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THE MAPMAKER’S CHILDREN: A Novel ~Sarah McCoy

Monday, May 11th, 2015

“Engaging and emotionally charged…Eden’s realization that ‘what fable and history could agree upon was that everyone was searching for their ever-after, what ever that may be’ neatly sums up the novel’s heart – it’s about the family and the life we create, not always the ones we imagine for ourselves.”  (Kirkus reviews)

THE MAPEMAKER’S CHILDREN is a wonderful, gentle read and I enjoyed it cover to cover.  I thought it very clever to use the life of an historic figure within her context, along side a contemporary character who has some of the same life questions to contend with and lives in the same locale as the historic focus.    Sarah Brown the daughter of abolitionist John Brown (Harper’s Ferry) is the historic character of the story.  She is tracked through the family history and a series of letters written to a prominent family, which sheltered the Brown’s during the trial and execution.  An eleven- year -old Sarah witnessed the death of nearly all of the males in her family during this time period and turned it into her strength and future.  With her ability to paint and draw she created Underground Rail Road maps on cloth and other media for those who could not read to be enabled in their journey northward and success – freedom.

Because of severe Dysentery as a child Sarah was not able to conceive a children and yet it is her children who are part of the title of the story.

Eden is our contemporary character and she and her husband have just moved into New Charleston, West Virginia into an historic home with an interesting doll’s head discovered in the root cellar of the old kitchen.  Eden is weaning off of fertility drugs and is in a hostile rather belligerent frame of mind.  She is the kind of uber selfish “ME” girl of the “me” generation and made me glad when her early chapters moved back to Sarah’s story which I found delightful and very interesting.    By the 4th chapter of Eden’s story, I skimmed until the thought crossed my mind that most of my readers would not be offended by her selfish banter and blaming rhetoric.   Maybe they would even think like my kiddo’s friends who were always telling each other  – “If you do that to me – I’m going to kill you”. People just say those things. I certainly find the blaming behavior everywhere.   I liked Eden at the end of the novel as she did learn some kindness once she started earning some money with her new work and her definition of family expanded.

I believe Sarah McCoy could win the most gracious, Southern Ladies Thank You Note Contest. The novel has that sweet sheen of honey drip known in the south as just good ol’ fashioned manners of speaking clearly and smoothing it all over.  It just felt perfect to curl up in the spring sunshine on my deck and explore this historic story.  I liked this gracious story and particularly learning more about Sarah Brown in our contemporary times of racial unrest.   I was happy the book contained several of her drawing and paintings and her own writing conveyed the story of the times personally.    What a lovely way to learn history and about one’s own values and views.
TLC Book Tours   sent me a hardcopy of this delightful book for review – The MAPMAKER’S CHILDREN.

“Rich, closely observed storytelling full of warmth and heart.”  Charles Frazier, National Book Award winning author of Cold Mountain.

About Sarah McCoy:

“SARAH McCOY is the  New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of The Baker’s Daughter, a 2012 Goodreads Choice Award Best Historical Fiction nominee; the novella “The Branch of Hazel” in Grand Central; The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico; and The Mapmaker’s Children (Crown, May 5, 2015).

Her work has been featured in Real Simple, The Millions, Your Health Monthly, Huffington Post and other publications. She has taught English writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso. She calls Virginia home but presently lives with her husband, an Army physician, and their dog, Gilly, in El Paso, Texas. Sarah enjoys connecting with her readers on Twitter at @SarahMMcCoy, on her Facebook Fan Page or via her website, www.sarahmccoy.com.” ( from TLC page)

Related:
The Robot Scientist’s Daughter 
Hannah Coulter
A Snug Life Somewhere
Songs of Willow Frost 

STRINGS AND BONES: a Novel ~Kim Talon

Friday, October 31st, 2014

“You’re getting visits from…people, for lack of a better word, who left this earth.  Spiritually, at least.  I’m assuming bodies were buried or burned or whatever.  So where are they exactly?  And who’s in charge of this other place? And how can they just…you know…talk to you like that?” (Location 2351)


