“The Duke” Died in June


The Duke Died in June
 
My parents raised me the best they could
I grew up strong and I did some good
When I was a baby, there was a man on the moon
When I was little, “The Duke” died in June
I learned that people live, and some others die
…and summers meant Rhubarb pie
          in all my fifty years…
 
The war in Nam ended and it was none too soon
“The Last Camel (he) Died at Noon”
The President, he told a lie
He resigned, gave Ford a try
Nixon was pardoned, don’t know why
…and summers meant rhubarb pie,
in all my fifty years…
 
Elvis was dead, and Mother cried
A space shuttle launched, and SHE fell from the sky
NASA gave it another try
Reagan was shot, but he didn’t die
….and summers meant rhubarb pie
in all my fifty years…
 
A volcano erupted and blanketed the Earth
Female workers, finally paid their worth
The Berlin Wall came tumblin’ down
Houston, Jackson and Prince now gone
The stock market rose, and the twin towers fell
The world got sick while the Earth got well
 
Dad and brother, they both died
And, I watched again as Mother cried
Just like she did for Lady Di
….and summers meant rhubarb pie
In all my Fifty Years…
 
When I was a baby, there was a man on the moon
When I was little, “The Duke” died in June
I learned that people live, and some others die
…and summers meant Rhubarb pie
…and summers meant Rhubarb pie
Ya…summers meant Rhubarb pie! 
         In all my Fifty Years…


Copyright Tonia Allen Gould 2020 - All Rights Reserved

Compelling Reasons Why This Book Should Be in Your School Library


Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore Book Cover

Put Me In, Coach!

Children’s rhyming picture book, Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore, tells the adventurous story of Sam, a tenacious land and sea fiddler crab who finds himself on the sandy shores of an idyllic island named Corte Magore. He wants to stay there and live there forever, but he’ll have to overcome obstacles to accomplish his dream. This book teaches children about courage and tenacity – to stand up to bullying and to fight for what they believe in, while also teaching them the importance of dreaming. Sam’s story is told in one big epic poem. This book is geared towards children ages 4-7, although all young children seem to enjoy it. Here’s why: 

The book is written in rhyme. Rhyming verse aids in early-development learning and recall. The British Council writes about teaching children English:

“…playing with the short texts of rhymes, children explore the mechanics of the English language. They find out how language works and become familiar with the relationship between the 44 sounds of English and the 26 alphabet letters – information which helps them when they begin reading to decode the sounds that make up words. The value of this type of language-play with rhymes in early learning is both underestimated and undervalued.”

The book utilizes many different poetic devices – typically difficult to teach children –such as alliteration, point-of-view, stanza, meter, repetition, assonance, personification, and my personal favorite, onomatopoeia. Poetic devices are used to take the reader to a different time or place and helps with imagery. Education Portal says:

“Poetry can follow a strict structure, or none at all, but many different types of poems use poetic devices. Poetic devices are tools that a poet can use to create rhythm, enhance a poem’s meaning, or intensify a mood or feeling. These devices help piece the poem together, much like a hammer and nails join planks of wood together.” 

Books Written in Prose May Be a Dying Art. Authors like Seuss and Silverstein paved the way for poetry in children’s literature, yet it’s hard to find new children’s books today written in prose. Carol Hurst intimates why it’s best to not let this great art die in the following excerpt taken from Hurst’s article on the website:

“…along came Shel Silverstein. He wrote poems about picking your nose and selling your baby sister and adults (some of them) winced and kids guffawed and kids’ poetry was changed forever. Now we’ve got the gamut of emotions and subjects in kid’s poetry. Poetry, of course, be it for child or adult (and the distinction is not always clear) is very much a matter of perception. Poems speak to the individual, even more than stories do, and some are not speaking to you — at least not right now. The rules of poetry selection are the same as for the selection of any kind of literary material that you’re going to use with your kids. It must speak to you as the living breathing adult you are before you can help it speak to kids. If it’s supposed to be funny, it should make you laugh or at least smile. If it’s supposed to be sad, it should choke you up a bit. If it’s a description of a thing or a feeling, it should help you see it or feel it in a new way. So, which of all the books of poetry will you choose for your classroom? Every one you can afford.”

Erin Koehler writes, “The more picture books I read, I start to notice the ones that catch my interest the most, and the ones I end up re-reading several times in a row, are the ones that feel the most poetic. By that I mean that even though the language may appear to be “simple” the language is actually rich in complex diction, syntax, and imagery–not to mention attention to rhythm, sounds, and pacing. Sound familiar? Like a poem maybe?”

Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore is published in more formats than the average book. In addition to hardcover, softcover, an audio version, and a soon published Spanish translation (being published for the Finding Corte Magore project) did you know this literary gem is also available in a picture book app available exclusively for the iPad? The iPad version, for all you tech-based schools, boasts interactivity, professional narration, full animation and an original musical score produced by Nashville singer and songwriter, Robby Armstrong. (Hint: Sam is a “fiddler” crab.)

Finally, have you ever heard of SpongeBob SquarePants? Of course you have! Kids love sea creatures! What we all admire most about the television series are the unique characters, setting and bold use of color. When one of my good friends told me her brother, a Storyboard Director for SpongeBob SquarePants would be interested in working on the book, I knew I had found the right art director. “Mr. Lawrence” -who incidentally is also the voice of Plankton, then brought in his colleague, another SpongeBob storyboard director, Marc Ceccarelli, to produce the original character art and many of the final illustrations.

So, as promised, these are succinct, definitive reasons why this book should be in a school or public library, despite my newbie authorness and utter lack of literary famelessness (I’m a writer, I get to make-up words.)

