• Bookish,  NaNoWriMo,  Personal,  Writing

    Wednesday Words: on writing

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    Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

    November means NaNoWriMo!

    What?

    I’ve gotten that question a few times in the past week. It stands for National Novel Writing Month. It has nothing to do with Mork & Mindy and Mork’s famous tagline.

    The basic premise is that you write every day in the month of November and end up with a novel of 50,000 words. That breaks down to 1667 words written per day which sounds a lot less intimidating.

    The program has been in existence since 1999 so obviously there are a lot of people that participate willingly and have some fun throughout the process. And let me emphasize some when we are talking the about fun part.

    I have watched from the sidelines since I first started seeing it talked about. Sure it sounded interesting but did I really want to do that?

    It turns out that this year was the year I decided it would be an interesting experience. So in the last week of October, I spent time outlining a few different ideas and putting real names and descriptions to the characters I have thought about for years.

    Where will this end up? I’m not sure at all. I’ve been writing everyday and it’s been a fun/interesting experience. I have always loved to read but actually working out your own process makes you appreciate the books you read even more.

    Writing is hard work. It’s also a mind game where your creative brain spends a lot of time making plot pieces fit together like puzzle pieces while the logical side of your brain tells you that there is a missing piece and what a bad idea this was in the first place.

    Remember the some fun part from earlier? This is precisely the some part that I was talking about.

    I enjoy writing so why not add in a challenge to mix it up?

    Why not? I’ll let you know on December 1st.

    In the meantime, I’ll be writing. And when I’m not I’ll be enjoying the books I am reading. Because when you are paying attention to plot structure and characters when you write, you pay even better attention to what a seasoned author has done with their characters and their own plot.

    For me, this alone makes NaNoWriMo worth it because I’m enjoying the books I read that much more.

    As for the rest – I’ll just have to see where it goes.

    Until then, while I write, here are a few big novels to come out of NaNoWriMo in past years:

    Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

    The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

    and Fan Girl by Rainbow Rowell

    … just to name a few.

    Are you participating in NaNoWriMo or have you in the past?

  • ARC's,  Book Reviews,  Bookish

    Hope and Other Superpowers: a book review

    ✂️✂️✂️✂️✂️/5

    A book about superheroes, our current political landscape, and hope? And they go together all in one book?

    Yep.

    I have followed the author, John Pavlovitz since 2016, shortly after Trump was elected. He popped up in my Facebook feed and I headed to his blog to read more. He is viewed as polarizing pastor in some circles but oddly enough, it’s primarily the church circles who view him as such.

    So, a book review about politics, religion and a polarizing pastor? This should go well.

    It will. I promise. Because this book is about hope and I don’t know a single person, in the church or out of the church, who doesn’t need hope. I know I do.

    And did I mention superheroes? He uses all the well known superheroes to beautifully illustrate the points of his book. I’m a sucker for superheroes so I was hooked.

    What this book boils down to is how we treat each other and how we inspire and give hope to others. That issue is something that has been on my mind a lot lately, and really, the past several years.

    John gave an example of watching coverage of Hurricane Harvey and rescue after rescue – others helping others without a care as to what their political views were, what church they attended or didn’t attend, their race, or whether they were legal citizens or not.

    That was eye opening to me because he was right; I watched the same footage and I never wondered if the woman stranded in her home voted for Trump or Clinton.

    I would be lying if I said that my heart doesn’t hurt for how our president treats others or that I can support that behavior just because he is our president. I can’t look past it in favor of policy. But at the same time, I can’t directly influence a change in him either and that realization has been deeply dividing for our country.

    This book helped me to refocus.

    He wrote about activism; a word that scares a lot of people. But it’s really not frightening at all when it ends up as simply looking to help those who have been marginalized in your own community. I don’t have to 100% agree with someone to be kind and helpful.

    I don’t even agree with the author on every point but I took from the book what I needed for my heart, for my life. And that’s the approach I’m going to start taking on a daily basis. It’s hard to be angry and despondent when you are focused on helping others.

    From a writing perspective, John is a great writer. He is passionate and he has a way of conveying his passion through examples, like the Hurricane Harvey passage, and of course the superheroes.

    This was a fairly quick read and left me feeling better than I did before I started the book. I am still thinking about what he wrote and that is typically a sign of a good book – if it sticks with you after you turn the final page.

    Who would I recommend this book to? Anyone in need of hope; especially the weary and the hurting. And please don’t let the pastor thing scare you off. This book was written for everyone and quite possibly more for those who have been hurt and turned away by the traditional church.

    This book is available on November 6th which just happens to be Election Day. Well played, John Pavlovitz. Because no matter how the results come in, hope is still needed whether you are red or blue.

    Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher, Simon & Schuster, for the advanced reader’s copy. I received this ebook for free in exchange for my honest opinion.

  • Book Club For Introverts,  Bookish

    Book Club for Introverts

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    Our first pick!

    I am an introvert at heart. Life and my career force me to talk to people and I manage just fine. But by the time the day is over, I am out of words and energy to interact with other humans. Even talking to my dogs is pushing it at times.

    I also love reading and talking about reading. But the idea of a face-to-face book club just doesn’t work for me because of time and just wanting to be home at the end of the day. So I started thinking about online book clubs. Were they even a thing?

    Well, Oprah and Reese Witherspoon certainly would agree that they work so why not?

    Enter in “Book Club for Introverts“. Each month we will select a book by voting on four choices. Two lucky members will win their choice of the hardcopy, ebook, or audiobook.

    We have almost 60 members and for our first month Bitter Orange is our book choice. The author, Claire Fuller, graciously sent me the readers guide and I’m so excited to start reading and discussing.

