Thursday, July 21, 2022

Book Review: Evita and Me by Erika Rummel

Evita and Me by Erika Rummel


Evita and Me by Erika Rummel 
Publisher:  DX Varos 
Publishing (May 24, 2022) 
Category: Historical Fiction, Crime, Women's Literature 
Tour Dates June 21-July 22, 2022 
ISBN: 978-1955065320 
Available in Print and ebook, 
384 pages Evita and Me


Review by Joy Renee

Evita and Me is a historical novel, suspense thriller and coming of age story all rolled into one rollercoaster plot.  This story, narrated by two fictional characters who found themselves drawn into the intrigues of Evita’s inner circle in the late 1940s is a creative exploration into the historian’s question: What happened to Eva Peron’s jewelry?


The first forty percent of the novel is narrated by Toronto born Mona and covers her weeks long trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina as a teen that culminates in a whirlwind trip through Europe with First Lady Eva Peron.  Mona is telling the story from memory as a twenty-something college student traumatized by reading Evita’s obituary in the paper some five years after her life-changing adventure.  She relates how she had at first been reluctant but agreed in order to escape watching the soppy romancing of her mother by her latest boyfriend.  And as a chance to practice her Spanish.


She also decided on the day she left town that she was going to use the trip as an opportunity to remake herself, to ditch the rules and society norms of her hypocritic mother and her socialite ‘friends’.  She remade herself all right and sometimes she walked such a fine edge she could have toppled into unfixable harm–to herself or others.  But in the process she saw both sides of Argentina in the late 1940s–the seedy side of poverty and organized crime as well as the luxury among the mansion-living oligarchs like the family who had invited her.


Shortly after her arrival she caught the eye of First Lady Evita and was invited to be her English coach to help her prepare for an upcoming state tour of Europe and then was invited to join her on the tour. Meeting Evita was the second pivotal moment of her life.  Her determination to remake herself now had a model.  She wanted more than to be like her, she needed to be her.  This was quite reminiscent of Western culture teens' worship of musical celebrities.  Think Beyoncé and the Beatles.  


But in Mona’s case she did get more return on her emotional investment than most modern teens do from their idols.  Mona received from Evita some of the nurturing and validation she had never gotten from her own narcissistic and alcoholic mother.  Plus she experienced surviving the letdown when her idol slipped off the pedestal without losing what she’d gained in self-esteem.


This first section is the part that reads like a coming of age story and ends as Evita’s brother Juan Durate and her bodyguard Pierre put her on a plane back to Toronto after the three of them fulfill a task for Evita.  That of placing two cases into a Swiss bank vault–one of jewels and one of gold bars.  She carries with her one of the three keys that will be needed to open the vault with instructions to hold it until Evita’s personal lawyer contacts her.


I must admit that on my first pass I developed a distaste for Mona and her antics in this first section but on my second read through I realized that I was bringing into it the dregs of the judgmentalism from the prudish Puritinesque cult that I was raised in. She had grown on me by the time I finished the story the first time but by the time I reached the end of her travels the second time, I’d  discovered my usual talent for empathy which necessitates meeting a person where they are.


The rest of the novel goes back and forth between Pierre the bodyguard and Mona and their adventures after Evita dies having never retrieved the keys from them.  Pierre’s sections have flashbacks to his time in Europe under German occupation and tell the story of his leaving Evita’s service after marrying another Canadian.  So Mona and Pierre are both in Canada when the news breaks of Evita’s death and the now powerful Juan Duarte begins to use the long tentacles of his organized crime group embedded in the oligarchic power structure of Argentina to come after the two keys.  And this power-corrupted thug will stop at nothing to get what he wants.  There is a trail of broken people and dead bodies to prove it.


And yes, this story supports multiple reads.  Though it can be read for the plot alone there are plenty of extra gems to unpack in subsequent reads and in my opinion worth as much if not more than Evita’s jewels.


_________________________________________________


Below in the media kit find blurbs and an author bio that includes links to her web presence. Catch more reviews and excerpts via links to other participants in the tour. And don't forget to enter the giveaway.

From the Media Kit:

Description of Evita and Me by Erika Rummel

Evita Peron's jewels are missing. Only three people know that they are in a vault in the Swiss Alps; Evita's corrupt and brutal brother Juan, her bodyguard Pierre, and a teenaged girl Mona, her newest protegee. What happens if two of them team up? Like Eva herself, Mona comes from a broken family and has to make her own way. Perhaps that's why the two women feel close. Evita is at the pinnacle of success but already in the grip of a fatal illness. We see her life through the eyes of Mona and Pierre, two people she trusts -- and who betray her in the end. Or can theft and murder be justified? A story of love, adventure, and murder.

Praise For Erika Rummel's novels

This is a fast paced page turner.  A suspenseful, thrilling roller coaster ride with lots of twisty, loopy sections. Head Games is an apt title for this enthralling read. 
 Joy Renee, Joystory 

Identity's a big theme in this work, so if you've ever felt you were someone other than yourself, if you thought you might like to try living in someone else's skin, if you've wondered whether your friends and loved ones were not exactly who they claimed to be, then this psychological labyrinth might just be your winding road to a good read
Carole Giangrande, Words to Go 

This was a book that grabbed me from the start. I's a period in history that offered much to the world but also had some of man's darkest moments. Due to that it does provide rich material for a novelist and Ms. Rummel does an excellent job of taking her reader on a dangerous journey through the twists and turns of what many faced during the time. The characters are well developed and defined. The scenes are well described and I found myself feeling like I was actually walking the streets with the characters of the book.
Patty, Books Cooks Looks 

To live during such tumultuous times would be horrible. You would have to be careful of every word that came out of your mouth. That might be easy when you are alert, but what about when you are so tired that you can't even think? This book made me thankful that I was born in America in the 20th century. Any fan of riveting historical fiction will get lost in this book from page one.
Lisa, Lisa's Writopia


Evita and Me by Erika Rummel

About Erika Rummel

Award winning author, Erika Rummel is the author of more than a dozen non-fiction books and seven novels. Her seventh novel, Evita and Me is being published on May 24, 2022. She won the Random House Creative Writing Award (2011) for a chapter from The Effects of Isolation on the Brain and The Colorado Independent Publishers' Association's Award for Best Historical Novel, in 2018. She is the recipient of a Getty Fellowship and the Killam Award. Erika grew up in Vienna, emigrated to Canada and obtained a PhD from the University of Toronto. She taught at Wilfrid Laurier and U of Toronto.  She divides her time between Toronto and Los Angeles and has lived in Argentina, Romania, and Bulgaria. 

