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My Bookshelf: Woolf, Hawthorne, King, Rowling, and Immortal Poems

A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf

I’ve started a new Instagram project for the books I own. I’m taking a photo a day of my books, hoping to both inventory them and inspire others to pick up a book that they may never have considered reading.

I own a lot of books, and this becomes painfully apparent every time I move. I lived in one house for thirteen years, and in the past three years, I’ve moved three times. The first move was cross country. The second move was two hours away, and the last one was across town. My books have taken up the majority of the boxes involved in those moves. Some girls hoard shoes and clothes, but I simply love my books.

I confess that I haven’t read all of the books I own. I own duplicates of certain titles because I have either fooled myself into thinking that I don’t own the title, or I just fell in the love with the cover of the book. It really is an affliction, but considering the variety of issues I could have, I’m content to be the woman with a constant back pain due to the moving of her book collection.

I started my project with A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf. This is my college copy. It is highlighted, underlined, and well-loved. Every time I look at this book, I’m reminded of Woolf’s suicide and the great literary loss the world suffered with her passing.

I stumbled across this reading of her suicide note, and I’m haunted by the imagery and sense of desperation her words evoke. I know some people feel her letter should not be available for public consumption, but I disagree. The last words penned by this great author deserve to be remembered. This rare glimpse into the true composition of a writer is breathtakingly beautiful and harrowing.

from A Room of One’s Own:

All I could do was to offer you an opinion upon one minor point–a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction; and that, as you will see, leaves the great problem of the true nature of woman and the true nature of fiction unsolved.”

I love Nathaniel Hawthorne. I have three stand-alone copies of The House of Seven Gables, and two are the same paperback edition. I’m sure I have other copies of his work in my anthologies.

“Half-way down a by-street of one of our New England towns, stands a rusty wooden house, with seven acutely-peaked gables, facing towards various points of the compass, and a huge, clustered chimney in the midst.”

I love this paperback edition of Carrie by Stephen King. I haven’t watched the movie since I was a small child, but I’m adding it to my Halloween cue this year. Whenever I think of Carrie, I think of Sissy Spacek’s portrayal of the character. She did a wonderful job bringing this tortured soul to the screen.

“Then the laughter, disgusted, contemptuous, horrified, seemed to rise and bloom into something jagged and ugly, and the girls were bombarding her with tampons and sanitary napkins, some from purses, some from the broken dispenser on the wall. They flew like snow and the chant became: ‘Plug it up, plug it up, plug it up, plug it—‘”

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling was a featured book at my local library. At the time that I read it, there wasn’t much buzz in the United States about the series, and I felt as though I’d found a great little gem of a book. I told my husband that I really liked the book, and he read it and liked it, too.

Our local Borders bookstore (how can they be gone?) held parties for those who had pre-ordered the new titles in the series. It was great fun to stand in line with other readers who had fallen in love with Harry Potter. That excitement started with this book.

“‘Hagrid,’ he said quietly, ‘I think you must have made a mistake. I don’t think I can be a wizard.'”

Immortal Poems of the English Language: 447 British and American Masterpieces by 150 Poets an anthology edited by Oscar Williams.

This little beauty of a book was published in 1960 and was available for purchase at sixty cents! There are so many beautiful poems in this book. Below is one of my favorites.

“How Do I Love Thee?” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight.

For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level of everyday’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;

I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints–I love with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life!–and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

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My Visit to the 2014 South Carolina Book Festival in Columbia, South Carolina

Jeannie with Pat Conroy Signature

The third weekend in May, I attended The South Carolina Book Festival in Columbia, South Carolina. Held at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center,  the festival is a free program of The Humanities Council of South Carolina. The event was blessed with great weather. This was my first visit to Columbia, and the drive down from Charlotte was warm and beautiful.

Columbia, South Carolina, Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center

Sadly, I didn’t make it to the Opening Keynote Address by Christopher Buckley, and I wasn’t able to attend both days of the festival, but my Saturday schedule was packed.

[typography font=”Covered By Your Grace” size=”24″ size_format=”px”] The Old Writer: Working on the Ending[/typography]

Rob Neufeld and Gail Godwin at the South Carolina Book Festival

The first program I attended was with authors Gail Godwin and Rob Neufeld. I haven’t read either of their works, but once they said they were from Asheville, North Carolina, I felt right at home. I have an innate ability to be drawn to anyone or anything that speaks of Asheville.

Gail Godwin and Rob Neufeld at the South Carolina Book Festival

I loved hearing Ms. Godwin speak and read from her work. Further, any writer who takes a photo with her cats rolling around and commanding attention from the camera is someone I’d want to know. I anticipate I’ll learn more about Ms. Godwin, as I have her Making of a Writer: Journals 1961-1963 in my summer reading cue.

