My Recent On-line Interview

Just wanted to offer a “thumbs up” for interested readers of my blog about my recent online interview by Wayne Potter of Keeping Kurrent on Sound Cloud.  You can listen to it by clicking on to this link.  Hope you enjoy learning more about how I came to write Under the Salvadoran Sun and my work with eco-viva.

To make it more interesting I thought I would ad some photos of my friends in El Salvador, who were so much a part of my inspiration for the story.  I am sad to read the news these days about the thousands of Central American children who are amassing at the border, trying to escape not only poverty but the horrible violence and killing of their families who are often caught in the crossfire between the narcotics traffickers and the gangs.  Children as young as four years old are recruited by the gangs to deal drugs; it’s a disparaging situation. In my view, I think we have to regard these children not as an extension of the “immigration problem” but as refugees that we must take in just as other countries in the  world have had to take in refugees.  We can not turn them back with the chance they will only face death.  Especially since the situation is largely due to the exportation of gangs from the barrios of Los Angeles, where Salvadorans were exiled during the Civil War in the 80’s. Their children were introduced to the gang culture here and when they were deported after the war they brought that culture with them; due to poverty and nowhere to go, lack of jobs and social programs they ended up the cycle of gang life and violence. I do not have the answers, but I do know the world’s eyes are upon us; as a humane nation we cannot turn these children away! PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW. I am interested in my readers’ thoughts on this. 

I have digressed. Here’s the photos.  Some of the children will steal your hearts, I think. They sure did mine. 

The chapel where Archbishop Romero was assassinated in 1980.

The chapel where Archbishop Romero was assassinated in 1980.

 

The typical Pupuseria. Puousas are the national dish, like two small tortillas with a stuffing in-between of beans, cheese, pork.

The typical Pupuseria. Puousas are the national dish, like two small tortillas with a stuffing in-between of beans, cheese, pork.

 

A small in front of the image of his hero, Archbishop Romero on the memorial wall in a park in San Salvador.

A small in front of the image of his hero, Archbishop Romero on the memorial wall in a park in San Salvador.

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Children in Ciudad Romero, El Salvador
Little Salvadoran Girl in Ciudad Romero

Little Salvadoran Girl in Ciudad Romero

 

Jose Alberto Garcia, my amigo and wonderful the wonderful art teacher I assisted.

Jose Alberto Garcia, my amigo and wonderful the wonderful art teacher I assisted.

Sher teaching art to Salvadoran childrenSher teaching art to Salvadoran children

Book Marketing: Much to Learn

I recently made a trip up to Seattle to tout my book. Read about it by clicking on Adventures with

Sher in my menu.  Visiting bookstores was eyeopening and also tempting. I learned which books are most 

displayed and what’s up front. I also enjoyed talking to the owners and buyers to get the latest 

scoop on what they look for when deciding on their orders. They were all glad I am represented 

by Ingram, a national distributer. Admittedly they are more apt to buy from local authors than 

from someone from out of the state. I came back with a lot more information and ideas—and 

also with more books!  This is a hazard and pleasure of visiting bookstores. 

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A Book Review: Doerr’s ‘All the Light’

What better content for my writer’s blog than some book reviews of my favorite recent reading? I hope to post one review per month. Let  me know in comments, what you think and share your reads with me, too.

 I just finished Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See and I highly recommend it.  Doerr has the remarkable ability to weave a tale both full of mystery and touching observation, of fastidious attention to the tiniest of details of character and place.  He puts us into the scene and we feel the emotions of his characters at a time of great upheaval, WWII in Germany and France. I could not put his book down, and read well into the night for the three nights it took to digest this marvelous read.  Doerr’s poetic language had me sighing with pleasure along the way and then filled my eyes with tears as he revealed the horrors of war and the inner conflicts of his child characters in a world they could not fully grasp. I quote one of his reviewer’s, Alice Evans,  descriptions of the story by Doerr:

It is “a story about the German occupation of a village in Normandy during World War II, a story of heroism, particularly the heroism of children, whether an orphan girl who asserts her right to distinguish truth from propaganda or a blind girl who learns to see with her fingers as well as her heart.” The orphan girl’s tiny and brilliant brother, Werner, inspires our imagination and admiration throughout the story.

