Monday, December 19, 2016

A CONVERSATION WITH DAVIDA

This week I am sharing a conversation I recently had with Davida, the main character in my novel, Davida: Model & Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens. This is a biographical novel based on the love affair between my great-grandparents. If I could sit down with my great-grandmother today, this is how I imagine our conversation might take place.

Karen: "I am so happy to finally meet you in person. I have dreamed about you and tried to imagine the life you had."

Davida: "You have been a wonderful granddaughter to my son, Louis and to me, your great-grandmother."

Karen: "There is so little known about you so I have many questions, if you do not mind. First, what is your birth name?"

Davida: "My birth name was Albertina Hultgren and I was born in Stockholm, Sweden."

Karen: "Oh my goodness. I had your correct name, but not your birthplace."

Davida: "My life in Stockholm was very harsh and difficult. My recently widowed mother had to marry Mr. Hallgren so we would have a home in which to live and food to eat." Davida pauses and wipes a tear that is gently falling down her cheek. "I was with you every time you were writing your story. You may not know it but I was whispering ideas in your head of the way I wanted my life to be as a child and young girl."

Karen: "So many times as I was writing I felt like I was transported to a different time and place. The words just flowed off my fingertips onto the keyboard. It was all very magical and beautiful." The room grows quiet as Karen takes in all that has just been revealed. "I could not find any record of your arrival into the United States. How did you get here?"

Davida: "Mother worked as a cook for a very wealthy family in Stockholm besides running the house of Mr. Hallgren. She would hear such exciting stories about America from her employer that she soon realized this was where she and I needed to go." With a smile on her face and light in her eyes, Davida continued, "Mother kept hiding some money over several years until she had enough for us to board a freighter that was going to Canada. From New Brunswick Mother and I made our way to New York City."

Karen: "That was a long journey for two women to travel alone."

Davida: "Yes, we had some fearful times. Mother was very beautiful, but very strong physically and emotionally. She kept us safe and was very smart how to manage our frugal situation. Once we were in New York, Mother got a job as the cook for the Saint-Gaudens' home and that is how he and I met."

Karen: "Your love story is so beautiful. It is too bad that it was in the late 1800's when the morality of such a love affair was not acceptable. My heart goes out to my grandfather who suffered his whole life as the "bastard child" and to you and Gus who were never able to marry."

Davida: "Louis was always a sweet and gentle child who continued to be that way as a man. He grew up without a strong male role model and I think he had ill-feelings towards his father, Gus for not leaving his wife and marry me. Gus had a difficult choice to make and as much as it hurt, I think he made the right one."

Karen: "My sister, Joan and I loved our grandparents very much. They were very important to us and helped us through some difficult times. As an adult now I see that Pa (Louis) never learned how to be a father, and therefore his sons did not learn it either."

Davida: "I loved Gus with all my heart and was always faithful to him. I did the best I could raising Louis basically alone. Gus provided for us financially and he loved us, but art was his 'real mistress.'" 

Karen: "I have so many more questions and things to say. Perhaps you could come back someday soon and we will visit some more. You are everything I dreamed you to be and I love you."

Davida: "I am always with you, Karen. We will get together again soon."


Davida: Model & Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens is available at goo.gl/68D6QT.
Or, order signed paperback copy for $4.99 from www.kareningalls1941@gmail.com.

Please check out the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNLHvrnlqRY&feature=youtu.be

Saturday, December 10, 2016

WRITERS ARE LIKE ARBORISTS


It is with great pleasure that I introduce Maretha Botha, my guest author for this week. She is an active member of RRBC, a retired librarian, and a lover of books.
Enjoy her story about apple trees and her journey as an author.




