Spotlight: Blossoming Bickmore

Barbara Bickmore mug 2
Barbara Bickmore

Barbara Bickmore lived and wrote in Ajijic from 1990 to 1997.  She recalled writing her first story at the age of seven, but fifty-four years would pass before her dream deferred would reveal itself in a frenetic burst of writing creativity.

Born and raised on Long Island, Bickmore exhibited an interest in literature and theater from childhood and grew up to become a teacher.   She married, and her career was later interrupted for several years  following the births of her three children.

Divorced after 16 years of marriage, Bickmore took a sabbatical from teaching in order to complete her Masters degree, then moved with her children to Oregon in 1973.  When her attempts at farming and shopkeeping failed, she returned to teaching until her employer declined to renew her contract in 1985.

The now unemployed Bickmore was invited to China by a daughter who was at the time working as an English language instructor in Xian.  During the visit mother and daughter befriended a South African couple.  The experience led Bickmore to later choose both China and South Africa as settings for some of her books.

East Of The Sun 1989
Published 1989

Upon her return to the States, Bickmore completed her first novel, East of the Sun, which was published in 1988 when she was aged 61.

The Moon Below 1994
Published 1994

She came to Ajijic in 1990 following publication of her second novel, The Moon  Below, and stayed for 7 years.

During her time in Ajijic she completed five books, including:

  • The Back of Beyond (1994)
  • Homecoming (1995)
  • Deep in the Heart (1996)
  • Beyond the Promise (1997)

Bickmore covers 02

While none of her books were set in Mexico, Bickmore was clearly enamored of the Lake Chapala area, writing of it:


I lived for 7 magical years in a little Mexican village, Ajijic, high in the mountains south of Guadalajara on the edge of Lake Chapala. They were the happiest years of my life.


She returned to Oregon in 1998, where she continued to write and where she remained until her death at age 87.

Bickmore covers 03

The themes of Bickmore’s books are expressions of her personal morality, and she considered her work a form of political activism:

I am against war. I am for a woman’s right to reproductive choice. I believe women should have the same choices, and chances, men do. I am against racism. I believe education can make for better informed choices and can expand one’s view of the world and make for a limitless horizon. I believe friendship is one of the most important things in life and that love is the single most important ingredient.  I believe in kindness and that we are our brother’s and sister’s keepers.

One of the amazing and wonderful, almost unbelievable, things about writing is that people read what I think and feel and perhaps I even influence a few. I’d like to be like my heroines, each of whom makes a difference in their worlds. They look out beyond themselves to help others and hopefully make the world a better place.

Bickmore’s books were at least as popular abroad as in the U.S., and her work has been translated into 16 languages.

Read more about Barbara Bickmore and browse her books here on Amazon.

Read more about the Lake Chapala area’s rich literary legacy here.

Check out the complete listing of RiberasAuthors by genre here.

(Post by Antonio Ramblés.)

Spotlight: Author Joyce Wycoff

Joyce Wycoff mug
Joyce Wycoff

Who among us doesn’t want to perform to their full potential and energize their collaborative relationships?  Joyce Wycoff has authored six books which provide roadmaps to maximizing personal and group productivity by changing the way we think.  And she’s still writing!

Wycoff’s books deliver sophisticated solutions to common problems in straightforward language, and while they’re decidedly upbeat in tone they manage not to devolve into the vacuous cheerleading which characterizes so many books in this genre.   While a few of her books are more appropriate for business organizations, most are as universally applicable to the lives of individuals and the cultural health of non-commercial ventures both large and small:


Gratitude Miracles coverIs it possible that repurposing as little as 5 minutes each day can deliver greater happiness, better relationships and a more fulfilling life?  Gratitude Miracles draws upon recent research which has proven that keeping a gratitude journal makes for better health and fitness, reduces stress, and improves coping skills.

This books distills the research into the quick and simple discipline of a daily journal.  Find it here on Amazon.


Mindmapping coverMindmapping is the application of “whole-brain thinking” to break through barriers that hamper our imaginations.  Mindmapping:  Your  Personal Guide to Exploring Creativity and Problem-Solving plots a course to more creative problem solving, clearer decision making, improved memory and concentration, and better organization skills.  Find it here on Amazon.


Transformation Thinking coverTransformation Thinking is a practical guidebook for anyone in a leadership position who wants to transform the way they make decisions, set goals, inspire productive teamwork, encourage communication, and stimulate generation of new ideas.

It teaches readers how to apply simple tools that expand thought horizons beyond preconceived norms to enhance creativity and effect change within any team, large or small.  Find it here on Amazon.


