For FALL 2010's delicious offerings of books, art, food, film, and unique travel--check out the NEW ISSUE of our online magazine FEAST--you will not go away hungry-- http://www.feastofbooks.com/

Between issues, read our blog posts as we and our special guests share thoughts, ideas, and recommendations about books, art, food, film, and travel. We love to hear from our readers, so please post a comment! Thanks-- Rosemary Carstens, editor

SNAX ONLINE is moving during the first quarter of 2011 -- stay tuned!

Snax Online is undergoing a redesign and will be moving to a new location. Check back from time to time for a link. In its new format, this blog will cover a wider range of topics but also its usual five. In the meantime, keep up with what's happening in the world of books, art, food, film, and travel at http://www.FEASTofBooks.com --

See you in 2011!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ride on, Rosie, ride on . . .Keeping the rubber side down

The last couple of weeks in December each year are a time of looking back over the past year and figuring out what I’d like to happen in the new one. A lot of people tell me they don’t make new year’s resolutions, but I’ve always found it’s a way to keep on track with my personal, spiritual, and career goals, so I don’t mind it.

I think people often feel they are probably not going to be able to keep their resolutions, so why do it and then just feel like they’ve failed. I look at it more as a continuum—I’m headed in a certain direction, here’s what it’ll likely take to get there, if I don’t get the whole journey in this year, there will at least be some progress along the way. I try to feel good about the progress, the way points, and not worry about exactly when I’ll arrive at the destination. For me, in many ways, it’s like riding cross-country on my motorcycle. Each day I continue in my chosen direction, but each is a special adventure all its own. Maybe it’ll be a glorious one—sun blazing in a hot summer sky, a good breakfast under my belt as I saddle up, no wind, no rain, no crazed motorists, only the blue highway unwinding before me like a promise of good times. On the other hand, it may be one of those days plagued by heavy traffic, hail and lightning storms, switchback after switchback, mile after mile bulked up in rain gear, suffering waves of water in the face as semis roll past. You just never know—when you ride a motorcycle, weather is fate. It shapes your days.

Right now, fate seems to be taking the form of a bad economy, something we will have to try to ride out safely, to weather the storm. Thinking now about some strategies for doing that could help us feel more prepared and less worried. Among my resolutions for 2009 is to first figure out how I can diversify as much as possible, so that all my work efforts aren’t tied to one industry, then devise a plan and work it, day by day. An important part of that plan will be to reinforce my work relationships with present clients and look for opportunities with new ones, always asking myself the question: What do THEY need? What can I do to ease THEIR problems? I think that’ll yield some new contracts. If not now, then later.

But I’m not just thinking about career resolutions in the year ahead. Since I know it may be a stressful time, I’ll need to set and keep some physical fitness, general nutrition, and recreational/social goals. Those things will help me keep my life in balance. What kinds of goals would you like to accomplish in the months ahead? It has been said that telling someone else your goals and dreams is one way to keep on track. Here’s a place where you can do that—share what your plans are to deal with your finances, your relationships, your health needs, and to tell us what you plan to do for pure joy in 2009. FEAST is about books, art, food, film, and travel—do you have plans next year to feed your heart and soul with any of these?

-- Rosemary Carstens

Friday, December 05, 2008

“Ancestors whispering over my shoulder . . . “

As readers, we often wonder—and ask at book readings—where authors get their ideas. For CARMEN TAFOLLA, the much celebrated Chicana writer, poet, speaker and performer, it is those who have come before that whisper into her ear. Carmen has published five books of poetry, eight children’s picture books, seven television screenplays, one nonfiction volume, and, her latest, a collection of short stories titled THE HOLY TORTILLA AND A POT OF BEANS (Wings Press 2008). Honored with the Art of Peace award for writing that furthers peace, justice, and human understanding, Carmen’s stories contain more than a touch of magic about the Mexican experience, the immigrant, “other culture” experience that is all too often pushed to the periphery of American writing. Channeling stories she’s heard all her life or merely glanced at from the corner of her eye and absorbed into her bones, her characters spring to life to celebrate the joy, tragedy, compassion, oppression, and liberation of a certain way of living.

I often suggest books here that focus on the myriad of cultures that make up the category “American” people, because I feel the more we learn, the more we know, the more we understand our common ground and also the uniqueness that each brings to the mix, the richer we are. Sometimes we feel left out in our own culture, or it’s simply not a fit for our personality, our psyche. When we know more about the ways of others, we have a source for something different—a new tradition, another style, another beat, that we can make our own. With a new year approaching, why not branch out in our reading, seek something new, try some salsa on that meatloaf? Perhaps start with reading Tafolla’s Holy Tortilla or some of her poetry, buy a child one of her bilingual picture books. For more about this talented woman: http://www.carmentafolla.com/

-- Rosemary Carstens