What is amazing about Doerr’s writing is his ability to comb the depths of the souls of these children, to uncover what inspires and motivates them and what ultimately gives them hope and the ability to face horrific dangers, to survive in spite of the them, with sheer endurance and will. 

I cannot recommend this book more. On an added level, it interested me as a writer, providing information relevant to the topic of my next novel, which also takes place during WWII. If I can write a book half as impacting and beautiful as Anthony Doerr, I will revel in the accomplishment. I know it may take years! 

My New Historical Novel: Sweden and WWII

REMEMBERING D-DAY FROM THE OREGON COAST 

 

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I’m here on the beautiful Oregon Coast at our cottage on the Nehalem River and finally getting back to my writing after a three month hiatus, with a healing right wrist. It’s better but still painful. Thank goodness for Dragon Dictation software, I can speak into a mic and write, though editing is still necessary.

Walking on the beach today, I could hear my new characters for novel number two speaking to me. I came home and returned to the manuscript I started two years ago, and then put aside, while I finished Under the Salvadoran Sun. Those characters have been waiting a long time “backstage” to begin to play their roles. They will be part of an historical novel, which takes place during WWII and the 1970’s. Sweden, Poland, and Paris will be the locales. Interesting that today is D-Day, the 70th anniversary of that eventful turning point in the war. My protagonist, Lena, is struggling to find out the secret behind her Swedish grandmother’s mysterious behavior (won’t disclose yet).  Her search to understand takes her to Sweden and Poland where she is to learn the truth.  The story will take my readers back to pre-WWII Sweden and Poland. I’ll post a few excerpts from the manuscript as I go along and hopefully, I will have the book finished by the 75th D-Day Anniversary! 

I’m excited to announce I will be going on a “research journey” in September to Prague, Poland, Berlin and Sweden with Kathi Diamant’s “Magical Mystery Literary History Tour.” I met Kathi at the Writer’s Conference in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico this past February when she spoke about her book Kafka’s Last Love. We hit it off immediately and I knew I wanted to jump on board with her tour. It will give me insight into an area of Europe I want to include in the new novel.  So click into my “Adventures with Sher” blog in September and read about my travels in Eastern Europe and Sweden. Until then I will be walking the beach, and writing my next novel with it’s working title: Unpacking the Past. 

Back to my writing desk and sending wishes to my readers for a happy summer. HINT: my novel, Under the Salvadoran Sun makes for good summer reading—on the beach or wherever you may be! 

 

Portland Book Launch

This past two months have been challenging ones for a right handed writer, but I’ve passed the, hopefully, halfway mark to full recovery from my broken wrist. The cast is now off, I’ve closed up our casa in Mexico for the Spring and summer and returned to Portland , Oregon.  I’m now planning several book launch events, and what an appropriate time to be doing so: National Library Week. One 0f my favorite Portland Independent book stores, Annie Blooms, has invited me to do a “Reading” AT 7:00 PM on May 15th. Check out their wonderful “Shelf Awareness” on line newsletter. Another opportunity to catch one of my “Readings” is at my Friday night, after work, wine and cheese event at Stonehenge Designs studio, 3508 Corbett Ave. in southwest Portland from 6:00-7:30. 

National Library Week

When I was quite young, my great-aunt and I walked to our tiny library every week, first stopping at the corner store to buy bananas. After we had picked out our books, we’d sit on the front steps, eat a banana, and consider what we had chosen. (A rosy memory, since weather in western Washington precludes most step-sitting occasions.) Later, a bookmobile came around; I recall the thrill of stepping up into a world of wonders. Later still, our little town got a larger library, attached to the fire station. I raced through the books to the extent that Mrs. Dawes, the librarian, called my mother to ask if I could check out adult books. I wanted then to be a librarian–specifically, a bookmobile librarian–and have never lost my love for libraries.

