Tag Archive | Guest post

Patty’s Pick

pattys pickCampbells World

For Patty’s Pick this month, Patty and I have chosen this fabulous story from Jo E. Pinto.

Jo E. PintoJo E. Pinto is a magnet for underdogs! Early in her married life, her home became a hangout for troubled neighborhood kids. This experience lit the flame for her first novel, The Bright Side of Darkness.

Jo’s Spanish-American roots grow deep in the Rocky Mountains, dating back six generations. She lives with her family in Colorado where she works as a writer and also proofreads textbooks and audio books. One of her favorite pastimes is taking a nature walk with her service dog.



Back Eyes

I don’t remember exactly when it happened. My daughter might have been three or four years old. She may have been climbing up on the kitchen counter, quietly trying to snitch a cookie, while I was in the living room typing away on my computer. Or she may have been easing open the bottom drawer in her dad’s workbench, intent on swiping his screwdrivers for the thousandth time.

In any case, I called out to her, “Sarah, I know what you’re doing. The eyes in my face are broken, but the ones in the back of my head work just fine.”

I was halfway goofing around when I said it. The fact that I had rock star hearing was already well-known in our house. Blind people don’t necessarily hear better than those with sight, but they rely on the sounds around them, so they tend to pay attention and notice what they hear more than sighted people do.


My daughter, however, took me at my word. She rushed over to me and started examining the back of my head, combing her fingers through my long dark hair.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Looking for your back eyes,” she said in that matter-of-fact tone kids get when they are answering grown-ups who ask dumb questions. “They must be really small. I can’t find them.”

“They’re hard to see,” I answered quickly. “They move around in my hair. They don’t want to be found.”

“Oh. I won’t look then. They’re secret.” Sarah was intrigued. “Have you always had back eyes?”

“Nope.” I thought fast. “I got them at the hospital when you were born. Only moms have them. Like Santa’s phone number, and the magic way to know if a kid has a fever by kissing her cheek. Back eyes are just for moms.”

Over the years, my daughter’s understanding of my blindness has become more clear. First, she realized she had to use her words instead of pointing and whining when she asked me for M&M’s or fruit snacks at the store. Over time, she has figured out that when we play Candyland or Snakes and Ladders, the game goes more smoothly if she reads the dice and moves the colored tokens around the board for me. She knows I stick braille labels on canned goods in my pantry and use a screen-reading program on my computer so I can listen to e-mails and navigate the Internet. Describing our surroundings when we go out together has gotten to be almost second nature to her.

But now and then, when she has created a particularly exceptional art project or perfected a super awesome dance move, she’ll still say, “Mom, Mom! Look at me! Look with your back eyes!”

Not wanting to disappoint her, I’ll turn my head, face away from her, and say, “Wow! That’s incredible!”

After that, I’ll ask her to describe her art project or give me the details of her dance move, but she seems to need me to have that first quick look, so my imaginary “back eyes” live on, somewhere under my hair.

I keep expecting them to fade away like so many other adorable childhood fantasies have. But a few days ago, when Sarah got a fabulous new Barbie doll for her ninth birthday, the first thing she said was, “Mom, check this out! She can move her hands and feet and everything!”

When I reached for the Barbie doll, she put her hands on my cheeks, turned my face away, and ordered, “Look … no, look with your back eyes!”

This piece first appeared on Holly Bonner’s Blind-Motherhood blog


The Bright Side of Darkness by Jo E. Pinto

The Bright Side of Darkness won a first place Indie Book Award for “First Novel over Eighty Thousand Words,” as well as First Place for “Inspirational Fiction.” The novel also won several awards from the Colorado Independent Publishers Association: First Place for “Inspirational Fiction,” Second Place for “Audio Book,” and First Place for “Literary and Contemporary Fiction.

