A Time To Cast Away Stones, a mid-20th century historical novel by Elise Frances Miller: Book review by Bardi Rosman Koodrin

Historical fiction is a favorite genre of mine. It’s one thing to read about a long ago heroine struggling to set things right in a setting foreign to my own experiences. It’s quite another to personally relate to having lived in the area where the story takes place in a particularly memorable period in recent history: my generation’s role in the student protest against the Viet Nam war during the turbulent 1960s.

Elise Frances Miller’s novel In a Time to Cast Away Stones begins in the fall of 1968 with the San Francisco Bay Area students’ antiwar movement.  Her riveting story concludes a few months later in Paris during the “Events of May,” the only student-worker-bourgeois alliance and revolution that a Western capitalist democracy has ever experienced.

A Time to Cast Away Stones by Elise Frances Miller

Miller’s protagonist Janet Magill begins her stint at UC Berkeley as a shy freshman who is away from her posh Beverly Hills home for the first time. She is struggling to find her place in a fast-paced academic world inhabited by throngs of young men and women who don’t seem interested in anything she might have to say — if she could find her voice to express a socially relevant opinion, of which she comes to realize she lacks. Janet soon embarks on a path that will change her life and challenge her philosophical ideals when she finds herself on foreign soil and the front lines of a modern day French revolution.

In contrast, Janet’s boyfriend Aaron Becker is a science major ready to graduate who is not at all sure of his future. He shares Janet’s worry when her older brother is shipped off to Viet Nam, yet he’s confused by her newfound sense of purpose that revolves around UC Berkeley’s student protest against the war. Aaron is concerned over her drastic, seemingly overnight switch from a naïve straight-laced girl to campus radical involved with a political fringe group he wants nothing to do with. Janet’s conservative parents are appalled.

Neither Janet nor Aaron imagined they would end up in the fabled City of Light during the historic May Revolution that involved over ten thousand French citizens. Janet had never pictured herself falling for a dashing Czech dissident. The unconditional gift Aaron gave to Janet and his Eastern European rival ultimately led to his own clear path to follow. Elise Frances Miller’s impartial approach to the complicated subject matter of the Viet Nam war is commendable: she presents multiple sides of the story that accurately portray this conflicted, highly volatile era of American and European history. She brings to life a young woman searching for meaning and the two men who love her, the passionate zeal of student and worker protesters here and abroad as well as their friends who oppose the protests, and varying political and social opinions of adults who observe from the sidelines.

Certain aspects of Miller’s character Janet Mcgill remind me of my youth: a politically uninformed high school senior who in the spring of 1968 was focused on finding the perfect dress for prom and burning a detested parochial uniform at San Francisco’s Ocean Beach on graduation day. Like Janet, my awareness expanded when friends were drafted into a war we didn’t understand and families were torn apart by loss and opposing beliefs.

A Time to Cast Away Stones is not just a story for the people who lived through that era. In fact, this historically vital novel should be included on high school and college course lists. It will prove invaluable for anyone who wants to learn from the past to protect the future.

Pitch-O-Rama: Meet the Agents, Editors, and Publishers!

Cover of "Love Made Of Heart"

Cover of Love Made Of Heart

My dear friend and colleague Teresa LeYung-Ryan is sending this out to all interested writers who are serious about their craft.  I sincerely hope you can make this, it is certainly worth your while!

Hello, Colleagues, Friends, Mentors, Writers,

I hope spring brings you new vitality.

Please share announcements of these events with your friends, clients, and students.  Thank you!

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April 13 morning in San Francisco “Pitch-O-Rama: Meet the Agents, Editors, and Publishers” – register throughWomen’s National Book Association http://wnba-sfchapter.org (Teresa LeYung-Ryan, Mary E. Knippel, Catharine Bramkamp will be coaching attendees before and after they pitch)

Pitch your novel, memoir, biography, autobiography, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, thriller, graphic novel, romance, how to, children’s book, etc.

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Free Webinars with Coach Teresa LeYung-Ryan  –  register with https://www.authorlearningcenter.com

3 Top Tools for Editing Your Manuscript After You’ve Written Your First Draft  with Coach Teresa

April 10  at 10:30am Pacific Time / 1:30pm Eastern Time

April 25  at 4:30pm Pacific Time /  7:30pm Eastern Time

3 Steps to Building Your Fanbase While Writing Your Fiction or Nonfiction Book with Coach Teresa

May 9  at 10:30am Pacific Time / 1:30pm Eastern Time

May 28  at 4:30pm Pacific Time /  7:30pm Eastern Time

Coach Teresa LeYung-Ryan
22-Day Writers’ Platform & Fanbase-Building Coach Teresa LeYung-Ryan says:
“Build your writer’s platform and work on the craft, simultaneously with ease.”
How can Coach Teresa help writers?  http://writingcoachteresa.com

Coach Teresa LeYung-Ryan on CBS Bay Sunday with Host Frank Mallicoat

Click here to read the interview with Coach Teresa for StepByStepPublishing

SM Fair Literary Contest Deadline is Monday April 1st!!!

