 


Young adult author, Elana Johnson, offered this opportunity to some of her fellow blog readers, and I was thrilled to accept it! The goal is to generate support for debut author, Bethany Wiggins, and spread the word about her first novel, Shifting.


cover of uncorrected advance proof 


cover you will find at local Barnes & Noble

This is a captivating story! It's considered part of the newest genre of young adult books called, "teen paranormal romance," but don't let the genre name get in your way.

I read this book's 352 pages in four days in between all the other busyness of my life, and that's fast for me. It sucked me in early and kept me coming back. It provided me with an easy, alluring escape from my "regular" life, and that's one of the reasons I read novels. 

I enjoyed experiencing the growth of Maggie Mae, her relationships with Bridger and Mrs. C, and the mystery surrounding it all. The New Mexico setting and Navajo folklore added an unexpected and enriching cultural dimension. 

Everyone reading this advance proof was encouraged to write comments in the margins of the book. I had so much fun adding my comments to those who read it before me. We also had the option of writing a personal note to the author, Bethany Wiggins. It reminded me of signing yearbooks in high school -- something I loved to do.

In regards to the love story portion of the novel, one of the comments said it perfectly: "Thank you for keeping Maggie Mae and Bridger honorable." 

And thank you Bethany for the great entertainment!



Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tybee Island, Georgia -- Part Two

It took me longer than I expected to get to "Part Two," but here it is.


First, I thought you might enjoy a shot of my "island style" hairdo:




Now, I was on vacation and spending much of my time walking around sightseeing, playing in the ocean, and digging for shells, so it really didn't matter what my hair looked like. But I can assure you that if I lived in the humid air of Georgia and had to dress up in high heels and a business suit every day for work, my hair would still look like I just stepped off the beach (or stuck my finger in a light socket). 


Second, I took some fun photos of southern style food. 


Now... I know who Paula Deen is, but I have never seen her show, and I had no clue that Savannah, Georgia is her home as well as home to her famous restaurants and stores. Since one of my sisters is a Paula Deen fan, we paid those places a visit, and we ate deep fried pickles at Uncle Bubba's (Paula Deen's uncle, that is).


battered, deep fried pickles


The night of our family reunion, Cousin Steve (my mother's cousin) cooked dinner. Only one item on the menu -- Low Country Boil -- a common southern favorite, or maybe just island favorite?






 First he heated up the "boil" -- water seasoned with various spices -- and then added corn on the cob, red potatoes, andouille sausage, onions, and shrimp. He strained each item out as it was done cooking, and then added another batch. 





It looked like more food than we could possibly eat (10 lbs. of shrimp alone), but as with Chinese food, our stomachs just never seemed to get full.





It was simple, and tasty, and we kept coming back for more. In the end, all that was left were a few shrimp.


I must say that the food I enjoyed the most food while on Tybee Island were the "spuds" from Spanky's -- fresh potatoes, sliced, battered, and deep fried (of course) -- must be eaten with a pickle!



For better or worse, this restaurant was spitting distance from our condo. My sister and I had spuds almost every day.


Now I want to know if any of my readers have


1. been to Georgia ?
2. eaten low country boil ?
3. love Paula Deen ?
4. love fried pickles as much as I do?




Saturday, September 24, 2011

Tybee Island, Georgia

Tybee Island, Georgia, September 22, 2011

My mother was born in Savannah, Georgia and lived on two of the small islands nearby -- Tybee Island and Wilmington Island. She still has family in the area, so she rented a house on Tybee Island for a month and invited me and my sisters to visit. This is our chance to see where she grew up, meet some distant family members, and just breathe some southern air.




sidewalk just outside our house

So, I am writing from the east coast, eating fresh shrimp, grits, and fele gumbo (delicious but a little too spicy). It's hot and humid here, even at night, and we've already been caught in two downpours with no umbrella. Warm rain is so strange -- you just let yourself get wet and keep on walking. We're all wearing our hair "island style," which means frizzy. It's not very attractive, but it's kind of liberating. There is no point spending any time blow drying, curling, or flat ironing your hair; ten minutes outside and it looks like you stuck your finger in a light socket. Best to just wear a hat.







