Book Tour: Little Gray Dress by Aimee Brown (Guest Post)

Friends, Readers and Writers- welcome Aimee Brown, author of chicklit romcom Little Gray Dress has written us a delightful spot on her story’s location. Check out her post below!

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How I chose Portland, Oregon for the setting in Little Gray Dress

Portland Oregon is a city near and dear to my heart. I grew up in a tiny town about an hour and a half south of Portland called Sweet Home, Oregon. (That’s right, it’s not just in Alabama.) As a kid I always loved going to the city for events, zoo trips and shopping. As an adult my husband took a job as an EMT for a Portland based company in 2005. We moved our family the 90+ miles north and settled in NW Portland.

A lot of the book takes place in the West Hills (the same one mentioned in Everclear’s ‘I Will Buy You a New Life’ song (video below)– he is from Portland!) & NW Portland as that was my side of town and I’d know it with my eyes closed. I also threw in other areas of PDX along with the fabulous downtown area and airport.

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I’ve spent a lot of time all over downtown doing everything from concerts at the Crystal Ballroom to the Saturday Market, Waterfront festivals (waterfront pictured below), even spending hours upon hours at Powell’s Books. Downtown Portland is unlike most cities I’ve been to. There is so much diversity in the people, shops and events, and it’s so busy in the downtown areas 24/7.
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I remember my first time in Oklahoma City and discovering that hardly anyone was downtown walking the streets checking things out. That was SO weird to me having moved from Portland!

Some of the hotels downtown PDX are simply breathtaking as well. I knew I needed to have Evan & Hannah’s wedding in one of them. I actually used Google for this part to see what hotel’s are popular for swanky weddings at this point in time and came up with the Hilton Executive Tower in downtown Portland. It sits right in the center of the city across the street from the Portland Town Center. I may make up the rich life but I’ve never lived it. I’ve not ever actually stayed there but you better believe I’d be up for a free night now that I’ve given them some free promo. 😊 I’m kidding… kind of. LOL

I absolutely couldn’t write about Portland without including the airport and it’s once infamous ugly carpet (pictured below). They’ve since changed the carpet to something a little more modern but still similar to the old and even though it’s not the legendary one from the 80’s (maybe before?) it’s still pretty popular on Instagram. pdx

I also included a beach town I’ve always loved visiting and that is Lincoln City, Oregon (pictured below). I’ll admit, I’ve mostly visited Lincoln City for it’s fabulous outlet mall but it’s really a fun beachy town with a lot to see and do. The hotel in the story, however, isn’t real. oregonbeach
I have a feeling because I know Portland well and grew up in Oregon that most of my books will be set there. It’s what I know and it’s a state that doesn’t get a lot of attention as settings in books. The Pacific Northwest is gorgeous, green, rainy and full of my family and friends. That alone makes using it as a setting near and dear to my heart.

I’ve no doubt I’ll throw in the random places I’ve lived over the last eight years like; Reno, Nevada (and the gorgeous nearby Lake Tahoe), Norman, Oklahoma (& surrounding cities) and Helena, Montana (& possibly some of its great National Parks.).

It’s been a lot of fun talking about places I’ve loved visiting over the years like Dallas, Texas & Tahoe. I’ve been moving around the country with my family, following my husbands job for just about eight years and I’ve had so many experiences that will likely make appearances in my future books. I’ve had such a great time going down memory lane from visiting the old Cowboy touristy town Virginia City (where Samuel Clemens was a reporter for the Territorial Enterprise Newspaper in 1863) dozens of times while living in Reno to the May 2013 EF-5 tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma (just a few miles from my own home in Norman) destroying a lot of my friends homes. While neither of these events is in Little Gray Dress, you never know where they might end up.

I’m excited to memoralize, honor and include so many of these places and memories in my books as a piece of me that can entertain you while you read.

Wellness Wednesday: What I’m Working On

Happy Midweek, Friends! I started writing about Wellness topics on Wednesdays because I noted that so many of my creative friends struggle with balance, as do I. Join me as I journey to wellness and balance and make mistakes along the way.

I am tardy for Wellness Wednesday this week, but I am okay with that.  Because I am working on Letting It Go.

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Tis the Season

This is something I have been working on for some time, in many forms.  I lost some friendships over the past couple of years and that really made me realize a couple of things.  Sometimes I just need to let them go.  Even though they may have been wrong and I may have been right, it just doesn’t even matter anymore.  We didn’t need to be friends anymore and I didn’t need to even tell them so.  I let it go. (Ok so one still hasn’t returned my things.  I admit I am keeping a Messenger open in case that happens. Alas.  Maybe I should just let that one go, as well.)

