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Keeper Shelf

February 23, 2017 by in category Reading tagged as , , ,

Every room in my house, including all the bathrooms and the basement, has books. My mother and three sisters have similar decorating tastes.  A family acquaintance once commented, rather snidely, that it was like we lived in a library.  We didn’t keep her around long because who wouldn’t want to live in a library?

If you push me, I will admit to believing that heaven looks a lot like the Huntington Library; a lovely old mansion, seriously great books on the shelves, beautiful art on the walls all surrounded by a stunning garden.  Since it’s my heaven, I would include the chamber orchestra playing Mozart that happened to be performing the very first time I visited the Huntington Library, and a Starbucks-free, of course.

I love books.  I love the way they look.  I love the way they feel in my hands.  I love the way they smell–especially old books.

Not just novels, either, although I have tons of those. I also adore math books, especially geometry.  I’m mad about all sorts of children’s books from Pat the Bunny and The Spooky Old Tree to The Bridge to Terabithia and Nancy Drew.  And knitting books.  I have a collection of tiny old books, all about the size of my hand.

But, if I had to pick just three books for my keeper-shelf . . .


COLD SASSY TREE by Olive Ann Burns  

Cold Sassy Tree is the story of fourteen-year-old Will Tweedy, his Grandpa Rucker and Grandpa’s scandalous new wife, Miss Love all set in turn-of-the-twentieth-century small town Georgia.  This book made me laugh out loud, Will Tweedy’s tall tale about his aunt inflatable bosom.  And cry until I couldn’t see to read, Grandpa Rucker and Will Tweedy lining Grandma’s grave with a blanket of roses.


The End of Eternity is a love story.   I know. I know.  It’s science fiction.  But trust me, it is a love story.  Andrew Harlan is an Eternal whose job it is to “adjust” time for the greater good of humanity.   But every modification has a price –some people’s timelines are changed out of existence.   Harlan and other Eternals live in Eternity a place outside of time, so these adjustments have no consequences in their lives.  On one of his assignments Harlan meets and falls in love with Noÿs Lambent, who is not an Eternal.  If Harlan completes his modification of time, Noÿs will cease to exist.  Yet, if he saves her, the resulting paradox will destroy all of Eternity.



The Crocodile on the Sandbank is the first book in Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody mystery series.  Amelia Peabody is a forceful English Victorian spinster with a passion for Egypt, cleaning, and issuing orders.  Her match is Radcliffe Emerson who has a passion for Egypt, issuing orders, and as it turns out Amelia.  (He doesn’t care so much about cleaning.)   This novel has everything I love about traditional mysteries.  The setting is historical. The POV is first person.  Peabody and Emerson are tons of fun.

So, if you had to pick three novels for your keeper shelf what would they be? 



Marianne H Donley


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August 28, 2007 by in category Archives tagged as

WHAT’S WHAT has been donated for the Research Book Sale at OCC’s chapter meeting on Saturday, September 8.

Whether you are writing historical or contemporary, this book has detailed pictures with labels for every part and gadget. Buildings, plants, subway car, police car, ships, boats, clothing, furniture. It’s perfect for those brain-fade moments when you are struggling to remember what that thingy at the bottom of a window is called. Reviews at online bookstores say that every writer must have this book. Now is your chance!

WHAT’S WHAT and many more will be on sale at the Ways & Means table. Be sure to come over and take a look! If you have any research books of your own that you haven’t opened in quite a while, please consider donating them to the sale to help the chapter.

OCC workshops this month will be “Using Music: Pied Piping the Muse” with “noir fantasy-mystery” author and contemporary romance writer Chrystal Green in the morning. In the afternoon, the topic is “The Sidewalk of Success” with New York Times bestselling author of paranormal, historical and suspense and of Christina Dodd.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS! Saturday, Sept 8th. Brea Community Center, 695 E. Madison Way, Brea, CA. 92821. For a map and directions, click here.

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August 24, 2007 by in category Archives tagged as

1. A tale shall accomplish something and arrive somewhere.

2. The episodes of a tale shall be necessary parts of the tale, and shall help develop it.

3. The people in a tale shall be alive, except in the cases of corpses, and that always the reader shall be able to tell the corpses from the others.

4. The people in a tale, both dead and alive, shall exhibit a sufficient excuse for being there.

5. When the people of a tale deal in conversation, the talk shall sound like human talk and be such talk as human beings would be likely to talk in the given circumstances, and have a discoverable meaning, also a discoverable purpose, and a show of relevancy, and remain in the neighborhood of the subject at hand, and be interesting to the reader, and help out the tale, and stop when the people cannot think of anything more to say.

6. When the author describes the character of a person in his tale, the conduct and conversation of that person shall justify said description.

7. When a person talks like an illustrated, gilt-edged, tree calf, hand-tooled, seven-dollar friendship’s offering in the beginning of the paragraph, he shall not talke like a backwater minstrel in the end of it.

8. Crass stupidities shall not be played upon the reader by either the author or the people in the tale.

9. The people of a tale shall confine themselves to possibilities and let miracles alone; or, if they venture a miracle, the author must so plausibly set it forth as to make it look possible and reasonable.

10. The author shall make the reader feel a deep interest in the people of his tale and their fate; and that he shall make the reader love the good people in the tale and hate the bad ones.

