Book Review: H is for Hawk

A couple a Saturdays ago, I was geeking out at a falconry demonstration that came to town (it actually was part of a Harry Potter conference, where I learned how to write with a quill, peruse ancient texts, and live for a day at Hogwarts – I was in heaven!).

Anyway, back to falconry.

I always thought falconry was a dead art; something that only existed in medieval times. I also thought that whatever birds of prey used in falconry (if it was indeed still practiced) were birds that were bred in captivity and trained at birth by human hands to be the hunting companions that they would grow up to be. Well, my first thought was wrong. Falconry is alive and well today and is one of the most respected and ancient forms of hunting out there. My second thought was partly incorrect. There are birds used in falconry that are born in captivity,  but for the most part, you catch the birds in the  wild while they are young, train them to be your hunting companion for a year or so, and then release them back into the wild.

Throughout the presentation, we learned about the history of falconry and then eventually met some stars of the show: Kylo, the Harris’ Hawk and Chase, the Red-Tailed Hawk.


After that day, I just wanted to read as much as I could about falconry and in my quest, I came across H is for Hawk, by Helen MacDonald.


One part memoir, one part naturalist’s text, one part literary muse, this book follows the story of Helen (the author) as she trains a goshawk in lieu of her father’ passing.

Granted, I still knew rather nothing about falconry at the time that I read this book (sans the basic knowledge that I gained from the presentation) and as I closed the pages, I was astounded by the knowledge that I had gained about this ancient skill just by reading Helen’s story. She is a remarkable writer and her connection to nature is inspiring. She goes beyond mere observation of her goshawk (Mabel) and treats her as an equal. It’s a great thing, when that barrier is crossed between man and animal, and it’s amazing that this can occur between humans and wild birds of prey. I think that’s what really astounded me about Helen and her relationship with Mabel, because Mabel isn’t a domesticated pet; her lineage doesn’t consist of thousands of years of human interaction and conditioning. Yet, Helen shows that with respect and regard for another species, everlasting relationships can be formed – and that, sometimes, these cross-species friendships and relationships, can have the most profound affect on our lives.



Celebrating Female Authors: Voices that Inspire


Today is International Women’s Day and I can’t help but think of all of my favorite books written by female authors. So today, in honor of the day, I would just like to highlight these wonderful ladies who have brought such joy to my life through their amazing stories that they penned through the written word.


Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series.



Leslie Marmon Silko, author of the critically acclaimed novel, Ceremony.






Roxane Gay, author of Bad FeministCTH-Roxane-Gay.jpg_CTAdTab_08-10-2014_ALL_SUN_IA6VGBCV.jpg







Helen MacDonald, naturalist, writer, falconer. H is for Hawk.





J.K. Rowling, changed my childhood forever with her wizardry. Author of the Harry Potter series.






Charlotte Bronte, strong-willed and inspiring author of Jane Eyre.






Who are some of your favorite female authors? How have they inspired you? Leave your comments in the comment section at the bottom of this post.

Happy International Women’s Day!





Winter Reading and Paper Paintbrush Searching

Last month, I decided to take part in my local library’s winter reading program for adults. I’ve been reading quite a number of books lately, so I thought to myself, why not try and win prizes for each page that I’ve turned this winter?

The theme for this year’s winter reading program was “Master the Art of Reading” – with many art themed activities and prizes. Now, I’ve entered countless reading programs over the years and don’t often win the prizes that are advertised. I don’t have a problem with that, after all, I enjoy reading the books and taking part in the activities associated with the programs. However, when winning a prize involved going on a scavenger hunt to find a particular book on an artist (with said book containing a paper paintbrush) of course I jumped at the chance.

So off into the stacks I went.


The clue to finding the paper paintbrush was to find a book about an artist who cut off his own here. That is Vincent van Gogh, of course.

It didn’t take me long to find it, but in the process, I nearly knocked an entire shelf of books down. Embarrassing, I know.


Anyway, I proudly took this paint brush to the adult services desk and low and behold, I was presented with a small paint can that was filled with candy! 🙂 Some sugary fuel to help me continue my journey through the many pages of books that I plan on tackling through the remainder of the winter.

