Wednesday, June 29, 2011

3-Day Birthday Surprise!

This post is dedicated to my mom who turned 80 on the 27th.  We had a surprise birthday party for her at a local park. The weather cooperated with our plans too: it was breezy, sunny, and in the 70's.  The location was great as well.  There was a nice shelter with loads of picnic tables, indoor restrooms, basketball hoops, a baseball diamond, swings and plenty of green grass for the kids to run around on.

Family came from Santa Fe, New Mexico - St.Cloud, Minnesota - Waukesha, Milwaukee, and Johnson Creek, Wisconsin.  We had an awesome time, lots of food, fun and drinks, and we got to visit with each other for 3 days.  Mom had a blast seeing her kids, grandkids and great grandkids.



Pam and Ron

Cousins: Nora and Travis

Mom and me 

Grammy Pammy and Nora

My granddaughter-Rachael




My grandson, Travis

Mom and Liana

Rachael and Nora
Later on after the picnic, we met at the Motel where everyone was staying and had even more fun! 


 Mom relaxing with her newly planted flowers and enjoying the soft music of her new wind chimes. Everyone hung out at both mom's house and my house, and then later back to the motel for more swimming and pizza.  

Rach, Nora, Travis and Ron


A great time was had by all.  But as much fun as it is to see family, once they all leave for their homes far away, we all miss one another so much.  It's hard to say goodbye.  This was our last day together...some of us had breakfast together, and then we took lots of pictures.                                        


Mike - Pam - Sharon - Richard

Four generations: Liana and Nora, Pam, Mom

All is quiet here in Waupun.  Mom stopped over for a cup of coffee this morning and we reminisced about our three days.  I'm glad you had a happy birthday, mom!  ♥

More photos coming soon on facebook...
Have a great week!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Interview with Jessica Knauss

Meet Jessica Knauss: Author -extraordinaire!  Not only does she write, she has recently started a bilingual Publishing House! Talk about someone with tons of ambition!  Two of her books have been published so far and, somehow, I know this is just the beginning for her.

Sharon: Tell me a bit about yourself, where you grew up, what else you do besides writing and publishing.

JessicaI grew up in a truly unique place, one of the small towns on the coast of Northern California. Before I attained my life dream of editing fiction for a publishing house (at Fireship Press) and my ultimate super-duper impossible never-gonna-happen life dream of starting my own publishing company (Açedrex Publishing, your best bilingual books!), I worked as a librarian and, as part of my PhD requirements, a Spanish teacher. I loved being a librarian because for me, physical books have a life of their own, but eventually, the academy's call was too loud. Mostly I've been a student because school always offered new intellectual stimulation and I had so much success as a student that I never could duplicate as a teacher. I have a BA in English Creative Writing and Spanish, an MFA in literary translation, an MA in Medieval Studies, and an MA and PhD in Hispanic Studies (Medieval Spanish Literature). After I finished my PhD, I've had some odd jobs, but it was really three years and two moves before I got that previously mentioned dream position at Fireship. When that happened, I became all about going after my goals, so, whether it's well advised or not, I'm starting Açedrex Publishing as well. I look forward to publishing the best fiction in English and Spanish. I hope to have every title in both languages eventually. And, of course, I'm also keeping up with my writing.

Sharon: Wow, when I called you ambitious, I wasn't exaggerating!  Tell me about your book/series and its intended audience.

JessicaSail To Italy and Sail From Italy are the silliest book you may ever read! They're the zany adventures of the Princess of Italy and her friends, directed at young adults simply because I wrote them when I was thirteen and fourteen years old. Seriously, if you're looking for a clean, breezy summer read, this is the one. 
Tree/House is considered strange by some, but it's guaranteed to make you think. It's the history of one uninspired woman's awakening though her conversations with a vagrant who prefers to sleep in trees. There's an unforgettably creepy bad guy, a mystery, intrigue, foreign travel, college romance, Shakespeare, and last but not least, a wet pink kitchen sponge in a briefcase. 
My work in progress, The Seven Noble Knights of Lara, is based on a medieval Spanish epic that has only survived in a history chronicle. It's a bloody revenge epic with references to the events of 974-circa 986 AD, but it probably never really happened. I'm making it into an absorbing human drama with characters my beta readers have fallen in love with. It's a lot of fun because the Spanish medieval epics have  strong women characters and it's easy for me to imagine what their lives were like, and their motivations.

