There And Back Again: An East Texas Book Fest Tale

The drive was long; the destination easy to find (I got my husband to take me and we made a mini family vacation out of it). I arrived at the Harvey Convention Center in Tyler a little early and upon check-in, met the lovely Chris Rogers, who was giving the very sessions I had come to participate in. She’s an experienced writer, writing coach and an artist as you can see if you follow the link above to her website.

After a slightly chaotic start as early-comers like myself overwhelmed the newly-arrived volunteers, the event started smoothly and mostly punctually. They offered coffee and muffins, and the only downside to comfort was the extreme cold in the meeting rooms. I’d worn long sleeves in preparation (I’m very cold-natured); but it wasn’t enough, and many others and I had to skip outside as often as possible to thaw out. Firehouse Subs provided lunch to those who preregistered, and even being a vegetarian who had to remove the meat from my sandwich, it was pretty decent.

The keynote speaker, Dr. Ray Reutzel, addressed literacy using an article he wrote for The Reading Teacher, which I will go into detail about in a secondary post. (It was that interesting!)

I enjoyed both sessions with Chris thoroughly, and while much of it was more general information that I’d heard before in the many years I’ve attended such events (trying to be as well-informed as possible before deciding how to seek publication for my own novels), I did learn some new things and it is always good to get another perspective.

I also attended a workshop on bilingual writing and books led by Dr. René Saldaña. This turned more into a lecture/discussion on the nature of translation, which I enjoyed, having done a lot of oral translating and a couple times for the text of a children’s book.

The second day was free to the public, but sadly I couldn’t get my kids to come in with me and participate. I chatted with Linda Gray, a youth services librarian at the Tyler Public Library, about our common love of libraries and books until Chris’s final session. Afterwards, I opted to leave and finish our mini vacation at Tyler State park. (I’ll also go into detail on this in a separate post.)

All in all it was pleasant conference, very small, but very informative and well worth the time and cost to attend!

East Texas Book Fest 2015

This weekend  is the East Texas Book Fest if anyone is in the area and would like to attend. As I understand, the first day, Friday, has a fee, but Saturday will be open to the public.

I’ll be attending both days, and the deadline to online register and get free lunch is today, Aug. 19. I haven’t attended before, so I’ll have to let you know how it was when I get back.

East Texas Book Fest 2015 – Welcome.

That Castle Looks Familiar!

Season 8 of Dr. Who just became available on Netflix, so naturally I started watching (I have to catch up with my daughter who had been watching at her Grandma’s on cable). Episode three played, and suddenly I saw a very familiar castle depicting the sheriff’s headquarters on my TV.

Now, I’m used to seeing Big Ben, the Tower and other iconic London architecture that I was privileged to visit in real life while taking a course on Arthurian Legend in 2005. (Yes, that was the year of the infamous Tube bombings. I flew out that day hours after it happened.) However, I hadn’t seen the picturesque Bodiam castle until “Robot of Sherwood” aired.

Bodiam Castle

Now, I could be wrong, but the resemblance of my trip photo to what appears in the episode is pretty spot on.

Image found in Google search

According to this website, my guess is correct. During my tour, we learned much about Bodiam, including the fact that it is one of few remaining castles with a moat. If memory serves me correctly, its preservation is owed to the owner’s stripping of the castle’s defenses well before the invaders arrived. As you can see from the episode, it is a beautiful, fairly well-preserved structure nestled in the lush English countryside.

If you’d like to see more images of it taken during my visit, see my Photos page and follow the London Trip 2005 link. You’ll also notice some other recognizable locales, and a few more obscure (such as Tolkien’s favorite tree in Oxford), connected to other fandoms. If you’d like the story behind some of the images, comment with your request and I’d be happy to share.

Solar System Set

I recently ordered a beautiful set of glasses designed to represent the solar system, Sun and Pluto included. The set comes from, one of the greatest online stores for people who love everything Geek, sci-fi, fantasy. The order arrived promptly and in perfect condition, and as unique novelty the shipping box is decorated with robot parts so you can build your own box bot.

Seeing as I don’t host dinner parties, I wanted to display mine on a shelf.

Planetary Glass Set
Planetary Glass Set

Then I got the idea to stick LED lights inside the glasses.

Lighted glasses
Lighted glasses

The effect is just as neat as I’d hoped, and not too bad price-wise. The glass set was about fifty and the LEDs about twenty at Michael’s. I think they had a cheaper set, but nothing cheaper was available the day I went. Of course, I can’t leave them on all the time–they run on batteries, expensive batteries, but for the rare special occasion it’s worth it.

Neches Wilderness Canoe Race 2015

Got up at four a.m. to be ready for my sister to pick us up at five. Excitement about the upcoming race (that and a little Dr. Pepper) kept us alert throughout the two-hour drive to the start point. Then we finalized our registration, unpacked and hauled our kayaks and gear to the riverbank ready for the eight a.m. (nine actually) start time. Announcements were made, the first few groups launched, then into the water, air-horn sounded and off we paddled!

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