THE LITERARY GARDEN

Coming from Colorado to live in the Low Countries, I was immediately drawn into the wealth of colors the early breaking spring delivered here. People took great care with small spaces planting gorgeous flowers that have bloomed from early March right through. Right now, showy hydrangeas in white, blues, and pinks overflow my neighbors yards. I have enjoyed all the sights, textures, and scents as I walk the streets. It also got me thinking about books centered around a garden. Below are a few I think may be worth checking out.

The Girl from the Tea Garden- Janet MacLeod Trotter

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“In the dying days of the Raj, Anglo-Indian schoolgirl Adela Robson dreams of a glamorous career on the stage. When she sneaks away from school in the back of handsome Sam Jackman’s car, she knows a new life awaits—but it is not the one she imagined.

In Simla, the summer seat of the Raj government, Adela throws herself into all the dazzling entertainments 1930s Indian society can offer a beautiful debutante. But just as her ambitions seem on the cusp of becoming reality, she meets a charming but spoilt prince, setting in motion a devastating chain of events.

The outbreak of the Second World War finds Adela back in England—a country she cannot remember—without hope or love, and hiding a shameful secret. Only exceptional courage and endurance can pull her through these dark times and carry her back to the homeland of her heart.”

 

The Princess’s Garden: Royal Intrigue & the Untold Story of Kew- Vanessa Berridge 

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“The British enthusiasm for gardening has fascinating roots. The Empire and trade across the globe created an obsession with exotic new plants, and showed the power and reach of Britain in the early eighteenth century. At that time, national influence wasn’t measured by sporting success, musical or artistic influence. Instead it was expressed in the design of parks and gardens such as Kew and Stowe, and the style of these grand gardens was emulated first throughout Britain and then increasingly around the world.”

The Secret Garden- Frances Hodgson Burnett

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“Mistress Mary is quite contrary until she helps her garden grow. Along the way, she manages to cure her sickly cousin Colin, who is every bit as imperious as she. These two are sullen little peas in a pod, closed up in a gloomy old manor on the Yorkshire moors of England, until a locked-up garden captures their imaginations and puts the blush of a wild rose in their cheeks; “It was the sweetest, most mysterious-looking place any one could imagine. The high walls which shut it in were covered with the leafless stems of roses which were so thick, that they matted together…. ‘No wonder it is still,’ Mary whispered. ‘I am the first person who has spoken here for ten years.'” As new life sprouts from the earth, Mary and Colin’s sour natures begin to sweeten. For anyone who has ever felt afraid to live and love, The Secret Garden‘s portrayal of reawakening spirits will thrill and rejuvenate. Frances Hodgson Burnett creates characters so strong and distinct, young readers continue to identify with them even 85 years after they were conceived.”

Once in the Royal Gardens

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The gloom of the dark, rainy days of spring in Brussels was partially broken by a visit to the Royal Greenhouses. Every year for three weeks, the public has a chance to stroll the grounds and greenhouses built by King Leopold II. Below are a few pictures.

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INTERVIEW WITH HEATHER S. FRIEDMAN RIVERA

 Custom Book Cover Heather Rivera Exaltia Ebook

I first became acquainted with Heather’s work through reading her book Ultreia. It’s a wonderful book about a woman named Tess and her spiritual journey while running a past-life travel agency. Such a great premise! Recently, I’ve begun reading her fun, fantasy series for middle-grade readers (ages 9-12) called The Prism Walkers.

In the first of the series, entitled Into Exaltia, we meet twelve year old Sara and her ten year old sister Molly. They are visiting their grandmother over spring break. The girls are bored and it’s up to Sara to keep Molly entertained and out of trouble. Things take a turn when a magical portal is opened and they find themselves in Exaltia. Sara and Molly are drawn into an adventure and towards their destiny.

Welcome Heather. I’m glad you could join us to talk about your books for young readers.

How did the idea for Prism Walkers come to you?

Thank you so much, Ellis, for having me today. I was working on the books about Tess that you mentioned above. My husband and I were flying to Europe for a vacation and some book research for that series in May 2014. Earlier that morning I had read an Edgar Cayce reading about myself and it mentioned that I would enjoy writing children’s books. I dismissed the idea immediately. However, the first night that we slept in Dublin, as I was waking up, the story of the Prism Walkers “downloaded” into my head. Most of my stories come to me as I am waking up and this one was no different. I told my husband that morning over breakfast, “Well, I guess I am writing a children’s book.”

Are you more like Sara or Molly? And, how so?

I am more like Sara. Although I think I may have a bit of Molly’s sass too. My younger sister and I spent a lot of time at our grandma’s house when we were growing up. We enjoyed our time with our grandmother very much. The house in the Prism Walker books is modeled after my grandma’s house.

