Eclipse Day!

Eclipse Day: Debby Zigenis-Lowery's Literate LivesToday is Total Solar Eclipse Day in Salem, Oregon, and for the citizens of Salem and outlying towns, it is a BIG DEAL. Hotels and Motels have jacked up their rates, restaurants have created special “Eclipse” menus (One of which includes an Eclipse Burger, a hamburger “eclipsed” by a fried egg.)

People with acreage have divvied up their land and are renting space to campers for hundreds, yes, it’s true, hundreds of dollars per night, and some private schools are doing the same with their sports fields and dorm rooms.

As for me and my hubby? We are staying home. We bought a pair of “eclipse” glasses, then got two more for free with an eye exam (so we gave a pair to the grands). I’ll wake up with my alarm clock to make sure I do not sleep through this long-awaited phenomenon, and hubby and I will view it from the yard (or across the street if our trees appear to be obstructing the view).

If you are anywhere you can see it, enjoy this astronomical phenomenon. Savor the moment. Human beings for thousands of year have viewed eclipses a portents of things to come. What might this eclipse bring for you?

And writers, be inspired. The awe and wonder the Hale Bopp comet lit in me ended up adding a whole, additional dimension to the plot of my middle grade novel, Set in Stone.

Your Turn

If you believed in signs and portents, what do you think this eclipse could be signalling for you personally, for our society, or for the world?

Writers, how can you leverage your experience of the eclipse into your work in progress?

I’m Back

I sat out in the front yard in my comfy camping/recliner chair, with a cool glass of juice, my sun hat, my solar eclipse glasses, and a notebook for making observations. The full event took about two hours. The full eclipse lasted minutes. It was awesome. Not only did it get dark, like dusk, but it got cooler as well. You can bet, somewhere, someday, there is going to be an eclipse in one of my novels!

Favorite E-reads of the Month: July/August

Morning E-reads

I love Summer Vacation because it is a time when my life and body can move (or not) by its own rhythms. One of my favorite rhythms is waking up, making my “poor man’s mocha” and sitting down for an hour (okay, sometimes that’s “hours”) of e-reading. I learn a lot, and find a lot of inspiration in the practice.

So, why don’t I just do this all year round? Well, there is one thing I like even more than my morning routine, and that is sleeping as late as possible before getting up and going to work.

July/August E-reads

This month, as last month, I’ve got a great selection of online reading for you. So here they are, from the most to least recent:

A Little Weird? Prone to Depression? Blame Your Creative Brain” by Susan Biali, MD: This is from one of my favorite blogs–Psychology Today. I particularly liked it because it explains why creative people (like me…maybe like you?) might feel a little out of sync and experience the blues. The good news is…it’s because we’re creative. Or are we creative because we’re a little weird and sensitive?

Literate Lives E-Read: This Incandescent Llife6 Ways Reading Fiction Will Inspire You to Live Bigger” by Emily Morgan: This is from Emily’s blog This Incandescent Life. I love to read and encourage other’s to read, and so when I see someone pointing out reading’s awesome benefits, my brain does a little happy dance.

What Becomes of the Brokenhearted: Why Fiction Heals Like Nothing Else Can” by Kristen Lamb: The premise here it that fiction provides the kind of experience and perspective that can only be mirrored in real life, and brings emotional healing through the emotional experience of story rather than reason and logic. Again, yay reading!

Other Great Reads

More Awesome E-Reading to Come

Just two and a half more weeks and my long hours of summer e-reading will be at an end. But have not fear, my morning routine will remain the anchor of my weekends, and there will be many more awesome e-reads to come.

Your Turn

Have you read anything interesting online lately? Please share the title and link in the comment box below. Remember, the more we share with each other, the more great reading we can all enjoy!

Uh-Oh, Summer Reading Lists Unread!

Uh, Oh, Summer Reading: Debby Zigenis Lowery's Literate LivesWow! It is already mid August! Did your students come home in June with a list of books they needed to read over the summer? How’s that going?

I know how rapidly summer sneaks by, so I wanted to give you three tips to help get your kids reading their required material and share a link to an article on Brightly that also addresses this problem.