I downsized from an SUV to a sedan, and I had to learn how to deal with trunk storage efficiency.  (still learning) Then my office was being remodeled and I had to work in a different city. I took advantage of the time to review my boxes and remove what was old and unnecessary.  I was able to shred a ton of old papers, have one box contents imaged digitally, and for another- I am going to transfer the cd files to the digital archive. Progress!

A donation truck comes round our neighborhood tomorrow.  I was saving some clothing items for a former co-worker’s son- but it’s been years since I’ve seen him.  So tomorrow, out they go.  Sing with me now (to the tune of Let it Snow): Let it go, let it go, let it go!

I am so blessed as I have some wonderful friends and family members who are such outstanding beams of joy- but perhaps it has made me have high expectations of others.  I’m learning to tone down my levels of expectations and realize that other people have their own stuff going on and sometimes they just can’t see their actions.  When my daughter’s friends parents (who only have one child) don’t even acknowledge my older child,  I admit that does make me kinda furious inside.  But likely they don’t know better,  they don’t have older children and so sometimes don’t even know how to talk to them. Other people may have their own blocks, or they’re too far invested in their perceptions that they aren’t likely to change.  Can I let them go?  Some people I can let go, as long as I don’t see them.  Right?  Bueller?

I admit I have high expectations of myself.   I wrote two books, one musical, and recorded an album.  Why aren’t I more successful? Why can’t I find time to sit down and write my next book?  Why don’t I have more savings? Why did I forget about that school thing? Why didn’t I see that email?  Why can’t I keep up blogging three times a week?

Why can’t I just love myself and let myself be?

I am pretty aware, and I do have a lot going on, but I also have a pretty good support system and many tools available to me. I can focus and start using them to my advantage.  You know how when you have the right mindset, things just come to you?  Like that year when I truly believed that I was lucky, and I kept winning everything.  I want to live there.  I’m working on it.

Lots of times I do one thing, or see another, and then I think: Is this my thing?  Maybe this could be my thing.

Like that time I wrote a book.  Maybe this could be my thing.

Or when I wrote that essay on how Harry Potter helps my family with Autism. Maybe this could be my thing.

Or when I started making collage journals.  Maybe this could be my thing.

Or when I started travel writing.  Maybe this could be my thing.

The thing is- they are all my thing. I am me, and I am comprised of all these things.

I just discovered a crafty planning community.  I love the integration of scrapbooking elements with planning.  Remember I like to Plan, to Have Fun.

Integration.  Maybe this is My Thing.

What’s Your Thing?

 

Blog Tour Continues: Dee’s post on RachelintheOC Today!

Hey Everybody!  The Book Tour for Dee’s Dishes continues!

I’m so honored to be featured on RachelintheOC’s blog today!

How Writing Takes Me Out of the Crazy is here!

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Have you checked out the other stops on this tour?

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Don’t forget to stop my virtual party on Facebook tomorrow!  Follow this link to RSVP: Dee’s Dishes release party

I really hope to see you there!

Peace,

Denise

Friday Friends: Booklover Betty Murray

Happy #FridayFriends! I have been spotlighting writers and bloggers on Fridays over the past year. This summer I decided to include readers. Please welcome Betty Murray, a #Humanwholovesbooks. 

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On Reading:

1. Right now, I am reading “The Sympathizer” by Viet Thanh Nguyen
It’s a story about a Vietnamese army captain who is a communist sleeper agent in the US after the escape from Saigon

2. Under the Wide and Starry Sky, by N Hogan (Kidnapped by RLS)
Historical fiction story of the lives of Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife Fanny (1870s-1894) . A really interesting story, set in France, Scotland, Switzerland, California and, finally, in Samoa. As a child, I loved A Child’s Garden of Verses (I still have the 1945 edition, which I think belonged to my sister Pat)…

3. What do I look for in a book? Well, good, interesting writing, for one.
In The Sympathizer, the narrator describes his last night in Saigon, with 2 friends: “we sang with all our hearts, feeling only for the past and turning our gaze to the future, swimmers doing the backstroke toward a waterfall.”
I also love interesting settings – learning about new places and times..
Samoa is the 1890s! England before WW!…Europe.WW2…And, of course, characters that are real.

4. When I was in college, a friend gave me “The Prophet” by Gibran. I read it like my Bible. So many good authors I have read..Marilynn Robinson (Gilead, et al), Wallace Stegner, Annie Proulx, …Dickens, Tolstoy and Hugo. Wintertime is my time for reading old favorites: I just reread W&P (originally recommended to me many, many years ago by your father) and last year Les Miserables. I’ve gone on a Dickens splurge, and Austen…There is a reason why some books are called classics!
Is it time for another go-round with The Forsythe Saga?? My Aunt Alice read it 4x in her long life! I’ve only read it twice.