As always, thanks for the ear!

Tonia Allen Gould, Author

Click here to Order Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore on Amazon.

…And Sixthly, I Need To Be As Creative At Selling My Book As I Was To Write It


…and Other 3:00 A.M. Preponderances.

It’s late and I’ve not yet mustered enough energy to wiggle my way beneath the covers where I get to enjoy Night #2 of Belgium linen sheets from Restoration Hardware. I’m restless. Feeling stuck. Inert. That could be thanks to Diesel the Cat; he’s wedged so comfortably and close to me on top of the blankets–I haven’t the heart to remind him that he’s my daughter’s cat and I’m actually a dog person. And my dog, Bogie, would love to occupy Diesel’s prime real estate on the bed next to me. Except the dog’s afraid of you, Cat-with-your-claws-still-in-tact, and maybe I am a little bit too. 

And that’s not why I’m really feeling stuck.

I don’t often feel like this, so on top of the covers I sit, while my husband snores (despite the funny snore gizmo his dentist fitted for his mouth, coupled with my swift sock in his arm to get him to roll over). I’m both restless and rejoicing in the fact that I’ve finally found time (that’s a compressed paradox if I’ve ever heard one) to READ, errr…SKIM…mindlessly through newly pressed blog posts hoping to find clarity in my own lackluster writing as of late. My narrative dribble has been a slow, steady, stream of spit. 

For months, like all other attention-seeking first-time authors, I have been trying to get you, the parents of my demographic, children aged 4-8 to notice one tiny little meteor of a factoid. H E L L O. Knock knock. I mean, come on! How obvious do I need to be? I wrote and published a WHOLE darn book over here. Doesn’t that account for something? 

I’ve waited…and waited patiently in angst for the clouds to part and to hear those glorious angels belting their angelic refrain in my literary honor. But, the sky is quiet and dark. And, while my books are certainly selling, I somehow expected…I don’t know…more.

No one told me, at the very same time I published my book, so did one trillion other authors who dreamt too, their whole lives through, of publishing their FIRST book and that I would be competing for space on your child’s bookshelves, let alone their hearts and minds.

Okay. You got me. Maybe I am feeling just a tad bit sorry for myself. Maybe I have set my expectations way too high. Maybe I am questioning whether or not I’m doing anything right over here. For the consummate optimist, who forges ahead for the sake of sheer will and determination, that’s saying a lot about where my head is tonight. And since wallowing in wee-hour self pity is just plain silliness, and not my thang, I think we all can agree we’re glad that’s over. 

I wouldn’t be me without some newfound clarity here. I do realize I have learned a thing or two about publishing a first book along the way. (Find the good, Tonia. Find the good.) 

So here it goes:

Being an author, in and of itself, is no longer unique. Everyone’s an author these days, and I still have to figure out how to break out above the noise to get me and my book noticed. That’s a challenge. I like challenges.

My book is what makes me unique as an author. But unless I get you to notice it, and share my terribly good news about it with the world, my career is still in its infancy as an author. I like that. There’s no mad dash to the finish line here. I’ve been in a hurry my whole life. It’s okay to take things slow. And, thank goodness I still have a day job that warrants my attention at the bank on payday.

One trillion people are trying to get your attention in the exact same way I am: So even as an experienced marketer, with 21 years of marketing under my belt, I may still FAIL to get your attention. (Hopefully that doesn’t actually make me suck as a marketer.) When things aren’t working, it’s time to explore new things. I need to continue to try new things to get my demographic to notice me.

As a person with a never say die mentality and a fair amount of book sales already under her belt-given her first time authorship-I need to give myself a pat on the back and thank my supporters. I’ve accomplished more than most. I get to say I’m a published author, because there aren’t really one trillion authors who published a book at the same time as me. 

I’m probably not going to sell many books to you on Twitter. Or Facebook. Or LinkedIn. Because everyone in the world is hocking a book through social media. If everyone is doing something the same way, then maybe we’re all doing it wrong. (But, WordPress is fair game. I’m going to politely ask you to go to Amazon and buy my book and DO IT NOW. Wait. Just kidding. That would be presumptuous and rude of me to bark an order like that.

And sixthly, I need to be as creative at selling my book as I was to write it. I also need to check and see if “sixthly” is even a word. (Clearly it should be, since it chronologically eventually follows firstly, secondly, thirdly, etc.) I think most written thoughts taper off after the third point anyway to avoid checking to see if “fourthly” and so on even exists in the dictionary. But, I digress because I’m punchy and I’m anxious to enjoy these new sheets.

Anyway, thanks for the ear, but that’s all the clarity I can muster-up in the wee hours for now. I’m tired and I’ve got to dislodge a demented cat from my ribcage.

Toodles.

Compelling Reasons Why This Book Should Be In Your School Library


Put Me In, Coach!

Children’s rhyming picture book, Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore, tells the adventurous story of Sam, a tenacious land and sea fiddler crab who finds himself on the sandy shores of an idyllic island named Corte Magore. He wants to stay there and live there forever, but he’ll have to overcome obstacles to accomplish his dream. This book teaches children about courage and tenacity – to stand up to bullying and to fight for what they believe in, while also teaching them the importance of dreaming. Sam’s story is told in one big epic poem. This book is geared towards children ages 4-7, although all young children seem to enjoy it. Here’s why: 

The book is written in rhyme. Rhyming verse aids in early-development learning and recall. The British Council writes about teaching children English:

“…playing with the short texts of rhymes, children explore the mechanics of the English language. They find out how language works and become familiar with the relationship between the 44 sounds of English and the 26 alphabet letters – information which helps them when they begin reading to decode the sounds that make up words. The value of this type of language-play with rhymes in early learning is both underestimated and undervalued.”