To Do Doing coverTo Do Doing Done: A Creative Approach to Managing Projects & Effectively Finishing What Matters Most book focuses on the skills required to manage any project without getting bogged down in conflicts or sidetracked by unexpected changes or developments.

The techniques are drawn from Franklin Quest’s Planning for Results seminars, which has boosted productivity of thousands of employees worldwide.  Find it here on Amazon.


Sarana's Gift coverSarana’s Gift: It Changes Everything! challenges readers to answer the question, “What would you sacrifice to have the gift that changes everything?”  Published in 2016,  this is a decided departure from the style of Wycoff’s earlier work; it wraps a spiritual journey in an allegorical fantasy filled with Mayan gods and goddesses.

Sarana’s odyssey reveals her unknown strengths and delivers many gifts, but she ultimately faces the test of whether to sacrifice what she needs most in order to restore the world’s equilibrium.   It’s a timeless morality tale.  Find it here on Amazon.


Wycoff is another of many RiberasAuthors whose creativity spills beyond the pages of a book; she’s also a photographer and digital artist.

Learn more about Joyce, and find links to her complete work and reviews on Amazon Books here.

Check out the complete listing of RiberasAuthors by genre here.

(Post by Antonio Ramblés.)

Spotlight: Author Judy King

Judy King mug
Judy King

Many among Lake Chapala’s colony of English language writers connected with their muses only after retiring in Mexico.

Judy King, though, is one of a handful who have lived and worked in Mexico for much of their adult lives.   It’s no surprise, then, that much of her written work shares knowledge and experience gleaned from nearly thirty years of life as an expat.

Living At Lake ChapalaHer first book, Living at Lake Chapala (find it here on Amazon), is a popular handbook for those making the cultural transition.

Judy bring to her books a craftsmanship honed during her career as a journalist.  Her articles have appeared in dozens of newspapers and magazines in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.  She also published the widely read e-zine Mexico Insights for twelve years and served as Editor-in-Chief at the Lake Chapala Review.

Head For MexicoHer work is featured in  Head For Mexico:  The Renegade Guide (here on Amazon).

She is also one of several local contributors to the award-winning anthology Mexico:  Sunlight & Shadows (here on Amazon). Mexico Sunlight & Shadows

 

Judy is currently working on a new book scheduled for release early in 2019.

Check out the complete listing of RiberasAuthors by genre here.

(Post by Antonio Ramblés.)

The Chapala-Taos Connection

Witter Bynner
Witter Bynner

American poet Harold Witter Bynner (1881-1968), divided his time between homes in Chapala and Taos, New Mexico for nearly 30 years, and had the distinction of introducing both D.H. Lawrence and Tennessee Williams to the Lake Chapala area.   Williams had visited Mexico before Bynner hosted him in 1947, but Lawrence’s trip in 1923 was his first of three visits, and the Englishman might never have come to Mexico had not he and Bynner met quite by happenstance in Taos.

Lawrence and his wife Frieda had left England in 1919 for a self-imposed exile that the Englishman called his “savage pilgrimage”.  Their intended destination was Taos, New Mexico, but their route was quite circuitous, beginning with almost two years of travel through Italy. Malta, Germany, and Austria.  They left Europe early in 1922 and arrived in Taos late that year by way of Ceylon and Australia.

Frieda & D. H. Lawrence
D. H. Lawrence & wife Frieda

Bynner, having met a Chinese professor with whom he had begun collaborating on the translation of T’ang Dynasty poems, had traveled to China during 1920-21 to study its literature and culture.  Upon his return to the U.S. he embarked on an extensive lecture tour which brought him to Santa Fe, New Mexico in February 1922. Exhausted and ill, he canceled the rest of his tour and remained there.

Taos had first come to the attention of the Eastern artistic establishment in 1898 when Harpers Weekly published an article illustrated with work by artist Ernest Blumenschein, who had arrived in Taos while touring the U.S. and decided to stay.   Within a few years other American and European-born artists joined them.  Lawrence had often discussed the idea of setting up a utopian community with several of his friends, and in a 1915 note wrote:

“I want to gather together about twenty souls and sail away from this world of war and squalor and found a little colony where there shall be no money but a sort of communism as far as necessaries of life go, and some real decency… a place where one can live simply, apart from this civilization with a few other people who are also at peace and happy and live, and understand and be free…”

Mabel Dodge Luhan
Mabel Dodge Luhan

Many artists were drawn to Taos by Mabel Dodge Luhan, a wealthy heiress from Buffalo, New York.  She had hosted art salons in Florence, Italy, and Manhattan before settling in Taos in 1917, where she married her third husband and carried on her salon tradition.  Luhan hosted artists, writers, and other luminaries including Ansel Adams, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Alfred Stieglitz in Taos.  Even D. H. Lawrence painted while in Taos, and his work is on display at La Fonda Hotel on the Taos Plaza, signed with the pseudonym “Lorenzo”.