The Bright Side of Darkness.jpgRick Myers, an orphan without much faith in the future, and Daisy Bettencourt, a blind girl who is running from an alcoholic father and a set of overprotective foster parents, cross paths at a high school baseball game and make their way together. Daisy becomes the bright spot in Rick’s universe as he and his four lifelong friends–Tim, Mark, and the twins–battle the forces of poverty and hopelessness. Mark’s grandma dies of heart failure, and Tim’s stepdad is arrested on felony child abuse charges, leaving them, like Rick and Daisy, with no authority figures in their lives.

Rick and Daisy are trailed by a fat man in a battered green jeep who makes Rick more and more uneasy as the weeks pass. Then, just when Rick discovers an interest in the culinary field and decides to complete his education, the bottom drops out of his world.

The Bright Side of Darkness is available in Kindle, audio, and paperback formats.



         There’s nothing a damn bit bright about sunshine when you’re seventeen and you see it from the wrong side of a jail cell window.
         It isn’t that I’m moping for my lost freedom or anything. I wouldn’t give a half a crap for my life anymore now that the crew is scattered to the four winds, and all I have left of Daisy is her parting note in the waistband of my jeans and a wilted dandelion dangling between my fingers. But it seems to me that the Man Upstairs could have marked my downfall with a terrific thunderstorm or at least a few nasty black clouds out of the west.
         When there’s a war or a funeral or some other sad thing going on in the movies, the sky usually turns dark and ugly, and the rain pours down in buckets. The longer I stare at the square of sunlight streaming through the tiny window of my cell and stealing across the floor, the lonelier I feel. August 27, 1986, is slipping by the same as every other hot, heavy day, and I’m the only one in the world who knows that nothing will ever be all right again.
         It hasn’t always been this way. I ought to have known better than to believe I could reach out and snag a piece of paradise, but for a little while I had it on my fingertips. Breaks are hard to come by for kids from the projects, though, and sure enough, all I ended up with at the last second was empty hands.
         I’m doing my level best to hold off a flood of memories, but my mind keeps drifting back to the sweltering summer evening when the chain of events began that shattered my world into a zillion pieces. First thing tomorrow morning, some juvenile court judge will decide if my life is worth rebuilding. Maybe he’ll have better luck with my future than I did with my past.




Where Can We Have The Party?

by Deb Hockenberry

Where Can We Have The Party



Giraffe wants to have a party for his friend, Chimpanzee. There’s one problem with this idea, though. Where can he have the party? He asks his other friends for ideas.

They all sit and think about it. Giraffe’s friends do think of some ideas and they’re great ones! But there’s another problem. For one reason or another, none of the ideas will work. Where will they have the party?


Where Can We Have The Party?  is aimed at three to eight-year-old children.


Meet The Author:

MeDeb has always wanted to write for children since she was a child. She loved
making up stories for her siblings, and neighborhood kids.

She has taken a course at the CBI Clubhouse  and multiple courses from The Institute for Children’s Literature, to keep up with the ever-changing children’s market.

She is a regular contributor to her church newsletter, sending out announcements
and reminders on MailChimp, and keeping the church website updated.

In her spare time, Deb enjoys knitting, crocheting, music, movies, and reading.
She and her cat, Harry, currently reside in the inspirational mountains of Central

Website • Twitter • PinterestGoogle+YouTubeAmazonGoodreads

Guest Post by Deb Hockenberry:

Writing Process

All stories start with an idea. ‘Where Can We Have The Party?’ came to me when I was a child and this idea never let me go.

1. Take a course in writing.

Starting in 1988, I took multiple courses from The Institute of Children’s Literature. I’m also taking an ongoing, online course from CBI Clubhouse. I wanted to learn how to write this story down properly so a publisher would accept it.

2. Outline. 

I did outline “Where Can We Have The Party?” I would suggest anyone who wants to try their hand at writing to do both: be a pantser. That is, just write down the story as it comes to you (this is called free writing), then do your formal outlining.