Sharon: Your WIP sounds so intriguing!  How does real life affect your fiction?

Jessica: The Sailing Italy series, I can honestly say, has no basis in reality. Tree/House, however, contains a lot of subtle psychological themes that come from perceived events in my own life. Basically, Franklin, the bad guy, is a conglomeration of all the people who'd made me feel held back or repressed up to the point when I wrote it. Also, growing up in a small town, I had a deep sense of isolation that definitely comes out in the book. None of this seepage was intentional. The Seven Noble Knights of Lara didn't happen to me in this lifetime, but I was attracted to the plot and characters because of my love for medieval Spain, and the atmosphere and language of that book are heavily influenced by the time I've spent in Spain.

Sharon: So on top of all that ambition, you've also been a world traveler! (I'm a bit jealous!)  What is your favorite book?

JessicaMy favorite book is William Goldman's The Princess Bride. I've loved and cherished many more books, but because of its love of humor, use of language, and imaginary medieval setting, The Princess Bride will accompany me forever. I think it's the reason I got a degree in medieval studies, and one of the reasons I wanted so badly to study Spanish. 

Sharon: I loved The Princess Bride movie, but never read the book. Do you have a favorite word? How do you use language to differentiate your characters and/or settings?

Jessica: My favorite word is the apt one for the situation. As we all know Mark Twain said, "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." 
I made heavy use of Shakespeare when I wrote for Franklin, the Shakespeare professor in Tree/House, and that contrasted nicely with Emma's waffling, uninspired speech as opposed to the poetry she's capable of when she decides what she really wants.
In my work in progress, I like to throw in an antique word every couple of chapters just to remind the reader that this didn't happen last week. The nobles speak much more and with more confidence than the serving class. And I can hardly wait to get to the chapters that take place in Andalucía, where I expect everyone will speak poetically, trying to reflect the refined Arabian influence in social circles. It will contrast a lot with my northern Spaniard's direct, prosaic language. 

Sharon: What inspires you? Is there a specific inspiration for your most recent project?

JessicaInspiration frequently comes to me in dreams, and I have a secret project I'm working on that was inspired by a near-waking dream I had last year. But since we're considering The Seven Noble Knights of Lara my most recent project, I would say that the inspiration for it came from deep within me. I had to read the epic for my PhD program, and it was like reading something I had written a long time ago and needed to revisit. The first thing I did after my PhD was mark that November for NaNoWriMo. Life got in the way and I didn't finish it then, but I'm happy to be working on it full force again.

Sharon: Oh, a secret project!  I can't wait to hear about it! Tell me about your work area, and how much time you spend devoted to your fiction writing per day. Do you have any methods that might seem unusual or inspiring to other authors?

JessicaMy husband and I are living in an unfurnished one-bedroom apartment, so when he's not at work, I don't feel like I can write because it takes such absorption, he would feel like I wasn't there at all. He has a weird schedule, basically a swing shift most days, so I work on the publishing company and my blog during the afternoon, and if there's not something more time-sensitive, I can work for one or two hours on the folded-out futon with the laptop (no internet access!) and wind things up as my sweet love comes in the door. I used to have an entire study for writing in, with a heavy wooden pull-out desk and my files, books, and loads of inspirational objects around me, but this bare bones approach seems to work surprisingly well. 
Because I take inspiration in dreams or a half-awake state, when the conscious mind can't interfere, I keep a notebook by the bed. I've gotten a few great scenes worked out that way.

Sharon: When and why did you start writing? Do you think there are any characteristics from your first efforts that have survived to this day?

Jessica: As an overflowing file box in storage in Pennsylvania can attest, I began writing and illustrating age-appropriate books in first or second grade. I knew with an otherworldly firmness that I was a writer. I also learned quickly that it was going to take some time for the people around me to figure out how serious I was. Already in my first writing efforts, the reader can see that I record life from a particular point of view, and I'm sure that persists today.

Sharon: Do you feel that your family and friends are supportive? What kind of feedback are you getting? Do you have a definable fan base?