San Mateo County Fair June 8-16 2013

Don’t forget everyone, all of the literary contests, including the Notre Dame $20,000 Creative Writing Scholarship and the two book cover art contests are due MONDAY APRIL 1st, NO EXCEPTIONS!!!

Go to www.sanmateocountyfair.com/contests/departments/literary-arts for all information needed to  enter these contests.  Don’t forget to register, either online or by snail mail, $10.00 per entry.

Be a published author in the second annual Carry the Light anthology that will be available on Amazon.com!

A Diamond Studded Evening At The DIAMOND AWARDS Jan 25, 2013

PAC Board Members From Left to Right – Julie Fellers, Lisa Forte, Donald Mulliken, Denise Delaney, Alisan Andrews, Beth Mostovoy, Mara Grimes, Joan Currie and Mary Alice Bowie.

PAC Board Members
Left to Right – Julie Fellers, Lisa Forte, Donald Mulliken, Denise Delaney, Alisan Andrews, Beth Mostovoy, Mara Grimes, Joan Currie and Mary Alice Bowie

The Peninsula Arts Council certainly knows how to put on a party.  As a 2012 Special Recognition recipient, I felt truly honored.  PAC President Julie Fellers and board members Beth Mostovoy, Alisan Andrews, Lisa Forte, Mary Alice Bowie, and Don Mulliken greeted my husband Boris and I with the grace and elegance befitting such a gala affair.

I enjoyed meeting my fellow Diamond Award honorees, and being inspired by their acceptance speeches.  Each of us spoke with the contagious passion that fuels our individual artistic endeavors.  We were well represented among our various expressive mediums, from Dr. Bryan Baker’s enthusiasm for Masterworks Chorale, Judy Shintani and her work for the Coastside Doctors Without Borders fundraiser, and Sonja Palmer’s Music for Minors organization.

Actress and Art in Action Advocate Maureen McVerry should win a special prize for the funniest, most engaging acceptance.  The city of Redwood City shone as the place to be for arts and culture, honoring Government Support winner Warren Dale,  Lorie Lochtefeld and her husband Eric’s commitment to the Fox Theatre, and tireless Arts Volunteer Barbara Pierce.

We were treated with performances by both of the Ray Lorenzato Young Artist recipients: Amanda Odasz is a multi-talented powerhouse with a voice to match.  I’ve known Sean Traynor as a multiple-award winning writer who’s been entering the San Mateo County Fair literary contests since 2009, but didn’t realize he is also a singer and actor.  Way to go Sean!

Carry the Light Anthology

Speaking of Carry the Light, we can’t help but brag about publishing our first anthology of short stories, essays, and poems that were submitted to the 2012 San Mateo County Fair. sanmateocountyfair.com/contests/departments/literary-arts

We received almost 200 entries and the publisher, Tory Hartmann of the Sand Hill Review Press www.sandhillreviewpress.com was so committed to this project that she expanded the book to 312 pages to include more pieces than we’d originally planned because they were all so good. This book was produced in just four weeks! To learn more about this project go to www.sanmateocountyfair.com/pdf/2012/authors/creative_force.pdf

You can see the finished product at www.amazon.com/Carry-Light-Stories-Essays-County/dp/1937818055

We ran a contest in the Fine Arts Galleria for artists and photographers to submit their work for the book cover www.sanmateocountyfair.com/contests/departments/fine-arts-galleria  and we received a great variety of interpretations of what Carry the Light meant to them.

Pacifica poet and photographer Thomas A. Ekkens of taegallery.com won the prize for his closeup photo of leaves growing along a waterfall. It is absolutely gorgeous!


Tom’s wife Joanne Shwed of Backspace Ink Editing and Book Design www.backspaceink.com volunteered her considerable talents to make the anthology a reality.  Her two essays are featured in the anthology, as is Tom’s poetry.

Check out sanbruno.patch.com/search?keywords=carry+the+light+anthology to read excerpts of their work along with almost forty other contributors’ short stories, essays, and poems.

As far as we know, this is the first time all of the submissions entered into a county fair has been published professionally. We do know this is a first for the Western Region, an accomplishment of which we are all immensely proud.

This creative collaboration is exactly what Carry the Light is all about: stepping up and helping others to make their dream a reality and in turn, sharing the joy of one’s own passion!