New Inspiration Leads to New Writing

My writing practice has taken a long hiatus due to travels in Prague, Krakow, Berlin and Sweden in 2014 and Italy in 2015. In the fall of 2016 I put aside my WW II novel, which takes place in Sweden and Poland, and decided to first start the sequel for Under the Salvadoran Sun. Why a sequel?  Two reasons: several of my readers asked for one and two, I realized it might help create more interest and sales of Under the Salvadoran Sun

The inspiration to write more on the issue of immigration comes out of my despair over the current political environment and the negative language from last year’s US election cycle. US immigration policies need reform and that will only happen with enough people demanding more fair treatment and recognition of what the Latino population brings, like immigrants of the past, to the rich texture of our society. 

Equally inspiring me is a project I’ve started in my adopted home of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Last year the growing number of deportations from the US plus the increasing number of “refugees” fleeing violence in Central America, mostly from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, concerned me. I gave a talk for a large group of people and many approached me to be on my mailing list. I started occasionally sending out articles about these refugees and deportees. People shared their desire “to do something,” to help those who are seeking new and better lives. What came from that has become a grassroots organization we call the RR Group. We are working directly with a safe house in a neighboring community. 

These actions would make my fictional character, Angela, proud. I hope you will stay tuned for more about how Angela resolves her grief and gets involved in immigration reform plus uncovers a story of corruption and mayhem. I will try occasionally to post excerpts from the new novel. Stay tuned. 

 

Post Election Thoughts and Feelings

I’ve always been a hope-and-positivity person. In my family, my brother was the cynic and I was called the optimist. Post the recent Presidential election, I’ve changed. My reactions have run the gamut from shock, despair, overwhelming sadness and depression. Now I am struggling to find a way back to the hopeful person I usually am. My despair has been for the people I fear will suffer from racist remarks, hate crimes and the most heinous acts that people can perpetrate on the “other.” The President-Elect has given many “permission,”through his own language,  to act out their hate, anger and resentment of those they blame for their own despair over income disparities, jobs no longer there for them in this global economy dominated by technology.  These are all real and understandable fears, but it is too easy to blame the underdogs, minorities. I fear for my Latino friends, many undocumented workers contributing to our economy with children born here; I fear attacks that might be perpetrated against my African-American, Muslim and gay and lesbian friends, and yes, my granddaughter’s African American boyfriend, father of my beautiful new great grandchild.  I have almost become sick with fear and then rage: how could this happen in the America I used to pledge allegiance to?

 Recently, I listened to someone talk about the fact that we are all energy, we create our own energy field and it radiates out from us, that we must decide what kind of energy we want to spread, the negative, dark and spiteful energy we’ve heard far too much of this past way-too-long campaign cycle, or positive, loving, tolerant, inclusive energy? Of course you can guess that I choose the latter. Let me add: that does not mean I will lay down and be a passive observer of events as they unfold. Oh no. We each have a role to play as a counterbalance for the negative statements made during the campaign. I am committed to remaining vigilant, for the very core of our democracy is at risk. But I will try to create a positive energy field, a kind of protective shield, a place where others, including myself, can laugh again, love again and feel safe. 

 I will try to rally others to share that optimism and hope, while forming a strong resistance to the potential dangers that face us. There are many ways to do that, the same means I’ve used in the past: through my writing and my artwork.

 I hope my readers will feel free to express their opinions and ideas. Freedom of Speech is still an ideal which we must protect.

 

New Writing Projects, 2016

This summer has been productive in many ways. I’ve been re-writing my travel memoir, which was published by 101 Productions in San Francisco in 1973, Europe with Two Kids and a Van. It sold over 12, 000 copies. Many friends have urged me to republish it as an ebook. I was finally convinced when I recently met a woman carrying a small child at MOMA in San Francisco. We started talking about our love of travel. She sighed and said her husband and she were resigned to the fact their traveling days were over now that they have a child. I piped up. “Why not travel with your child? It can be a great experience and if you do it like we did, camping in a van, you can make it an economical adventure, too.” She replied with wide open eyes: “Really, did you do that? Sure would like to know how.”  Me: “Read my book!”  “Oh, I will look forward to it.” So that did it. I’ve had fun reviewing the old book and the photos of our trip which I never included. I plan to include some in the new format, which will be small books: one for each of the seven countries we visited. I’ll keep them affordable, like $1.99 each. Then if someone wants the whole book, they can buy it for the attractive price of $9.99, a good deal!  Watch for it in the Spring of 2017. I’d love to hear your travel stories with children if you have any. Write me at davidsonsher@icloud.com.  

I also took many webinars this summers, some very good, offering tips for writers on marketing. I’m in the process of setting up my marketing strategy for the travel memoir as well as the new novel, for which the working title is Scream.  It’s a WWII story of family secrets which takes place in Sweden. Watch for it, too, in the Spring or Summer of 2017! 

I wish all my writer friends good luck on their projects and hope you take advantage of Mark Dawson’s new contest partnering with Reedsy to offer Pro Book Production services. We can all use those!  Good luck.