The Columbus Food Truck Cookbook

Columbus is my hometown. As much as I like to travel, it has always been my home base and is the only place where I have felt truly at home. Every winter, I look forward to our frosty and grey days and to the city decked out in holiday garb. Every summer, I look forward to all of the community events and festivals, one of my favorites being The Columbus Food Truck Festival. download

There are definitely a lot of food trucks around Columbus that cater to many different tastes and cuisines and it’s always a treat to try a food truck (or two!) at the Food Truck Festival that occurs in August. Yet, what to do in the middle of February, when food trucks aren’t as present? Why, cook up some food truck cuisine, of course!

I was on the hunt for cook books that would emulate the food truck dishes that I often enjoyed, but was disappointed to find that there weren’t many books focusing on food truck cuisine. So, you can imagine how overjoyed I was overjoyed to discover the Columbus resident, Renee Casteel Cook, would be 9781467135801discussing her co-authored book, The Columbus Food Truck Cookbook, at a local event. This was what I had been looking for! Smiling and with a bubbly personality, Mrs. Cook provided some great history into Columbus’ booming food truck business, as well as gave some great insight into the publishing process. I got to look at her book while attending the event and the recipes blew me away! Cinnachips, Chicken Chimichurri, Apple Bacon Brie Burger, Churro French Toast, and more! All delicious and all uniquely Columbus. It was like holding my hometown in my hand. A piece of Columbus culture and history bursting with flavor through the pages of this book. I will definitely be trying my hand at a number of these recipes!

What to Do While Your Nano Novel “Rests” — A Writer’s Path

by Kelsie Engen Many first time writers will finish a first draft and then immediately dive into revisions. It’s sometimes difficult to convince them that this is exactly the wrong thing to do. After all, we want to keep the momentum going right? So we immediately set to work on the edits, pounding away […]

via What to Do While Your Nano Novel “Rests” — A Writer’s Path

How to Gain More Writing Experience


I always hear beginning writers ask what they can do to grow their writing portfolio and experience. That’s a good question, especially since writing-focused jobs are hard to snare without extensive experience under your belt and having a piece of written work published and see success can be a long process. Below, I’m sharing some tips that have helped me grow my portfolio and writing experience.

1. Don’t be afraid to take a job that is not-writing focused.

We all need to make a living. Do not put undue stress on yourself by passing up job opportunities that you think you would enjoy, but are disappointed in the fact that they don’t involve a lot of writing. Every job will need your creativity and communication skills are a must in the workplace to hammer out newsletters, correspondence, articles, etc.

2. Write in your free time

Amass a portfolio of work that you are ready to submit at a moment’s notice. Keep those writing muscles active and working each and every day to develop your craft.

3. Volunteer!

Perhaps this is one of the best things that you can do to grow your writing experience. Many organizations are in need of talent and their full-time staff cannot devote their time and energy to growing the communications and programs that they would like to for their causes. This is where you come in! I’m an Editor for the Sierra Club  – I create all of the correspondence, craft stories, and write articles that will be sent out to all members in my community that are members of my local Sierra Club Chapter. No, I don’t get paid to do this, but I get “paid” in the fact that I know my work is doing good for causes that I believe in. I’m also getting great writing and communications experience and I do it pretty much on my own time. So get out there and check out some organizations that need your creativity!

4. Submit to Contests

My writing has won several contests and launched my writing career. Submit to contests as frequently as you can!

5. Author Events

Get out to your local arts organization, bookstore, or library and hit up some author events. It’s a great way to meet other writers and hear some insightful writing tips.

6. Join a writer’s group

Connect with other writers and receive feedback on your work through many writer’s groups. It’s a win-win no matter what!

7. NaNoWriMo

No, writing 50,000 words is not for everyone, but NaNoWriMo sponsors get writing events throughout hundreds of communities each November and connects writers from all over the globe. Don’t be intimidated about writing 50,000 words – if you don’t, that’s fine. To me, NaNoWriMo is a month to focus on writing and it gets me excited to sit down every day and write!

8. Read

If you read more, you become a better writer. Join a book group if you would like to connect with others or start your own. Keep reading, keep writing.

9. Workshops

Go to some writing workshops and connect with other writing enthusiasts while adding to your portfolio and pushing your creative muscles.