The book utilizes many different poetic devices – typically difficult to teach children –such as alliteration, point-of-view, stanza, meter, repetition, assonance, personification, and my personal favorite, onomatopoeia. Poetic devices are used to take the reader to a different time or place and helps with imagery. Education Portal says:

“Poetry can follow a strict structure, or none at all, but many different types of poems use poetic devices. Poetic devices are tools that a poet can use to create rhythm, enhance a poem’s meaning, or intensify a mood or feeling. These devices help piece the poem together, much like a hammer and nails join planks of wood together.” 

Books Written in Prose May Be a Dying Art. Authors like Seuss and Silverstein paved the way for poetry in children’s literature, yet it’s hard to find new children’s books today written in prose. Carol Hurst intimates why it’s best to not let this great art die in the following excerpt taken from Hurst’s article on the website:

“…along came Shel Silverstein. He wrote poems about picking your nose and selling your baby sister and adults (some of them) winced and kids guffawed and kids’ poetry was changed forever. Now we’ve got the gamut of emotions and subjects in kid’s poetry. Poetry, of course, be it for child or adult (and the distinction is not always clear) is very much a matter of perception. Poems speak to the individual, even more than stories do, and some are not speaking to you — at least not right now. The rules of poetry selection are the same as for the selection of any kind of literary material that you’re going to use with your kids. It must speak to you as the living breathing adult you are before you can help it speak to kids. If it’s supposed to be funny, it should make you laugh or at least smile. If it’s supposed to be sad, it should choke you up a bit. If it’s a description of a thing or a feeling, it should help you see it or feel it in a new way. So, which of all the books of poetry will you choose for your classroom? Every one you can afford.”

Erin Koehler writes, “The more picture books I read, I start to notice the ones that catch my interest the most, and the ones I end up re-reading several times in a row, are the ones that feel the most poetic. By that I mean that even though the language may appear to be “simple” the language is actually rich in complex diction, syntax, and imagery–not to mention attention to rhythm, sounds, and pacing. Sound familiar? Like a poem maybe?”

Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore is published in more formats than the average book. In addition to hardcover, softcover, an audio version, and a soon published Spanish translation (being published for the Finding Corte Magore project) did you know this literary gem is also available in a picture book app available exclusively for the iPad? The iPad version, for all you tech-based schools, boasts interactivity, professional narration, full animation and an original musical score produced by Nashville singer and songwriter, Robby Armstrong. (Hint: Sam is a “fiddler” crab.)

Finally, have you ever heard of SpongeBob SquarePants? Of course you have! Kids love sea creatures! What we all admire most about the television series are the unique characters, setting and bold use of color. When one of my good friends told me her brother, a Storyboard Director for SpongeBob SquarePants would be interested in working on the book, I knew I had found the right art director. “Mr. Lawrence” -who incidentally is also the voice of Plankton, then brought in his colleague, another SpongeBob storyboard director, Marc Ceccarelli, to produce the original character art and many of the final illustrations.

So, as promised, these are succinct, definitive reasons why this book should be in a school or public library, despite my newbie authorness and utter lack of literary famelessness (I’m a writer, I get to make-up words.)

As always, thanks for the ear!

The Bones Of Freedom


Don’t think your freedom is deserved because they served – that’s absurd. Freedom is not just a word. Freedom is a privilege granted you. Paid by sacrifice – in red, white and blue. But, have you paid back your due?

Are you being a good citizen? Respecting your fellow men? Showing up to vote again? Fighting for what you believe in? Showing gratitude to whom you depend? Time and time and time, again?

The tax on freedom is to do your part

From the start…

And from your heart…

Do they really have your loyalty?

Those men and woman who keep us free? 

Or, is this just another fruitless holiday? 

One where you get to stay… 

At home – with pay?

Purple is Really Light Blue


She has Synesthesia, a word I’ve never heard before tonight. With her thick accent, I couldn’t decipher her pronunciation – nor could I spell it in my head- like I often do with words when I hear them for the first time. I had to look up her condition when I got home.

She stood at the podium and read her poetry, with musicality in her voice, and interspersed her readings with stories about the complexities of perceiving words in colors. “Purple is Really Light Blue,” Marlena said, finding humor in her own neurological phenomenon. And, I wrote that down, “Purple is Really Light Blue,” thinking she titled her own brilliant poem. One she should write instead of me.  

But, I also fancy myself a bit of a poet, and I coined her phrase. I stole it right there on the spot. I couldn’t help myself, especially since Marlena gave me permission when she loosely quoted T.S. Eliot from her brightly lit pulpit in the auditorium, “Bad poets imitate. Good Poets Steal.” Her phrase, so good, it needed to be stolen, even if by the likes of me. 

I don’t have Synesthesia. But, when in debate I am told my ideas are contrary, or my perceptions are even a tiny bit off, I’ll simply smile and say, “That’s okay, purple is really light blue.” 

A New Year Blossoms


Post holiday hustle

Feet up 

Taking it all in

Last day of the year

Fond memories made

Tucked inside 

heart and mind 

Reflecting

On a year of mini triumphs, 

successes and defeats

Comprising who I am

Time to let bygones 

BE GONE

I can’t take them with me 

As a year blossoms

I can breathe it’s fresh air 

Starting anew

Pointing me 

in a new direction 

Sad, still, to say goodbye

Grateful to have lived 

and loved another year

Ominous


 

©ToniaAllenGould
 
A murder of crows flew over hundreds of them, each as dark as night, wings wildly flapping

CAW-CAW-CAW-ing from the painted and falling dusk sky, high-up overhead

There we stood, feet planted, necks stiff from watching the sheer lot of them pass by on their way to another world

Ominous. 

