Archive Page 2

What’s an ARTObiography? Read STORM OF THE i to find out

Dear Reader,

Tina Collen’s Storm of the i: An Artobiography is an autobiography/memoir that is:

  • Satisfyingly heavy (a compact paperback weighing as much as a hard-core tabletop book),
  • Densely appointed (composed of luscious illustrations; touching, humorous, and/or clever photos; pop-ups; foldouts; cutouts; and other surprises),
  • Beyond creatively designed (the author is also a visual artist with a strong graphic design background), and
  • Compellingly written (utilizing journal entries, hers and others’ poetry, snippets of letters, casually written notes, song lyrics, and personal narrative).

Collen’s words keep the reader asking questions like:

  • What is Collen going to discover next?
  • What is her problem with her father?
  • What is her father’s problem with her?
  • Is there really a problem between them, or is she just imagining it?
  • Will her perceptions change as the book progresses?
  • Will she change as person as a result of writing this book?
  • Will she accept responsibility for who she was and is, or will she just cast blame?
  • Why was she driven to write this book?
  • Will I, the reader, change as a result of reading this book?

How did Storm of the i affect me?

  • I began to urge myself to explore my creativity/thoughts through making colleges.
  • I re-remembered that I want to try sculpting with clay.
  • I realized I’ve used the excuse of not being a trained artist to keep me from making art.
  • I began to question my assumptions about the meanings behind “hurtful” things my parents said in my past.
  • I wondered how other women might learn about themselves through combining visual art and writing.

Dear reader, Storm of the i is an experience you’ll want to share with (buy for–you’ll want to keep your copy) people you love.




If you’d like to see a bit more about how Artobiography came into existence click here.

To purchase a personally autographed copy of Storm of the i go to

(In the comment box include how you’d like it signed.) Books are also available at Barnes & Noble, Borders and Amazon. If your favorite bookstore doesn’t have it on the shelf, they can order it for you.

Tina Collen is giving an autographed book away in a contest, asking people to leave a comment answering this question:

Oftentimes the objects we hold onto contain cryptic clues that point towards something deeper about ourselves. Take a look around your house (or your room) at the things with which you have surrounded yourself. Is there anything you are still hanging onto that seems to contain a hidden message for you? What do you think it is?


Descriptions in New YA Novel, DARK WATER, are Reminiscent of those in THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET

Dear Reader,

Dark Water (Sept. 2010)  is a YA novel in which the setting of the story–rural Fallbrook, CA–is a character in the plot-driven story. Author Laura McNeal asks her 15-year-old narrator Pearl to lyrically describe the land where she lives, the avocado groves, the river, the roads, the hills, and so on with careful, but never overwrought, detail, much like Sandra Cisneros asks Esperanza Cordero in The House on Mango Street. This makes the book a refreshing, yet up-to-date, breather from the many character-driven YA novels.       

Dark Water’s topics are timely–forbidden love, illegal immigration, devastating wildfires, divorce, loyalty vs. common sense, guilt, and the breadth of responsibility for one’s actions.

This book is sure generate lots of thoughtful discussions between young adult and/or adult readers.

Note: This book was a National Book Award finalist

New Book to Help Toilet Train Children w/ Autism and Other Developmental Disorders

Dear Reader,

(My review is based on a bound galley, which is not the final corrected book.)

In Ready, Set, Potty (Aug. 2010), author Brenda Batts breaks down and explains the many faceted process of toilet training children with autism and other developmental disorders, basing this process on “order, predictability, and routine.”

The crux of this book appears in chapter 8, which includes 16 steps:
1. Pick a target day
2. Establish a baseline
3. Pick a theme
4. Decorate
5. Make diapers a thing of the past
6. Decorate underwear
7. List child’s favorite MOTIVATORS (they are different than rewards)
8. Celebrate the night before
9. Use footprints
10.Customize the toilet seat
11.Create behavior strip
12.Use bathroom basket
13.Give a REWARD
14.Create a potty story
15.Bowel movements
16.Night training

I do not have young children with developmental disabilities, so I cannot comment on the effectiveness of Batts’ process, but because I have read a great deal about autism, I can say that it reinforces how time consuming it is to teach certain skills to children with autism.

Ready, Set, Potty is a quick read. The table of contents is extensive, which is great for easy reference. Many of the techniques may be applied to toilet training any child, not just those with disabilities.


“What we are doing on the beach is looking for the memory of a corpse. But there is no sense of him here for there is no sense of debt.”  Daniel Swift, Bomber County

Dear Reader,

I bought Bomber County because I’d read a review about it in The New York Times and couldn’t believe a book featuring poetry was getting this kind of press. Intrigued, I opened the book, eager to read poetry I wouldn’t have otherwise read. Well, I did read poetry, but not enough; I closed the book hungry for more. And that’s okay, because I will now look for the poetry of Wilfred Owen, Randall Jarrell, Cecil Day-Lewis, and others.