11. The characters in a tale should be so clearly defined that the reader can tell beforehand what each will do in an emergency.

Reprinted from the March 1992 issue of the Orange County Chapter Newsletter, edited by Janet Cornelow who writes as Janet Quinn. Original can be found in MARK MY WORDS by Mark Twain

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My Keeper Shelf

August 9, 2007 by in category Archives tagged as

By Monica Stoner

The keeper shelf for an eclectic reader can be a thing of wonder and mystery. You wonder how one person can possibly enjoy all these different books. Dick Francis sits next to Julie Garwood and one shelf up from Laurie Berenson. Anne McCaffery overflows onto Suzanne Brockmann’s spot and Nora Roberts fills in the non existent holes. Ayn Rand lives next shelf up from Laurie R. King. And that’s just the fiction bookshelf. Non fiction covers canine structure and health, herbs, raptors, all phases of horsemanship through the ages and organic gardening (did you know just having the books doesn’t make you an organic gardener? You actually have to get out a shovel and DIG.)

Most of these books are allowed out on loan to people who can pass a government level security check. After all, they’re just books, right? Yeah, right.

Then there’s the “real” keeper shelf. Books tattered and torn, spines carefully taped over, and pages brittle with age. Here you find Andre Norton, who did more for fantasy writing than any ten other authors. Laura London – surely you’ve read Windflower? Have you found Lighting that Lingers, probably the most romantic book of all times? Remember the owl? Remember her loving him even though she just knew he was a bad, bad person?

And here, also, you find Theresa Weir. Not just the wonderful bigger books like Last Summer (bad boy actor and small town school teacher), Cool Shade (an agoraphobic former rock star and an insecure DJ), Bad Karma (a for-real psychic and a disillusioned sheriff who’s forgotten how to dream), Amazon Lily (the ultimate jungle romance); but also the smaller books, where every word is a treasure, and you only wish the book could last forever. Loving Jenny, about ordinary people in an ordinary small town where we all wish we could live.

It’s no wonder I can’t settle down to one style of writing, or confine myself to one era. Right after I read Saving Grace for the umpteenth time, I pick up a perfectly crafted mystery set among horses in England, only to move on to a perfect love story about ordinary people who live ordinary lives but love each other extraordinarily. Maybe I could write more if I boxed up all these books out of sight, but I’m not going to risk my sanity with that kind of experiment!

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Keeper Shelf

April 17, 2007 by in category Writing tagged as ,

by Gillian Doyle

A Novelist Looks At His Craft

by David Morrell

“The difference between fiction writers and civilians is that we make it our life’s work to put our daydreams and day-nightmares on paper.” -David Morrell

As writers, we have all heard it said that we “write what we know” but David really brought it home to me that we consciously — and often unconsciously — write about our deepest fears, weaving them into our characters, good and bad.

On page 21 of his book– “. . . I’ve trained myself to pay attention to my daydreams/nightmares, to be aware of them as they’re happening, to wonder why certain imaginary situations are so insistent, and to use the most compelling of them as the inspiration of my novels. After the fact, I’ve learned to realize how the plots that attract me are metaphors for my psyche.”

My books have always come to me in the most vivid dreams unlike my other “normal” dreams. A time-travel romance was born of a dream I had experienced while sleeping aboard a replica of an 1830s hide-trading ship on the coast of California. Another book began after a dream of an 1890s boarding house where the little boy sitting next to me had dropped green peas on the red oriental carpet under his chair. Such details startle me in my dreams, and haunt my waking hours with an eerie feeling of having actually been there, physically, in the past.

What relief to read of someone else who experiences this “multisensory illusion”. I have written all of my stories based upon these peculiar guideposts. This is the reason why I have had such a hard time keeping on track with my writing career. I write what I must write. I write what pulls me into the story as if I am a child at the feet of a storyteller, mesmerized, enthralled. When I am asked by well-meaning writer-friends, “Why can’t you write for the market? If only you’d pay attention to what sells, you’d be a huge success.” But I don’t. I can’t. And for this reason, I have often gone months without writing, choosing instead to find my fulfillment in other ways. How sad, though. I could not seem to allow myself to finish books just for myself, even if they would never find a publisher.

And so I returned to writing once more. I write of daydreams and nightmares. I write what I need to write. If there is an editor out there who finds it compelling and wishes to publish it, I would be delighted but it will not make my life any better than it is right now at this moment. For I have been reminded by David that it is the writing itself that is the reward. (Read Lesson Number One and you will know what I mean.)

After reading LIFETIME, I was thrilled to meet David when he was our guest speaker last year. What a memorable day! After reading last year’s thriller, CREEPERS, I became an even bigger fan! I can’t wait to read his latest, SCAVENGER. (Click on the titles to go to video interviews with David about these novels.)

You can learn more about David at his website and his MySpace page

David Morrell with some of the members of the 2006 OCC/RWA Board

Top row, left to right:
Bobbie Cimo, Michelle Thorne, Sue (Gillian Doyle) Phillips, Michele Cwiertny, Marianne Donley
Bottom row, l-r:
Mindy Neff, David Morrell, Sandy (Sandra Paul) Chvostal

Gillian Doyle writes paranormal suspense. She invites you to drop by at her blog and say hello.

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