Coming Soon!

Jiang Li, Warrior Woman of Yueh is the companion novella to My Adventures As Brother Rat. Jiang Li is now available; for a signed copy, please contact me via my website Contact Me button. Price is $7.00 plus s/h of $2.20 for envelope and postage, or $4.90 for Priority Mail (6 copies will fit in a Priority Mail envelope).

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Judith and Lenora's Fabulous Day Trip!

For photos:

or tiny URL:

My gal pal Judith and I went for a day trip yesterday, up into the Palouse region of SE Washington State. Her family owns a wheat ranch near Tekoa (pronounced: Tee koh), which is north of Farmington, and not too far from Idaho, if any of you want to check out the map-and you should!

Our first stop was the little town of Farmington, where her great grandfather was one of the early settlers. We visited the library where the Mayor has an office, and Judith and Mayor Laura had quite a discussion about the local history (Judith is looking into her ‘roots’) and then we headed up to the cemetery, where she found the head stones of some of her pioneer family, and I wandered around taking photographs. Lena was a very popular name in the Farmington area, just in case you’re interested. For photos of the cemetery, go to the Photo site, above.

From there we drove up to Tekoa, where Judith had heard from a friend about a new restaurant, the Cafe Artisan. We had NO idea where this place was, but Tekoa is a small town, so we weren’t too worried. We found it on our first pass-through.

We weren’t sure what we expected, but we certainly didn’t expect what we found! We arrived after the lunch crowd had come and gone, and were the only customers, so had our choice of tables. We took one nearest the window so we could people watch. The waitress brought us our menu, and the first shock was the selection. There were three items from which to choose – a minestrone soup, a chicken caprese sandwich, or a seared shrimp and scallop salad. That was it. Nothing more.

Now, some folks might find such a short menu a bit off-putting, but we thought it marvelous! Even more so when we found out the menu changes weekly (see their web site (below) for weekly menus and the now and then cafe closures). Judith ordered the salad, and I ordered the sandwich, which came with a side salad.

Judith’s salad was huge, covered in large shrimp and scallops, and she said it was delicious. My sandwich came on fresh homemade bread (came out of the oven at 10.30 that morning). The bread was long and skinny, and I just knew (knew, I tell you) it would be hard and dry. I didn’t know at the time it was fresh out of the oven. It was soft and chewy and just absolutely perfect! We each ate half our lunch, and took the rest home for dinner last night. Oh, the salad came, pre-dressed (I forgot to order my dressing on the side) and the dressing was light, and delightful. And my coffee was wonderful! They keep it hot in a vacuum pot so it doesn’t get bitter. The coffee was a dark Sumatra, and it, alone, worth the drive!

About the time we finished, the owner and chef, Amber, came out to visit with us. That’s when we learned the menu changes weekly – as everything she serves is made from scratch, it must depend on what she buys as to what she makes. Lunches are served Tuesday through Saturday and dinners Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The dinner menu is also limited, but also changes weekly.

Cafe Artisan’s website is: Check it out for the current menu, hours, directions, and much better photos of it than what I took!

Those of you who are still reading this, and live in Washington, NE Oregon, or someplace in Idaho, check this restaurant out. Those of you who think you might like to live in Small Town, America, check out Tekoa. It’s a delightful small town, full of old homes and community spirit.

After lunch, we drove to Judith’s family’s wheat ranch, where they grow wheat and, this year, lentils. From there we headed home, with a side trip up Steptoe Butte. Steptoe Butte is a quartzite hill that sticks up about 1000 feet from the surrounding country. There is a road all the way to the top, from which the view is spectacular. On the way down, a young buck, with two straight horns about six inches (guessing only, he wouldn’t let me get close enough to measure) walked down the road in front of us, he also refused to turn around and pose for a portrait.

This was a marvelous day trip – made the more so because Judith drove the whole time, all I had to do was sit back and watch the country and enjoy her company.

“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” - Robert Louis Stevenson

Friday, June 5, 2009

Jennifer and Jojo, Friends Forever

While on my trip around the country, I talked to many people, including a few librarians. To all these folks, I talked about two books, one, of course, is mine, due out on or about 1 July 2009. The other book is a little book about two little girls, Jennifer and Jojo. Well, instead of telling you about this charming little book, read the flier Jolanda sent and I handed out to many people. I had one of the books with me, and everyone I showed it to, thought it was wonderful. I left the book with my sister, Stephanie, who donated it to her church for the church library. It is a wonderful book for libraries – church, school, or public. Consider buying a couple and donating them. Please, purchase them from Jolanda, do not order from Kenya, as they are not set up to handle overseas orders and will forward your request directly to her. See below for cost and Jolanda's email for contact and order information.

