Memorial

This is what I have to remember him by: a nail file, made of metal, with my name scratched on it in ballpoint pen. He left it for me in the Elves Chasm boatman’s mailbox in Grand Canyon — it was the only piece of “mail” I ever received there. I knew about that informal message center, but I never really paid it much mind. Never, that is, until Wesley’s gift turned up in it.

Pied Piper

Pied Piper

I scratched my head when a colleague who’d collected the mail delivered it to me. Only later, when I had the chance to see Wesley and thank him, did he remind me, “You told me it was the one thing you didn’t have.”

True. Somehow when we’d been talking, the subject of filing nails had come up, and I’d said that a nail file was the one thing missing from my toiletry bag. Leave it to Wesley to remember. He never forgot the things we told him.

He had served as a foot soldier in Vietnam. When he came home to his small hometown in Arizona, he lived with his mother and worked various jobs. One of these was as a Grand Canyon river guide. That’s where I met him — me, who’d only felt the war from a distance, beginning with the news in 1967 that one neighbor’s son had been killed in action.

Wesley befriended me, as he befriended everyone, but he never held onto us too tight. He loved us when we were there, but didn’t reach too far across the chasm between our lives when we weren’t. Now I believe that he had trained himself to detach from us. It was part of his strategy for survival.

The last time I saw Wesley, it was after he’d left us. He lay in a casket wearing a dark suit and tie. I’d never known him to wear anything other than river shorts and a sun shirt, and the outfit he would be buried in clearly honored his spirit but didn’t capture it. And obviously his bright, loving soul had flown. But I still remembered it, and I couldn’t forget his aliveness. I still own the nail file, kept deep in the bottom of an ammo box to happen upon when I least expect to.

My hope today is that we see and remember the details of our loving lives now, while we still have them. Simultaneously may we remember those who have gone before. Wesley and many generations of others served us with all their hearts. Today I’m reminded to live in a way worthy of who they were and what they gave.

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Casablanca

I’ve long believed that many lines from the Casablanca screenplay (penned by Epstein, Epstein, and Koch) may come in handy to writers as comeback statements. Because I’ve seen the movie dozens of times, all within the last five years, I’m quite familiar with the valuable advice the script provides. Here I have ranked some of the classic film’s pithier statements from tenth to first place in terms of their relevance to us literary types.

220px-Principal_Cast_in_Casablanca_Trailer_crop

Principal players in Casablanca: Heinreid, Bergman, Rains, and Bogart.

10. “You can believe that if you like.”

Ilsa Lund  (Ingrid Bergman) says this to Rick Blaine  (Humphrey Bogart) when he accuses her of running out on him because life on the run would be too hard. A writer accused of wasting time by looking out the window, scribbling in a notebook, or hanging around a bar may want to retort this same line, icily. We all know we are really doing research.

9. “That is my least vulnerable spot.”

Louis Renault (Claude Rains) makes this claim when Rick threatens to put a bullet through his heart. A writer swatted on his or her weary posterior may want to point out that it’s already numb from sitting and therefore immune to feeling.

8. “Let’s get out of here. We can drive all night.”

Sam (Dooley Wilson) wants to whisk Rick away before he can get involved again with Ilsa. Any writer wishing to flee a demanding manuscript could use this to escape, at least temporarily.

7. “Aren’t you ever going to bed?”

Again, Sam to Rick. A question to put to family members, if the latter are up late and disturbing the writer’s much-needed, brain-restoring, beauty-preserving rest.

6. “I never make plans that far ahead.”

Rick brushes off his girlfriend Yvonne, who wants to know if she’ll see him that night. Writers can use this reply on anyone, anytime, if they wish to stay ready for the all-sacred call of the muse that might come at any instant.

5. “You’ve got to hide me!”

Signor Ugarte (Peter Lorre)  appeals to Rick to save him when his arrest is imminent.  A writer might need to request this of her roommate if Jehovah’s Witnesses or the Fuller Brush Man happen to call during her writing time.

Ferrari and Blaine.