Hope you enjoy the photos. More to come as the week goes on......


Lacie 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Autumn Adjustments

Christine, Ember Rose, Lacie
September 2011


I always welcome the fall, but I usually underestimate the time, energy, and focus it takes to adjust to a new school year. I also forget how much dust I will breathe in while the thousands of acres of almonds and walnuts are harvested around me. Oh, and the spiders! Sometimes I wonder if the farmers shake them right out of their trees along with the nuts and then send them over to my house to live. 


While we are focusing our energy on tidying and ordering our lives so we can accomplish our lofty goals, nature is unraveling and leaving her debris at our feet. Such is the order of things.


Change.


Grow.


Learn.


We ALL do this ALL the time, don't we? Sometimes it's hard, and yet we just keep pushing ourselves without stopping to see how much we've already accomplished. My son, Eli, and I made a deal last week:


Everyday we will practice looking for the things we have done right, and be generous with each other when we miss the mark.


My son, Shane, wrote a song called Grow and Learn, and I've caught myself singing it several times this week. The bee-bop beat helps me navigate the changes with a little more bounce in my step. Here it is:







The Weepies have a great song about change as well:









I am grateful for a strong, supportive family, and friends. We help each other through the changes.

Friday, August 19, 2011

When A Picture Is Not Worth A Thousand Words

photo by Lacie Myers 2011



I write because even though a picture can be worth a thousand words, even a photograph can't capture the grandeur I feel when I'm surrounded by snow-capped mountains or the majesty I feel when I walk through the miles of wild flowers on Table Mountain. 


Nor can a photograph capture the delight and satisfaction I feel at having the perfect bouquet of orange and yellow roses from my own garden in a luminous emerald vase sitting on my bathroom counter to look at while I brush my teeth and get ready for the day. A picture cannot capture the way I feel about that. I know because I took about fifty pictures trying. I wish it could because I want to save that feeling, record it, and pull it out to look at this winter when my roses aren't blooming, and neither am I. 


My bouquet represents a hot morning spent in the yard -- I pruned overgrown rose bushes while my son loaded them into the bed of the truck. I rescued all the buds and flowers I could from the tangle of long shoots, spent, dried flowers, and rose hips. I stripped off all the leaves and made tight topiary-like bouquets. I wouldn't dare make them at any other time because it would seem a waste of the buds-- but these would have been wasted anyway.




photo by Lacie Myers 2011


It evokes memories of my daughter and a day eight years ago when I came home to find the sweet preparations she'd made for some guests. She had filled several vases with flowers in this same topiary style and placed them around the house to be discovered. She taught me to make bouquets this way. More refreshing proof of how we saw the world differently.


It reminds me of my Grandma Jean whom the oddly shaped, squat round vase had belonged to and that before my daughter showed me, I had little idea how to make use of it's odd design. 


It makes me think of the woman in our neighborhood who started a flower business on her land this year. She taught me to put a little sugar in the water to keep the flowers fresh longer, and so I did that.


It reminds me of Grandma Myers and how even at eighty years old she helped me trim my rose bushes. She never complained about her bumpy knuckles, though they must have hurt at times. Will my occasionally aching fingers still be able to trim rose bushes at eighty or will I have enough money to hire someone to do it for me? 



I estimated how many weeks will go by before the roses blossom again - weeks without bouquets -- and I put one of my arrangements in the fridge to preserve it. I'll bring it out in a few days when the other bouquets are wilted. 




I'm not saying all these things run through my mind every time I walk by my innocent little flower arrangement, but they are part of how I experience it's beauty. 


What things open the floodgates of your memories?

    Friday, August 12, 2011



    Today I am doing a guest post on Sarah Allen's blog.  I discovered her spot on the internet at the start of my own blogging adventure, and I always look forward to reading her updates. She posts something new nearly every day on a variety of topics related to the arts.


    Visit me at her blog, and read a few of her posts while you're there.

    Thursday, August 11, 2011

    Dumbledore



    I'm back with a quote from one of the wisest wizards ever created by an author. During my second viewing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, I slipped my writing notebook and pen out of my purse, and wrote down some of Professor Dumbledore's advice to Harry near the very end of the movie:


    "Words are, in my most humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic." 


