Sunday, May 31, 2009

Meet Author Linda Asato

My guest this month in our VBT-Writers on the Move group is Linda Asato. Linda is a fairly new member, so please take time to get to know her better. Let’s start with Linda Asato’s picture:

Now let’s learn about Linda’s background:

Biography – Linda Asato

Linda grew up in the Canadian woods on her father’s lumber camp. She and her younger sister shared a bedroom in a 3-bedroom house that her father and his men built on the edge of a small river within sight of the sawmill and planer mill. Her family life was one of security, encouragement, and love, which helped to foster her talents of writing and playing the piano. Not having access to TV or other entertainment sources, Linda found herself interested in life itself, and when she wasn’t taking long walks in the woods with her two dogs, she became interested in oil painting landscapes, taking photos with her camera, fishing, playing the recorder as well as the accordion and piano. Helping her mother with the huge garden in the summer and harvesting the crops in the fall nurtured her love of plants and gardening, which later became her area of study at the university in Edmonton, Alberta.

She began writing poetry at the age of nine and shared her poems daily with her Grade 3 teacher, who supplied her with fancy notepaper on which to write them.

Later, she took to writing short stories, and her teacher at that time mentioned to her parents that she had a unique way of viewing things from the other person’s perspective.

During her three years of attending University, she wrote numerous poems, two of which appeared in two separate anthologies of poetry. During the last year, she married Brian Smith and completed her Bachelor of Science. Moving to Thompson, Manitoba, the couple had two kids, a boy and a girl that kept Linda busy raising a family for the next few years. She was divorced years later and raised her two kids mainly on her own while running her own janitorial business to keep the family financially afloat.
As her own kids grew up and left home, Linda worked for many years both as a teacher and also as an executive at a boarding ranch school where kids lived and worked together as well as studied. It was here that she wrote many courses including workbooks for the education of the students.

Years later, she moved to Florida where she endeavored to continue her writing and even editing for others. As a ghostwriter, she wrote a book on mortgage traps, as well as a book on improving one’s credit score, plus many other shorter reports. She has edited for others over the past 4 years.

Her first picture book for children, “Spider in Our Mailbox,” is now published by 4RV Publishing and illustrated brilliantly by Ryan Shaw. We’ll look more at her book in my second post about her in a few days.

Now for a bit of Q & A with Linda Asato:

Q: You were raised in the forest in a lumber camp in a very caring and religious family. How did this affect your writing?

A: When I was young, I became very close to nature, animals, plants, trees and the outdoors. Many of my poems reflect this. I also have a deep spiritual side of me that is actually not like the usual one you would see in someone brought up going to church at least twice a week. Many times this comes out in my writing, although very subtly.

Q: How has your educational background affect the subject matter of your writing?

A: I had a very good education and great teachers. The most important thing I learned in school and also from my father was to question everything and to investigate. Therefore, I love to do research, and this helps me to write about subjects that I initially have no inkling about.

Q: What hobbies, interests, or activities do you participate in during your leisure time?

A: I garden and spend time outdoors with my two cats and the two dogs that I am taking care of at the moment. I often take my camera with me and take pictures of the environment around me. Then, of course, I teach piano, so I enjoy playing my electric keyboard and composing music as well.

Q: What keeps you writing?

A: I get these awesome ideas for a book or an essay and I just can’t keep from writing it down. I also get such a thrill when I write something I am inspired to write that I want to experience it over and over again.

URLs for Linda Asato:
Website: , Linda’s Writing Web

Blog: href=" "> , Linda’s Writing Desk
(The heck with trying to link! To go to Linda's blog, just click on her listing at top of the column of links listed at right side of my blog just after my book cover. :-) )

Please drop back by in a couple of days to learn more about Linda’s book, “Spider in Our Mailbox”.



Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

Let us now pause awhile then
to honor those gallant men,
two centuries worth of ghosts
who gave the U.S. their most.
They all bravely fought and died,
to save our freedoms their prize.

At Bunker Hill, New Orleans,
The Alamo, Fredericksburg,
Gettysburg, Chickamauga,
San Juan Hill, Argonne Forest,
Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal,
Bastogne, Inchon, at Khe Sanh,
Saigon, Kuwait City, then
Baghdad…plus so many more.

These courageous soldiers went
for country; their lives were spent
to protect us – you and me –
and generations to be.
This long, long line of the dead
yet grows; today soldiers bled.

In Iraq, our soldiers fight.
They die; we debate what’s right.
On ships, in planes, in Humvees,
or afoot, how bravely these
warriors do wage war. They serve.
What great honor they deserve!

© Copyright 2007 Harry Gilleland

Monday, May 18, 2009

Pottery Fun at Seagrove, NC

My lovely wife Linda and I just returned from a two-week trip to Macon, Ga, then Rock Hill, SC, then Clemmons, NC, back to Macon, and finally home to Shreveport. We put over 2,000 miles on the Santa Fe (which performed wonderfully well, very comfortable ride, 25.6 mpg).

