Friday, June 2, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things

Happy Friday, Gals and Guys! Are you ready to celebrate something going on in your world? Let's give a shout-out to our extraordinary host, Lexa Cain, along with super cohosts, L.G. Keltner and Tonya Drecker. It's time to rock!

Living in the suburbs of a larger city has its advantages, like enjoying our world-class Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. We've been to four shows so far: The Nutcracker Ballet, a Disney Songs show (with scenes shown on a big screen), a Looney Tunes extravaganza (with the classic cartoons on the big screen), and the music of David Bowie.

Image: Penn State, This is the Penn State Philharmonic Orchestra instead of the RPO, but it gives you an idea of what one looks like.

The first three were held at Kodak Hall, a gorgeous theatre downtown (link to copyrighted image). So the night of the David Bowie concert (April 7), we drove there only to discover the show was somewhere else: the Kodak Center for Performing Arts. (Rochester is Kodak's home base, so the name is everywhere). Luckily, we'd arrived early enough to hop back into our car, rush across town, dash through traffic (literally), and get inside the correct theater before the show started.

Image: Carla216

I was expecting to hear better-than-Muzak-but-still-orchestral versions of Bowie's songs. Nope. They brought in the world's greatest Bowie impersonator, David Brighton, to sing the hits backed up with a rock band. 

Inside the theatre, we presented our tickets to various ushers and they kept pointing us down, down, down, until the last usher showed us to our seats: front row, center. What?! When my husband bought the tickets, he clicked on "best available". I guess we were the first to purchase. 

So there we were, twenty feet from Mr. Brighton, decked out in his Bowie outfit and singing Major Tom, China Girl, and Heroes. The sound of the orchestra and the band and the vocals all together was pure magic.

I loved it, but at the same time, being so unexpectedly close to the performer was a bit unnerving as he made eye contact with us lucky front row folks. In my jeans and fleece jacket, I felt woefully underdressed, but I must say, nobody around us  was wearing anything fancy. In Rochester, jeans without holes count as formal attire in the cold months.


Today, I'm also celebrating a gorgeous cover reveal for Sharon M. Himsel:

The Shells of Mersing by Sharon Marie Himsl

Title: The Shells of Mersing
Author: Sharon Marie Himsl
Publisher: Evernight Teen
Release Date: July 2017

Book blurb:

When notorious Uncle Azman disobeys orders, and sends Callie and Lucas to meet their mother's long lost family in Malaysia, fourteen-year-old Callie believes their troubles are over. After all they've endured, what more could go wrong?

Their American dad is dead, Mom is missing, and their foster dad in Seattle was murdered, with Callie falsely accused. If that wasn't enough, Callie and eight-year-old Lucas stowed aboard a sailboat to escape, only to be targeted by their uncle’s boss in Hawaii upon arrival for immediate sale in Thailand’s human trafficking market.

Disguised in case Azman’s boss sends someone after them, Callie believes it’s simply a matter of time. They need to find safety with family in Mersing and begin the search for Mom, but a shell box, a ruby, and a boy from Chicago named Sam are about to change everything.  


Sharon loves adventure. Whether traveling through Malaysia on a jungle train, sailing in the San Juan Islands, or flying in an experimental airplane she helped her husband build, her life has been on a road less traveled. She has experienced hurricanes tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanoes, and more. She has seen sunsets that take your breath away.

Her first publishing credit was as a travel writer in Malaysia, traveling by rail from Kluang to Kota Bharu on the now defunct "jungle train." Some of the Malaysian and Thai settings and characters she later wrote about in her novel, The Shells of Mersing, came from her experience living in Malaysia and the diary she kept.

She later edited, researched, and wrote young adult nonfiction for two educational publishers, Greenhaven Press and Lucent Books. Her interest in history stems from a degree in American Studies. Her day job at Washington State University also included editing science papers, articles, and books.

As a storyteller, Sharon knows that facts and life experiences are the foundation of good storytelling. If she were to credit one life experience behind wanting to be a writer, it would be the term paper she wrote in the ninth grade on the bubonic plague. "I don't know why, but I have always remembered the pride I felt writing that paper," Sharon said. And if she were to credit a character in a book who inspired her, it would be “Jo March” in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Jo wanted to be a writer.

Today Sharon is working on a second novel at home in Central Washington, where she lives with her husband on the edge of a desert runway . . . but that's another story!


Have you heard a philharmonic orchestra? Fan of David Bowie? Are you a traveler, like Sharon? If so, what's the most exotic place you've been?


  1. Tamara,

    I'm not a concert goer but I do enjoy the conveniences of city life. Country life's solitude is appealing but not practical for us. I often tell DH when we win the lottery we can have a place far away from the city for weekend and longer escapes or holiday gatherings. Of course, if we won the lottery then DH wouldn't have to work unless he wanted to so it wouldn't be necessary for us to have a place in town or than that's what we want. Sharon's book cover and story line sounds interesting. I hope she has fabulous success with her new book. Have a good weekend!

  2. The concert sounds awesome.

    Congrats to Sharon and good luck with her book.

  3. What luck to get front row! We try every year for TSO and have only managed to hit second row twice. I bet that was amazing seeing the singer that close.

  4. You are so fortunate to live where you do. Front row seats too--lucky you, but funny about the eye contact :)
    Thank you for sharing my book today! Have a wonderful weekend!

  5. I'm not much of an orchestra person, but I love that they have visuals at many of the ones you went to. I could do that! My brain just doesn't work well with only being entertained through my ears.

  6. Congrats to Sharon. I have not been to see a philharmonic orchestra, and shame on me as we have one in the city I live in. (My old oboe teacher was a member. I have no idea if he still is.)

    Front row seats--cool!

  7. Hi Tamara.
    I love the way you and Sharon exchanged book cover coverage.

  8. That "Bowie' show sounds terrific. I laughed when I read how you felt about being so close to the performer, and 'the jeans with no holes' comment made me chuckle as well. Thanks for sharing. Have a great week.

  9. I loved Bowie! So sad he's gone, but the show sounds amazing! Sharon's book cover is very beautiful! The blurb was a shocker compared to the serenity of the cover. It seems kind of a suspense/contemp/coming-of-age/mystery novel.

  10. Your concert sounds amazing! I can't even imagine being that close to the stage- but it sounds like it was an experience to remember. I love music and orchestras- but have never been to a large show.

    Sharon's book sounds fascinating. Thanks for sharing and wishing her all the best. :)

  11. I enjoyed Bowie. And that concert sounds amazing. It's been a long time since we've gone to anything like that. . .a problem of living in the middle of nowhere.

  12. That sounds like an amazing concert! I love it when orchestras feature "popular music" as well as the classics, but I adore the classics too.

    Your husband was brilliant to snag those seats!

  13. What a lovely musical experience that had to have been!


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