Jennifer and Jojo: Friends Forever, written for children aged 7 to 8 years old, is the story of two young girls. Jennifer is black and has lived in Kenya all her life; Jojo is a white girl born in a country far across the ocean. Her family has made Kenya its temporary home. The girls go to school together, play together, and vow to keep their friendship alive even after Jojo’s family is transferred to another country.

Written in free verse, Jennifer and Jojo’s story celebrates a loving friendship that transcends the limitations of sameness and local community, and touches on the importance of education, family, and gender equality –– but its most important message is that people everywhere are very much alike.

My own ties to Kenya are strong. As a teenager, I had the great good fortune to live five years in the Kenyan capitol, Nairobi. It was my home in every sense of the word. My friends, in those early years of the country’s new independence, formed a kaleidoscope of nationalities and cultures, and we learned from each other a lesson that has since informed my life: that we humans are all far more similar than different.

When I returned to Nairobi to research my graduate thesis on Kenyan children’s books, I spoke with many young readers who complained about the lack of entertaining stories that reflected their lives: modern, urban, international, and firmly rooted in Kenya. Jennifer and Jojo, Friends Forever was written for them.

The book was published by Kenya Literature Bureau and approved for use in public schools by the Kenya Institute for Education. Its publication has been partially subsidized by the World Bank. All profits will remain in Kenya, where the book will be marketed primarily to Kenyan schoolchildren and recreational readers, but I believe Jennifer and Jojo, Friends Forever will also appeal to American children. This is not just a book about Africa, but an African book in content, style of illustration, and production –– an introduction to a distant land and its people, and a tangible piece of contemporary Africana.

Africa is so much more than the place of great tragedies –– starvation, corruption, and tribal warfare –– we have come to think it. Many Africans lead lives that would be considered perfectly ordinary by any western standard. Truly, there are more similarities than differences between us! It is my hope that Jennifer and Jojo, Friends Forever will help create a new, more realistic perception of Africa, one young reader at a time.

–– Jolanda Alkemade

Title: Jennifer and Jojo, Friends Forever
Author and US Distributor: Jolanda Alkemade
Publisher: Kenya Literature Bureau
Book dimensions: 5 3/4” x 8 1/4”
41 pp, 29 4-color illustrations
ISBN: 978-9966-44-709-8
$5.00 (excl. shipping)


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

"Old Age isn’t for sissies" --Bette Davis

Well, if you were confused about yesterday’s blog, imagine how I felt when, shortly before going to bed, I realized I’d lost a whole day! That yesterday was, in fact, 1 June 2009, not 31 May 2009! I’d spent the whole day doing Sunday cleaning, and preparing for this morning, and my Monday writing. Arrrggghhhh!!!!! I apologize for any confusion I may have brought you. Today is Tuesday, 2 June 2009. Honest. Trust me. (Trust Google Calendar!)

Anyhow, I’d promised you my rant, uh, essay, on Footnotes, so here it is, all 717 words.


--Lenora Rain-Lee Good

Remember footnotes--those notes in tiny print under a black line at the foot of the page? What ever happened to them? Where did they go? Did they get tired of hanging onto the black line and slide off the page to be eaten by the dust bunnies under the bed?

I read a lot of nonfiction, and I read it for enjoyment as much as to learn, and because I read everything, I read the footnotes. When they were at the bottom of the page it required a quick glance, mere seconds, to determine whether or not to read them.

Footnotes now only exist when I type them. If I write them, I know what they say and I don’t need to glance to the bottom of the page, except when I proof what I’ve just written.
Now, someone in his infinite wisdom – probably someone who isn’t a ‘true reader’ – has changed the publishing of books. Footnotes are passé. They are old fashioned. They are “Nota non grata.” They have become the red headed orphan. Why?

The best answer I’ve found is a slam to all who are not working in academia. Footnotes have migrated to endnotes because some people found them irritating and in the way, and no one but academes read them anyway, so why not put them in the back, out of the way, allowing the text to flow more beautifully. Say what?

In an era when the mantra is “time is money,” and more and more items are on the market to save time, and take our money, why have books devolved into endnotes? Time, like money, is not to frivolously twitter away on endeavors of questionable quality. Like endnotes.