 Robert Dawson also loves libraries and has spent 18 years photographing them. His photos and commentary have been combined with short pieces by Anne Lamott, Ann Patchett, Philip Levine and others to create The Public Library: A Photographic Essay (Princeton Architectural Press). The derelict Mark Twain branch library in Detroit, the ornate Milwaukee Central library, the architectural wonder of Seattle’s Rem Koolhaas/Joshua Ramus-designed building, a California library built by ex-slaves, a Nevada bookmobile–Dawson’s images run the gamut from abandoned libraries to grand edifices with gargoyles. They have grand hallways or single rooms, maybe coffee shops and post offices, and always people reading, learning, even borrowing tools.

As Bill Moyers points out in his foreword, libraries are not just bastions of book collections–they are gathering places, and sometimes literal ports in storms. Dawson says, “Public libraries help us define what we value and what we share… [they] are among the last free spaces we have left. Public libraries are worth fighting for, and this book is my way of fighting.” April 13-19 is National Library Week–use your library and fight the good fight. —Marilyn Dahl, editor, Shelf Awareness for Readers

YES, LET’S PROTECT OUR LIBRARIES!  I  DON’T KNOW WHAT I WOULD DO, AS A READER AND A WRITER, WITHOUT THEM; IN ADDITION, LET’S PROTECT OUR INDEPENDENT BOOK STORES! Please note you can buy my book, Under The Salvadoran Sun, at Annie Blooms in Portland by clicking on the appropriate spot on my book page. Of course, you can continue to purchase it from Amazon and for your Kindle, whichever works best for you.  Keep going on line with those good reviews.  Thank you to all!    

 

 

Up But Not Running!

To my many friends and readers, this is to inform you that two weeks after my fun and successful book launch, I became one of San Miguel de Allende’s many  “fallen women.”

Yes, I fell at the wonderful annual fiesta at the SMA Writers’ Conference, while dancing, when my feet slipped out from under me and I caught myself with my right arm—crunch! I’m now in a full right arm cast and you can well imagine a writer’s frustration when she can no longer write all those book scenes rolling around in her head.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I will soon be back in operation. My next novel and maybe a re-issue of my travel memoir are both on the burners waiting for the fire to be lit under them! Check out my book on Amazon and the fine reviews from my readers. My apologies: I took down the Kindle version to make some much needed corrections; it will be back up in a week. Keep posting those reviews, please. 

Attention book group fans: please note that at the end of Under The Salvadoran Sun, there are questions and guidelines for book groups. I would be delighted to Skype with your book group if they choose to read my book. Let me know by writing me at davidsonsher8@gmail.com

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My Book is Launched

I had my first “book launch party” yesterday at my San Miguel de Allende casa, and all went well. We had a crowd of 30 squeezed into our living room and flowing out into the adjoining patio. It was very exciting to get such wonderful support and interest in my book, Under the Salvadoran Sun. I read a few passages of the book just to spike the interest of my potential readers, never disclosing too much.  I forgot to mention that at the back of the book, I’ve listed questions for Book Group discussions.  I’d be glad to Skype with any book groups who choose my book. Just let me know day and time and we can have a spicy conversation. I’d love to get feedback on what you liked and didn’t like about the story. 

The book is now available for Kindle, also. I’m working on getting it formatted for the nook and ipad. I’ll keep you posted! 

I will be traveling back by car from Mexico in early April, heading north to Portland, Oregon. Let me know if you would like me to stop in your city or town and do a book reading at a local bookstore or private venue. I’ll try to make that happen. I will post some photos of the book launch later this week.  