    It’s not too late to join and anyone is welcome; just click this link. Anyone is welcome!

    And yes, I find it humorous that we have a book club of nearly 60 introverts.

    adult blur books close up

    Introverts unite! … online!

    Here are the hardcopy, Kindle, and Audible links if you’re interested. These are affiliate links; you are charged no more, I just get a little extra money to buy more books!

  • Book Reviews,  Bookish,  mental health,  parenting,  Recommendations

    Book Review: This is How It Always Is

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    Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

    – Martin Luther King Jr.

    Rating: ✂️✂️✂️✂️.5/5

    If you want to read a book that will make you laugh, cry, think, and easily find your way into someone else’s shoes, This is How is Always Is is a great pick.

    I was raised conservative Methodist, went to private parochial school, and was indoctrinated with conservative southern views and politics just by living in the buckle of the Bible Belt. Today I classify myself as a moderate liberal but more than that, I classify myself as pro-kindness and believe it’s important to extend respect and grace even when we have different views.

    This book does a beautiful job of illustrating just that: grace.

    When Claude, the youngest of five boys bounds down the stairs in a dress and insists on wearing it outside the house and eventually to school, everything this family knows as normal is turned upside down as Poppy emerges as their youngest family member.

    Remember the part about being in someone else’s shoes? That happens a few minutes into the book and the author doesn’t let you change your shoes until the end. And at that point I don’t really think you will want to anyways.

    From each family member’s perspective, the reader gets to question, grieve, get angry, keep secrets, and learn to accept their youngest sibling/child as Poppy.

    There were the expected struggles in school, with friends, and most often with other adults but you also got the unique voice of Poppy, an intelligent, insightful, and brave girl. The author did a fantastic job giving us a glimpse of the inner dialogue of a child trying to figure out who they are; just like all kids.

    It gives the reader plenty of time to consider what they would do and for me it was obvious: I would love my child and support them as they figured out the world.

    We all have our differences, be it mental illness, a physical disability, personality quirks, or even something that happened in our past that permanently changes who we are. Despite that, we all want to be who we are and to be accepted. Same with Poppy.

    The characters were all well-developed and I especially enjoyed the relationship between the husband and wife, Penn and Rosie, who also had non-traditional roles. Penn is an author and stays at home. Rosie is a physician. The dialogue between the two of them was real, honest, and accurate for parents navigating raising five children.

    My one problem with the book as a whole was when Penn and Rosie referred, multiple times, to having four and a half boys. It’s their story but it felt like a minimization of their youngest child. A kid is never half a kid.

    I enjoyed this book immensely and while I found the writing a tad sloppy at times, it never distracted from the story or the very timely message. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys stories about real families dealing with real issues. Don’t be afraid of an “agenda” because it’s just not there.

    The only agenda here is that parenting is messy and all we can do is love our kids for who they are, not who we want them to be.

  • Bookish,  Feminism,  mental health,  parenting,  Personal,  Wit,  Writing

    Wednesday Words: The Joy of Syntax

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    Have you ever felt like a second person narrator in your own life? What is a second person narrator? Here you go:

    This point of view is the least common of all three persons, mostly because it’s the hardest to pull off …. You’ll recognize this point of view by the use of you, your, yourself with the absolute exclusion of any personal pronouns (I, me, myself). The narrator is the reader. It’s tricky, but it can be done.

    This sounds like the parenting life!

    The past four years of my life have felt like they happened to me. Multiple situations completely out of my control but demanding every bit of strength I had.

    Severe mental illness, physical assault, death, grief, angry and grieving teenagers, a traveling husband, a third teenager who slipped through the cracks, sexual assault, PTSD/anxiety/depression, police interviews, suicidal ideation, therapy appointments, psychiatrist appointments, loss of a hobby, loss of a passion, being used, disrespect, entitlement, addiction, lost dreams, lost friends, a new school, brighter days on the horizon…

    How are you feeling? What do you need? How was your school day? Your orthodontist appointment is tomorrow. The school called about the assault on you. You have therapy tomorrow. Did you take your meds? Are those boys leaving you alone? You can’t drink as much as you are. You can’t do drugs in our house. It’s time for you to be an adult. You love high school?! You have overcome so much. You are fierce.

    You get the point.

    The definition of the second person says that it can be tricky but it can be done; it’s  exclusively you, they, them. That is 100% accurate and correct; it is tricky.

    The exclusion of  I, me, myself is a dangerous way to live. It happens but it’s not without consequences. You miss what’s happening in your actual life while trying to stay on top of everything else that is moving so fast.

    It took four years but it caught up with me. Don’t worry because I’m ok. I have a great therapist. And a fantastic husband.

    I’m writing again. And in my research, along with my favorite “Ferris Bueller” quote, I found the antidote to living in the second person: change the point of view. Tell my story and flip the script to the first person POV where I can ask for help, I can say how I feel, I can put boundaries in place, and I can tell my story.

    Please don’t take this as me making it all about me. Because every good story has a balance; multiple perspectives and plot lines. And if the book is good, they converge and tell a cohesive and relatable story. But it takes everyone, even the antagonist(s) to create a rich plot. Because without adversity, there’s really no story arc and it results in something flat and boring.

    Our life has been anything but boring. Would I change anything about the past 4 years? Probably not. I certainly have learned from these years and for that I’m thankful.

    But I’m also really, really thankful that what our family wrote doesn’t resemble a horror novel and something closer to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”.

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    And yes, I unapologetically admit to being Jeanie.

    Isn’t writing amazing? What surprising thing has it taught you about your own life?

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