TA Gould

School Author Visit: SRTMS Career Day 2015 on Writing, Islanding, and Social Good


Food and Fun on Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast


By Guest Blogger, Whitney Gould, the Finding Corte Magore project

Traveling along the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua is like shopping in a thrift shop – the gems are there, but you have to search for them.  And when I say gems, I mean the most gleaming gems of all.  From its jungle river rides to its coconut-infused cuisine, the often overlooked Caribbean Coast is full of discoveries, activities, and cuisine that left the three of us – my mother and founder of Finding Corte Magore, and Eric Anderson, FCM’s Communications Director and me – feeling as if we’d found a new wonder of the world in Bluefields, Nicaragua.

Bluefields was named after the Dutch pirate Abraham Blauvelt who hid in the bay’s waters in the early 17th century.[1] It has a population of 87,000 (2005)[2] and its inhabitants are mostly Mestizo, Afro-descendant Creoles, and indigenous Miskitu, along with smaller communities of Garifuna, whites, Chinese, Mayangnas, Ulwas, and Ramas. Bluefields is Nicaragua’s chief Caribbean port, from which hardwood, seafood, shrimpand lobster are exported. Bluefields was a rendezvous for English and Dutch buccaneers in the 16th and 17th century and became capital of the English protectorate over the Mosquito Coast in 1678. During United States interventions (1912–15, 1926–33) in Nicaragua, American Marines were stationed there. In 1984, the United States mined the harbor (along with those of Corinto and Puerto Sandino). Bluefields was destroyed by Hurricane Joan in 1988 but was rebuilt. (Source:  Wikipedia)

When traveling to this coastal region in Latin America, you’ll want some handy tips on the food and fun. Here’s where to start:

Food – When it comes to food, try everything with the Nicaraguans’ trademark coconut flare.  Coconut accents enhance the flavors of rice, shrimp, and bread in ways you’ve never tasted. Hunt down a bakery selling signature pan de coco (coconut bread) – a dish with subtle but delectable hints of coconut that grow on you as you eat it. It’s nearly impossible to save any for later. If I’ve tempted your taste buds and no immediate trip to Nicaragua is in your future, trying making your own pan de coco bread at home with this recipe.

For seafood, try Pelican Bay (or as the local taxi drivers call it, “El Pelicano”) – not necessarily for the cuisine (although it’s good), but for the view. Take a look at the dishes cooked with coconut – I recommend the shrimp and rice.  It was so good I ordered it two days in a row.  Be sure to find a seat outside.  Seated over Bluefields Bay, the balcony offers amazing views of the water and nearby islands.  It’s a great place to take pictures of the passing pangas, well-presented dishes, or better yet, both:

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View over Bluefields Bay from Pelican Bay restaurant
Fred Ulrich, Casa Ulrich
Fred Ulrich, Casa Ulrich, Pearl Lagoon, Nicaragua
Casa Ulrich CuisineFun – A foolproof way to have fun in Nicaragua is to spend time in the water.  Take a panga through the bay and the connecting rivers.  This is the easiest (and sometimes only) way to travel from place to place.  Pearl Lagoon*, home of Fred Ulrich’s restaurant, Casa Ulrich, is known for vibrant locals, a beach-like atmosphere, and big screen TVs for sports fanatics.  Order the seafood platter, have a beer, play a game of beach soccer, and you’re sure to have a fun-filled day.

If you’re up for the day trip, take some time to go to Pearl Lagoon by boat.  Fred Ulrich, Swiss trained chef and Nicaragua local, owns this top-notch seafood restaurant right off the dock. Since you’ll be staying for dinner as well as lunch, be sure to try the seafood pasta in both the red and white sauces.  Don’t forget to wash your food down with a Toña Cerveza – the most popular beer in Nicaragua (and we see why)!  Watch the video below as Eric gives his critique of this Nicaraguan beer.

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Soccer match on the new beachfront recently installed at Casa Ulrich
HugKey
HugKey, Bluefields, Nicaragua
DSC_4190If you have time for another day trip, schedule a tour at CEDEHCA’s own farm, HugKey**.  HugKey is a sanctuary unlike any other for ducks, pigs, turkeys, and chickens.  Set on a lush, sprawling, open field, the island is also covered with gardens, fruit trees, and vegetable patches.  Plus, your visit contributes to a great cause.  CEDEHCA is using the farm to teach young people how to raise farm animals -like hogs, chickens and turkeys, grow fruits and vegetables, and sell to local businesses.  If you’re interested in visiting the farm, contact Earl Gregory Taylor, CEDEHCA’s Operations Coordinator, at (505) 8430 0884 or earl.taylor@cedehcanicaragua.com.  Munch on some sugar cane while you’re there!  

*Be sure to wear pants to protect from local mosquitos! – Yes, I learned the hard way. By the time, I left Pearl Lagoon, I had over 50 mosquito bites on my legs. Mom and Eric both paid heed to local advice to wear bug spray, but I thought I was impervious to what I thought I was only local lore. By the way, my mom was using her own lavender, orange and euculyptus natural oil concoction and she escaped the whole trip without a single bite.

SnakeOh yes, and do watch out for snakes, while touring any tall, grassy areas – after all, you are in the jungle.

I hope you fall in love with the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua like I did.  Open yourself up to experience the flavors, personality, and beauty of the coast and its people, and I promise that you, too, will enjoy not only these gems, but will find some of your own!