    Yes! Yes! That's why this internet community of writers and book lovers exists. That's also why we can't turn off our dreams of writing something that will bring a little "magic" into someone else's life.


    Sure this series is all about witchcraft and wizardry, spells and wands, but ironically, every bit of magic stuffed between the covers of every volume was created with WORDS.


    J.K. Rowling's characters are so well done that I had to remind myself the credit for this bit of wisdom goes to her and not my favorite white-haired wizard.


    So use this quote as inspiration. The key word is inexhaustible, which means that no matter how many books have already been written, there is still enough magic left in the world for you to write yours. Go and find it!


    What magic words (quotes) inspire you to push through the hard times?



    Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    The Wonders of Watermelon


    I hope you are having a fantastic summer! I've had more than my share of diversions and adventures this summer, and I'm taking a break from blogging for a week to catch my breath and spend time with extended family. 


    But before I do, I want to share some tidbits with you about ........WATERMELON. 


    We all know it's sweet, beautiful, refreshing, fat free, and fun to eat. 


    But here's what I didn't know about watermelon until this summer:

    • Americans eat 4 billion pounds of it a year.
    • It's considered a fruit and a vegetable. 
    • It's high in vitamins A, B6, and C, plus thiamine, magnesium, and potassium.
    • It contains more of the antioxidant, lycopene, than any other fruit or vegetable.
    • The first known watermelon harvest was 5,000 years ago in Egypt.
    • When looking for a ripe watermelon, turn the green beauty over and look for a creamy yellow spot that tells you it sat on the ground and ripened on the vine.    

    Last year we had an amazing watermelon harvest, and we did nothing special to warrant it -- just good Durham soil and worm castings from the Worm Farm down the street. Some fruit were yellow fleshed, some a light orange, and some the traditional deep pink. Several were over 35 pounds! Our largest was almost as big as our granddaughter, and weighed 42 lbs (more than twice her weight)!!!! 



    Grandpa & Ember with some of  last year's harvest.
    So, while I'm taking my blog-break, see how much you can contribute to the 4 billion pounds of watermelon that needs to be eaten this year.



    Friday, July 29, 2011

    Talents and More Talents


    We all have them. Sometimes we call them gifts because we are surprised by them - just as if we were handed a box, not knowing what was inside, and carefully unwrapped the colorful paper to discover something exciting, and that something is us! 


    photo by Sid McNulty


    Sometimes we see the talents of others before they do and we get to be the one to tell them, "WOW! You're incredible!" The gift is already theirs, but we wrap it up and finish it off with a sparkly bow. Then we feel great! We're excited to see what they do with their talents and know that as long as new people are born on this earth, the talent pool will grow, change, and diversify, and they will be the creators of new books, movies, songs, and inventions that will amaze us! Whew!


    One of my favorite things about raising children has been watching their talents emerge and helping them find expression for their gifts. I often marvel that if I had 100 children (same husband) they would all look different, be different, and have different abilities to share with the world. Now multiply that by whatever huge number is your favorite and you have my most optimistic and exciting view of the future talent pool!


    A couple of years ago when I first thought about creating a blog, I wanted to showcase the art and talents of my family and friends. Now that I actually have a blog I just use it to brag about my own talents. 


    Right? 


    Wrong.


    Today I want to spread the word about some of the local talent from Durham, California, so I'm showcasing another song written and performed by  All Sixes and Sevens. 




    All  Sixes and Sevens,  photo by Sid McNulty
    Click below to listen to Flipside.






    To read more about this band and hear another song, Foolhardy Son, go here.





    Wednesday, July 27, 2011

    Blueberries For Sal -- and Ember

    2011 has been a great year for our little blueberry patch -- and our little blueberry-loving granddaughter. I was thrilled to get this candid shot of her involved in one of her favorite summer activities. Some of the most beautiful pleasures in life are the simple ones -- like this one -- unplanned and serendipitously (my own word) perfect! 


    Ember in the blueberry patch,  July 2011






    The toddler
    The countryside
    The blueberries
    The the old fashioned print of her dress....

                                    made me think of a treasured book....






