Happy Birthday, Anne Tyler! with a Guest Blog Post by Angela Bell


Anne Tyler deserves all the chocolate cupcakes she could ever want for her birthday!
Anne Tyler deserves all the chocolate cupcakes she could ever want for her birthday! Photo: Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

“If I waited till I felt like writing, I’d never write at all.” Anne Tyler, novelist.

Anne Tyler is one of my favorite authors! Who is yours?

For those of you unfamiliar with Tyler’s novels, she won a Pulitzer Prize and has been nominated repeatedly for more. She’s remarkable for writing about life’s nuances that we might otherwise miss. Too often, we’re so busy “doing” that we miss “living.” We can miss ourselves and each other.

Enter Tyler to remind us that each day is happy and sad, selfish and loving, smart and goofy, and everything in between. Families might offer connection. When they make us feel unbearably isolated and misunderstood, we can find solace in friendships and in families of our own making. Now in her late 70s, Tyler writes as prolifically as ever. Several of her stories have been made into Hollywood films and TV movies. Her books and her deeds illustrate how each of us is as vibrant as we choose.

Born in Minnesota and raised by Quaker parents, she was socially and culturally thoughtful from the start. I’m a soon-to-be self-published novelist. Like me, she married a Persian man. They were together until his death and had two daughters, now both accomplished artists.

Tyler has always been media-shy. That must be how she gets so much writing done! Where she lives in Baltimore, Maryland, businesses offer tips on where to see the homes of each of her characters. For more about her, there’s this and this. Fortunately, we also have Wikipedia’s Anne Tyler page to celebrate her — along with writer/blogger Angela Bell’s guest blog post…

Hashtag Retired

I try to be open to new writers and each year read a few debuts or authors I’m unfamiliar with, sometimes on other’s recommendations, sometimes at a writer’s or publisher’s request. Still, for me, there is a clear gold standard reserved for those writers who, over decades of wonderful books, always satisfy me, challenge or teach me, make me laugh, or bring me to tears.

I began reading Anne Tyler in the late 1980s, at the urging of my late dear friend Gerry. Incidentally, my then teen-aged daughter fell for her then, too. Anne Tyler persists today as one of our country’s great novelists. My list of favorites includes but isn’t limited to The Accidental Tourist, Breathing Lessons, Saint Maybe, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Digging to America, Ladder of Years, The Beginner’s Goodbye, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. My most recent…

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Guest Blog Post: Fiction Love by DJ Sakata


Are you getting sufficient fiction nutrition?

Non-fiction = Facts (i.e., wheat bran)

Fiction = Facts + Imagination + Heart + Soul (i.e., dark chocolate or whatever your fave food)

Our newest fellow blogger (and what a cartoonist!) friend, DJ Sakata, understands this, so how can we not like her?…

DJ Sakata self-portrait
I assume this is DJ Sakata’s self-portrait

Aloha to you lovers of tails and tales. I am DJ Sakata/Empress DJ/Honolulubelle, and a new friend of da-AL.  We met on Goodreads and were instant fangirls.   She asked me to sprinkle a few words on her blog of my love of reading. As a child and well into my teens I used to hide under the covers and read with a flashlight as my strict and priggish mother would chide and punish me if I was caught as according to her, “Reading fiction is a waste of time.”   Hmm, then I am now a total wastrel who squanders the majority of her free minutes indulging in such foolishness.  I have an eclectic reading palate, but my favorite will always be women’s fiction.

DK Sakata cartoon called 'smut toss'
Is frenemy Puka taking these for herself?

Since I’ve retired – which BTW is oh, so, sweet – I read all day in my cozy little nest with all the windows open, I live in Hawaii so I can do that year-round – don’t hate me, I’ve earned it.  I do occasionally put my Kindle down when my husband whines for food and/or attention.  I thumb my nose at my mother’s ridiculously misguided notion as I’ve noticed my vocabulary and spelling have markedly improved with the increased perusal.   I am an incredibly lazy blogger, but I do have one called Books and Bindings, which is just a small personal blog where I can toss up my silly little reviews that no one ever reads, but I don’t really care about that. If you find you are all caught up on Ms. da-AL’s posts and have a few minutes or an interest in seeing what nonsense I’ve recently read which my Bible banging mother would most certainly not approve, then come and see, or not. I’m happily whiling away in my little nook while lovingly tapping my Kindle and sipping Moscato 😉

Guest Blog Post: “Canine Car Wash,” in Nick’s exact words


Most things are more fun if done with a dog, fellow blogger Nick and I agree. I say all the better if there’s some Labrador mixed in! Here’s Nick’s account of one such occassion…

Nick’s dog Dudley is quite a helper…

I have a confession to make. I use a ‘legal high’ and I am addicted. His name is Dudley and he’s a chocolate Labrador. Packing a far bigger punch than anything obtained ‘under the counter,’ he delivers mirth and laughter to our house without evening trying, but his most striking quality is his ability to turn the mundane and the ordinary into mayhem.

What could be more humdrum and uninteresting than cleaning your car? A classic Sunday morning chore, and for most of us, one to be endured, not enjoyed. That is, until you get a Labrador to help you. Stealthy forays into your bucket when your back is turned leave you brushless, the only clue as to the perpetrator being the nest of bubbles that still cling to Dudley’s eyebrows like fog patches. Wrestling the brush back from my hapless assistant, I soldier on determinedly. Bending down to clean the wheels, I find myself at his height, a sure cue for mischief. Waiting right until he has nosed his way into beside me, I cup a handful of bubbles and blow them at him, sparking a whirling, spinning frenzy as he chases his tail in confused excitement. Churning his way around the garden, every rotation as mesmerizing as watching an Olympic gymnast doing a floor routine, I struggle to take in each turn and grow giddy with laughter and amusement.

Nick’s dog Dudley takes pride in his work…

With him still distracted, I finish the job and go in search of a watering can, ready to dowse the suds off each streaking panel. And then I remember. Of late, the ‘can’ has become the object of his desires, his number one toy. It becomes a foot race to reach it first. I lose of course, but then I am winning also, my smile growing ever wider as I watch him stealing his prize and doubling away from me at speed across the garden. Looks like I’ll be washing those streaks off another time then. Thanks Dudley.

About the writer: Nick is a teacher with a passion for the outdoors, dogs and writing. Since getting his pet Labrador Dudley as a puppy two years ago, he has been inspired to blog about all the hapless, fun and joyous things that Dudley gets up to. Nick’s ambition is to grow and develop his  blog along with his writing talents and hopefully feel confident enough to write a book about his life with his canine companion. He also writes regular articles for ‘North Wales Magazine’ and enjoys walking and running. Mostly, with Dudley. Visit his blog here.

Chocolate’s Bitter Deception by da-AL


Vox: “So is chocolate good for your health? In a word: no.”

photo of chocolate bar
This photo was copied from related article at Vox’s website.

Before you continue reading:

– Breath deeply.

– Remember, I’m only the messenger.

Once read, this article can’t be un-read.

Many of us suspected that chocolate’s properties were exaggerated.

But to this extent?!

Since 1982, goliath candy manufacturer Mars Inc. has built its house of lies. Vox’s finding:

Graph of how it takes quite a lot of chocolate to get benefits from it

Now what?