Thursday, July 11, 2024

Summer Festivals in Alaska by Lynn Lovegreen

 Note: This first appeared in Lynn Lovegreen's blog, www.lynnlovegreen.com


Summer is a special time in Alaska. Not only is it a great time to enjoy the outdoors, it's also a season when Alaskans gather in their communities. Here are a few examples of festivals in the summer. I can't list them all in one blog post, but I'll try to give you a good cross-section of events.



Summer Solstice is a highlight of the year. I've written about it before (https://www.lynnlovegreen.com/post/summer-solstice) but I have to mention here that towns from Anchorage to Fairbanks to Seldovia to Moose Pass all have Solstice festivals. The Seldovia Summer Solstice Music Festival just sent me a link: https://www.seldoviaartscouncil.org/festival

 


Pride Month is celebrated in Alaska as well. Anchorage hosts a Pride Bar Crawl, the Rainbow Run, Pride Parade, and Pride Festival. There's also Underground Pride at the Palmer State Fairgrounds, and Fairbanks hosts the Pride Hike, Pride Prom, and Pridefest, to name a few.



Other June festivals include Juneau's Celebration, Sitka Music Festival, the 3 Barons Renaissance Fair in Anchorage, the Last Frontier Theatre Conference in Valdez, and Juneteenth in Anchorage and Fairbanks. 



I'll talk about July 4th in another blog post. Other July festivals are the Homer Peony Celebration, Girdwood's Forest Fair, the Eagle River Bear Paw Festival, Fairbanks' Golden Days, the Gold Rush days in Valdez and Wrangell's Bearfest. (The photo below is of downtown Wrangell.)




Victorian building with cupola, other buildings, landscaping with hydrangea blooms



August includes Salmonfest in Ninilchik, Ketchikan's Blueberry Arts Festival, Ester Fest near Fairbanks, and Anchorage's Galway Days and Alaska Greek Festival. 



If you're traveling to Alaska in the summer, look up the towns you'll be visiting and see if you can drop in on a local festival. It's the best way to meet the locals and see what we do for fun. 


Lynn Lovegreen is a longtime Alaskan. After twenty years in the classroom, she retired to make more time for writing. She enjoys her friends and family, reading, and volunteering for her local library. Her young adult historical fiction is set in Alaska, a great place for drama, romance, and independent characters. See her website at www.lynnlovegreen.com

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

A tale of two writers, one a professional, the other not so much

 

Welcome back to the summer edition of Romancing the Genres. The 2024 Romance Slam Jam conference begins on July 11, and I hope to share this anecdote during this three day on line writer's conference. This summer I decided to relax and look back at old joys of my youth, while at the same time working to give something back for the future. 

There are the two parts to today's post. By the end, I hope you will see how they connect and not think I am just throwing out content to fill a post. 

Part 1: The past is hard to relive


This summer, I decided to take the proverbial stroll down memory lane and set out to re-read a number of my childhood favorites. Many of them are officially out of print (yes, I am THAT old.) One of those was a book I felt was my teenaged girl-power anthem. It was published in the 1960s and was there on the shelf of my high school library, waiting for me when I needed it. At a time when almost every book on those shelves featured a male hero/main character, this book, Podkayne of Mars was narrated by a sixteen year old heroine who radiated girl power. She was smart, sassy, dealing with dual-career parents wha had little time for their childreen, and a genius level younger brother well on his way to becoming a Despicable Me style sociopath. Plus, she was born on Mars in the future. As a science fiction lover since my elementary school days, I loved every word of her first person story.

I grabbed an electronic copy, happy to see that you really could find almost anything on the internet, including books that had been out of print for decades.  I settled down to enjoy an old friend all over again. 

Then I reached the final chapter and found myself facing a stranger.  Someone had messed with my story.  I found other editions, each containing the same unfamiliar and unsatisfactory ending.  And they all called it the "original" ending.  I found a note written by the origional author stating this was the ending he always wanted, not the ending the first publisher had him use, the ending that infused me with that girl power feeling that helped me get through my tumultuous teenaged years. 

Apparently, the author intended for the book to showcase that nothing good came from mothers overly  concerned with their careers. (Mothers, not fathers) Never mind that the young protagonist's mother was a renowned scientist doing world changing research. He needed that first ending to show that problems arose because she was too busy to notice the things happening to her kids. I don't know who the unknown publisher was who told him to make changes, but I am forever thankful to them. That original ending would have ripped me apart back then. 


