SHAKING UP MY INTERIOR WORLD: NEW BEGINNINGS

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Today I sprang out of bed with a new energy…shower, coffee, computer.  And checking out various sites, including Dropbox, where I store documents and photos.  What sparked this energy?

A few days ago, I wrote about organizing my interior world, and that story included the discovery of new storage and an old manuscript.

Years ago, I started writing about a time in my life when I belonged to a very strange book club—we called it a gourmet/book club, because we met for gourmet dinners before discussing the books.  What happened afterwards became the main story…and how foolish choices made in the past can change lives forever.  But along the way, sometimes one can take the lessons from the past and make changes in the present…for the future.

 

540_293_resize_20121201_f14f958c451db88c59c9099bdf8e4c91_jpg

The manuscript is a fictionalized version of a very real time in my life, and while the core of it is based on true events, I took the usual liberties of an author by embellishing and changing things up.

I tossed it aside back then to start working on Interior Designs, which I recently published, and which I started during NaNoWriMo in 2010.  At that time, I wrote the first 52,000+ words.

Defining Moments was another novel I had begun around this same time, and zeroes in on the aftermath of a woman’s failed marriage:

Blurb:  What moments in our lives define us? Do our choices determine our future?  When unexpected events derail her life, Jillian McAvoy realizes that she now has an opportunity to carve out a whole new beginning.  But something happens to her along the way that threatens everything she hoped and dreamed about.  How can the obsessions and compulsions that seemingly take over her life lead to her newly redesigned world?

 

 

defining moments logo

***

In my excitement over rereading and changing some things as I begin the rewriting process for this resurrected manuscript, which I’m tentatively calling Echoes of the Past.…I am once again excited and reborn.  Yes, reborn is how I feel!

The kind of excitement I recognize from the writing of all of my novels: six of them published, and now two manuscripts to play with.

Here’s an excerpt from the Prologue, which may go through some changes:

     But at moments throughout the day, her thoughts slid backwards, despite her best efforts, and she could almost see that younger, idealistic version of herself. That girl who had believed in endless possibilities, who had fought the system hell-bent on winning. That young woman who had ignored her ideals in one summer of foolish choices, transforming herself from a fresh young thing with her whole life ahead of her into this woman of today, who often longed for yesterday and a clean slate with fresh options.

***

Nothing gets my juices flowing more than a new journey, which often is a new manuscript.  And blogging is another way to keep the excitement levels high…connecting with other bloggers and finding that immediate satisfaction from comments and conversations.

What’s not to love?  What rejuvenates you on a Hump Day…or any day?

 

polar-bears-reflecting-21

***

 

SUNDAY THOUGHTS FROM THE INTERIOR: A RETREAT OR AN ESCAPE?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Welcome to my Sunday Thoughts…a contemplative journey.  As I plan for the day ahead—brunch at my daughter’s home—I reflect on my world of books and blogging, and how I seemingly disconnect from the “real world” at times.  Some of us call that “living in our heads.”

Then I remind myself that doing what I love is not such a bad thing.  Or is it?  Do I choose this interior world to avoid the exterior one?  Or am I simply enjoying myself?

 

 

i-think-therefore-i-blog

 

 

If I am truly honest, the choice might be a reaction to the hectic exterior world that I lived in for so many years.  Thirty years as a social worker, mixing it up in all kinds of drama—not to mention the high caseloads—might have led to this kind of retreat. 

 

 

 

business-commerce-caseload_management-caseload-social_worker-works-workers-forn364l.jpg

 

Don’t I deserve the retreat, though?  Who am I hurting if I become a bit of a hermit?  LOL ..Is the online world dangerous, and am I at risk of truly cutting myself off from the world “out there”?

Most of the time, I don’t believe that.  I feel truly engaged when I connect with other bloggers—people who love books as much as I do.  I feel energized and ready to reconnect with the exterior world after spending time connecting with like-minded individuals.  I don’t find as many of those like-minded people “out there.”  I am willing to engage with them…but I want to limit those connections.