Now, instead of one bookmark, and mere seconds to scan a footnote to determine whether it’s something to read or not, I have to flip to the back of the book and find the endnotes. I now need two bookmarks (I actually read one book that required three book marks. I admit, it was a textbook of sorts, so some silliness could be expected). Every time I come to one of the small, superscript numbers in the text, I must now stop reading, disrupt the “beautiful flow of words,” hold my place, go to the back, scan until I find the matching number, and determine whether or not to read the note. Then I must go back to the text and find my place, because by then, I’ve moved my finger and lost track of which line I was reading. This process no longer takes mere seconds.

Admittedly, some authors are kind enough to use end notes as bibliography notes, with no text – a quick scan and I can tell I don’t need to keep up the flipping and flapping of pages. And, sometimes, I can scan down the notes and make a mental note that I don’t need to check them until I get to number 347. However, there is frequently good information in the notes that I don’t want to miss.

And chapter endnotes? I hope the person who came up with that idea spends eternity flipping through pages trying to quickly find the end of the chapter. Eternity is a long time. He may get his just rewards. (I hope he sits next to the person who invented white baby shoes, and is spending his eternity polishing them.)

I don’t believe the argument that paper is saved any more than I believe that non-academic readers aren’t interested in footnotes.

Had I learned to enjoy reading while sitting in a chair, possibly at a table, endnotes might not hold the dire amounts of frustration they do. Yes, I learned to read sitting in a chair at a desk, but for pure enjoyment, my favorite way to read a book is stretched out on my back in bed. Or on the couch. Or maybe a hammock. And, at my age, I’ve earned the right to read where I want to. If it’s technical, or job related, I read at my desk. But I don’t have a job any more. I’m retired.
Footnotes. One of many things that have quietly slipped into the history box labeled “The good old days” of which I am more and more convinced does exist--somewhere.


Coming soon: My Adventures as Brother Rat will be available at: on 1 July 2009, it will be published as a quality Trade Paperback.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Memorial Day, 2009

Today is 31 May, the traditional Memorial Day. It is a day to remember all the Veterans who have served with honor in the Uniformed Services of this country -- to remember them, their sacrifices and their contributions. Many made the supreme sacrifice, all contributed, and to those Vets who happen to read this blog, I sincerely thank you for serving. I thank those of you who served only because you were called to duty, and I thank those of you who volunteered. Many, many thanks! If you’re not a Vet, please, tell every Vet you know ‘Thank You,’ and any men and women you see in uniform, tell them ‘Thank You,’ too. Not just today, but anytime, anyplace, you see them.

Yesterday, my friend, Judy, and I went forth to do a little exploring in the local area, and to photograph anything we happened upon that might be worth the film. Of course, we no longer use film, but we still think that way sometimes ;-).

Photos at:

A couple miles from my home, down near the Columbia River, we happened upon a small herd (three) of horses, Studley and his harem. Their meadow was being watered, and there was shade for them, but they seemed to prefer being out in the sun. Once they became aware we were at the fence, they wandered over to check us out. OK, they wandered over to see what treat we had for them. Alas, no treats. But they did allow us to take their pictures.

Books I am Reading on this Date:

1. presents What Have You Changed Your Mind About? Today’s Leading Minds Rethink Everything –edited by John Brockman with an Introduction by Brian Eno. This is a small paperback, somewhere between a Trade Paper size and a mass market size, and worth the price. As I understand it, every year Edge asks a question of 100 or so brainiacs throughout the world. The 2008 Question was:

"When thinking changes your mind, that’s philosophy. When God changes your mind, that’s faith. When facts change your mind, that’s science.
What have you changed your mind about? Why?
Science is based on evidence. What happens when the data change? How have scientific findings or arguments changed your mind?"

Answers are provided by Steven Pinker, Richard Dawkins, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Alan Alda, Irene Pepperberg, Brian Eno and a host of others. Answer the question yourself, then read their answers.

2. The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty. I believe this collection covers just about all the short stories she wrote. She was a Southern Lady, whose characters and places were in the South, many of the stories take place along or near the Natchez Trace, a place I have visited and enjoyed.

3. Dine bahane, The Navajo Creation Story – by Paul G. Zolbrod. This is a book I picked up at Chaco Canyon, recommended by Rose, the young lady in the gift shop. She said it was about the best history of the Navajo in the store. I just started it yesterday, and I think it will be an interesting, though frustrating, read. Paul Z uses endnotes instead of foot notes. I will not get on my soap box now, but will put my short essay up on endnotes v. footnotes in a few days. (Something for you to look forward to!)

“A little autobiography and a lot of imagination are best.” –Raymond Carver