                                              Apple Trees

     I always wanted to plant an apple tree, something by which my children would remember me, but we lived in Gauteng – South Africa’s smallest province situated approximately 6,000 feet (1,753 metres) above sea level. There, so-called black frost would quickly destroy delicate blossoms during dry frosty winters in July and August. So, planting an apple tree remained at the bottom of my bucket list for years, but things changed when we immigrated to the United Kingdom three years ago.  We lived in a small, damp one-bedroom apartment for almost two years before moving to a house with a large overgrown garden.  There, I found two tall apple trees far at the back of the garden! They struggled, competing for sunlight with a privet "hedge" which had grown to gigantic proportions all around them. As soon as we were settled, I tackled the garden with renewed zeal, especially when I saw that the apple trees were covered in the most delicate, fragrant blossoms! Suddenly, I had to rewrite an item on my bucket list: Rescue the apple trees . . .


     After carefully removing a few dead branches, and regularly brushing the Wooly Aphids' frothy wax off their gnarled branches as far as I could reach, the apple trees received their first TLC for many years.  Even though I didn't like it much, I dug in decomposed vegetable peels near their roots. The results were promising as you can see from these photos.  Despite a few marks left by Codling Moths, the trees rewarded us with organic apples, this season.

     Sometimes I like to sit under the apple trees, contemplating life's complexities. Yesterday, the last apple high up in one of the apple trees fell to the ground when a Blackbird pecked at it.  I suddenly had a, what-a-lovely-Sunday-lunch-and-I-ate-too-much feeling of satisfaction, thinking about my marriage, our children and now, grandchildren, who perpetuate the circle of life – almost as if they were apple trees planted next to streams of water, providing fruitage for the next generation. Of course, a little contemplation often leads to more contemplation and I thought, Writers are like arborists who plant a new apple tree and nurture it for years to come, every time they begin a book and successfully complete something which is appreciated, read and reread by many.

     Caring for apple trees can be hard work – just like writers and/or illustrators who work endlessly without seeing immediate results.  However, they never give up, because they know that if they do their planting, watering and pruning right, they and generations coming after them, will enjoy the fruits of their labour.  However, you might be surprised to know that I only recently became such an arborist.

      After my post as a librarian at a private school in Gaborone, Botswana was localised, I felt as if my life had changed forever. My daughters were both married, the grandchildren were no longer babies and I no longer had my wonderful job. After a few days of feeling sorry for myself, I began pulling out all my notes on animals and birds which I've kept for years. I also added more. Unknowingly I began cultivating the soil for apple trees to be planted. My apple tree project suddenly gained momentum when I discovered a painting which my younger daughter did years ago, as part of an art project. The red-roofed farmhouse became the homestead of the free-range cattle farm in a place which I called, Molodi (a derivation of The Mmokolodi Game Reserve) and before I knew it, FAUNA Park Tales came into being.




      So, I would like to present some of my apple tree products to you:  A gluten-free apple crumble and glimpses of Fauna Park Tales – the Series. 





     You have already seen the first three books, but here is the cover for book four, “An African Adventure: Trails and Trials”. 




     It is now in its final stages of formatting and proofreading. Just to add a bit more.  I’ve had the cover for book five done as well, as I would like to include all five books in a book trailer, which I hope 4WillsPublishing will do as soon as I’ve saved enough for this project!  Speaking of a member of Rave Reviews Book Club, I’m sure many of you share my sentiments about our awesome club. We are just like devoted arborists who share and meet, supporting one another, and sharing the ups and downs which come with the job – planting and nurturing lovely “apple trees”.




BIOGRAPHY
Maretha Botha is a South African Italian, born in a small town called Montagu. She grew up in nearby Worcester in the Western Cape – a town reminiscent of living in Switzerland among snow-capped mountains. Worcester had a small library. Young Maretha’s visits were limited to three times a week, because the librarian told her, “You spend too much time with your nose in a book and neglect your school work.” 

Nothing much has changed, because she's still a confirmed bookworm who constantly strives to raise more bookworms who enjoy reading, not just as a pleasant past-time, but as an excellent tool to be used when grown-up.  She admits to being a chocoholic and unreformed coffee addict, a keen gardener and bird watcher, who likes to walk on the moors where the stiff breeze coming in from the sea, quickly clears her head, making way for more inspiration.