My current WIP is about a retired English teacher who decides to write novels….and becomes addicted to the blogosphere.  What happens to her is a bit drastic, but I think I wrote it as a cautionary tale to myself…

 

defining moments logo

Defining Moments

What moments in our lives define us? Do our choices determine our future?  When unexpected events derail her life, Jillian McAvoy realizes that she now has an opportunity to carve out a whole new beginning.  But something happens to her along the way that threatens everything she hoped and dreamed about.  How can the obsessions and compulsions that seemingly take over her life lead to her newly redesigned world?
***

What are your thoughts on this Sunday?  Is our online world a way of avoiding what is out there?  Or is it simply something we do because we love it?  I am sure the answer is different for each of us.

Happy Sunday!

 

blogimageresized

 

***

 

REVIEW: THE ALL YOU CAN DREAM BUFFET, BY BARBARA O’NEAL

18248416

 

 

 

Lavender Wills, owner of Lavender Honey Farms in Oregon, and one of the Foodie Four bloggers, is having a party to celebrate her 85th birthday.

After she sends out her invitations, we meet the individual bloggers as they converge on the farm.

Ruby, young and pregnant, comes from SF, and writes A Flavor of a Blue Moon. Her lover Liam has left her, and she seeks healing and a fresh start.

Ginger, A Cake of Dreams, lives in Kansas and has never been anywhere. She longs to explore and have adventures. She buys an Airstream trailer and starts out, over the objections of her staid and cold husband Matthew.

Valerie, from Wine Dancer, heads out on the journey with her daughter Hannah. The two of them have lost the rest of their family, and are still suffering.

As we follow the foodies in their approach to the Oregon destination, we are privy to some blog posts from the road, with photos, and we can enjoy their e-mails to each other. I loved feeling a part of their adventures, almost tasting the delicious food and seeing the sights along the way. Especially Ginny’s view of the world, since she had been trapped in Dead Gulch, Kansas, her whole life. Now she is experiencing the mountains of colorful Colorado, and as she descends on the Willamette Valley, we can see the lavender fields spread out before her.

The All You Can Dream Buffet: A Novel is a lovely story that will reveal more about how their blogging and their connections to one another can have wonderful healing powers.

Each woman is a at turning point in her life. Lavender faces a big decision about her beloved farm. Can she control its destiny and assure that it falls into the right hands? Will Ginny be able to wrest control of her own life and make a new beginning? And what romance might be right around the next corner for her? What will Ruby discover at the end of the journey? And will Valerie find a new beginning at last?

As each of them turns the next corner, we wait with bated breath, while taking in the lovely views and tasting the delicious foods. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I want more from these friends. Like a sequel. I was sad when the book ended, but it left such a good feeling behind. Five stars.

REVIEW: WHO ASKED YOU?, BY TERRY MCMILLAN

81yhWWgYv9L._SL1500_Three sisters with very different lives form the core of Who Asked You? Venetia, Arlene, and Betty Jean are each pursuing their own lives, but somehow manage to stay connected with one another. Until some issues divide them.

Narrated alternately between the sisters and a few other characters, we learn what it feels like to be struggling with racial issues, poverty, and the difficulties of raising children in LA in the Twenty-First Century.

Betty Jean has seen one child go to prison, another one lose herself to drugs, and another one who sets himself apart from the family, as if he is superior. When BJ ends up raising her two grandsons, her sisters and adult children have a thing or two to say about it.

Arlene has the most to say. Critical and judgmental, her behavior causes a rift between her and BJ. But her own son has some unexpected issues of his own.

Venetia is not as openly critical of BJ, but she still seems to feel superior. Until something happens in her own life to bring her down to earth.

These characters were so real and sometimes even funny. I enjoyed the dialogue and how the author painted a picture of their lives that I could relate to, even though my own life is different. It takes a unique talent to make the characters relatable to those who have not experienced the same things. A major theme was single mothers of all races and walks of life doing the best they can to achieve their dreams. And in the end, finding out how to fashion their own futures, even when most of their lives are behind them. Four stars.

REVIEW: ENON, BY PAUL HARDING

15797396

 

 

In the very first paragraph of Enon: A Novel, we learn the harsh truth of Charlie Crosby’s life: his only child Kate was struck and killed by a car while riding her bicycle home from the beach one afternoon in September. She was thirteen. And shortly thereafter, he and his wife Susan separated.