Dorothy Brett
Dorothy Brett

Artist Dorothy Brett arrived in Taos with D.H. Lawrence and his wife Frieda in 1924, sowing the seeds of a conflict that fully bloomed upon Lawrence’s death in 1930.  Luhan, Brett, and Lawrence’s wife Frieda each considered themselves in some way Lawrence’s true muse, and argued over the disposition of Lawrence’s ashes. To prevent Mabel from stealing and scattering them, Frieda had them mixed with concrete and formed into a block which remains to this day on the D. H. Lawrence Ranch above Taos.

Luhan’s salons continued, and in the years following Lawrence’s death her guests included Carl Sandburg, Willa Cather, Igor Stravinsky, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Robert Frost, W. H. Auden, Aldous Huxley, and Thornton Wilder.

Following WWI, a new generation of writers and artists arrived in Taos to turn the page on the town’s artistic heritage, but Lawrence’s works The Plumed Serpent and Mornings In Mexico arguably owe their existence to his Taos connection and friendship with Witter Bynner.

Today, as the Lake Chapala area is poised to celebrate the centennial of Lawrence’s first visit, dozens of writers who call it home carry on the literary tradition.

Browse the Authors Gallery and find links to their bios and reviews of their work here.

Read more here about Lake Chapala’s long-standing literary tradition.

(Post by Antonio Ramblés.)

 

 

 

Spotlight: Author Janice Kimball

Janice Kimball
Janice Kimball

Janice Kimball has lived at least three lives.  The first was as a mother and wife.  The second is as an award-winning artist and talented textiles designer.  And the third – which often vies with the second – is as a writer with a very distinctive voice.

Kimball’s book Three in a Cage is an uplifting story that tackles the real meaning of family, and – except for the “translated” musings of a talking parrot – is at its heart a true account set on the shores of Lake Chapala.   The author calls her style “creative non-fiction”.

Three In A Cage coverThe tale revolves around an eclectic trio of roomates. Jani is the owner of a Mexican art studio, where she lives with native weaver Francisco and a chatty parrot named Max Bird. The story soon unfolds to reveal that they came together through happenstance, and that all three had tragic pasts.

Jani was once a self-described stalker’s wife, a woman who constantly feared for the safety of her children at their father’s hands. Her nightmares condemned her to a lifetime of insomnia and branded her with what later came to be known as post-traumatic stress.

Francisco, smuggled across the border at age fourteen to seek wages sufficient to help support his twelve younger siblings and mother back in Mexico, fell into tragic circumstances which left him a wandering, virtual amnesiac for years.

Max, an unusually articulate and insightful parrot, was kidnapped as a fledgling by poachers to be sold illegally. He has a crippled foot and clipped wings.

Together, these three attempt to build a new shared life  on the ruins of their “ lost identities.” As they comfort each other and build a mutual trust, their wounds begin to heal and they become bound to each other as tightly as any family of shared blood.  The route to their new lives, however, is sometimes circuitous.

This is an allegorical tale about an escape from the confines of traditional thinking which enables this earthbound trio to “fly without wings.” It’s a book to which ‘children’ aged 8 to 80 can connect equally, and its lesson is one that benefits well from Kimball’s retelling.

Find Three In A Cage here on Amazon.

All Our Words Needed Saying


Janice has joined other women writers as a contributor to the anthology All Our Words Needed Saying (here on Amazon).

She is also the author of a 2014 limited edition book titled The Joy of Art, an illustrated guide to its creation, exhibition, and sale.

 


Max Bird makes a cameo appearance in the award-winning anthology Mexico: Sunlight & Shadows as in a piece by Janice titled The Golf Cart LadyFind it here on Amazon.

Mexico Sunlight & Shadows

 

Moveable feasts

Collected short stories and poems offer readers a virtual buffet of writers and works, and  the five collections featured below serve up tasting menus of prose and poetry by 26 Riberas Authors.  A delightfully wide array of genres, subject matter, and styles will leave any reader hard-pressed not to find at least one new favorite among them.  And, the Riberas Authors catalogue of nearly 100 Amazon titles allows readers to go back for a full serving of their favorites.


Agave MariasAgave Marias

The women authors of this book describe themselves as “border crossers and boundary breakers” and “women who have lived their lives with a certain boldness”.  Their work says the same.

