Annndddd…Chapter 2 on YouTube!

I am reading my book, Valeria & The Enemy of Time on YouTube, one chapter at a time, in case you haven’t been following. So chapter 2, “Lost in the Fog” is now live and ready to watch/listen to! I’m planning on making the videos a little more fancy, in the future, with some pictures fading in, and maybe some green screen. But whatever I do, I don’t want to take away from what one’s own imagination does with the pictures that words alone can paint!

Fun at the Book Release Party!!

Good friends are a treasure, and I feel grateful that I have them in my life!

My Dear Friend Kelly told me she would like to give me a new book release party, and what fun we had! Not only that, but she presented me with a membership in the Exeter Chamber of Commerce! We had the party in the lovely little park beside the Chamber last Sunday with tea and cupcakes and props from the story in the book scattered around. I had some lovely surprises as many old friends showed up to help me celebrate. We even drew in a random stranger walking her dog by the park! 

I read a couple pages from my book, Valeria & The Enemy of Time, selecting something exciting that is neither part of the excerpt on on website, nor the first chapter available to read on Amazon. After the reading, we strolled down the street to the huge mural of the orange grove. I wanted a picture of me standing by the secret little girl peeping through the leaves of one of the orange trees. Exeter is well-known for its many, beautiful murals. Tourists go out of their way to Exeter to go on guided mural-walks. Check it out here.

I appreciated so much my audience’s faith in me and in my book by buying some copies! I know that books in this genre will mostly be sold in paperback, but I want to remind anyone who prefers ebooks that my book is available electronically also. You can find it not only on Amazon’s Kindle, but from many other sources. Just click on the “Buy Now” button and check them out!

And now my mind won’t stay still, roaming around, trying to find out what Valeria is up to next!

Our Big Playground—The Orange Grove

I can’t think of a better place to have grown up than our three-acre country place in Lemoncove. The neighborhood was a collection of a dozen houses like our rambling three-acre place, or on scattered lots. We went to each other’s houses to play and ride horses, we rode our bikes up and down the lane, and we lolled about thinking up games to play in our back yards. But the adventure of living in our neighborhood was not the places we lived on, it was what surrounded us.

Living at the edge of the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains meant that the terrain had a gently rolling aspect. It was not a far hike to the actual slope of the closest foothill by us, the first one in a string. If you climbed to the top, you could follow the ridge line all the way to Barbies’ Sandwich and Gift Shop, a couple miles away by road. I’m not sure if our mom knew how far we actually roamed. I don’t think we thought to tell her. She just expected us back around a certain time, and we tried to keep to that so no one would worry. But the best playground was the land between us and the mountain. 

Walking out from our back pasture took us to an older orange grove. Orange groves were all around us, everywhere. But this one felt like it belonged to us. We knew it. We knew all the hidden surprises, like the old dump in it. When a kid got a new BB gun, that was the first place to go. Line up all the beer bottles and see if you could hit them. A few rows had a random grapefruit tree and couple lemon trees tucked away in them. When we needed a lemon, Mom sent us out to fetch one. 

This was the “thermal belt,” an optimum temperature zone for citrus that ran along the lower flank of the foothills, and the grove accommodated the ups and downs of the ground. A decomposed granite pit within the grove was occasionally used by the owner, (we didn’t think of it being OWNED by anyone!) And when they would haul some truckloads out, part of our playground would be rearranged, to our delight. My sister was always the brilliant namer-of-things. The area around the DG pit was “Sandune,” and the hillock beside it that had been sliced off for material was “Flat-Top Mountain.” 

The orange trees were a little elderly and had not been maintained like other groves in the area. Some were very large; they were not topped regularly. Since then, the grove has been refurbished and maintained, but at the time, it seemed more wild and wooly. The branches were not kept trimmed off the ground. In my book, Valeria & The Enemy of Time, when I needed to come up with Valeria’s and Theo’s “adventure land” to roam in and let their imaginations guide their play, right away I thought of my dream to create a playhouse within the inner hollow of an orange tree.

The trees were not perfectly hollow. Most had a few pesky leafless branches that messed up your headspace for walking around inside. But they were close to the ideal, with hedge-like evergreen leaves concealing the inner space, all the way to the ground. Clumps of Johnson grass grew here and there, further hiding any potential clubhouse activity. Our grove was a perfect place to “get lost in,” because we never truly got really lost, just enjoyed the challenge of finding our way back out again.

Orange trees and groves will always make me reminisce about my childhood!