What I’m Reading Wednesday


Apparently I can’t go longer than a month without blogging about the Fitzgeralds.

Last month I posted about “Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald,” and while I was reading it I learned of another recent release about the famous couple.

Earlier this year three authors released novels about Scott and Zelda, including Erika Robuck. The historical fiction author released “Call Me Zelda” in May. While doing research for her novel “Hemingway’s Girl,” Robuck was inspired to write about Zelda.

Robuck’s style features invented characters whose lives intersect with historical subjects. In “Call Me Zelda,” Anna is a fictional psychiatric nurse who befriends Zelda when she is institutionalized. The line of patient and friend becomes a gray area when Anna becomes consumed in the Fitzgerald’s lives.

The reader is given an intimate look at mental illness in Zelda’s character and is also submerged into a dramatic and tragic past with Anna’s character.

I’m taking a break from the Fitzgeralds for at least a month, and when I pick up another jazz age book I hope it’s Zelda’s own “Save Me The Waltz.” I have yet to read her book and after reading Robuck’s latest, it really piqued my interest.

Robuck is set to release “Fallen Beauty” in March. The historical fiction novel takes place in upstate New York in 1928 (yay!) and features poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. Robuck writes and reviews historical on her blog, Muse.

What are you reading this week?


One Child

One_Child_Logo_WebMy beautiful friend Blaire has a heart for foster care. She is a foster care case manager for Tacoma Youth for Christ, which is launching their One Child partnership program this week.

I’m helping to spread the word about this program that supports local foster children, but I’m going to let Blaire do most of the talking. I asked her to share with me about why she became involved in YFC, what their new program is all about and how the community can get involved.

But first, here are some stats for Washington state:

  • There are more than 8,000 children in foster care.
  • 75 percent of kids in foster care are separated from at least one of their siblings.
  • 400 kids age out of foster care each year, without having found permanency.
  • 55 percent return home.
  • 29 percent find permanency through adoption.
  • The average stay in foster care for Washington children is approximately 17 months.

Q: Why did you become a part of Youth For Christ?

Blaire: I have always had a passion for working with children. Even as I was growing up, I always felt there was something intrinsically wrong with a child feeling lonely or forgotten or not having a home. The job opportunity at YFC came at a point in my life where I was really searching and feeling like God was asking me to become more involved in serving and loving those in my own community (as I had been previously working in other social service agencies in King County).

We have a saying for our staff here at YFC, that we are “wildly devoted,” and I definitely feel like that is something that is true for me. I feel like I am in the absolute place that God has called me to, and though it’s very difficult some days, there is a reason and a purpose that I am here, to be used to help bring hope and restoration to children and families in my community. Our purpose through our foster care program is to see families restored (children returned home to their birth families). We also believe that every child deserves a permanent home, and in instances when a child cannot return home to their birth family, we strive to find permanent, adoptive families for those children.

Q: What is One Child?

Blaire: Tacoma YFC is a Washington state licensed foster care agency, but the state provides less than 70 percent of the total cost of foster care. One Child is much like a child sponsorship for Washington state foster kids. The heart behind One Child is to enable the surrounding community to rally around these kids placed in YFC foster homes. For $15 a month, or 50 cents a day, anyone can join the movement! In return, every month you will receive the handprint and a bio of a child in care which tells the story of how your money helped him/her. Mother Teresa said, “Maybe if I hadn’t picked up the one child I wouldn’t have picked up the 42,000 others.” This is the heart of one child — every child deserves to know that they are loved, that there is hope, and that they are not forgotten.

Q: How can people get involved?

Blaire: Prayer — for our birth families who are striving to make changes, and feel like there is no hope and that everyone is against them; pray for foster children, who may feel scared, unloved and forgotten. And consider becoming a foster parent. I was at the Refresh Conference last February (a conference put on by Overlake Christian Church in Redmond for foster and adoptive parents) and one of the speakers who was talking about Christ’s command to the Christians to take care of the orphans said “I know that every Christian may not be called to foster or adopt, but I do know that there are Christians out there who are being called that aren’t responding. How do I know this? Because there are still kids out there who need homes.”

