Thursday, April 5, 2018

Dragonella is Back — This Time in Spanish!


Good News: Dragonella has been translated into Spanish, and I'm so excited about it. \

You can find it on Amazon HERE:

This came about in a wonderful way. During our last trip to Spain, I musingly said to our good friend, Terri Anderson, "I wish I knew someone who could translate Dragonella into Spanish." I had already checked with the publishers, and they were interested, but an earlier prospect fell through.

As it turned out, Terri knew just the right person—Carla López Piñeiro—and Rajan and I had already met her. Terri facilitated a new meeting with Carla, who read the picture book through in English, and then said, yes, she'd love to translate it. Now that the book has been released, Carla was kind enough to answer some interview questions, which you will find below the pictures.

Carla López Piñeiro, Translator
Terri Anderson,

1. Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?
I am from a small village in Galicia, a region of the North of Spain.

2. As a native Spanish speaker, you are very fluent in English. Had you studied English for a long time?
Thank you! The truth is I have been studying English almost during all my live. I learnt the first basic vocabulary and structure at Primary School, and then continued studying at High School and the University. But I experienced the greatest advance when I spent some months in Australia and then in the USA. After that, I have never stopped practicing: Reading, watching films, etc. And still, I keep making mistakes and learning something new almost every single day. I am pretty sure I am going to be a student of the English language for ever!

3. Was it difficult to translate a book from English into Spanish?
I think it was not difficult in general. I had some problems with some words and expressions. But that gave me the opportunity of do some research and expand my boundaries learning new ways of saying things, even in Spanish. Besides, I was not alone in the process! I have the help of my friend Terri Anderson, an English native, as you well know.

4. What was your favorite part of the process?
Two were my favorite parts of the project: the first, the beginning. The first reading, the moment I discovered the whole story and the characters; the second, at the end, when the translation was almost ready but it was still necessary to work on some small details.

5. Have you translated other writings from one language to another?
No, I have not. That was my first experience translating a text at a professional level.

6. Do you have any future translation projects?
I do not have any translation project right now, but I would like it!
7. How can readers contact you if they want to know more about you or your projects?
They can write me at
I will be happy to answer their questions if I can. 

Thank you, Carla, for your wonderful translation and for taking the time for this interview. I wish you luck in future translation projects.

Blog friends, do any of you speak and read Spanish? Have you had any of your work translated into other languages? If you could learn a second language, which language would it be?

Friday, March 16, 2018

Latest from the Art Class

Last Saturday's art show can be viewed on my Victorian Scribbles blog HERE

Meanwhile, in yesterday's art class we used colored pencils on pastel paper to capture wild animals and birds. Enjoy.

Add caption

The class will be over on April 12th, sigh. But it's been a great year with these students.

This is a special project of mine that is a nice balance to writing and research, huddling over the keyboard all day. What projects take you out of your writing cave to balance out your week?

Saturday, March 3, 2018

The South Natomas Community Center Art Club's Art Show at University Art Supplies, March 10th


I'm excited about my students' art show coming up a week-from today. It will be in the window of my favorite art supplier's store. 

The exhibit will go up on March 10th, "Second Saturday" and will be in the store's special window for the rest of March and all of April. The students have a little reception outside the store, serving punch and cookies. The manager, Dave Saalsaa, is always so supportive, and parents usually bring more relatives and friends to see the work.

 I have ten regular students in class this year, from age 7 to age 16 (the latter a returning student.) Most of the students are 9 or 10. The above pictures are 5 of the 10 pieces that will be in the show — pictures taken before they were matted. Along with the matted pictures on display, the students have "artistic statements" with artist photos, and the pictures have labels with the name of the work, the student's age, and the media used for the art piece. 

Here's the announcement. 


