Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Thursday Thirteen - 126 - 13 Ways Fall Emerges

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Kristen says I love the beautiful colors of fall.

Michelle Johnson says Love the thirteen ways fall emerges for you.

It Feels Like Chaos says Beautiful pictures!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - 119

Jennifer Leeland says Oh. So pretty. I love this, Julia.

Michelle Johnson says Nice to see some flowers still flourish in the changing weather.

Brooke says They remind me of the small daisies we would put in our hair as kids...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Through the Opera Glasses - 30 - Roman Polanski's Lifetime Achievement Award

Film director Roman Polanski flew to Zurich, Switzerland on September 26th to receive a lifetime achievement award at the Zurich Film Festival. Instead, he was arrested after fleeing a conviction for felony thirty years ago in California.

I can't help but imagine the hope of prosecuters as they waited to see if the filmmaker would show up for such a celebration. He'd always been careful to avoid picking up an Oscar, but surely within Europe he would be left alone to reflect on an astounding career.

I'm actually an admirer of his films. We studied Knife in the Water at Ryerson, as well as Chinatown in my screenwriting class.

His version of Oliver Twist is absolutely heartbreaking and haunting.

And The Pianist is unrelenting, searing and somehow hopeful amid all the horror of war.

It is my belief, however, that a man who flees justice is saying more by that act than any one of his celluloid masterpieces will ever hope to do.

What was the felony he was charged with?

Statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl.

Using sedative drugs to disarm the girl and ensure the victim's compliance.

Let's stop for a moment and recall a few statistics about pedophile predators:

"Al Carlisle, former prison psychologist, estimates that a pedophile may molest as many as 100 children before he is caught." - Stephen T. Holmes, Ronald M. Holmes, Sex Crimes: Patterns and Behaviour

"Ego-psychologists assert that pedophiles have never developed a well-defined sense of self. Having sexual contact with children enables the pedophile to surmount the sense of shame, humiliation or powerlessness experienced during victimization as a child." - Juliann Whetsell-Mitchell, Rape of the Innocent

Now let's look at Roman Polanski's early childhood:

At age 6 he was herded into the Krakow Ghetto in Poland, where he lost his parents to imprisonment in Nazi concentration camps. His mother perished, his father survived.

Roman escaped the ghetto and was taken in by Polish Catholics until he was reunited with his father.

Sufficiently traumatic for anyone.

For those wondering why a 76-year-old man should face charges dating back thirty years, would anyone ask the same question if he was a priest who had raped a child in the 70's? The public is generally eager to prosecute priests. Is it because they don't direct incredibly remarkable films?

For those remembering that in addition to Polanski's nightmarish childhood, his thirties were marred by the gruesome murder of his wife Sharon Tate, eight months pregnant, by Charles Manson's Family - surely one might think the man has suffered enough for one lifetime.

Certainly his films are colored by his losses and emotional pain: Repulsion, The Tenant and Rosemary's Baby.

I still return to the knowledge that he fled a conviction to which he pleaded guilty by jumping bail, and returning to France where there is a firm refusal to give up its citizens to foreign governments. Moreover, Polanski curtailed all travel plans if there included any chance of being returned to face US authorities.

Until this last decision to attend the Zurich Film Festival.

His lifetime achievement award became a jail cell.

Ms Snarky Pants says Personally I think if he didn't want to end up in prison he shouldn't have had sex with a 13 year old girl after giving her drugs.

Marsha says His victim, 13 at the time, can't put it in the past as the media keeps bringing it forward.

Akelamalu says Being a fantastic film director doesn't excuse raping a child does it, even if it was 30 years ago? I cannot feel sorry for him. :(

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Poetry Train Monday - 120 - Having Your Cake and Eating It Too

Next weekend I'll be participating in my first-ever Run for the Cure, a fund-raising event for breast cancer. This is a personal milestone for me, as my chronic knee pain from an injury prevented me from joining my corporate team last year.

