Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Free Book Goes To...

I wrote down the names of everyone who entered my strawberry story contest for the book, tore up the names, and put them in my hat. Next, I asked my mom to pick a piece of paper out without looking. She wanted to know what she had just done, so I told her that she had picked the name of the person who won the book. And who was this? Cindy.

Your strawberry story has won you a free, signed copy of Kathryn Fitzmaurice's book 'The Year The Swallows Came Early'.

I will be contacting you to let you know the details...

You didn't get to read Cindy's story? Well, I've copy and pasted it below, or you can read it along with all the other great stories here.

Hello! I am the youngest of three children. I had an older brother and I have an older sister. When we were young, our dad and mom would take us strawberry picking. sometimes, we would be there for as long as 3 hours! To me, it seemed like forever! What I really remember was that my siblings and I ate more strawberries than we put in our buckets! Please enter my name in your delightful book giveaway drawing. Such a lovely book to pass down through our family. Many thanks, Cindi

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

'The Year The Swallows Came Early'~ Day Three

This is the last day of the tour of Kathryn Fitzmaurice's book, 'The Year the Swallows Came Early'. Today I am going to give you the last part of my interview, and some Tour Searching Tips.

Before we get started, dont forget about my book give away!(look at the end of the post...)

How long have you been writing in general?

Kathryn Fitzmaurice; I have been writing seriously for five years. But really, I’ve written in some form or another my whole life. I started with poetry as a teenager.

Do you have any advice for young authors?

Kathryn Fitzmaurice: Write what you know.

Do you listen to music while you write? What kind?

Kathryn Fitzmaurice: I cannot listen to anything when I write. If my dog even barks, I’m completely distracted. My two teenage boys listen to their iPods while they study, and I’m baffled as to how they retain even one detail! I’m the same way in the car when I’m trying to find my way; no one can even talk to me. How embarrassing is that!

What is the first thing you do when you get a new story idea?

Kathryn Fitzmaurice: I love this question! The first thing I do is write the first paragraph. If it doesn’t make me want to know/read more, I don’t write the story.

What are some of your favorite books or authors?

Kathryn Fitzmaurice: This is a very hard question for me to answer because I am one of those people whose favorite color changes each year. Right now, I am in a lime green phase. But I have always loved Kate Dicamillo’s books.

Who influenced you the most to write, and how?

Kathryn Fitzmaurice: My grandmother was the one who most influenced me to write. She gave me my first real writing lesson the summer I went to stay with her. I was thirteen. I watched her write every night, and she told me many little secrets about writing. For example, she said that one’s subconscious does a lot of the work, but you have to know how to encourage it. I have a book she gave me about how to do just this very thing. It’s called, The Subconscious Writer.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you bring with you, and why?

Kathryn Fitzmaurice: In this order, it would definitely be: 1.) Chap Stick, (because I’ve been addicted to Chap Stick since I was fourteen years old) 2.) My dog, Holly, (because she is the best dog in the world and I miss her even when she’s away at the groomer), and 3.) The super huge box of white chocolates from Godiva, (because they are my favorites.)

And now for the 'Tour Searching Tips'.

For a basic reviews, visit these blogs:
(don't forget about my review...)
A Christian World
view of Fiction
All About Children’s Books
Booking Mama
Cafe of Dreams
Dolce Bellezza
Homeschool B
Looking Glass Reviews
Maw Books Blog
Never Jam Today

For a review including strengths and a weakness, visit:
A Christian Worldview of Fiction

For give aways, vist these blogs:
(there is one on my blog, too)
All About Children’s Books
Never Jam Today
Becky’s Book Reviews

For a favorite line, or a quote, visit any of these blogs:
A Christian Worldview of Fiction
All About Children’s Books
Cafe of Dreams
Homeschool Buzz
Maw Books Blog

For interviews, visit these blogs:
(I had an interview, the second part is just above...)
Becky’s Book Reviews
Dolce Bellezza
Looking Glass Reviews
Maw Books Blog

