Book Review of Until the Harvest by Sarah Loudin Thomas

I am excited to have found this excellent writer! Until the Harvest is a masterful illustration of how hearts and lives are transformed through continued offers of friendship, food and forgiveness. It is a story of family, community, relationships and love; the hardships that they cause; and the beauty that only people can bring to our lives.

In the early chapters, I admit that I became impatient with the pace of the action and the simplicity of some characters. But I always looked forward to evenings spent in this community, often reading too far into the night. I appreciated how Sarah Loudin Thomas gradually revealed the nature of each character, and transformation. The subtle ways that the story changed me were a pleasant surprise.

What I loved the most was how the author, through the characters, showed affection even for the antagonists, the ones hardest to tolerate in the story, the ones who seemed to be evil to the core. The faith of a few characters is revealed naturally and subtly in only a few places in the story.   I liked that. It is refreshing to see genuine glimpses of their hearts, without characters being overly verbose, emotional or heavy-handed about their beliefs.

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I found the farm setting an especially welcome mental retreat from living a fast-paced urban life filled with so many inconsequential time-wasting activities. Although it created an uncomfortable longing in me for a rural lifestyle I knew I was unlikely to ever live, it allowed me to have a taste of that kind of world. I found the tone of the book to be realistic, yet comforting and safe.

It is a true book. It could happen anywhere. People can be cruel for no apparent reason, selfishly deceitful, and manipulating to the point of ruining people’s lives and relationships. But, as we see in Until the Harvest, the power of friendship toward just those people is miraculous.

[Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Bethany House book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.]

CBC/Calgary READS used book sale EXTRAVAGANZA May 22-23, 2015

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Calgary READS is an organization close to my heart, because their mission is to make reading a priority for young children.  They have grown from offering one tutoring program to now having many programs and initiatives that work in schools and communities to support children and their families.

With so many new and used book stores scaling down, or going out of business, especially the precious little mom-and-pop stores, it is a joy to see that charitable organizations still put in a lot of hard work into book sales, and can raise money because people still buy print books!

Sometimes I feel sad when I see how great of a struggle publishers seem to be having with print books, and when I realize how much electronic devices and videos are replacing reading.  But whenever I go to these sales, it makes me smile to see children of all ages looking intensely for their favorite authors, carrying around piles of books to buy and begging mom or dad for “just one more”.  There’s just no substitute for a print book that you can hold in your hands with paper pages to flip.

Here is more information (including a map) from the Calgary READS website about this event with live music, Date Night, pajamas, wine and special readings:

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Annual CBC/Calgary Reads Big Book Sale

Join us in May for a bibliophilic extravaganza!

One of Calgary’s most anticipated and attended events, this two-day celebration of reading gathers and offers up for sale more than a million pre-loved books. This is a signature fundraising event for Calgary Reads. Money raised supports our programs and initiatives within schools and the community — and makes free resources available to parents and caregivers.
The event includes family time with story read-alouds and refreshments — and the popular Saturday Date Night, featuring live music, wine and book browsing.
Donate books, attend as a shopper — and if you’re interested in volunteering to help sort, set-up, sell or tear down, please register using our Volunteer Form. We’ll be in touch!

Our 2015 CBC / Calgary Reads Big Book Sale takes place on May 22 and 23 at the Calgary Curling Club 720 3rd St NW and more than a million gently-used quality books are ready to find new homes!

The annual fund raising event for Calgary Reads kicks off on Friday May 22 from 9am till 9pm.

Then, on Saturday May 23, Midnight Madness (9am to midnight) is back by popular demand. From 6-8pm, youngsters are invited to wear their jammies and enjoy milk and Girl Guide cookies while listening to readings by special guests. Grownups take over from 9-11pm, as Date Night switches up the vibe, with a cash wine bar and some seductive book-shopping music by Midnight Blue.

CBC Calgary Reads 2015 sale sshot-3If you’ve been meaning to cull your bookshelves (to make room for all those great books you will find at the book sale), consider dropping off your quality used adult and children’s books to

  • the Calgary Curling Club at 720 3rd St NW between May 9 and 17 (weekdays 10:00am to 7:00pm, and weekends 9:00am to 3:00pm) or at
  • the Calgary Food Bank at 5000 – 11 Street SE between May 11 and 15 from 8:30am to 3:30pm.

No encyclopaedias, text books, dictionaries, Harlequin Romances, Readers’ Digests, book tapes, VHS, cassettes, 8-tracks or magazines, please.

Feel like getting more involved? Big Book Sale volunteers enjoy plenty of opportunities to collect, sort and sell books, along with special volunteer-only perks, and that warm fuzzy feeling of knowing you are helping young readers.


Limited free parking is available in the Curling Club lot and on the street. Paid parking is available in the large city lot on the east side of the Curling Club–see the map at the end of the post, or here ).

The Curling Club is at the spot marked “A” in the map below:

Curling clubmap for book sale


The Crossroads SAS Used Book Sale starts May 7 2015!

SAS Crossroads 2015 Book Sale - sshot fr website

Mark your calendar!  The book drive started two weeks ago for the Servants Anonymous 13th Annual Calgary Book Sale and you can still donate gently used books until May 4th at the tent in front of the OutPost Tent at Crossroads Market, just off of Blackfoot Trail at 1235 26th Ave SE, Calgary.