But now - with my incredibly successful acupuncture treatment from Vivian Yuan - my knee can carry me through the event.

Donations are gratefully accepted. You can click onto my personal sponsor page at the top of my sidebar.

I'm actually walking, not running, with a 12-member team from work, plus my sister, who also used to work at the same office as me.

My sister and I have a personal reason to take part. Our one remaining grandparent is a decades-long breast cancer survivor - Viola Phillips.

And my found poem today is taken from a memoir she wrote up a few years ago. This picture was taken at Easter this year by my aunt. Grandma is shown here at left with her friend of many decades, Sarah Terrio.

Having Your Cake and Eating It Too

From there on we moved to Grayling
In the North Country
Within a year I was employed
By a family-owned excavating business

There I became
The Controller/Bookkeeper
Doing everything from Tax reports to W-2's

There were six owners in this business
They confided in me
As if I were their mother
Of course
I was older than all of them

I also took care of
The mother's finances
They were wonderful people to work for
It lasted for more than seven years

When I had surgery
A complete Mastectomy
I went back to work
But with the intentions of leaving
As soon as I could train another girl, which I did
I must have done a good job
She stayed there a long time!

After all those working years
My husband Gabe and I
Were living on the beautiful Manistee River
In a cute little cottage style house
For over 25 years

We loved it there very much
The beautiful trees
The river
The wild animals
The picturesque snowfalls on the trees

This was like having your cake and eating it too

- Viola Phillips, August 2005

For more poetry, Ride the Poetry train!

Linda Jacobs says The simple words are powerful!

Shelley Munro says Good luck with your walk, Julia. I'm so glad your knee has improved so much.

Sarah Crowther says This poem really has flow and emotion.

Friday, September 25, 2009

My Heart All Aflutter Over Dark Ages Gold Hoard Discovery

I've mentioned before that if you could peek inside my heart, you would see a darkened theatre with the curtains opening and music playing from the orchestra pit.

There's another corner of my heart that holds a Dark Age sword.

Baffle people I must. What can I say? I'm a ballet and sword kind of woman.

As you can imagine, this week's news release about the July discovery of Anglo Saxon gold in a Staffordshire, England field has held me completely enthralled.

"There was absolutely nothing feminine" among the buried hoard, found in rural England, Kevin Leahy of the Portable Antiquities Scheme said in a statement.

"It looks like a collection of trophies," Leahy said. "But it is impossible to say if the hoard was the spoils from a single battle or a long and highly successful military career."

The site once lay at the heart of the old Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia, which existed from the sixth to the tenth century, when it became part of the fledgling Kingdom of England.

The total weight of gold recovered amounts to 11 pounds (5 kilograms)- considerably more than the 3.8 pounds (1.7 kilograms) found at the rich Anglo-Saxon burial site of Sutton Hoo in 1939.
- James Owen, National Geographic

This is a scabbard decoration uncovered at the site.

This is a sword hilt collar.

This is a replica Dark Age sword created by Czech swordsmith Patrick Barta.

Isn't it dreamy?

It's easier to match the recovered authentic pieces to their placement on a sword when you can look at a full-size weapon.

This is a sword hilt collar.

A slightly-mangled sword fitting.

The pommel of the replica sword.

A cheek piece from a battle helmet.

The Sutton Hoo helmet uncovered in 1939

The full-length replica sword and scabbard by Patrick Barta.

Photos from National Geographic by David Rowan

Photos taken at the dig site by

Photo of Sutton Hoo helmet by BBC News

Photos of replica sword by Tomas Balej

Ms Snarky Pants says Alas I think we are sans Anglo Saxon hordes here. hehe

Sara Chapman in Seattle says I had read about the find but had not seen photos. Wow!

Susan Helene Gottfried says That stuff is amazing. I'd love to see it up close.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Thursday Thirteen - 125 - 13 Reasons to Read Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

Deeply-missed book blogger Dewey passed away 10 months ago. For awhile, her blog remained for us to click onto and once again read her insightful reviews of fabulous books.