From that startling event, we see how Charlie’s life slowly disintegrates in the upcoming months, until one day, a year later, and following a hurricane, he is startled back to the reality of how he has wrecked his life, his home, and his relationships with others.

The downward spiral started just after the death, and after he purposely broke several bones in his hand; he then started taking pain pills, and rather quickly became addicted. During those periods, he conjured a world with Kate still in it…a surreal world. Hallucinations became his reality.

Narrated in Charlie’s first person voice, we follow his ramblings, as he journeys into his surreal world, and also a world of memories. Of his own childhood and of times with Kate. And of the village of Enon, in New England, where he grew up, and where his ancestors lived.

In a moment of startling and unexpected reality, he has this insight: “…Kate gave my life joy. I loved her totally, and while I loved her, the world was love. Once she was gone, the world seemed to prove nothing more than ruins and the smoldering dreams of monsters.”

A difficult experience to read about, I had trouble staying focused through Charlie’s ramblings, and felt such a relief when he finally started on his road back to a kind of sanity. He then looks upon his journey as “fetishes, cobbled together by a mind clumsy with drugs and sorrow, and shaken in terror like rattles at the immense and exact unfolding of my daughter’s true absence elaborating itself in the world.”

A haunting portrayal of one man’s grief and loss. 3.5 stars.

A BOOK REVIEWER’S JOURNEY

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Back in 2008, when I first started blogging, my primary focus was my Amazon Profile Page.  Not only did my reviews end up there, but back then, our profile pages included our own creations and a list of Amazon Friends.

It didn’t take long for things to change.  Amazon is always in a state of flux, and nowadays my creations are listed on my Amazon Author’s Page.

Meanwhile, however, our reviews continue to be listed on the Profile Page and the numbers have grown.  In glancing at my stats, I see that probably by the end of the month, I will have hit the 1000 mark, since my number now is 992! 

I think I should celebrate.  What do you think?

My Amazon Profile Page

Your reviewing stats
Reviews written: 992

Reviewer rank: 643
Helpful votes: 2,523 of 3,020

FIRST BOOK OF THE YEAR 2014

1a1

Happy New Year, and welcome to our First book of the New Year Event, hosted by Book Journey!

This is my first time participating in this event, and I’m excited.  I spent some time handling the various books on my stacks, trying to decide…and when I had narrowed it down to two books, I took some photos.

The winning book was The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion.  And here I am reading it!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Blurb:  THE ART OF LOVE IS NEVER A SCIENCE

MEET DON TILLMAN, a brilliant yet socially challenged professor of genetics, who’s decided it’s time he found a wife. And so, in the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers.

Rosie Jarman is all these things. She also is strangely beguiling, fiery, and intelligent. And while Don quickly disqualifies her as a candidate for the Wife Project, as a DNA expert Don is particularly suited to help Rosie on her own quest: identifying her biological father. When an unlikely relationship develops as they collaborate on the Father Project, Don is forced to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that, despite your best scientific efforts, you don’t find love, it finds you.

Arrestingly endearing and entirely unconventional, Graeme Simsion’s distinctive debut will resonate with anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of great challenges. The Rosie Project is a rare find: a book that restores our optimism in the power of human connection.

***

My second choice is one I also plan to start reading this week, but since it is a chunkster, with 700+ pages, it may take awhile.

51ZndGYFeXL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_

One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to think more about savoring the books and less about the numbers of books read.

Do you have any resolutions for the New Year?  What book is your first choice to read?

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

REVIEW: THE TULIP EATERS, BY ANTOINETTE VAN HEUGTEN

Manually Released

 

 

 

In November, 1980, Nora De Jong, a young pediatric neurosurgeon arrives home from work, in the home she shares with her mother and daughter in Houston, Texas, to discover her mother’s dead body. And that her six-month-old daughter Rose is missing.

What the reader learns, in alternate chapters narrated from different perspectives, is that, presumably, Nora’s mother Anneke had an unsavory past in Holland, as a member of the Dutch Nazis during WWII. And that some of those from that very past may be bent on revenge.