I just called their office and they assured me that anyone can come by to do some advanced buying at the Book Sale KICK-OFF on Thursday, May 7th, from 3 PM to 8 PM.

The sale goes from Friday through Sunday for 2 weekends:

May 8 – 10, 2015, 10 AM to 5 PM, and

My 15 – 17, 2015, 10 AM to 5 PM

SAS Crossroads 2015 Book Sale logo - sshot fr websiteThis is one of the highlights of spring!  I have supported this sale for many years, and always enjoy the friendly volunteers, and seeing what’s new.  This is an opportunity to browse thousands of books, categorized by general subjects and by fiction genre, and to get a great deal (that supports a good cause).  There is plenty of parking there (at the Crossroads Market, 1235 26th Ave SE, Calgary) and it’s worth coming early so you’ll have time to visit the booths of fresh veggies, meats, etc., at the Farmer’s Market!

I recommend shopping with a wheeled traveling or shopping bag-–it’s great for avoiding sore arms from carrying around a pile of heavy treasures and “possibilities”. I will be heading straight for the special gated area with the antiquarian, rare, and just-plain OLD books in the back right corner!

SAS larger photo sshot

Here are the details of the sale from their website:

SAS Crossroads 2015 Book Sale details - sshot fr website

Book Review of The Pleasure of His Company by Dutch Sheets

“Pleasure is not only determined by the things we do, but by the company we keep.”

Some say that Almighty God wants us to have a close relationship with him, and enjoys spending time with us. One part of this idea naturally appeals to me, but another part resists it. It seems a little too good to be true, and besides, he has a universe to run, and billions of suffering people to attend to, so how would he have time to chat? And how do we spend time with someone we cannot see or audibly hear? So, with these divergent feelings, I was excited at the opportunity to read this book by Dutch Sheets, hoping to find some clarity through the perspective of a well-known author who has a good knowledge of scripture.

The Pleasure of His Company is a cheerful book! It consists of thirty chapters of about eight pages each, which can be read as an inspirational book or as a devotional. I used it as both. At the end of the chapters are prayers based on scriptures. Each chapter focuses on a different angle of drawing near to God, and leads us to consider an easy shift in our routine that can help us leave the noise and busyness behind, and find peace in God’s presence.

The first chapter, “The Person”, set the tone. The author muses about the definition of pleasure, relating some humorous personal thoughts and family personalities. Then, rather than theologically listing God’s attributes, he describes him as one would describe a loved one; a loved one whose way of life on this earth attracted the most extraordinary people, whose divinity brought about one-of-a-kind events, and who set in motion global spiritual transformation. Someone, in other words, far surpassing anyone you’ll ever meet in character and fame, yet, as the author asks, “What if I told you this man requests the pleasure of your company…He created us, mere humans, because he wanted a family, not distant servants.” My reaction to the question was, “I don’t know if I believe that, but keep talking! Keep trying to convince me!”

The Pleasure of His Company 9781441261113I oppose overly-chummy—almost disrespectful—approaches toward our holy God, but I cannot deny that Jesus taught us to call God “Abba”, which means “Dad”. I appreciate that Dutch Sheets gives the scripture context that I require to ensure that, far from being a recent spiritual fad, this is what was intended all along since the creation of the human race. He has read between the lines of scripture, and noticed what is said, what is not said, from many different angles.

The author’s voice is welcoming and friendly, speaking from the heart about his own desire to draw near to God. He is trying to lead us (as Jesus was when he met the woman at the well) “out of the blinding fog of non-relational religion”. The pages are packed with exactly the kind of encouragement we need to seriously consider making more time and space in our lives to better know our Creator, with thoughts and emotions that are so basic to humanity that anyone can relate. They show a life of following Christ as something joyful, spent with Someone who delights in us; not our religious activities, not how much money we give to charities, not how morally good we are, but—as parents understand—us, his treasured children.

More than any other inspirational book, this one encourages me to believe that our Father in heaven takes immense pleasure in our company—not only as groups, communities or nations—but as individuals.

[I received this book free from the publisher through the Bethany House book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review; the opinions I have expressed are my own.]

Packing Lightly for a Writing Retreat

To avoid having to pay for and wait for checked baggage, I decided to only bring carry-on luggage on my trip, so that meant that there was no space for unnecessary items.  And since I’d planned a do-it-yourself writing retreat and hadn’t decided yet which projects and exercises I’d be working on, I had several books I wanted to take.

Since books are heavy and take up space, I decided to limit myself to just two.  So on the morning I was leaving, I lined up all the books I wanted to bring, and started thumbing through them one at a time, hoping it would somehow become obvious which ones should go along, and which ones should stay home.

The winners were a 33-page paperback of creative writing activities, and a novel I am currently engrossed in.

IMG_20150331_180448Here’s what happened.  I thumbed through each book, and as I saw an interesting page of inspiration, information or writing exercises, I took a picture of it with my tablet’s camera.  Just like that, I’d “packed” my books.

Then I found some particularly quiet music that helped me concentrate and uploaded that to my tablet as well.

I made an attempt to find a certain writing and journalling book on my library’s website, but it was already checked out.  I’ll plan ahead for that sort of thing next time.