El Salvador’s election is coming up and I’m paying close attention. Many of my friends in the Bajo Lempa, the region described in the novel, will be affected by the results. 

In the meantime, click on BOOK in my menu and read some sample passages from Under the Salvadoran Sun.

Remembering Martin Luther King Jr.

As I reflect on the heroes in my life who have inspired me to action, it seems appropriate to acknowledge Martin Luther King Jr. on this day when our nation honors his birthday. I would like to share with you a poem written by David Krieger, President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation 

You Are Not One But Many 

By David Krieger

Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.

Your deep voice still hangs in the air,
Melting the cowardly silence.
You are the one standing solidly there
Looking straight in the face of violence.

You are the one who dreams
That this nation will honor its creed.
You are the one who steps forward.
You are the one to bleed.

You are not one but many 
Unwilling to cower or crawl.
You are the one who will take no less
Than a world that is just for all.

 MLK Jr. was the inspiration behind my activism in my college days at U.C. Berkeley and perhaps the thread that linked to my caring for the life conditions of our neighbors in Latin America. That thread led me to supporting the NGO, EcoViva which gives financial and technical support to rural villages in El Salvador.  Ultimately this lit the flame for my first novel: Under the Salvadoran Sun, just out on Amazon.com and CreateSpace. (Click on my BOOK page in the menu to learn about the discount I am offering until January 30th. 

One never knows the impact one person can have on another, how he or she can inspire. King’s inspiration for the Civil Rights movement is long known and worthy of honoring on this day. Check out this insightful article. 
 

Authors of Influence

This past week has been a literary whirlwind here in San Miguel de Allende, both on a personal level and a public one. 

On the personal level, I’m in the final stages of publishing my novel, Under the Salvadoran Sun. I know many of my readers have already heard that and are probably saying: “OK, already—when we are we really going to be able to see it and  order it and read it?”  Barring unforseen circumstances  or  international Christmas mail delays for my final proof, it looks like my book will be available to order from Amazon, as an ebook or a print paperback, some time the first or second week of January. Sorry, it won’t make your Christmas gift giving list, but an Amazon gift card tucked in with a note about my book would be a great gift. Hint!

The public whirlwind this past week has been created by three great Literary Sala readings: one by Eva Hunter, author of A Little Morman Girl, and another by Beldon Butterfield, author of Mexico Behind the Mask.  Last night there was a Literary Sala’s Special Event with Alfredo Corchado’s spellbinding reading and discussion about his book,  for which his agent has just sold the movie rights, Midnight in Mexico: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Country’s Descent into Darkness.                                                                    

Why have I titled this blog “Authors of Influence?”  Precisely because all three of these authors have unique stories, one’s which can influence the public’s thinking on a number of issues. I found each fascinating and informative for different reasons.

Eva Hunter, author of A Little Mormon Girl, is an ex-pat in San Miguel, but formerly, like myself, from Portland, Oregon, where she taught in the Writing Department at Portland State University. She has had a distinguished career as a writer, teacher, and editor of SOL, The English Language on-line Literary Magazine here in San Miguel de Allende. She continues to give writing workshops. Eva’s reading from her personal memoir was moving and informative, “taking us through a secret world of highest-leval Mormonism, and the underbelly of her family,” with the voice of a child of six up to young adulthood. Her story touched me deeply and I’m now looking forward to reading my autographed copy. Eva Hunter  

Beldon Butterfield, author of La Linea, The Line and The Crystal Bull,  read from his latest non-fiction book: Mexico Behind the Mask, and it sounds like a winner, full of fascinating details about Mexico’s hidden historical, political and social past. He starts out by saying “To understand Mexico, you have to understand the conquest in 1519.” Buttlefield went on to set the record straight on a number of mistaken notions of Mexican history, such as relating the “story behind the story”  of The Alamo  and the everlasting impact it has had on relations between the United States and Mexico. The author’s sense of humor and his fun presentation style made us all want to read this book. Beldon Butterfield

