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A Brief Meeting That Turned Into a Book Fifty-Six Years Later

Please check out Sally. I only briefly met her when I was eight years old, but that meeting has forever stood out in my mind. So much so that when, in retirement, I decided to write, I wanted to base a book on her. In celebration of Black History Monthhttps://www.amazon.com/Sally-J-Schlenker-ebook/dp/B075MDXTQG/

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A Coming of Age Story

Today and tomorrow, November 30 and December 1, the Kindle version of Alice Black can be downloaded for free. It’s also on Kindle Unlimited.

Alice’s perfect childhood changes when at age six, shortly after a visit from a policeman, her father and brother disappear from their home in Queens. Alice is left with a shell of a mother who never recovers from the incident but never offers any explanation. Alice struggles through life as a misfit, growing up with a mother who refuses to move on. In her final year of high school, she meets Doug, a Columbia law student who talks her into leaving her clinging, out-of-step-with-time mother and going off with him and four others to the wilds of West Virginia to live primitively in a run-down farmhouse. Despite the living conditions, Alice has never been happier, but after five years, she learns her mother is dying and heads back to Queens. After her mother’s death, she sells their home, the one she thinks is to a real estate developer who plans on leveling the house along with the others on the block for a strip mall.

Finally, things are looking up for Alice. She finds a nice apartment, gains a best friend, Chen, whose uncle owns the Chinese restaurant across the street, and gets hired at a health food store with a great boss. She is ready to begin life anew until a plainclothes detective shows up where she works. A skeleton is uncovered in what was formerly Alice’s backyard. Alice fears the skeleton is that of her father.

Cryptic messages from fortune cookies and the return of Doug to New York, who offers to help, as well as meeting Tom, who works at the construction site of her old house, put her on a mission to find out what happened to her father and brother.

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My Newest Release

Enter to win a Kindle copy on Goodreads!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Imaginary Life of Abigail Jones by J. Schlenker

The Imaginary Life of Abigail Jones

by J. Schlenker

Giveaway ends November 18, 2022.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

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My Working Cover

This is the working cover for a book I hope to have published by November.

Ethel, a middle school teacher, Luce, a stay-at-home mom married to a successful businessman, and Ola, owner of Ola’s Wise Old Books, are best friends. They circumnavigate through the pitfalls of middle age together, confiding their innermost thoughts to each other. Or do they?

Ethel, out of pride, acts as if all is normal even though her husband suddenly returns to his native India. Ola refuses to discuss her past or strange relationship with Cornelius, who works alongside her at the bookstore.

Everything takes a strange twist when Luce, while in the library, comes across some disturbing news regarding Ola, and then after calling the middle school, she finds Ethel no longer works there. If that were not enough, Ola announces she has cancer, and the prognosis is not good.

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My Animal Characters

I’ve been working on a third book, even though the second one hasn’t been published yet. It all started with A Peculiar School, a story about animals living in a nature preserve. They become smarter because of something put into the water supply by the scientists at a nearby lab. Besides becoming more intelligent, they become more docile. Ethel Peacock convinces Densworth Lion they should becoming vegetarians, so the smaller animals will no longer be prey to the animals higher up on the food chain.

Ola Owl, Mac Chimpanzee, Owen Orangutan, Densworth Lion, Ethel Peacock
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Cityscape

I have vowed to watching Youtube videos to better learn how to properly use Procreate to create art. I’m old and am old school. I’m still trying to use it as paper and pen or canvas and paintbrush. Hopefully, I can learn layering techniques, masking, clipping, and all the other many features.

This is my version of today’s lesson. I could have done better with the clouds. The tall building reminds me of Batman.

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A Rainy Day in Giverny

Giverny is a village in the region of Normandy in northern France. It is the site of the home of Impressionist painter Claude Monet who lived and worked here from 1883 until his death in 1926. The artist’s former home and elaborate gardens, where he produced his famed water lily series, are now the Foundation Claude Monet Museum.