3. Make a book dummy.

This is time consuming, but it really helps you catch those mistakes! You do this by taking several sheets of blank notebook paper or copy paper and printing out your manuscript and fold them all in half. Don’t forget leaving pages for the title, copyright, and dedication pages! Take your manuscript and cut it how you think each page would be. It also helps you catch where your flow breaks, where your characters don’t speak or act natural, or where you forgot something. Your errors stick out like a sore thumb, then. For exact instructions on how to make a book dummy go here.

4. Repeat.

‘Where Can We Have The Party?’ is written for ages 3-8. You have to have a certain phrase or word and repeat it 3-4 times throughout the book. For ages younger than that, you repeat a lot more!

5. The Rule of Three. 

What I mean by this is after you state the problem, have the main character try three times to reach the goal and fail finally trying again and succeeding. For the age group of 3-8, you keep it simple. I did the power of three with Giraffe asking his three friends, having all of their ideas fail.

6. Join a critique group. 

Critique groups are so valuable giving you great feedback. They also pick up some minor problem and give you suggestions for fixing it. If your area doesn’t have a physical critique group, you can easily find one online. Go to your favorite search engine and search “children’s writers critique groups.”

7. Get it professionally edited. 

Before I started submitting, ‘Where Can We Have The Party?’ I had it professionally edited before sending out into the world. I fully recommend getting your story or article edited. Freelance editors are just as good but much cheaper than the editors who do it for a full-time job! To find editors or freelance editors, do a search on your favorite search engine.

8. Let it rest. 

Put it away and do something else for a few days or whatever time you think is best, and tape record it, read it aloud, or read it to your pet (don’t laugh, it works)! This helps you to hear the mistakes.

9. Listen to your feelings. 

I used this story as an assignment for The Institute of Children’s Literature. I sent it in with the talking animals and they loved it. Except, that it had talking animals. They suggested re-writing it with children as main characters since publishers weren’t accepting books with talking animals. Well, I made the changes, sent it back to them, and they were thrilled with it!

Well, during that time, publishers weren’t accepting stories with talking animals. This is why ICL asked me to re-write the story with human kids. That taught me something. Always listen to your feelings when it comes to writing. That’s the story talking to you. It told me it didn’t want to have human kids for characters.

‘Where Can We Have The Party?’ and every other story or article I’ve written has gone through the same process.



Patty’s Pick

pattys pick

Campbells World

According to my handmade blog calendar, there are 31 days in April! So good morning to you all and thank you for visiting Rainne’s Ramblings on this ‘extra’ April day.

Patty and I have chosen this Essay, from the Authors, They’re Only Human column
by author Lynda McKinney Lambert


When I Begin my Day with Mozart

Lynda McKinney Lambert

I put the morning coffee on to brew, reach for a CD of Mozart’s Violin Sonata in B-flat, carefully placing it in the CD player in the kitchen, and push the Play button. The soft and slow opening lines of the Largo-Allegro begin as I listen. A piano and a violin are filling my kitchen with sounds from centuries ago. I close my eyes and listen awhile before I continue writing my essay. There is something about Mozart’s music that makes me stop whatever I am doing; it takes me back in time. But it’s not the time in the 18th century when the music was first performed for a royal audience. It is my own time at the end of the 20th century when the music of Mozart became a core element in my own life. Thoughts of listening to this music flood my mind on the chilly November day, and those musings create layers of memories.music-278795_960_720

As the days and years come to mind, I remember Austria when it was Mozart and me.

Mozart’s first performance of his original composition was April 29, 1784 in Vienna; Emperor Joseph II was in the audience. As Mozart played the piano, the emperor made a discovery. Mozart was playing from memory, for he did not have time to write the composition out on paper. The pages in front of him were blank!