Recently I've discovered that the link to her blog no longer connects. I guess it's time to let go of some things.

I'm a third of the way through my reading challenge based on books that Dewey reviewed. I recently found a review of another of 'Dewey's books' over at You Can Never Have Too Many Books, along with this wonderful sentiment from Susan:

"That last quote also reminded me of Dewey. It's been almost a year now since she passed away. I'm glad this was a book she loved and recommended. To you, Dewey."

1 - Year of Wonders is the second book I've read for the year-long Dewey Reading Challenge. Good thing for me that there are only six books on this challenge. I noticed that most of the avid readers who signed up for this had read their allotment by March.

The books I read for myself have a habit of getting bumped regularly by new releases which my incredibly-talented friends have written - books I like to review as close to their release date as possible, so I can spread the word. I finished reading Year of Wonders a few weeks ago, but I had three books to review that were hot off the presses first.

2 - Year of Wonders is a Penguin Books release. This debut novel for journalist Brooks became an international bestseller. Not a bad way to switch careers...

3 - The full title is actually Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague. Call me crazy, but that's the thing that grabbed me and made me special order it at the smaller bookstore near my office. I've been able to buy three of the six challenge books off the shelf at the large Chapters, but both of the Geraldine Brooks were special orders because I couldn't wait until I might be able to get to Chapters. I started my challenge with Brooks' March - you can read my review HERE - and I immediately plunged into Year of Wonders.

4 - We meet Anna Frith of Derbyshire, England, daughter of a brutish laborer, young widow of a miner and mother to two young sons. She works as a part-time servant at the manor house and takes in a boarder at her cottage to make ends meet.

5 - Michael Mompellion is the married rector of Anna's village. Young and charismatic, he sweeps his congregation up with the intensity of his gaze and seduces them with the magic of his voice. He rides his powerful stallion Anteros and ministers to his flock with large hands more like a working man's than a cleric's.

6 - The novel jumps back and forth through time. We meet Anna as she keeps house for Mr. Mompellion, in the desperate hush following their year of beating back the plague. Then it flashbacks to the time just preceding the arrival of the decimating disease. Eventually we catch up to the moment of the novel's beginning, where we then move beyond to the conclusion. It's an intriguing way to present the novel, as we assume that how we find the characters at the beginning is the way the novel will end.

But there is more.

7 - Sexual tension flares between Anna and the rector. Although he is passionately married to Elinor Mompellion, the attraction between him and Anna runs throughout all the horror of the plague year. Anna, Elinor and Michael create a love triangle of the most original kind. Anna idolizes Elinor, who teaches her to read and how to use plants to heal. But Anna doesn't realize until much later that part of her kinship with Elinor is her unconscious desire to be Elinor - because Elinor is Michael's wife.

8 - The story is told entirely through Anna's first-person voice. But this is not merely her story. A Novel of the Plague is a perfect indicator of the scope of this tale. We get to know an entire village and suffer along with each individual as the impossible decision is made. By shutting themselves off from the world, they heroically attempt to contain the plague.

9 - Geraldine Brooks' training as a journalist serves the villagers well. Multiple viewpoints and varied reactions to the collective decision are presented through Anna's eyes. Though we know Anna and her stalwart character, we still get vivid depictions of other people who aren't so brave, aren't so sure, who react to the horror in monstrous ways.

There are lots of gruesome images in this book - fair warning to the squeamish. But I found every part of it fascinating, compelling and so very heartrending. There were many times that I had started to read it on the bus, but had to tuck it back into my purse or else sit there crying.