Erika's Website: http://www.erikarummel.com/ 
Erika's Blog:  http://rummelsincrediblestories.blogspot.ca/ Twitter:  https://twitter.com/historycracks

Buy Evita and Me by Erika Rummel

Amazon DX Varos Publishing

Giveaway Evita and Me by Erika Rummel

This giveaway is for 1 print copy and is open to Canada and the U.S. only. 
This giveaway ends on July 23, 2022 midnight, Pacific time.  
Entries accepted via Rafflecopter only: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow Evita and Me by Erika Rummel

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  Evita and Me by Erika Rummel

Read more...

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

ROW80 Round 2 2022 Check-In

 

The writing challenge that
 knows you have a life


Since the last time I made a goal post many things have changed in my life circumstances.  I became a widow and then a few months later moved into my own apartment where I depend on the aid of caregivers for many daily chores and errands.  It was a big change and a steep learning curve which I'm still climbing.  But things are settling down enough now I feel able to make commitments again in this area.  

I'm thinking now that it might have been a mistake to think I needed to get past the move chaos first and instead look for a way to fold the writing into even that and add the move related goals to the list here to teach the living goals how to play nice with the writing goals and visa versa.

At any rate I'm back now and highly motivated again after a hugely successful Camp NaNo win that was about way more than reaching the word count goal.  I reached the much more important goal that the project had been designed to obtain and that was breakthrough in the psychological blocks keeping me from owning my truth which was also keeping me from completing any of my WIP because every time the stories began to touch upon the themes that triggered my anxieties I shied away.

Last Friday's post Of Flux and Fuss and Frustrations describes the breakthrough and how it relates to my leaving the fundie cult I was raised in in 94 and then using the FOS storyworld to explore my thoughts and feelings about it tho only just so far...

Because I am in my own place now and no longer having my elderly mother's needs dominating my attention I have more autonomy over my schedule and so I've been able to double the time investment in many of the non-writing goals like reading and craft study. But even there I know myself well enough to know that setting my mind to any task for at least 20 minutes increases the probability that I will still be at it two hours later.  Even four hours or fourteen hours later.  That is an aspect of my autism spectrum that transitions between tasks or any mind state actually are very difficult but once the transition is accomplished I'm all in.  

Focus once it kicks in is my superpower but it can also be a super pain in the butt for myself and anyone forced to deal with me.  Thus one of the things I need to make an aspect of my goals is to keep a watch for when the problem isn't devoting too little time but devoting an unreasonable amount of time.  Unreasonable defined by how it impacts my health and wellbeing in other areas.

Because in order to keep this place as a viable writing haven I must keep myself healthy, the environment clean and clutter free, the bills paid and the errands ran.  That means keep a constant sleep schedule, set task alarms, answer the door when my caregivers ring, eat regular healthy meals, plan and execute the tasks required including prepare for HUD inspections, make appointments and keep them and continue to purge and organize the stuff I moved in as I bring more over from Mom's.  I may discuss some of these in the check-ins as they impact my writing goals but unless they become such a problem they start to threaten my health or my ability to hang onto my place then I may have to define a goal.

2022 Round 2 ROW80 goals:


  • Sleep 7.5 hours Daily Minimum --  Used to be a challenge but I've kept it fairly steady for over two years now.  
  • Move/Breathe/Meditate 15 min Daily minimum  -- Swaying on the mini-tramp can include all three simultaneous.  There are a number of other ways I can do any one or combine two but it is essential that each one is included every day. The MOVE part is going to be the most challenging as I injured my knee during the move last summer and every time I increase activity I tend to tweak it again. But these have proven to provide a high yield return on investment as whenever I've practiced any of them it stimulates creativity, memory, and insight; lowers anxiety, and increases energy, stamina and a positive mood.
  • Storydreaming with note-taking tools at hand. 30 min Daily MInimum -- This is a technique I learned from Robert Olen Butler in the book From Where You Dream.
  • Read Fiction 60 min Daily Average
  • Read/Study Craft 60 min Daily Average 
  • Social network activities 30 min Daily Minimum (writing Joystory posts doesn't count only social reaching out like reading/commenting on other blogs, guest posts and posting to fb, twitter, pinterest etc) -- something I've a strong resistance to.  The autism diagnosis helps explain this but doesn't let me off the hook.  If anything it makes it more important.  Plus this is preparing the ground for future promotion once I'm ready to publish
  • 30 min Daily minimum engagement with a scavenger hunt though all my creative writing files including Joystory looking for better than shitty first draft scenes, sections, stories, poems and essays and edit, organize and make hard copies. --  It's been years since I've made clean copies of manuscripts in my portfolios and for most of the noveling writing challenges I've never printed hardcopy.  That is a lot of words to mine as between 2004 and 2015 I participated in more than one such challenge per year-- Nanowrimo, Junowrimo, Camp Nano, ROW80 and Sweating for Sven among them.  That is a lot of novella length WIP just gathering electron dust.  A conservative estimate is over 20.  This is an exercise in honoring old work to encourage new work.
  • Create and maintain a FOS Storyworld Bible as part of the file mining.  The aim is to collect in one place all the Character rosters, character sketches and monologs, family trees, timelines, themes, real world history that backdrops the story, landscapes and floor plans and other such story criteria that may be relevant between multiple stories in the storyworld.  This should also help me sort out which of the individual POV WIP really need to stand on their own and which need to be blended together.   Another exercise in honoring old work to encourage new work.
  • To prep for self-pub: Gather all my poems into a single Scrivener file. Minimum one poem per day until all accounted for.  Adding new ones encouraged.  See Poems by Joy Renee Portal.  Another exercise in honoring old work to encourage new work.  Another exercise in honoring old work to encourage new work.
  • Continue writing in the Camp NaNo True Joy memoir file 1000 words Daily Minimum -- This is the heart of the writing challenge.  The preceding provides the structure and the nutrients that nurtures and honors the work which I've learned over time must exist to ensure that this becomes more than just dabbling.  This has been an exercise in honoring my heart and mind to learn to stand in my truth and to explore the events in my life that either inspire or block the writing of the stories. The breakthrough I made during April Camp NaNo gives me hope that the words will soon flow again in the stories. They have already started to haunt my waking and sleeping dreams again.
  • Choose a story or POV character WIP to focus on for the month of June for JuNoWriMo.  This would be a rewrite more than an edit but there would be both editing and added words involved.  I already suspect which story it will be but I need to take a fresh look at it before I commit. It is even possible I might choose two.  One that needs mostly editing and another that needs significant words added.
  • Post one review of a book or a video every week.  See this week's review of M K Wren's A Gift Upon the Shore
  • Read more...

