Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Authors and Writers Shines the Light on Linda Ballou

Love this  interview with Jo Lindsdell of Authors and Writers Fame. 

What genre do you write and why?
That is a conundrum. My proudest achievement is my historical novel Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i. However, it was a great pleasure to travel the world collecting stories for my travel memoir Lost Angel Walkabout-One Travelers Tales. I have a host of non-fiction travel articles to my credit that are viewable on my site.  Right now, I have a young adult novel titled Cow Girl Jumped over the Moon in the works. I do not fit into a traditional publishing slot or in that pigeon hole. That is why I am thrilled to have viable, independent publishing options available.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Young Poet Breathes Life into Old Hawai'i

Alika N.

Alex "Alika" Noholoa Windell is a poet and lyricist experimenting with language fusions. He speaks four languages and has a special fondness for the Hawaiian language.
He loves the poetic rhythms of the Hawaiian mele. In his ode to the Isle of Maui he blends Hawaiian with English to great effect.


Loke lani, lovely blossom (Loke lani = official flower of the island of Mauʻi)
When your island holds my hands
To show me all her faces
Onaona, nahenahe (onaona = alluring, nahenahe = soft)
One is gentle, one is sweet
When the Maui mornings so serene
Mumble love through flowers so pristine
They touch all my senses!
So here my hands are always open
E hele mai, and never leave! (e hele mai = come)
Hana, Maui

You can find more of his poems at deviantART
In addition to audio poems he has a host of musical renditions combining Hawaiian/English lyrics with innovative sounds. You can listen to his creations at this link on Jango. My favorite is Moonbow.

Alika is presently working on a stage play he describes as a fairy tale inspired by Hawaiian mythology.

It is lovely to see how the legends of old Hawaii have influenced this thoroughly modern world citizen in his creative life.

Linda Ballou Author of Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai'i

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Warm Aloha for Wai-nani in Malibu

Linda and Joanie of Malibu
One of the most rewarding and fun things about sharing my writing is meeting the wonderful people who connect with my work. Joan Cate,  AKA "Joanie of Malibu" loves Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawaii. She sees herself swimming with Wai-nani's dolphin family. She tells me that she is enthralled by the poetic language of the book and dazzled by the sensual descriptions of ancient Hawaii and the statuesque Hawaiian people.

She loves Wai-nani so much that she is hostessing lively conversations about my historical novel at the Bank of Books in Malibu. I attended the first meeting where I shared insights in the ancient Hawaiian culture and how it is still in play today. We talked about lessons learned from the people of old. Ho'oponopono, for example is a form of mediation led by an elder that calls for all to bring an attitude or forgiveness. Family disputes dissolved during these sessions.

The next conversation will deal with how Wai-nani embodies the empowered female. Precocious  Ka'ahumanu the favorite wife of Kamehameha the Great who rose to become the most powerful woman in old Hawaii, was the inspiration for Wai-nani's character. It is very gratifying for me to share why I felt she was an overlooked heroine who deserved the spotlight.

 Thank you, "Joanie of Malibu" for spreading the good word!!

Can't make the talks? You can read Wai-nani and direct your questions to me. I have a playlist on YouTube called Book Club Answers that provide answers to the most common questions readers have about my rendering of the people of old Hawaii.
There is more to the Islands than meets the eye

Monday, August 11, 2014

Around the World TV Spotlights My Oregon Adventures

Multnomah Falls, Columbia Gorge

The Columbia Gorge is a delightful waterfall wonderland with a web of trails lined with ferns and flowers shaded by old growth forests. I hiked them with ten other guests of  New England Hiking Holiday and our  guides who did all the heavy lifting. Days end brought us to stately Skamania Lodge where we enjoyed garden fresh salads and local salmon among other delicately prepared meals.  A nightcap beside a warming fire beneath velvet skies filled with a billion stars ended another brilliant day. Highlights of my trip that included touring the Hood River Valley, a wonderful hike along the Salmon River and a week on the stunning Oregon Coast complimented by award winning, nature photographer Greg Vaughn await you in this interview.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Devil's Punch Bowl in the Columbia Gorge-Oregon

No trip to the Columbia Gorge in Oregon is complete without a hike up popular Eagle Creek. The moment you enter the well-groomed path, you are swallowed in green.