Ferrari and Blaine.

4. “How long was it we had, honey?”

A drunken Rick inquires this of his lost love, Ilsa.  An excellent question to ask of a workshop leader who is keeping the stopwatch for a timed writing.

3.  “Here’s looking at you, kid.”

The legendary toast repeated by Rick in honor of Ilsa. The writer may wish to say this to his reflection in the mirror.  Sometimes we’re our only company.

2.  “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Rick’s famous line to Louis at the end of the movie.  The writer could whisper this to her pen, for example, or her keyboard. Whatever works.

1. “I’m the only cause I’m interested in.”

Rick claims that the troubles of the world are not in his department. He’s done saving the world. This is a lesser-known line from the movie, but it’s one of my favorites. My writer self often reminds my heroic self that if I’m going to save my own soul, much less the world, I need to put myself first long enough to write new words every day.

Use this line. You will need it–and the others–when the world comes calling on your time for every other endeavor but your art.

Here's looking at you, kid.

Here’s looking at you, kid.

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Signs

One of these signs is not like the other. One of these signs just isn’t the same . . .

IMG_1708IMG_1691IMG_1703IMG_1715IMG_1714

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Fight

There’s no turning away from a good fight in fiction and film: the thrill of the coliseum in Gladiator, the clash of north and south in Cold Mountain, the battle of wills in The Great Gatsby, the clash of class in Atonement. Even when we think we know who’s going to win the day, a well-staged battle will pull us to the edge of our seats, fingers crossed that the outcome isn’t too painful to watch or accept.

Frankie Rose, my Indie-Visible sister and author of the new novel Raksha, writes fights in her fiction that bring readers in so close we feel we’re holding the weapons ourselves, and looking into our opponent’s eyes.  

And look at our protagonist’s weapons! Very impressive. Here’s a woman who’s not afraid to wield a dagger, strap on a belt of knives, wear hide and feather garb in which to kick the tar out of the enemy.

Check out the weaponry on her!

Check out the weaponry on her!

Here’s an excerpt that shows our heroine in action:

I focus on him and clench my dagger in my hand. The sea of voices swells, and I’m certain I can pick out Miranda’s deranged shrieking, yelling over and over again, “End him! End him!”

Falin Asha’s brown eyes fix on me and it looks for a second like he’s crying. That can’t be right, though. I hover just out of his reach, staring at him. “What’s going on?”

He smiles crookedly and brushes his hair back out of his face. “It’s going to be okay, all right? Remember that.”

I’m so thrown by his comment that I am utterly unprepared for what he does next. The knife in his hand snakes out toward me, and I skitter away from him to the left.  He knows how I react, however, and he moves with me, my mirror image. He darts for me and does the unthinkable, something that spells the end to the fight and me along with it: he grabs hold of my striking arm at the wrist. A low gasp runs around the Colosseum, growing in pitch until it’s a rushing echo in my ears. I try and fumble for the Balisong on my belt, hoping I can flick it open and use it, but Falin Asha is there before me. He doesn’t knock my hand away, just holds his over it. He pulls me closer to him and sucks in a deep breath.

“Don’t let them see,” he hisses. With that, I feel a twisting movement between our two bodies, and then his eyes go wide. He looks stunned, the way Elin children do when they fall and they’re unsure whether they’re supposed to cry or not. I look down and see his own knife submerged up to the handle in his stomach. A cracking, bubbling noise comes out of his throat, and he smiles slowly at me. The whole Colosseum has gone deadly silent. I can think nothing other than this: What have you done? What on earth have you gone and done?

And yet, for all the danger and daring in her writing, Frankie’s a British expat currently enjoying the good life in Australia: an awesome husband, plenty of sunshine, and tons of vitamin D. She spends her time creating fictional universes in which the guy sometimes gets the girl, the heroes occasionally die, and the endings aren’t always happy. But, Frankie tells me, they usually are. Keep on writing those endings, Frankie! We like a good fight that ends well.

Frankie Rose living the good life.

Frankie Rose living the good life.