    Monday, May 02, 2022

    Book Review: A Gift Upon the Shore by M K Wren

     

    A Gift Upon the Shore
    by M K Wren



    M K Wren's A Gift Upon the Shore was a gift to readers everywhere and everywhen back in the day before smartphones and internet.  It's a post-apocalyptic story about saving the books for future generations.  

    I read it first time decades ago when it first came out in the early 90s and felt the need for a reread in this day when the book burners and banners are at it again.  

    What might happen if they gained the upper hand?

    The premise:

    Civilization is gone.  Nuclear winter just set in.  Two women alone in a house on a bluff above the surf on the Oregon coast not yet knowing if there are any survivors in the local rural community and if so are they the friendly kind?  

    The runup to the nuclear End had seen a  plague that killed millions in America alone, roving gangs of nihilists terrorizing those still civil, half of California fell into the sea taking 2 million more souls, the president had been assassinated by a bomb and those taking the power canceled the constitution and set up a Federal Information Broadcasting System.  

    You saw that right: FIBS.

    But even that was gone on the day the bombs fell as the EMP took out all electronics including car ignitions and digital clocks, home appliances and power tools  And then nuclear winter set in within days.

    Is there hope?  And if so will they choose it?  

    The only clue is in the author's choice of names for her protagonists: Mary Hope and Rachel Morrow.

    This book came back into my life like a miracle.  I'd thought about it often over the years as memories of scenes haunted me as did the mission the women took upon themselves after the initial shock wore off and they had assured their basic survival needs by looting the abandoned buildings and vehicles within a day's travel on horseback.

    Instinctively, part of their looting had included every book they encountered until the volumes they found together with those they'd already owned topped 10K not counting duplicates.  It was nearly a full year after the End when they had the time to contemplate a future for themselves and for humanity.  And that is when they devised the mission to preserve the books for the future.  

    I had vivid memories of images of them wrapping the books in aluminum foil and then applying a waterproof sealer which I could not remember.  I remembered they had built a vault by digging a cave into the side of the bluff above the surf and lining it with stone and cedar planks.  I remembered that later in the story someone had tried to dynamite the vault.  And that that someone was related to the Christian cult they had encountered years after the End.  The first and only survivors they did encounter within the decades the story covers.

    I had remembered that much but even that more vaguely than that summary implies.

    I had lost my reading records in a move and could no longer remember either author or title.  But I did remember we had once owned a trilogy written by the same author and that it had been a sci/fant story involving another fundie cult and that the title of book one had the word Lamb in it.  That wasn't enough to find a viable search term for online resources.

    But then one day while searching something else altogether (which I no longer remember what it was or the search terms) there in the results was one of the books from the trilogy and there was the author's name and from there it was just a click to find her list of titles and there it was.  A Gift Upon the Shore.

    That happened no more than a month before Dewey's thon and I thought what a perfect read for Dewey's legacy.  So I made myself wait for the morning of the thon to start the book.

    Reading this book was a slow slog due to eye issues (legally blind with RP) combined with emotional issues related to the events in my life in the late 90s that caused me to excommunicate myself from the cult I was raised in.  I wonder now what role this book played back then in helping me identify my own faith community as similarly toxic to the one featured in Wren's book.  

    It must have had some impact if even unconscious as I read it when it was still a new hardback at the library in the early 90s and the first inkling I had of the doctrinal disputes that were about to implode our faith family was in 92.  Then in 94 I witnessed the disciplining of an infant for "inappropriate use of his voice" as the men in the room calmly discussed scripture and the women calmly handed out dessert plates and the small children calmly played their little games on the floor.

    That scene became a tornado that devastated my soul. That picked me up out of my world and set me down in what might as well have been another planet. That turned me from a True Believer into a skeptic and set me on a mission to learn to think for myself.

    There is a scene in this book where a 13 year old is whipped with a belt for blasphemy for asking in church why the begets for Jesus in the gospel don't agree with each other and both lead to Joseph and not Mary who was supposed to be a virgin.  Reading that scene again after spending the month of April writing my memoir of the events that catapulted me out of my faith community was so surrealistic I can't even...

    It was like pouring salt on the wounds I just ripped the scabs off of.

    See Friday's post, Of Flux and Fuss and Frustrations, for a more in depth explanation of the roots of the emotions this novel is stirring up.

    The read-a-thon was supposed to end at 5AM Sunday for me but I read on until 7:30 trying to finish this story. I was still just over 10% out when I had to give up. Then I woke up after only four hours of sleep and after coffee picked up the book again--and fell asleep over it waking at 9pm after another 4 hours of sleep.  I finally finished it after 10PM. 

    This story is going to haunt me for the rest of my days.

    Read more...

    Sunday, May 01, 2022

    Sunday Serenity - More Story Joy

     

    My DVD Shelves

    The read-a-thon was supposed to end at 5am for me but I read on until 7:30 trying to finish that novel I spent more than twelve hours with during the thon.  I woke up after only four hours of sleep and after coffee picked up the book again--and fell asleep over it waking at 9pm after another 4 hours of sleep.  I finally finished it around 10:20 PM.  

    That story is going to haunt me for many more years to come as it had haunted me since the first time I read it in the early 90s.  It was a miracle finding it again as it had gone out of print and I had lost my reading records and could not remember the title or author only snippets of plot and flickers of scenes and the fact it was about rescuing books for the future after a civilization ending event.  I've about talked myself into believing I need to post a review but meanwhile my thoughts on M K Wren's A Gift Upon the Shore as I read yesterday are part of yesterday's thon post.

    But for right now I'm going to finally give myself the reward I promised myself for the dedication to writing my story for Camp NaNo thru April and the dedication to reading stories for the thon all day yesterday.  I'm going to watch DVD sitcoms until I fall asleep again.


    My DVD Player

    There's my DVE player and the little box of DVD taken from their cases.  I call it my line-up.  There 9 of them.  Eight sitcoms and The Twilight Zone. I watch on average one to four episodes per day, working my way through the line-up around six times until all episodes are watched and then switch out for the next-up disc in each series. Very occassionaly and usually because I'm sick, I'll watch through the entire line-up in a single day.

    It takes me ten to fourteen days to work through the pile.  As one series finishes I add a new series into the mix.  That happened several times since Christmas but as it sits now it will be months before another series finishes.

    The line up: 

    • Twilight Zone
    • MASH
    • Gomer Pyle
    • Green Acres
    • Mork and Mindy
    • Laverne and Shirly
    • I Love Lucy
    • Mary Tyler Moore
    • All in the Family

    The common theme: series from my youth that I was discouraged or forbidden to watch at the time.  