    In 1949 Robert McCloskey won the Caldecott Honor award for his children's book, Blueberries For Sal. It was very popular in the 1960's and 70's (when I was a little girl), and in the 1980's and 90's when my children were little. This book with it's timeless story and charming block print illustrations has already won the attention of three generations of children. If you haven't read it, find a little person and snuggle up together -- before the blueberries have all ripened




    What were the classic picture books of your childhood? 



    Monday, July 25, 2011

    The Sky Is Everywhere

    There are so many ways for something to be amazing, so I won't tell you the book I just finished was amazing. I will tell you the characters are unique and memorable. They remind me of people who walked through my childhood with me. I will tell you the story is funny, heart-wrenching, and beautiful. I will also tell you that reading it opened a floodgate of teenage memories. 


    The writing style is unique, and fresh, and every word counts. I want so badly to recommend it to people because:


    1.  The author deserves the credit 


    2.   Someone else may become as smitten by this book as I was, and I don't want anyone to miss that.


    3.   In many ways it's a great writing model for contemporary fiction.


    But....I am very particular about the books I recommend, and this one has some questionable content (you know--sex, violence, or cussing) -- just like life.  


    So, with that warning, I give you The Sky Is Everywhere.






    And thank you, Jandy Nelson, for an unforgettable summer read!


    Have you read anything amazing this summer? I figure I can still fit in a few more books, so what do you have for me?



    Tuesday, July 19, 2011

    Lewisia

    taking a break from writing to draw -- thought I'd share my doodle with you:

    wildflower  found on Table Mountain

    Lewisia by Lacie Myers July 2011

    not sure if it's complete -- still thinking

    any ideas?



    Friday, July 15, 2011

    Flash Fiction Blogfest Part Two

    Today I am doing my first blog hop! (See previous post for details.) Thirty other bloggers are hopping with me! That means I am posting a short piece of fiction here and then visiting the blogs of all the other people joining the fest and reading what they've written. I'm excited to see the variety of ways people responded to the same theme. I feel like I'm a six year old and it's the night before my birthday party. I can't wait to get a flavor for all the new bloggers I'll meet during this exchange of creativity and encouragement. 


    Visit the blog links below to read more of the entries.


    My piece:


         Fourth of July had come again – Kenny’s favorite holiday. We all gathered on the sloping driveway for fireworks, finding the familiar spot where the cement was level enough.
         
         I  imagined I could see the black marks left from last year’s snakes and the powdery residue from the multi-colored fountains. Kenny had spent hours planning that display. Mom’s voice broke through my thoughts.

         “Before we light the fireworks I have some news to share. The public defender called to say Kenny is coming home next week. He’s done; time served.”

         I heard none of her words after that. The relief began in my chest and moved down to my stomach as nine months of clenching let go. I looked up and saw a streak of silver light shooting into the air, taking my grief with it, transforming it, and sending it to the ground in a shower of gold. 

         As a whistler shot through the silence, I started to laugh. This news meant he was safe and would get another chance. He would be free. Our little show seemed to last for hours, bringing the best message of freedom I had known in my fifteen years. 

         Mom lit the last of the Roman candles and repeaters. The bursts of light came to end, and in the dark, quiet aftermath I found myself hoping Kenny would be strong enough to hang on to his freedom, smart enough to stay out of trouble.

         “We still have sparklers,” Mom reminded us. I lit mine and wrote the word PLEASE in the sky.  



                                                     Lacie Myers July 15, 2011


    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    Flash Fiction Blogfest

    It's time for me to learn something new about blog culture. If you're new to this you can learn with me. Here we go....

    flash fiction -- a style of fiction characterized by extreme brevity, or in other words, very short fiction

    blogfest -- an online celebration linking bloggers with common interests

    blog hop -- moving from one blog to another reading posts and leaving comments of encouragement


    This Friday, July 15th, I'll be participating in my first blogfest, hosted by writer Ali Cross. That means three things:

    1. I will be writing a piece of fiction (250 words or less) using this theme:

    It's Independence Day and something unexpected happens...

    2. I will be posting that piece of fiction here for anyone to read. 

    3. I will be posting links to other bloggers who are joining the fest so you can easily click on a link and see what they wrote as well. 