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Touring

A tree-free, car-free book tour, facetime-free book tour? Yes. Otherwise known as a blog tour, the virtual book tour connects authors and readers, writers and writers, bloggers and . . . the ether? It’s uncertain, as I haven’t seen the data on the meaning of all this connecting, but the good will that is out there for authors making blog tours is heart-warming.

Here are the blogs I’ve had the pleasure to visit in April 2013, as well as the touring I have yet to do in May 2013! You can click the links below to see which posts are still live and read-able. I’ll make sure they all get copied over to this blog in due time.

In the meantime, thank you to my generous blog hosts, for being part of my first blog tour for this labor of love, my debut novel, Junction, Utah.

April 2013 Schedule (most recent stops posted first)

Monday, April 29: Frankie Rose and http://frankierosewrites.com/

Thursday, April 25: Deborah Carney and Book Goodies

Book Goodies

Book Goodies

April 24: Chelsea Starling, Author, website

Sky, the blue roan in Junction, Utah.

Sky, the blue roan in Junction, Utah.

April 23: Jordan Rosenfeld, Author, website

Jordan E. Rosenfeld Indie-Visible author badge.

Jordan E. Rosenfeld Indie-Visible author badge.

April 22: Earth Day with Christina Mercer, Author, website

Christina Mercer

Christina Mercer

April 20: Julia Park Tracy, Author, website

Julia Park Tracey of Modern Muse blogspot.

Julia Park Tracey of Modern Muse blogspot.

April 17: Indie-Visible, Writing Collective, website (Opposites post)

Opposites attract.

Opposites attract.

April 16: Indie-Visible, Writing Collective, website (Interview)

April 12: Raven Reviews, Website, Raven Easter Eggs

May 2013 Schedule (first stops posted first)

May 4: Susan Bono, http://www.tiny-lights.com/guiding.php

May 15 through 31: Daily blog stops to be announced

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Excerpt

Today my blog tour brings me to my home blog, Writer in Residence. Here’s an excerpt from Junction, Utah, illustrated with scenes from the novel. Happy reading!

Junction, Utah, by Rebecca Lawton

Junction, Utah, by Rebecca Lawton

Junction, Utah, Chapter 1 Excerpt

Moments of triumph on the river are often balanced by the practical. Sometimes you survive a monster run, then need to get to shore immediately while you keep an eye downstream and kick a popped oar back into place. Sometimes, too, you have to save someone’s life and stay as calm as pond water as you do. That last part, I realize, is my forté. Maybe I’m not mega-strong at the oars like they say my dad was. And I don’t bother nurturing people like my mom would, even when I’m the only woman on a river crew and they look to me for care. No, my claim to fame is that, when things go wrong, all I think about is coming to the rescue. I’ll focus on the other guy, get out of my body—so into lifesaving, I could be Supergirl. Or Achilles without the heel. I’ll burst out from under a flipped raft, in fast or rocky water, looking to save any swimmer and shove the boat to shore so we can right it, quick, before it’s lost.

Author in Grand Canyon, 1983 high water in Inner Gorge.

Author in Grand Canyon, 1983 high water in Inner Gorge.

My mom Ruth said it’s been true of me since I got my first oars. “Your dad was like that,” she told me, with light in her eyes. “Rescuing others. To a fault.” I listened, and I smiled when she hugged me, but when she looked to me for a reply, I didn’t have one. Her eyes filled with disappointment, a rare flicker of pain over my tendency toward silence. She’d been assured by doctors long before that my lack of words wasn’t due to any physical limitation; still, she seemed to hope for change. She sighed and hugged me again, assuring me it was okay, I should be who I am. She quoted Shakespeare—as she often did, being a voracious reader of verse: “To thine own self be true/and it must follow, as the night the day/thou canst not then be false to any man. Hamlet.