    Series I finished since I began this foray into comedy and closing cultural gaps:

    • Bewitched
    • I Dream of Jeanie
    • Keeping Up Appearances
    • Petticoat Junction

    Series waiting in the wings:

    • The Big Bang Theory
    • Seinfeld
    • Beverly Hillbillies
    • Third Rock From the Sun

    That's just the comedies.  I leave the Dramas, Sci-fi/fantasy and such for another post and the movies and musicals from recent to classical I've just started collecting to yet another.

    I used to favor the dramas and sci/fant--the hour long episodes and the movies.  But during the early acute phase of my grieving process after loosing Ed I was watching a MASH episode because it was something we used to do together and he had introduced me to the series after we married.  As I watched one episode I was surprised by laughter in spite of the fresh grief.  

    Discussing it with my counselor she assured me it was normal and nothing to be ashamed of and encouraged me to continue exposing myself to the possibility of laughter so that I would not forget that it too was part of life.  It was the most valuable advice I got about how to endure and process grief.  And it became almost like a mission for me to explore these kinds of stories.  It has been an interesting experience and I hope to muse on it some more in future posts

    But next up tonight: MTM and All in the Family.  And if I'm still awake the line-up starts over with the Twilight Zone...

    Read more...

    Saturday, April 30, 2022

    My Brain On Books XXXI

      

     

     

    I am reading for The Office of Letters and Lights the folks who bring us NaNoWriMo today as I love what they are doing for literacy with their Young Writer's Programs and because I've participated in NaNo every year since 2004.  I have been blessed to have it in my life and would like to give something back if only kudos and link love.  I'm putting this plug at the top in hopes some who stop by will check out their site and see all the great things they do to foster love of reading and writing and story in kids. 

    This post will be organized like a blog inside a blog with recent updates stacked atop previous ones. I may be posting some updates on Twitter @Joystory and the Joystory fb fanpage. But this is where I do anything more than a line or two.  Including mini-challenges that don't require a separate post..   




    Be sure and see my tribute poem to Dewey and the Thon she birthed at the bottom of this post


    My Read-a-Thon Nest



    11:55 PM - Just passed 50% in the novel A Gift Upon the Shore.  I've been reading it steady since around 7pm. The reader app tells me I've read in it for nearly 9 hour and there are nearly 8 hours to go.  It says I'm averaging 137 wpm.  That is slow, even for me with my visual impairment.  My average for most fiction in ebooks with large fonts is around 200 wpm.  Which is a huge come down from my heydays in my teens and twenties before the RP started encroaching on my retinas.  Back then I was clocked at nearly 1K wpm.  Back then, in the 70s, I could have read this book in under four hours.  When I read it in the early 90s I read it in a single day but it probably took 6 or 8 hours with lots of pauses for eyestrain.  That was a treebook which by then would cause my eyes to ache after hours.  Ebooks don't cause the ache but they do cause them to start burning and to feel like sandpaper after hours.

    But it isn't just the eye issues slowing down my reading.  It's the emotional ones.  The first time I read it I was still a True Believer in the doctrine of my church foamily and tho I recognized the fundies in this novel as a cult I was a few years away from recognizing my own community as a cult.  Reading this book again on the heals of spending an intense month writing my memoir about the events that tore me out of the fabric of my life is like pouring salt on the wounds I've just ripped the scabs off.

    See yesterday's post, Of Flux and Fuss and Frustrations, for a more in depth explanation of the roots of the emotions this novel is stirring up.

    I must be a masochist as I'm going straight back to it as soon as I've posted the update and get something to eat.  I'll probably stick with it until the end of thon but if I pass the 80% mark by then it will be hard to put down before I sleep.  Unless my eyes rebel.

    27 Essential Principles of Story
    by Daniel Joshua Rubin

    5:55 PM = Another switch. 
    My cell is charged but I'm going to read one more NF chapter before switching back to the Wren novel.  This time it is going to be 27 Essential Principles of Story: Master the Secrets of Great Storytelling, from Shakespeare to South Park by Daniel Joshua Rubin.  As a writer myself, I've been gleaning a great deal of understanding of the construction of story from Rubin over the last several months.  I may need to own a copy someday as I can't seem to digest what I need in the 2 to 3 weeks of each loan period and I must not be the only one because I'm often waiting in line for another turn.

    It is also time for food and another thermos of coffee.  I have fish sticks in my toaster oven and my water is hot...

    As for Wolff's Reader, Come Home--I just read the chapter likening what happens in the brain to a 5 ring circus with performers akin to Cirque de Soleil.  A fantastical menagerie of speedy acrobats on high-wires and trapeze in a coordinated choreographed dance that engages five areas of the brain encompassing all the lobes and layers to integrate the circuits designed for hunting, foraging and socialization into a new thing we call reading.  It is not something that is genetically programed as is learning language.


    4:44 PM = Switching again. 
    This time to Reader Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World by Maryanne Wolff.  I read her Proust and the Squid years back.  Or at least I had it out of the library several ties and advanced my bookmark though I can't be sure I finished it as my reading records were lost in a move.  Anyway Proust was her attempt to show how literacy literally changed the structure of our brains.  That book was published before smart phones and social media took over our lives and now she is back with a warning.  This new kind of reading is also changing our brains and meanwhile is forming the brains of those born into the new milieu in ways we may not be able to anticipate and ways we may not not relish once it is too late to undo.

    As for the Tori Amos, I think I just found a soul sister.  A poet, song-writer who stresses about the same thing I do but has the courage to stand in her truth and speak her truth about the distressing things she has witnessed.  I hope her courage is contagious.

    But I could only read a couple chapters.  Each chapter begins with the lyrics to one of her songs followed by the story of it's birth.  Poetry must be taking in sips not guzzled like a novel.  I will return many times over the next two weeks of my loan and probably at least one of those returns will be before the end of the thon.

    3:33 PM - Time for a change of pace.  My cell on which I was reading A Gift Upon the Shore just dropped below 10% and must go on the charger.  I don't feel like being tethered so I'm switching to my Windows tablet on which I have my Libby library where I will read a chapter apiece in several NF while waiting for the cell to charge.


    The first up will be Tori Amos's Resistance: A Songwriter's Story of Hope, Change, and Courage.  Sounds like a possible antidote to the mood instilled by a post-apocalyptical novel.

    Yet what a terrible place to be forced to set aside Wren's story. I just passed 30% and Civilization is gone.  Nuclear winter just set in.  Two women alone in a house on a bluff above the surf on the Oregon coast not yet knowing if there are any survivors in the local rural community and if so are they the friendly kind?  A plague that has killed millions, roving gangs of nihilists terrorize the still civil, and all electronics was fried by EMP...