Please tweet and share this review. Thank you

STRINGS AND BONES is just the best Halloween read I could imagine sharing with you.  Kizzie is a 37 year old designer living in Toronto, Canada.  Her father was killed by a drunk driver just a few weeks before she was born into a small rural community not far from her current apartment in the big city.   When as a teenager, several “spirits” awakened her during the night to get messages to people who need to be reassured or make some changes in their lives because of the death of that spirit. These awakenings are very frightening; Kizzie is afraid to pass the messages to the recipients.  The voices quiet and now 17 years later they have begun again.  Kizzie is becoming anxious and suffering from insomnia.

Aggie, an art agent and Kizzie’s best friend since early childhood, begins to question the exhaustion and worry and listens to the situation that is producing these problems.   Aggie persuades Kizzie to deliver the messages and supports her through some angry reactions.  The young women also talk about their “love” lives or lack of and Aggie introduces a successful artist, Marshall, to her friend and life makes a big change.  The “professor” spirit shares some meaningful messages about life which are worthy messages for the living.

I have followed Talon on her blog for a long time and we have written letters and notes to each other in email and snail mail.  Her short stories are compact and amazing reads and her photography is on the cover of the Harvest Potluck free e-cookbook on this blog.  Kim’s recipe for apple crisp is in the cookbook and also mentioned in STRINGS and BONES.

Lovely read, I can highly recommend to my readers.  Some good scary moments and ideas shared, lots of meaningful conversations over a glass of wine; a group of well-developed characters which feel like friends – lots to enjoy in STRINGS AND BONES.

“Kim Talon is a writer, poet, professional photographer, and long-time blogger, residing in Ontario, Canada.  When not at the computer creating, she is found roaming the countryside, camera in hand, with her trusty Labradoodle, Charlie, at her side.”  (cover)

Kim Talon Blog

Kim Talon Twitter  @This_is_Talon
Pleased to announce in her own words 
Please tweet and share this review.  Thank you

I was so excited about STRINGS and BONES that I bought the book myself as an ebook read.   Lovely storytelling and beautiful words.

Related:
Harvest Potluck 
The Forever Man 
The Sowing
Imaginary Life
Becalmed

Morning Light is Revealing – II

Monday, April 8th, 2013

On March 23rd, 2009, I posted this post.  The spring light has been so revealing this year, I am busy painting the kitchen and using this Spring Energy Boost to clean out file drawers, cabinets, cupboards and simplify.  I thought I would share an oldie but goodie from the last time I felt this need to lighten up.     Ode to the joy of change!  Enjoy

********

Window Box

Window Box

Spring and summer the morning light enters my kitchen windows at just the right angle to reveal every drip, smear and dust particle on all the cabinets and appliances. The splashes above the sink look like sparkling tear drops on the window.

The morning light is so revealing and it inspires me to get into the corners and drawers to clean all the nooks and crannies.

Twice a year at our house, the sun rise comes right out of the top of the snow -capped mountain peak directly east of us. It the clouds are not overcast we get the sun’s rays as a wake-up call. It is so delightful to just stay in bed and feel the shine move across your body.

The dogs and cats we have shared life with could always be found in morning pools of sun on the floors- contentment napping.
The yoga studio I went to when pregnant was bathed in sunlight in the morning hours, and the salute to the sun pattern always felt an entirely appropriate and understandable movement in that space.

Morning walks are always towards the sun, sun at my back, sun to my side as I complete the circle of the Lake. It just feels right.

Journal writing, prayers, and meditations are done in the east window in the morning and I notice my note pad with “mind- wanders” is quite full in the morning as compared to the evening light. Problems from the night before seem to find resolution in the first light.

Yes, I spent years of my life getting up, going to work, getting children off to school, volunteering, and being hyper busy in the morning hours. It did not diminish my revelations in those first efforts.

For me I think it is the end of the darkness, the feeling my way around, that helps me see the light; let it shine. There is clarity and a celebration that the dawn has preceded.

