Merry and Bright

From the Keyboard

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Wishing everyone a joyous holiday and happy new year.


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Kids Still Say the Funniest Things


Kids still say the funniest things. I often wondered where they heard it or picked it up, right down to the appropriate mannerisms that little munchkins can imitate so well and then pick the right moments to say it.

My neighbour was telling me about the family stroll along the waterfront. They had ended with the walk along the concrete path that ended close to the point where the cruise ships passed as they made their grand entry into the harbour. One ship had just glided by, its passengers waving at the small group excitedly waving back in welcome. Mavis’s older grand-daughter mused aloud, “I wonder where the ship’s going next?” And her 6-year old sister, with a roll of her blue eyes, replied, “Well, duh, obviously out to sea.” and as she strolled away, the smiles broke out on everyone’s faces.

When a South American thrush flew onto Canadian soil a few…

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There’s Something About Christmas


There’s something about Christmas that brings out the grouchiness  in normally reasonable people. Over the years, I’ve figured out a few things.  Grumbling loudly while standing in a postal line-up, doesn’t make the line go faster. If my cards don’t go out on time, my friends know they will maybe get a New Year’s greeting from me–or maybe, not at all. That has happened a few times over the decades and we’re still on good speaking terms.  Baking is a foregone conclusion—bake too early and it gets eaten; bake too late and it gets eaten. I’ve given up on fruitcakes since not a lot of people eat them these days because of calories, diets, allergies and goodness knows what-all. As for presents, I collect small things for stocking stuffers throughout the year–little kids and even big kids have the most fun with this.

I found that most kids are quite brilliant…

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Doughnuts For Kids Part II


(A group of concerned Moms decided to hold a “Doughnut Event” to raise money for much needed playground equipment. Being a mini-United Nations kind of neighbourhood, the doughnuts presented as an international event as well. . .)

The next booth represented Holland, a country I always visualized as masses of tulips, a few windmills and tasty cheeses. I now add Oliebollen.  Oliebollens are like dumplings made from enriched yeast dough and cooked in a deep-fryer. They are traditionally eaten on New Year’s Eve, but can be bought at oliebollen street vendors in November and December, as well as throughout the year at fun fairs–much like the fairs where I can buy my mini-doughnuts in Victoria. Oliebollens can be made plain or have raisins, currents and apples added to the dough. Both kinds usually get dusted with some icing sugar before serving. The oliebollen I sampled was filled, after frying…

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Pan Fried

From the Keyboard

My parents had a cast iron skillet. It wasn’t very big, but many of the meals we had came out of it—eggs, burgers, chicken, steaks, fish, and grilled cheese sandwiches.

The color of pitch, every surface of that pan was so slickly well-seasoned that nothing stuck to it. I have no idea how long they had it, or how long it took to season it, but it was perfection.

A few years after my mother died, my father moved into assisted living. Since he wasn’t going to be cooking there, everything in the kitchen, along with the rest of the apartment, had to be cleaned out. It was difficult to make the choices—what to keep, what to give away, or toss. My brother and I pulled the pan out of a cabinet and stared at it, then looked at each other. It was as though the mere sight of it…

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Poetry Going Mainstream?

nbsmithblog...random digressions and musings

Apparently, it is. When I think about books of poetry, I don’t think of them as selling well. A few copies here, a few copies there, and maybe, just maybe, a hundred or so copies will be sold or given away (and those are generally well known poets like Billy Collins, Maya Angelou, or Robert Frost).

Because I volunteer at the local library, I spend more time there than most people, and I noticed that for more than a month two poetry books (The Sun andHer Flowers and Milk and Honey) have been on the New York Times bestseller list.

Frankly, most of the time the list is made up of thrillers, mysteries, and mainstream fiction written by authors who are familiar to all.  Names like John Grisham, David Baldacci, Nora Roberts, and James Patterson populate the fiction list so to see Rupi Kaur (or any poet…

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Goodreads Has Not-So-Good News for Indie Authors

Eva Lesko Natiello

Copy of Eilmeldung

Anyone familiar with my book marketing coaching for indie authors, knows that I love Goodreads. After all, Goodreads has been critical to the success of many self-published authors who want to get their books noticed in a very crowded playing field.

Indie authors know this site is a great place to interact with readers. I met the readers of my very first book club on Goodreads. My self-published book was only out for a few weeks, and a reader in Oregon contacted me through Goodreads to tell me her book club was reading it (insert author fainting). Being an author from New Jersey, I was ecstatic that not only did I have a reader who was not a blood relative, they did not even live in my town! Or state! This was exciting stuff. I was so thrilled, I offered to attend their book club via Skype. The book club…

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The Journey of a Thousand Miles (October)

nbsmithblog...random digressions and musings

…begins with a single step. As the year continues to march to its conclusion, this pedometer geek is hopeful that the challenge (of 1000 miles) will be met. During the month, another 80 miles was logged bringing the remainder down to 106 miles.

On the other hand, in the Million Mile Marathon in a Month challenge, this pedometer geek was overly optimistic and chose the goal of the ultra-ultra marathon, which was 100 miles, and came up about 19 miles short.

Even the number of steps (206,461) was a bit lackluster, averaging 6,660 a day. While it wasn’t the worst of the year’s monthly totals, it was close. The number of aerobic steps came to a total of 63,117 steps over the course of 23 days. Only four days of 10,000 steps were managed.

On the reading front, however, results were a little better. Ten books and one novella were…

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Do You Know What This Means: Die Erinnerungsbox

Eva Lesko Natiello

If you know what Die Erinnerungsbox means, then I’ve got some exciting news! If you don’t, I still have exciting news!
The German translation rights for The Memory Box have just been bought!
Isn’t that fabelhaft!
It will be published by Edition M and released in Fall 2018.
I’m so aufgeregt!
I know some of my German friends have already read the English version, but I’m excited to know from you how the German one translates. More on that later.

The journey of this self-published book continues to delight me. When The Memory Box was first published in the US, it felt close to miraculous. For a long time, it didn’t look like it would ever see the light of day (it was buried in the backyard, after all) inside of a bookstore or library, to say nothing of a bestseller list. And now, although it’s been available worldwide in…

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The Mug

nbsmithblog...random digressions and musings

The mug…the other day, I finally, for the first time ever, used the mug. It was a present from my cousin Denny. We all received one from him along with other gifts from his sojourn to Hong Kong when he was serving in the Navy. It was during the Viet Nam War although his ship, a destroyer, apparently never went near the country, but I digress.

By we, I mean, my parents, my sisters, and I. Every mug was different, and yet the same. Each had our name on one side of the mug, and the other side sported a cartoon character of the times. I seem to recall that Dad had “Pa” and Mom had “Ma” from the Katzenjammer Kids comic strip. My sisters and I had various characters from the Peanuts comic strip. I think my sisters had “Sally” and “Violet.” Mine was hapless “Charlie Brown,”…

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