Archive for January, 2017

Books & Bread

What two things go well together? Artisanal breads and books! Join me and other local authors at the Blue Scorcher Bakery during the Second Saturday Art Walk in Astoria, Oregon. The event will be held on Saturday, February 11, from 5:30pm-8:30pm, at 1493 Duane Street. You can find a great new read and have it signed while you enjoy gourmet treats. This is a free event for readers of all ages.

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With multiple reading genres represented, there’s something for everyone: poetry, coloring books, contemporary fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, memoir, metaphysical, mystery, self-help, young adult, and more. Featured authors include Matt Crichton, Heather Douglas, Melissa Eskue Ousley, Diana Kirk, Andrea Larson Perez, Angela Sidlo, and Deb Vanasse. Here’s a little more about each author and what they write.

Matt Crichton

21880_230476308899_4073520_n-copy I have a degree in engineering, have been a member of AmeriCorps and Peace Corps, worked at the YMCA teaching computer-based projects, and am currently pursuing a teaching (math!) certification. I like music, yoga, and cooking, and building fires on the beach. Somewhere along the way, I picked up poetry. Or maybe I should say it picked me up. Many of the poems I write come unexpectedly and I had better have a scrap of paper nearby or it will be lost to eternity. I write to express feelings, in response to lived experiences, to get the words that bug me out of my head. I write when inspired. I do not have a specific day or time I write. I wait for the lightning. I believe everyone should write if they are inspired. You never know who or how your words will affect.

Heather Douglas

img_2940-copyHeather Douglas is a writer, illustrator and educator and the author of two coloring books, That’s So Pacific Northwest Coloring Book, My Astoria Coloring Book and one book of poetry entitled Creosote and Rain. She was a Writer in Residence through Astoria Visual Arts in fall 2016 and also writes for Coast Weekend, ESL101, Medium and is creator of local blog Astoria Rain (dot) com. Writing, creativity and old growth forests keep her sane and grounded in this crazy world. More of her work can be found on Oscar Astoria (dot) com.

heather-booksMelissa Eskue Ousley

melissa-eskue-ousley-2017Melissa Eskue Ousley is an award-winning author living on the Oregon coast with her family, a neurotic dog, and a piranha. Her debut novel, Sign of the Throne, won a 2014 Readers’ Favorite International Book Award and a 2014 Eric Hoffer Book Award. Her third book, The Sower Comes, won a 2016 Eric Hoffer Book Award. Sunset Empire, a fantasy set in Astoria, debuted in the bestselling Secrets and Shadows young adult boxed set. Pitcher Plant, a mystery set in Seaside, will be released this spring. Her short stories have been included in Rain Magazine and The North Coast Squid. When she’s not writing, she can be found walking along the beach, poking dead things with a stick.

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Diana Kirk

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Diana Kirk, author of Licking Flames: Tales of a Half-Assed Hussy has been published in Thought Catalog, Nailed, Literary Kitchen and is a regular contributor to The Psychology of It and Five 2 One Magazine. When not writing personal or feminist essays, she’s pretty busy wifing, mothering and running two investment firms from her super fancy basement office.

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Andrea Larson Perez

dsc_1126-2-copyAndrea Larson Perez, 52, relocated to the lower Columbia region in 1994. She has lived in Astoria, Oregon since 1997. A native of St. Petersburg, Florida, she is married and a mother of two sons, 26 and 23.  She graduated from California State University, Sacramento with degree in Public Relations and a minor in Journalism.

After nearly 30 years serving clients in communications capacities, Andrea decided to turn her attention to writing.  Her first book with Arcadia’s Images of America Series gave her an opportunity to dig into interesting local history at Camp Rilea where her husband, Col Dean Perez, was the Post Commander.  Her interest in history and keen research abilities helped immensely in compiling and editing  the first published history of Camp Rilea.  Many supported and encouraged the process, most notably the past and current staff at Camp Rilea and the Oregon Military Department.