Hear Ms. Godwin in her own words in an interview on The Book Show with  Joe Donahue.

Gail Godwin photo by Jerry Bauer
Gail Godwin photo by Jerry Bauer

 

Rob Neufeld is a writer and editor. He edited both volumes of Ms. Godwin’s The Making of a a Writer: The Journals of Gail Godwin. He provided insight into the works of Ms. Godwin, explaining that her journals were never written to be published, that they were indeed true journals filled with private thoughts, dreams, and personal interactions throughout her life. He revealed that Ms. Godwin is dedicated to writing in her journal; she fills 800 pages a year.

As I entered the room for the next program, I overheard two teenage boys talking about Ms. Godwin. They enjoyed listening to her, but once she was introduced as having studied with Kurt Vonnegut, they had hoped she would elaborate on the time spent with Vonnegut. I silently nodded in agreement. I would have loved to hear a few of those stories myself.

[typography font=”Covered By Your Grace” size=”24″ size_format=”px”]”Women of Action: Strong Female Characters” [/typography]

Women of Action Strong Female Characters Panel
Authors: Nina de Gramont, Jeremy Whitley, Suzanne Kamata

 

The trio on the next panel spoke about the need for fictional female characters to possess both strength and intelligence. Each author spoke about how they tackled the idea in their own books.

 Nina de Gramont referenced her book, Every Little Thing in the World, and said that intelligent female characters are also flawed and may make poor choices for themselves or others.

Jeremy Whitley, author of the Princeless comic series, created a self-empowered princess  who’s tired of waiting to be rescued by others. As a father, Mr. Whitley wants his daughter to be inspired by the characters that she reads about, and for him, that means creating a strong female character that isn’t waiting for a prince to arrive and set her world straight.

Suzanne Kamata, author of Gadget Girl: The Art of Being Invisible, spoke of the way in which a female character can possess strength while having her vulnerabilities and weaknesses displayed to the reader. Ms. Kamata’s own daughter, who has cerebral palsy and is deaf, was the inspiration for Gadget Girl. The female protagonist, Aiko Cassidy, also has cerebral palsy, and through her story, Ms. Kamata presents the honest journey of a character who is liberated by her art.

The audience for this panel was very interesting, as the ages of the audience members ranged from teenagers to seniors. One senior lady spoke up and said that she loved to read about strong female characters because in her day, “girls weren’t allowed to even sweat.”

[typography font=”Covered By Your Grace” size=”24″ size_format=”px”]A Conroy Family Roundtable[/typography]

I was fortunate to grab a seat in the crowded room that housed the roundtable discussion with Pat Conroy and his siblings. Moderator Aida Rogers asked the family questions about their youth, their parents, and of course, what is like to have Pat Conroy as a brother.  I felt as though I were sitting with old friends, as Jim, Mike, Pat, Tim, and sister Kathy Harvey entertained the crowd with their stories. I didn’t know what to expect when I saw the program on the schedule, but I loved it.

It is a rare event where fans get to experience a beloved author in such an unguarded and familial setting. The intimacy of the hour felt surreal, and I’m certain I’ll never experience such an event like this at any future festival.  Watching the five of them reminisce over their shared past and joke with one another as their authentic personalities bloomed before us was a moment I’ll always treasure.

Columbia, South Carolina, Convention Center

Pat Conroy and family are loved by the audience at the South Carolina Book Festival
At the end of the program, fans lined up to hug and shake hands with the members of the Conroy family.

 

After the program, the family was available to sign Mr. Conroy’s books. I didn’t initially get in line, as it was quite long, and I had a long drive ahead of me. I paused before leaving the building and returned to find the line had shortened and reprimanded myself for thinking I should leave without meeting Mr. Conroy. I shook off my shyness and got in line to have my well-loved copy of The Prince of Tides signed.

It was a great honor to meet and shake hands with Pat Conroy. He and his brothers and sister Kathy were so personable and friendly, and they can’t help but make everyone they encounter feel like an instant friend. I’ve met a number of celebrities, and I’m never impressed by pretentious personalities. The genuineness of the family was endearing, and it only served to solidify my admiration for Mr. Conroy.

Jeannie with Pat Conroy Signature

I will confess that I didn’t participate in my usual routine of cleaning my hands with antibacterial hand soap. I came home and rubbed my “Pat Conroy hand” all over my computer, pens, notebooks, and cat. Yes, even the cat. I’m hoping I absorbed a tiny inkling of Mr. Conroy’s greatness. Don’t judge me; writers must do whatever is necessary to help keep the inspiration train returning to the station, and if believing in the power of a few mixed skin cells achieves that goal, I’m all for it.