By Nina Discombe, Judy Dykstra-Brown, Harriet Hart, Teresa Kendrick, Gloria Marthai, Susan Q. Miller, Zofia Barisas, Dory Jones, Gloria Palazzo, Amelia Stevens.

Find it here on Amazon.

 

All Our Words Needed Saying


All Our Words Needed Saying

These 21 stories, each followed by a poem, address points of change in women’s lives; power, sensuality and the erotic; motherhood, childbirth and abortion; and grief and loss.

By Zofia Barisas, Carol D. Bradley, Ilsa Picazo, Patricia Hemingway, Janice Kimball, R. J. McMillen, Glenda Roman, Margaret Van Every.

Find it here on Amazon.

Embracing The Fog


Embracing the Fog.  Four writers explore the lives of characters at life’s crossroads in short stories set on four continents and spanning more than a century. The authors’ distinctive voices lend an engaging variety of perspectives to the crossroads theme.

By Robert Bruce Drynan, Mel Goldberg, Antonio Ramblés, James Tipton.

Find it here on Amazon.


Mexico Sunlight & ShadowsMexico Sunlight & Shadows.  A collection of 22 short stories and essays by all about life in Mexico.

Authors include Janice Kimball, Judy King, Antonio Ramblés, James Tipton

Find it here on Amazon.

 

 

Romancing the Muse


Romancing the Muse. 

By the Not Yet Dead Poets SocietyJudy Dykstra-Brown, Bill Frayer, Mel Goldberg, James Tipton, Margaret Van Every, Michael Warren, Kenneth Salzman

Find it here on Amazon.

Check out the complete listing of RiberasAuthors by genre here.

(Post by Antonio Ramblés.)

 

Welcome author Zofia Barisas

Zofia 2
Zofia Barisas

RiberasAuthors is proud to announce the addition of Zofia Barisas to its Authors Gallery.   If you’ve read any of her pieces in El Ojo del Lago, you’ll want to check out her other writing…

Read more about Zofia, and find links to her work and reviews on Amazon, here.

Tennessee Williams’ Mexico link

Tennesse Williams' mug shot '45 age 34
Tennessee Williams in 1945 at age 34

American playwright and poet Tennessee Williams visited Mexico on more than one occasion, but didn’t come to the Ribera until 1945, when he summered here as the guest of American poet Witter Bynner.  By then more than twenty years had passed since Bynner had first met and befriended D. H. Lawrence during the English writer’s 1923 Chapala stay.

During his Mexico sojourn, Williams continued work on the draft of a play to which he gave several successive working titles, the last of which was A Streetcar Named Desire.  The work won him the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1948.

John Huston 2
Statue of John Huston, Isla Cuale, Puerto Vallarta

Mexico, though, clearly left a big impression on Williams.  In that same year, he adapted one of his short stories into the play Night of the Iguana, but more than a decade would pass until it was first performed in 1959.  It opened on Broadway to acclaim late in 1961, and was released as a motion picture in 1964 starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, and  directed by John Huston.  (Today Huston’s statue sits on Vallarta’s  Isla Cuale, Liz and Dick’s former house is now a boutique hotel, and a local movie theater named after Tayler which once showed G-rated films shows only porn flicks!)

Williams considered the best setting in which to write as “a remote place among strangers, with good swimming.”  The Ribera de Chapala may no longer be remote, its burgeoning writers’ community makes night of the iguana posterstrangers increasingly few and far between, and the lake’s reputation as a swimming hole has been usurped by ubiquitous swimming pools, but anyone who doubts that this intimate corner of Mexico still has the power to inspire writers need only look for reassurance to its fourth generation of English language writers!

(Post by Antonio Ramblés.)

 

Wall to wall books

Book cover wallpaperIf all of the Amazon books by Riberas authors were displayed side by side on the shelves of a single bookstore, they would take up an entire wall!

Now there’s a RiberasAuthors page on Pinterest which does exactly that!  It displays covers of more than 100 books publish by more than 40 authors (more author and book listings continually added!)

Check it out the complete display here on Pinterest!

New life for legacy works

Many  Ribera Authors’ books first appeared in print as limited editions that survive today only in private libraries and used bookstores.

Thanks to Amazon, editions of these works are becoming available to readers worldwide and appear for the first time on Kindle.

The late James Tipton‘s  collection of short poems titled Washing Dishes In The Ancient Village is only one of his earlier books later republished on Amazon.  (Each poem appears both in English and Spanish.)

Here’s a 2009 YouTube clip of Jim discussing the work’s genesis and reading from it.

Browse local authors – and find links to their Amazon books and reviews – in our Authors Gallery.