Part 2: the future has its own issues

This spring I volunteered to be a mentor to an aspiring author of middle grade fiction. I was looking at people with a completed manuscript who wanted help whipping that manuscript into shape for publication.  I was volunteering my time at no cost to her, to help her revise the story into something more publication ready. I picked someone on the basis of their fabtasy story. I forgot to query about her experience with things like writing groups or critique partners, at facing any type of feedback at all. I assumed the mentee would want help and advice and be professional enough to realize she needed to revise before she was ready to face a publisher. 

We had exactly one meeting. All I had to do was mention that the prologue seemed to be giving information the reader did not for the story, certainly not at the beginning. And that chapter one had a forest and trees situation where things were so wordy readers might have difficulty seeing her story points. She burst into tears, said she could not work with someone who did not share her vision, and severed ties with me.

Tying the parts together

This is my tale of two writers. One, a professional, the other not so much.  One hated being told to revise his ending, but he did so, albeit grudgedly.  As a result, his book changed the life of at least one impressionable young reader.  The other writer refused to even consider making a change, and, at least for now, she remains a novice writing alone. 

I am not a publisher, and this author had every right to decide to ignore my suggestions,  although I felt the tears were a little much. The author of Podkayne of Mars was a multi-published author, at least in part because while he wrote angry letters afterward, he heeded criticism. I truely hope this aspiring author eventually learns to accept feedback. She really did have an interesting science fiction/fantasy story. I hope to see a smoother version of it some day, perhaps in my local library, where her heroine can inspire others. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Summer Fun in the Gulf Coast South by Eleri Grace

 Well, I'm not so sure it's "fun" here in the Gulf Coast South in these still-technically-early days of summer here in Houston -- with Hurricane Beryl expected to make landfall on the Texas coast this week!  

It's far too early to be stocking in the hurricane supplies, doing the annual lamentation of "should I . . . or should I not . . . buy a generator," and wondering if I could find any handyman at any price to put up the hurricane boards from Ike in 2008, assuming they are still usable from that backyard shed that no one has opened in many years. But yet, that is what I'm doing this weekend as I write this blog. 

Beryl isn't expected to be strong enough to warrant the boards, and I probably (hopefully) will not need the generator. I am charging up some power banks, charging my Kindle, and planning to keep my phone and computer plugged in as long as feasible. But this is far too early for a named hurricane to be striking the US, and it's an alarming harbinger of what's to come I fear. 

As I noted in my blog last month, I'm evaluating relocating for retirement to somewhere cooler and less prone to dramatic climate events. I visited Asheville, NC and its surrounding mountain communities. The weather was so incredibly pleasant (though the locals were all complaining about it -- they have NO idea what heat truly feels like). And somehow, I'd much rather deal with regular visitors from the local black bears like this guy (below) than a hurricane! 


So when Beryl makes its way ashore tonight and tomorrow, I can hopefully distract myself by curling up with a good book (the Kindle is fully-charged and loaded). Here's some of what's up next on my Kindle:





I hope you are all having lots more summer fun than I'm having at the moment and are reading lots of great books!


You can learn more about me on my website and my books are available on Amazon







Friday, July 5, 2024

Summer Fun Through the Years

Hi, I’m Judith Ashley, author of The Sacred Women’s Circle series, soul nourishing romantic women’s fiction with light paranormal elements. My stories show you what life could be like if you had a place like The Circle where you are unconditionally accepted, supported and loved. And where, with this support, you make choices to overcome the darkest nights of your life to choose love and light.

We are officially in summer in the Northern Hemisphere and that is the inspiration behind our suggested July post theme, Summer Fun. And if you are in the Southern Hemisphere, perhaps our post will warm you and you’ll come away with ideas for your December Summer Fun.

On top of the idea of Summer Fun, I layer my dislike of heat and humidity. It is a bit more than dislike…I am physically sick and have spent time in an emergency room due to my body’s inability to deal with it. However, despite that, I have had wondrous summers!

As a child, my family spent a week each summer at The Oregon Coast. That started when I was eight years old. It is still one of my favorite places in the world. I have seen lovely beaches in Australia, Croatia, and Slovenia as well as along the Gulf Coast and Atlantic Ocean.

For me, the main attraction of The Oregon Coast is the wave action. Waves crashing on rocks, spray glittering in the sun, the pounding vibration as they collapse touches my soul.

