Indian Givers

Indian Givers

How the Indians of the America Transformed the World

By Anthropologist  Jack Weatherford.

Ironically the term “Indian giver”  is a familiar term is in reference to a person that gives a gift and then takes it back. However, this old adage has nothing to do with the title of this book.

A remarkable read.  A groundbreaking book that recovers the fascinating history of the Americas and the crucial contributions that the Indians of the Americas made on a global scale. These include democratic institutions, modern medicine, agriculture, architecture, and ecology. Interestingly, the Indians of the America’s were the first to harvest some sixty percent of foods eaten in the world today. Imagine if you will Italian or Greek food without its tomatoes or the Irish without their potatoes. Chilies, chocolate, corn, beans, squashes, the list goes on. Not to mention the wealth of gold and silver that was taken from the Americas by the Europeans.

My commentary below (apart from the book).

Even though much was given. So much more was taken. Over 500 treaties were made with the Indians of the Americas—and more than 500 broken.

Flash forward to this twenty-first century—the fall of 2016—North Dakota–NOW. Tribes of Native Americans from around the country gathering together, protesting an oil pipeline that will run through the heart of the U.S., crossing many waterways with the potential of contaminating one of the largest aquifers in the country.The Native Americans are the heart of this country. They view this land as sacred and are working to protect it. There is no “other” planet. This is it. We all need to appreciate this sacredness and work to protect it before it’s too late.

Pray for peace, love, and understanding,

 Zee Huxley

www.zeehuxley.com

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

“The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie” is author Alan Bradley’s historical, hysterical, brilliantly written novel, starring Flavia De Luce, a quirky eleven-year-old who has a passion for chemistry (especially poisons) and amateur sleuthing. The story takes place in England during the 1950s in a days-gone-by English manner where Flavia lives with her eccentric father and two irritating older sisters.

Mysterious events begin to occur when Mrs. Mullet, Buckshaw’s housekeeper, and cook, discovers a dead bird on the porch with a Penny Black stamp pierced through its beak. A short time later, Flavia overhears a heated argument between her father and a red-headed stranger who (much to Flavia’s morbid delight) shortly turns up dead in the family cucumber patch.

Though the heroine of this tale is young in years, the stories of Flavia De Luce are far from a child’s tale and are some of the most complex and colorfully written mysteries I’ve read to date. High on my list of must-reads, especially for cozy mystery fans. And there are nine books in this series now! (All with great cover designs.)

Maggody Series: A good summertime read

One of my favorite recommendations for a good summer read is Joan Hess’s Maggody Series. The setting for these humorous cozy mysteries is Maggody, Arkansas (population 755) starring Arly Yanks, the female police of chief. It wasn’t part of Arly’s life plan to return to her hometown for work, but it happened that way after her big-city marriage ended, and she needed a quiet place to recoup and regroup. But there’s always more going on in Maggody than meets the eye, and it’s Arly’s job to sort out the facts from the gossip going round Ruby Bee’s Bar and Grill. (Ruby Bee, AKA Arly’s mother). Joan Hess is genius in the way she has created a town full of living breathing and hilariously believable characters. These stories have a large cast of regular character along with the few questionable strangers who always seem to be checking in at the Flamingo Motel. And there’s always a murder mystery for Arly to solve. I’ve counted 16 books in the series. Hours of enjoyment! (Provide your own hammock and iced tea.)

Start with “Malice in Maggody” (first in the series).

www.zeehuxley.com

 

My Latest Book (in progress)

Aloha!

Been busy working on my latest novel, a sequel to my first cozy mystery novel, which should be available by the end of the year. I wasn’t sure if I would write a sequel to this novel, but I’ve had a positive response from my readers who want me to continue the journey into my next book.

The heroine of my first novel, Eve Richardson, (small town romance novelist) is off on another adventure with Magnolia (her new found, new age friend). Again, Eve is working on her latest novel. However,  this time around, she has a new editor who has challenged her to write a romance with an unexpected twist. Of course, she has her romance going on in this novel, which I won’t disclose at the moment.

