Rose, My Nan, the Log House, and Stories

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Please enjoy this wonderful post from the excellent teacher, Jennie!

A Teacher's Reflections

My grandmother Nan was born in 1886, the same year Laura Ingalls Wilder’s daughter was born.  They both have the same name, too – Rose!  What a connection.  There’s more.

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Nan as I remember her.


Nan when she was 14.
Just think- I not only spent time in her childhood home as a child,
I visited there when I was 14.
My granddaughter just turned 14.


Nan in 1909 when she was married.
Look at that hat and muffler!

My grandmother, Nan, has been my hero since I was a little girl.  I spent Sunday afternoons with her, and it was delightful.  No, it was more than that.  Nan filled me with stories, taffy pulls, and dressing-up.  She drove me and my sister in to Kresge’s, the five-and-dime, to spend a whole nickel on anything we wanted.  Sundays with Nan were the best.

She was born and raised in a…

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Quotations On Opposing Evil

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“He who does not oppose evil……commands it to be done.”

                                                                         Leonardo Da Vinci

NPG 655; Edmund Burke studio of Sir Joshua Reynolds

studio of Sir Joshua Reynolds, oil on canvas, (1767-1769)

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

                                                                      Edmund Burke

Martin_Luther_King,_Jr.

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

                                                                 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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“The oppression of people anywhere is an injustice to all of humanity, and it must be opposed. We need to speak out and have our voices be heard. This is not a time for silence.”

                                                                    Charles F. French

Russia Invades Ukraine: An Act of War By A Dictatorship

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I try very hard to stay away from politics in my blog. I attempt to deal with writing and creativity, but some events demand that writers speak out.

Russia, led by Putin, has invaded Ukraine, a sovereign nation and is conducting war against that country. Additionally, some in the U.S.A. are actively supporting Putin, and that is horrifying. How can an American support the actions of a Fascist dictator against another country? Have we forgotten the Soviet Union, and have we ceased to remember the actions of Hitler?

I am not calling for America to go to war, but everything that can be done to stop and/or punish Russia for this craven attack on Ukraine must be done. Americans need to cease using this as a political football to attack the other party–that is unconscionable and utterly devoid of morality.

I fear for the lives on innocent people in Ukraine, and I am sure there are already many dead or wounded. Let us always remember that in the words of John Donne, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.” The people of Ukraine do not deserve what is happening, and we must all speak out, including against Americans who support this abomination.

A Reminder and A Call For Help

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Hello everyone!

I will participate today in an event on Twitter called #SFFpit, in which authors pitch their books in a tweet in the hopes of attracting an agent or publisher.

For those of you who have Twitter, please consider helping me with a RT and/or comment on Thursday from 8 am. to 6 pm. Please DO NOT LIKE the pitch; liking is how agents show they are interested.

My pitch will look something like this:

Thank you again for your help!

Best always,

Charles F. French

Please Help Me with #SFFpit

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Hello everyone!

On Thursday 2/24/2022, I will participate in an event on Twitter called #SFFpit, in which authors pitch their books in a tweet in the hopes of attracting an agent or publisher.

For those of you who have Twitter, please consider helping me with a RT and/or comment on Thursday from 8 am. to 8 pm. Please DO NOT LIKE the pitch; liking is how agents show they are interested.

My pitch will look something like this:

Thank you again for your help!

Best always,

Charles F. French

To All The Writers–Continue to Write!

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(https://pixabay.com)

Writers, keep writing!

Please remember that writing is not inspired from some external source, and it does not come in one burst of activity.

While talent matters, what is far more important is the ability to be disciplined and to work every day, to put pen to paper, or sit in front of the keyboard and to create even when things are not going well.

Hard work, discipline, and commitment are the most important qualities that are needed for creating a written work.

Try to write every day, even if your goal is only a couple of hundred words.

Keep writing!

You can do this!

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(https://pixabay.com)

Squiggly Ice~

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Please enjoy these beautiful photographs from Cindy Knoke!

on Convict Lake,

in the Sierra Nevada Mountains,

in California. (Tap to enlarge).

These fascinating patterns of both straight lines/angles,

and wiggly-squiggles, are created by ice layers melting, moving, cracking and refreezing, over and over again.

They remind me of the patterns on Squiggly Gum trees in Australia.

Tap to enlarge and see if you can spot the distant skaters.

These learners were closer.

Cheers to you from the Sierras in winter~

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An Interview With The Poet Robert Fillman

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House Bird cover (final)

It is my honor and pleasure to interview the extraordinary poet and my friend, Robert Fillman. Robb is not only an excellent poet, but he is also a deeply talented teacher, a devoted family man, and an honorable human being.

Robb has his debut full-length collection of poetry, House Bird, available now on Amazon for preorder.  Like his other fine work, I am sure this will be an excellent book, and I am very excited to get my copies!

Fillman, headshot

CF (Charles French): Robb, welcome to my blog, and congratulations on your new collection! How does it feel to have your first full-length book of poetry published?

RF (Robert Fillman): Thank you for the kind words– and for inviting me to speak about my work, Chuck. I’m extremely excited to bring the poems of House Bird into the world. I set a goal for myself
some years back: to publish my first full-length collection of poetry by the time I was forty,
and I’ve managed to reach that goal with a few months to spare, so I couldn’t be happier
about its release!

Cf: Do you have a particular approach to writing poetry?  For example, do you focus first on an image and go from there? Or is your approach varied?