Photo by Wollertz
Easier to find this on DepositPhoto than search through
50 photo albums looking for one I took
Fun for me now is Not climbing the rocks or even hiking miles along the strips of sand searching for agates. Those are yesteryear memories. Today’s fun is looking out at the vastness of the water, searching for signs of whale spouts as I continue, decades and decades later, feeling the power of the waves sink into my bones.

Another Summer Fun activity that lasted for over forty years is attending the William Glasser Institute’s annual conference. The USA’s member of this group has changed its name to The Glasser Institute for Choice Theory – US. I’m missing the International conference this year in Chicago but am already planning on attending the 2025 conference slated to be in Los Angeles, CA.

Because of this organization, I’ve been to areas of the United States I would never have seen as well as several countries.

Outside the USA?

Canada (both Montreal and Vancouver),
Australia’s east coast (Sidney, Carnes, Great Barrier Reef, Butterfly Sanctuary),
Ireland (and had adventures galore outside the conference),
Croatia and Slovenia (during the Balkan War no less as well as after it).

I took my granddaughters with me to the Edinburgh, Scotland conference. We spent time before the conference in London and toured Stonehenge, Glastonbury and Avebury as well as Canterbury, Leeds Castle and Dover.

Stonehenge

Black Swans at Leeds Castle









I found Dover to be a very emotional experience. My Uncle Jim served in the WWII as a bombardier. You know, the guy who sits in the plastic nose of the bomber, exposed to the attacks of the enemy planes in order to better site the dropping of the bombs. What I will say is that he, like so many others, came home changed. He talked to me at one point about that experience. Being there on the beach at Dover, seeing the chalk white cliffs and remembering his words of relief when they came into view on the way home shook me. I’ll never forget seeing what he saw and remembering his words as I did so.

On a brighter note, after the Edinburgh Conference we took a tour to Loch Ness and another one to see The Highlands.

Some of my very best and lifelong friends I met in the early days of my involvement in the work of Dr. Glasser. (I started my formal training in August 1978.). Some good friends I met a few years later. What is special about this organization is that we have a shared framework for seeing the world around us and a process to find answers to issues or problems over which we do have some control.

In this last half of 2024, my focus will continue to be on regaining my health, connecting with family and friends and if all goes as planned (when does it ever), I’ll finish my half-finished non-fiction Yes, You Can Create The Life You Love. It’s based on a seminar I created in the 1980’s, “Love, Worth, Fun, Freedom: How To Get More”.

I know that if that book is finished and Staying Sane in a Crazy World is available in audio book by January 01, 2025, I’ll consider 2024 to have been a resounding success.

You can find my books at your favorite e-book vendor as well as through my website www.JudithAshley.net and Windtree Press. Print books are available at Jan’s Paperbacks in Beaverton, OR and Arte Soleil in Portland, OR. Get the addresses from my website. And be sure to ask your library if you’d prefer to read my books through that resource.

Learn more about Judith's The Sacred Women’s Circle series at JudithAshley.net

Check out Judith’s Windtree Press author page.

You can also find Judith on FB! 

© 2024 Judith Ashley

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

The well is filled ...

A common refrain within the writing community, one of those things we should (I dislike that word) do on a regular basis, is refill the creative well. How one goes about that can be as varied as the people reading this blog post. Everything from a walk in the park, to in-depth research at the public library, to a long journey in foreign climes. 

With just such a goal in mind (along with visiting good friends), I embarked on an adventure from which I’ve recently returned. Three weeks in England! How the time flew! 

view from airplane over English countryside

Week one was spent in London. We rented a tiny flat to save on food costs. Calling it a one-bedroom flat was rather optimistic as the “bedroom” was a loft area reached by a ladder and in which anyone over 3 feet tall couldn’t stand upright. Good thing we’re still fairly nimble! But the location near our favourite bakery and close to a tube station could not be beat. 

We strolled through Covent Garden, bought a few books in various bookstores, road a boat up the Thames to Hampton Court Palace, visited Kew Gardens, explored Highgate Cemetery, and enjoyed a chamber music concert followed by a delicious lunch of authentic steak frites, nom nom nom. 

street view in Covent GardenDouglas Adams' grave in HighgateLenin's grave in Highgate

Kew gardens

We greatly enjoyed a day in Bath – the setting for so many Regency romances, to say nothing of the source of inspiration for Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, and many others. But also, a city steeped in Roman history. 