Because I actually prefer to write longhand–mainly because I can’t see the screen on my tablet when I’m outside–I had 3 spiral notebooks I wanted to bring.  One was my journal, another was my writing exercises and the third was my Bible notes.  But I happened upon a spiral binder at the dollar store which had moveable dividers, so I ended up saving space by having only one notebook.

Next came another choice: which of my projects to bring along to work on.  Sigh, more heavy paper.  But the tablet was serving me well, so maybe I could load these on the tablet too.  It was almost time to leave for the airport, so in the time crunch, it was convenient and quick to put them all on–2 complete novels and many other short pieces–and I could decide on the plane which ones to work on.

While I was at it, I added my boarding pass (because what if I lost my printout?), a sheet of password hints (just in case I needed to do some banking?), and some hotel and tourist information–all of the printed copies of which I could now leave at home.

Would I have time to do some sketching?  I slipped a few sheets of sketching paper in the handy pocket of my new spiral binder, and added a small pack of colored pencils to my suitcase.

In my ongoing love-hate relationship with technology, I must say this was certainly a positive bonding experience with my tablet!






The Junior Instructor, my First Encyclopedia

The other day I got out two of my favorite books from my childhood, The Junior Instructor, Books 1 and 2. These were originally published in 1916, and the ones my mom gave us as small children were published in 1956.

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I was looking for some of the children’s prayers I’d learned, and while I looked for them, I ended up stopping on almost every page, mesmerized by the bright, colorful, happy images.

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I was absolutely convinced that the boy in the picture was my big brother and couldn’t figure out how they had snuck a photo of him!

I remember as a little girl of about four years old, sitting with these tall, heavy books on my lap, enthralled with the images. I was fascinated by the full-sized color photos and paintings, and just assumed that a line drawing was waiting for someone with crayons to color it in. Oops!

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As I grew up and learned to read, I wanted to know all about the endless variety of subjects, from circuses, folk tales, history, weather and birds…

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I remember working very hard to memorize this sign language!

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…to songs, and what the farmer (or fireman, teacher, milkman, cowboy, policeman, secretary) does…

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…to finger plays, Smokey the Bear, aboriginal symbols, parties, math, games, escalators, and even a “futuristic” space ship.

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At the end are 20 pages of questions and answers that cover nearly everything a child could ask.

Now as I look through them, I notice some things I didn’t notice ever before. I see that many subjects have been enhanced with a story or poem, or both, possibly for the reader that is not interested in the dry factual text.

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Notice: “All small children should play outdoors at least three hours every day…” !

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I also noticed they show how to make a “spool knitter”, made out of a spool of thread and nails, which produces a long knitted rope. I made one of these when I was about 10 years old—and painstakingly looped the yarn over and under and around to make a colorful rope—and I bet this is where I got the idea.

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I found Junior Instructors available to buy on eBay, Etsy and Amazon, but none that were free to download.

Here are some more of my favorite pages from the Junior Instructors, Volumes 1 and 2, for your enjoyment!

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Detail of the embossed hard cover of Book 2

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Jr Instructor books 033  Jr Instructor books 022

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Valentine’s Day Review of Cotillion by Georgette Heyer

What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day—in a literary way—than to read an excellent romance? (Well, chocolate might go head-to-head with a romance novel. But it is February and, as usual, the momentum from holiday chocolate intake has resulted in somewhat of a chocolate addiction, so I’m doing a cleanse. Guess I should have waited a week to start it!)

Valentine fr Katie K


One day about 15 years ago, I walked into Indigo bookstore and browsed the romance section. I’d become frustrated with constant disappointments in what were considered top quality romance, and before I quit reading that genre altogether, I decided to give it one last try. I asked the saleswoman if she could give me some suggestions, and she asked me who some of my favorite authors were. I listed several popular authors and classic authors, and she brought me to the “H” section where she introduced me to Georgette Heyer.

Georgette Heyer photo fr LIbraryThing


That first book was Cotillion, and it is still one of my favorites with its delightful characters, engaging plot and humor.

“Well aware that to bring the voice of sober reason to bear upon the exaggerations of agitated females was both fruitless and perilous, Freddy wisely let this pass…”

—Georgette Heyer, Cotillion


Miss Charing is animated, sweet, and driven to help others however she can. And Kitty, as she is called, will receive her guardian’s fortune if she marries one of his nephews.


Unfortunately, Kitty has her eyes set on the rake nephew, “rake” being short for “rakehell”, analogous in today’s language to a hell-raiser, who is in no mood to settle down. So Kitty persuades another nephew, Freddy Standen, to pretend to be engaged to her. Freddy is kind-hearted, says as little as possible, is hilariously understated with a dry, dry sense of humor, and never plans to marry.


Her plan is to make the rake jealous, and when he comes to his senses and proposes to her, she and her friend Freddy will break off their engagement.  But of course things never go as planned. The action moves quickly and the dialogue keeps a smile on the reader’s face.

Georgette Heyer Cotillion cvr fr LIbraryThing

“You think I’ve got brains?’ he said, awed. ‘Not confusing me with Charlie?’
‘Charlie?’ uttered Miss Charing contemptuously. ‘I daresay he has book-learning, but you have—you have address, Freddy!’
‘Well, by Jove!’ said Mr Standen, dazzled by this new vision of himself.”

