Liebster Award

First, a big thank you to the always gracious Lora for giving me this award.   You can read her smart, funny, and warmhearted blog that covers everything from cooking to the arts and every humorous thing between at:

I’m really glad she likes my blog even though I’ve had to be more quiet lately with my posting.

Anyhoo,  I would like to pass on this award to 5 other bloggers who truly deserve it.  In no particular order:

1. Diane Dooley at  Ms. Dooley is a fantastic horror writer, while also incredibly supportive of other writers.

2. Chazz at  The  sharp-witted gent covers everything involving the arts and literature.  Lots of erudition to be found here.

3.  Ralfast over at  He covers everything from his stories and views on the writing craft to pop culture.  And he’s just an over-all cool guy

4.  Beth over at   Her charming blog covers everything from books and writing and film to her everyday adventures of being a student in Edinburgh.

5.  The sharpwitted DD and tarot reader extraordinaire at:  For those interested in reading Tarot, or anything related to its history, they should definitely visit her site.

Here are the rules courtesy of Lora:

“If you’ve been nominated, here are the rules if you choose to accept the award:

1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.

2. Link back to the blogger who awarded you.

3. Copy & Paste the award to your blog.

4. Nominate 5 blogs to receive the award.

5. Inform them of their nomination by leaving comment on their blog.”

Thanks again Lora so very much!


Published in: on July 21, 2012 at 4:11 pm  Comments (8)  
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Writing Meme: Day 8- Favorite Genre

8. What’s your favorite genre to write? To read?

Literary horror or psychological horror!  As my character, Anne says of her penchant for reading shudder novels,  “It’s a lot of fun to be frightened.”

That’s what I hope to do.  I don’t consider what I write to be truly horror.   That’s the terrible, depressing things on the news.   I want to give my readers the fun kind of chills.   And yes, I imagine wrapped up in an afghan, or snuggled under the bedcovers, unable to sleep, partly from fright, and partly because they must find out what that shadow in the corner is…

That said, I also love  writing noir (blame that one on a classic film obsession), and writing magical realism.  As one fascinated by dreams, I love exploring the inner and the outer worlds and how they blend together as one.

As for reading- I’m eclectic as you can get.  Okay, you won’t find category romance or westerns on my bookcase, but you will find everything from Shakespeare to the Brontes to Bradbury to Wilkie Collins Shirley Jackson to Iris Murdoch to Terry Pratchett to Agatha Christie to George R.R. Martin to Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.  There are so many great stories and writers out there, I could never limit myself to one genre.

What about you?

German Book List Updated

A year of chronicling my German reading endeavors continues.  For those interested, you can head over to my page on the right side and see my results for March.

Hope everyone is having a nice weekend!

Published in: on April 11, 2010 at 2:10 pm  Comments (11)  
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Update: German book reading list

Just a quick note that my German book reading list page has been updated.

Published in: on February 21, 2010 at 3:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Writing Quotes from, “The Sea Priestess”

music playing:  Swan Lake

Here are some quotes on writing  from Dion Fortune’s, “The Sea Priestess” (1938)

From the Introduction:

1.  “It was said by a reviewer of one of my previous books that it is a pity I make my characters so unlikeable.  This was a great surprise to me, for it had never occurred to me that my characters were unlikeable.  What kind of barber’s blocks are required in order that readers may love them?  In real life no one escapes the faults of their qualities, so why should they in fiction?”

2.  “Any writer will agree that narrative in the first person is a most difficult technique to handle.  The method of presentation is in actuality that of drama, though maintaining the appearance of narrative; moreover everything has to be seen not only through the eyes, but through the temperament of the person who is telling the story.  A restraint has to be observed in the emotional passages lest the blight of self-pity appear on the hero.”

3.   ” People read fiction in order to supplement the diet life provides them…It is too well known to need emphasis that readers, reading for emotional compensation, identify themselves with the hero or heroine as the case may be, and for this reason the writers who cater for this class of taste invariably make the protagonist of the opposite sex to themselves the oleographic representation of a wish-fulfilment.  The he-men who write for he-men invariably provide as heroine either a glutinous, synthetic, saccharine creature, and call the result romance, or else combine all the incompatibles in the human character and think they have achieved realism.”

4.  “Equally the lady novelist will provide her readers with such males as never stepped into a pair of trousers; on whom, in fact, trousers would be wasted.”

From Main Text:

5. “The keeping of a diary is usually reckoned a vice in one’s contemporaries  though a virtue in one’s ancestors.”

6. “We read novels as a kind of supplement to daily life.   If you look over the shoulder of the mildest man in the railway carriage, you will find he is reading the bloodiest novel.  The milder the man, the bloodier the novel- and as for maiden ladies-!  Any particular tough-looking individual, with overseas tan still on his skin, is probably reading a gardening paper.”