Come to find out, though, not all people appreciate you as-is. I learned that the hard way. One time, when I was still greener at guiding than a river willow, I was on a three-raft float trip on the American, just drifting into the easy water near Gold Discovery Park. The hot, midsummer air had brought out the crowds. Looking for the river to cool them, families flowed together into a seamless horde that streamed from shore in inner tubes, kayaks, paddle rafts—anything that would float. It was a sort of Ganges River scene, one we were hoping to bypass.

American River, Coloma, California.

American River, Coloma, California.

Out of the crowd, two neophytes in matching camouflage cargo pants launched an aluminum canoe just ahead of us. At a glance I could tell the keeled canoe belonged on a lake. The two guys didn’t realize it, though, and they didn’t last long. Within minutes they’d wrapped on the big downstream boulder in Old Scary rapids. Only one of the paddlers stayed with the boat; the other washed downstream and swam to shore. I turned my attention to the marooned one. He looked small standing on his island of rock, hands clasping the waistband of his pants. I didn’t stop to chat, I just lined up on the tongue of the rapids, aimed for the little pocket eddy to the right of his boulder, and tied to an alder trunk. I called to the guy out in the river. Of course he’d dropped his paddle and lost his sunglasses. His eyes shone with big, bulgy fear.

Tossing him a line, I pointed to the canoe crossbar closest to him. He shrugged as if he didn’t understand, but with hand signaling I got the idea across. He tied the line to his boat, and I hitched the other end to mine. Then I jumped back to my rowing seat and pulled for the current. The river swept me downstream, dislodging the highly inappropriate craft and towing it behind.

I cheered, triumphant.

Old Scary, Class II rapids on American River, California.

Old Scary, Class II rapids on American River, California.

The rescued guy held to the canoe, full of water though it was, and drifted in his lifejacket. He seemed calmer now. To be kind, I vowed to say nothing about the silly, one-armed dog paddle he used to get to shore. But no sooner had we landed than he turned on me. “You’re just plain brave, aren’t you?”

My eyebrows shot up.

“That’s right,” said his friend. He coughed, soggy from his swim.

The rescued guy narrowed his formerly popping fish eyes to glittering slits. “You’re one tough chick. Just a Sacajawea in tennies, born too late.”

I was still breathing hard from rowing him free. I felt my blood race. What did he know about toughness—about losing your dad before you’re even born? About having just a mom, and one who’s fighting life-threatening illness at that? If the rescued guy knew toughness, I wouldn’t have had to bail him out.

I walked away, hotter than jalapeños, my mind full of curses I didn’t say. My neck burned knowing they were probably glaring at the rear of the skinny, long-legged, twenty-ish woman guide whose ponytail, bikini top, and Converse hightops shouted neighborhood babysitter, not whitewater goddess. Nonetheless, I’d pulled out their burning bacon.

Converse High Tops.

Converse High Tops.

“Bitch!” one of them called. They both laughed. “Say something!” They’d sure regained their guts, secure on shore. I didn’t look back.

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Wo-tagonists!

I could not be more delighted to host my very first guest author, Christina Mercer, who is also one of my dear Indie-Visible writing colleagues. Christina generously agreed to join me in a meshing-of-two-books-interview today, in honor of Earth Day, a celebration near to both our hearts. Indie-Visible posed the questions, and if you have any of your own, please comment!

Arrow of the Mist by Christina Mercer

Arrow of the Mist by Christina Mercer

Junction, Utah, by Rebecca Lawton

Junction, Utah, by Rebecca Lawton

Arrow of the Mist by Christina Mercer and Junction, Utah, by Rebecca Lawton, novels just released by these indie authors, both star strong female protagonists.  The characters negotiate worlds in different backgrounds and genres, but the wo-tagonists (woman protagonists) carry on a time-tested tradition in which the main character, female in this case, faces struggle and danger to triumph (or not).

Indie-Visible caught up with the authors in a conversation about what their leading ladies of literature have in common.

Q:        Tell us briefly about your novels. Arrow of the Mist is a young adult fantasy tale, and Junction, Utah, is eco-fiction. Other than noting these separate genres, can you tell us what kind of story you set out to write?

Mercer: A hero’s quest that showcased nature as both the enemy and ally.