Ideas to Promote Summer Reading

Go on a “reading picnic,” or 10! With summer evenings so delightful, why not pack up dinner, a picnic blanket or folding chairs, and copies of the kids’ required reading. (Bring your own book too!) Eat dinner, read for a while–everyone–including you, then enjoy a treat like playing in the playground together, a bike ride, a favorite dessert, or a trip out for ice cream. (P.S. Reading picnics can take place any time of day, even in your own back yard!)

Enjoy some audible literature–the low tech way! As you drive around doing errands, on outings, and even on a final summer trip, bring along required reading and ask your kids to read to you. Stop at the end of each chapter. Discuss the story events or information, and build you children’s ability to make predictions (a genuine, academic reading skill!) by speculating together about what might happen next and why you think your predictions might turn out.

Help you child find a reading pen pal. It could be a friend who still has to read the same book, an interested relative–grandparents are often good for this, but so might be aunts and uncles, or even volunteer yourself. Agree on how often your student will write to their pen pal about what they are reading and provide them with stationery and stamps. Encourage the pen pals to write back and ask questions abut the book that your reader can respond to after additional reading. If you are going to be your child’s reading pen pal, maybe you could make a “mailbox” together by decorating a shoe or cereal box. When each of you finishes writing a letter, you can put it in the box, and you can both check the box regularly for new responses.

Still haven’t found the strategy for your family?

Check Out this Brightly Article

You can read Brightly’s article, “I Know What You Did(n’t Read) Last Summer,” here.

Your Turn

What are some strategies you’ve used in the past to complete, or help you kids complete, summer reading assignments?

What are some of you favorite locations for reading in the summertime?

Summer, Travel, and Places of Enchantment

Debby Zigenis-Lowery's Literate Lives: Summer, Travel, Places of Enchantment

I love this Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ quote. What is life, what is summer, without moments and places of enchantment?

Last week I had the opportunity to go on a road trip with my husband. (He is an awesome road trip pilot, ready and willing to stop anywhere interesting or necessary, plus he is a fantastic photographer.)

We traveled from Reno, Nevada, to Sonora California, to Eureka California, through the state and national coastal redwood parks, then home.

Summer Isn’t Summer Without Places of Enchantment

For me, there are several requirements that must be satisfied for me to feel like I have actually experienced summer.

  1. Fireworks: satisfied on the 4th of July
  2. Sitting beside a rushing river or gurgling stream: satisfied last week with a little stop alongside the Waller River. We did some rock-hopping (what I used to call it, now it’s more like scrambling and balancing after my recent health set-backs), rock-gathering–“Come see this!” “Oh, isn’t this one beautiful!”, and lastly, just sitting with my feet in the cold water, listening to the river’s roar. Ah, peace.
  3. Walking in the forest: also satisfied last week as we made stops to amble in the beautiful California coastal redwood groves. They are so majestic, huge, and old! It really puts our little lives in perspective. We even had the pleasure of enjoying some mysterious morning fog!

The Literate Lives Joys of Road Tripping

Road tripping is fun, renewing, and feeds my imagination.

As we drive, I collect names for places mostly, but as my husband and I joke and engage in wordplay, for characters as well.

Road tripping refills my “landscape well,” providing me with a reminder of the wider range of settings available to draw on when writing, and the links between settings and names.

And, road tripping can inspire actual scenes and stories. Don’t be surprised someday if one of my future projects includes a love smitten gold miner and the glacial object of his affection!

Summer’s End

A week into August, I can accept that, like every year in the past, summer will end, and I can be at peace with that knowledge thanks to mine and my husband’s summer wanderings and savoring of places of enchantment.

Your Turn

  • What does it take for you to feel you have experienced summer?
  • How does travel fuel your literate lifestyle?
  • How do places of enchantment feed your soul?

 Please use the comment box below to share your thoughts. I love to hear from you!

New Reading Rotation

A Reading Rotation

As happens periodically, usually at least once per year, I get tired of my established reading rotation, and I revise it.

(So, why bother? Because I have found in the past that without some form of genre rotation, I get stuck in a rut reading the same kind of book over and over again, despite my wider range of interests. So, when I get tired of one rotation, I find it worth my while to reinvent the “beast”.)