For basic info on the format, visit:
Cafe of Dreams

For information on foodology, and foodology lists, visit:
Cafe of Dreams
Reading is My Superpower

For recipes, visit:
Dolce Bellezza
Maw Books Blog

For more background to our featured author, Kathryn
Fitzmaurice, visit:
Looking Glass Reviews

For a food discussion, visit:
Looking Glass Reviews

For a 'book talk', visit:
Never Jam Today

For a list of 'food in chapter titles', visit:
Maw Books Blog

For other 'guides' to the tour, visit:
Reading is My Superpower

(If the information I posted is incorect or needs to be updated, leave a comment and let me know!)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Year the Swallows Came Early~ Day Two

Eleven year old Eleanor Robinson lives in California with a Daddy who calls her Groovy, and a beautician mama who is obsessed with horoscopes. She has a good friend named Frankie who, although he has a few problems of his own, is always there for Groovy. Groovy also has a dream- to become a chef and publish a book of recipes that she made up. She knows cooking school isn't cheap, so she is thankful that her great-grandmother left her some money.

Everything seems to be going fine, that is until her father gets taken away by the police. Groovy doesn't understand exactly whats going on, but she knows that she should tell her mama right away. She soon is at the Solon and tells her ama what had happened- but even more shocking than her Daddy being taken away was that her mama wasn't shocked.

Groovy's mama tells her that she shouldn't rely on what her great-grandmother left to her for cooking school, and that she should begin saving up right away. Groovy, although frustrated that her mama wont explain everything that is going on, takes her mothers advice and makes chocolate covered strawberries to sell.

Early on in the book I decided that I wanted to make chocolate covered strawberries, they jsut sounded so good! Well, Katheryn must have known that some of her readers would be compelled to do this, so she included 'Eleanor Robinson's (perfected) Secret Recipe for Chocolate Covered Strawberries' at the very end of the book. I eagerly made a couple cookie trays of them with a friend, and they were good!

Want to win a signed copy of 'The Year the Swallows Came Early'?
Just leave a comment telling about a memory you have with strawberries, and you will be entered into a drawing.

A Christian Worldview of Fiction, All About Children’s Books, Becky’s Book Reviews, Booking Mama, Cafe of Dreams, Dolce Bellezza, Fireside Musings, Homeschool Buzz, Hyperbole,, Looking Glass Reviews, Maw Books Blog, Never Jam Today, Novel Teen, Reading is My Superpower

Monday, February 23, 2009

(Belated) Bible Blurb

Do not have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.

II Timothy 2:23

The Year the Swallows Came Early~ Day One

The cover art for 'The Year the Swallows Came Early' is beautiful. It reminds me of impressionist painings I have seen before. Anyway, I don't really like reading books with the jackets on them so I take them off, this book was no different. The cover of 'The Year The Swallows Came Early' under the jacket is very simple, but I wanted to tell you about it anyway. The background is a pale yellow and it is hard. In the upper center of the cover is a shiny blue swallow in flight, and around the swallow is a thin shiny blue circle. So simple, yet it explains the title in its own way. The book is about 7 inches by 5 inches, and the story itself is 271 pages long.

Enough about the format of the book, what about the author, Kathryn Fitzmaurice? She has two sons- Sam, 15, and Hugh, 12 (and she dedicated the book to them). She lives in Monarch Beach in Dana Point and she is working on a second book about the main character's friends. If you want to find out more about her, check out her blog, this article, or her website. And here is part of an interview I had with her, I will post the other part on another day of the tour, so come back to see it later.

How long did it take you to write ‘The Year the Swallows Came Early’?

Kathryn Fitzmaurice: It took me three years to write the book. During that time, I went to many writers conferences, attended writing classes at the University of California, Irvine, and joined a critique group. All of these things helped me tremendously.

Where did you get your inspiration for ‘The Year the Swallows Came Early’?

Kathryn Fitzmaurice: When I sat down to write the book, I had two ideas I knew I wanted to write about. The first was the idea of the swallows returning every year to the same place, which still to this day, amazes me. I like to think their annual return is like a promise that can never be broken.