Lawton: A page-turner that highlighted nature as something worth fighting for.

Q:        Both your wotagonists are tasked with heroic challenges. Did you set out to create a strong female character facing down the world, or did she evolve into that during the writing?

Mercer: I set out from the beginning to create a strong character with a good foundation of knowledge. But I also gave her an impulsive temperament and untapped magic, which required effort and sacrifice in order for her to master.

Lawton: I sensed early on that my lead character would be strong, but developing her heroic side evolved during revision. Madeline’s key attribute, reticence rooted in painful secrets, did not emerge until my next-to-last rewrite. My desire to set her apart from her colleagues in some fully tangible way brought about the change in her conversational style.

Q:        Your protagonists undertake journeys, Lia to the forbidden land of Brume and Madeline to Junction, Utah. How did you prepare for the challenge of portraying changing landscapes and cultures throughout the arc of your novels?

Mercer: In a way, the trees led me. The story parallels a Celtic style tree calendar, so as Lia progresses through the landscape, it changes according to the next tree’s habitat and lore.

Lawton: I had the benefit of decades of familiarity with all the settings in the book, except for those in Germany. Therefore portraying the kaleidoscope of landscapes and people was a joy, like living in and with them again.

Q:        Kelven and Chris, the men who pull your heroines’ heartstrings, accept your wotagonists just as they are. The same cannot be said about everyone in your novels. Can you fill us in a bit about the relationship dynamics and your intentions for them?

Mercer: Kelven depicts a love interest who is steadfast and calm, and whose love for Lia is enhanced rather than diminished by the strange physical changes she undergoes.

Lawton: Chris, too, has a strong, steady nature. I wanted him to balance Madeline’s impulsiveness and groundless nature. That Chris sees her beauty and potential compatibility in spite of their differences was something I wanted to explore.

Q:        Lia and Madeline both have impressive experience in relating to the natural world, Lia with her herbalcraft and Madeline with rivers. Are their competencies based on anything in your lives?

Mercer: I hold a Certificate in Herbal Studies from Clayton College of Natural Health, as well as attended various workshops on herb foraging and herbal crafts. I also have an informal love of how mythology and nature are entwined.

Lawton: Yes, I was a white-water guide for many years, and some of Madeline’s background parallels my own. Her skill with boats, ropes, emergency medicine, and the outdoors in general is based on my life and in some cases the lives of my friends and colleagues.

Q:        Who would play your heroines in the film versions of your stories?

Mercer: Bella Thorne with green contacts.

Lawton: This role as still uncast in my mind. The visualization of her appearance is up to the reader.

Q:        Do you have more to write about these women in possible sequels?

Mercer: Yes, Lia will continue her quests to save the land, her loved ones, and her soul in the sequel Arms of Anu, to be released (fingers crossed!) by the end of this year.

Lawton: I’m not sure. I’ve only begun to consider the possibility of continuing to write Madeline’s story. Perhaps after my short story collection is done.

Q:        How did you choose the names of your protagonists?

Mercer: In Gaelic, Lia can mean either “healer” or “stone,” both of which fit for an herb mage who wields magic from a stone. I chose her last name as Griene, which is a takeoff of the Gaelic word for sun.

Lawton: For the longest time, I had no idea what to name my protagonist. Was looking for a no-nonsense name that also had a ring of loveliness. I’ve always liked the name Madeline, and when I stumbled upon it while running through a mental list of my friends, it satisfied. Her last name, Kruse, pays homage to her nomadism.

Q:        What do you think Lia and Madeline will be doing at age 40?

Mercer: Lia will be teaching the people how to search out herbs and craft remedies for themselves. She’ll continue to speak to the trees and fae for wisdom, and she and Kelven will enjoy riding through the woods and spending time with their grandchildren.

Lawton: Madeline will be just done with one of life’s biggest tasks, but I can’t share more without spoiling the ending. She will still be running rivers, loving nature, and standing up for it in her firm and gentle way.

Q:        Do your current writing projects involve strong female protagonists?