    There is still time if any of you want to join the fest and write something too! Just click on the link below.


    Monday, July 11, 2011

    Adventures With Clay Part Two


    When I came to ceramics class the week after 4th of July, a great surprise awaited me -- the look of intensity on the face of my usually happy instructor... She took me straight to the kiln to see the damage:



    Pooders had partially exploded during firing! I just said, "Oh well. It was a risky project from the beginning. It's really okay. I had a great time making it and learned a lot."

     My instructor assumed responsibility, but I just figured it was the luck of the draw. She later told me that she had rushed the firing and started the kiln before the cat was completely dry inside. She felt terrible, and I became suddenly aware of the unforeseen stresses of being a ceramics instructor. Who knew?


    In the words of one of my classmates, "You are bold to attempt a project like this." Honestly it was the challenge that attracted me. I figured, it's just clay. The worst that can happen is it won't work out. But the story isn't over. The new challenge is how to use what is left of Pooders to make a different piece of art. 



    The happy part of this accident -- the prettiest parts of the cat are still intact. He still has potential.



    Art changes us -- just like novels change us and people change us. My Adventures With Clay have already changed me, and I'm taking what I learned from Pooders (broken or not) with me to the next phase of this adventure -- whatever it is.



    What do you think? Should I fill him in with plaster? Play archaeologist and piece him back together? Leave him as is and stain him to look like an ancient, damaged marble statue?


    Thursday, July 7, 2011

    Adventures With Clay


    For the past few weeks I've been playing with clay --  four hours a day, four days a week! You may have noticed I've had less time to sit here and write blog posts. I have three classes left for my AA degree in Art Education, and ceramics is one of them. I hadn't done any ceramics since I was about ten years old and my mom had a little ceramics studio set up in our garage. Mind you, she made lots of cool stuff, but my sisters and I made pinch pots and I don't know what-- because it's all in the garbage now. 

    Obviously I saved the ceramics part of my degree for last because I'd rather be drawing or painting, but this class has surprised me. 

    Our 1st assignment:
    • Take four hunks of clay (apple size) 
    • Make four quick "sketches" (10 min. each)
    • Subjects for sketches: transportation, food, furniture, and something that represents you
    I felt so awkward handling the clay, and wondered briefly how I was going to make it through six weeks of the stuff. Oh, and we were informed that one third of all pieces made by beginners break in the kiln during firing. Goodie! 

    Here's what I made:

    Go ahead and laugh --especially at my "furniture".  I ran out of time, so I made a quick birdbath -- figured it was bird furniture.
     (They didn't break in the kiln!)






    2nd assignment: coil pot
    I will use this to hold my long-handled paintbrushes (if it doesn't break in the kiln).




    3rd piece: free choice
    I will add this to my sun collection hanging outdoors 
     (Hooray! It didn't break in the kiln.) 


    After glazing it looks like this:






    4th assignment: sculpt a pet
    At this point I became very excited! It felt like a true adventure (taking place in a ceramics studio of course) I wanted the cat to be big, so I used the whole bag of clay (about 25 lbs). My instructor showed me how to beat it with a special stick -- hard on the arms, but satisfying and therapeutic.




    The cat began to take shape -- I was thrilled! He stands about 15 inches tall. My wimpy muscles got a work out just turning him from side to side to work on him.


    Day 2: By now I felt like I could become addicted to sculpting! In the background is the picture I used as inspiration.

     


    Day 3: I learned how to cut him him in half, hollow him out, and put him back together. By this stage of the project, many of my classmates were quite attached to this hunk-of-clay-kitty, and someone named him Pooders!


    Day 4 : I Finished sculpting the details and got it to stand up! Victory!
    The thing that looks like a fifth leg is a temporary clay brace.

    Day 5: I laid the cat down and hollowed out his legs. My instructor warned me there would be some collateral damage, but I could fix it -- no problem. Yeah. This part of the project was stressful, but ended a success.

    At this point in my Adventures With Clay it
     was 4th of July weekend, and Pooders was left to dry  in preparation for the most risky part of this adventure -- THE KILN !



    Any ceramicists and potters out there? Or just people who like to bet? What do you think? Will Pooders survive the kiln?

    to be continued............
     
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