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Paris at Night

The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel  is a triumphal arch in Paris, located in the Place du Carrousel. It is an example of Neoclassical architecture in the Corinthian order. It was built between 1806 and 1808 to commemorate Napoleon‘s military victories of the previous year. 

Cathédrale Notre-Dame — It is expected to reopen to visitors in April 2024.

Louvre Museum

The Seine River

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Sally

In 1968, Sally, at 109 is both the oldest and only African American resident of the old-folks home where Alice works as a nurse. Drawn to Sally, Alice sits at Sally’s bedside and asks her about her life, returning home each night to journal about it. Alice discovers something profound, something she takes with her to her grave only to be discovered by her granddaughter decades later.

Inspired by the true life of Sally Ann Barnes, 1858 to 1969.

The Kindle version of Sally is currently on sale for .99. In August the price returns to 4.99. The Amazon link:

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Chris on Rock

I drew this from a photo taken some years back. We were hiking at Carter Caves State Park in Kentucky. I took this picture of my husband. I’m using procreate on my iPad. I’ve been working with the brushes, trying to create watercolor effects.

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Koi Pond

This is a continuous progression, although sometimes, we feel we are going backwards. We are currently in the process of building a bog, a new filtration system using rocks and water plants. I’m hoping to use cattails.

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A Fitting Poem for our Trails

The Road Not Taken 

BY ROBERT FROST

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

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Working on a Book Cover

I haven’t even gotten the book off to the editor yet, but I am playing around with the cover. I had originally drawn three paper dolls, but last night, I began work on three figures. It is the story of three middle-aged women who are best friends.

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Hammock Time in Kentucky

In the sixties for the last couple of days. It’s supposed to reach seventy by tomorrow. On Sunday before last, we celebrated a full week of electricity. Although February is the shortest month, it seemed the longest. After an ice storm and more snow on top of that, along with temperatures in the single digits at night, we went through fifteen days without electricity and part of the time without water since there was no electricity feeding the pumping stations.

I had a list of resolutions before the electrical outage. The only ones I continued daily was journalling and yoga. I’m now back on track for the most part. One of the resolutions is to practice drawing everyday. This is a drawing of Shaker boxes. We retreated to Shakertown in Harrodsburg, Kentucky for a couple of nights for hot showers and warmth. It’s one of our favorite places.

A painting I did on procreate this past week.

 

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The Divine Number 3

Our electronic devices are listening. I’ve noticed my husband and I can be having a casual conversation and ads start popping up all over social media regarding some product we may have mentioned. So, whenever I’m thinking about shopping for something and want to see if there are any discounts, I say the product name three times. I’m curious what will happen if I say Beetlejuice three times, but I refrain from doing so.

There is a lot of hidden meaning in Wizard of Oz. Possibly even futuristic predictions. “Click your heels together three times and say ‘There’s no place like home’ and you’ll be there.”

Three times, the magic number. Nickola Tesla did everything in multiples of three.

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Snowscape Experimentation

I’m trying to learn all (well, some) of the bells and whistles of Procreate (It’s an art app.). This was an experimentation with different brushes. It turned out somewhere between impressionism and abstract.

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Black History Month

With great love, I wrote Sally. The book is inspired by the life of Sally Ann Barnes, 1858-1969. I met Sally once in 1961 when she was 103. That meeting had a lasting impression on me. I researched her life off and on for seven years.

Bronze Winner of the Wishing Shelf Book Awards and a Readers’ Favorite

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A Start

I’m quite lazy when it comes to detail in drawing. My husband comes in, and I ask if he can tell what I’m drawing. He says lemons, but then the lemons are right in front of me. I’ll use them later for a Shaker lemon pie.

 

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The Beginnings of a Painting

I think I will take this one slow. When finished, I hope to incorporate it into a previous painting of a polar bear. I’m toying with the idea of a joint adventure with Theodore Polar Bear and Baby Fox, characters from A Peculiar School.

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Thaddeus Turtle

Yesterday, I promised myself to write more, draw more, and walk out in nature more. I’ve been drawing the characters in my book, A Peculiar School. Last night, I drew Thaddeus Turtle who will turn one hundred soon.