Chatty smaller streams join the run through the majestic forest. The drop-off naturally becomes more precipitous as you climb up canyon. Often the trail narrows to a ledge with a well-placed handrail to steady your nerves. Sprays of pink and white flowers nestled in ferns cling to the basalt canyon walls, and around each bend is another stunning view of the deepening chasm.
Devils Punch Bowl is the first of three falls along the way to High Bridge, our lunch destination. Rock walls deep in the canyon are matted with mosses, ferns, and lichens. With abundant life all about, I felt refreshed, soothed, restored, and deliriously happy to be here. Four-miles in, we crossed over a heart-catching cleft in basalt walls with black water flowing far below. At our lunch stop I shed my boots and dangled my dogs in the tingling water while our guides laid out a delicious spread. Heaven can wait! I'm busy. For more on this adventure to to New England Hiking Holidays.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Columbia Gorge/Mt. Hood Up Close and Personal

Evan and Kristin make it to Oneonta Gorge
Kristin and Evan are a delightful couple from Arizona that joined me on a hiking adventure with New England Hiking Holidays in the Columbia Gorge/Mt. Hood region of Oregon. I am working on articles about this wonderland of waterfalls that will appear soon, but for immediate gratification click go to Kristin's photo album on Facebook

Evan wanted to see the Oneonta Gorge which requires swimming in a mountain stream fed by snowfields in the Cascade Mountains. I take credit for saving Kristin’s life when she slipped and nearly fell into a chasm getting her Nat. Geo. shot.  (Note shot of scraped leg.) Nothing went un-documented. Great fun had by all lucky enough to take this Oregon trip offered by NEHH each year in June when the flowers are in full swing and the mountain air is scintillating.

I am  wearing California Yellow

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Is it wrong to fall in love with your heroine?

Somewhere between researching the life of Ka’ahumanu and creating the fictionalized Wai-nani, I fell in love with my heroine.
So smitten was I with the fiery, brave personage of Ka’ahumanu (Wai-nani) that I determined to tell Hawai’i’s story through her eyes. Even though born into the rank and privilege of the royal class, she railed against harsh punishments meted out by priests and ruling chiefs invested with the power of gods. She questioned the status quo and confronted authority. She was clever and moved like water around her enemies, solving her problems with intellect rather than force. She faced her fears and pushed through them becoming stronger in adversity. And finally, she lifted the dragon tail from her path and rose to become the most respected and powerful woman in all of old Hawai’i.
She could be seen skittering across the waves on a surfboard with Kamehameha the Great who declared her to be his favorite wife. She was a beautiful dancer, a strong swimmer, and one practiced in the healing arts.  Though she was a childless bride, she remained Kamehameha’s confidant and paramour over his 40-year rise to power. At his death in 1819 he bestowed upon her the power to rule equally with his son.
Art by Steve Strickland

To me she was the ultimate empowered female and a forerunner to the modern independent woman. I saw myself in her and grew stronger in telling her story. She gave me the courage to publish Wai-nani –A Voice from Old Hawai’i. Is it love, or is it admiration mixed with deep envy of her life in hauntingly beautiful old Hawai’i that I feel for my heroine? I don’t’ think it was wrong of me to fall in love with my character in the process of bringing her to life. In fact it might be required passion in the work for readers to fall in love too.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Video clips shed light on #Ancient Hawai'i