Listen to Mr. Conroy speak about his book The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and His Son, and his decision to no longer hide behind fiction to tell his family’s stories.

The book festival was great fun. I loved the people I met, especially the fellow readers and festival attendees. Seriously, everyone was greeted with a smile and a warm hello. The volunteers did an excellent job, and I look forward to future festivals.

The convention center is beautiful and easily accessible. Every meeting room was marked for easy navigation. The snack bar was a hit, and I was happy to see they offered a few vegan items, too!

Maybe I’ll see you next year at the Nineteenth Annual South Carolina Book Festival! Mark your calendars for May 15-17, 2015!

Check out the commercial for the 2014 South Carolina Book Festival.

Facts about Columbia, South Carolina:

Columbia, known by its inhabitants as The City of Dreams, is the state capital and largest city in the State of South Carolina. The population was 129,272 according to the 2010 census. The 2013 United States Census estimates put the city at 133,358. Source: Wikipedia

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Book Review: Afro-Vegan Cookbook by Bryant Terry

Afro-Vegan Cookbook by Bryant Terry

I’m pleased to present the review of and my cooking adventures with The Afro-Vegan cookbook by Bryant Terry. As a cookbook collector, I think the cookbook is beautiful. The plant-based recipes are southern with African and Caribbean influences.

In the words of the author:

Imagine if you removed the animal products from African, Caribbean, Southern, and other Afro-influenced cuisines, then meticulously cut, pasted, and remixed the food to produce recipes with farm-fresh ingredients as their heart and soul: that is Afro-Vegan.

As a fun element, each recipe has a musical soundtrack suggestion, and there are film and book suggestions on some recipes.

Afro-Vegan Cookbook by Bryant Terry

I know that many people shy away from a book like this because they fear the recipes will be too far outside of their comfort zone, or the recipes will require expensive ingredients that are hard to find. The ingredients used in the recipes won’t require a trek to a specialty store. This is very important to a lot of people, especially those who are new to cooking, and those who are intimidated by cooking recipes that seem foreign or confusing. I have a number of super fancy ingredient cookbooks, and while I love to look through them (because I do look through my cookbooks, even when I have no intention of making anything from them), the convoluted recipe list doesn’t inspire me to get in the kitchen. The recipes, photos, and ingredient lists in Afro-Vegan make me want to throw on my apron and get to work.

You need a bit of an adventurous palate for these recipes. The foundation of the recipes are based on solid pantry staples, but the manner in which Terry combines spices and introduces other ingredients into a dish may have you raising an eyebrow. Don’t fret. I made five of the recipes, and I enjoyed each of them.

The book isn’t heavy on images. A photo doesn’t accompany every recipe. I know some people like the idea of seeing every recipe photographed, but the images that are included are beautiful.

Smashed Potatoes made by Jeannie Bushnell

Potatoes are one of my favorite foods, and the smashed potatoes with peas, corn, and chile-garlic oil recipe is easy to prepare, and it will undoubtedly become a favorite menu item for your family. Don’t be afraid of the chile-garlic oil. If you don’t want it too spicy, cut back on the chile pepper. Remember, the mixture will have a great deal more spice when it is made fresh and will mellow out after it has been in the fridge overnight. Try it and see how you like it.

 

All Green Spring Slaw made by Jeannie Bushnell

The All-Green Spring Slaw is a great side for the smashed potatoes, because it calms the heat of the chile-garlic oil. This fresh and light dish can be paired with just about anything. The dressing has a foundation of silken tofu that can easily be whipped up and added to another favorite salad. I’m normally not a fan of slaw, but this green cabbage recipe features additions like peas, sugar snap peas, celery, and raw pumpkin seeds.

 

Glazed Carrot Salad made by Jeannie Bushnell

You may think you know glazed carrots, but I bet you’ve never had them quite like this. I make a sweet glazed carrot dish around the holidays every year (I am from Texas!), but this savory dish is a delightful twist on that menu favorite. This recipe will surely surprise your guests and palette, as the cinnamon, garlic, cumin seeds, cilantro, and peanuts propel this dish to another level. The roasted cumin seeds add a spice that is mellow and delicious.  This would be a great item to bring to a potluck or summer barbeque.

 

Collard Greens and Cabbage with Lots of Garlic made by Jeannie M. Bushnell

Collard greens have been a staple of my diet my entire life. Collard greens are easy to make and have many health benefits. This recipe calls for thinly sliced collard greens, and as someone that usually just roughly chops or tears the greens, this was new for me. The thin cuts combined with cabbage lightens the flavor of the greens and prevents the greens from turning into the large mush pile that so many people cite as a reason that they refrain from the vegetable. I was pleased to find bagged collard greens that were thinly sliced. If you are short on time, finding them sliced will help reduce preparation time.