This time, I felt like I was not getting to spend enough time in the genres I either write or love to read. So I revised.

Here is the New Rotation

How Does it Work?

The basic rotation is the column on the left and the top chunk in the middle. I read through this from the top down through the two columns and mark with the month and year each listing read.

Nightstand Book: If a book I’ve read in the rotation is a series, the rest of the series goes on my nightstand to pick from so I do not have to wait for a full rotation to read the next book in the series.

Other Fiction: This is a list of other fiction genres/categories (ex. Goudge is author Elizabeth Goudge, a long-time favorite. I just keep rotating through rereading her books.)

Mystery Rotation: This category allows me to rotate through my favorite mystery authors so I don’t have to wait for them to get their turn in the alphabetical rotation. (I have a lot of books in my favorite genres.) You will find the list of authors to rotate through in the right column.

Non-fiction: I both enjoy and need to read nonfiction (to expand my horizons, build my writing craft, and support the world-building for my fantasy writing). So, this is the list of non-fiction works I rotate through.

Byzantine

I know it looks rather crazy and complex, but it works for me. What really matters is not that I rotate through the genres but how much I read different types of books. This newest helps me read my favorite genres, while sticking to a desire to read other types of works as well.

Your Turn

How do you organize your reading time, or–not? What do you feel are the benefits of your method or non-method for organizing your life? I’d love to know! Just use the comment space below.

Best Book of July 2017

Whoa! I visited my reading log and discovered I have only completed one book this month. Yikes! (This is by no means an excuse, just an explanation–this was my “travel” month. First I visited my mom, then I attended a writing conference–more on that another time, and then my husband and I went on a road trip. Too often, I have fallen into bed exhausted at the end of the day instead of ready to enjoy a good book.

So, the only book I read is also my favorite book I read (however, please note, I recall thinking, multiple times as I read it, that any other book would have a hard time beating it out). Soooo…

The Best Book of July 2017 is:

A Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks.

This is an exceptional novel. The reader knows, from the beginning, that plague is going to strike the 17th century English village that is the setting, and as you read the tale of one woman who survived, the expected heartbreak and tragedy relentlessly unfolds. You witness heroism and horror, and you hope and despair right along with the narrator. The only thing that kept me from giving this a five-star review on Goodreads was the ending. I had hoped for so much more for our heroine…but I won’t give anything away. And even with what felt to me like an unsatisfactory ending, I kept hoping for something better (and enjoying the novel) all the way up until the final pages. Read this fascinating book! You will not be sorry.

Favorite E-Reads of the Month: July 2017

It’s hard to believe that it’s already time to reflect on my e-reading this month. One of the things I love about summer is the increased time available to read the many blogs and newsletters I subscribe to, and to follow the trail of links to discover more on topics that interest me. Here is what I have enjoyed this month:

Media:

The Other Side of Anne of Green Gables  As an Anne of Green Gables fan, I was eager to watch the reboot of the franchise. As a grandmother, however, I was glad not to be watching with my granddaughter. While I enjoyed the miniseries, despite the missing pieces and added material, I would definite consider this an adult version of the popular tale, and when I read this article, I understood why; that was the intention of its creators. My only wish is that it would have been clearly labeled as such.

Writing

Are You a Writer or a Storyteller?  This was a really interesting and informative post about two major aspects of fiction writing. After reading, I realized, I started out as a writer first. Thank God for the complexity of writing assignments at Berkeley. I had to learn to outline, and it has served me well ever since!

SF/Fantasy World-building I am completing a major revision on my historical fantasy novel, The Swallow’s Spring, and have several novels in development that I am really excited about, so one of my great pleasures this month has been reading about world-building. Every article seems to prompt multiple ideas for existing or developing stories.

Reading 

In Case You Forgot, Reading is Important

Mental Health and Well-Being

Why Caring for Yourself Makes All the Difference

Social Sciences

Why Brilliant Girls Tend to Favor Non-STEM Careers

Your Turn

What have you read online that other Literate Lives followers might enjoy? Use the comment space below to include a title and a web address (and if you feel like it, a little blurb sharing why you liked it).