As an adventure travel writer I love to travel and spend time writing about my explorations.  I also love sharing Wai-nani, A Voice from OldHawai’i with book clubs, but I cannot be available for Skype meet-Wai-nani and to direct them to my video playlist.
ups. Brief video clips answering the most common questions I receive from readers about my book seemed a very good answer to this dilemma.
In the story I weave myth, legend, and actual historical incidents that raises the question in the minds of readers “What is True?”   In this clip I address this very important question.
Is the story historically accurate? http://youtu.be/wI4BONZhbjY
Each of the thirteen clips I created answer specific questions about the Hawaiian culture. For instance, the death of Captain James Cook at the hands of the Islanders has long been a controversial topic in Hawaiian history, so I presented my position on the matter.
Did the Hawaiians stab Captain Cook in the back? http://youtu.be/_S0kD-RtcK8
Here is my response to the question “Did Hawaiians have “Love Games?”
Did Hawaiians Have Love Games? 
 It is my hope that sharing in this way readers will not only come away with a better understanding of the ancient Hawaiian culture, but that they it will give readers a more personal connection with me.  People love videos because reading huge amounts of written content becomes over-whelming. I hope people will find my videos about Wai-nani, entertaining and informative and will share them with friends!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Magic of the Iao Needle in Wailuku Valley

Was it just a coincidence that the Maui Beach Hotel where I was staying sits on Kahalui Bay where Kamehameha landed in the late 1790 with his armada of Alapa warriors?  From the beach at the hotel, I can see the mouth of the impregnable Wailuku Valley backed by steep cliffs and the primordial Iao needle
Iao Needle
piercing clouds hovering on its flank. .
 I tried to imagine the scene. Hundreds of warriors landing in double-hulled outriggers wearing the red malos of war, carrying spears and short knives. They trampled over the Mauin forces that met them at this beach and then marched “onward to Wailuku” several miles inland to defeat Kahikili,
Mauin Warrior
Kamehameha’s arch rival for power over the Islands. They rolled Lopeka, a cannon seized from a western sloop, up the rocky trail until they backed the Mauin forces into a corner at Wailuku. The slaughter that ensued was harsh even for the time.
Was it just chance that Kona Winds literally blew me off the beach at Paia yesterday and forced me to the venture to the sheltered valley?  When I arrived, the iconic Iao needle normally obscured by thick clouds flashed a brilliant green spotlighted by afternoon sun. The sheer 3,000- foot-pali that protect the valley sheathed in thick blue-green verdure are impossible to climb.
Wailuku River
 Water whispers sweetly through taro ponds with rust-red ti leaves on the edges creating an Eden-like setting for a Hawaiian village. Four streams merge here to form the Wailuku River that was clogged with bodies and ran red when Kamehameha’s warriors finally did conquer the Mauin forces after many failed attempts.
It seemed a guiding force brought me here to witness the glory of this valley. Was it the spirit of Ka’hahumnu who wanted me to know the beauty of this place haunted by the ghosts of so brave warriors? Was she trying to help me get the Hawaiian story right? I like to think so.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Under the Cover with Randy Jay Braun

Over the years that it took me to write Wai-nani, A Voicefrom Old Hawai’i, I had two yellowing postcard images taped to my wall. One was of a woman with arms stretched to the heavens, knees bent deeply, wearing a swaying ti leaf skirt in a classic kahiko dance pose.
The other was a muscular Hawaiian man glistening with vitality wearing a malo, or loin cloth, with knees bent arms outstretched, hair flying also doing hula. I looked to these two images while conjuring the love scenes that take place in the story. This man and woman epitomized the natural beauty and grace of people in a culture I so admired.

After a year of searching on the internet for an image that would convey the spirit of my book, I settled upon one by Randy Jay Braun. He is a photographer internationally known for his realistic depictions of Hawaiian dancers doing the ancient kahiko dance of Hawai’i. It is called “Celebration of Life.” Since Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i is a celebration of the people of old, I felt it was fitting.
The silhouette of a dancer with arms stretched to the heavens to capture mana, or spiritual power, depicts a sacred ceremony.  The deep purple, tinged with gold, sunset evokes a sense of mystery and hopefully invites the reader to enter a world largely unknown to western readers.
Randy Jay Braun

It is ironic that the two images I held in my mind over twenty years of research and writing were also those of Randy Jay Braun. I was not aware of that fact until I found them on his site along with the image that eventually became the cover of my book.   Writing Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i has been a long, satisfying journey with many serendipitous discoveries along the way.  I have met many wonderful people who have opened their hearts to me with warm aloha and lent their talents to enrich the telling of the Hawaiian story. A special thank you to Randy Jay Braun for allowing me to use his image for the cover of my book.