Reading the Classics: A guest post with Grace Snarr

When I am not writing, I am often designing (in between mothering). I had the pleasure of designing a lovely blog called The Whitewash Chronicles by Grace Snarr. I loved her series on reading the classics, and asked if I could re-post some of her thoughts. She agreed! Enjoy:

The Classics

These are the days where a book is permanently glued to my hands, and not to mention my eyes. In this second edition to the Classics series, I'm going to show you the steps of how to truly read a classic! Let's get thinking!

A very wise man once said "you haven't had a true education until you've read a thousand books". WOWZA! What a statement, huh?! Imagine how amazing the world would be if we read one thousand classics! If you truly want that wonderful education for you, and your family, you can start by reading! Here's some pointers to start....

1) Have a purpose and a question.
Why did you pick to read this book? When we set a goal, our goal is to accomplish it, right? It's the same with books! We need to always have a purpose and a mindset of learning to fully immerse ourselves in a book.

2) Take Notes!
Like I always say.. "a book should be your workbook". NEVER read a book without taking notes or simply jotting down your thoughts. Writing is the faucet that turns thoughts ON!

3) Make connections to other Classics
How does Tom Sawyer connect to The Hunger Games? Or As A Man Thinketh to the Bible? When we make connections, we form a sort of nice relationship that can open our eyes to different ideas. Truth is found everywhere, so definitely look and compare it in different books.

4) Ask Questions
Why did the author say it this way? How can this apply to my life? When does the character change? 
Question will always bring about answers. If you feel a craving to learn, ask! It is amazing the perspective we bring when we just ask.

5) Discuss what you’ve read
Does your spouse, mom, or sibling like to read? What about your best friend? Find someone who shares this interest, or is even new to reading like crazy, and discuss! Share what YOU thought was important, and listen to their thoughts, as well. You never know, someone might have taken one sentence completely different than you had. It's all about perspective! 

I hope you have enjoyed this little segment of this series! If you crave a renewed imagination... Read! If you seek deep truths... Read! Leave comments below on what YOUR favorite book is, and many others you wish to read! 

Have a fabulous fall... And as always,

Thanks so much for joining us, Gracie! We look forward to more in your series.


The origins of fairytales

I have a lot to get done today. A LOT. But it was all thwarted in the kindergarten pick up line when our local Radio West broadcast came on. It was an interview with Maria Tatar, the John L. Loeb Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures. She chairs the Program in Folklore and Mythology at Harvard University, where she teaches courses in German Studies, Folklore, and Children’s Literature. Today she was talking about folklore and fairy tales. But it wasn't the regular insight into the Brothers Grimm. This interview was completely RIVETING. She went on and on about the history of oral storytelling, the evolution of the original folkloric versions of these "fairytales," and how they have come to be the "sanitized" versions we tell our children and watch in theaters. (Did you know that the original Rapunzel was impregnated by the prince who repeatedly visited her tower? Scandalous!)

I was captivated by the topic of fairy tales, folklore, and legends. I, too, am fascinated by the origin and evolution of legends, passed down orally and then manifested through the written word. For those of you who have read Fire of the Sea, you know that it is an Icelandic retelling of classic mermaid tales, with shades of The Little Mermaid, Icelandic Sagas, Scandinavian folklore, as well as the Greek myths of Proteus. I am so interested in oral story-telling, that I just had to include it in my novel in the form of Afi (Gunnar's grandfather) recounting Viking legends around a modern-day fire. 

As research for my next novel, Into the Fade (parallel dystopian with themes from Beauty and the Beast, Peter Pan, and the Willies/Villas/Will o'theWisps of the woods), I recently finished reading The Dancing Goddesses: Folklore, Archaeology, and the Origins of European Dance by Elizabeth Wayland Barber, in which the author explores the roots of fairytales, and highlights their not-so-child-friendly beginnings. (Let's just say I'll never look at fringed shawls the same way again...) It was completely engrossing. So you can imagine my delight when this morning's interview picked right up on these ideas that have been rumbling around in my head as they form into something new to add to the world "stew" of existing folklore. It was such an enjoyable and insightful look into the world of legends and fairytales on an otherwise uneventful fall morning. Find the full interview on Radio West's website: http://radiowest.kuer.org/post/fairy-tale-world-brothers-grimm

As a quirky side note, as I was listening to the interview, nodding along emphatically, and I didn’t want to get out of the car even after I was parked in my garage. I sat in there for thirty minutes as my 5-year-old daughter began to get antsy. She finally leapt out of the car, grabbed a broom and started sweeping the garage floor. “Look, Mama! I’m Cinderella!”