My first trip to Europe in 1991 was a gift I gave myself to celebrate the completion of my MFA degree at West Virginia University. I arrived in Salzburg, Austria at the beginning of July, just in time to join in the celebration festivities for the 200th anniversary of Mozart’s death. My month–long visit was filled with special art exhibitions in palaces and museums, all focused on Mozart. Mozart’s life and his music surrounded me everywhere I went. I attended concerts and special exhibits during my month–long vacation. Now I was hooked on Mozart!

I came to Austria as a participant in a drawing class, and I created an entire body of work on the theme of Mozart’s death and his music. I created art and wrote in a journal as I travelled.

Ten years later, my poems and reflections from that summer trip were part of a series of poems and drawings that appeared in my book Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage.

During that first visit, I made an intention for my own life while I visited this city. I fell in love with Austria, the culture of art and music of the people I met, and the music of the masterful composers who lived in Austria over the centuries. I intended to order my life in such a way that I would spend my summers there every year. I had no idea how that would happen, or if it could happen, but I knew that would be the life I would choose to live.

Five years after my first visit to Salzburg, I accepted a tenure−track position to be a professor of fine arts and humanities at a private college in western Pennsylvania. I quickly realized there was no study program at the college that provided students with the opportunity to study in Austria or Germany. During my first year of teaching at the college, I proposed creating such a course. The following year, I was back in the city I love, with students of my own. This was the first of many years that I would have the joy of bringing students to Austria every summer, where I taught “Drawing and Writing in Salzburg.”

During this course, we worked in a studio in a small village in the Alps, Monday through Thursday mornings. Most days, we met early in the morning and then travelled somewhere in the area to draw and write from the different places we explored. It was a dream that became my reality. I had the joy of sharing this magnificent country with my students every summer for a month-long sojourn. On our weekends, we travelled together to Germany, the Czech Republic, and Italy. We climbed mountains and locked our arms together as we skipped down steep mountain paths. We kept journals, wrote about cultural experiences, made drawings and paintings in the streets and along the breath-taking mountain paths. Students attended concerts and shopped and trekked through the new places we found.

Gradually, I began to realize that the seeds of what we love become the life we live when we set our intentions in that direction. I wanted to create a life where I could spend summers in Austria. I had set the dream I embraced into motion. My dream would become my life journey at a later time.
Now, sitting here in my office typing up this essay, I listen closely as the final piece of music comes to a conclusion. The piano and the violin have been playing together as I write.

Note: If you would like to enjoy this lovely work of art by Mozart, you can listen to it here:

The violin sonata plays on, and I listen to the rapid notes of the piano moving playfully through the house in what seems like a race with the violin. I can envision a spring afternoon and the violin and piano romping in the sunshine, chasing each other about on the lawn. At times it sounds like the piano takes the lead, yet, this is not the case. The violin weaves through the many notes, and in the end, they are one. I listen as applause breaks out immediately as the piano and violin strike the final note together.

This day will take me on other journeys as I walk my dogs, care for my cats, take my husband to the hospital for a check-up, and edit this essay tonight. At special moments throughout my day, I just might hear a few bars of Mozart’s Violin Sonata in B–flat. I hope so!


Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems

© 2017 by Lynda McKinney Lambert

Pennsylvania artist, teacher, and author Lynda McKinney Lambert invites readers into her world of profound sight loss to discover the subtle nuances and beauty of a physical and spiritual world. She takes strands from ancient mythology, history, and contemporary life and weaves a richly textured new fabric using images that are seen and unseen as she takes us on a year-long journey through the seasons.
All stories in this book were created after her sudden sight loss in 2007 from Ischemic Optic Neuropathy. Lambert invites us to see the world with new eyes.

Full details, preview, and buying links


Boy of Blood By Megan O’Russell

Boy of Blood Banner

Title: Boy of Blood
Author: Megan O’Russell
Genre: YA Dystopia
Publisher: Fiery Seas Publishing
Series: Girl of Glass
Release Date: April 10, 2018


Boy of BloodAfter Nightland’s vicious attack on the domes, the safety and perfection of the world within the glass has been contaminated. Desperate to rebuild, outsiders are allowed into the domes to help, breaking the cardinal rule: outsiders and Domers must always be separated. But the city is in shambles, crumbling into chaos without the Vampers of Nightland to keep order, and one name is carried on the wind: Nola.