10 - Ms. Brooks really knows how to end each chapter with a hook. Like this, for example:

"When the Mompellions came to where I stood, Elinor Mompellion held out both her hands and took mine tenderly as the rector spoke to me. 'And you, Anna?' he said. The intensity of his gaze was such that I had to look away from him. 'Tell us you will stay with us, for without you, Mrs. Mompellion and I would be ill set. Indeed, I do not know what we would do without you.' There was no turmoil within me, for I had made my decision. Still, I could not command my voice to give him a reply. When I nodded, Elinor Mompellion embraced me and held me to her for a long moment. The rector moved on, whispering quietly to Mary Hadfield, who was weeping and wringing her hands most piteously. By the time he mounted the steps again and faced us, he and Mr. Stanley between them had shored up every doubter. All of us in the church that day gave their oath to God that we would stay, and not flee, whatever might befall us.

All of us, that is, except the Bradfords. They had slipped out of the church unnoticed and were already at the Hall, packing for their flight to Oxford."

11 - The woman's face on the cover of the book couldn't be more perfect. Taken from a painting by Frederic Leighton - Amarilla - this depiction of Anna's endurance through all her suffering is exquisitely perfect.

12 - There are so many vivid images and scenes from this book that will always stay with me. First published eight years ago, I couldn't imagine why it hadn't been optioned to be filmed. Actually, to do it justice, it would have to be a miniseries - hopefully on HBO so the grisly aspects wouldn't be lost.

Now with the H1N1 virus making the rounds, wouldn't this be a perfect production for our times?

13 - I leave you with an excerpt. Enjoy!

"Mr. Mompellion laid his large hand tenderly upon Jakob Merrill's face. 'Hush now.' His voice was low and even. 'Do not dwell any more on things in the past that you cannot change. When God took your wife to Him, He crowned Maude Merrill with a crown of righteousness. He freed her from all toil and tiredness. God has already made provision for your children. Did he not send young Brand to you, and did you not take him in to your home in his need? Do you not see God's hand at work there?'

Jakob Merrill's hand tightened on the rector's, and his brow unknotted. He asked the rector then to help him make a last will to bind such an arrangement.

It was not for me to be reading Jakob Merrill's private will, and I doubt that Mr. Mompellion would have given it to me if he had known that I could read at all. Indeed, I did not propose to read the words; it was only that my eyes could not prevent me as I blotted the document and set it in the tin box that Merrill had pointed to. I warmed the child some caudle, instructed her how to complete the stew I had begun, and set out with the rector.

Elinor met us, her face creased with concern. Two more bodies awaited their graves. Mr. Mompellion sighed and shrugged off his coat. He did not wait even for some nourishment but went straight to the churchyard.

I let go my pride then, and took my courage into my hands instead. Without telling Elinor what I proposed, I trudged out to my father's croft, hoping that the day was young enough to find him sober still.

I noticed that Steven, their eldest boy, had an angry welt across his cheek, and I did not need to ask how it had come there. I carried some of the herbs we had been preparing and showed Aphra how to make them up into the tonic that Elinor and I had devised.

Speaking with a respectful deference that I did not feel, I explained the plight at the rectory, and, flattering my father about his great strength and fortitude, beseeched his help. As I had expected, he cursed and said he had more than enough work to lay his hand to, and that it would do my 'prating priest' a power of good to get his white hands dirty. So I offered him his choice of my lambs for that Sunday's dinner and another at the new moon. These were generous terms, and though my father cursed and haggled and thumped the table till the platters rattled, he and I eventually came to an agreement. And so I bought Mr. Mompellion a respite from the graveyard. At least, I told myself, my father's clemmed children might get a portion of the meat."

- Geraldine Brooks, 2001

Nikki says :) :) :)

Kandyblossom says I must check the library and see if they have this book.

Life's Journey says Wow it is awesome review. Thanks.

Wordless Wednesday - 118

Jennifer Leeland says It makes me think of that song "Ugly Duckling". I don't know why.

Pamela Kramer says It looks very peaceful.

Dorothy says Aww, really nice picture.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Through the Opera Glasses - 29 - Anticipation

Kim's year-long Blog Improvement Project at Sophisticated Dorkiness encouraged us to "look for blogging inspiration somewhere new.