RF: I do have a basic approach. I tend to write each poem-draft in a single sitting. When I’m trying to write a poem, I can start with almost anything– an image, a word, a musical phrase that has been repeating in my mind, some fact or piece of trivia I’ve come across, a stray comment I may have overheard. I just need something to get the poem started. After that, I write my poems one word at a time, building phrases, and then lines, and then stanzas (if the poem calls for those), letting the narrative or the idea or the emotion (or the you-name-it) carry me forward. I never know where the poem is going, or where it will eventually end. It is as much a surprise to me as it is to the reader, and that’s the real joy of writing a poem. Every poem I’ve written has emerged in that fashion.

CF: How often do you write?

RF: These days I try to write poetry a few times a week. When I was younger, I maintained an almost-daily writing regimen, which, in hindsight, was probably self-defeating and unhealthy. I found myself growing restless and frustrated when I wasn’t meeting my self-imposed deadlines and writing goals, and looking back, even though I was publishing quite a lot, I wasn’t as happy. Over the years, I’ve learned that poetry needs space to breathe. I need to give myself the mental and emotional freedom to let the ideas simmer and bubble to the surface more naturally. During the semester especially, when I am teaching four or five courses, it is sometimes difficult even to find the time to write. So in committing myself to a few hours per week, where I am deliberately setting aside time for the craft, and not over-committing myself–I find that I come back to the work fresher and more energized.

CF: Can you talk about how you decided on the title for your book? Does it have special significance?

RF: That’s a great question. House Bird derives its name from a poem in the collection. It’s an ekphrastic poem based on the painting “Bird in the House” by the American realist painter Andrew Wyeth. When I wrote that poem I was trying to put into words all the subtlety and calm and sadness and muted tones that spring from Wyeth’s palette. I was trying to pull from thin air the unsayable narratives latent in that visual medium. I’m not sure if I accomplished the goal successfully, but I had fun trying, and I was proud of the end result. “House Bird,” I think, is emblematic of the type of poetry I try to write: understated, quiet, shrouded in what’s-not-said, things always left a little up in the air. I think a bird-in-the-house also works as a metaphor for my poems, which are often about exploring the beautiful ordinariness of domestic life. The same way that a bird may inadvertently venture into a domicile and, simultaneously, feel at-home and out-of-place in its surroundings, this is the unsettling tension that the speakers navigate in so many of my poems.

CF: How can readers find your book?

RF: The book has been published by Terrapin Books, and it is available for purchase from their website. Readers can also find House Bird on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble online. Locally, it is being sold by Firefly Bookstore, in Kutztown, PA, which is probably my favorite book shop in the area. They have a wonderful, friendly staff, and they are really committed to supporting regional writers. I’m honored to have my work on display in their local authors section. If anyone is in the Kutztown area on the evening of Monday, March 7th at 6 p.m., they should stop by for my book launch. I’ll be reading from House Bird and signing copies.

House Bird is available at the following locations/sites:

terrapinbooks.com

amazon.com

barnesandnoble.com

fireflybookstore.com

CF: You are also the author of a chapbook, November Weather Spell, which I will add is excellent, and I recommend it to anyone reading this interview. Can you speak a bit about this chapbook?

RF: Thanks for the kind words about the chapbook, Chuck. In many ways, my debut collection, House Bird, is an extension of the themes I began exploring in November Weather Spell—what it means to be a son, a husband, a father; how memory is fluid; the way in which the events of our past are always present, their meanings changing along with us as we age. The seeds of House Bird began with November Weather Spell. There are even a few poems in the 2019 chapbook which have made their way into the full-length book, almost as a way of showing how old wounds brought into a new light can alter how we see them, allowing them the space to reverberate in new ways.

Robb has given us one poem to read from his new book!

Blessing

Leaving the old place for the last

time. Got the trash out, a couple

boxes in the car, the final

walk-through over. It’s amazing

to see the place empty. I hope

the new owners will find as much

happiness as we did. As I’m

about to lock away the years,

abandon the memories of

dancing in the dark and my wife’s

full pregnant belly warm against

my ear while I listen for our

daughter’s first thoughts, I wonder if

the energy we leave behind

from living well is a blessing.

Just in case I rub hands across

plaster, squeeze every brass doorknob,

make my way outside, where I raise

my arms beneath the full moon, cast

a spell at the point of the roof

aiming to protect every brick,

every shingle of crumbling slate.

(This poem first appeared in Third Wednesday (Volume XIV, No. 3, Summer 2021). 

Once again, thank you to Robert Fillman for this interview! Please be sure to find a copy of his book. I am sure you will enjoy it.

Interview an author with Author Robbie Cheadle aka Roberta Cheadle!

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Please enjoy this wonderful interview with the excellent writer, Robbie Cheadle! Also, please treat yourself and buy her books!

JEMSBOOKS

It is such a pleasure to welcome a fellow author toInterview an Author on Jemsbooks.blog.Today, please help me welcome talented author/accountant/incredible baker,Robbie Cheadle!

Thank you so much, Robbie, for coming today to share a little bit about yourself and your lovely books. It’s nice to have you back again. You were here before with your son, Michael (link). I am excited to have you here again! The floor is yours!

Robbie Cheadle

Thank you, Janice, for inviting me to be your guest onJemBooks.

Please tell us something about yourself

I am a chartered accountant and have worked in corporate finance for over 16 years. I did both my degrees through a correspondence university and worked full time throughout. As a result, I completed my academics and three years of articles in six years, instead of the usual seven.

A career in writing never occurred to…

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