From Houston to Amsterdam, we follow Nora’s quest to find her daughter. While the detectives at home believe that she is foolish, Nora has a sense that in Amsterdam, she will find answers.

What unexpected facts will Nora learn as she pursues unknown persons who may have her daughter? How will her reunion with Nico, the love of her life and Rose’s father, figure into the quest? And what final secrets will she discover back home in Houston again? What is the significance of the book’s title?

A fast-paced story that kept me rapidly turning pages, The Tulip Eaters is a reminder that the past informs the present, and that sometimes, the secrets from the past can bring peace. 4.5 stars.

BEING TRUE: MY WINDING ROAD IN THIS JOURNEY

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Oh, what a winding road it has been, in this blogging journey!

If anyone would have told me five years ago that I would have discovered a new “addiction” or “obsession,” if you will, I would have laughed.  I thought that I had plenty of those, with my various collections, including my book collections.

My first blog was created in 2008, and it was on Blogger.  I entitled that one Creations by Laurel-Rain Snow, and my intention was to use the blog as a way of connecting with readers, for marketing purposes.  This was a plan developed with my publishing consultant. (That blog is now Story Corner).

But not much happened that first year.  It was in 2009, when I accidentally connected with other bloggers, that I learned of a much bigger picture.  A community.  A network of other bloggers.

Then I sort of went nuts, creating several other blogs, some of which I have since deleted and merged with others.  I still have too many, for most people’s tastes.

But this site was my first on Word Press.  Initially, I called it Explorations…then I merged others with it, and it went through still another name change.  Finally I settled on An Interior Journey...and that works for me.

When I decided to put a Bloglovin’ button on this site (and a few others), I realized that blog name changes can have complex consequences.  I’ve been “claiming” my various  blogs, and then officially changing the names.  Whoa!  What was I thinking  back when I thought it was as simple as changing it on the blog?

On this particular site, I have regularly changed the headers and backgrounds…and even the tag line of the blog.  With my newest tag line changes came a new blog button…and a header with the button in the center.

cropped-picmonkey-collage-ij-in-december

Looking back over what I’ve written, I am tempted to chuck this whole post.  It was obviously written by someone addicted/obsessed with various aspects of blogging.  But no….my hard and fast rule for myself is being “true.”  So this is who I am, on this, my Interior Journey. 

I hope to connect with some of you along the way.  What has your blogging journey been like?

REVIEW: VIRGIN SOUL, BY JUDY JUANITA

16158570Geneice Hightower, a young black woman who grew up in Oakland, CA, learned one very important thing from her family: get an education.

Determined to do just that, she begins by attending community college in Oakland, works part-time for the Welfare Department, and commences to learn some new ideas from her boyfriend and a group of friends surrounding him.

It is the 1960s, and things are heating up all over the US, even in the world around Geneice. By the time she transfers to San Francisco State in the mid-sixties, her ideas have become radical, and she finds herself immersed in the Black Panther party and all that comes with that membership. Guns, shoplifting, and more…all unimaginable to the girl she once was, but life has changed for her.

How does a spirited young woman with goals become such a different person? Is it simply peer pressure, or is there more involved? How does she change so radically? Could it be the glow of power she feels when she meets people like Stokely Carmichael, Huey P. Newton, and Bobby Seale? Or is it her need to take back some personal power that has been squashed out of her by the culture? Maybe it was about social change for her, but she got in over her head. And how does she find out who she is, without the movement, after following the revolution to the last rung of the ladder?

Having grown up in those times, even living in the Bay Area during the sixties, I can understand it completely, even though my perspective was more of the white anti-war protestor. College experiences, the times in which we lived, and the ability to open one’s mind to new things can have a big impact on a young person. Geneice’s story is emotional, charged with adventure, energy, fear and loss, and as the consequences unfold, we will completely understand another meaning of the title Virgin Soul: A Novel.

A mind that is pure and open and accessible to new experiences.

I felt as though I had been transported back to those times. A book I recommend for those who lived those times and want a nostalgic trip back…and for those who did not, but want to understand, from the point of view of a character living it. 4.5 stars.