Published in: on April 3, 2009 at 2:31 pm  Comments (25)  
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Laura Bridgman: The First Blind and Deaf Person to Learn Language

Laura Bridgman c. 1845

Laura Bridgman was born on December 21, 1829 to a family of farmers in Hanover, New Hampshire.    At two years- old she was struck with scarlet fever and lost her sense of sight, hearing, smell, and even most of taste.   Only the sense of touch remained.   Pushing meant, “Go”.  Pulling meant, “Come”.   Soft patting was approval while heavier smacks indicated disapproval.   Frustrated by her lack of being able to communicate her desires, or understand others, it is little wonder she threw fierce tantrums which only her father could somewhat control.

Laura’s plight caught the attention of Dr. Samuel Howe, the first director of the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston.   Founded in 1829, it was the first of its kind in the United States. Howe was a social reformer who challenged John Locke’s theory that people only gather information through their senses.  Instead, he followed the Scottish Common Sense Philosophy which stated God instilled  people  with innate skills.

In the early 1800s, blind-deaf persons were considered virtually impossible to reach.  Howe was anxious to become Laura’s teacher.  If he could educate a child who’d lived in her own world almost since birth, he’d once and for all disprove John Locke.  Through Laura, he could prove humans were not born with blank minds.

No one had ever before been able to teach language to a blind-deaf person.

Howe traveled to Hanover and convinced Laura’s harried parents to allow him to try educating her.  In 1837, Laura entered the school.

At eight years-old, she did not know her own name.

Howe first taught her words before individual letters.  He pasted papers printed in raised letters upon common items such as keys and silverware.    Once she comprehended that these “bumps” signified the object, he taught her the alphabet and how to combine letters to form words.   From there, Howe taught her how to communicate with others through the manual alphabet.  Two years after entering the school,  Laura was able to write her own name.    Once adept in language, she followed the general curriculum of other students:  reading, writing,  math, history, geography, geometry, and philosophy.

drawing of Howe teaching Laura c. 1838

Laura’s success attracted people from all over the world.  Charles Dickens visited her in 1842, and with his usual over-sentimentality described her as, “pure and spotless as the petals of a rose”.  In reality, Laura, though amiable, was quick-tempered and moody.

Fame had its price.  Victorians were fascinated by “freaks”, and unfortunately, Laura became a sideshow.  Hundreds of tourists came weekly to watch the girl “perform” by finding places on a relief map or signing her name.   Little girls poked the eyes out of their dolls and named them, “Laura”.

Howe, himself, played a part in some of the pageantry.   He brought his most talented pupils on tour, including Laura.  On stage, they performed plays and recited poetry.   While Howe wished to change the public’s general perception of those with disabilities, it is also evident that he was soliciting donations.

In 1843, Samuel Howe married Julia Ward and left for a honeymoon in Europe.   During his absence, Laura  began to read religious tracts that differed from Howe’s own Unitarian beliefs.  She found his God to be too abstract and wished to feel a more personal Savior.   After several months of intense reflection, she became a devout Baptist like her parents.    Howe returned,  incensed that his greatest pupil who he considered a daughter, had rebelled against him.  In truth, Laura had entered puberty and was becoming a woman with her own mind.

While Laura remained her entire life at Perkins, her relationship with Howe was never the same.   She never got over the hurt of his rebuff of her.  After his death, she wrote to a friend, “I think much of Dr. H. day & night, with sorrow, & gratitude, & love, & sincerity.”

Laura taught needlework at the school and sold some of her own handmade crafts.  Two of her greatest loves were reading and writing letters to friends and family.  At the age of 59, she became ill and died on May 24, 1889.

Laura Bridgman’s sufferings and triumphs were not in vain.  In 1886,  Arthur and Kate Keller had read Dicken’s account of her.  Their own daughter, Helen, had also been struck with scarlet fever at the age of two and had become blind and deaf due to its horrible effects.    They hired Annie Sullivan, a graduate of Perkins, to teach their six year-old feral daughter.

Using the methods Samuel Howe had used on Laura Bridgman,  Annie Sullivan would become known as, “The Miracle Worker”.   Her pupil, Helen Keller,  learned to speak, read Braille in English, French, German, Greek, and Latin.   After graduating from Radcliffe College with honors,  Helen became a world-famous speaker and author.   A human rights advocate, she spoke out for the suffrage movement and the abolition of slavery.

It must be remembered, that born a half-century earlier, Laura did not have the same access to braille books as Helen.  Helen once stated that if Annie Sullivan had been Laura’s teacher, “she would have outshone me”.

Thanks to Samuel Howe’s innovative teaching and a little farm girl who refused to live in darkness, a new world was opened for Helen Keller and all those who followed.

Laura Bridgman reading in South Boston. c 1888