Archive for the ‘Guest Blog’ Category

30 September, 2009

A Different Kind of Connection

Hi to Wendy Robards who is visiting via a guest post today. Her regular home is at where she hosts a literary blog about books, reviews, reading challenges and other word-wise thoughts. Wendy is in Maine, the place where I wrote my first (bad) book and my novel, A Disobedient Girl, so we share a connection to a place that speaks to both what she talks about in her post today and what I am talking about in my post ‘Thinking Aloud About Time & Space,’ on her site today.

guestpostrufreeman022009-09-26-2The world spins faster these days with social networking, cell phones which can snap instant photos and connect to the Internet even in the middle of nowhere, and digital readers that can store more books than I have room for on my bookcase shelves. We are never unconnected – from friends, family, work. Everything that needs to be done can be done instantly. We pay our bills on line, shoot off emails which arrive at their destination in seconds, and download photos we took only moments before.

And so it occurred to me the other day as I carefully pressed and cut fabric for a new quilt and felt my heart rate slow and a sense of calm steal over me, that one of the reasons my life has felt out of kilter and speeding out of control these days might just be related to how I choose to spend my time. Somehow, in the fast and furious world of instant connection and electronic stimulation we have slipped away from the things that ground us, slow us down, and connect us to simplicity and beauty.

The art of quilt making requires many steps to get to the end result. It starts with selecting fabric, finding pleasing colors that coordinate, and envisioning how they will come together to form a block which then forms a row, which then forms a quilt. At this stage many quilters may sit quietly with a calculator and a piece of graph paper, sketching geometric shapes and planning. Then comes pressing, inhaling the steam from the iron and the warmth of the fabric, smoothing out the wrinkles, setting the fabric on the cutting mat and carefully cutting the pieces which will form the whole.

Pinning, stitching quarter inch seam allowances, more pressing, the whir of the sewing machine, the fabric sliding beneath one’s fingertips, the joy at watching the colors combine in a unique and simple design…the process unfolds slowly, engaging the visual, auditory and tactile senses.

But you are not done yet. The backing, batting and top must be pinned together with care and then there is more contemplation. How will you quilt this beautiful creation? Straight lines? Flowery whirls? What color thread would be the best? And as the quilting progresses, the piece transforms itself and becomes a multi-dimensional work of art. The binding is hand stitched – tiny, perfect stitches -with the quilt draped over one’s lap.

When it is all done – washed and air dried in the sunlight – the quilt has become part of the quilter with its wrinkles and soft folds, art that warms and comforts and is pleasing to the eye and to the hand. It is this process and final result that stirs within us a sense of peace and beauty, a sense that we are creating something lasting that took time and care, a piece of ourselves that has the power to touch others. Who has not curled beneath a handmade quilt and felt comforted?

Quilt making reminds us of our roots and history. Perhaps it is in our genetic memory, passed on from our ancestors.There are other activities that also ground us, connect us to our environment and senses, and remind us that beauty is sometimes found in the most simple of things: baking bread (combining, kneading, waiting, baking…inhaling the smell of yeast in a warm kitchen), planting a garden (fingers pushing into dirt, the smell of the sun on the earth), and walking in nature (the sound of the wind through the trees, the scurry of animals in the bushes, the song of birds). Sometimes just sitting on a porch after a rainstorm, with the clean smell of damp earth and the occasional drip of water from a tree branch, can bring us to that place of quiet and contemplation.

Technology has carried us in its wake with its cold, fast, instant gratification. The world spins faster these days and we may be forgetting how to slow down. Feeding our souls and finding a place of calm is only a quilt or a loaf of bread or a homegrown tomato away. It is taking our time and enjoying the journey, engaging our senses and remembering our roots.

17 September, 2009

Ticket To Anywhere

gail21Guest Post #3 is from Gail, whose blog-home Ticket to Anywhere I am visiting today. Here is a peek we rarely get – as writers – into what motivates the bloggers who review us. She decided to share twenty questions she had answered for Book Blogger Appreciation Week and I am posting a few of them here.

How’d you come up with the name for your blog?

I’ve always loved travelling (I caught my Nana’s bug at an early age) but it isn’t always easy to hop on a plane and go somewhere. So I started to visit those places I’ve always wanted to see through books. I’ve let the characters I’ve met show me what it is like to walk the Great Wall or even to travel through time and experience some of history’s greatest moments. Books are my way to travel…its corny but they are my Ticket to Anywhere.

How did you get into book blogging? How long have you been doing it?

I was just started to read some book blogs myself – having stumbled upon one through a search. I really like the idea of recording my thoughts on a book. Up until I started my blog I’d just been recording my rating and a brief description in Excel. So in June 2007 I took the plung and started my blog. Initially it was just a way for me to record my thoughts and I really didn’t start getting involved in the blogging community until about a year ago.

What has been the most challenging thing about blogging for you? What has been the most exciting?

The most challenging thing has been keeping up on my book reviews! I am so far behind its not funny….but the books and real life events have distracted me. For example, a good portion of this weekend was spent with Cassie Clare’s Mortal Instruments series books 2 and 3 – they are like crack I couldn’t put them down let alone try to focus on writing reviews!

The most exciting thing has been getting to know other bloggers. One of the best things I did last year was go to Book Expo America where I got to meet Alea (from Pop Culture Junkie) and my friend Tiffany S (from Letters, Words, Thoughts, Ideas, Stories…) Along with so many other great bloggers and author…did I even mention all the authors I stalked there?!? Total drool worthy event!

