Here is the reality: The clever folks at Ooligan Press collected cucumber seeds from Portland State University’s Student Sustainability Center and made up seed packets for my author events. Serakh, my time-traveling pursuer of justice in Blue Thread, The Ninth Day, and Seven Stitches, has a passion for cucumbers she first encountered in Egypt at the time of the pharaohs and has been eating them ever since.

The instructions on the seed packet call for planting Serakh’s cucumber seeds two weeks after the last frost, which would have been months ago in Portland, Oregon. Still, I planted them today in a small container a hundred feet up the south side of a brick building blasted by summer heat.

Reality says these seeds aren’t going to make it. Forget cucumbers.

Here is the dream: Serakh’s seeds will grow and thrive, having been reunited with soil, sun, and water during the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere of Planet Earth orbiting a star in the Orion Arm of the Milky Way galaxy. […]

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The Free Speech Movement Cafe, Berkeley

Whatever your views on balancing protections for free speech and against hate speech, we all have an obligation to get our facts straight. Yes, as a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, I understand how reality can be manipulated. Still, according to a responsible source, the facts point to last week’s violence on the University of California, Berkeley campus as being incited primarily by people who were not students or faculty at the university.

Let’s go back to 1964 and the birth of the Free Speech Movement at Cal. The original FSM coalition focused on allowing political parties of all stripes to distribute political information on campus, something that we now take for granted. Over 800 people occupied the administration’s main offices (Sproul Hall) and were jailed to make that happen. No one set out to break windows and damage buildings. When a police car drove onto Sproul Plaza to arrest a student, scores of other students on the Plaza merely sat down, preventing the patrol car from leaving. […]

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While some of us Scrivas have been together since the critique group was formed, other writers have come and gone, or, as I’d like to think, are taking a long sabbatical. Sara is the newest among us and, as you can read in her Viva Scriva blog post, she didn’t take joining lightly.

What can I say about Sara? The short version is that she is a Portland (Oregon)-based writer who works as a librarian and who will be teaching a “Writing the Other: Comics and Graphic Novels” class on September 10. Her works for teen readers and others include the award-winning novels Empress of the World and Rules for Hearts, the graphic novel Bad Houses, and numerous mini-comics, as well as contributions to anthologies, the most recent of which appears in Amber J. Keyser’s The V-WordI first encountered Sara’s writing when I deconstructed the sibling relationship in Rules for Hearts during my revisions to The Ninth Day. […]

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This first week in May brings to mind the liberation of the concentration camps at the end of World War II. The Nazis had exterminated an estimated 11 million people because of political or religious affiliations, sexual orientation, or physical or mental disabilities.

Six million of these people were Jews.

Some were members of my family.

I have yet to write about those Holocaust years, although The Ninth Day (companion novel to Blue Thread and the forthcoming Seven Stitches) spirals between the free speech protestors in 1964 Berkeley and the Jewish granddaughter of Rashi in 1099 Paris, in the aftermath of the Crusader attack on the Jews of Mainz. The story touches on survival and guilt, on speaking up, and on the power of song.

The main character in The Ninth Day speaks up as little as possible to avoid stuttering.  She would have admired Aaron, the boy who stutters in Anna Olswanger’s Greenhorn. […]

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What happens when the most powerful woman in the Ottoman Empire dies?

I was sitting in my comfy chair and checking email when DOINK! Amber J. Keyser tagged me in her stop on the blog hop #MyWritingProcess. I was delighted. Amber is a super fine writer, and she’s been working her earlobes off for members of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Members like me. The Oregon chapter has its Spring Conference this weekend. Lots of great goings-on there.

Back to my  writing process. The blog hop asks four questions:

1) What am I working on?

First off, I’m working on continuing to write despite some health challenges. The real people in my life have been supremely supportive, and my imaginary friends—my characters—have waited patiently for me to devote more time to writing. Thanks!

So…I’m slowly gathering momentum on the third companion novel in my historical fiction/fantasy Blue Thread Universe, which entwines young women across time and space. […]

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I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with Dan Sadowsky, of Oregon Public Broadcasting. Dan read The Ninth Day in record time, spent half a morning with me at Tea Zone, and showed his humor and patience while photographing me in the North Park Blocks. Here’s the resulting Q&A. Why Calvin Coolidge? Dan knows. Read the interview, and you’ll know, too.  I’ll be reading from The Ninth Day at the Oregon Jewish Museum on Nov. 12 at 7:30 and Powell’s-Cedar Hills on Nov. 15 at 7pm. And that’s no lie. […]

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Thank you for listening to my ramblings about my dear Miriam Josefsohn from the moment she stepped off the train in Oakland in 1912 until the day she died just weeks before Little Mim was born. The strength of our friendship gave me the power and determination to stay in your world all this past summer.

Frankly, I can’t stand the thought of leaving you just like that—poof!—and I’m gone. I’ll be on Twitter for now (@florrie_st). A real person named Kate Burkett has compiled my ramblings into what she calls an e-book, which you can have for free. Ruth will tell you how to get it.

Ruth has gone on to other imaginings. Leona and Gabriel tell me that Ruth’s next book, The Ninth Day, picks up the story of Little Mim in 1964, when she’s sixteen. Leona Nash is Little Mim’s best friend. I hope that Leona will have the kind of closeness with Little Mim that I had, and always will have, with Little Mim’s grandmother. […]

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First, let me tell you three reasons why I’m excited today.

It’s my birthday. All food consumed on one’s birthday tastes twice as delicious and has half the calories. It’s a scientific fact—or it should be! The Ninth Day is shaping up beautifully. The designer at Ooligan Press has come up with great graphics, and my manuscript is turning into a real live book. Hey, you authors out there, isn’t that a magical moment? My guide in Istanbul has successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation in architectural history and is eager to help me.

Tiles at Topkapi Palace

My guide in Istanbul? You heard that right. A couple of months back I took a trip to do on-the-ground research for a companion novel to Blue Thread and The Ninth Day. This one–Book Three for want of a better title–takes place in 21st century Portland and 16th century Istanbul, in and around the sultan’s palace and Galata Tower. […]

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