    Is there hope?  And if so will they choose it?  The only clue is in the author's choice of names for her protagonists: Mary Hope and Rachel Morrow.

    A Gift Upon the Shore
    by M K Wren

    5:55 AM - Oops! 
    I sat down on the bed to wait for water to boil for coffee and fell back to sleep.  Getting started now with M K Wren's A Gift Upon the Shore which was a gift to readers everywhere and everywhen back in the day before computers and internet.  A post-apocalyptical story about saving the books for future generations.  I read it first time decades ago and felt the need for a reread in this day when the book burners are at it again.  What might happen if they gained the upper hand?

    4:44 AM - Intro Meme I'm setting this to go live at 4:44 AM but it may be well into hour 1 or even hour 2 before I check in again.  I'll be reading my first pick sitting in my beanbag chair nursing my first thermos of coffee.

    1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

    Kelso Washington USA.  Across the Cowlitz river from Longview where I grew up and had been living with my elderly mother since 2013.  I moved into my 400 square foot efficiency unit in late July.  This  post was a photo essay of my new space.

    2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

    Non-Fiction: Resistance by Tori Amos

    Fiction: A Gift Upon the Shore by M K Wren

    3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

    Chips and guacamole.

    4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

    Living alone for the first time ever.  Nine months now.
    Legally blind with RP aka tunnel vision
    Diagnosed with high functioning autism six years ago
    Have a caregiver who comes in five days a week to help with chores and errands I can't do alone.
    I proved during this move that I have more volume in fiber art supplies than in clothes by at least thee times.

    5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

    I'm going to be buddy reading with someone for the first time since the first year of Dewey's Thons and I'm hoping to interact with the community more this time than in the last several thons.




    Ode to Dewey
    by Joy Renee
    We Miss You Dewey




    Read more...

    Friday, April 29, 2022

    Of Flux and Fuss and Frustrations

     


    Over 50K in a memoir


    Back again after long hiatus.  

    Recent events give me hope I might be back on a regular basis.

    I just spent the month of April participating in Camp NaNoWriMo and am about to break the 50K goal with my next session and realized I had completely forgotten to write the post announcing my participation or to sign up for ROW80 at the beginning of April.  This was one of those times, rare in the recent past, in which the writing itself took me over and became the reason and the reward.

    More about that later but first a recap of the missing months:

    Last fall the chaos of the move in July had still not settled down as I’d expected.  Everything in my life and environment was in flux and unpredictable including the caregivers I needed to survive in my own apartment.  I didn’t let that stop me from doing NaNo in November but it did stop me from blogging about it and keeping up with my ROW80 accountability updates.  

    Then December was devoted to crocheting for Christmas presents, none of which I finished in time.  Then on Christmas day I started reading and read several books a week thru the end of February.  I kept trying to talk myself into reviewing them but well…

    Then in late February my first Housekeeping Inspection was scheduled for mid March and the next two weeks were all about that.  Two days after that I got sick and vegged on my bed/couch with videos for ten days.  Then as soon as I was free of symptoms I got my Covid booster shot and spent another half week lazing with vids and ebooks.  

    Sick Station
    for the last half of March I vegged here with DVD, streaming video, talking book machine and ebooks which commandeered a third of my writing station.

    The day I realized I was sick and not lazy because I could not get up off the beanbag chair without sliding off onto my knees first I had moved my entertainment materials, devices and charging cords in by my bed/couch which cluttered up my writing area with physical and mental distractions.  Now I found myself thinking about writing with fondness again but first I’d have to clear away the clutter.  

    I was mildly motivated.  Too much fuss.

    And then something happened.

    My sister Jamie messaged me out of the blue that she had just signed up for April Camp NaNo—her first NaNo ever—and suggested we be writing buddies if I was planning to participate.

    There followed a long back and forth with me congratulating her on her plan and dithering about what I would designate as my project.  Since she was doing a memoir-like piece about living with chronic disease it started to feel natural for me to lean toward a memoir-like theme as well.  After some more fussing on my part and feedback on hers, I settled on returning to the memoir I’d worked on for a previous Camp NaNo two or three years ago:  True Joy.

    True Joy then as now is an attempt to explore the issues keeping me from standing in my truth which was the reason why I could never finish my many many WIP.  I hashed this out with Jamie that evening providing her with some of my own insights and taking in some of her input.  Then for the kickoff writing session at midnight on April 1st I wrote this statement of intent:


    The intent as I begin this project is for this to remain between me and the page.  I must tell myself that and believe it long enough to reach deep and tell my story—the story that defines my life.  Because there are others in my story who are not displaying their best selves I felt I could not tell the story so I bottled it up.  Secrets kept like that can kill.  

    I have spent decades using as a substitute the vast storyworld I created in the late 80s which I call By Their Fruits You Shall Know Them or Fruits of the Spirit or FOS for short.  I’ve got somewhere near 20 WIP set in FOS and for a couple of years at least that playground of ideas has stopped working as the outlet for dealing with the issue that is at the very heart of who I became after November 2, 1994.  

    It is partly but only partly because even when I disguise the event in layers of fiction acted out with players that in no way resemble in any physical or psychological level the individual who committed the act that irrevocably changed who I am, that person would recognize the elements of the incident once publication made it accessible.

    So I keep writing up to the edge of The Incident and then shying away.

    I’m going to start in the first section by relating The Incident in as much fine detail as possible and whenever it helps to do so to use the same techniques as fiction to create the scene.  After I’ve done that, which might take days of intense writing, I will create new sections to unpack the life history relevant to how and why The Incident had the effect on me that it did and the story of how it changed my heart, soul, spirit, faith, and mind and how that changed the path of my life and how it catapulted me out of the cult I was raised in and sent me on a search for a truth I could live with and set me on a spiritual journey towards true Joy.

    I can report now that this effort has been a success unlike the previous attempt.  Maybe because I wasn’t alone this time.  With Jamie supporting me and hearing me out whenever I thought I’d had an insight or was just drowning in the chaos of the emotions, I could muddle through.  As someone who knew the players, who had been adopted into our family in spirit as an orphaned teen, attended the cult functions through Junior High and High School without ever buying into it, she had the ability to stand both inside and outside the zeitgeist of it from where she could see where I’d twisted pretzel shapes into my thoughts and suggest better ways of thinking about it.

    Also supporting me in the exercise was a cousin who reconnected with me last summer with her own story of escaping the cult.  Our email exchanges contributed to my word count as well as to the untwisting of my thoughts.  With the help of these two soul sisters I was able to begin groping my way toward firm ground in my mind but not until I’d brought my heart and soul into the process.