—Georgette Heyer, Cotillion

Georgette Heyer Cotillion cvr fr LIbraryThing 2


After I’d read a few of Georgette Heyer’s books, and was looking for more, I found out that she’d written around 57 books! Many of them are in the genre called Regency romances whose settings are during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, approximately the time of British Regency. Having written over twenty-four of these between 1921 and 1972, Georgette Heyer is actually credited with establishing the genre, known as the “novel of manners.”


I browsed around the web and compiled my own list of her most beloved books, which I am still working through. Here is my list of books that I haven’t read yet, and am still looking for in the used book stores. They are ranked as some of her best, compiled from the various fan websites :


The Grand Sophy

Friday’s Child



The Nonesuch


(Okay, I’ll admit it, I carry this in my wallet!)


Cotillion was originally published in 1953, and was republished, as are many of Heyer’s books, thank goodness. I find most of her Regency romances equally humorous, full of intelligent, warm, witty heroes, and naïve yet determined and spirited heroines. What a breath of fresh air!

Georgette Heyer 170px-Edmund_Blair_Leighton_-_On_the_Threshold

I give this an A+ and highly recommend it and her other Regency romances, which can be found just about anywhere, including many brick-and-mortar book stores and libraries, and the Internet Archive.

Intrigued? You can also have a look at my reviews of two other Heyer books, Arabella and The Convenient Marriage.


Painting “On the Threshold” by Edmund Leighton (1853–1922),

Cover and author images from

(And the two valentines are straight from my elementary school scrapbook!)

Valentine fr Bruce


Review of Looking Backward 2000 – 1887, Part 3

Romance, 1887-style!  Or…was it 2000-style?

In the introduction to the 1915 printing of this book published in 1887, Sylvester Baxter describes the novel as “the ingenious device by which a man of the 19th century is transferred to the end of the 20th”, and notes that in the decade that followed its publication, the world was filled with the agitation it helped kindle. According to the website Quebecois Libre, by the early 1890s, about 13 years after the book was published, there were already 165 “Bellamy Clubs”!

Not only was Edward Bellamy knowledgeable about industrial, social, and political issues and customs, he was also a creative storyteller. This novel ends with a fascinating look at Julian West’s romantic relationships. As the middle of the novel weighed down with social contrasts and details of Bellamy’s 1887-imagined lifestyle of Boston in the year 2000, I started to wonder if I could actually finish it. But the whirlwind ending kept me reading every word.

My first two posts in this review focused on the general premise and the author. In this post, I summarize sections from Looking Backward to give more glimpses into Edward Bellamy’s 1887 vision, and a taste of his writing and the plot. But before I do, I want to share what a previous owner of my copy of this book wrote. Probably inspired by what he or she read, the following penciled notes appear on the copyright page, and I thought they were worthy of passing along:

“He who falls and gains his feet shows more strength than he who never falls.” “God’s greatest gift is time. Use it right.” “Look ahead to realize, not back to regret.”

Previous owner's notes

Previous owner’s notes

The novel begins with a Preface, supposedly written by a twentieth century author speaking to a twentieth century reader about the novel he or she is about to read. In Chapter 1 the narrator, a fictional character Julian West, introduces himself by emphasizing that he was born in 1857, not 1957, and he describes his former way of life:

In late 19th century, society was in 4 classes or nations: rich, poor, educated, ignorant—not like today, 2000. As were my parents and grandparents before me, I was wealthy, not working, living off the labours of others, not giving any service to the world, idle, living off my grandparents’ sum of money, shifting the burden of support to others’ shoulders, an art now [in the 2000’s] happily lost, but perfected by ancestors. All sought this accomplishment, to live on the income of his investments. This arrangement seems preposterous now.

Society in those former days can be compared to a coach where many pull it with a rope, and few ride. …the hallucination the riders shared was that they were unlike the rope-pullers, they were superior. This changes any feeling for the suffering of men into a distant, philosophical compassion. This is the only explanation the narrator can give for his own indifference at the late 1800’s toward the misery of others.

Child workers in Millville,NJ

Wikipedia – Child workers in Millville,NJ Photographed by Lewis Hine

Julian West is visiting his fiancé and her family on Decoration Day, May 30, 1887. They want their house to be completely built before they get married, but strikes by carpenters, plumbers and other tradesmen have been delaying it for years. All agree that working classes all over the world seem to be going crazy at once. He leaves them and goes to his home, where he has a subterranean sleeping chamber for his insomnia. He calls for his hypnotist to help him sleep.

He wakes on September 10, 2000, having slept 113 years, to unfamiliar voices discussing him, a woman repeatedly whispering “Promise me you will not tell him.” He is in the home of Dr. Leete who lives in a house built on Julian West’s property. Dr. Leete explains to him that Julian’s house was burned down, and since no one knew of his subterranean sleeping chamber, they assumed he died. The area was recently being excavated and they found the chamber, and Mr. West inside it, asleep.

From an upper story window, Julian notices an absence of chimneys, and an obvious increase in material prosperity applied toward adornment of the city. He will soon find that the sidewalks have “public umbrellas” during the rain. Julian meets Leete’s beautiful daughter who has the same name as his late fiancé, Edith. He comments that the women of the twentieth century dress gracefully compared to the 19th century. (I was surprised that the author did not imagine any motorized vehicles whatsoever, and only referred to horses as transportation, but have learned that mass production of automobiles did not start until about 1901, about 14 years after the book was published.)