Jessica: I think I've made it as far as I have on this novel because I have a writing group that meets once a month like clockwork, so I always want to have finished a chapter for them to read. I'm so grateful for them! Their criticism always gives me some fascinating issue to think about so that I can't sleep at all that night. I get reader feedback in reviews, and I'm tremendously grateful for that as well. I think it doesn't do much good to write if no one tells you how they've reacted to your work. Also, Tree/House was a book club selection in St. Helens, Oregon (it's great for book clubs!), and the ladies sent me questions, and I put up a page on my blog based on the questions and my answers. That was huge fun. My mother and my husband read all my stuff, but don't have literary criticism training, so that's about where it stays, but I appreciate their support so much. My brother (the amazing Will Knauss of , who writes under a pen name I won't reveal here) surprised me last year by saying he'd read Tree/House. He was so impressed that he actually told me to keep writing, which is high praise indeed from someone I admire very much but isn't exactly effusive verbally. We're a very quiet family, but still waters run deep -- at least I know they do on my end.

Sharon: Thank you so much, Jessica!  I am sure you are a great inspiration to all of your fans! I've enjoyed getting to know you better through this interview, and I look forward to reading your books!

Jessica: Thank you for having me on your blog, Sharon.

Follow Jessica on FaceBook: 

Jessica's Blog:

Paperback coming soon!

And if you're interested in checking out her newest endeavor, here is the link to Jessica's Publishing Company: 

Saturday, June 11, 2011


I was attacked this morning!  It happened so fast I didn't even have time to think about what was going on.  Now don't freak out...I was not physically attacked ...although, I did use a bunch of muscles as I fought my way through the morning.  It was very unexpected, and certainly not planned.  My original plan was to pay some bills, take out the garbage, (gigantic boxes and lots of Styrofoam) and see if I could load my books onto my new computer without losing my mind. (I practically lost it the other day when I was trying to figure out how to load my pictures with Windows 7.)

Anyway, it all started just after making my coffee.  Suddenly I found myself cleaning out the fridge!  The next thing I knew I had the stove ripped apart and those silver spill catcher thingies soaking in the sink.  Strangest thing of all - I actually threw my bathroom rugs in the washer while I scoured the bathroom!  Sweeping, dusting, vacuuming, and Windex-ing came next. (I only broke one nail in the process) I even ironed my hubby's "white coat"!  I can't say for sure how this came about, so I'm just calling it "Attack of the Cleaning Bug"  It jumped me without any warning what-so-ever.  And now my house is clean!

Ok, so before this gets boring, (too late?) I'm going to give you all a link to my very first interview!  I'm sure some of you have seen it already, (since I posted it a zillion times on face book and even sent it in a mass email), but seriously...I think Jessica Knauss asked me some great questions and really made me think!  (One of her questions has even prompted me to start my query-letter synopsis!)

Here's the link...I hope you take a few moments and hop over to Jessica's blog to read it if you have not done so yet!  Please let me know what you think!

The interview was posted on June 8th.  It's the third one down, (you can't miss my face!)

Well, at least I can't miss it here on my new ginormous computer screen!  The monitor is a 24"  (hubby's idea) It is definitely going to take some time to get used to this, but I am not complaining!

Here's some photos comparing the old and the new:



Have a great weekend!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Relaxing (?) for a change...


 This is where I sat relaxing (?) last night after another great visit with my daughter and her family.  As we watched the evening unfold before us we chatted about our day - enjoying not only the company, but the scene all around us:  My grandson played with their chocolate Lab - which brought us a few chuckles.  The bright yellow bird that stopped by was beautiful. The sweet scent of the flowers was amazing. And the refreshing evening breeze was a welcomed relief after the hot, muggy day.  I only wish we lived closer so we could do this more often.

With that thought in mind, I'm thinking I am going to do a little less blogging during the summer months.  Partly because I (hopefully) plan to be busier with life - you know, fun stuff, like going to the beach, taking the grandkids to the zoo, cook-outs, museums, movies, visiting with family and friends, reading...writing...

And maybe just sitting around daydreaming!  Life seems to be so hectic lately that I never find enough time to just sit and relax, smell the flowers...something I was so well aware of last night as I found myself thinking ahead to today. (Not really relaxing)  Shouldn't we be able to stop all the planning and thinking once in a while?

     This kind of says it all ---->

 I feel like I've become stagnant. And, I have been so busy with my two blogs, face book page and twitter that I simply am not spending enough time writing.  And I miss it.  Writing fiction comes so much easier to me than dreaming up ideas for blogs...and it gives me so much enjoyment.  I'll still be here on the internet...checking all my writer-friend's blogs, reading all the awesome poetry on my Writer's Circle group page, catching up on family and friend's daily happenings.  But when I am not out and about doing fun things...I will be writing!

What do you have planned for this summer?

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