The second idea was something that really happened in my own life, and that was that I wanted the main character to have a grandmother who left her a box of manuscripts when she passed away. I wanted my main character to have this kind of a gift in her life that would shape who she’d become in some way. When my own grandmother died, she left me a box of all of her unfinished writing. She had been a science fiction author, and so it was a huge inspiration to have all of her manuscripts with me.

Where did you get ideas for the plot, and characters? Were any characters modeled after people you know?

Kathryn Fitzmaurice: The character of the great grandmother was completely modeled after my own grandmother, right down to the last detail. I even used her real name; Eleanor Robinson. I did this because I wanted to honor my grandmother for everything she did for me. Of course, she never got to read my story, but it was still important to me to name my main character after her. The rest of the story sort of just fell into place. I am not one of those writers who uses an outline. I have a general sense of where the story is going, but really, the story sort of writes itself every day.

What was the hardest part about writing ‘The Year the Swallows Came Early’?

Kathryn Fitzmaurice: The hardest part to write was leading my main character into the place where she could forgive her father because the whole mindset of forgiveness can be a difficult place to get to sometimes. It took her a long to come around to it. I wanted to let her get there on her own time, and she finally did.

What part did you enjoy most about writing ‘The Year the Swallows Came Early’?

Kathryn Fitzmaurice: Absolutely my favorite parts were writing about the great grandmother, which was really just writing about my own grandmother. I had a lot of fun describing her owl collection, and how she stayed up most of the night writing. I even included the description of one of her science fiction books on page 148…that is her Chrysalis of Death book. So these were wonderful memories to write about.

And guess what! Kathryn Fitzmaurice wants to give away a signed copy of the book, so stay tuned to find out how to have your name entered in a drawing.

Check out these other blogs on the tour:
A Christian Worldview of Fiction, All About Children’s Books, Becky’s Book Reviews, Booking Mama, Cafe of Dreams, Dolce Bellezza, Fireside Musings, Homeschool Buzz, Hyperbole,, Looking Glass Reviews, Maw Books Blog, Never Jam Today, Novel Teen, Reading is My Superpower

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A First

I stood on the deck barefoot, the icy water against my feet.

I took a deep breath. The air was cool, crisp... it had an almost sweet sent.

A cool breeze, wind-chimes in the distance.

This evening was the first rain of the year.

Friday, February 06, 2009

I Was Doing So Well...

I had a whole basic schedule lined up-certain topics for certain days, specific posts waiting to be edited... and then I got a facebook. ('Hi, my name is Marie, and I'm a facebook adict')

Its supposed to be a database that keeps people connected with friends and things like that, right? Well, I have another name for it:

Time Eater.

My Goodness! I get on, thinking I'll just see if anyone updated anything, and get off. (I should know better, right?) Usually its the Pieces of Flair that get me sidetracked, but pictures and notes have succeed at it as well.

I get on for 'just a second or two' and the next thing I know its almost time for supper. Let me tell you, homework is not fun to do in the evening when everyone else is goofing off...

I hope this fades away, and that I'll be able to mannage my coputer time in a more responsible manner. If you're in a 'been there, done that' situation, would you mind giving me some advice? If you're in the same boat, maybe we could swap ideas. Anything helps right now...

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge

(sorry, I meant to post this yesterday...)
The Little White Horse was a comfortable book.

It is not an action stunner, it is sweet, descriptive, and quite satisfying. I had known when I started the book that it was not going to be fast and action packed, but I did not find it slow or boring. It opens slowly and delicately, feeding light hints at the plot all the while. Although it has a very storybook ending, I found it very entertaining.

Maria's parents have died and she must go with her 'nurse', Miss Heliotrope, and dog, Wiggins, to live with her closest living relative, an uncle named Sir Benjamin. She soon realizes that there is some deep secret about Moonacre Manor and the land around it. It has a history packed with greed, love, and pride. Is everyone who they say they are? Will Maria be able to save her land? Will she be different that her Merryweather ancestors?