There’s no real way to do this. If you’ve got a laptop, take it out of the house and write up a post somewhere different. If you don’t have a laptop, grab a pen and paper and do some brainstorming outside the house.

Go to the park, a local coffee shop, the library, a friend’s house, your backyard, wherever you feel like it. Just get away from where you usually blog to see what inspiration you might get from a change of scene."

I did this in a movie theatre while I was waiting for Gamer to start.

It wasn't hard to see that I was immediately drawing on sense memory for this exercise.

Many of you already know that one of my favorite places in the world - and favorite moment in life - is taking my place in a theatre seat, waiting for the show to begin.

It can be any kind of theatre, any kind of performance.

It can be a spot snagged among an outdoor crowd for the Busker Festival.

It can be a hardy sports stadium seat built to withstand drunken disappointment in a game, but serving me as a seat at the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo.

The hockey arena can be tucked out of sight so I can sit in surging anticipation for Lenny Kravitz and an amazing night of music.

It can be a no-frills wooden chair on homemade risers, awaiting a Fringe Festival performance.

It can be a seen-better-days upholstered seat scavenged from a renovated theatre as I sit just feet away from Michael Mahonen (Road to Avonlea's Gus) as he shows his acting chops in Salt Water Moon, a play by Newfoundland-born David French.

But there are two types of theatre seats that thrill me more than any other.

The basic cinema seat - where I have willingly whiled away countless sunny days in a darkened theatre. No matter how far technology takes us, no matter that I can watch films in an increasingly sophisticated home setting, I will always cherish viewing films as they are meant to be screened - in a theatre surrounded by other film lovers.

And the other one?

Why, a seat at the ballet, of course.

Where the orchestra tunes up as the lights go down to a quarter...

Thomma Lyn Grindstaff says The best part is often the anticipation of the delight to come. :)

Claudia says I love live theater - of any kind. We grew up watching it from an early age.

Michelle Johnson says Yes, a change of scenery can inspire one to write something fresh.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Poetry Train Monday - 119 - Terribly Lucky

I'm currently reading Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer for the Dewey Reading Challenge.

The writing is so exceptional that I could craft found poems from every single page in this 382-page book.

Here is one little nugget.

Terribly Lucky

By her twelfth birthday
My great-great-great-great-great-grandmother
Had received at least one
Proposal of marriage
From every citizen in Trachimbrod

She forced a blush
Batted her long eyelashes
Said to each, Perhaps no
Yankel says I am still too young

They are so silly, turning back to Yankel

Wait until I pass, closing his book
You can have your choice
Of them. But not while
I'm still alive

I would not have any
One of them

Kissing his forehead
They are not
For me
And besides,
I already have
The most handsome man
In all of Trachimbrod

Who is it?
Pulling her onto his lap
I'll kill him

Flicking his nose
With her pinky
It's you, fool

Oh no
Are you telling me
I have to
Kill myself?

I suppose I am

Couldn't I be
A bit less handsome? If
It means sparing my life from
My own hand? Couldn't I
Be a bit ugly?

OK, laughing
I suppose your nose is
A bit crooked. And
On close examination
That smile of yours
Is a good bit less than

Now you're killing me

Better than killing yourself

I suppose
That's right
This way I
Don't have to feel

I'm doing you
A great service

Thank you, then
How can I
Ever repay you?

You're dead
You can't do anything

I'll come back
For this one favor
Name it

Well, I
Suppose I'd
Have to ask you
To kill me
Spare me
The guilt

Consider it

Aren't we
So terribly
To have one another?

- Jonathan Safran Foer, 2002

For more poems, Ride the Poetry Train!

Stan Ski says The rest of us just die waiting for the perfect partner.

Jane Doe says I love how you take these books and turn them into poems.