Wikipedia - State Street Boston 1801

Wikipedia – State Street Boston 1801

After a walk around the neighbourhood, Mr. West and Dr. Leete have a conversation:

“I saw very little that was not new. But I think what surprised me as much as anything was not to find any stores on Washington Street, or any banks on State. What have you done with the merchants and bankers? Hung them all, perhaps, as the anarchists wanted to do in my day?”

“Not so bad as that,” replied Dr. Leete. “We have simply dispensed with them. Their functions are obsolete in the modern world…There is neither selling nor buying nowadays;…As soon as the nation became the sole producer of all sorts of commodities…a system of direct distribution from national storehouses took the place of trade, and for this money was unnecessary…A credit corresponding to his share of the annual product of the nation is given to every citizen, and a credit card issued him with which he procures…whatever he desires.”

“How is the amount of credit…determined?” Julian asks. “With what title does the individual claim his particular share? What is the basis of allotment?”

“His title,” replied Dr. Leete, “is his humanity. The basis of his claim is that fact that he is a man.”

“Do you possibly mean that all have the same share?…Some men do twice the work of others!”

“We require of each that he shall make the same effort…we demand of him the best service it is in his power to give…A man’s endowments…merely fix the measure of his duty…The Creator sets men’s tasks for them by the faculties he gives them…I suppose in the nineteenth century, when a horse pulled a heavier load than a goat, I supposed you rewarded him.”

Citizens choose tasks based upon their natural strengths and interests, and the nation now values and even supports artists, writers, and those with other creative talents. Education is free and compulsory to the age of twenty-one.

Inside the Mall Cribbs Causeway Bristol by Brian Robert Marshall

Inside the Mall Cribbs Causeway Bristol by Brian Robert Marshall

Later, Dr. Leete and his daughter Edith take Julian to the store: a vast hall of light from windows and a dome a hundred feet above, a magnificent fountain, mellow tinted walls, chairs and sofas where people conversed, signs on the walls indicating where each category of goods was.   The orders for merchandise are taken are sent by pneumatic transmitters to the warehouse and are filled immediately and delivered by larger tubes and distributed to homes by store clerks.

This could describe many a modern mall in the year 2014. It sounds like the rudiments of online shopping, doesn’t it?

Edith enthusiastically explains to Mr. West that now everyone is able to hear a choice of music, by carrying the idea of labor-saving-by-cooperation into their musical service as into everything else. Instead of music—and only one type of music—being available only to the most wealthy of society, a number of music halls (full of musicians playing) are connected by telephone with all the houses. Four different pieces of music are being performed at one time, which the listener can choose by pushing one of four buttons, with music available twenty-four hours a day for even the sleepless and the sick.

This to me is amazing foresight to the readily available music we are accustomed to, through records since about 1900, then cassettes, and now through modern means such as CD’s and music downloads from the internet.

Wikipedia - 1850s chamber music

Wikipedia – 1850s chamber music

To Mr. West’s question, “Who are willing to be domestic servants in a community where all are social equals?” the answer is that there is no housework to do. Washing is all done at public laundries at low cost, cooking at public kitchens, making and repairing of all clothing is done in public shops. They choose houses no larger than they need, and furnish them so as to involve the minimum of trouble to keep them in order. “What a paradise for womankind the world must be now!” he exclaims.

This could be likened to our abundance of restaurants with infinite choices available, but I do so like the idea of families and their neighbors gathering for low cost meals at a place within walking distance. (In 1887 there were dining rooms connected with hotels, but apparently not yet restaurants.)

Soon they are discussing how formerly the preference was given to more efficient workers, yet the new twenty-first century system encourages the weaker as well as the stronger with the hope of rising to be leaders. “For those too deficient in mental or bodily strength…we have a sort of invalid corps, providing members with a light class of tasks fitted to their strength…all eager to do what they can. Who is capable of self support? There is no such thing in a civilized society as self-support.”

This should give a good idea of the utopian world the author hoped would be found in the year 2000, and his philosophies on individualism versus cooperation.

Wikipedia - Florence Bascom 1890, "the new woman"

Wikipedia – Florence Bascom 1890, “the new woman”

I debated about whether or not to include a description of the whirlwind romantic ending of the story—a SPOILER—but decided that since the book is so accessible, I suggest that you read it yourself. Just click on this link right now, to find an electronic copy of Looking Backward 2000 – 1887 at Then,

  • under the Download options, click on the top one, “Read this book online”
  • scroll down to the Table of Contents links
  • click on Chapter XXV, and that will take you to page 255 (page numbers are on the left).

(If you would like a printed copy of Looking Backward, you can find several on Amazon, and Spark notes are also available.)

Starting at this point will give you all the romantic background. Here you will finally find out why in Chapter 1, as Mr. West was first awakening in the year 2000, the woman was begging her father, “Promise you won’t tell him.” It’s brilliant—I couldn’t put it down!

I wonder what Edward Bellamy would think of North America in the real 2000, or 2014. How would he explain the fact that we are still a society of individualism, of have’s and have-not’s? What drives us to over-spend and often ignore the basic needs of our brothers and sisters in third-world countries? Those are pretty big questions to which I have no clear, simple answers.  I suspect, though, that we might shed some light on the matter by using the author’s words:  “…he that does not love, does not know God”.  When our hearts and lives lack peace with our Maker, we have little or no pipeline to the source of love, and as a result have only a meager supply of grace to offer to others.