We had a lot of fun seeing all the relatives, especially the three grandchildren who are all extremely good-looking and highly intelligent because they all are lucky enough to take after their paternal grandfather. We did a lot of fun things, but going with sister-in-law Janet, her hubby Robert, and their daughter Dee to Seagrove, NC to visit some of their 109 pottery shops stands out. We bought some nice pottery, and I learned a lot I didn't know about pottery. Seagrove, NC claims to have the largest community of working potters in America. Something to do with having a lot of pottery clay available in the area. Old-time potters dug their own clay in their backyard. Everyone we visited said now they buy it in bulk from places like Michigan or Wisconsin. Traditions die, I guess.

We all went to the NC Pottery Center there, where they have works by most of the local potters, as well as a museum and pottery showroom. All around are posted signs "Please do not touch the pottery", "Please do not handle the pottery", etc. The girls were working their way along one wall of the museum area, while Robert and I got ahead of them. I rounded the corner and came to a display of unglazed pottery, plus various types of glazes. Here there was a sign "Feel free to handle and feel the different pottery types". One of the displayed pieces was a plate broken in half. I, of course, immediately saw an opportunity here to have a bit of fun. I picked the plate up and went around the corner back into the museum area where the girls were. Showing them the broken plate, I had this worried look on my face and said, "Look what happened! I just picked this up, and it broke apart." The horrified looks on my wife's and Janet's faces were priceless. My wife said, "Go put it back!" if that would solve anything. Janet said, "I hope that wasn't expensive." She could envision my having to pay hundreds of $$ since I broke it. Many pieces were available for purchase, most at hefty prices. At that point, I broke into a big smile and explained it was all okay. But I sure got them! (I could say the devil made me do it, but anyone who knows me would know that I just have that sort of a sense of humor.)

Anyway, we had a great trip. I'm back and way behind on all my emails. I'll try to get caught up asap.



Saturday, May 2, 2009

She Wore Emerald Then: Reflections on Motherhood, a book co-authored by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Mother's Day is nearly upon us. It's time to begin thinking about how you will celebrate your wonderful mother this year. Much of what's in the shops is syrupy, expensive, and full of meaningless sound bites and clich├ęs. This year you can give something different.

Magdalena Ball, May Lattanzio and Carolyn Howard-Johnson teamed up to create a beautiful, full color gift book of poetry specifically on the topic of motherhood. There's nothing overly sugary here!
Their book is entitled "She Wore Emerald Then: Reflections on Motherhood".

You can download it free and print it on linen paper or you can buy it at only $12.50. Either way, it's a gift that’s both frugal and unique — maybe something different than you’ve ever given before. Team it with a small box of chocolates, homemade cookies, or a bunch of flowers (freshly picked from your garden even) for the perfect present. No additional (overpriced) card needed. The complimentary electronic copy is available for you at:

Read the full book online, or download it.

However, if you’d like to support a couple of poets and an artist (and all of them are mothers!), order it on Amazon at:

Do it now, and Carolyn will send readers of this blog a signed label for it. Just e-mail Carolyn your address with POETRY BOOK in the subject line at:

The complimentary electronic book is only available until the 10th of May. In any case, please don't forget to tell your mother how important she is to you. And if you're a mother, Happy Mother's Day!

To indicate one reviewer's high regard for this book, please read the following review.

REVIEW of She Wore Emeralds Then written by Kristin J. Johnson:
“What relationship is more complex or more elemental than the mother-child bond? Abraham Lincoln said, 'All that I am or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.' Toni Morrison wrote, 'Grown don't mean nothing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown? What's that suppose to mean? In my heart it don't mean a thing.'
Both of those quotes, as well as one by Honore de Balzac at the beginning of SHE WORE EMERALD THEN, perfectly describe this collection of poems by Carolyn Howard-Johnson and Magdalena Ball---poetry that catches at your soul. Both of them reprise their poems from Ball's QUARK SOUP, Howard-Johnson's TRACINGS, and their joint collection, CHERISHED PULSE. Fans of CHERISHED PULSE will be pleased to learn that the poets continue to write poems that don't sound either like banal Hallmark cards or the bitter-at-dysfunctional-family jeremiads that habitually torture MFA writing workshop participants.
The two poets complement each other (with words accompanied by stunning photography by May Lattanzio). The opus covers both the grand sweep of the birth of all universal life and the private universe populated by only an adult daughter watching her mother struggle to eat dinner and remembering how her mother washed her one slip. While Ball explores the cosmic continuum and traces us all back to the mother spark that set the stars burning, Howard-Johnson concentrates her portraiture on the deeply personal. But Ball also talks about the oxytocin haze of giving birth and her mother vomiting from cancer drugs. To quote the last poem in the collection, 'Hallmark Couldn't Possibly Get This Right.' When you read about the tough love of the universe or Ball's sienna childhood photograph or Howard-Johnson's mother forgetting her name, you want to cry and hug your mother (and your children, if you have them), because they capture the eternal tug of war between joy and sorrow in the mother-child bond."

So, take it from me and go buy a copy of Carolyn’s book for a Mother’s Day gift for your mother, grandmother, favorite aunt, friend, etc. You’ll be glad you did!

I hope you enjoyed reading all about Carolyn Howard-Johnson.

You simply don’t meet a writer as talented as Carolyn very often.