Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Now that I’m back in the US after 4 years abroad in Europe, I’ve noticed thousands of photos I’ve haven’t gone through from my travels there. So, each third week of the month, I’ll be posting favorite photos from the travel archives…
I’ve posted previously on Italy’s Lost City of Pompeii and separately on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, but often the two aren’t connected though they’re merely a handful of miles apart. Here, find photos from both, one of my favorite regions in Europe: Italy’s Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast, south of Rome.
The Amalfi Coast is a gem with dazzling turquoise waters and steep, sheer cliffs that drop breathlessly into the Mediterranean.
“Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.” -John Steinbeck, Harper’s Bazaar, 1953Read More»
For those of you who know me and follow my blog, this post is for writing and for the novel I’ve been working on for the past year … it takes a long time and lots of feedback and writer friend help to get a novel to its best. This is another step in the journey made of hard work and long hours of doing what I love most. Thanks, as always, for your support!
Author: Jennifer King
Title: The Golden Willow
Genre: Upmarket fiction
First 250 words for It’s All in the Voice blog hop, May 16-17, by Heather Webb:Read More»
“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero (Ancient Roman Lawyer, Writer 106 BC-43 BC)
For the past few months, my family and I have been in the process of moving across the world from Prague back to our native Ohio, USA. As I’m finding out, it takes a long time to move across the sea.
While we’ve been waiting on our beds and other essentials to arrive with the shipment from Prague, life has gone on. My boys are getting taller and growing. We’ve been making friends and enjoying the American way of living again. And now, eight weeks later, our essentials have arrived.Read More»
Big News! Today, May 7, a great new novel is for sale in bookstores: CALL ME ZELDA by Erika Robuck. It’s about Zelda Fitzgerald, the wife of famous American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald (of The Great Gatsby), and about friendships and how they can help us heal.
CALL ME ZELDA is a very special book to me because Erika is my writing critique partner. Her friendship has been one of my life’s greatest gifts.
CALL ME ZELDA is published by Penguin / NAL and has been featured in some really great places:
I have an autographed copy of Call Me Zelda to give away to one lucky commenter at the end of this post (details below)!
What is it about? The story’s focus is on the friendship between Zelda Fitzgerald and a nurse named Anna, and it brings us into the years after the Fitzgerald party, after the Great Gatsby-like craziness. Scott notoriously used Zelda as his writing muse; Zelda famously fell into ruin, and after that, found her way into Phipps Psychiatric Hospital. From there, CALL ME ZELDA begins. Through the lens of friendship, we watch each woman grow and heal in different ways, and strengthen each other over the course of the novel.
I particularly like the way Erika has portrayed Zelda, as sympathetic despite her illness and her famous antics. I also love the tenderness with which she writes about the Fitzgeralds together.
It is a must-read novel, on the ways we fail each other and yet can redeem those losses and support each other as well. CALL ME ZELDA helps shine light and meaning into brokenness, and opens up a new dimension to the Fitzgeralds and their place in history. I believe in its theme, that through friendships, we can become a better version of ourselves.
Personal Rave: Erika is amazing. She is married and has three children (same as me, all boys), and has a passion for historical fiction. She is witty and sharp and compassionate. She has an incredible laugh. Erika is one of those friends I will always count as one of my life’s greatest blessings. Erika’s first novel with Penguin, Hemingway’s Girl, came out in September, which I blogged about here.
Watch: Erika on a beautiful video about CALL ME ZELDA:
To enter the drawing to win the personalized and autographed copy of Call Me Zelda, leave a comment (any comment) below, from 7 am to midnight Eastern time today, May 7. I will email the winner and announce it in the comments on Wednesday, May 8. And if you miss out on winning the copy here on May 7, we’ll be giving away another copy of Call Me Zelda at Great New Books on Wednesday, May 8. Thanks so much!
“I still get wildly enthusiastic about little things… I play with leaves. I skip down the street and run against the wind.”
― Leo F. Buscaglia
It’s very uncomfortable in my house. There is no furniture. We have walls and carpet and hardwood, and pets, and food, and family, and love. But it’s funny, after 7 weeks without our things, how much we miss a soft chair, a bed, a shelf full of books we’ve read and loved, a table around which to gather at the end of the day. Sure, we can live without our collections of things that make us comfortable, but it’s just not home without them. Living without is an opportunity to appreciate what it is we’ve missed.
So, this week, as I eagerly await the arrival of the sea shipment of things from Prague here to our home in Ohio, I am counting the little things that I love.
10 little things I love:
1) Carpet: (no echo in the house!)
2) Chocolate Chex (gluten-free, I have Celiacs, and they’re so good after years without anything similar)
3) Neighbors (Our new neighbors are amazing. Whether it’s the weekly boys’ game of ghost in the graveyard or being included in the neighborhood girls’ night out, the side-splitting laughter and warm friendships so quickly offered here are out-of-this-world.)Read More»
Flowers… are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1844
After such a dark week last week, I need a colorful fix of beauty and light, one of my favorite kind, of flowers, flowers, flowers.