Roman baths, Bath UK

We spent week two in York, again choosing to rent a flat, this one a studio in a former cocoa factory. Situated on the River Foss and just inside the city walls, we were able to walk to the town centre within 10 minutes. Another area steeped in ancient history all the way back to the age of the Vikings. We strolled atop the wall, explored The Shambles, were entertained at the Jorvik Centre, wandered in awe within the walls of York Minster, and were spooked by a ghost walk. 

York wall gateview from wall around York UK
tableau in Jorvik Centregargoyle inside York Minster

Also treated to a lively display of Morris Dancing.

Morris Dancers

And then the real adventure began as we embarked on our five-day hike along the Herriot Way through the picturesque Yorkshire Dales. Every little town or village quainter than the last, friendly, helpful and interesting people, comfortable B&Bs with delightful (and quirky) hosts, and delicious food. A full-English to begin the day, and a pub at the end. And sheep. Lots and lots of sheep. The walking wasn’t easy, and my feet were sore, but the grassy fields separated by walls or hedgerows, the lazily flowing rivers and streams, the mysterious woodlands, and the abundance of interesting wildlife made the blister on my big toe well worth it. 

sheepwall & barn Herriot Way

stepping stones across river, Herriot Waymystical wood Herriot Way

sunlit hills & dales, Herriot Way


Would I do it again? Heck, yeah!

Was my creative well filled? Overflowing.

Luanna Stewart has been creating adventures for her imaginary friends since childhood. She spends her days writing many flavours of romance. When not torturing her characters, she’s in her kitchen baking something delicious. She lives in Nova Scotia with her patient husband.

Monday, July 1, 2024

Summer Fun! by Paty Jager


Summer has always been my one of my favorite times of year. When I was younger, I was always sad when the school year ended. It meant I wouldn't see my friends until my birthday in June and then again not until I went back to school in September. We lived 12 miles from town. That doesn't seem like a lot now, when I live 40 miles from town, but when I was a kid, only my parents went to town every day to work and my grandmother who lived with us would go to town once a month to get groceries. When she went to get groceries, I could go along and return library books and get more. But we weren't allowed to play with friends. And we couldn't call and just talk to them because we were on a party line. 

But in June, I could call and invite them for a sleepover on my birthday. 

The best part of summer was spending days up in the orchard, playing in the irrigation ditch that watered the trees and the garden vegetables. There was also hiking over the hill and swimming in the river at what we called the "sand bar." 

But the best part of summer was riding my horse over the hill, across the river, and up the mountain that was on one side of the canyon where we lived. I loved the solitary rides, just me and Junebug, my mare. Some days I'd saddle her up and wear jeans and boots, other days, I'd ride bareback, with my bare legs and feet dangling at her sides. When I didn't have a saddle, I'd lay back, my spine in line with hers, my head resting on her rump. She'd walk along the old log roads, and I stared up at the dapple light shining through the cottonwood leaves and boughs of the pines and firs. Those days I remember with great joy!

Other times, I would go to my solitary place on a strip of land between the Lostine River and the South Fork ditch. There under a cottonwood tree, surrounded by ferns, I'd draw and write stories, or read a book. 

There have been many days as an adult that I've wished for a few of those summer days again. I ride my gelding sporadically these days. neither one of us is young. I have to feel like saddling him and using up hours of the day that I could be writing or taking care of the business of writing. Where I live now there isn't running water near us to cool my feet or listen to the murmur as I am creative. 

Riding my gelding, Jan. 

But I do enjoy your treks this time of the year up the Steens Mountain to see the wildflowers in bloom. And I do get out on a horseback ride now and then with my daughter and grandkids. Hubby and I are trying to do more two and three-day trips with our camper to see more of Southern Oregon. 

These are wildflowers I found in Montana on a research trip.

This summer I am judging at more county fairs than I have in the past few years. So I will be traveling around eastern Oregon judging 4-H and Open Class static exhibits in August. I like doing that. I see the state and meet people. 

I hope you all have a wonderful summer! It is one of the best times of the year, as long as the weather doesn't get too crazy hot! 


You can purchase the first three Shandra Higheagle Mystery audiobooks in a box set for $0.99 through July 10th at Indie Audiobook Deals, along with other great deals from other authors! https://linktr.ee/indieaudiobookdeals
Paty

Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 58 novels, 10 novellas, and numerous anthologies of murder mystery and Western romance. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Paty and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. Riding horses and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the Western lifestyle, she lives it. 

Website: https://www.patyjager.net

Blog: https://writingintothesunset.net/

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