                             2018 ART EXHIBITION
                                                                        2601 J STREET
                                                                        SACRAMENTO, CA. 95816
                                                         (Midtown – corner of 26th & J Streets)


I simply love doing this each year, but I had to drop it last year when it looked like I might have a second eye surgery. As it turned out, I didn't (touch wood). I really missed the class. I love what I'm doing as a writer, but I do spend the majority of the week huddled over my keyboard and in the land of imagination. A real high point is going to this class each Thursday and watching the students get immersed in their art. This was the first year we got easels, and we use these for the painting, but also for some pastel work.

If you like art and you are in the Sacramento area next Saturday, I hope you can find time to come by for some punch and cookies and enjoy the student art. University Art Supplies also has good prices on art materials, for those of you who paint or draw. 

Meanwhile, do you have pet projects that take you away from your keyboard and your WIP? Any school programs that you participate in? 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A Fun Read: "Some Very Messy Medieval Magic"

Recently I had the pleasure of reading C. Lee McKenzie's new book in the Pete and Weasel time travel series: Some Very Messy Medieval Magic. While part of a series, it easily stands alone as a good read.

Pete and Weasel are eighth grade best friends in the small town of Hadleyville. Pete, a budding wizard, is an orphan and lives with his Aunt Lizzie, one of many witches in this town. Weasel’s parents are scientists, always busy with lab work to the point of nearly ignoring their son. Fanon, an alligator, happens to be Pete’s familiar. Dr. Wraith, is a blend of a supreme wizard and a sort of “Dr. Who”, in charge of passports for time travel, orchestration of various wizard enterprises, and solving problems time travel and magic gone awry can cause.

Magic has gone awry in this fun story: Pete didn’t properly close a time lock in the 1100s at the close of an earlier adventure. Now Peter of Bramwell, a page and the nephew of Earl Minimount, has gone missing in time. Pete and Weasel must go back to the year he disappeared to head off a resultant disaster. On arrival, two guards, Sir Egbert and Sir Alywin, discover the boys wandering around; they decide Pete is the missing Peter of Bramwell and Weasel his servant. They take the boys to Earl Minimount, and since Minimount hasn’t seen his nephew since he was a toddler, he welcomes them in these roles.

Humor, danger, mystery, and suspicion unfold in this romp of a tale: Rumors abound that trouble is afoot in the countryside. Sir Egbert skulks around and sneaks out of the castle at night. And why does he take such a dislike to Pete? The teenage Richard, Duke of Aquitaine stops by en route to France and wants to go on a hunt. Pete is assigned to accompany him. But Pete has never ridden a horse, much less hunted. Then there are the dreaded Dark Woods, a place people inside and outside the castle fear, and the mystical Circle of Stones, where Druids worship. The young duke himself brings new dangers with him. And why does Earl Minimount’s niece, Juliana, Peter of Bramwell’s cousin, seem so familiar to Pete of Hadleyville? It takes the “very messy medieval magic” of the title to resolve these questions and bring the real Peter of Bramwell back to the time where he belongs.

Some Very Messy Medieval Magic, published by Dancing Lemur Press, L. L. C., will be released May 15, 2018 and is available on Kindle and in some Amazon locations.
C. Lee McKenzie is on Facebook
and you can learn more about her and her books at her website:

Monday, February 12, 2018

Research Rapture


 Recently I began working again on a historical novel I started quite a few years ago. The book had bogged down about halfway through, even though I roughly knew how it would end. It came to a screeching halt because one character took on more importance than I had initially envisioned. I knew that character had to be highlighted more and had an important role to play, but it threw a wrench in my story. Between the chapter where she took on a stronger role, and the ending I had in mind, there was a wilderness of how to get from one point to the other. Which way to go? I was lost in the woods. I wrote three other books while I was pondering this.

Then recently I and a friend signed up for a set of 6 workshops/classes that meet about every two or three weeks. With a teacher who gives homework. I decided I was going to pull out this manuscript of old — which was one of my favorite stories, really — and work on it. We've had to do scenes, a log line, character maps, etc. But the most helpful assignment was to do a chapter summary of the whole book. Yep. The whole book. Including the part where I didn't know what was going to happen. The idea was that we should just get through our whole book with the freedom to change things along the way once we started writing it.