    I can’t go into the details here on how I made my way through the twisty tangles of my mind and what sparked the insights that helped me unsnarl the chaos of thoughts and emotions because I’m still uncomfortable with outing others publicly but I have lost the inhibitions about fictionalizing it.  This applies not only to the Incident of November 94 but to fears of making the cult in my storyworld resemble too closely the one I was raised in.  Though I will no longer go to extremes in trying to disguise it nor will I make special effort at verisimilitude.  It is fictional.  There will be similarities and there will be differences.  The final shape it takes will be dictated by the needs of the story.

    Writing Station
    Not perfect.  Not even near my ideal but it worked well enough for this project

    I accomplished all of that without completing the move of the distractions back to the beanbag alcove.  The day following the evening I committed to Camp NaNo I focused on making the writing area as serviceable as possible for the kickoff leaving the sick station intact as before I could set entertainment back up in there I had to tear it down to bare floor corner to corner on a search for several missing items and it would be so much easier to do that before I set up the charging station in there again.  Just last weekend I completed that search and moved the devices in there but never got the charging station set up so many of the items have found their way back.  Especially the videos and DVD player.

    But that is just as well as tomorrow is Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon and I can read on the beanbag with ebook or audio book without having the entertainment station set up to perfection.  It might be best if the videos are left right where they are until after the thon.

    What this month has taught me is that I'm too fussy about details that don't matter, that I'm too easily frustrated by the unexpected, and that flux is the very definition of life and can be channeled to accommodate the aspirations instead of drowning them in a wallow of woe-is-me.  

    Focus is the key and as one on the autism spectrum focus is my superpower when I find the right target for it.  That's called being in the flow and when I'm there all the fuss and muss and frustrations just float away.

    Read more...

    Tuesday, February 22, 2022

    Book Review: Time and the Tree by Roisin Sorahan -- Including an Interview with the Author and a Giveaway

    Time and the Tree by Róisín Sorahan

    Time and the Tree by Roisin Sorahan 

    Publisher: Adelaide Books, NY (September 6, 2021 
    Category: Literary Fiction, Fantasy, Modern Fable, and Self-actualization 
    Tour dates: January-February, 2022
    ISBN: 978-1955196635 
    Available in Print and ebook, 
    282 pages

    Time and the Tree 

    Description of Time and the Tree by Roisin Sorahan


    A modern fable about the nature of time and the quest for happiness. It's darkly funny, deceptively simple, and a necessary read for testing times. In this gripping philosophical tale, a boy awakens beneath a tree in a forest in summer. He is soon joined by Time and his slave, a withered creature hooked on time and aching to disappear. The story evolves over the course of a year as a host of characters are drawn to the Tree for guidance. The unlikely cast grapple with choices and grope towards self-knowledge in a world where compassion is interwoven with menace. As the seasons bring great changes to the forest, we watch the child grow while the trials he faces mount.  Then the time for talk and innocence passes as the forces of darkness rally, threatening the lives of his friends. Lyrical, honest and heart-breaking, Time and the Tree confronts readers with a unique perspective on the challenges life presents. A wise and hopeful book, it is uplifting and unsettling by turns.

    Joy's Review of Time and the Tree by Roisin Sorahan


    This charming tale enchanted me.  In its very simplicity it drew me in and held me as willing witness to wonder and wisdom.  Not since the era of my late pre-teens have I been so captivated by a story .  Not since the time of my early teens have I experienced the sense of having been profoundly changed at my core by a story. It was such stories that lit the flame of my love for story and memories of them that keep me on a quest for more such stories with the power to transform me and my world.

    Time and the Tree is an allegory that might be mistaken for a children's story but its intended audience is as ageless as a tree that is both ancient and new every season.  The setting is the Forest over a year of changing seasons progressing from summer thru autumn and winter and ending as spring is about to give way again to summer.  On this stage in the opening scene we encounter Boy conversing with Tree his constant companion, teacher and friend.  Their dialogs are gentle lessons in living from the heart with integrity and joy.

    In the midst of their communion they are joined by Time and his Shadow.  Time is a potbellied functionary with the hands of a clock attached to his navel, the second hand relentlessly circling passes just under his chin.  His companion, Shadow, waits on him hand and foot carrying the burden of all the accoutrements of an urban lifestyle upon its back for their wilderness trek.  Time is a bully constantly calling Shadow Slave and Fool and berating it for being slow and incompetent and worthless.  Time seems to think he is there to tell Tree what's what and make sure Boy has the true scoop on the meaning of life.  But Boy takes his lesson from Time not via his words but by close observation of his behaviors..

    Later the group is joined by Weaver a haggard woman with eight limbs who is constantly knitting with wool and needles while weaving snares of words for her intended recruits for her icy northerner empire. Time and Weaver snipe at one another hinting at a history going back to their youth.  Once again Boy's observation of behavior has more impact on his understanding than Weaver's slippery words.

    It isn't until the arrival of Wanderer, a caped traveler and adventurer, that Boy becomes enthralled by a visitor's tale.  He hangs on her every word, hankers after a dagger just like hers and spends time among the trees acting out her tales of daring do
    .
    Then in the midst of winter long after Weaver had left in a snit and shortly after Time, Shadow and Wanderer had set off on a joint adventure leaving Boy alone with Tree, there arrived a pair of scurrilous Woodcutters, minions of Weaver on an an ominous mission for their icy-hearted mistress...  

    Of which I can say no more without providing spoilers.

    Tree's conversations with each character maintain the same open-hearted respect and compassion no matter their attitude.  They remind me a bit of Plato's dialogs with a hint of Jesus' parables and sermons seasoning rich servings of Buddha and the Tao.

    More of my reaction to this story is revealed below in my interview questions for Roisin Sorahan with her replies providing more insight into the heart of her story...


