Sunday, July 20, 2014

Book Signing at Dogeared Books

Our book signing event at Dog-Eared Books was a huge success. Thanks to everyone who participated and an especially big thanks to Mandy at the book store who organized the event and had fun raffles throughout the day. It was a fun day for everyone.
Ann Summerville, Joanne Faries, Nancy Lynn, Martha Faulkner

Nancy Lynn

Monday, July 14, 2014

Ann Summerville - Book Signing - Weatherford, Texas

July 19 10:00 – 2:00

318 Santa Fe Drive, Weatherford, Texas 76086  - 817.598.1800

About the authors:
MARTHA FAULKNER enjoys combining three of her greatest loves: children, writing, and humor. She has taught elementary for over twenty-five years and currently teaches third grade in Aledo, Texas. Martha uses her stories to teach writing skills to her “Frog” students as she shares her love of writing. 
Martha lives with her husband Jim on a small ranch in the West Texas town of Weatherford. She has three grown children, two daughters-in-law, and three granddaughters with whom she looks forward to sharing her stories.
A member of Trinity Writers Workshop since 2000, Martha is also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Although the author of many short stories and humorous poems, this is Martha’s first children’s book.

JOANNE FARIES, originally from the Philadelphia area, lives in Texas with her husband Ray. Published in Doorknobs & Bodypaint, she also has poems in Silver Boomer anthologies. Joanne is the film critic for the Little Paper of San Saba. Look for her humorous memoir My Zoo World: If All Dogs Go to Heaven, Then I'm in Trouble, a story collection Wordsplash Flash and three poetry books - Wordsplash Poetry Puddle: Nature, Hazy Memory, and Tread Water on Amazon.

NANCY LYNN was born in Fort Worth, Texas, attended TCU and has a degree in education. Although she was a banker for many years, she is also a contract writer and continues her hobby of writing short stories. THE AIREDALE'S TALES is told by Bentley the Airedale, who lived with Nancy Lynn for 12+ years. You will see that he was a charmer and a rascal and wanted to share his adventures about life on earth (Fort Worth in particular) with everyone who reads about them. Be prepared to laugh and maybe cry a little as you read THE AIREDALE'S TALES.
ANN SUMMERVILLE, author of A Graceful Death and Grandmother’s Flower Garden, was born in England, and in search of a warmer climate, moved to California before settling in Texas.  Her short stories and flash fiction have been published in the Lutheran Digest, Long Story Short, The Shine Journal, Doorknobs & Bodypaint, Associated Content, Trinity Writers’ Workshop newsletters and also their collection of Christmas stories.  Ann resides in Fort Worth with her son, two boisterous dogs and a somewhat elusive cat and is currently working on her 9th cozy mystery. Her books are available on Amazon and Smashwords.Com

Friday, July 11, 2014

Shakespeare's Pub by Pete Brown

In Shakespeare's Pub (A Barstool History of London as Seen Through the Windows of Its Oldest Pub), Pete Brown views London from the Southwark pub, The George Inn. His research shows a public house has been at this location perhaps as early as the 14th century, rebuilt in 1677 after the fire of Southwark (10 years after the  Great Fire of London) and renovated when it was found to be structurally unsound in 1937. The connection to Shakespeare is that he lived in Southwark and possibly wrote Macbeth and Hamlet while living there. But this isn't a book about Shakespeare, it's about London and how it grew up around the river Thames, about coaching inns (often depicted by Charles Dickens) and the constant redevelopment of the City of London. Although sometimes dry reading, the author has a sense of humor and offers many tidbits about London. For instance, Prime Minister, William Pitt added a clock tax of five shillings in 1797. To encourage customers, most of whom did not have a watch or clock, public houses began putting large clocks in their establishments. These clocks were affectionately known as Act of Parliament Clocks. The tax was later repealed and replaced by an even more unpopular income tax.

The only thing I would have added to the book is a map of London. Even though I grew up in London, it was hard to picture some of the roads and locations and an updated map of the area around The George Inn would have been helpful.