What do you think of Looking Backward 1887 to 2000?  Of Bellamy’s utopia?  Of our 21st century society?

Review of Looking Backward 2000 – 1887, Part 2

In a recent post I began describing this 1887 book written by Edward Bellamy. Here is more about the author.

Ns house & LBbk 031The first page leaves no doubt as to why he wrote this book .


“We ask to put forth just our strength, our human strength,

All starting fairly, all equipped alike.


But when full roused, each giant limb awake,

Each sinew strung, the great heart pulsing fast,

He shall start up and stand on his own earth,

Then shall his long, triumphant march begin,

Thence shall his being date.”



“This great poet’s lines express Edward Bellamy’s aim in writing his famous book. That aim would realize in our country’s daily being the Great Declaration that gave us national existence; would, in equality of opportunity, give man his own earth to stand on, and thereby—the race for the first time enabled to enter unhampered upon the use of its God-given possibilities—achieve a progress unexampled and marvelous.”


The above quote is from Sylvester Baxter’s introduction, “The Author of ‘Looking Backward’”.  According to Baxter, Bellamy had a steadfast faith in the intrinsic goodness of human nature, a sense of the meaning of love in its true and universal sense. Bellamy was born in 1850 in Massachusetts, the son of a beloved clergyman and grandson of an early pastor of Springfield. Among his ancestors was Dr. Joseph Bellamy, a distinguished theologian, friend of Jonathan Edwards, and although the author outgrew the religious practices of his family, they still marked his views with a strongly anti-materialistic and spiritual cast.


As I read, I found similarities between Bellamy’s ideals and these early years of the 21st century. An ethical purpose dominated his ideas, and he held that a merely material prosperity would not be worth the working for, as a social ideal. I look at society in the recent decades—1990s and 2000s especially—as ones with a focus on material prosperity, and the current society—the 2010s—as beginning to focus more on working for the betterment of mankind, rather than the largest net-worth.


As I have noticed in what I’ve read about creative types such as artists and writers, the author’s start in life was somewhat divergent. He attended college but did not graduate; he studied law in Germany but didn’t practice. His travels to Hawaii by way of Panama preceded his decision to pursue a literary career, beginning as a journalist. He began his literary career by writing imaginative short stories for magazines, one review calling the author “the lineal intellectual descendant” of Nathaniel Hawthorne.


When Looking Backward was the sensation of the year, newspapers claimed that Bellamy was “posing for notoriety” (the meaning of the word “notoriety” in 1890 apparently meaning fame, rather than a bad reputation). But Sylvester Baxter believes that the author was indifferent to all the offers of advertising, lecturing, publishing opportunities that would have earned him large sums of money.


While writing his last book, Equality, an elaboration and sequel to Looking Backward, his health gave way. In 1897 he and his family went to Denver, seeking a cure for consumption. During that year, letters came from mining camps, farms, and villages wanting to do something for him to show their love. He was 2000 miles from home, yet found himself among friends because in ten years his book had sold a million copies in U.S. and England, and had been translated into many languages and dialects.


He returned to his home in New England and died in 1898. At the simple service held, some passages from his books were read as a fitting expression in his own words of that hope for the bettering and uplifting of humanity, which was the real passion of his noble life.


“If we love one another, God dwells in us and his love is perfected in us…He that loves his brother dwells in the light…If any man say, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar…he that does not love, does not know God.   Here is the very distillation of Christ’s teaching as to the conditions of entering on the divine life.”

Ns house & LBbk 030

You can find printed copies of Looking Backward 2000 – 1887 on Amazon, and free ebooks of this book at


[More of this 19th century author’s vision of the “new order of the year 2000” coming in Part 3 of my review of Looking Backward 2000 – 1887]

Guardian Angel Children’s Book Publisher – Guidelines

If you have written a children’s book, you may want to consider submitting it to Guardian Angel for consideration next summer.  I am impressed with this publisher, whose mandate is to change the world by investing in children, one child at a time. “We want the seeds of the influence from our books to live longer than we do, building a harvest of knowledge and vibrant faith that will help transform a time we may never see.”

I have made a copy of their guidelines, and did substantial re-formatting to make it easier to read, so I thought I’d make my copy available.  Here are the Guardian Angel Submission Guidelines:

Guardian Angel banner


Emailed manuscript attachments are ONLY accepted in this open submission time period;

no submissions are accepted after September 1st, until June 1st of the next year.
Guardian Angel publishes books that encourage principles of positive growth for children, sharing and caring, and healthy attitudes.
Guardian Angel Publishing is BOTH an eBook publisher and print publisher and will sell and distribute your book for sale with online worldwide English speaking countries, internet stores, and in some brick and mortar stores.

Guardian Angel does not accept paper submissions.