5. I would say about 2 a month.. maybe more. I used to keep diaries of books read.. but haven’t for a while, so my count is off. I have belonged to a Book Club for about 25 years – mostly teachers from Mills HS. I found that I was only reading mysteries and detective books, and wanted to challenge my brain. I have certainly read a lot of books that I would not have chosen on my own to read

6. For my younger self….??? Perhaps Jane Austen?

7. Disliked?? Can’t think of any…but I am finding that I will put aside any book with too much violence .

8. Book or movie….I prefer to read the book first

9. Favorite genre: Historical fiction

10. One thing!!! I suppose greater understanding/empathy of individuals, points of view and the world

11 Loved, then not…I Loved Ramona as a young girl. Helen H Jackson was an activist for the rights of Native Americans in the 19th C., and she wrote a romanticized, popular story, set in Southern California. I re-read it last year, and , while I enjoyed the story again, I wasn’t as passionate about it. On the other hand, I hated Mill on the Floss (Eliot) and Jude the Obscure (Hardy) when I read them in college…but loved them both on rereading some 30 years later. Went on to read most of Hardy (Tess, Madding Crowd)). Middlemarch and Under the Greenwood Tree are sitting in my Kindle, waiting for some long winter days!

12 In the past couple of years, I find I am reading a lot on Kindle. I can borrow ebooks and read them on Kindle…in bed, when the lights are out and Noel is sleeping! Lots of books written before 1920 or so are available on Kindle for very little. After reading about RLS, I bought his complete works for about $2..I did the same thing with Oscar Wilde, and A.C. Doyle
I do buy books – especially if I think Noel would enjoy reading them And I am a frequent visitor to the Library. I still read my favorite series/mysteries (Isabel Dalhousie, Maisie Dobbs) between more serious books. When I count my blessings, I usually include books and reading.

 

Friday Friends: Jerry Dwyer, Reader

Happy Friday, Friends!  I interview authors, bloggers, and readers on Fridays. We are #humanswholovebooks. Today I am delighted to share a very special interview with you: my own dear father, who instilled in me my love of reading and writing. Welcome, Dad!

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1. What are you reading right now?
Restless Hearts: Walking the Camino de Santiago by Roy Uprichard

2. What did you read last?
Who We Were Before by Leah Mercer (literary fiction I found on Kindle Unlimited)

3. What do you look for in a book?
I like to research before traveling – fiction, history and travel guides. Before going to Barcelona last year I read Barcelona by Robert Hughes, The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series (three books) by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The South: A Novel by Colm Toibin, and Rick Steves’ Pocket Barcelona.
See # 12 below for more examples.

4. What book has most influenced you?
I can only narrow it down to three books: one from my youth, one from my middle age, and one from my senior years.
When I was 18 I read War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy and my love for great literature was kindled.
When I was in my 40s I read Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy and my love for western Americana took a big hit.
The most thought-provoking book I read in the 21st century was Atonement by Ian McEwan.

5. How many books did you read in the last 12 months?
41 (I just had to add up the titles on my iPad!)

6. What book would you recommend for your younger self?
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.

7. What book have you disliked?
Ian McEwan is one of my favorite contemporary authors. I thoroughly enjoyed Saturday which I read prior to our trip to London in 2013 and since then have read six more of his novels. All of his books are well-written but I did not like some of his surprise endings and one book, The Comfort of Strangers, I didn’t like at all.

8. A popular book is becoming a film. Do you read the book first, or see the movie first?
The book. We usually wait till a movie is on TV. I read Girl on a Train: A Novel by Paula Hawkins a couple of months ago and the movie isn’t out yet!

9. What are your favorite travel books?
Rick Steves’ travel guides. We take these along for our walks when we visit places in Europe. Most of the other books I have read lately are ebooks. For our trip to Paris in 2014 we also made good use of a delightful little book called Forever Paris by Christina Henry de Tessan. Its subtitle tells it all: 25 Walks in the Footsteps of Chanel, Hemingway, Picasso, and More.

10. What is one thing you have learned from books?
It’s a great big world out there! I love to read about people traveling somewhere, meeting other people and seeing historical sites and then go there myself.

11. Is there a book that you once loved, but can’t stand anymore?
No.

12. Is there anything you would like to add?
Before our trip to Paris in 2014 I read A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway and The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris by David McCullough. On our return from Paris I read The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo.
Before, during and after our recent trip to Scotland I read a total of four Isabel Dalhousie mysteries by Alexander McCall Smith.
Before our trip to Italy in 2009 I read A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, Michelangelo’s Mountain by Eric Scigliano, and Angels and Demons by Dan Brown.
Before our trip to Spain in 2010 I read For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway and Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving.
Rick Steves doesn’t publish guide books on Australia; so in 2011 I read In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson before going to Australia.
Finally, I would like to add that I never travel without a camera and I like to read photography books, too, especially those on the history of photography.