If you love history, then you will quickly become immersed in London life around The George Inn.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Midsomer Murders

The first book I read about Inspector Barnaby was The Killings at Badger's Drift by Caroline Graham. Since writing her series, many of the books have been created for television - Midsomer Murders starring John Nettles as Inspector Barnaby. And subsequent episodes were written with the same theme. If you like murder mysteries set in quaint English villages, this is a great series to both read and watch. (I've watched 82 DVDs so far - all from the local library). You can view the complete episode guide here. These are also available on Acorn TV and are occasionally shown on PBS. Many of the locations have been in Buckinghamshire and they even have Midsomer Murder Mystery Tours.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Shadow of Death by James Runcie

The Shadow of Death is volume 1 of the Grantchester Mysteries (set in Cambridge) by James Runcie. As the son of a clergyman, James Runcie makes Canon Sidney Chambers a believable and likable character who delves into the mysteries of crime investigations. There are several stories in The Shadow Death combined by common threads. The stories are reminiscent of Father Brown and set in about the same time period following WWII. ITV is currently filming the Grantchester series and hopefully it will be picked up by PBS perhaps as part of the Masterpiece Mysteries series.

From the cover:
Sidney Chambers, the vicar of Grantchester, is a thirty-two-year-old bachelor. Tall, with dark brown hair, eyes the color of hazelnuts, and a reassuring gentle manner, Sidney is an unconventional clergyman and can go where the police cannot.
In these six interconnected mysteries, Sidney, together with his roguish friend Inspector Geordie Keating, inquire into a variety of crimes, including the suspect suicide of a Cambridge solicitor, a scandalous jewelry theft and the unexplained death of a well-known jazz promoter's daughter.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


The Happy Movie was produced by Roko Belic after years of research around the world. The opening scenes were of a man living in the slums of India with his family in a "house" that looked like a slight breeze might blow over. He talked of days where his feet were sore from the hot ground when he ran through India pulling people in a Rickshaw. He spoke of the monsoon days when the streets were flooded, but surprisingly he said he was happy. He attributed this to his children running to meet him when he arrived home in the evening and he had great neighbors and friends.

So is the key to happiness community and a sense of belonging? Although Japan has the least happy population focusing on achievements and long working hours (they even have a name for death by overwork karoshi), Okinawa has a population with longevity of over 100 years. In Okinawa they focus on community and elders treat the children as if they were their own grandchildren, an act of kindness.

Happiness is 50% genetics, 10% of circumstance and 40% of intentional behavior.

To sum it up, extrinsic values such as success, image and status do not increase happiness whereas intrinsic values do (personal growth, relationships, desire to help). The hedonic treadmill has a theory that after a bad or good experience, people return to a state of neutrality. Once our basic needs are met the increase in wealth has little effect on happiness.

Roko Belic's list for happiness:

  1. Practice gratitude - write a list each week of things you are grateful for.
  2. Community and friends - spend time with friends and family. When we are part of a community it makes people switch from thinking what they don't have to what they do have.
  3. Focus - completely immerse yourself in an activity or hobby. Live in the moment.
  4. Be a part of something offering meaning (volunteer for a good cause)
  5. Act with compassion - Do something for others.
  6. Exercise - increase dopamine by exercising (aerobic)

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (author of The Secret Life of Bees) is my favorite book so far this year.

Books about slavery are usually not ones I pick up, but Sue Monk Kidd's beautiful writing draws the reader in to the story of two women. One, Handful, is a young slave girl and the other, Sarah, is the daughter of a landowner. She abhors slavery and refuses to accept Handful as a gift from her mother. Each woman has her own struggles, but Handful tells Sarah that "owners" cannot enslave her mind whereas that's exactly what has happened to Sarah who is prevented from studying law like her brothers, and even forbidden to use the library. The Invention of Wings is about overcoming hurdles. Sue Monk Kidd has the gift of putting words on the page and conjuring up pictures of life in Charleston in the early 1800s. This would make a great book club read.

Be sure to read the author's note at the end of the book where Sue Monk Kidd explains how the book was inspired by Sarah Grimke's life. Ms. Kidd has researched the time period and the Grimke family and visited where they lived (which is now owned by a law firm). She used the lives of Sarah and Angelina Grimke who were the first female abolitionist agents. Angelina was the first woman to speak before a legislative body. Not only were they for emancipation, but also for equality for both slaves and women. Although Handful was a fictional character, she was added to give a slave's perspective during that time. Sarah did have a slave/maid whom she taught to read and write for which they were both punished.