    Praise for Time and the Tree by Roisin Sorahan


    Time and the Tree by Roisin Sorahan is truly a masterpiece...A fable full of thought-provoking metaphors, knowledge, and awareness of the bigger picture...I would recommend it for all who relish beautiful literature, especially stories with a deeper meaning."-San Francisco Book Review (5/5 star rating)

    Time and the Tree explores matters of spirit, intention, kindness and how to live the time that is offered through a series of revelations that will often prompt readers to set aside the tale to consider their own relationships with time and life. Sorahan's...ability to bring to life some basic tenets of existence and the existential questions many come to feel during the course of a lifetime creates an insightful read on the level of The Velveteen Rabbit classic."  - D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review 

    A genre-busting masterpiece, full of pacy storytelling, wry dialogue and philosophical challenge -Declan Kiberd, Author (incl. Inventing Ireland), Professor Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame, and international authority on modern Irish literature

    Time and the Tree is unlike anything I've read in contemporary literature ... a beautiful fable fit for difficult and confusing days. -Luke Gerwe - Associate Editor, PBS NewsHour, and formerly Managing Editor, Voice of Witness book series 

    "An uplifting and tranquil allegory filled with positivity and hope, Time and the Tree by Roisin Sorahan is a magical tale of a young boy who lives in a forest, a wise and caring tree which offers shelter and guidance and numerous other characters that appear in order to challenge and change under the tree and the boy's influence. This book is filled with lessons: to be mindful and present instead of constantly rushing towards a tomorrow that's just out of reach; the importance of healing past trauma and self-love and acceptance, or showing empathy for others. Hope and positivity flows from the pages of this lyrical story as we navigate the ever-changing seasons in this magical forest. Time and the Tree is well-written, its characters compliment each other, with the naivety and curiosity of the young boy setting up many of the lessons. There is a level of spirituality in this book, it encourages meditation and gratitude while also promoting that it's ok to be you, to embrace your unique qualities and to follow your own path. Told with an emphasis on nature, Time and the Tree is an uplifting read that will infuse any reader's day with positivity. It's imagery and storyline are gentle and easy to follow with its underlying message about looking to the light in all things will leave readers with warm feelings of hope and positivity. I found this book entertaining and witty in places, but ultimately it left me with a sense of peace and calm."  -LoveReading

    "This is a lovely story that, on the surface, appears like a simple fairy tale. But it is much more than that. It is full of symbolism and knowledge...this book has a beautiful message that is sure to stay with me. Time and the Tree is a beautiful debut from a talented author."-Manhattan Book Review


    Joy's Interview with Roisin Sorahan


    Dear Joy,
    It means a lot to me that you enjoyed Time and the Tree. Thank you for taking the time to read it. I also appreciate such thoughtful and insightful questions. 
    I believe the reader completes the creative process. They bring their memories, experiences, failures and aspirations, and sculpt their own meaning from it. It is with this in mind that I approach your questions. I don’t want to influence, or shape, the response to Time and the Tree. It’s important that the reader creates it in their own image, according to their need and belief, every single time.
    But, to answer your first question, my name, Róisín, is Irish. Phonetically it is pronounced: Row-sheen.
    1. Influences.  I hope that this first set of questions related to Influences is enough different from the question 'Where do you get your ideas?' that you won't, as most authors do for that version, turn from them in disgust and horror.:
    Authors are often the worst people to describe their work. Articulate on the page, we stutter over words to encapsulate it. Some have been known to bark. I recall Samuel Beckett’s response when prodded: “No symbols where none intended.” 
    But, I shall try…

    A. Landscapes
    What and where were the landscapes you encountered from earliest memory to the last sentence written that influenced your development of your story's landscape?

    I grew up in Dublin, in Ireland. It’s a fantastic city. One of my favourite aspects of it, however, is how easy it is to get out of it and find oneself in the hills, smothered by gorse, or on the coast, doused by the smell of the sea.
    Some of my earliest, and happiest, memories, are of sojourns along the west coast of Ireland. There’s magic there, it its unruly wildness.
    My parents were attuned to the rhythm of the seasons. My mum grew things. My dad took enormous pleasure in the rise and fall of a wild creature’s chest. I learned to observe, and respect, the natural world, from them.
    In my childhood, and in all that followed, mountains existed to be climbed; and admired. And trees, well, they offer enormous comfort, don’t they? Perhaps it’s their heartbeats that resonate with us, on a visceral level. 
    Our small garden, growing up, was also a place of wonder. I recall hunkering down, head bent over the first flowers of spring. They never failed to draw me closer, and astonish me, every single time. I could have spent hours looking at them. I possibly did. 
    As an adult, I took to the road, lured by the siren’s call. I’ve traveled across so many borders, now, that boundaries mean little to me. The world is astonishing in its beauty, and in its capacity to surprise. So, too, are the people one meets. 
    I drew on my travels when recounting the Wanderer’s experiences. The road itself became an important landscape in my tale, with all its promise, and uncertainty. 
    In this vein I can't help but wonder if you ever wandered alone in a forest as a child as Boy does?
    I wandered, certainly. But with the knowledge that my parents were close by, so I never felt lost. Perhaps this sense of security is reflected in the Boy’s ease in this environment.
    But, you are right to identify the important role the forest plays in the story. 
    It links into the tradition of the fairy tale, where the forest is an enclosed world that can represent both danger and refuge. It thrums with possibility and life. And, for all that it keeps its secrets in the open, it hints at another space, that cannot be seen, that hovers on the edge of awareness. 
    The forest is both a portal, and a boundary. 

    B. Reading/Philosophies/Media
    From earliest memories to the last sentence written, what were the cultural experiences from your life that influenced the development of Time and the Tree?

    I live my life deliberately. I take risks and make choices. And I take responsibility for these choices. Even the bad ones. 
    It’s a decision to live in this manner. It opens one to possibility; and it comforts with the knowledge that nothing is immutable, and change is always within reach. I remind myself that all that is past has significance, in bringing me to where I am. And all that follows flows from this moment. 
    It makes me aware of time. It also helps me to understand that my relationship with time is within my control, and a decision that I make.
    This is one of the central tenets of Time and the Tree. It challenges the reader to reflect on choices they have made, from a fresh perspective. It also offers hope. 
    As our capacity for tyranny and self-destruction is enormous, so too is our light, and our ability to change. 
    I am also a proponent of the Philosophy of Happiness. This, for some, is a tricky one. Culturally, we are encouraged to think of others, and do the right thing. This is critical for operating within social structures. However, this message has been packaged in guilt, and wrapped in self-sacrifice. Dousing the light, to let others shine. 
    This, of course, is antithetical. 
    Women, I believe, suffer particularly from societal pressure to deny personal need, desire and ambition, for the good of the tribe. They are defined by their roles. And celebrated, or shamed, accordingly. Little wonder that ‘the invisible woman’ haunts galleries, history books and tales of daring do. 
    This diminishes all of us. In supressing the will to love and learn and be, it scrubs words and drags darkness into the space where the light should be. Without happiness we cannot help ourselves, let alone another.
    The pursuit of happiness is explored in Time and the Tree. It examines the importance of self-actualization. It also illustrates the cost of erasing the self; underscoring the fundamental tenet that underlies pretty much every spiritual philosophy: love yourself; love others. 
    Here I can't help but wonder if you discovered and loved allegory type stories as a child and, if so, which ones?
    I devoured fairy tales, and all stories magical: The Brothers Grimm; Enid Blyton; Hans Christian Andersen. Then I moved on to fantasy. I read The Lord of the Rings numerous times. 
    I just finished Kelly Barnhill’s The Girl Who Drank the Moon, which utterly bewitched me.
    Children’s literature continues to fascinate me. It’s subversive. Magic is another word for possibility. And the format of the fable is extremely powerful.  