I don’t want to give away too much of the plot because I like to keep my writing open for possibilities. My method is once I discover my characters, I let go of my control, follow them around, and let them show me the story. Yes, they have minds of their own! And not even I, the author, always knows where the plot will twist and turn. That is the fun of writing for me.

Well, I’ll cut it short here and get back to my story. It’s perking along, and I’m excited to see where it’s heading today.

Have a great week!

Zee Huxley

www.zeehuxley.com

New giveaway starting on Goodreads next week.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

 

“Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” is my favorite offbeat novel so far this year.
Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria SempleI like offbeat. It’s always been my favorite style of reading and writing, and Maria Semple definitely hit all the right notes on this one. The story is cleverly written in a series of letters and emails, interspersed with narrative and dialog.The plot of the story revolves around Bee, a fifteen-year-old girl and only child, who was once promised a trip to Antarctic by her parents as a reward for perfect grades in school. It was a forgotten deal made a long time before, but Bee has made her grades and is holding her parents to their promise. The story revolves around Bee’s mother (Bernadette) and her preparations for the trip. As the story unfolds the reader learns more about the interworkings of Bernadette’s mind and some of the reasons behind her odd behavior. You need the right recipe to write a good story—and this one has just the right balance of ingredients. Yes, it’s a humorous story, but it’s also a balance of the bitter and the sweet. People are wacky but real. And I felt as if I had come to know them by the end of the book—and I will remember them always—like friends I knew, once upon a time.

 

Before writing fiction, Maria Semple wrote for the television shows ”Mad about You” and “Arrested Development.”
 
www.zeehuxley.com

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SELF Matters

“SELF MATTERS: Creating Your Life From the Inside Out.” I’ve had this book in my library for years but somehow could never bring myself to reading it.

Yes, it’s a self-help book, and I’ve been resistant. Not that I haven’t gleaned some helpful knowledge from these type of books in the past, but this is a celebrity-written book by Dr. Phil McGraw, mainstream television personality. (I tend to shy away from mainstream TV.) So I was about to send “SELF MATTERS” off to the second-hand bookstore until I took a final peek inside.

I’m about half-way through the book now, and I will definitely read it to the end. And kudos to good old Dr. Phil. His writing is accessible and easy to read. The premise of his book is to uncover or discover your authentic self. I know, I know, navel gazing. I, too, was resistant. Maybe it’s a throwback to our old puritanical heritage of self-sacrifice, hard work, and keeping a stiff upper lip. No, happiness and joy did not play into the puritan lifestyle—they were party poopers all around.

It’s not that I don’t believe in the generous spirit of sacrifice and giving, but the idea is if a person allows themselves to be buried under acquired negative or fruitless habits of existence, it might not leave enough room for “self” to spread happiness and good will to anyone. So “SELF MATTERS” or finding your authentic self is in that sense is not a selfish endeavor.

“SELF MATTERS” explains why our acquired or learned habits of operating in this world needs to be examined in order to make positive and fulfilling changes in our lives. The book is also a step-by-step workbook that explains how one goes about this examination and positive recreation of oneself.

Even if I don’t go off and climb Mt. Kilimanjaro after reading this book, it has given me further insights into my human nature and has offered me another avenue to grow.

Romance in Paradise

Passion burned in Kevin’s eyes as he watched Marsha undress. She was more beautiful this night than in all the years he had known her. Marsha turned to Kevin, the moonlight showing the longing in her eyes. She cried a plaintive moan. In the heat of the moment he—

This is the opening paragraph from my first novel, an excerpt from my heroine’s notebook. Eve Richardson, small town news journalist by day and “accidental” romance novelist by night, is working on her second novel, but it is not going well. One of the problems with Eve is that she has had a real heart-thumping romance of her own. That is until she travels to a remote tropical island resort and finds her inspiration—handsome underwater photographer, David Adams.