 My third “author of influence” is Alfredo Corchado, award-winning Mexican-American  journalist, who has covered Mexico for many years, and is currently the Mexico City bureau chief of the Dallas Morning News. He specializes in covering the drug wars and the U.S-Mexican border and corruption among police and government officials. Born in Durango, Mexico and raised in the U.S., Corchado says he lives between two worlds. His wealth of knowledge about the “inside story” behind the horrific crimes of the drug cartels, makes him a perfect person to write Midnight in Mexico. I sat on the edge of my seat as he reported about how Mexico has descended into “hell” with the problems of drug cartels and an ineffective judicial system. In spite of that he has great optimism for the future of Mexico. I was moved as he explained his story was not only “dark” but a memorial to his mother, whose influence got him to where he is, and to the many women behind the scenes of the narco crimes fighting to save their children, their communities and their country, refusing to give up.  I downloaded his book on my kindle the minute I got home. Alfredo Corchado

I’m adding this quote  about Corchado’s book from Benjamin Saenz, a keynote speaker at the upcoming 2014 San Miguel Writers Conference:

“Anyone interested in what is happening and has happened in Mexico for the past six years must read this book. We can call what is happening in Mexico a “drug war,” but that phrase cheapens the politics and the economics that govern the relationship between the United States and Mexico. I believe Midnight in Mexico will become one of the most necessary books about the Mexican-American experience in this country. More than a journalist, Alfredo Corchado is the real thing, a voice that represents millions of people.”

Hope you enjoyed this “book review blog” and will keep watching for my novel, Under the Salvadoran Sun. Happy Holidays!

 

Memorializing Nelson Mandela, an Author of Change

Wishing to honor the memory of Nelson Mandela this past week caused me to think about how he transformed the world. That coincided with the  the privilege I had of participating in a teleseminar with Nina Amir, author of How to Blog a Book  and the Author Training Manual.  The theme of the seminar was about being an author of change. I thought about the essence of my new novel, Under the Salvadoran Sun, and one of the main reasons I wrote it. Like my main character, Angela, I have always wanted to “make a difference,” to feel I have done something that might help others, that might bring more justice and peace to the world. Like great people whose lives serve as examples of good, literature has the ability to inspire us to think in new ways, to inform, and to influence the thoughts and actions of others. This is not only true of non-fiction, but can be true of fiction as well. One of my favorite books, To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee is a perfect example. Her thoughtful and profound writing about racial prejudice was not a polemic against racism, instead she created a literary microcosm in which the interactions of her characters brought the issue to the forefront in a poignant manner, causing readers then and to this day to think about the awful consequences of prejudice. Likewise, Mandela’s life and actions brought about the end of apartheid.

Motivated by growing concerns on how our country treats those who put food on our tables, namely the undocumented workers from Latin America, I wrote Under the Salvadoran Sun. My concerns are reflected in dialogue between my characters and the plot. I hope my readers will think about our nation’s current policies which leave little opportunity for those who cross the border, work hard and pay taxes, and often have familias in the US, to find a road to citizenship. Of course, I do not pretend to have all the answers on this complicated issue and want only to  encourage dialogue about possible solutions to a more and more untenable situation. 

What Nina calls an Author of Change is someone who writes with passion about an issue. who has a message, a cause or a soul purpose to fulfill via her or his writing.  As she states, “we live at a unique time in history when change happens more quickly than ever before. You can have impact, assist positive change, author change in a variety of ways including with a book.

First and most importantly, I hope my readers find pleasure in reading “a love story, wrapped around the issue of immigration” as I often call it. That they may enjoy it and relate to my characters is of key importance, but maybe they will also remember to think with compassion about the many immigrants that make up the fiber of our nation and have always contributed to its history.

I would love to hear readers’ opinions on this key issue, immigration reform, and invite you to comment by clicking Contact on my menu bar.