When I was growing up, I took it upon myself to keep my sister entertained. I would make up fantasy adventures for her and make-believe the backyard was a magical land. Our uncle also gave us a prism that we loved to look through.

What were your favorite kinds of stories at their ages? Any favorite authors come to mind?

Good question. I had to go back in my mind a bit to remember. I did like the Nancy Drew mysteries. I also enjoyed Judy Blume books, E.W. Hildick’s “The Active Enzyme, Lemon Freshened, Junior High School Witch.” I also enjoyed “The Hobbit” by JRR Tolkein, and “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster.

I also read and re-read Henry David Thoreau’s “On Walden Pond”. Some of it was beyond my level of understanding as a child but I was determined to keep reading it. I took that book everywhere and still have that beat up copy.

Since you write fiction for both grown-ups and kids, I’m curious if you have a preference for one over the other, or find each allows you to express a different creative side?

I enjoy writing for grown-ups and kids and tend to write my young reader books in between the adult books. I love allowing the child-like part of me to play and explore wherever my imagination wants to take me. Writing about fantasy worlds gives me a lot of freedom. As a child I imagined all sorts of magical worlds so I’m just continuing this as an adult.

Can you give us a hint of what’s to come as the series unfolds? You leave us a tantalizing clue at the end of book 1 that Exaltia may have spilled over into the girls’ world. What kinds of things will the Prism Walkers be up against next?

In the second book, “In Search of Emerald Bay”, there is indeed a crack between worlds that threatens the survival of magical Exaltia. Sara and the other Prism Walkers are in a race against time to save Exaltia and all who live there.

In addition, I just completed the third Prism Walker book. It’s called “Inside the Crystal”. In this book the Prism Walkers, along with their elven friends, find themselves in a world very different from Earth or Exaltia—a land called Mandriland. “Inside the Crystal” will be out this year.

All of the Prism Walker books are illustrated by Martin Kaspar from Prague. He is an amazing artist who quickly understood the vision of the books and captured the characters and setting perfectly.

Thanks for spending some time with us today, Heather! To learn more about her work, please follow the links below.

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Heather S. Friedman Rivera, RN, JD, PhD was born in Los Angeles. She founded a research institute for advancing past life research, PLR Institute. In addition to speaking and researching about past life and related therapies, she writes fiction and hosts writing workshops on healing through fiction. She is the author of Healing the Present from the Past, Quiet Water, Maiden Flight, Ultreia, Into Exaltia, and In Search of Emerald Bay. When not writing, she loves to bike ride by the ocean. Her best friends include a Puggle, a neurotic Chihuahua, and a black cat.

For information on her work, to read her blog, or to just say “hi”, please visit https://www.facebook.com/heather.friedmanrivera

Her website: www.heatherrivera.com

Amazon link for Into Exaltia: goo.gl/VsfOjm

EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN by Lindsey Lane

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Tommy Smythe is a geeky teen who’s gone missing from a small town in Texas. We learn about him through bits of his diary (he loves quantum theory) and police interviews of the townsfolk who know him. Tommy is socially awkward, a loner. What happened to Tommy? Did he run away seeking the truth about his birth parents? Did something bad happen in the turn around? And what about his almost compulsive fascination with the possibility of alternative universes? Did he slip into another dimension? All we know is, as the entire town searches, all these possibilities are equally valid.

We never meet Tommy but we do meet some fascinating interconnected characters who dance near him. Some of their tales are sweet. Some are harsh and horrifying. The book contains mature themes including child labor abuses, violence, rape, and child prostitution.

The last place Tommy is seen is used to anchor the story and becomes almost a character in and of itself. The construction of this novel is fascinating and worth a read for that alone. This is a memorable book. The ending is somewhat open ended but satisfying at the same time. Certainly, the book that will stay with you after you close its cover.

Amazon link: goo.gl/nOo8Cm

Good News for Elephants

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photo: Johnny Ljunggren

With 2017 getting off to a limping start, I am happy to report some good news this week for the long term survival of elephants. China will end trade in ivory this summer. Prior to European colonization of Africa, elephant numbers were thought to be around 20 million. The continent today  is home to less than 500,000 elephants.

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My latest book, Elephants Never Forgotten, envisions a time when the great African plains no longer support these majestic creatures. They are missed and an effort is underway to bring them back. To write the book, I did a lot of research on these sentient creatures and their emotional lives. I hope readers get to know these animals on a deeper level and come to see their value (and the value of all life).

Amazon link: https://goo.gl/EdYS3C