Friday Friends:Eachan Lee, Reader

After interviewing writers and bloggers for almost a year,  I decided it might be fun to interview readers, as well. I find it fascinating to hear what booklovers have to say about their books. Don’t you?  Welcome, Eachan!

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1. What are you reading right now?
Hollow City by Ransom Riggs. It’s the sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. The basis for his characters/story are old black and white photographs that have been rigged to twist the images in some way, like photoshopping back in the days before anyone could buy a camera, much less a digital one. It’s a bit hard to explain but for example there’s a photo that shows a kid apparently lifting a huge boulder, so the corresponding character is a kid with super strength. It’s set around the world wars, so it’s kind of an old timey, kid super hero deal. He’s a relatively new writer and it’s a pretty good effort.
2. What did you read last?
I went back and re-read the Man-Kzin wars series. The universe was created by Larry Niven, who is a big hard science fiction writer. The books themselves consist of short stories written by both established and up and coming writers who are, as he puts it, “in his playground”. It’s mostly good storytelling with differing tones/styles but all in the same setting.
3. What book has most influenced you?
When I was in my teens I read The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman as well as Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (very cliché). I wouldn’t say they changed my lives, but some of the themes and concepts related to the human experience and human nature I’ve found true to life even to this day. The original Dune books by Frank Herbert were interesting in a similar way that spoke more collective human nature that also speaks to me.
4. How many books did you read last year?
Who knows? I kill off a book in a matter of days, so maybe 50?
5. What book would you recommend for your younger self?
Oh that’s really hard to say. I’ve been an avid reader ever since I figured out how and I don’t really have any regrets when it comes to how my tastes have evolved. Maybe I’d tell myself to avoid books that later became movies, does that count? Although the cinematic experience is sometimes great, I’ve always felt the storytelling and character development suffer in those conversions.
6. What book have you disliked?
That’s an odd one as even if I don’t particularly like a book, I usually finish it to complete the experience and see where the author is going. There’s really only one book I only managed to get only a few chapters into and that was Hunters of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. I was always wary of their writing as they opted to pursue prequels to the original Dune books rather than the sequel that was cut off after FH’s death. I tend to look down on sequels in general as it’s often a case of “write the characters before they became the hero/villain” and “match the ending to the beginning of the original books”. It’s honestly very fluffy work in my opinion and had none of the deeper themes or gravitas that underlay his father’s work. The characters were changed drastically in nature and motivation, which was ridiculous considering that they were very well established characters.
7. Do you prefer to read fiction or non-fiction? Do you prefer a genre?
I do enjoy a good history book, but I mostly read fiction. I think the vicarious experience is more complete as a fiction writer can take liberties that need to be treated carefully in non-fiction. I tend to lean towards sci-fi as I do enjoy what some people like to call speculative fiction where they fast forward existing science to create a more plausible world, then use those altered aspects to frame what should still be a human(esque) story. It’s like the difference between the Martian vs Star Wars.
8. Do you prefer fast-paced plot advancement or world building exposition?
I prefer world building over the fast read. As I tend to re-read books quite a bit, I like finding new bits or call backs/forward within a larger narrative universe. Unfortunately those quick moving plots don’t have the same fascination when I go back to them as the payoff is in the ending versus in the build up.
9. Do you prefer to read an actual book, or e-books?
I’ll read an e-book, but I prefer physical books. It just feels more soothing to me than swiping through pages. Also I have a habit of flipping back to look at previous foreshadowing and that’s a huge hassle for e-books.
10. A popular book is becoming a film. Do you read the book first, or see the movie first?
I always see the movie first. I tend to go into those movies annoyed at alterations or things that are flat out cut. There are some good adaptations, but some movies are obviously just taking the name to draw in a guaranteed audience. I Robot and World War Z are two egregious examples that pop into my head.
11. What would be the title of your life story?
Ha! I lead a decidedly mundane existence. It’ll borrow one from the bard and say Much Ado About Nothing
12. What is the ideal environment in which to read a book?
Ideally? On a beach with the breeze and the light just right. But I do a read a lot in bed.
13. Is there anything you would like to add?
Harry Potter and JK Rowling are overrated. They’re tasty bits of pop fiction, but not particularly deep or inventive. If you want your kids to experience a British author that creates interesting world, stories and characters, hand them some Roald Dahl.