Her second title is part of Arcadia’s Postcard History Series focuses on vintage postcards of Astoria, Oregon.  Having been a collector and postcard enthusiast for many years, her interest connected her to other local collectors and was a “natural” to become a book.  It has been very well received and is headed to a second printing!

Andrea is currently considering a third title with Arcadia.

When not enjoying time with family or traveling, Larson Perez spends a good deal of time researching her family tree looking for stories to tell about characters she meets.  Happy to be known as the “family historian,” she has uncovered many previously unknown facts about her ancestors who arrived in colonial America in 1630.

She enjoys membership in the Astoria Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and serves on the Board of Directors of the Astoria Co-Op Grocery and The Astoria Ferry.  She also participates in many community organizations, activities and events.

Angela Sidlo

fullsizeoutput_1fbAngela Sidlo is coauthor of the new feel-good anthology book series The Silver Linings Storybook: Successful Leaders Share Inspiring Stories of Overcoming Stormy Days in Personal and Professional Life. The Silver Linings Storybook launched in June 2016 and published, landing on two #1 Paid Best Seller categories on Amazon.com.

Sidlo coauthored in Volume 1 & 2 of the new storytelling series, to share her story of self acceptance through hormonal imbalances, depression and fibromyalgia. Through her experiences she has developed programs and products as a health coach and aromatherapist to assist women who want to lose weight, balance hormones and live the life they dream of. Sidlo believes that “Healthy Individuals Create Healthy Communities”.

Deb Vanasse

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A recent transplant from Alaska, Deb Vanasse is the author of seventeen books.  “Vanasse is talented,” says Foreword Reviews. “She can turn ordinary words into the sublime.” When she’s not at the keyboard, you’ll find Deb walking the beach with her dog, tending her vegetable garden, or immersed in a book.

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Thanks for reading. Hope to see you at the Blue Scorcher!

© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2017

 


#WhyIMarch

Today Donald Trump is being sworn in as president of the United States. Tomorrow, over a million people will march in protest at more than 600 events across the world. The biggest march will be in Washington D.C. I’ll be walking in solidarity in the march in Astoria, Oregon.

Why am I marching? Because the election of this man is not an occasion for celebration, and I will not be silent about it. We have evidence from our country’s intelligence agencies that his campaign was helped by Russia. That is alarming. I’m also concerned about those in Congress who support him, who are hellbent on dismantling the ACA and leaving millions of Americans without health insurance. I’m frustrated about the deep-seated racism and sexism that worked to promote a bigot to the highest office in our country.

I’m troubled by prominent right-wing Christians (Pat Robertson and Franklin Graham, to name two) who seem to believe Trump was God’s choice for the job. As they seek to blur the lines between church and state, they seem to have lost sight of the basic Christian tenets of showing compassion and loving one’s neighbors.

Pat Robertson dismissed Trump’s bragging about sexual assault as “macho” talk. But how can a man who touches women against their will be a suitable leader and role model? Trump has given us plenty of evidence of his sexist language and behavior—how can we simply dismiss that? How does that kind of disrespect align with Christian values?

Franklin Graham not only continued to support Trump after his bragging incident, but he has a history of making statements against Islamic people. The irony is he runs an international charity meant to help people, regardless of their faith. I’m not saying Samaritan’s Purse hasn’t done good in this world—I’m sure it has—but I question some of its practices under Graham’s leadership. Before the election, he used his charity to tour the country in a flag-emblazoned bus and distribute political materials. Why is a religious charity entwined with politics? Why was money, donated to that charity for the purpose of helping the poor around the globe, used to promote Trump? I’m sure Graham would deny that, and say his materials were balanced equally between Trump and Clinton, and simply meant to educate voters. But I read his materials and there was a clear bias toward Trump, given the language used and the discussion on issues such as abortion and LGBTQIA rights. Now Graham has a role in the inauguration. I guess his loyalty to Trump has been rewarded.

This is why people hate Christians. I’m a Christian, and I can see that. I get it. And I welcome the criticism of my faith. We need that kind of feedback if we are to do better. We’ve got to stop telling people how to live their lives, and start loving them. Our actions need to speak louder than our words.