Some day soon, we hope to see you visit us on Corte Magore at Hog Cay, Nicaragua!

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When the Water Beckons You


If you grew-up near the water, it doesn’t matter where you are – when you see it again, it beckons you closer, daring you to its rocky edge, tempting you to take off your shoes and test its temperature with the tips of your french manicured, but otherwise bare toes. It’s all you can do not to stay and frolic there awhile, where you can conjure up your days of youth, and make architectural plans in your head. In that setting your mind becomes a drafting table. What would it look like if you could build a home in that very same spot?

T.A. Gould
writer, author, poet, photographer and dreamer.

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Madam: Milk Does Not Swing from a Tree


Note to My Most Stubborn Self

Madam Persnickety-Pants: You are in Europe. Henceforth into perpetuity, when ordering a latte while visiting here – you must come to understand there is only one kind of milk – it’s called MILK. It’s not 2%, fat free, almond, coconut or soy – just plain old, whole milk from the mature female of a brown-eyed bovine animal, not unlike what was served in Frankfurt, Madrid and Rome, and to you when you were an unassuming, snot-nosed kid after playing in the dirt of Northern Indiana. So, stop asking for something new in your froth, because the subsequent disappointed pout is not becoming to a lady of your stature. Madam, here in Italy, MILK most certainly does not swing from a tree!

P.S. Milk Does Not Swing from a Tree, is a very good title for a picture book.

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A Writer’s Dream from Venice, Italy


December 19th, 2014

I’m just waking up on Giudecca Island -Venice, Italy – to a volley of sights and sounds – a deliverance from the cathartic, but brooding ancient history of Rome, from where we just came. Here, I imagine, I’m in a living painting, and an artist, with his paintbrush and palette in hand – captures me and my robe-covered torso, thrust outside my unscreened window – just now at the Hilton Molino Stucky, from his own studio window across the Grand Canal.

Outside, I hear the reverberating serenade of tolling church bells, which I can pinpoint with my own eyes, to various steeples, speckled with pigeons and seagulls. Each tower stands guard of her parcel of Venezia, soaring high above, looming and majestic, and traipsing along the Canal.

Splashing waves steadily rise and fall onto the foamy, green and blue algae and barnacle-covered docks and seawalls, swept up by power boats which dot the landscape like steed on an aqua-colored, rolling field. Each ship is captained by proud, generational seamen, who glide their ships in various directions, transporting trusting townspeople and holiday tourists about their elusive city. And, it’s through this foggy haze, I know I am graced with an inspiring, omnipotent view – and it occurs to me, I must be here, in Charles Dickens’ Modern Venice, the one he imagined long ago in his “Italian Dream.”

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For you are a Mere Human, Mortal, and You Cannot Fly


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The birds of Hawaii, in their multitude of colors and forms, strut and alternate their strides with their heads held high. Bipeds that are confident. Secure. Fearless. Their flight plan involves plopping right down in your personal space, breathing your air and eyeing your food, waiting for you to leave so they can partake, but they patiently wait their turn by eating only the crumbs fallen at your feet. For days, I’ve been watching these birds and I can attest that they are completely undaunted by your presence here in their Hawaii. For you are a mere human, mortal–and, unlike them; you certainly cannot fly. The birds of Hawaii are showy, pluming and preening their feathers in front of you, as if they are courting you through Aloha Spirit. Californian birds, or the birds from my home state, are much more enigmatic, evasive, skittish and untouchable. California birds can sometimes be like some of the people who live there–capable of snatching your bag of Doritos right out of your hands, on a sunny day at the beach, if you’d let them.

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Like Mother, Like Daughter…I See the Thoughtful, Burgeoning Writer in Her


AA033461Dalliance
By Whitney Gould
Reprinted with Permission, Copyright Whitney Gould, 2014, All Rights Reserved

I am Soul; I move like a needle and thread.
I pierce the crisp air with elegance and grace.
You breathe me in as I dance.
You breathe me out as I dance.
The gentle breeze is my partner and I follow his lead.
Your soft whisper interrupts my routine.
I move about the room like a paintbrush
dancing across an endless canvas. There is no paint.
You want my warmth so I blanket you with my dewy kiss –
as I escape the walls you have entrapped me in.
I dance.
I dance until I can dance no more.
You breathe me in.
You breathe me out.
My endurance fades; I leave barely a trace –
only the remnants of my dewy kiss.
You thirst for my Body; you can’t wait until I die.
Handle with caution as I can burn.
Blow me away and I will soon return.
I am Soul; I move like a needle and thread.

My daughter, Whitney Gould, is a Sophomore at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California. Whitney emailed me this poem to get my take on it. She said she had to write a poem, due tomorrow, from the perspective of another person or object. Her poem perspective is about the steam of a coffee mug. I think she nailed it. But, I’m a clearly smitten, biased mother.  How did she do?

Tonia’s “Upside Down Day” Gluten-Free, Vegan Pancakes


Pancakes. I took them for granted when I was a kid. Now that I am all grown-up with adult onset allergies to both egg and gluten, pancakes could have become a product of my past like so many other foods I previously enjoyed.

I’m telling you all this because I want you to know I’m not on some vanity diet. No, I really do have to get creative making meals due to my allergies. So cooking, for me, has developed into a creative, culinary exploration in both sustenance and science. All that said, if you are vegan, gluten-free, or egg-free…these pancakes are for you! Even if you’re not deploying a similar diet, I’m betting you like my latest creation, “Upside Down Day” Gluten-Free Vegan Pancakes. My pancakes involve two meals: lunch and dinner.