 * * * * * * * * * *

 Accepted Categories:

We are looking for these types of Children’s Books only. We are unique in our genres of kids books.
Academic Wings books will include the broad subject matters of English, Health, Math, History, Science and Reading. These educational books may be presented as easy readers, storybooks, articles, chapter books and musical eBooks with numerous teaching aids, such as study guides, puzzles, crossword puzzles, seek and finds, word searches, picture seeks, definition match ups and more. Teachers are also invited to submit. Academic Wings
Angelic Harmony Musical E-Picture Books. Print books too! Check out our inventory for the type of books we are looking for. Can you write music? Got a musical eBook to submit but need pictures? If we don’t have one in our queue, your book might be right for us. We have added plays and musicals for schools and churches to celebrate seasons and Holy Days. See our titles Angelic Harmony
Angel to Angel we are excited about an imprint for kids writing and illustrating for kids. Kids 12 and under are encouraged to write a story and illustrate it for publication. Some of these young authors may be “discovered” from Young Author Contests at elementary schools across the country or author visits. If you are a teacher/administrator wishing to participate in such a contest, check out our page Angel to Angel
Guardian Angel Chapbooks for Tweens These chapter books are longer and are for our older readers but not quite teens! Chapbooks for Tweens should have 8-10 chapters for early chapter books and about 50,000 maximum word count for our older readers. NO Y/A, NO SEX, NO VIOLENCE and NO BAD VOCABULARY! Chapbooks for Tweens
Guardian Angel Health & Hygiene books teach our children about health and hygiene. Our books instruct and explore healthy attitudes for kids of all ages. It will deal with all sorts of health issues affecting our children today. Health & Hygiene

Guardian Angel Animals & Pets picture books and story books about our furry and feathered friends, and personal books for the pets in our lives. They may be fiction or nonfiction stories of heroic, faithful, heartwarming stories about our animal friends. Don’t  forget we have great staff artists to create your angelic pet illustrations. Animals & Pets
Littlest Angels are also simple concept picture books and easy readers for learning, sharing and caring for the younger ones in our lives. Younger readers will enjoy and learn from  picture books. Littlest Angels
Wings of Faith -faith-based storybooks and picture books for kids of all ages even twixt and tweens! They teach simple life lessons. Look at our Wings of Faith page for examples of upcoming series. Wings of Faith
Spanish Editions some of our books are translated into Spanish editions. Some of our books will be trilingual English, Spanish and French. Spanish Editions


      Pretty pens



All of our books are for children: aged toddler to primary middle grade readers (0-12 yrs). Please do not send:

  • adult books or adult subject matter,
  • Y/A or romance genre,
  • board books
  • submissions of 100 words or less.


Email Format:

  • Please put the title of your story in the Subject of the email.
  • Send submission attachments with the Title of the story used as the name of the file
  • Always send an email message in the body of your email along with your submission. (Any submissions received without this, will be deleted as a suspected virus.)
  • All that is required in the body of your email is the usual common courtesies and a small paragraph stating that you are enclosing a submission for evaluation, and a manuscript is attached.
  • We do not need to see a wordy query, it’s the story that is important.
  • Please also include the genre, and approximate word/page count.
  • Please keep us informed of a viable email address.
  • To prevent having to wait in the queue twice, please send only one email: your complete manuscript as an email attachment, with a message in the body of the email.
  • Please attach one single book file attachment to a query email.
  • Do not send multiple mss submissions in one email.
  • Multiple submissions of the same book to multiple publishers are not accepted.
  • Send all email submissions to: (please note: there is an understroke (not a space) between the words: editorial_staff)
  • Note: Do not use a Yahoo email address; you will not get a response from us concerning your submissions. (Yahoo is broken and will not accept emails from us. We are not ignoring your work and are sending you emails but they are being blocked to you. If you send us a new email address (non-yahoo or yahoo administered) we will respond to your submission.)
  • Do not send .docx or pdf files. We do accept .doc, .rtf, .wpd, and .pages attachments for submissions. Do not send encrypted files. We do not accept large rtf files including art. If we want to see art we will ask for it.
  • Art: If you have cover art/or illustrations already available for your books please mention this in your submission as this will save time in the publication process if your book and art are accepted. Also, send a few SMALL scanned versions of your artwork after your email submissions but send artwork samples when asked for it, not before. (Note: you do not need art in order to submit–we have staff artists.) Do not send your only original artwork until you have been contracted with us and if and when we ask for it. We have Dropbox or a large email mailbox for art files, which you will be directed to send jpegs files to.


Manuscript Format:

  • Please format all manuscripts in single line spacing with a blank line between paragraphs.
  • Include your name and email address on the first page of the story (otherwise you may get the story returned to you without us even reading it. The files are separated from the emails, so we have no way of knowing who sent it and what email address it came from!)
  • Do not indent the first line of a paragraph.
  • The manuscript must be in a recognized format  .doc, .RTF, .txt, .wpd . No Word .docx. Do not send Word .docx files- we cannot open them.
  • Make sure that your name and email address are on the first page of the attachment and your attachment is named the name of the story.
  • Please include the your word count.
  • Do not layout into picture book form (story boards) unless you have the artwork included to go with it. (We don’t need to see numerous pages with one line on them.)
  • Please do not use flowery or specialty fonts. Simple Times New Roman, Arial, Verdana, or Courier are fine.
  • Please do not do hard returns at the end of a line like a typewriter unless your work is rhyming. Computers automatically make the break for you. Do not send files that have Track Changes embedded in the file- it will be returned to you.
  • We do not like first person stories or present tense stories. We think they do not work for most of our readers. Some present tense rhyming works- most do not. For us first person stories and present tense stories only work in mysteries- chapbooks for tweens and older readers. All picture book stories should be told in second person.
  • Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Mystery will be considered if age appropriate and encourages children’s imagination and problem solving.