Mercer: Yes. Arms of Anu continues to put Lia in all sorts of situations where she must take charge. My newest Young Adult manuscript also depicts a teen girl whose only hope for freedom depends on her inner strength and blossoming wisdom.

Lawton: Yes. What I Never Told You is a collection of short stories, all about water, and many with strong lead females.

Q:        Do you have daughters or nieces or other young relatives who you think will be inspired by your wotagonists?

Mercer: I have nieces and perhaps someday granddaughters who I hope will be inspired by my protagonists. Girls can ride horses, shoot bows, and outwit adversaries as much as anyone. Plus, maidens have the added advantage of spotting unicorns.

Lawton: Yes, I have a twenty-three year-old daughter who has fallen in love with rivers, and she has a few seasons of guiding under her belt now. Whether Madeline strikes a note with her or not (Rose was a Beta reader), I don’t know. I also have a thirteen year-old niece, Phoebe, who I hope reads and loves Junction someday. Phoebe reads voluminously!

Q:        Who do you think are positive role models for young women today?

Mercer: In the land of Hollywood, good role models are hard to find, but there are a few: Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet, and Celine Dion come to mind. And I believe J.K. Rowling proved just how much a single mom can overcome. In ancient times (more akin to the setting of my story), I’d have to choose Queen Elizabeth I. She kicked butt on the throne for 45 years.

Lawton: I just revisited old films of Gloria Steinem, and I’m reminded what a fantastic role model she remains to this day. Her recent work with a women’s writing retreat I’ve attended, Hedgebrook, is positive and laudable. In the world of rivers, many little-known women pioneered the profession of whitewater guiding and the majority are still going strong in their various second or third careers. Among writers, I find Barbara Kingsolver, Gretel Ehrlich, Terry Tempest Williams, and the late Ellen Meloy to be gentle leaders and inspirational figures.

More on Christina:

Christina Mercer
Christina Mercer

Christina Mercer writes fiction for children and young adults. She earned a degree in Accounting from California State University at Sacramento and a Certificate in Herbal Studies from Clayton College of Natural Health. She took Writer’s Best in Show at the 2012 SCBWI CA North/Central Regional Conference and was a semi-finalist in the 2010 Amazon Breakout Novel Award Contest. Christina is the Reviews Director and an Author Member at Indie-Visible.

Christina Mercer’s Arrow of the Mist is available at AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo, and Smashwords.

More on Rebecca:

Becca Lawton

Becca Lawton

Rebecca Lawton was among the first women whitewater guides on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon and on other rivers in the West. Her essay collection on the guiding life, Reading Water: Lessons from the River (Capital Books), was a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller and ForeWordNature Book of the Year finalist. Her essays, poems, and stories have been published in Orion, Sierra, The San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, Shenandoah, THEMA, More, and other magazines. She blogs about writing and environmental issues at Writer in Residence.

Rebecca Lawton’s Junction, Utah is available at Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or at various indie bookstores.

 

 

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Oil and Water

Don’t mix. Don’t mix. Don’t mix.

Oil and gas exploration in Utah, on Bureau of Land Management land.

Oil and gas exploration in Utah, on Bureau of Land Management land.

This report from a Congressional Committee in 2011 on chemicals used in fracking ought to give anyone pause. I wrote about the threats to water posed by oil drilling in my novel Junction, Utah, because I’d read reports by farmers on the contamination they’d observed to their farm ponds and springs when petroleum companies were allowed to lease and explore on their land. Fracking ups the ante on the risks of chemical pollution, but even without the injection of these chemicals, under- and aboveground water resources are threatened when companies act too quickly and haphazardly. Water is the stuff of life, and oil must be sought with the utmost care.