Tonia's Kale SmoothieFor Lunch:
In your juicer, juice two large handfuls of chilled, fresh organic kale, two stalks of celery, two green apples, two large basil leaves, and two large bunches of grapes picked off their vine. Serve the juice with a refrigerated celery stalk to keep it cold, or drink it down. Preserve your pulp in the refrigerator for your pancakes you’ll make later. Run to Whole Foods and buy the King Arthur Flour Gluten Free Pancake Mix and Egg ReplacerPancake mix

For Dinner:
“Upside Down Day” entails serving breakfast for dinner. Hubby is never home when we celebrate “Upside Down Day.” While he is a fairly good sport, I’m pretty sure he would suck all the life out of the occasion and dangle his fabulous homemade tacos in front of our kids’ noses instead. (Plus he’s not invited because it’s imperative he never witness my slothfulness firsthand). If you haven’t figured it out already, “Upside Down Day” translates to “Lazy-Mom-Doesn’t-Really-Feel-Like-Cooking-Tonight-Day.” We used to celebrate the event more frequently when my daughter was little and I’d serve up bacon and eggs for dinner. “Upside Down Day” is a rare, special occasion in the Gould house now that I can no longer eat eggs due to my allergy. I can’t even cook eggs without itching…something about airborne allergens and what not. Who knew?

Anyway, I digress. Back to making “Dinner”:
Mix the gluten free pancake mix following box instructions, except substitute the egg for the egg replacer (following those box instructions as well) and also substitute the cow’s milk with VANILLA Almond Milk or VANILLA Soy Milk. Mix in the leftover pulp (where all the fiber is) from your lunchtime smoothie. Add more vanilla soy or almond milk to play with your desired thickness. Pour your batter onto a HOT, lightly greased griddle. I used canola oil because I was out of rice bran oil, my new “go to oil” because it cooks at high temperature points. You know your griddle is hot enough if a drop of water dances off of the surface. Pour your batter onto the griddle. My pancakes poured thick and imperfect, and I quite liked them that way even though they took longer to cook. If you like yours thick too, avoid burning them by turning them frequently once the batter has set. Use a tablespoon to scoop out the batter if you have OCD and prefer a perfectly round pancake. My husband’s banana pancakes are always perfectly round. Again, it’s your night to be a sloth, because you’ve kicked your husband out so you can make my pancakes.

I served ours the conventional way, with Earth Balance natural spread from Trader Joe’s and a hearty drizzle of Canadian maple syrup. My twelve-year-old son loved them, and he’s fairly hard to please, plus he got servings of both fruits and vegetables. I got to be a sloth and he ate his greens. It was clearly a win/win. If you try them, be sure to check back. Oh, and Happy Upside Down Day!

Enjoy!

Don’t Expect Young Readers to Emote


Last night, I was at a 4th of July party, relaxing by the pool and enjoying small talk with another mom. This new acquaintance was intrigued by my just released book, Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore, available in the App Store for iPad. The nice lady, a mother of eight-year-old triplets (God bless her!) had never seen animated children’s books on the iPad. One of her children, an avid reader, wandered by and she introduced me as a writer/author of a book, and asked me to show it to him. I, of course, was happy to oblige.

The boy listened and read along with the story, but he didn’t smile or laugh or emote in any way. Page after page, I became worried that the boy stood there only to be polite. Occasionally, he’d glance up at me to see why I was staring at him (awkward!) and then he’d turn back to the narrated story and read along. Really, I was dying inside for his reaction, absolutely any reaction from him would ease my growing level of concern.

When the book finally ended, he looked up at me and simply said, “Can I see more books you wrote?” And then he turned to his mom and asked if she could buy him my book.

Young readers who are engaged, don’t necessarily wear their emotions on their sleeves. As a parent myself, this is good to know in the types of selections I help my own young reader make. But also, this boy reminded me why I strove to become a published author in the first place. I didn’t write for the reaction to my stories, rather, I wrote so that my words would be enjoyed while learning lessons along the way. This young reader enjoyed my book in his own way, for that–I am now sure. Mission accomplished!

Have a child aged four to eight? Check out Samuel T. Moore of Corte Magore in the App Store on iTunes. Click here.</a

Author Announces Release Date of #Animated #Childrens #Picturebook


Author Announces Release Date

Author, Tonia Allen Gould, announces the release date of her animated and narrated children’s picture book, coming on 7/1/13 on iTunes.

How Did it Get So Late So Soon?


We moved our daughter into her dorm at Loyola Marymount University this week.  I haven’t found the right words to express how I’m feeling.  Someone very special sent the following to me from a writer I admire very much.

 

How did it get so late so soon?

It’s night before it’s afternoon.

December is here before it’s June.

My goodness how the time is flewn.

How did it get so late so soon?

Dr.  Seuss

 

When It Comes in Threes (The first six pages of my novel, unedited).


I’m about ninety, 8.5’x11″ pages into writing my first novel. I sure would enjoy some feedback on the first six pages from people in my network. Thanking anyone in advance who takes the time to read this, and please remember this is unedited, for the most part.

When It Comes in Threes

by TONIA ALLEN GOULD

Prologue:

Right before you die, your feet turn white and your legs get all mottled-up in color somewhere between the vibrant hues of purple and blue. You can’t see your legs and feet anymore, because you’re immobile and on your back, where you have been placed, in your final resting pose by your nurse. Your hearing is strong, and the audible whispers of the people around you confirm what is happening to the body that you can no longer see or feel. It frightens everyone around you to watch the metamorphism as your organs begin to shut down, one-by-one. Life, or what was left of it, leaves your eyes long before this, before your body becomes a chameleon and starts to change its colors.