 

Mixed Emotions

It’s with mixed emotions that I returned to my familiar home of 39 years, Portland, Oregon in mid-May. Leaving what I call my “adopted country, Mexico” where I share a home with my husband in the beautiful town of San Miguel de Allende,   (http://adventureswithsher.blogspot.com/2014/03/in-residence-in-san-miguel-de-allende.html) is always with mixed emotions as I have so many new-found friends there, a support group of writers with the San Miguel Literary Sala, wonderful neighbors, both Mexican and Ex-pats,  and a Clay Studio where I can go and sculpt to my creative hands’ delight. On the other hand, its always wonderful to know I am coming back to dear long-time friends and my wonderful family in Portland, Oregon. The plus side also is I return to our small cottage on the Oregon Coast on the Nehalem River, a place of peaceful days where I can write, kayak, walk the nearby beach in Manzanita and just enjoy our mild summer weather. Note, I said “summer weather!”  It’s a different story in the winter when Oregon rains and grey skies color our days!  How blessed I feel to have the opportunity to live in two such ideal places at times when they are at their best: winter and spring in San Miguel and summer and fall in Oregon. So no complaints, just mixed emotions. 

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 Oregon’s Nehalem River  and the beautiful colonial buildings of San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. 

 

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My Next Novel

I can’t believe, I haven’t posted a blog about my writing life for almost a year!  Guess that’s because I’ve not only been very busy traveling (read my latest Adventures with Sher blog, on my recent trip to Switzerland and Italy), but also, doing reseach on my next novel, which takes place in Astoria, Oregon, Paris in the 1980’s and goes back to  WW II in Sweden. The protagonist, Lena, goes in search of family secrets and is shocked to learn why her Swedish Grandmother screamed at night. The working title of my book is Scream and I may use the famous painting by Norwegian artist, Alfred Munch, as my cover. 

Painting The Scream by Munch

I’ll keep you posted as I go along. This month gave me a jumpstart as I joined the NaNoWriMo competition to see if I could write 50,000 words in one month. It’s been quite a challenge, especially since we just returned  to our winter home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and there are so many wonderful distractions here, starting with the Day of the Dead festivities just after our return. 

Wish me luck and stay tuned. I may post a few sample pages of the new novel as we go along. I would greatly appreciate your comments. 

Attention Book Groups: Sample Under the Salvadoran Sun

Do you have a book group?  Looking for an interesting novel to read which relates to current issues like immigration? Here’s a sample from my book, Under the Salvadoran Sun, which I call “a late-in-life love story wrapped around the issue of immigration. The setting is Latin America, specifically post-war El Salvador, and the protagonists are a successful sculptor from Seattle and an engineer from Boston.  It’s  available on Amazon or as an ebook on Kindle in some Northwest bookstores, as well in The Tienda of the Bibliotecha in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where I spend my winters. . I would be happy to talk with your book group via Skype or if you’re in the Northwest, Oregon or Washington or of course, if you have a book group in San Miguel de Allende. I could drive there to meet with your group. There are discussion questions in the back of the book.  Here’s a short sample: 

The Scene is a conversation between the protagonist, Angela and her Salvadoran friend, Adriana, who wants to get to the US to join her husband, an undocumented worker in California. She hopes Angela will help her and has already had a promise from Angela’s lover, Liam, that he will take her. Adriana has just disclosed Liam’s promise and Angela tries to dissuade her: 

Angela went on: “I must tell you I don’t entirely approve of Liam’s promise to you,” said Angela. “It will be very dangerous to cross the border illegally for all of you: Liam, you and Cici. I know how much you want to be with Jorge, but sadly, it’s against our immigration laws. It would be better if you applied for a visa from the Embassy.” Angela knew how naive she was. No one like Adriana, a campesino from the rural countryside, could get a visa to the States now. It took years. In the meantime, families were torn asunder, whole villages disrupted as they became more and more dependent on the remittances sent back from the States, a huge percentage of their country’s gross domestic product. 

“Angela, I’m not afraid. I must join my husband and Cici must have her father back.” Adriana sounded determined, almost defiant.

Read the book to see if Angela changes her mind and helps Adriana. 

 

New Year’s Resolutions: Keep Them Simple

What I’m Learning about the Art of Marketing a Self-Published Book: 

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Arriving back at our Oregon Coast cottage after a wonderful holiday in Portland with our family and friends leads me to reflect on what I’ve learned in the past year. Kept indoors by the lashing rain and cold outside  (you’d never know it from this photo as it was sunny on New Years day)lends itself to thinking about the New Year and what I resolve to accomplish,discover and learn in 2015. Uppermost in my mind, of course, is marketing my book successfully. I am learning new things everyday and want to share some with my aspiring author friends and those who are just now self-publishing. Here’s a couple of websites I’ve found helpful: 

 Abigail Carter is the clever and successful author of Writer.ly, a fantastic website set up to help aspiring writers and self-publishers. She, coincidentally, is the daughter of my wonderful cover designer, Margot Boland, who formerly worked for a major publishing company in Toronto, Canada.  I’m impressed with the many helpful suggestions Abigail has on her website and only regret I didn’t go to it sooner. Being caught up in completing my first novel, Under the Salvadoran Sun, and then self-publishing, I failed to follow some of the tips offered and ran blind sighted into the morass of “to do’s,” book readings, launching parties without first “learning the ropes” by taking advantage of the many helpful sites available on the web. Part of the problem was my perception: “There’s just not enough time!”  Well, as I often commented to friends and fellow-writers, this is my “practice novel.” It has been that in every way, from learning more about the craft of writing to setting up a book marketing plan and sticking to it!  Now I know what I have to do for the next book. It’s on the burner. 