My hands are in the dirt more often now, as my family and I are settling into our new home. The backyard is a complete blank slate, with not even a tree inside the fence, so I’m busy working on a rose garden. It’ll be some time before the flowers thrive and look beautiful, but I’ve found some of my favorite photographs of flower bouquet photos from my former backyard garden … enjoy!Read More»
The highest result of education is tolerance. -Helen Keller
Books help the world become a better place, I believe.
On a week when the world seems to be falling apart, it’s a necessary statement. I also believe what Helen Keller said is true, that when we read, we become more educated, our hearts become more informed and understanding and open, and we, as readers, are equipped to help make the world a better place. We need books.
Have you read a book recently? Did you think about it while you read, and after you finished?
There are 3 big ways you can help encourage reading for others and spread the word about books you’ve read, whether you liked them or not.
1) Join Goodreads or visit solid book sites for book recommendations. Of course, I love GreatNewBooks (I’m one of the founders), and also have friends who run SheReads and others. Set up a profile and start tracking the books you’ve read, or start joining in the discussions at your favorite book site.
2) Make note of books you want to read by checking Want To Read beside a book on your stack or wish list, or chat with others about books they’ve enjoyed and recommend, either in-person (always the best way to engage about books, right?) or on an organic book recommendation site like Great New Books. Most readers love to hear about books that move other people. Don’t be afraid to share your favorites.
3) Share what you think about the book in a sentence or two, and rate it when you’re finished reading.
What did you think? It’s as easy as, for example: “I really enjoyed this book because of the characters and the page-turning story. I recommend it to readers who enjoyed Rosamunde Pilcher’s THE SHELL SEEKERS.”
Or if you didn’t connect with the story, don’t be afraid to share that either, for example: “I read about halfway through the story and felt turned off by the main character and the stiff dialogue.”
Bonus: If you happen to have an extra 30 seconds, find the book at an online retailer like Amazon and share your thoughts about the book, and rate it, there, too.
Above all, as with all else in life, be kind. A book is difficult to write, even if you don’t think it’s good. Most novels range from 75,000 to 120,000 words and take a year or more of work. For the large majority of writers, their income from writing needs to be supplemented by another job.
Why go to all this trouble?
Because in a world walking ankle-deep through a flood of lackluster books, we need and want to hear about the books that really stand out. Great books help make the world a better place.
So, the next time you finish a book, take a few extra seconds to share at least a rating of what you thought, and even write a sentence or two about it. Because, from what I’ve heard from my author / writer friends, the more ratings they get on their books, good or bad, the more the search engine genies are able to help point others to their books as a match of a book that might interest them.
What do you do when you read a great book? What book sites do you frequent, and how do you hear about the books you love the most? I’d love to hear your thoughts here. I’ll look forward to seeing you around at Goodreads and GreatNewBooks (my profiles linked at each). Thank you!
“Some say fate is beyond our command, but I know better. Our destiny is within us. You just have to be brave enough to see it.”
- Merida, from the recent (excellent) animated movie, Brave
Sometimes life calls us to do big things. Most of the time, all we want to do, naturally, is curl up and be comfortable, to settle and do the norm.
I know recently I’ve felt that way, and many times in the past. I’d love to pull up a comfy chair, sink back into the cushions with a cup of great coffee and a book, and stay there, for a long time.
But that won’t work for me, especially right now. My family and I are in the midst of moving back to the US from a four-year assignment abroad in Czech Republic for my husband’s job. Physically, I wouldn’t be able to pull up a chair to sit in because our furniture is in transit in a container on a ship plowing across the Atlantic right now. We’re becoming experts at reading, sleeping, and eating on the floor. Ask any intercontinental expat and they’ll tell you a similar story. It’s how it works … the adjustment to a foreign country, and then back again, takes months. Things are going well, smoothly at times, even, but the whole experience is tough and terrifying.Read More»
Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than any magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration. -Charles Dickens
Countless acquaintances and many friends have asked how the past month has been, and how my family is handling the huge changes we’re facing moving from Europe back to Ohio in the United States. We lived in Prague, Czech Republic, for nearly four years for my husband’s job. During that time, we grew in so many ways as individuals and as a family. We traveled extensively by car (25 countries), we saw as much and absorbed as much and enjoyed as much as we possibly could. It was a unique phase of life, one of opportunity for which we all are grateful. But now that we are back in the States, I find myself thinking on matters of the heart. I thought I’d share about the transition here …Read More»
Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone. ~G.B. Stern
“To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.” -Johannes A. Gaertner (1912-1996) Art History Professor, Theologian, Poet
“In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.” -Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) Philosopher, Mathematician
appreciation [əˌpriːʃɪˈeɪʃən -sɪ-] noun
1. thanks or gratitude
2. assessment of the true worth or value of persons or things
Not long ago, a wise friend wrote a spontaneous comment to me about the expat experience. She, too, had been an American who had lived for an extended period of time outside the United States. And she, too, had moved back to the United States recently with her family. I have thought about and repeated what she said many times over the past few weeks, as I and my family transition from our almost 4 years of living abroad in the Czech Republic. What she said was this:
“The best thing about being an expat is the appreciation you have for everything when you return.”
I might only be able to add, with emphasis and bold letters, to the word EVERYTHING. Because that’s what it really is: I appreciate EVERYTHING.Read More»