In a way, I’m a lot like Eve (an accidental romance novelist). No, I didn’t plan it this way. I like to think of myself as a more serious-minded socially conscious person, but writing humorous romantic/cozy mysteries keeps me entertained. I am currently working on a sequel to this first novel.

You can read part of the first of this novel on Amazon (“look inside” feature).  You can easily connect to this book on the front of my website www.zeehuxley.com (click on the cover) or through my Goodreads page.

Enjoy!

 

Rocket City (a best friend book)

If you read my blog from last week, you’ll know that I have been doing some serious spring cleaning in an attempt to “Fung Shui” my cluttered life. The process is taking me longer than I thought, but I’m giving it time, especially in the book department.

Many of my books are like old friends, so I’ve been sorting them with care. My best friends were the first to go back on my bookshelves, which included my favorite novels, art, and reference books. The others went into boxes where they are being held for further contemplation.

I’ve had to be cruel. I’ve saved many books in my life, not because I’ve loved them, but because I thought they would benefit me somehow. I’ve kept boring instruction books on writing essays, outdated health advisories, some classic poetry that I tried to like, but didn’t, a collection of novels that I thought I should read but when I tried could never make it past the first chapter, etcetera. These latter ones will be taking a little trip to the second-hand book store.

“Rocket City” is one of my best friend books that I found a couple of years ago at a library fund-raising sale. It’s road trip tale about a young woman named Marilee who is journeying from Los Angeles to New Mexico to surprise (and hopefully marry) her fiancé who has taken an unusual job at the Alamogordo Air Force Base. Everything was going according to plan until Marilee picks up a hitchhiking dwarf named Enoch who opens her mind to other possibilities. Marilee and Enoch’s story runs parallel with the story of a man named Figman, a paranoid insurance adjuster on the run, who relocates to New Mexico after surviving a car crash resulting in an unfair lawsuit against him.

“Rocket City” is an original and strangely moving novel. I found it to be a sensitive and awkward comedy of overcoming loneliness, which takes place against the vast and desolate backdrop of the American Southwest. I loved the writer’s voice in this offbeat book and was sucked into the storyline after the first page.

I did some further research on Rocket City’s author, Cathryn Alpert, hoping to find more of her stories. I was sad to read that “Rocket City” was her only published novel and that she had died unexpectedly a few years after it was published.

This is a book that will remain on my best friend bookshelf. Not only is it a good story and one that touched my heart, but it’s proof that a writer’s voice and spirit can live on.

 R.I.P. Catheryn Alpert.

Excerpt from Rocket City:

Marilee gazed up into the desert night—so many stars it would take a lifetime to count. She felt Enoch’s gnarled body bobbing close to hers in the water. So close, yet separate. Different and alone. A strange silence took hold of her. Night silence. She threw her head back and let the water wash over her face, fill her eyes, stream out of the corners of her mouth. Liquid smooth as desert sand. Liquid cool as starlight. She felt intoxicated by the water, the darkness, the explosion of stars. This is crazy, she thought. “Crazy and real.”

 

Clearing the Clutter

I have spent the past few weeks trying to clear my space, starting with my office, which is the worst mess of all. It’s where I keep my library (a jumbled pile of books), my overflowing file cabinets, my writing desk, sewing area, stuffed curio cabinet, craft and art supplies, etc. (And this is not a large room). My reasons for clearing are many. Lack of space, for one thing, it is too hard to keep the room clean and dusted (this can cause health issues with dust mites and mildew), safety (tripping over stuff), frustration (not finding stuff that I truly need), and the feelings of overwhelm just looking at the mess.

The room looks better than it did a few weeks ago, but it still needs work. Ironically, underneath the mess of it all, I found two books that I need to study more carefully “Clearing the Clutter for Good Feng Shui” and “Feng Shui Demystified.” 