Tuesday, December 6, 2016

WHAT I HAVE LEARNED FROM BEING A WRITER

Books have always been an important part of my life, starting in early childhood. My grandmother Edith worked at a library and she introduced me to the love of books. But I did not realize what it took to be a writer until I began to seriously pursue my love of writing stories. Since being a published author here are some things I have learned:

1. It is can be quite time consuming. 
             **Time to put down in outline form the initial plot,
                   characters, places, and timeline.
             **Research is critical
             **Sitting alone at the computer uninterrupted.
             **Doing rewrites with the editor.
             **Finding a publisher or self-publish
             **Marketing is probably the most time consuming.

2. It can be lonely.
              **I work best undisturbed.
              **My door is often closed.

3. It is a time of creativity and inspiration...or writer's block.
              **Such joy when the words and thoughts are flowing.
              **I step away from the computer for varying amounts
                    of time when writer's block sets in to either meditate,                
                    exercise or do other activities and then return to the
                    computer later on.  
              **I accept writer's block has a fact of life and do not
                    get upset or frustrated.
              **Sometimes talking to my husband or editor is all I
                    need to do to stimulate the creativity.

4. Marketing is the least favorite part of my job description.
               **It means spending inordinate amounts of time on 
                    various social media sites.
               **I enjoy book presentations and launches.
               **I love to write my two weekly blogs.
               **It is challenging to "think outside the box" and be
                    creative in marketing ideas.

5. Editing is a critically important part of being an author
               **Do not be your own editor.
               **Hire a reputable & experienced editor
               **Find an editor with whom you can easily communicate
               **My editor, Angela Wiechmann met 

6. Belong to book clubs, author organizations
               **Join and participate in as many as possible.
               **I belong to Rave Reviews Book Club                                  

               **I joined several Internet author groups
               **You must participate and give your time to these          
                       organizations.  

7. A book cover and interior
                **Must  reflect the theme of the book
                **The cover must also grab the potential buyer's
                        attention so that he/she will pick up the book.
                **The interior must be clean, orderly, and readable.       

8. Seeing the final published book or article is exciting.
               **Does the cover reflect the story or message?
               **It is a time of pride and celebration.




From Dec. 1-3 Rave Reviews Book Club had its first Writer's Conference & Book Expo. There were author booths, vendor booths, sessions on a variety of subjects, prizes, and much more. Such an exciting event and was a great way to meet other authors, even through the virtual medium.
Thank you to Angela Wiechmann, Dara Beevas, Amy Quale, and Jay Monroe my editors, advisers, and cover designer for their support, guidance, and expertise while I walk the path of a writer.
Thank you, Rave Reviews Book Club for all you do for authors and avid readers. The support, promoting, and opportunities are like none other.
I cannot close this blog without saying "thank you" to 4WillsPublishing for creating wonderful videos and providing blog tours.        

Thursday, December 1, 2016

AUTHOR BOOTH FOR KAREN INGALLS

My name is Karen Ingalls, an author, blogger, retired nurse, 
and cancer survivor. Welcome to my author booth.

My first book is a two time award winning non-fiction about 
CANCER
A dreaded word that creates fear, but it is a fact of life.

OUTSHINE: AN OVARIAN CANCER MEMOIR
is more about how to cope with cancer;
to not let it rule your life;
and what it is like to have cancer.

goo.gl/K9x33h

My second book is about a young man's search for love and respect from his father.
However, he unfortunately uses anti-social behaviors
such as lying, cheating, and alcoholism.
Every father needs to teach his son about being a father himself someday, but not all fathers know how to do this.
Based on a true story and men I counseled as a nurse therapist Novy's Son
will hopefully bring to light an important social issue.
goo.gl/s9UCCU

My third book which won the Pinnacle Award is titled 
Davida: Model & Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens
This story is based on a true story about the love affair between America's premier sculptor in the 19th and early 20th Centuries and his model, Davida.

goo.gl/68D6QT

I am a proud member of Rave Reviews Book Club and I am happy to now offer my e-books to you at special price of
0.99

OR
the paperback copies are available also.

ALL PROCEEDS FROM THE SALES 
GO TO
OVARIAN/GYNECOLOGIC CANCER RESEARCH

Thank you for visiting my booth today.