     

    I used it in Time and the Tree because it employs a childlike simplicity that takes you by the hand and brings you to places you might never have otherwise ventured. Before you know it, you’re in the basement in the dead of night, while the wind howls and the electricity fails. 

     

    Typically, fables also lead you home again; though the meaning of ‘home’ may have dramatically changed from when you set out on the journey.


    C. Life Events
    From earliest memories to the last sentence written, what aspects of your personal history influenced Time and the Tree?

    I quit a good job to travel the world in pursuit of happiness. When I set out, I figured I’d find places that lured me into staying. However, I discovered that I was never happier than when my nose was pressed against the window of a filthy bus. The road became my destination, and I had time to think.
    The opportunity to allow the mind to meander is a novelty in modern times. When my brain quit making lists, it had space for ideas.
    I slept in countless beds, packed and re-packed my belongings, shedding stuff, where I could. My sense of need, my understanding of my blessings and opportunities, and my concept of home, evolved. 
    During this time, I met numerous people who influenced my thinking and guided me towards my path. The opportunity to learn and practice Vipassana mediation in retreats in Dehradun in Indian, and in Shelbourne, Massachusetts, in the US, played an important role in the evolution of Time and the Tree.
    Here I'm especially interested in how your personal encounters with loss and grief played a role in developing the core philosophy of Tree revealed near the end.  But if there are any others that come to mind I welcome them as well.
    Death and life are intertwined. Endings and beginnings. Complicated stuff. 
    We reach a point in our lives, where we all experience it, at some stage. There is no avoiding it.
    Grief and death are not to be confused, however. Grief is painful and ragged. The cost of loving deeply. 
    Death is what gives meaning to life. Without winter, there would never be spring.
    2. Why did you choose to keep the Boy nameless and untethered to any hint of a life outside the forest?  No parents, siblings, culture of his own?  No past before the Tree?
    The Boy is an archetype. He features powerfully in the story, but his role is to question, to seek, to be the site over which a battle is raged. And it is his function to transition from innocence to knowledge. 

    He is a critical catalyst in the tale. But, most importantly, in retaining him featureless, he is a vessel into which the reader can pour themselves.

    3. As I read your description of Weaver's Web in the far North I got chilling associations in my mind with our World Wide Web.  Was this intentional?  Part of your vision?  Or just a matter of your Story acting like a Rorschach's inkblot for individual readers as so many do?

    Tyranny exists in many forms. We have witnessed this throughout history, and our current time is no different. The mechanisms of power change, but the intentions do not.

    When I wrote the North, I had ample references. All of our time. They coalesced to shape this dystopian realm. The political unrest we’ve seen these past few years, and the misinformation that foments fear and creates the Other, all played into the evolution of the Weaver’s web. 
    4. At one point I saw such a strong correlation between the relationship of Time and his Shadow to our Patriarchal culture's marriage dynamic that I half expected you to reveal them as the Boy's parents.  Rorschach or real?  Have you encountered in reading or travels any other culture types that use time tyranny the way Patriarchy does? Or any Patriarchy that did not? Or any at all that eschew time tyranny and yet exhibit sustainable success?
    That’s a wonderful way to read the story, Joy. And I think the relationship between Time and the Shadow can be understood in many different ways.
    More generally, time has always held great sway, in one way, or another. The pressure to get the hay in before the rain falls; the need to get the animals into the barn, before the night comes. The roll of the seasons, and the pendulum of day and night, have always been batons that beat out the measure of days and lives.
    Then, the industrial revolution monetized time. And, in placing a value on time, it handed it to those with earning potential. Traditionally, men. The breadwinners sloughed to the factories and counted their days in hours spent earning a crust. It wasn’t great. But it was better than time being counted for nothing, which was the case of the domestic, female, sphere. Linking time to money created yet another power imbalance in the Patriarchal structure.
    However, there are other ways to engage with time. And this is what Time and the Tree explores. Time is a construct of our making. The role it plays in our lives is ours to choose. It can be the yoke to which we tether our lives, as we strain and yearn towards a better future; or it can add weight to the present moment, with the knowledge that it too will pass, regardless of its wonder, or its pain.

    This is central to Buddhist thinking, and it is an ethos that is slowly seeping into Western culture.

    5. Why does Tree welcome Time and Weaver and exhibit a faith and hope that they can be redeemed?  Are there some aspects of these two characters that are essential to life if their attributes and actions had not been corrupted?  As distasteful as I found them I also registered empathy for them and this resonates with the personal philosophy I developed after I broke with the fundie cult I was raised in: That there is no such thing as an irredeemable sentient being.  Can you riff on this concept?

    I don’t believe in the lost cause. Any more than I believe in our power to change another. We can help. We can support. And we can guide. But the impetus for change lies within the individual.
    Our personal capacity for destruction and self-loathing is matched by our ability to evolve. It is within our power to create new thought patterns and relationship habits. We can change how we engage with the world, even when we cannot control society’s mechanisms. Who we spend time with; how we listen; the words we choose to speak; the silences and counsels that we keep. We can put out a hand to help another. Equally, we can decide that we ourselves are worth saving.
    If this pandemic has reminded us of anything, it is that humans are adept at evolving and surviving. Regardless of how much we fight it, and how much it frightens us, change is always within our grasp.
    The Tree does not bar the path to any who seeks its counsel. It does not stand on judgement. Nor does it crush its limbs, by flinging itself against the world. It helps the reader understand that “Time gives meaning to endings and beginnings and encourages us to dive into the chasm that lies between.”
    It also throws the gauntlet to the reader to reflect on their path and the choices they’ve made, and the role they have cast Time in their lives.
    The Weaver is more difficult to empathize with. Yet, the Tree consistently approaches her with compassion, even as it displays its steels. The Tree will not compromise, for all the Weaver’s wheedling. It will not be less than what it is. 
    Ends

    About Roisin Sorahan

    Roisin Sorahan is an Irish author currently living in Vermont. She has published numerous stories about her adventures on the road, as well as life as an English teacher in China. Prior to becoming a nomad writer, she pursued a decade-long career in public relations. She holds a Master of Letters from Trinity College Dublin, specializing in Samuel Beckett. Time and the Tree is her debut novel. 



    Buy Time and the Tree by Roisin Sorahan


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    This giveaway is for 3 print or ebook copies, One for each of 3 winners. Print is open to Canada and the U.S. only and ebook is open worldwide. This giveaway ends on March 12, 2022 midnight, pacific time. 
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