Vita Stunder says Lovley :)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Blog Improvement Project - 17 - Update Old Posts

I'm actually skipping ahead because Week 16 urged us to Blog Someplace New. Which I did, but I'm saving that entry for my next Through the Opera Glasses.

Week 17 focused on Updating Old Posts.

And because this was Book Blogger Appreciation Week, I took a look at my Book Reviews Archives.

With 32 reviews listed alphabetically by author name, I realized it wasn't as user-friendly as it should be.

So I split every review by genre, and created 19 headings in my sidebar. I also included the title of the book as well as the author's name.

It was quite astounding to see the varied genres I've reviewed. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I realized I've reviewed more Contemporary Erotic Romance than any other genre.

Tying for second place is another shocker - Contemporary Romance - and two expected categories, Regency Historical Romance and Victorian Historical Romance.

This was a good exercise. I can see that there are genres I really enjoy reading but which I've been overlooking recently. I'm sure this is going to nudge me toward reclaiming some of my favorite types of books.

Susan Helen Gottfried says You review contemporary erotics in a way that allows anyone nervous about the genre to see it's not so scary.

VA Bookworm says I'd say about 70% on my bookshelf is Victorian Historical Romance and 30% fantasy.

Akelamalu says I just almost choked laughing - after reading you review a lot of contemporary erotics the word verification I have to type in is 'kinkie'.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Thursday Thirteen - 124 - 13 Reasons to Read The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber

Leanna Renee Hieber is a fellow blogger over at Popculturedivas. As she got set for that magical Release Day for her debut novel, I confess I was looking forward to it nearly as impatiently.

Alright, perhaps not quite as much as Leanna must have been.

But I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy. And as it turned out, Leanna embarked upon a mammoth promotional blog tour called the Haunted London Blog Tour, with loads of opportunity to win a copy of her book.

You guessed it - I received my autographed copy in the mail along with a cool little button that says Strangely Beautiful. Yay me!

1 - Treat yourself to this lovely book trailer -

2 - Now, about that Haunted London Blog Tour. With 14 stops, Leanna linked her tour with posts about real London haunted spaces. Included are the totally freaky Black Dog of the infamous Newgate Prison; Jack the Ripper victim Annie Chapman's haunting of a brewery boardroom which now stands on the site of her murder; and playwright Oliver Goldsmith's pesky disembodied head hauntings.

I was completely impressed with Leanna's blog tour. Carrying the theme along from blog to blog kept me coming back for more.

3 - Leanna is a co-founder of Lady Jane's Salon, "Manhattan’s first reading series devoted to romance fiction. Join them on the first Monday of every month at Madame X in Manhattan to hear your favorite authors read from their latest works."

4 - Before publishing her first novel, Leanna wrote one-act plays and a fantasy novella, Dark Nest. She's also a stage and television actress.

5 - The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker is a Leisure Historical Fantasy, an imprint of Dorchester Publishing's Romance category.

I've also seen it described as a Gothic Victorian paranormal, and a YA novel. All of the above categories would fit this unique story.

6 - We meet albino-pale Percy Parker as she enters the Athens Academy at the advanced age of eighteen. A convent-educated orphan, Percy is especially sensitive to the stares of others when they encounter her. She has the looks of a ghost made flesh, with an ability to see and hear the actual ghosts that stream to and fro unnoticed by most other Londoners.

7 - Professor Alexi Rychman is a dark, melancholic leader of a group of gifted men and women known as The Guard. They stand between the living and the dead, ensuring Darkness doesn't engulf the world. It's Alexi's longing-filled lot in life to await a lover fated to be the woman foretold by a vision, when The Guard were first assembled as children. Not only must he be absolutely certain she's the one - if The Guard guesses wrong, the universe as they know it will be forever breached by Darkness.

8 - Although marketed as a Leisure Romance, the love story goes at its own pace and remains highly Victorian in tone. The romance plays out on an almost purely emotional level. Definitely suited to a YA reader.