 Children reading on couch

Follow up:

  • Due to the large number of manuscripts that we receive, a minimum acceptance time of 2 months is not uncommon.
  • You will receive a notice that your file has been received. Usually you will receive an acceptance or rejection letter fairly quickly.
  • We generally respond quickly if we like your work. (But don’t assume that we received your submission- email can be quirky at best. We’ve had one submission that sat in limbo and then showed up in our “in mailbox” 6 weeks later!)
  • We try to email a short response back immediately that your submission was received. If you don’t hear from us after a few days then you may be correct in assuming that we did not receive it.
  • If you wish to follow up on your submission, wait a month and then a polite email enquiry is acceptable. We don’t mind answering an email asking if we received it.


Exclusive Publication Process by Guardian Angel Publishing (“GAP”)
1. If Guardian Angel publishes your book, it will be edited by our professional editors, we provide cover art if required and we will format the book for you into all the formats sold on our website and others (if your books suits these formats. Not all books are suited for book Apps for iPad or iPod, iBooks with enhanced ePubs.) We will provide in-house artists to share in the royalties earned on book sales for picture books, story books and some early chapter books with interior art.

2. We promote the book for you in a limited fashion: by selling your book in distribution in a worldwide market; selling your book to schools and libraries through Follett Digital and Library Resources; keep up with the trends of evolving eBook markets and formatting. The Author is expected to send books out for review. Book reviews are an ongoing process and is not limited to the time that the book is first released. But you will be expected to send your story out for reviews and to promote your own work.

3. In return, the version that we edit is ONLY to be sold from our website and its affiliates. Any promotion the author makes should link to our website. (ie: your email signature, links from your website or any online articles that contain your bio, etc.)

4. Please note, there is NO charge for editing and cover art and layout of cover design and interior layout is provided by the publisher. (There is no payment by author to artist unless you take the book elsewhere before the artist’s fee has been paid out by royalties – see artist contract for further explanation.)

5. Picture Books, Story Books & Chapbooks- For eBooks, CDs, DVDs and print paperback or hardback books: the author royalties are 30% of net UNLESS the picture/story book  author/artist is the same person (50% net). For all formats with staff artist PB & SB: the author gets 30% of net and staff artist 20% of net. Chapbooks pay 30% of the net to the author. If Chapbook has b&w art the artist will collect 20% of net for royalties.

6. Guardian Angel will maintain a group email loop where all the authors and artists can share in each others success and experience. GAP maintains a Facebook page, a blog and also has a website for a free online monthly magazine for kids where we feature our authors, artists and books and where kids can play online games, see videos and get free coloring pages and more.

7. We list GAP books at distribution sites for both print paperback and eBook online stores–giving more exposure to your work.  We reserve the right to sell our books from , Barnes&,,  and Follet Digital Services, iTunes, iBooks and many other sites that may be beneficial to our sales efforts.

8. Any promotional activities we undertake are only extended to our published books.

9. Our published books are eligible to be made into any new formats that come along. Guardian Angel Publishing formats the books for the authors. At present our books are formatted in PDF, FLIP books, HTML, Mobipocket, Palm, .LIT, DVDs for TV, CDs for computers, mobile movies with sound for computer handheld devices but not limited to Palm Pilots, Blackberrys, and a new application Apps, for iPads, iPhones and iPods and similar devices with touch screen technology.

10. From time to time our authors may be consulted about the business of Guardian Angel Publishing. Authors may be asked to vote on how they would like certain issues handled (which then becomes company policy). We consider the “published” authors and artists part of the family and they have a voice in the business model as it evolves. The authors and artists consider themselves our “Angels”.

11. We ask that the author applies for his own copyright and to include the artist and whole finished product- “the book” for copyright. This one time fee to the US Copyright Office will protect “the published work” in its final form (the finished book-NOT the collection of words that is prior to publication) and protect the work from infringement past the life of the author. We ask that the author does this so that there is never any dispute that the form was filled out properly or with the correct names and addresses on the form. This requirement is spelled out clearly in the contract.


Print on Demand (POD):

  • Print books are optional.
  • Our children’s Illustrated books have the option of paperback, and those that qualify also may be in hardcover (there is a page limit imposed by the printer). This will be done through our international printer Lightning Source, Inc. and a one time setup fee to the author for this format is $100 US. All yearly fees and other fees are paid by Guardian Angel.
  • These paperback books will be available online at, Barnes and,, and numerous online bookstores distributed to English speaking countries.
  • Our printer has printing facilities in the US, UK , Germany, Paris, Australia, and Brazil allowing us the largest distribution network in the world.
  • We are a publisher. We are not a print-on-demand printer. We are not a vanity press.
  • If you wish for Guardian Angel Publishing to publish your book it must be accepted in the usual manner for exclusive publishing This means it must meet our high standards and pass our internal stringent acceptance and review before we contract for your work, and send our books to Lightning Source, Inc. for printing.


Exclusive Author Contract Samples:
(Note: These contracts are identical to those sent out to the authors unless specific arrangements have been made on an individual basis). sample-contract.htm

If you are an Author wishing to use Guardian Angel Publishing Staff Artists to do the book illustrations you will need to sign the following contract agreement as well:


I hope this is helpful!  Their original guidelines can be found on their website, here.  You’ve got plenty of time to polish that manuscript before June 2015!  Good luck!


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