While out walking, I saw something hanging from a tree. It took me a moment to figure out what it was. It was a small rocket and parachute that my husband and grandson launched back in June. A picture from along the trail.

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Updating

More updates have been made since this picture.

The last day of the year, and I’m in the process of making a new website. Still more work to do, but it’s a start.

For over three months, almost four, we have also been updating our home, the kitchen/dining area to be exact. I have to give my husband the credit. He does ninety-nine percent of the work. It’s all a do-it-yourself job. It started on the day after his birthday, September 13. It didn’t start as a kitchen project, but one thing leads to another. I asked if a particular wall was load-bearing. I was hoping to get more light and a new workspace to write. It’s where I’m writing now–the new kitchen island we installed which is pictured.

Of course, the project grew. They always do. We knocked out two walls. My hope was to get it finished by Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then New Year’s. Now, I’m hoping for Valentine’s Day.

We have tried to recycle as much as possible. My husband has hand-built cabinets, moved around appliances, and we’ve dismantled an old barn to use the boards, some of which were ten inches wide.

So, more writing and better-prepared, healthier meals for 2021!

And wishing everyone a much better year! One of creativity, peace, and good health!

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Theodore “Einstein” Polar Bear

I love polar bears, and Ted E. Bear is my favorite character from A Peculiar School. A Peculiar Store is an anthropomorphic tale about all animals getting along. It’s set in a nature reserve.

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Ethel Peacock

It’s been so long since I’ve posted. Lately, I’ve restarted my practice of drawing. Something to do during the isolation period. I’ve been doing digital art, basically for the ease of it and for fear of ruining perfectly good paper. It’s a learning process. I’ve been using the Procreate app.

I’ve been attempting characters from my book, A Peculiar School. It’s about all animals getting along with each other. My main character is a peahen. For now, I’ve practiced a peacock. I will keep refining until I get to a peahen, what I think is a good look for Ethel.

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On Sale

Do we create our own reality?

Jessica moves to an island to make a new start after her divorce. A whole new idyllic world opens up for her, but all is not as it seems. A Novel Tea Book Club Selection, Wishing Shelf Book Awards Finalist, William Faulkner-William Wisdom Writing Contest Finalist, 5 Star Readers’ Favorite

The Kindle Version is on sale for a limited time for only 0.99!

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Recognition for Sally

Sally, inspired by the life of Sally Ann Barnes, 1858-1969, born into slavery in Carter County, KY was listed one of nine moving works of literary fiction. It was chosen along with Mudbound, one of my favorite books of all time. This book was also made into a movie.

https://wiki.ezvid.com/m/9-moving-works-of-literary-fiction-BhHy4jUvyBsyM#9-moving-works-of-literary-fiction

The following week Sally was chosen as a finalist in the 2018 Wishing Shelf Book Awards.

 

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A Peculiar School

I’ve never been much of a collector, but serendipitously I have been coming across animals, the ones I’m writing about. From left to right, Owen Orangutan, Ted E. Polar Bear, Filbert Fox, Hiram Hyena, Densworth Lion, and Ola Owl. This is not a children’s book, although a thirteen year old has read it and understood it. It is very much a hero’s journey type of book.

A Peculiar School, available at AmazonBarnes and NobleApple iTunesKobo or ask for it at your local bookstore.

 

Coming Out Tomorrow

The Imaginary Life of Abigail Jones

Everyone envisions great things for Abigail Jones-her teachers, classmates, and family-even Abigail. However, one wrong decision while in college leads to an elaborate coverup scheme which has a domino effect on the rest of her life. Depressed, she drops out a semester before finishing her degree to enter into a marriage of convenience, which she thinks is the solution to her problems. She does eventually find love, and for a while, everything is rosy, but by midlife, regrets and guilt bubble back up to the surface. Anxiety takes a toll. Will a memoir writing class, recommended by a therapist, help her sort out her feelings and cope with her past?

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