I’m not saying all Christians are alike. The faith has a spectrum, from conservatives to liberals. We have extremists and progressives. There are a lot of different kinds of churches. But in this election year, the voices of right-wing evangelicals have been the loudest. While there are those of us who vehemently disagree with their ideology, I believe we too are accountable for their actions because we know better. We know what Christianity is supposed to be, and we have to do better. I grieve the fact that collectively, we are pushing people away from faith because of our own interests, giving them cause to hate Christ. I can see that we are failing people, that we’ve pushed our identity and philosophy so far into politics that we’ve broken our government, rendering it dysfunctional. This election is evidence that our government is no longer representing the will of the people. I believe strongly in the separation of church and state for this reason.

I believe in freedom of religion, but I also recognize that this freedom applies to everyone, not just me. I don’t get to push my faith on other people. That’s a good thing, because it means no one else can force me to follow their belief system either. Freedom of religion in practice requires a willingness to respect people of other faiths (and to respect the right to not believe at all). It means I don’t get to infiltrate the government and then make laws based on my faith that disrupt other people’s lives. Freedom of religion is meant to promote equality. It’s not meant to promote one religion over others, even if that religion happens to be my own.

Before the election, a dear friend shared a video from YouTube with me. The premise was someone had prophesied that Trump would unite America—that he was God’s chosen one come to save us—a messiah. I think her intention in sharing this was well-meaning. I believe she honestly wanted to know what I thought.

I was surprised she shared it with me, because I’d made no secret of my opinion that Trump was anti-Christ. Perhaps not the anti-Christ, but certainly opposite of the teachings and example of Jesus. I do think one part of that prophecy has come true, however. Trump is uniting us—just not the way the so-called prophet might have expected.

So tomorrow we march. I’m marching to represent my faith, because loving my neighbors is one of the most important things I can do, particularly in times like these. Love is stronger than fear. I’m marching for women’s rights. I’m marching for people who aren’t white, or heterosexual, or Christian, because I believe they should be valued and included equally in our society. I’m marching because Trump’s woefully unqualified cabinet picks will dismantle things I care about: education, access to healthcare, the environment, and so much more.

I’m marching for my two children, so they know what it means to stand up for what you believe in and to have empathy for others. And my sons and my husband are marching with me, because they too understand and value these things. They know the world can be better, but we have to rise up together and change it ourselves. We are the resistance.

© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2017


News on Pitcher Plant

Who’s got a publishing contract? This girl! I’m thrilled to share that my suspense novel, Pitcher Plant, will be published this spring by Filles Vertes Publishing. FVP is a press with awesome staff, contagious creative energy, and great industry knowledge. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to work with them.

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What’s Pitcher Plant about? It is set on the northern Oregon coast. Here’s a description:

When thirty-year-old Tawny Ellis spots a weathered fixer-upper for sale in Seaside, Oregon, she jumps at the chance to own a house near the beach. She and her husband Mark are tired of sinking money into a high-priced rental, and hope by investing in the house, they can supplement their income by opening a bed and breakfast. Their marriage begins to unravel as repairs cost more than expected, budget cuts threaten Mark’s job, and Mark grows jealous over Tawny’s budding friendship with an attractive handyman. Tensions rise as Nicholas Stroud, the house’s former owner, begins stalking Tawny and her two young daughters. Tawny learns that Stroud lost his childhood home through foreclosure, and believes he may still be angry over the loss.

Then one of Tawny’s daughters starts talking about a new friend, one who might be imaginary. This friend bears a striking resemblance to a former resident, a little girl who squatted in the house with her drug-addicted mother during the foreclosure. Now the girl and her mother are missing, and Tawny suspects Stroud may be responsible for their disappearances. After finding evidence of foul play in the house, Tawny fears she and her daughters may become Stroud’s next victims.

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Join us on January 28 for the FVP launch party on Facebook, 7:30pm-10:30pm EST. Connect with publishing industry professionals and enter to win prizes! Giveaways include two full manuscript critiques, partial and submission package critiques, Amazon gift cards, and more!

© Melissa Eskue Ousley 2017