My husband and I became a One Child sponsor today. If you want to become one too, visit their website.

What I’m Reading Wednesday

ImageI don’t know much when it comes to the history of South America. My latest read, “Our Lives Are The Rivers” by Jaime Manrique, has introduced me to a subject full of rich and passionate history.

I recently discovered someone at my workplace also shares a love for historical fiction. She put “Our Lives” on my desk and said she, too, didn’t know much of the story before she read the book. As I reached certain milestones of “Our Lives” I gushed with my coworker about the amazing tale she shared with me.

The 2006 novel is based on real events centered around freedom fighter Manuela Saenz and her love affair with South American liberator Simon Bolivar.

“Our lives are the rivers that flow into the sea of Death.” — Jorge Manrique

Saenz was in her early 20s when her love affair with the general began, and during a time when I was in college and trying to get my career started, Saenz was fighting in battles, earning the rank of colonel, during the freedom movement to overthrow the Spanish crown. The freedom fighter prevented an assassination attempt on Bolivar’s life and became known as “the liberator of the liberator.”

Saenz was incarcerated, wounded and eventually exiled from Colombia and Ecuador in the name of love for her country and for Bolivar. The novel opens with “I was born a rich bastard, and died a poor one,” giving foresight into what’s to come.

Against Bolivar’s wishes, all of his writings, speeches and letters were preserved and provided to historians to gain insight into the liberator’s philosophy and personal life. Saenz’s letters from the general were also preserved.

Premature death separated the lovers in 1830, and it wasn’t until just a few years ago that Bolivar and Saenz were memorialized together in Venezuela.

“Our Lives Are The Rivers” was a shift from my usual preference for turn-of-the-century historical stories set in Europe. I’m so glad for an introduction into a part of history I had not visited.

What are your historical fiction recommendations?

Nicholas Sparks Meet and Greet

Me and Melissa with Nicholas Sparks.

One of my literary dreams came true last night when my friend Melissa and I met author Nicholas Sparks at Seattle Town Hall.

A few months ago Melissa happened to visit Mr. Sparks’ website and saw he was making a stop in the rainy land of Seattle to promote novel No. 18, “The Longest Ride.”

When Sparks walked on stage with interviewer Warren Etheredge women of all ages cheered for him, so much so Etheredge compared Sparks to The Beatles. For 30 minutes Sparks gave an intimate look at his writing process, inspiration behind his characters, upcoming movies (!) and explained why his style leaves so many of us heartbroken and in tears.

As a commercial fiction author Sparks said his purpose is to move his readers through the whole range of emotions to make them feel as if they lived with the characters through the book. And of course every great love story has to end in tragedy…

He explained happy and sad endings are the easiest to write, where as bittersweet endings are the toughest to pull off when remaining authentic and honest.

14658879_201307121521For the next 30 minutes the floor was open for Q and A. During this time we learned the next Sparks movie, “Best of Me,” will be released October 2014 followed by “The Longest Ride” (2015) and “The Choice” (2016)!! “Best of Me” hasn’t gone into production yet so he was unable to announce the cast, but we should know very soon!

We learned fun random facts about his books and films, my favorite being about the “Dear John” film. They first filmed the book’s ending where (SPOILER ALERT) the boy doesn’t get the girl, but when it was tested with an audience it tested very low. So they scrambled to refilm and splice together scenes for the familiar scene we know from the movie.

After the talk we dashed to stand in line for our chance to spend three seconds with Mr. Sparks himself! As we posed for our iPhone photo I geeked out and said, “We are two of your biggest fans.” Which I feel is a true statement.

Thank you Nicholas Sparks for bringing a little bit of North Carolina to the Pacific Northwest! We look forward to the not one, but two love stories you’re currently working on. We remain your faithful readers.