I would never have thought to throw cabbage in with my greens, but I really enjoyed the extra texture and flavors. I love garlic, and this recipe calls for seven cloves! Again, if that is too much garlic for you, adjust the amount to fit your tastes.

 

Coconut Rice Pudding made by Jeannie M. Bushnell

Of all the recipes that I tried, this one took the most preparation. It requires  prior planning, as the raw cashews and basmati rice need to be soaked overnight, and the dessert needs to chill. The nectarines and peach puree add sweetness to the cashew cream and rice. Smooth and delicious, this pudding is already a favorite in our house.

Put the pudding in these little 4 oz. canning jars, and you’ve created a portable snack that is ready when you want it. You can toss them in your lunch sack or make them in advance for a weekend outing. They make a great snack any time of the week.

[typography font=”Just Me Again Down Here” size=”24″ size_format=”px”]The Last Bite:[/typography]

Seasoned cooks and newbies alike will benefit from this cookbook. Based on many well-known recipes, the mundane recipes you may have grown accustomed to are taken to new heights of flavor. The techniques used in the book are unlikely to confuse or overwhelm a new cook. Additionally, this book would make a great gift for anyone who is attempting to incorporate more plant-based recipes into their diet.

Interested in trying one of his recipes? Check out this recipe for Muscovado-Roasted Plantains.

Find Afro-Vegan in an independent bookstore near you!

You can follow Mr. Terry on FB and Twitter, too.

Disclaimer: I received this free book from Blogging for Books for this review. I’ve provided my honest opinion and experience with the book.

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Manual Exposure Published and Available for Purchase

Manual Exposure Book Boyfriend announcement

I hit the publish button for Manual Exposure on January 5, 2014, and with tears in my eyes, a dream became a reality. Manual Exposure has been published and is available for purchase.

Manual Exposure is available at Amazon. You can also find it at Barnes and Noble! The paperback version will soon be out!

Thanks to Authorgraph, you can “Request an Authorgraph” and include a message to me requesting a personalized inscription that you can view in your favorite reading apps and devices. How cool is that?

Feel free to swing by my author page at Amazon, too. You can add Manual Exposure to your “TBR” (to be read) list on Goodreads, and become my fan or friend. Check out my author profile on Goodreads. Don’t forget to leave a review!

I hope you enjoy it and will share it with everyone you love.

Manual Exposure Book Boyfriend announcement

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Biting Into the New Adult Romance Genre: Manual Exposure

book cover for New Adult Romance Manual Exposure Jeannie M. Bushnell

The first chapter of my manuscript, “Manual Exposure,” is available (free of charge) for you to read at Harlequin’s annual “So You Think You Can Write” writing contest, on the Wattpad site. The contest is open to writers wishing to publish in the “New Adult” Romance genre. The new genre is about the time in our lives when we are, simply, new adults (ages 18 -25).

book cover for New Adult Romance Manual Exposure Jeannie M. Bushnell
I created this book cover! I captured the mountains in the fall of 2011.

 

 

You must be logged in to a Wattpad account in order to vote! I appreciate your support!

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Spring Into A Good Book

book by W. Houghton

 

Forgive me. Yes, I should love spring. Spring has its benefits–my yard chipmunks begin to frolic and play, the robins return to their favorite feeders, and the winter that continually covered the ground in ice has been defeated. Yes, there are positive aspects.

Then, there are those spring rituals and problems that I’d rather do without. The grass needs mowing, trees and shrubs call for pruning, an old house has drainage and flooding issues, and my sinus cavities are invaded and react violently to the blooming bounty of spring.

I’d rather stay inside and read a bit.

Like most book lovers, I find it difficult to say no to any homeless book. I have multiple copies of my favorites and just can’t seem to stop purchasing anthologies of literature. I hated lugging those things all over campus and yet am compelled to fill my bookshelves with them now.

While I still find the actual smell and weight of a book comforting, I do enjoy reading books online. Here are a few of my favorite places to turn to when in need of a good book (distraction).

Project Gutenberg: So old school it’s new again. Over 27,000 entries to tempt you.

LibriVox: While most audiobooks seem to relax me and lull me to sleep, I do enjoy them. Free audiobooks and you can volunteer to record chapters. I vow to volunteer at some point during the year. I will, I really will.

Bibliomania: Should your online reading hit a wall and you find yourself struggling, these guides can help you.

World eBook Fair: July 4th – August 4th, 2009 – You’ll have 1.5 million eBooks at your disposal. Pace yourself, you only get a month of free access. Annual membership is $8.95.

Any links you would like to share?

Illustration:

Country Walks of a Naturalist with His Children by W. Houghton @ Project Gutenberg