Clinging to Jeremy, Nola struggles to find a way to exist in the domes, turning her back on all she learned in the city. But when one of the outsiders brings the dark secrets of the domes to light, the line between survival and murder blurs against the spectre of the dying world.

Can Nola follow the dark path laid out by the Domes? Will the dangers of the night become her new sanctuary?



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About the Author:

Megan O’Russell is the author of the young adult fantasy series The Tethering, and Nuttycracker Sweet, a Christmas novella. Megan’s short stories can also be found in several anthologies, including Athena’s Daughters 2, featuring women in speculative fiction. Megan is a professional performer who has spent time on stages across the country and is the lyrist for Second Chances: The Thrift Shop Musical, which received its world premier in 2015. When not on stage or behind a computer, Megan can usually be found playing her ukulele or climbing a mountain with her fantastic husband.


Guest Post by Megan O’Russell:

THE O’RUSSELL LIFE by Megan O’Russell

Megan O'Russell

Being an author is amazing. Being an author and a working actor is… complicated.

Right now, aside from working on my three young adult series, I’m performing on the North American tour of The Wizard of Oz. My entire adult life I’ve been lucky enough to work as a professional performer. From Denali, Alaska to Sanibel Island, Florida, I’ve done shows in some amazing places. I would never want to give up performing, but maintaining two different careers is a huge juggling act, especially when you live in a tour bus.

A typical day on tour starts with bus call. The whole cast piles onto the bus. We have quiet hours until noon, so I curl up in my sleeping bad under my seat and try to sleep.

Around noon-ish we stop for lunch. Hopefully, there is cell service or Wifi so I can check for emails from my agent or publishers, check my social media outlets, and post any links I want to share.

Then it’s back on the bus. I *try* and take the afternoon bus time to write or edit. I usually have time to edit 5,000 words or write 1,500.

At 3:30pm or so, we get to the hotel. That’s either time for exercise, writing, finding food, or (if I’m really desperate) a nap.

Usually 5:15 means it’s back on the bus to head to the venue for the evening’s show. We have company meeting on stage, then I can maybe sneak in about a half-hour of writing before mic check. Then it’s time to get ready for the show. I have some big chunks of downtime during each performance, so I have enough time to write a blog post and read a little in whatever marketing/author based book I‘m delving into a the moment.

10:45 pm sees us back at the hotel, which is time for a snack and some more writing.

Bedtime is about 2am, and then I wake up an hour before bus call to do it all over again.

Occasionally, we’ll have just a travel day with no show, which provides some wiggle room for doing something fun, or we’ll be in a city for more than one day so I’ll have some time to explore instead of just staying on the bus. And there are some amazing cities to explore. From Saint Louis to Raleigh, I’ve gotten to hang out in some pretty awesome places while on The Wizard of Oz tour.

It’s a crazy and hectic schedule in which finding a spare minute to work is an amazing feat and finding a quiet place to write is nigh on impossible.

And I will say planning a book release from a tour bus is not for the faint of heart. I cannot express how grateful I am for the team at Fiery Seas Publishing. Without them, I would have curled up in a corner and cried trying to plan a whole blog tour. They’ve been amazing through this whole publication process.
I wouldn’t trade my two crazy careers for anything, but if you ever see me walking wild-haired into a restaurant with a pack of actors from The Wizard of Oz, you’ll know why.



Guest Post by Hollie Thubron

816EUGtF5hL._UX250_Hollie Thubron is a singer, songwriter and author from the outskirts of London and has been writing novels since she was child. It has always been her dream to be a published author and that dream has been achieved, with Insane being her debut novel.