“In 2011, a congressional committee reported that between 2005 and 2009, 14 oil and gas companies injected 780 million gallons of fracking chemicals and substances into wells. The committee reported that these companies used hydraulic fracturing products containing 29 chemicals that are known or possible human carcinogens and are regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act for their risks to human health or listed as hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act.13 Ben- zene, toluene, xylene and ethylbenzene appeared in 60 of the hydraulic fracturing products used between 2005 and 2009.14 Each is a regulated contaminant under the Safe Drinking Water Act and a hazardous air pollutant under the Clean Air Act. An environmental advocacy group claims to have conducted a review of oil and gas service company chemical disclosure records and has reported that these fluids contained as much as 93 times more benzene than diesel contains.

15 Scientists at the Endocrine Disruption Exchange found that 25 percent of fracking chemicals could cause cancer; 37 percent could disrupt the endocrine system; 40 to 50 percent could affect the nervous, immune and cardiovascular systems; and more than 75 percent could affect the sensory organs and respiratory system, likely causing problems such as skin and eye irritation and flu-like symptoms.”

http://www.sourcewatch.org/images/2/22/CancerFracking.pdf

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What I’m Reading Now: Hotspur

Cover of Hotspur by Mariana

Cover of Hotspur by Mariana

“Once upon a time … there was a little red horse.”

That’s all about all I remembered of my beloved Hotspur, a book written in 1953. I checked the book out of the public library so many times I might as well have owned a copy. Only a few bits of the story had stayed with me: that Hotspur the toy horse lived in a small shop, that he wanted to see the world, and that he managed to escape the confinement against which he chafed.

Last week I reread Hotspur for the first time in nearly 50 years. Again I was enchanted by the bold paintings and pen-and-ink drawings of Hotspur in his world: his charming saddle with strap secured around his chest not his belly, his flaming red hide, his less-impulsive friends, his unruly and consistently wind-whipped black mane and tail.

When I delved into the heart of the story, I was surprised to learn that much of it was not as I remembered.

Hotspur did succeed in slipping away from the dusty toyshop run by an obviously aging and pedantic Mr. Twiddletwitch. Hotspur pulls off the escape despite the advice to the contrary given by his toy-horse colleagues. As he gallops the alley leading from Twiddletwitch’s, the horse’s heart swells with relief and possibility.

With opportunity comes risk, as Hotspur discovers in the big world. He encounters danger, he struggles with different worldviews than those of his trusted colleagues, and he yearns for the “sleepy old toyshop” as he never thought he would.

Over the years I’ve lived with the notion that Hotspur ended happily. In fact the conclusion, which I won’t divulge here, may have seemed cheerful to my 8-year-old self. Now, however, as I read my favorite book again (which is now only available at rare and out-of-print book vendors — Library of Congress Catalog Number 53-6728), I find Hotspur sad beyond measure. I doubt the author-illustrator Mariano intended the book to sound a note of melancholy, but to me it does. Without giving away the ending, I can only say Hotspur left me feeling sorry for the little horse. It also left me wondering what I can still learn from him, as a reader who has seen more of the world than my 8-year-old self ever thought possible.

There is always more to learn from literature, even those books we read only once every 50 years. Hotspur’s journey has reminded me of important elements of my own walk through life.

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Tour

WhirlpoolCyn_RCL

Here are my Junction, Utah, blog tour stops in April and May 2013, so far. I’d love to have you follow along on these various stops, or message me if you’d like to be part of the tour–interview, conversation, post, guest host . . . let’s talk writing and ecodrama . . .

Meanwhile, click Like for this page (Rebecca Lawton, Author) to be entered in a drawing for weekly book giveaways.

April 12: Raven Reviews, http://ravenreviewer.tumblr.com/

April 16: Indie-Visible, http://indie-visible.com/, interview

April 17: Indie-Visible, http://indie-visible.com/, post

April 18: Chelsea Starling, http://chelseastarling.com/

April 19: Jordan Rosenfeld, www.jordanrosenfeld.net

April 20: Julia Park Tracy,http://www.modernmuse.blogspot.com/

April 21 through April 25, open

April 26: Book Goodies, http://bookgoodies.com/

April 27 through 28, open

April 29: Frankie Rose, http://frankierosewrites.com/

May 4: Susan Bono, http://www.tiny-lights.com/guiding.php

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