Monthly Archives: June 2008

Mark your calendar!

The publication party for The Northwoods Chronicles will be September 26, 6pm at Tsunami Books, 2585 Willamette St. Eugene, OR 97401.

There will be food and drink and lots of writers and all manner of book-interested and book-interesting people.

Please come!

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Filed under Friends, My New Novel, Writing

Woo hoo!

Okay, so now I have to brag.

I spend enough time on this blog discussing my shortcomings, so I feel entirely justified in passing along this exciting news.

Publisher’s Weekly gave my new novel a star review this week!

SF/Fantasy/Horror
**STAR REVIEW**
The Northwoods Chronicles
Elizabeth Engstrom. Five Star, $25.95 (259p) ISBN 978-1-59414-705-0
Dark fantasy writer Engstrom (Black Leather) starts on familiar ground, but rapidly turns this “novel in stories” into a genre-blending exploration of love, aging, grief and sacrifice. In Vargas County, children under 12 occasionally vanish, but the locals have long viewed this as a tithe taken by the town in exchange for the happiness of the other residents. This theme is explored directly in stories like “House Odds,” in which real estate agent Julia has to decide if her grandchildren would be in greater danger in town or away with their drunken father. Other tales merely use the disappearances as a backdrop, such as “Skytouch Fever,” in which aging Sadie Katherine is forced to choose between her steadfast beau and a rakish visitor, and the wittily ironic thriller “One Quiet Evening in the Wax Museum.” Fast-paced, melancholy and beautiful, the overarching narrative binds a collection of good stories into a superb if unconventional novel.

Exciting stuff.

The Northwoods Chronicles can be preordered from Amazon.com here.

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Filed under My New Novel, Writing

What a difference a site makes

I have a new webpage. The address is the same: www.elizabethengstrom.com, but the page is worlds away from the one that was up yesterday morning.

I wrote my first website in HTML. It was basic indeed. Then I got a copy of Microsoft’s Front Page and did another. Did two others, in fact, one for me and one for my independent press. I got pretty good with Front Page, but it had some weirdnesses that I could never figure out. Didn’t have the patience. And so my web presence had all the content I wanted, but looked kind of schizophrenic, with all the fonts and colors and total lack of design.

And then Pam Herber, long time friend and excruciatingly good writer, started designing web pages, so I commissioned her to redo my sad site. After a couple of weeks of back-and-forth, she pushed the button yesterday and her fresh design went live.

I couldn’t be happier. The site now is streamlined, homogenized, artful and pertinent. Personally, I think she’s brilliant. It might look a little weird if you’ve not updated your browser recently, so you should do that. You should do that anyway.

So thanks, Pam. This fresh web presence makes me feel more professional.

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What Waters Your Spirit?

Garden walking, for one, waters mine.

Yesterday, my good friend Keri and I visited seven magnificent open gardens which was a fund raising event for our local symphony. These gardens were magnificent. Not all enormous, professionally-designed and maintained, although a couple of them were. Some were tiny back yards, artifully done.

If you can’t tell, I’m an avid gardener. I don’t exactly have a green thumb, and my heart is broken more often than not when I fail to recognize what a favorite plant is trying to tell me as it expires. But I do love it and thrill when plants find their right combination of things to thrive. I can grow a mean tomato. I’ve learned how to do that, and slowly, the garden at this house is becoming beautiful.

But seeing new plants, trying to identify things I’ve never seen before but are remniscent of others, noting new foliage combinations, as well as what people have done with rock, trellis, wall and arbor… it all waters my spirit. Especially in the company of a good friend and particularly if that Sunday includes a good girl-talk lunch. 

We all spend enough time tackling our “must-do” lists, and spend even more time than that on our “should-do” lists, and not nearly enough time on our “would-love-to-do” lists. In fact, I think one item from the latter should be included at least every week on the first list.

Our spirits need nourishment, too, just like the clematis growing on the trellis next to my rhubarb. My clematis will be ablaze with flowers soon, and I’ve already had two rhubarb pies this year.

I’m sure each of us has felt our spirits wilt. That happens to everyone occasionally. But we should carefully tend the garden of the spirit so that it will bear fruit abundantly and thrive. 

 

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Filed under Beauty, dreams, Gardening, Goodness, Joy, Spirituality

One Good Story

Rarely have I gotten so involved in a television series that I feel absolutely connected, in an emotional way, to the chracters and their lives.

St. Elsewhere did that to me. So did Chicago Hope (what is it about hospital dramas?), and China Beach. Other series have come and gone — good series like The Sopranos, which was fascinating like driving past a train wreck, and currently Boston Legal, but as much as I enjoy it, it’s a little too silly to become too involved with.

Today I went to see the movie Sex and the City.

We didn’t get HBO when the series first started, so I rented all the seasons from Netfix, and became more and more emotionally involved with these four friends and their trials. This show had the smartest writing on the tube.  The mark of good writing is when the reader (or in this case, the viewer) can step into the skin of the characters and say “Is this what I would do if I were in her place?” If the answer is yes, we see what would happen to us from the comfort of our own living room. If we say no, we can watch what might have happened if we had taken the risk. Either way, the characters and their dilemmas have to be so realistic and so well drawn that the reader/viewer can believably be in those shoes.

This was the case with that series, and this was the case with that movie. It was brilliant.

I laughed out loud, I shed a couple of tears, and at the end, I felt as though I had just had one of the most satisfying film experiences of my life. Not that this was the best movie I’d ever seen, just one of the most satisfying, given my history with those four spectacular women.

Bravo, I say.

If you haven’t seen Sex and the City, watch the series first. I can’t imagine watching the movie without the history.

And then see the movie. Wow.

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Filed under girlfriends

Revolution by Ron Paul

I just finished reading Revolution by Ron Paul, and it has rocked my entire worldview.

He doesn’t just bash the current administration (I’m kind of sick of that, aren’t you?), he discusses the Constitution and what we’ve done over the years to ignore it, circumvent it, and discount it. He talks about the fact that our downward spiral is not inevitable and what steps he thinks we need to take in order to correct our course.

This book gave me hope.

I try not to get too political on this blog, but this is back to basics. If we want to change he Constitution, there are ways to go about it. Until those steps are employed, every elected official ought to abide by it. Period.

We’re going to get a fresh face in the White House next January, and I hope it is in the form of a Constitutional scholar who will lead us back to the basics. We desperately need it.

Meantime, everybody who is interested in the direction of this country (and aren’t we all?) ought to add this book to their reading list.

 

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Filed under politics, Ron Paul

Did I bring joy to the world yesterday?

In  word, no.

I had a rocky start after a restless night. I was grumpy all day and seemed to let everybody know about it.

And that is a day I’ll never have again. No do-overs in this game of life.

To be fair, I’m a pretty upbeat person, but now and then I have one of those days. I think we all do. And yet… couldn’t I have done something — just one little something — to bring joy to the life of one single person? Is that too much to ask of a person who has an embarrassment of riches in all areas of her life?

No, it’s not too much to ask.  And I will remember yesterday, and do better today, and every day, I hope, from here on out.  

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Filed under Beauty, Joy