WroteTrips First Ever Book Giveaway!

Congratulations to Joanne Reinbold for winning this giveaway! Watch for my back-to-school giveaway!



In honor of my birthday, I am sponsoring the first ever WroteTrips Book Giveaway. It is open to residents of the U.S. only. Sorry, I hope to be able to include my international readers soon.

I have an advance reader copy of the yet-to-be published novel, “The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach,” by best-selling author Pam Jenoff. Jenoff is the author of sensitive, thoughtful novels, including the international bestseller “The Kommandant’s Girl,” which earned her a Quill Award nomination. Known for her emotional story lines and powerful depictions of hardship and triumph, Jenoff is a book club and fan favorite.

Set in 1942, “The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach” features young Adelia Monteforte, who escaped Fascist Italy and traveled to America. Once there, while sheltered in the seaside retreat of her aunt and uncle, she befriends and begins a romance with a vacationing neighbor boy. Family tragedies, World War II, grief and heartache impact the lives of the young couple in long-lasting ways, but there comes a time when the past must be resolved.

This ARC was given to me by my local bookstore, The Hockessin Book Shelf. I’ll have pictures of them up soon.

To enter this contest, like this post and comment on either the WroteTrips blog or Facebook page. A random name will be selected from all entrants, and I will announce the winner on the WroteTrips Facebook page. I will request the winner private message me their mailing address.

Entries will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. on July 31, 2015.


Can Technology Help Teachers Maximize Student Learning?

Image Courtesy of MIT Technology Review
Image Courtesy of MIT Technology Review

Interesting story in MIT Technology Review about AltSchool, and their efforts to determine if data gathering technologies influence the way students learn. The goal is to create highly individualized instruction built on a system that can grow to reach a broad scale. Early results look interesting, but as you might imagine the program is very expensive, and schools featuring AltSchool have tuitions frequently exceeding $20,000. Still, as technology continues to change, perhaps the cost/student will come down. Perhaps some economies of scale can be reached. It would be a shame if the program proves to be successful, and then widens the educational gap between the haves and the have-nots.

Southern Gothic Novels

Unattributed Image via Pinterest
Unattributed Image via Pinterest

When I’m looking for a summer read, I frequently browse through Southern Gothic novels. The steamy locales juxtaposed with chilling tales rife with repression, make an appealing combination for hot summer nights.

The New York Public Library shared a list of “southern gothic” novels. Since I lived in Texas, I was interested in seeing what they included. Most people consider Texas to be part of the west, but Texas is so big that the eastern part of the state has strong southern influences. I’ve read several of the listed books; many by Anne Rice, and Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil, of course.

Here is their list:

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

A Visitation of Spirits by Randall Kenan

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

Blackwood Farm by Anne Rice

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

“Barn Burning” by William Faulkner

Nothing Gold Can Stay by Ron Rash

Beautiful Creatures series by Kami Garcia

The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O’Connor

Beloved by Toni Morrison

NPL defines a Southern Gothic novel:

“Dark in tone and set in an atmosphere of decay and decline, Southern Gothic lit is colored by that intense, damp, uniquely Southern heat pressing down on its characters and stories.”

There are some novels I would like to add, in fact, some of them are rather famous and I’m surprised were left off the list.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

With its recent resurgence in popularity, I’m surprised they didn’t include this one. Maybe they felt since they mentioned Harper Lee in the introduction they could leave it out, but I have to include it on my list.

Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell

Set in the Ozark Mountains, this relentlessly bleak novel showcases a young girl struggling under the weight of family responsibilities.

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

This Pulitzer Prize winning novel languished, unpublished until after the suicide of the author. Fans of the book liken its complexity to Dickens’ novels, and its protagonist to the questing Don Quixote.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg

Many of Flagg’s novels are set in the steamy south, are populated with unforgettable characters, and often have a dark undertone. My favorite is A Redbird Christmas, but most readers are probably more aware of the Academy Award nominated film based on Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café.

Deliverance by James Dickey

This book was instrumental in launching the creepy-redneck-don’t-go-into-the-woods genre, which is still a staple in film and horror stories. It may seem a bit dated, but it is still a compelling read.

Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell

It is hard to imagine a more southern tale than one which features sharecroppers toiling in Georgia during the depression. Hunger, sexual longings, and fear drive the protagonists to the bottom of the social hierarchy.

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Since it’s classified as SF, some may leave this off the list, but I think the slave narrative warrants its inclusion as a Southern Gothic.

Do you have a favorite Southern Gothic novel?

Create Your Own Tower of Babel

Image Courtesy of The Paris Review
Image Courtesy of The Paris Review


Obsession with the theory of language implicit in Borges’s “The Library of Babel,” caused Jonathan Basile to create an online version of the imaginary library.

Basile writes, in The Paris Review, “I’ve made libraryofbabel.info, which now contains anything we ever have written or ever will write, including these sentences I struggle to compose now.”

Start you own voyage of discovery.

Libraries of the World: Safe Haven Library in Thailand

Photo: Pasi Aalto / Tyin Tegnestue
Photo: Pasi Aalto / Tyin Tegnestue

In January 2009, TYIN invited 15 Norwegian architecture students to participate in a workshop at the Safe Haven Orphanage, in Ban Tha Song Yang, Thailand. TYIN Tegnestue is a non-profit organization focused on humanitarian projects designed to provide real solutions through architecture.

Photo: Pasi Aalto / Tyin Tegnestue
Photo: Pasi Aalto / Tyin Tegnestue


The goal of the project was two-fold: the orphanage needed new sanitation facilities and a library. Using local materials and labor, the students erected a building that provided both a bathing house and a library. All the money spent on construction materials remained in the community.

Photo: Pasi Aalto / Tyin Tegnestue
Photo: Pasi Aalto / Tyin Tegnestue


The entrance creates a comfortable buffer zone between a small computer area on one side and a larger library room on the other. This new library allows the children of the Safe Haven Orphanage to have a space to do homework, use a computer with internet and read books.

Photo: Pasi Aalto / Tyin Tegnestue
Photo: Pasi Aalto / Tyin Tegnestue


Large rocks gathered on-site form the foundation for the cast concrete base of the structure. Walls built of concrete blocks help the library remain cool during the day. Open bamboo facades make the most of prevailing breezes, while local iron wood makes-up the sturdy frame and comfortable floor.

Photo: Pasi Aalto / Tyin Tegnestue
Photo: Pasi Aalto / Tyin Tegnestue


Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves run the full length of the concrete wall. Unfurnished rooms allow for a multiplicity of uses. Since its completion, the library has become an important gathering space, and frequently used for crafts and games. 

 Safe Haven Library

Location: Ban Tha Song Yang, Thailand

Client: Safe Haven Orphanage

Project: Library

Cost: 29.000 NOK / 4.800 USD

Building period: 12.–29. January 2009

Built by: Students and Tutors from NTNU

Hotel Swoon: The Library, Chaweng Beach, Thailand

Image Courtesy of The Library
Image Courtesy of The Library


This room is like a page. This whole Library is like a book, and the story is written by our guests.” Kasemtham Sornsong

Image Courtesy of The Library
Image Courtesy of The Library


I know where I want to go for my vacation! I want to stay at The Library, in Chaweng Beach, Thailand. Never have I seen such a serene retreat created for readers; where we can relax close to nature and enjoy a favorite book, or create an exciting new chapter in our life story.

Image Courtesy of The Library
Image Courtesy of The Library


For now, I’ll have to enjoy the images and dream.