The bright blue eyes that you once had are now dark and glassy and all fogged up. The people around you become nothing more than clouded, living and breathing visions through your own drug-induced, fog daze. Thankfully, the morphine you have been administered takes the edge off of anything that resembles pain.

It takes you awhile to focus in on your surroundings and find who you are looking for as you scan through the sea of faces hovering over you. You give an obligatory nod to each new one you see to let them know, that you know, that they are there. These are the people who have come to watch you die, but your pride won’t allow you to do it in front of them.

While your family is gripping your hands and holding you tight; you stare off, for a time, into a place that only the dying can see. You’ve just started to entertain the prospect of going there and start to play with your own breath to see if you can stop the beating of your own heart, but you’re not quite powerful enough for that. Also, you’re not ready yet, because people have come to pay their respects, and waiting is the right thing to do.

Your loved ones seem more prepared for you to go than you are because they don’t want you to suffer anymore. In those brief moments you have to escape within yourself, you admit, if only for a fleeting second that you are scared. But, by now; you’ve ultimately come to grips with your destiny. You know you will soon die, and suddenly you have an altruistic sense of what that really means.

You muster up just enough energy and final breath to say goodbye to all the people that float in, and drift around you; a steady influx of people that rattle the door every time they enter your personal space and pull you away from where you almost went. You’re just lucid enough to stay awake, because you owe it to them, and know it’s important that they get to say their final goodbyes. They are the people that care about you the most, the ones who have come to bid their final farewells, and you chalk off the people who didn’t; they are now permanently erased from your mind.

You tell everyone that you love them, and you say it with your eyes too, because speaking takes too much out of you. This time, you mean it with all of your heart and soul, and in a way that only the dying can feel, and you wish you had the words and the voice and a loudspeaker so that you are sure that they know. Those people who stand over you, lurking, are hoping and praying that you’ll die soon, while they are watching, because secretly they are in awe of your teeter-totter between life and death, but mostly because they don’t want to watch you feel any more pain. They have no qualms about telling you that it’s alright to go, and that they’ll see you on the other side. But, you’re not quite sure that is where you’ll end up.

Miraculously, your closest loved-ones, your children and your spouse, are each willing you to live and praying for you to die at the same time. They are silently begging you with their own eyes to stay, as if you have some degree of say in the matter. They also are praying that you’ll be taken comfortably and without any further degree of suffering. They are conflicted by this push/pull of both willing you to live and willing you to die. These people are the ones with words still left unspoken. They have unresolved issues with you about how you lived your life, and how that impacted them. You know they are in turmoil, and even though you took so much from them, and caused them so much pain, they are still there—forgiving you for the life you lived, and letting go of whatever was left of what they were still holding onto. The guilt of this and of dying consumes you. You’ve caused everyone so much pain already, and you know that they will be there when you take your last breath. If only you had more time, then maybe you’d undo some of the things that you did.

Chapter 1: The Journey

Less than twenty-four hours earlier, I was sitting with my husband under the pavilion in our backyard, sheltered from the sun, snacking on real images of my home and life, with my laptop finally open, pecking away at that novel I’m only half-way finished writing. Occasionally, I would glance-up to watch my son’s newly perfected dive permeating the pool’s crystal clear surface. When his head broke the water each time, and he managed to catch his breath again, he would look up at me to see if I had been watching him. I’d smile, he’d swim to the edge of the pool and get out and do it again. I sat there for hours, watching him, and reveling in the fact that my husband was home from his business travels for a spell, both of us content to just sit there, and just be home together again for a while. Both of us, I’m sure, sat their wondering what our lives would be like, just the three of us, when my daughter, Gabriella finally left for the University of Colorado at Boulder in just two short weeks.

But, as anyone knows who has ever suffered any degree of loss, life can turn on you like a dime. Here it is now, vast and wide, and staring me straight in the face from the window of a Boeing 767. I rub the misty, double-paned glass, and realize the drops of moisture are only present on the outside of the window. I resolve myself to settle into my seat and relax during the four-hour flight from Los Angeles to Detroit. Jesus. How did I even get here? Hopping on a plane wasn’t part of any one of the carefully laid-out plans I had for myself today.

The flight attendants’ finally prepare themselves for take-off and the plane gains speed and shimmies down the runway and I am almost instantly and immensely humbled by the intense sunset glowing starboard, burning hot like a California wildfire. The distant fiery blaze ignites the horizon, as the plane rises and ascends to the West over the Pacific, as one lone tear traces my face, and lingers a moment on my chin before dropping to a small, wet stain on my white linen shirt. I haven’t the energy to wipe it away. Already it has been a very long day and I wish that I was home with my family having the backyard barbecue we had planned with our friends, The Coopers.

Like my tears, the sunset begins to fade and the other passengers fall quiet as they reach up to turn off their seat lights. It is in this instance that I welcome the sudden hushed voices in the cabin along with the steady hum of the plane’s engine. Somehow, I am soothed, like a baby who is quieted by the constant purr of a washing machine or a vacuum cleaner despite her mother’s own desperation to calm her. Turning again to face the window, I just barely catch the sight of the sun as it finally dips and then drops, disappearing entirely into the horizon as the plane continues to rise up over the Pacific where it finally makes its subtle turn towards the East and back to the place where I was born. The magnificent peace of the sunset coupled with the plane sailing through the air, penetrating the clouds, quiets my mind for the first time today and I surrender to the beauty and enormity of it all. I have never felt so small.

