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A Piece of the World

February 22, 2023 by in category Write From the Heart by Veronica Jorge tagged as , , ,

A figurine, Delft blue. I remember that trip to Holland and laugh. As soon as our bus pulled into Delft, we piled out and made a beeline for the gift shop, searching for the souvenirs that would eternalize this journey. I turn the figurine over in my hand: a lady holding a basket, gazing out. What does she see? What memories is she holding on to? I dust the gracious lady and seat her back in the curio. As I reach for the next pieces and reminisce, I wonder what it is that makes me want to own a piece of everyplace I’ve been? To keep forever alive a moment, an experience, an emotion?

It’s the same with movies I’ve seen and loved. Gotta buy the VHS, then upgrade to the DVD in case the VHS goes bad. And even though I have both, I still watch the television film version when it airs and don’t mind enduring the intrusive commercials.

Then there are my books. Some with places of honor on shelves, the power of sentiment attached to each one. And designated piles: ‘To Read.’ ‘To Read Again.’ A wish list of books, ‘To Buy.’

When the news announced the banning of Harper Lee’s, To Kill A Mockingbird, I rushed to confirm I had a copy, which led to a thorough examination of which books might be brittle, yellowed and frayed. A new list formed: ‘Books to Replace.’

All of which leads me to conclude that maybe all of these actions explain my desire, my need, to write. A significant event, an emotion, an intense experience, compels me to want to immortalize it. I grit my 36 teeth and magically weave the 26 letters of the alphabet into some meaningful representation of the emotions exploding in my heart. A yearning to create stories that will last forever, that will be cherished by others and replaced over and over again because they’ve connected with a piece of my world and they too want to own it forever.

Veronica Jorge

See you next time on March 22nd!

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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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