Where do you get most of your books?

I get most of my books from Barnes & Noble, Borders, and the Strand. My friend Beth (who blogs over at My Hobbies) and I are also constantly swapping books back and forth. Sometimes I am amazed that we can even remember what books belong to who. I also do get sent books from various publishers, publicists and authors…just one of the unexpected things that has been a result of blogging about books.

Are there any books have you been a book bully for? (ie one you’ve liked so much that you practically beat people over the head just to get them to read it)

So many! Of late I’ve been the bully for Hate List (OMG so amazing everyone must read it!!), The Book Thief, Jeanine Frost’s Night Huntress Series, Hunger Games, Catching Fire. I am now also berrating people to read Cassie Clare’s Mortal Instruments series. There really should be a support group for book bullies like me…I just don’t know when to stop.

Book you most want to read again for the first time?

Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery. Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings and Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen.

If you could visit with any characters….who would you chose?

I would love to go to school with Anne Shirley or walk the streets of Chicago with Harry Dresden. Go or to balls with Alex Stafford from The Season…etc etc etc…This is another one that I can go on and on and on about.

If you could give up the real world and move into a book, which one would it be and why?

All of them!! I just fall in love with all the words that I come across in books. I want to be like Thursday Next and be able to walk through the stories…so maybe that is the world….the one created by Jasper Fforde in his Eyre Affair, et al. The exception being Twilight because vampires shouldn’t sparkle!

What books have evoked strong feelings in you? Ones that really touched your heart, made you laugh out loud or made you cry?

God-Shaped Hole by Tiffanie DeBartolo, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Hart List by Jennifer Brown – they have all made me cry. Janet Evanovich and Stephanie Plum books always make me laugh out loud. As did Jaye Well’s Red-Headed Stepchild and Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series. Twilight made me want to slit my wrists…but that isn’t exactly a good reaction from a book. lol

Can you be found anywhere else on the net? (LibraryThing, Goodreads, Twitter, etc?)

Yes to all 3 and more. My usual interwebs idenity is Irisheyz77….its not one that I’ve ever had trouble getting as a log in so 98% of the time if you see it anywhere its me. =)

What are 5 books that are on your wish list right now?

The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson, Book One: A Most Improper Magick by Stephanie Burgis
The Line by Terri Hall
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
The Snowball Effect by Holly Nicole Hoxter and
The Orion Tattoo by Caragh O’Brien

And many many more!

Finally, what are some of your favorite blogs to visit?

I’ll give 3 because that’s my favorite number and they are:
From My Bookshelf
Bibliolatry (This is one of the very first blogs I started to read that made me think, hey I can do this)
The Narrative Causality

16 September, 2009

Savvy Verse & Wit

bookish-me-2Guest Post #2 is from Serena M. Agusto-Cox of Savvy Verse & Wit whose blog I am visiting today.

Savvy Verse & Wit began as a book review site and has transformed itself into a hub of poetry, poets, and helping readers discover contemporary poets through interviews and guest posts. I’ve been writing ever since I was a little girl at my nana’s typewriter on her kitchen table. I still remember my first short story, ‘The Big Apple,’ about a young woman who graduates college and becomes a journalist in New York City. While I haven’t written too many short stories, I do have about three novels in progress, and at least 30 poems from the recent poem-a-day challenge in April.

Writing is like breathing; I can’t stop myself and I wouldn’t want to. I’ve noticed through the years that inspiration can come from a number sources, including the news, photographs, other poems, fiction, scenery, music, etc.

Photography is another passion of mine that started at young age, thanks to my nana. She gave me my first 110 mm camera when I was in middle school, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I’ve honed my skills with the gracious help of friends from my former part-time employer and local camera shop. I’ve learned about perspective, lighting, and different film types, and this knowledge has helped me compose better photos and inspire my writing.

Poems will often start with an image when I close my eyes or stare off into space or out a window. In some cases, I’ve been jolted from my bed in the wee hours by lines that run over and over in my head, and they just won’t let me sleep until I write them down. A notebook and a pen by the bed are the best tools I can have in these moments, though there are sometimes when a notebook simply will not suffice.

One Saturday morning, I work up really early and my husband stumbled out of the bedroom a half hour later to find me typing furiously at my laptop in the dining room. Picture a man, half-asleep, his hair tousled, staring squinty eyed at his wife and scratching his head. I told him that these characters would not let me sleep without telling their story. He simply laughed, put on a pot of coffee, and went back to bed. Writing can be like that, all consuming.

I’ve also noticed in the last couple of years that reading can be that way as well. I read a book and review it on my blog, only to quickly pick up the next in line. But there are some books that I just don’t want to end, and I will read them ever-so-slowly to make them last. All of these activities are connected; imagination grabs hold and takes each of us on a journey—some we love and some we wish had happened differently. It doesn’t matter to me where the journey takes me or whether it ends the way I want it to, so long as the characters are satisfied or evolved by the journey’s end.

The Books:

The Books:

On Sal Mal Lane

In the tradition of In the Time of the Butterflies and The Kite Runner, a tender, evocative novel about the years leading up to the Sri Lankan civil war.

A Disobedient Girl

A Disobedient Girl is a compelling map of womanhood, its desires and loyalties, set against the backdrop of beautiful, politically turbulent, Sri Lanka.