Here’s another great websitestandoutbooks, with some helpful author’s tools such as a template for your first Media Press Release. As late as I am having launched my book almost a year ago, I’m using it to reach out to print and radio media.

In fact, I did a radio interview with Peter Newman with Coast Radio station KMUN just two weeks ago. You can listen to it here or friends on the coast will hear it  aired on Monday, January 26th at 9:30 am PST. Please post a comment on my website after you’ve listened to it. I’d love to hear what you think.  

To keep my New Year’s resolutions simple, I have decided to work more on understanding the marketing of self-published books, to continue to learn more about the craft of writing and to accept the help of others in the process. 

I wish all my blog followers a Happy New Year and hope you will read my book, write a review on Amazon, and most importantly, stay healthy and in love with life! Of course, we all hope for more PEACE in the world. 

 

Rethinking Holiday Expectations

We decided to come back to Portland, Oregon to spend Christmas Holidays with our dear family. The trip was arduous, to say the least, especially since United Airlines changed our itinerary at the last minute without notifying us. This made for a lot of stress as we hustled to get to Mexico City in time to make a much earlier flight than anticipated. Flying during the holiday season can be harrowing. We knew that ahead of time, but it was the unexpected things like earlier departure time, change in itinerary, flying to Portland via SF instead of via Houston, late connecting flight and finally luggage not arriving with us, that threw us off the most. 

All this plus our family’s unanticipated changes of plans made us re-think the value of not being too tied to any one outcome, especially during holidays.  Probably more than any other time, the Christmas season seems to bring along with it an undue amount of stress, from worries over what he or she may want most as a gift to what are we going to prepare for the big holiday meal that will please everyone. Tensions abound, and possibilities for misunderstandings as well. I remember something Leo Buscaglia once said in his book Living, Loving and Laughing and I paraphrase: be careful about expectations. When one expects a certain outcome,he or she is laying the groundwork for disappointment, whereas if we don’t have any pre-conceived notions about what is going to happen, all will be a surprise and maybe a pleasant one!  

So, in closing, I just want to say what a delight that we have a dear family to visit, a home in two places, Oregon and Mexico, wonderful friends in both places, and plenty to eat! More than many in the world. This is a time to count our blessings, not expect more than we already have and to dream of Peace on Earth, as impossible as that sometimes seems. May all our friends and family have an “Unexpectedly” Merry Christmas!!! and—if all goes well, a Happy and Healthy New Year!! We’re expecting little and looking forward to many surprises! 

Writing Workshops Can Help

After years of attending writers workshops, being part of a writers group and taking part in Writers Conferences, I was beginning to feel “enough is enough” but “slogging away” on my new novel, I realised I still have so much to learn and when the opportunity presented itself to study with a successful writer, Signe Hammer, who lives half the year here in San Miguel de Allende as I do, I signed up. 

Our first session of three was yesterday, and I must say it was an interesting experience, with six other aspiring writers, mostly writing memoirs, but one fiction. Signe was a good guide and kept things rolling quickly but with enough time for individual contributions regarding each piece submitted by the participants. We also did a warm-up writing exercise with a prompt from Signe, which helped break the ice and gave us each a chance to warm up! I must add, warming up is also meant to be literal these days as San Miguel temperatures have dropped to the low forties, unusual this early in the winter.  B-r-r-r-r. Those of us who have portable gas heaters in our casas all have them cranked up now.  Luckily, I have one in my writing room and really enjoy the cozy environment in which I put pen to paper. Now, I’m knee deep in early re-writes on some of the scenes in my novel and look forward to the next session with Signe. Writing is a craft and like with any craft one must practice and practice. It’s fun and always stimulating. 

Travel Stimulates My Muses

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A toast to Prague, Czech Republic

Having just returned from a month-long odyssey in Europe, my muses are chomping at the bit. I not only learned a great deal of useful information for my next novel, which will take place in WWII Sweden but I have new ideas for the next travel memoir. Can’t give away all the secrets now so just stay tuned. I thought I’d give you a preview of the upcoming blogs on Adventures with Sher here with some travel photos from my recent journey. Come along for the ride and enjoy!  

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City of spires and castles

 

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and Art Nouveau Architecture

I learned a great deal from Edita, our Prague guide about Czeck Jews during WWII and what happened to those who escaped to Sweden. This was great information for my new book.

Our guides, Vadim and Bonita shared their wonderful knowledge of the Art Nouveau period inspired by Alphonse Mucha on a walking tour through this beautiful city.   

To see more photos go to Adventures with Sher. Krakow, Berlin and Sweden are still to come. Join me on my travel adventures.