She is fascinated by the psychology of serial killers as well as the debate about morality and so she is studying Philosophy at the University of Bristol.




Guest Post by Hollie Thubron:

 “Bringing hope to the innocent.”

When you wake up in the morning. Get dressed. Put on your coat and shoes. Go to work. Do you expect to come home, to find the police in your living room? Because you fit a profile. Because no one can confirm that you went out for a run that one night. Because they want someone to blame.

It is a common misconception that wrongful convictions are a rare and infrequent occurrence, that have only happened in the well-documented cases such as the Birmingham Six, the Guildford Four, Stephen Downing and other well-known cases.
Unfortunately, this is not the case – miscarriages of justice have simply faded from the political agenda. the system doesn’t just sometimes get it wrong, it gets it wrong every day, of every week, of every month of every year.

Not only are these peoples lives ruined whilst they are in prison for a crime they didn’t commit, but they are also permanently tarnished if and when they are finally exonerated. this is because even though they have been cleared of the crime and are declared innocent, society still judges them and looks down on them – sure they are guilty of something.

Wrongful convictions can happen for any number of reasons – the most common being inaccurate eyewitness testimonies and also false expert and forensic evidence. The Justice System seems to have their priorities set with seeking justice for the victim of a crime – however, the wrongfully convicted are victims too.

The Miscarriages of Justice Organisation, MOJO, is a unique human rights organisation dedicated to assisting innocent people, who are in prison, and following their release. Their objective is to offer advice and support to people in prisons throughout the UK who are fighting to establish their innocence.

The organisation was founded in 2001 by Paddy Joe Hill, one of six innocent men wrongfully convicted in 1975 for the Birmingham pub bombings. The Birmingham Six’s convictions were finally quashed, and they were released in March 199.

MOJO’s work falls into two categories. Supporting those in prison fighting to clear their names, and supporting those who have had their convictions quashed and are trying to put the pieces of their lives back together.

They currently support over 55 individuals, together with their family members; both in prison and in their communities, and process over 100 new inquiries a year.

Miscarriages of justice are often overlooked in favour of giving closure to the victim of the crime. But this is not justice. This is why 50p of every copy of Insane sold is being donated to MOJO, to help bring hope to the innocent.

Find more information on MOJO here:Small-MOJO-LOGO-Transparent-e1454086615417


The Book:

Insane is a psychological thriller about a serial killer. She kills because she enjoys it. You might call her insane, but who are you to judge?



One person’s crazy is another person’s reality, with so much in this world being left to interpretation, is killing really wrong? Are serial killers really insane? Anyway, who are you to judge?

The locals of Southhurst would never dare wonder the streets alone at night, since there has been a serial killer terrorizing the area for fifteen years. But Avery Blake isn’t afraid.

Avery Blake is a serial killer. She kills because she enjoys it. But how long can she go on like this, before someone catches on?

Insane is a psychological thriller addressing the different perceptions of morality and what influences them.


Patty’s Pick

pattys pick

Campbells World

For this month’s Patty’s Pick, Patty and I have chosen this uplifting post from the Author of The Bright Side of Darkness, Jo E. Pinto.

It’s a wonderful story and something, I think, that will ring true for all parents


Lessons Learned from Canned Goods

by J. E. Pinto

canned-750x700After a big shopping trip to stock the pantry, my daughter Sarah and I sat on the kitchen floor one Saturday afternoon marking canned goods in braille. I felt overwhelmed by the dozens of cans that needed to be labeled and put away, which led to a few sharp jabs from my conscience. My little girl was stuck doing a boring job while her friends were probably outside playing because her blind mom couldn’t see the labels on the canned goods in her own kitchen.

Sarah soon put an end to my internal guilt trip. As I punched out sticky tapes with my braille label maker, she made a long line of cans across the floor.