My circumstances preclude me from getting up to use the restroom, although I really have to go. I’ve had to pee since I pulled out of my driveway to make the sixty-minute commute to LAX from my suburban bedroom community in Agoura Hills, located just northwest of Los Angeles. I wish now, too late, that I had used the restroom at the airport, mostly because the small, dark-haired woman with a pixie haircut who sat next to me appeared to be hunkered down for the night. Coiled up neatly into herself, her tiny frame was completely shrouded by the airline-issued red, micro-fleece blanket.

My seatmate stirred only once when the plane shook from a bit of turbulence. I wondered how many people before her have used the very same blanket she cuddled with so contentedly, and I imagined that it had never been washed by the airline. A bit of bile rises in my throat and I am sickened momentarily by the thought of someone else before her wiping their nose or slobbering on the blanket that she surely thinks is her own now. I don’t even want to think about the thinly covered pillow that rests behind my own head which was propped against the window. I was happy to have been assigned a window seat so I would have someplace to rest my head. At least my husband had the foresight to take care of that detail for me when he desperately raced to book my emergency flight back to the Midwest.

I really didn’t want to talk to anyone right now, particularly not a stranger who might like to engage in small talk. Tonight I was lucky. I usually end-up sitting next to some chatty person wanting to know what I did for a living or asking me other trivial questions that, in my opinion, a perfect stranger should never ask another. Besides, I really wanted to be alone with my thoughts to take the inevitable journey down my old and cobbled memory lane. This is a one journey I wouldn’t necessarily be taking right now if it were not for today’s earlier events.

True, it has been some time since I have allowed myself to dig-up the old decaying bones of my somewhat repressed childhood. Something told me that I should do it now, on my own terms. Otherwise, all of those memories and emotions will come flooding back to me tomorrow morning, in one giant sensory and environmental overload the moment I pulled my rental car into my parent’s driveway.

Finding myself unable to sleep, I finally succumb to the nagging, incessant urge to get out my laptop. I bend over at the waist and stretch my right hand as far as it will reach and poke around for my backpack that is jammed inextricably under the seat in front of me. I am aware that the tall man sitting there feels the commotion and I hope not to make him my mortal enemy on the trip as a result of my restlessness. Unzipping my bag and extracting the computer; I immediately revel in the thought of using it for something other than to rifle through various client presentations or to check email. It’s rare for me to “turn-off” work, but I know I won’t be able to do much for my marketing business this week when I am back in the Midwest dealing with the latest Colbert Family upheaval.

Tonia Gould | See.Me


All Rights Reserved
Roadography

Tonia Gould | See.Me.

Check out my portfolio called Roadography, a series of portraits captured and edited completely from an iPhone while in motion. The entire collection has been shot from the passenger perspective in cars, planes and trains, or otherwise moving vehicles. These photographs remind me that even while in motion, the world is still tangible and within my reach, if only I could slow down and enjoy it. I’ve come to love the graininess and imperfections of taking photographs from a mobile phone in an world that would otherwise be passing me by. 

Click here and don’t forget to vote for me in this international photography competition:  Tonia Gould | See.Me

A Country Block


thgilmore1@gilmorebranding.comA Country Block

by Tonia Allen Gould

Gathering berries
From a roadside ditch
Along a country block
That takes hours to walk
Wading into the tall grasses
Sinking teeth into
Tiny seeds and berry juices
Through the barbed wire
A calf and lamb bleat and baah
And a Chevy races past
With music blaring
The grasses bend and sway
Tips of foxtails tickle as I bend
Tanned, bare legs itch
From sweat and scratchy weeds
Staining berries piled in the fold
Of a bleached, white shirt
Gathering my thoughts
Together with my berries

Copyright 2009

There’s a Writer in All of Us


I’ve been thinking a lot about the allure of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. What attracts people to post tidbits about their lives, professions, thoughts, actions or beliefs? What is the compelling reason behind all this excess sharing of information that crosses generations and keeps us coming back for more?

Is it that humans have a compelling need to conform? Everyone’s on Facebook, so I need to be on it too? Perhaps those sites are fulfilling our social need to be recognized, liked or accepted? Maybe, we are all just voyeurs and like to look through a small window into other people’s lives?

I can’t speak for anyone else, but my addiction to Facebook, in particular, is terminal. I’ve abandoned the extra thirty minutes of sitcom every night and I even Facebook through lunch upon occasion. I open Facebook with the first sip of my morning coffee. But why?

Recently, on a flight to Miami, I had a neurosurgeon tell me that he tunes into Jerry Springer every day. When i asked him why; he said because watching the program was mindless and made his problems seem trivial and small, but mostly because he wanted to. I thought that was a great answer for a man that had to concentrate almost daily on finite details while performing brain surgery. Jerry Springer is like his glass of wine during his hard day’s work. It’s his method of escapism.

The same is true for me and Facebook. I own and run a business. I have two active kids. I have a home to manage. Pets. A spouse. Employees. A mortgage. A daughter going off to college soon. You get the picture. Maybe I’m escaping from all of it for brief interludes. Your news feed and my two or three posts per day, complete me. Maybe it’s my means of escape, but for me that’s not exactly it, because I love my life and I don’t need to hide from it. I generally face it head-on.

So then what is it, if not a means of escape? Simply, Facebook and Twitter both feed my need to write. I’m a writer. A writer gets their fix any old way they can, and when they can’t be consumed in some big writing project, they dive, head first into Facebook. Social Media to the writer is like a heroin addiction to a junkie. We can’t help ourselves. We love to chronicle the stories of our lives.

I believe there is a writer in all us. Social media allows us to feed that basic human need to write. I challenge anyone with a Facebook addiction to tell me it ain’t so.

Life’s good material. So write about it.