“Clearing the Clutter’s” table of contents offers chapter titles such as You Are Your Clutter!, Clutter Hotspots, The Bedroom: where the spirit rests, The Car: clutter on the move, etc. You are your clutter! Yikes, that’s a scary thought! I’m taking special notes on the chapter titled: The Office: Creativity and Prosperity. Could my cluttered office be the reason that I’m not as prosperous or creative as I would like to be?

The book “Feng Shui Demystified,” offers a more spiritual or energetic approach, and talks a lot about chi, and the placement of items in the room for better “chi” or energy flow. This will come later for me. I need to do more clearing before I can think about rearranging the furniture.

I have also been following Stephanie Bennet Vogt and her website: spaceclear.com. She addresses the problem of clutter as being an emotional issue and offers her kind advice and support on working through the clearing process. Her book: “A Year to Clear: Spacious Home, Spacious self: A Daily Guide to Creating Spaciousness in Your Home and Heart,” is on the top of my want to read list. And thank you, Stephanie, for giving us a year to do it. I’m going to need it!

P.S. (something that popped up on Facebook this morning)

NOTE TO SELF:

Less stuff REALLY means

Less to clean

Less to maintain

Less attachment

Less to store

MORE FREEDOM

Less is MORE!

P.S.S.

I guess spring-cleaning is in the air. A friend just told me about a book she is reading on decluttering called “Spark Joy.” (Love the title.) In a nutshell, the method involves getting rid of anything in your life that doesn’t spark joy. Starting with clothes, you go through each item and decide what stays or goes based on whether or not it sparks joy when you hold it. Joy is the only criterion: ‘If it makes you happy, then the right choice is to keep it. This is another book that I’m placing on my want to read list. (Now, I can only hope that  I don’t start cluttering my life with books about decluttering!)

 

The Controversial Comma

A famous quote by author Oscar Wilde reads:

“I have spent most of the day putting in a comma and the rest of the day taking it out.”

I can sympathize. The comma is said to be one of the most misused punctuation marks, and I have spent many an hour contemplating commas in my writings. So where do you place those little worm-like squiggles?

I had been a creative writer for many years. I knew the basics, but it had been awhile since I attended an English class. I knew I had some gaps in my knowledge and wanted to brush up on my punctuation skills before I began to publish my books. Thankfully, I found Mignon Fogarty (A.K.A Grammar Girl), a young hip grammarian and writer of grammar guides, who explains all parts of speech and punctuation in a fun, clear, and concise manner.

My two favorite books by Mignon “Grammar Girl Presents the Ultimate Writing Guide for Students” and “Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips” can be used by beginning students to learn the basics or by more advanced students as a refresher course. (Or those like me who were busy daydreaming in the back of class.)

So, back to the comma. Sometimes the misplacement of that little mark can drastically change the meaning of the sentence, such as the case with the Oxford comma (oh my, such a big name for such a little squiggle.) But do not be intimidated by its prestigious name. The Oxford comma is just another name for the serial comma or the final comma in a list of things.

For example: Please bring me a pencil, eraser, and ruler. The Oxford or serial comma comes after eraser.

Interestingly, use of the Oxford comma is still considered stylistic, meaning that some style guides demand its use while others don’t. AP Style—the style guide that newspaper reporters adhere to—does not require the use of the Oxford comma, thus adding to the confusion of “to comma or not to comma” (if that is the question).

Whether or not you use the Oxford comma is generally up to you or your teacher—some require it, some don’t. But whatever style is chosen it should be consistent throughout the document. However, omitting the Oxford comma can sometimes cause some strange misunderstandings as in the example below.

I love my parents, Lady Gaga and Humpty Dumpty.

Without the Oxford comma, the sentence above could be interpreted as stating that you love your parents, and your parents are Lady Gaga and Humpty Dumpty.

Here’s the same sentence with the Oxford (or serial) comma:

I love my parents, Lady Gaga, and Humpty Dumpty (three strange but separate entities.)

Therefore, I choose to use the Oxford comma! However, there are some sixteen other comma rules, some of which I am still a little shaky on. So please forgive me if you spot any wayward or missing commas in this post.

www.zeehuxley.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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