9 - Besides the developing relationship between the professor and Percy, the other five who make up The Guard are featured prominently, as well as various ghostly characters and otherwordly beings. This is a world well-populated and teeming with Gothic atmosphere.

10 - Leanna really knows how to end each chapter with a hook. Like this, for example:

"Alexi, exhausted, took one final moment to contemplate an alternate history where he might have become a renowned scientist instead of an academic who chased ghosts. But The Grand Work had its own agenda, and his mortal desires were in no way considered. Prophecy suggested, of course, that someday his empty heart would be warmed and refreshed, but until he could be sure, until she came forward and his divine goddess could again speak to him, everything, including Alexi, was holding its breath - and choking on it. A little girl on Fleet Street might be safe for the moment, but the rest of London was not.

Still...she was coming, wasn't she? She'd best show herself before the last of his hope died and he didn't recognize her at all."

11 - There are many instances of visions and dreams in this story. Leanna has a gift for turning these moments into cinematic flashes that are just as haunting for the reader as for Percy. Here's a taste:

"A wind swept the room, scattering papers and whipping his black hair across his forehead. Halos of fire surrounded Alexi's outstretched hands, crackling to be released.

The abomination leaned back on pulsing haunches and tilted a vague head, knowing that it had been commanded. Fire burst from Alexi's fingertips, and it yelped and retreated. Then, in a burst of frantic barking, the form shifted into a hundred doglike forms that disappeared like roaches from light, snorting as they vanished through the walls. Only barking lingered in the air."

12 - As an actress and playwright, Leanna truly has an ear for wonderful dialogue. The mannered banter of her Victorian setting is ever so exquisite, and most certainly is never modernized with out-of-place turns of phrase. Standing ovation from me, Leanna!

13 - I leave you with an excerpt. Enjoy!

"Miss Parker's elegant dress and elaborate coif were stunning. Her fine features had been painted with the softest rose blush, and her pale eyes flashed like diamonds. She was by far the most captivating thing ever seen at this silly event. He noted her talking to various young ladies who drifted past, strained into saying something polite. She was gracious and returned their trivial, polite conversation, but when she occasionally glanced away, he read her struggle and isolation. She alone, he was sure, understood why he dreaded this event every year. Such recognition was profound.

An enraptured young couple twirled past. As they did, they waved. Percy returned the gesture happily, then watched them twirl away, her warm smile fading. Something seized up deep inside Alexi. Perhaps she felt the weight of his stare, for she looked up. Eyes like snowcaps finally met his, and the rest of the world was muted.

'There you are - my favorite gargoyle!' came a taunting voice.

Alexi turned and saw Elijah Withersby leading a woman through one of the arched entrances and into the ballroom. Miss Linden. Having only seen her briefly, in the moonlight, Alexi was unprepared for what a well-lit room would do for her beauty. It was unparalleled.

'Here's the man of the hour at last.' Elijah removed the woman's hand from his arm and offered it to Alexi. 'Professor Rychman, here again is our dear Miss Lucille Linden.'

Alexi kissed the woman's gloved hand with solemn courtesy. 'A pleasure to see you, Miss Linden. I am sorry it has taken so long for our paths to again cross.'

'The pleasure is entirely mine, Professor Rychman. Lord Withersby has been kind, as has Miss Belledoux. I am forever in your debt. It is difficult to be a stranger in such a large place, and to feel safe when the world is coming apart at the seams...'

She possessed a magnetic intensity Alexi had never encountered. But then, just over the woman's perfect, bare shoulder, Alexi regarded the opal eyes of Miss Parker looking on in stricken sorrow. Her pale, heather-framed face quickly rallied into a hollow smile, and she tried to pretend she hadn't been staring. But eyes like hers could truly hide nothing; and when the music slowed, the couples parted and still no one came to speak with her, Percy rose from her chair and fled the room.

'Professor Rychman?' called a musical voice, jarring him from his reverie. 'Are you all right?'