“Next!” she said in her best nurse’s voice. “Hello, Tomato Soup. The doctor will see you now. Wow, you’ve got a dent! What happened?”

“Food fight,” Tomato Soup answered in a gruff, deep tone.

Sarah took the label from me, peeled off the adhesive back, pressed it on the can, and scolded, “Really, a food fight? You need a Band-Aid. There it goes, right across that dent. Behave yourself, okay?”

She put the can on the counter and called briskly, “Next! Chili Beans … how are you today? No salt added … you need to work on your diet, don’t you?”

I started making the label.

“Next! Baked Sweet Potatoes … are you half baked or all done?”

And so it went. We giggled and worked and had such a good time, the job was finished before we knew it. All it took to turn a chore into a fun game was a child’s vivid imagination and a generous helping of laughter.

Labeling those cans for my pantry has become one of my most treasured memories from Sarah’s school age years. I learned two important lessons from the time we spent together. The first is, no guilt. Families have different needs, and children pitch in where their talents fit. If that means my kid reads labels so I can mark cans after we go shopping, so be it. And if she can make the job fun and interesting, so much the better.

The second and most important lesson I learned is, blind or sighted, enjoy the spontaneous moments with your child as they come along. You can’t plan them, you can’t create them, you can’t predict when they will happen. But you can soak them up and squeeze every drop of joy out of them when you find yourself in the midst of them, and treasure the memory of them afterward.

This piece first appeared on Holly Bonner’s Blind-Motherhood blog

About J. E. Pinto:
61a2qU7nTyL._SY600_J. E. Pinto is a magnet for underdogs! Early in her married life, her home became a hangout for troubled neighborhood kids. This experience lit the flame for her first novel, The Bright Side of Darkness.

Pinto’s Spanish-American roots grow deep in the Rocky Mountains, dating back six generations. J. E. Pinto lives with her family in Colorado where she works as a writer and also proofreads textbooks and audio books. One of her favorite pastimes is taking a nature walk with her service dog.

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The Bright Side of Darkness won a first place Indie Book Award for “First Novel over Eighty Thousand Words,” as well as First Place for “Inspirational Fiction.” The novel also won several awards from the Colorado Independent Publishers Association: First Place for “Inspirational Fiction,” Second Place for “Audio Book,” and First Place for “Literary and Contemporary Fiction.

The Bright Side of Darkness

517cI92cP2L._SY346_Rick Myers, an orphan without much faith in the future, and Daisy Bettencourt, a blind girl who is running from an alcoholic father and a set of overprotective foster parents, cross paths at a high school baseball game and make their way together. Daisy becomes the bright spot in Rick’s universe as he and his four lifelong friends–Tim, Mark, and the twins–battle the forces of poverty and hopelessness. Mark’s grandma dies of heart failure, and Tim’s stepdad is arrested on felony child abuse charges, leaving them, like Rick and Daisy, with no authority figures in their lives.

Rick and Daisy are trailed by a fat man in a battered green jeep who makes Rick more and more uneasy as the weeks pass. Then, just when Rick discovers an interest in the culinary field and decides to complete his education, the bottom drops out of his world.





Patty’s Pick

pattys pick

Campbells World

Where Literature And Hobby Meet


Phyllis Campbell

It’s no secret to those who know me, that knitting is almost a passion with me. Well, okay, it is a passion. It goes almost everywhere I go. I even knit between practice and time for me to play the prelude, and have been known, hidden away in the organ loft as I am, to knit during the sermon.

Like most knitters, collecting unusual patterns is definitely a part of this passion. This interest was taken a step in what might be considered a different direction when Debbie Macomber began publishing her books featuring her shop on Blossom Street, weaving knitting in with the failures and triumphs of her characters, all held together by that one interest.

In recent years there have been the books honoring characters of literature such as the Jane Austin series. So far as I know, these Austin knits haven’t come out in alternate format, for the blind, but I suspect they soon will.