It was very fitting.


Author Spotlight and Interview with Amarilys Gacio Rassler

I am delighted to have the lovely Amarilys Gacio Rassler, author of  Cuban-American, Dancing On The Hyphen, with me today! She came to the United States from Havana, Cuba, as a Peter Pan child in 1960. She originally arrived in Miami, Florida and now calls Tampa home. She is a graduate of the University of South Florida and is a daughter, wife, mother, grandmother and more. She writes poetry and prose. Cuban-American, Dancing On The Hyphen celebrates her heritage and the blessings of living in the U.S.

Come...as Amarilys dances with her memories and be transported to another place and another time. Follow her ever-present Cuban-American spirit. Take a peek into the soul of a Cuban immigrant remembering her family's crossing of an ocean for freedom's sake. Experience the drama and participate in the humor of Cuban-American: Dancing on the Hyphen!

Where do you find your writing inspiration?
I find my writing inspiration in modern and classic poetry and in books written to inspire writers. For example, The Right To Write, by Julia Cameron and The Courage To Write, by Ralph Keyes. Music, art and cinematography can also easily feed my muse.

What is your favorite fictional character or creature?   
Lucy Pevensie, from The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe. I feel a  camaraderie with her because she saw another world around her and characters in that world that no one else from her own family saw till much later. When I was a child, living in Cuba, I first saw spirits at the age of four. I love the way Lucy sticks with her beliefs and claims as true that which she saw even though no one else at first believed her.  

What is the one writing tool you couldn’t live without?
Definitely the internet for research and for excellent access to dictionaries and thesauruses.

Do you have any writing rituals?
Yes! I pray for inspiration, turn on a gurgling fountain, put on soft music of the culture of the character I’m creating, pick up pictures from the internet of the neighborhood most like the one in which my character lives and then I see myself there with him or her.  

What path did you take for publication?
Cuban-American, Dancing OnThe Hyphen, my first book, I self-published. I am so glad I did! It is a cultural book, with the flavor of Cuban culture. It’s prose and poetry that tells my story as one of the 14,000 children who escaped Cuba alone in the exodus of 1960-1962.  I dedicated it especially to my mother who was able to enjoy the book for more than a year before she passed away. I have also written stories and poetry that were published in the traditional way in print magazines and on an online magazine.

If you could be any character in one of your stories, who would it be and why?
I’m very close to self-publishing a second book, The Chairs, the story of the visit of two angels to the seaside town of Dunedin, Florida, summoned by the prayers of an elderly couple. I would like to be one of those angels, the one I called, the centurion. Why? I love the insight and power he has over the darkness in the spirit realm.

Are you writing anything now? Tell me about your next project!
Right now I’m working on my spiritual memoir, Beyond The Veil, the story of my traumatic trip in 1979, into the spirit realm.  I’m also writing a speculative fiction novella, a suspense-romance, Commuters. It’s the story of a Chicago detective who rescues a little girl from a serial killer, falls in love with her young widowed mother and then realizes that the demons from the serial killer have transferred to the girl. Can he once again set her free?

What are you currently reading?
Writing romance, reading romance! I’m presently enjoying Richard Paul Evans’, The Last Promise. Writing speculative fiction, reading speculative fiction! I just finished The Chair, by James L. Rubart. Super drama about a chair supposedly made by Christ and protected by a select group of women throughout the ages.

When you’re not writing, what can we find you doing for fun?
When I’m not writing I’m making memories with my family. You can also find me reading while drinking strong coffee at a cafĂ© or cooking to make my hubby happy!

What is the best advice you have received (writing or otherwise)?
The best advice I have received on writing has come from what Julia Cameron says…

“Write because something ‘touches’ you, write because you want to ‘touch’ someone else, but most of all write to ‘get in touch’ with the divine or because the divine somehow has ‘gotten in touch’ with you.”  

You can find stories by Amarilys G. Rassler at Fiction 365. www.fiction365.com
More about Amarilys at her website: www.guavanewton.com  

Thanks so much for joining me!