Alexi faced Miss Linden. 'My apologies. Something caught my eye.'

'Ah, we interrupt his chaperoning, Miss Linden,' Elijah taunted.

Alexi looked sharply at his friend, but Miss Linden smiled and he felt her smooth gloved hand graze his. 'I admire gravity in a man.'

'If you wouldn't mind, Miss Linden...I am terribly sorry. It was a true pleasure to see you, but I must beg your leave. I believe someone requires my assistance. A student,' he added, staring at Withersby."

- Leanna Renee Hieber, 2009

Join me next week when I review the second book from my Dewey Reading Challenge - Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks.

Shelley Munro says I think Dorchester has some great books - really original.

Hootin' Anni says Great book, it sounds like, it's awesome that you rec'd an autographed copy!!!! And the White Chapel District is one place I'd love to visit!!!

Brenda ND says You're bad for my budget, but I can't stop visiting because I'm addicted to good reads.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - 117

Travis says I was entertained by the films I saw him in.

Thomma Lyn Grindstaff says RIP, Patrick Swayze. He was a fine man, a good actor, and an inspiration to so many.

Brooke says It's a shame that he had to leave this world so young yet, at least he isn't in pain anymore...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Poetry Train Monday - 118 - A Map to Anywhere

For my found poem today, I've taken an exercise from Now Write!- edited by Sherry Ellis - and fashioned it into a poem.

A Map to Anywhere

Why are you writing this story?

There comes a point
In the life of many narratives
It helps
To think about this question

You are writing

Not that
There should
Necessarily be
Direct correlation
Between invention
And autobiography, but
Any fiction writer needs to
The stuff of his own
Real-life predicaments
In order to write
Work that's strange
And alive

Why write?

I suggest the following
For stories or novels
That strike
You as competent
But tidy
Or inert

Are you this story?

At the very least
You'll have
A clearer sense
Of why the tale matters
To you, so
You'll be able to
Crack it open
On an
Emotional level

...why you..?

You'll also come to a
Stronger understanding
The power of setting
Individual perception
The interrelationship between
The two

...why this..?

Take a piece of paper

Use the whole sheet

Draw the map
A meaningful landscape
A neighborhood
A park
An empty lot
From your childhood

This story - why you are writing

Take twenty minutes
Fill in as many specific
Details as
You can

Story writing

Mark the location
Three significant incidents
On the map

You write

Imagine yourself into
One of those incidents
Write a list
Sensory details
You associate with
The experience

This is why

Using the most
Evocative details
On your list
The incident
As a two-page scene

Why you write

Finally, write
Another version
Of the scene
Reimagine the experience
From the point of view
Of your central character

Why you are writing this story

- Paul Lisicky, 2006

Photo by Charles E. Doucet

For more poetry, Ride the Poetry Train!

Mary the Teach says I like it! :)

Akelamalu says Nice poem Julia. :)

Vita Stunder says Great poem Julia!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Summer Stock Sunday - 16

For today's final post for 2009's Summer Stock Sunday, I'd like to share my favorite domestic art. I'm not much of a domestic goddess. There's almost nothing that has to do with housework that I remotely enjoy.

Except when it comes to putting my clothes on the line.

I adore everything about it. I love spending the time outside on the deck, enjoying the yard while I hang up the clothes. I actually get a warm feeling of joy when I go through the day and catch sight of the clothes blowing in the wind. And then comes the best part. Taking the clothes in and smelling that irreplacable fresh-air smell baked into the clothes by the sun and the wind.

Let's put a load of clothes out while the weather is still gorgeous.

For more Summer Stock Sunday, visit Robin at Around The Island.

Dorothy says I love hanging clothes on the line and wish I could do that still. Apartment life kind of squelches that.

Joyce says My Aunt Mary use to say "so and so makes a beautiful laundry on her line".

Mama Pajama says Thanks for sharing your Summer with me, and I hope to see you around!