61qE9UraSoL._SX440_BO1,204,203,200_I recently ran across an interesting book. The copyright date is 2007, but so far as I can tell it has only recently been added to the NLS collection in Braille, and is available for download from BARD in contracted braille format.

It features patterns honoring a relatively recent book and movie character, known to us all, Harry Potter.

Okay, so you can’t even stand the thought of that skinny little kid with glasses who goes around waving his wand! If you truly can’t stand the thought of him, and his magical doings, best stop reading, but if you have no definite opinion about him and all his adventures, stay with us. Seriously, whether you are a Potter fan or not, this book, Charmed Knits by Alison Hansel, is worth a look.

True, the book will probably have more charm (sorry ’bout that) for Potter fans, since the patterns are tied to various characters and situations, but there’s some good stuff there.

The patterns range from the simple and practical to the downright funky, to use Ms. Hansel’s word. They feature the house colors, from the books and movies, and give clear suggestions to the yarns that will achieve the proper effect. My frugal soul rebels at the cost of some of these yarns, but then I’m known for my frugality, so don’t let this discourage you. That said, one of the things I like about Charmed Knits is the fact that many of the patterns are versatile. So you don’t like stripes, don’t fool with them.

There’s a very simple sweater pattern, the Weasley sweater, that has rolled edges at the bottom. I don’t like rolled edges, so if I make it, I’ll use the ribbed pattern that is at the sleeve cuff. The same sweater has the initial H. on the front. I’m playing with the idea of trying to work out a braille initial instead of the print one given in the pattern.

There are patterns for hats, mittens, socks, scarves, sweaters, a knitting bag, wand cozy, an invisibility shawl, ornaments, and to my mind at least, a pattern for a perfectly silly looking housecoat. But, who am I, only a Muggle, a nonmagical person.

Dobby's Socks & House Mittens- Charmed Knits by Alison Hansel

© Alison Hansel

The book begins with the burrow, the home of the Weasleys, Harry’s friends; goes on to Diagon Alley, where all kinds of wizarding things such as floo powder are for sale, and on to Hogwarts, the wizarding school.

When I read the books I found it interesting that so many characters were knitting. When Hagrid the lovable half-giant, took Harry to Diagon Alley to buy his first school supplies, he was sitting on the Muggle train, calmly knitting something that Ms. Rowling described as looking like a yellow circus tent. Hermione knit countless elf hats and scarves in an effort to free the house elves, although the poor elves were quite happy as they were. And of course, Mrs. Weasley was constantly knitting.

Patterns are clearly written, although the sweaters require a bit of concentration since they often cover sizes from toddler through XXL.

All necessary charts have been written out so that we aren’t left wondering what on earth those symbols mean. Material that is written in sidebars in the print edition are written out at the beginning of the pattern. Measurements are given both in US and metrics

There is an index and definition of terms in the back of the book, and stitch explanations with the patterns as well as a list of knitting abbreviations.

It should be noted that Charmed Knits is not an official book, endorsed by J.K. Rowling or Warner Bros., but a creation of the author, and of course is a copyright work.

Mrs. Hansel lives in Boston with her husband, twin boys , and at the time of writing she was expecting a girl.

More On Author Phyllis Campbell:

22853049_364248084029418_3608388457679183598_nPhyllis Staton Campbell, who was born blind, writes about the world she knows best. She calls on her experience as teacher of the blind, peer counselor and youth transition coordinator. She says that she lives the lives of her characters: lives of sorrow and joy; triumph and failure; hope and despair. That she and her characters sometimes see the world in a different way, adds depth to the story. She sees color in the warmth of the sun on her face, the smell of rain, the call of a cardinal, and God, in a rainbow of love and grace.

Although she was born in Amherst County, Virginia, she has lived most of her life in Staunton, Virginia, where she serves as organist at historic Faith Lutheran church, not far from the home she shared with her husband, Chuck, who waits beyond that door called death.

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