This is the first e-book that I've borrowed from the library. If you have an e-reader take a look at the collection of e-books that your local library "stocks".  It's a relatively easy way to get some great reads.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Moody Mansion - Galveston, Texas

Moody Mansion, a palatial residence on Galveston Island's famous Broadway (often referred to as Millionaire's Row) has been restored to reflect the late 1800s when it was built. W.L. Moody, Jr. purchased the house shortly after the 1900 storm which devastated a good portion of the island. W.L. Moody was influential in the growth of Galveston. Pictures are not allowed inside the house but you can view images here

Friday, June 20, 2014

Rosemary Cottage by Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble will keep you guessing about several mysteries throughout her book Rosemary Cottage and who could resist a story setting around a beach cottage on an Outer Banks island. The story follows several islanders,and visitors to the island, whose lives seem intertwined. Ms. Coble does a great job at keeping the reader interested in the story and the lives of those who call Hope Island home.

From the cover:
The charming Rosemary Cottage on the beach offers Amy Lange respite she needs to mourn her brother, Ben. She's even thinking of moving her midwife practice to the Outer Banks community. It's always been a refuge for her and her family. She also wants to investigate Ben's disappearance at sea. Everyone blames a surfing accident, but Amy has reason to Wonder.

My thoughts:
I loved the setting. The descriptions of the location and smells of the ocean made me feel I was there on a windswept beach. At the beginning a lot of characters were introduced and I did get a little confused, but it didn't take long to sort everyone out and their connections to each other. I'm looking forward to reading more of Colleen Coble's novels. This would be a good summer read.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Raising Galveston Island

I found this interesting video about how Galveston Island was raised after the 1900 storm. Quite an undertaking.

Although the efforts of the citizens in the 1900s did prevent many storm catastrophes, Hurricane Ike hit Galveston with a vengeance in 2008.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Pug that Survived Katrina by Martha Faulkner

The Pug that Survived Katrina is written by a long time friend of mine, Martha Faulkner. Although written from the point of view of Napi, the dog, the circumstances are true and explains what happened during that tragic time when rescue boats refused to take pets aboard after the hurricane.  New Orleans Memorial Hospital was not evacuated as most people thought it was built to withstand a storm and many of the hospital staff took their animals with them to ride it out. Cheryl Landry was one of the nurses and she was forced to leave her beloved pug behind when the rescue boats came. The animals were left scared and without their owners. An anesthesiologist stayed behind to try and keep the animals alive for as long as he could, but was prepared to euthanize them to relieve suffering. (During training exercises for a disaster such as Hurricane Katrina FEMA didn't consider pets and animals important and made no provision for their rescue).

Although this is written for children (Martha Faulkner is a third grade teacher) it nevertheless is a story that adults would enjoy. Martha has been reading the manuscript to her school children for years and finally published it this month. One of her former students, Carmen Rousseau who is now 13, provided the illustrations.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Ashton Villa - Galveston, Texas

Ashton Villa, built in the mid-1800s was the first brick house in Texas. Although it survived the 1900 hurricane and a plan to demolish the building was stopped by the Historical Foundation, the last hurricane and flooding did so much damage, that restoration has been put on hold. There are no immediate plans to re-open the house to the public. The ballroom and some of the rooms are used for functions and the gardens can still be viewed (entrance through the Visitors Center). The wrought iron fence around the house was once 3 feet taller, but the bottom half was covered when the island was raised to prevent flooding from storm surges.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Home for Sam by Ann Summerville and Giveaway

A Home for Sam is a children's book based on the parable of the Good Samaritan. I'm taking a break from writing cozy mysteries to write stories for my grandchildren. The Kindle version is currently free until June 10. It's a short story so if you don't have a Kindle you may want to read it on your computer Download Kindle for PC

Sam didn't like cats but his dad had taught him to love everyone, even when they weren't nice to him. So when a cat fell from a tree, Sam went to rescue her and through his kindness found what he'd always wanted - a home.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg is well known for her role as chief operating officer at Facebook. In her book Lean In she encourages women to lean forward rather than falling back in the business environment. Young girls, she says, are discouraged from being bossy and aggressive, traits that are thought well of in boys.
Professional ambition is expected of men but is optional - or worse, sometimes even a negative - for women.
Ms. Sandberg quotes statistics where only 17 women are rulers of 195 independent countries, 21% of Fortune 500 company leaders are women and they hold 14% of executive officer positions. 18% are elected congressional officials (she notes the gap is even wider for women of color).
What she would like women to take from her book is to stop holding themselves back, to be more confident. True equality would be where women ran half our companies and men ran half our homes. "Equal" pay is still only 77 cents per dollar of what a man makes for the same position.
She encourages men to also read her book to fully understand what women are up against.