Swift uses poetry as an organization tool, but he doesn’t drown the text in poetry. But what’s there is easy-to-understand, and it talks about flying, death, and war.

I credit Swift’s poetic (concise) writing style as being the carrot that led me through his deeply researched and copious war details: dates; locales; WWII and WWI history; and information about flying, bombing, and the workings of aircraft I often say I learn history despite myself.) Readers interested in the Royal Air Force will not be disappointed.

“The cemeteries daydream of order.”  Daniel Swift

I wish Swift every success with his unusual and interesting book.


Dear Reader,

If you don’t know anything about glove training an eagle, An Eagle Named Freedom, a memoir, is a good place to learn a little bit about it, because author Jeff Guidry shares interesting anecdotes about his and Freedom’s, learning process. This gives the reader an appreciation for all people who work with and teach the public about raptors. If you want to read passionate writing about an amazing bird and its relationship with a volunteer, this book won’t disappoint you.

Guidry states he wrote this book because his friends and others encouraged him to write the story of his healing relationship with Freedom. I would have advised him to write a lengthy magazine article instead of a book, because that way he wouldn’t have had to stumble and force setting details required to “fill out” the pages, which often came across as stilted. It’s clear he put a lot of thought and work into his writing, but it managed to be thin anyway. Even though Guidry is a private person, he still owes it to his readers to tell more: Why a bird sanctuary? What does he do for a living? Do other volunteers take Freedom on walks? What did he do in the music industry? Was he immediately receptive to his mentor’s spiritual take on wildlife? And so on.

Note: On page 60, Guidry beautifully describes “kettling,” when a group of birds–eagles, this case–gather to ride the thermals. Bravo!


Faye Quam Heimerl


Dear Reader,

When I went to see Alice in Wonderland, I had no expectations for it other than the kookiness portrayed in its trailer. And kooky it was, and often funly so. The Hatter’s tea party goers were as wonderfully disheveled as  the Hatter’s suit was bizarre. And Johnny Depp, as the Hatter, spoke with an irresistable tongue-thrusting British accent. (I wish I could remember the boxer who talked with a tongue thrust.) And the White Queen, played by Anne Hathaway? Hmm… seems like she had fun floating her arms about, a la Captain Jack Sparrow times 3.

For the most part, I readily imbibed in Tim Burton’s spell.


Then the  jabberwocky showed up, and the spell was broken. It screamed the same annoyingly high-pitched  scream as every  other mucous-mouthed Komodo  dragon creature  since Alien II. Boring! I’d intended to slam the jabberwocky itself and say it was a cliche’, but then I saw the saw how it was illustrated in Lewis Carroll’s novel, and I had to back off.  (It’s kinda the real thing.)  Even so, something wasn’t right about about the jabberwocky scene. It felt like the fantasy movie went bonkers and turned sci-fi. Curiouser and curiouser.

Also but…

I greatly thought the Hatter’s futter-wack (a kind of happy dance, I guess) was dumb. Both the music and the worm dance it accompanied  were jarringly out of character with the movie. Didn’t look real at all. I suppose that could have made it funny to some people. To me? Dumb.

I give the costume 5 stars, silliness 4, and the big head jokes 3 stars.

With Appreciation For Your Time,

The Editor

What Backstreet Boys, Joe Cocker, and Justin Timberlake Do to Me

Dear Reader,

I have to tell you what’s going on right now. I’m supposed to be writing a direct mail letter, but I can’t focus because I’m listening to my 22-year-old daughter sing the Backstreet Boys’ song “Everybody” (Denniz PoP, Max Martin, 1997) while she paints my bathroom. I’m wriggling in my seat as she bellows, “Everybody, rock your body. Everybody, rock your body right. Backstreet’s back, alright.” My daughter’s happy again. Happy. She’s back in 7th grade, crushing over Nick Carter, and prodding her dad and me to take her to Florida so she can bump into him on the street. Like a coupon fiend, she’s cutting photos of the boys. “If you want it to be good, girl, get yourself a… bad boy.”

Now I’m YouTubing Joe Cocker singing “Cry Me a River” during his Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour. “Now you said that you love me after being so untrue. I want you to cry (cry me a river). I want you to cry (cry me a river) … Oh, I cried a river over you.” (Arthur Hamilton, 1953) Unlike “Everybody,” “Cry Me a River” doesn’t send me to the past, as I have no past with it. But Joe Cocker’s performance makes me want. Now! I want his shredded voice as my passion, his syncopation as the force that jars my poems from complacency, and his spark as a trigger that mushrooms my poetic courage.

My daughter has finished with the bathroom and has begun to paint her former bedroom. I’m back to wriggling in my seat, this time to Justin Timberlake singing, “I’m bringing sexy back. Them other boys don’t know how to act. I think it’s special what’s behind your back. So turn around and I’ll pick up the slack.” (Nathaniel Hills, Tim Mosley, Justin Timberlake, 2002) I’m happy too!

Respectfully Yours,

The Editor