Well, guess what? Now I know how to get to my book's ending, and I'm all enthused about writing the new draft. I'm also in love with research for this book again — it involves a lot of research because it takes place in Sacramento in 1919. The family is Irish Catholic. The railroad shops are involved (Southern Pacific). The Spanish influenza epidemic is involved. WWI is involved. Vaudeville is involved. A Model T is involved.

So I've been haunting both the Railroad Museum Library at 111 I Street (right next door to the Railroad Museum) and the Sacramento Room in the Sacramento Public Library, Central, at 828 I Street. In both cases, the archivists are incredibly friendly and helpful, locating booklets, books, pamphlets, directories, etc. for me. Next I plan to peruse microfiches of newspaper articles at the central branch and I'll visit the California Automobile Museum on 2200 Front Street. I did a lot of research at the library and online a few years ago when I was working on this book. And I read numerous books on all these themes. But now I know what I need to look up to build on what I learned before — a lot of questions about details to fine-tune the setting.

Not only that, after not reading it for about 8 years (yes, that long) I rediscovered how much I like this story. I am already four chapters into the re-write.

A few years ago I took a writing class from Sands Hall, and she described a phenomenon called "research rapture".  I'm in the throes of research rapture, now, and I am having the time of my life.

How about you? Have you ever had to lay a work aside because you were stuck and then "rediscovered it?" The chapter summary pried me out of my bog. What was your solution?

Friday, February 2, 2018

Harlem Renaissance and Black History Month

According to Wikipedia, his work is in
ithe public domain in the United States
This, too, is in the public domain,
according to Wikipedia. 

Yesterday day was art class again for my after school Art Club at the South Natomas Community Center. In honor of Black History Month, we celebrated the work of African American artists, particularly Harlem Renaissance artist, William H. Johnson.

William H. Johnson, as you can see, has a very stylized approach to portraiture that captured so much life and vitality in the scenes he painted. The painting on the left is titled, Street Musicians. the one on the right is titled, Sowing. So I used some of his paintings (from calendar pictures) to  inspire the students, ages 8 to 12 with one high schooler who is a returning student. (The 7-year-old was absent.)

The students used colored pencils to sketch in their portraits on pastel paper, then did the major coloring with oil pastels. Here is a nice sample of their work: 

As always, this class is a bright spot in my week, a break from writing on the computer or reading in a chair. I love the interaction with the students. They are attentive listeners, and when they get to work, you could hear a pin drop for the hour that follows the fifteen-minute lesson. They are completely immersed in art. All I have to do is float around and encourage them. And  I always come home refreshed and enthusiastic.

How about you? If you are a writer, do you have a special break from your writing routine that restores and refreshes you for the rest of your week? If an artist, do you turn to some other pursuit to give you fresh perspective? 

Saturday, January 27, 2018

A Week After the Event But Still Thrilled

Last week-end my computer had a few issues and was at the repair shop waiting for diagnosis and cure. I didn't get it back until two days ago, so I had to wait to post these pictures.

Last Saturday (January 20th) Rajan and I took part in the Women's March in Sacramento, and the turn-out was wonderful: An estimated 36,000 was in the crowd before the day was over.

Normally I confine my activities to emails and phone calls and social media, but this was one event we didn't want to miss. It was important to "stand up and be counted" as the saying goes.

We started out near the end of the line in this picture above.
Below are a few more pictures from the day:
Rounding the corner onto Capitol Ave.

Onward toward the capitol building

I enjoyed the humor of this.

The crowd was peaceful, no arrests
Everyone was of good cheer

What a sight!
Listening raptly to the speakers.

A great morning and early afternoon. We left a little after 2:00 but the beat went on.

How about you? Did you march? Do you know someone who did? Do you have other issues that inspire you to protest or march? Or do you prefer to write about issues dear to your heart instead? How do you express your deepest concerns about things?