What are your best moments of revelation? When do you know if you have seen the light?
Do you have a favorite story surrounding the light? Please Share, I look forward to your comments.

If you purchase anything from Amazon  or Powell’s   from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket.  Thank you.  Donations also welcomed.

Related Reading I invite you to explore:
Red Fox – Good Morning
Poser
My Heart is Strong and Misshapen
Walking a Puppy – Meditation

Wild Heart Painting Workshop – Gifts of Change

Monday, December 10th, 2012
Intuitive painting fir cone

Intuitive painting fir cone

“Paint like you are in first grade and in silence.  Look at other’s work but do not talk or evaluate,”  were the last words of instruction spoken by Chris Zydel at our Workshop.   I took her at her word and felt the excitement as I filled my tray with paints and hung a clean sheet of paper onto the easel board.  I had chosen 3 brushes and found a smock.

I placed the widest brush into the paint well and touched the paper to begin.  A large drip of blue paint chose gravity as its guide.  Just like in first grade, I did not know how to control the paint or the brush.  Oh well, we were to be directed by our intuition and I decided to turn my paper 90’ and make that blue line into a swirl of waves on the beach.  I began painting the Pacific Ocean of our drive the 2,000 miles down the coast to this workshop adventure.  It was the story of our trip, just like in first grade.  The wind swept trees along the bluffs looked like a row of green hearts and that looked too contrived to me.  I needed to learn more about mixing the colors and how the brush would connect to the paper; I began hiking into the experience.

“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So Do It.” ~Kurt Vonnegut Via Chris Zydel

The brush made a nice dob of paint and if I pulled it down slightly I could get a wonderful shape which made the rain clouds explode across the top of the paper.  The tiny brush connected the millions of Redwood needles that were beside the roadway and stuck to the bottoms of our shoes; still stuck in the floor mats of the car.   I found satisfaction in the dob-pull stroke of the brush and changed to mix a pleasing purple tone that captured the rain to ocean sky.  Chris came by to see how I was doing, and I said I was exploring the brush and color and finding a nice petal shape that was pleasing me, but I was done with this sheet of paper, I wanted to use this knowledge to start something new.

A pink petal shape emerged first but this was not the right color and I tried to make it more mauve.  No, what was touching me was the purple color in the petal shape.  It was lightening my spirit and I was as focused as in meditation, I reapplied the color and began again.   I still wanted for a wee bit of green; thus achieved.  I stood back and a fir tree cone was there before my eyes.   Royal.  Regal. And just what I wanted to say. Cones often are grown when the tree is dying or in distress; a signal of the creation of something new.    Then I thought that brush stroke would make a fuchsia bloom and that appeared next.  I could not figure out how to make the dancer’s skirt of the blossom, so I just kept painting fuchsias and cones.  I needed yellow to add the pollen at the end of the stamen so added that to my tray. The warmth of the yellow flooded over me and into me, and yet, the picture was not complete until I added the dots of Redwood needles.  I was happy and filled with joy.  I knew my painting was about the seeds of change – as graceful and elegant as petals.   Yes!  I was calm, unburdened, happy, and filled with joy.  It was enough.

“Every painting is a self-portrait” ~Chris Zydel

I am making so much change happen in my life; I can testify that doing something completely different to the usual can truly make the change happen.  It was immersion into the self.  A deep gift that I remember in the all of me.

What gift are you giving yourself this year?  Will you hear your soul? Your heart voice?  How will it touch you?

Fushia

Fushia

Chris Zydel’s Creative Juices Arts Studio is located in Oakland, California

Wild Heart Painting or Intuitive Painting Workshops are full of wonder and exploration and Chris shares lots of the work and words on Facebook.

The blog: http://creativejuicesarts.com/blog/  

If you would like to see my partner’s painting experiences you can find them on the Biking Architect.

If you purchase anything from Amazon  or Powell’s from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket.  Donations Welcome.  Thank you

Related Reading:
Do Something for the Fun of It
Ladybugs
Code to Joy
Holy Preparations