A Book Lover’s Dream

©Illumination Photographics by Selena Lynn

©Illumination Photographics by Selena Lynn Bullock

Spring is in the air and thoughts of love. Well, I’m in love with reading. It’s not a bad thing and many well seasoned writers point out if you’re going to write, you need to read. Read far and wide, not just your writing genre. You can pick up on many good and bad things in reading, which will help you with your writing. Another bit of sound advice, which I need to take, don’t read so much about how to write, just WRITE.

My daughter has found she has a natural affinity for grammar and writing in her college English class. I don’t think it has much to do with any special curriculum used during her years as a homeschooler. I attribute it more to her being raised in a reading filled environment. Books have always been around our home, many childhood trips to libraries and bookstores, bedtimes filled with stories read aloud, and encouraging her to read books of her own choosing.

We’re both still voracious readers, just have very different tastes in books. I love going to the library and stocking up on books. Caregiving responsibilities have increased, so I hadn’t been in a while. I finally got to go(clapping hands and smiling big) and it was great…I think my enthusiasm may have scared the young librarian at the desk. 🙂 I told my sister it was as good as chocolate or s-e-x.

I checked out a big stack of books I’ve been wanting to get my hands on, as well as a few Mother Earth magazines. I was one HAPPY woman. I won’t bore you with all my books, some are just random ones I have an interest in like gardening and crochet.

Two were writing books : How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead by Ariel Gore(I don’t want to be famous, but it looked interesting on the flip through. I’ve enjoyed the humor the author uses throughout.) and On Writing : A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King(Love this…though be forewarned he is blunt and there is a bit of cursing if you’re on the prim & proper side. It’d be one of those times to not throw the baby out with the bath water as the saying goes…he offers a lot of good advice). The funny thing is this is the only book by Stephen King I’ve ever read…I don’t do scary.

Two other books were just for my reading enjoyment and have been on my “To Read” list a while. One is Interpreter of Maladies, which is a book of short stories by Jhumpa Lahiri. The other was Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda. I’m enjoying both of these, but have seen in places first hand examples of how too much detail can slow a story down. There are places with just the right amount of description, which make it easy to picture the story in my mind.

On a side note…if libraries make your heart soar, here’s a link with pictures of incredible libraries.

Latest Reads

The Love Letter

The Love Letter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you haven’t heard it before, I love used bookstores!  It’s an adventure perusing the shelves of books searching for treasures.  I have a wee bit of a love of books, which I have managed to tone down by being more selective in the books I bring home with me.  I just thought I’d take a moment and share some of the latest books I have discovered and read.

Among my finds, I was fortunate enough to run across another book by the author Samara O’Shea.  I read her book Note to Self : On Keeping a Journal and Other Dangerous Pursuits back in June and loved it.  This book, For the Love of Letters :  A 21st-Century Guide to The Art of Letter Writing, was another keeper.  As with her other book, she includes historic examples of letters as well as personal letters she herself has written.  She shares with such incredible heartfelt honesty.  This book has the conversational tone I like of a friend having a good talk with you and she has a wealth of suggestions to guide you in writing any type of letter imaginable from the simple thank you letter to the more passionate love letter.

Since I’m writing a memoir, I’ve been trying to read more memoirs and happened upon one that looked interesting.  The book is The House Where the Hardest Things Happened :  A Memoir About Belonging by Kate Young Caley.  The author shares genuine glimpses into her life from childhood into married adult life as she ventures along her journey to a deeper faith in God.  She asks questions I think many of us ask in life and she’s brave enough to try to seek out answers.  It was an enjoyable book and the only difficulty I had with it was the changing back and forth from things of adulthood back to childhood memories so often.

Of course, I had to pick up a book about writing, but only if it speaks to me(my heart).  I found a true treasure I love, The Writer’s Home Companion :  An Anthology of the World’s Best Writing Advice, from Keats to Kunitz.  It was edited and has the introduction by Joan Bolker, ED.D.  This book is such an incredible wealth of information.  If you read nothing else I would suggest my favorite from the book, which was an essay by the editor, “Not Just Writing, Really Writing”.  It contained incredible thoughts on honesty with ourselves and discovering our writer’s voice.  She also shared barriers, which sometimes keep women from speaking up.  It was a very freeing and powerfully written essay in my opinion.

This book includes many other things such as discovering ideas to write, tips for revising your work, and suggestions for considering your audience.  There is even a bit about writing poetry.  I even discovered a poem in the book I like, “One Art”, by Elizabeth Bishop.  It’s a poem about loss and is so sad, but so real.  It’s one of my favorite books I’ve read about writing so far.  

Hope you’ve found something you may want to dash off and read.  Now that I’ve finished these, I’ll have to be on the search for more.  I have a couple of books in my “to read” pile I’ll have to pull from for now.  The novel, The Binding Chair by Kathryn Harrison, looks interesting.  It’s about the lives of two women and set in Shanghai, China.  I have a bent towards novels about women’s lives and the historic.  A side note and talk about historic, I will be becoming a grandmother a bit prematurely in life.  My daughter is pregnant and will be welcoming a child into the world next year.

Any favorite reads you would like to share?  Thoughts?  Comments?…  🙂

Taking Chances

Poem based on Monday Melting prompt (week 20) from Rosemary Mint blog :

Lines of character upon her face
Feminine flair with ribbons and lace
Warrior spirit out of hiding
No longer silently residing
Hungry for a chance to live life
Conquering sorrows and denying strife
Willing to risk for just one chance
Tasting sweet love, a true romance

Lace hem of a half slip

Camp NaNoWrimo . . . Novel Writing!

Life has been busy, so I’ve not had as much time to blog as I would like.  Holding my breath and thinking things are slowing down.  At least the dust appears to be settling.  Still waiting to hear back on submissions I have sent out into the world.  Still managing to continue to journal and actually enjoying it since I’ve freed myself of thinking I must do it every single day.  And of course, of course, I am reading!

As if I don’t have enough to do, I’ve decided to try Camp NaNoWriMo.  I’m in a cabin, have settled in, and attempting to write my first fiction novel.  Only have a little over 2,300 words so far, but it’s early in the month.  I’m normally a non-fiction and poetry type gal, but thought it would be fun to give fiction a try.  You never know if you like something, unless you try.

Camp NaNoWrimo

Camp NaNoWrimo

This is the first time I’ve ever tried anything NaNoWriMo.  The big month is in November, but I’ll see how this goes first.  I didn’t even know what NaNoWriMo stood for until a few months ago.  In case you are as clueless as I was, it stands for National Novel Writing Month.  The goal is to begin something new, not an old project, and write at least 50,000 words.

The novel I am working on is a romance fantasy novel.  I thought it would be good for my first attempt as much of the advice I’ve read about writing novels is to write the type of novel you enjoy reading.  I love to read historical romance, but am not too good at history, hence the fantasy.

I got in a creative spurt yesterday and even had a little fun!  Yes, the kind of creative fun you can remember from art class in school.  Using markers and crayons, I created a map of the kingdom and surrounding areas the companions in my novel will be traveling through as they embark upon their quest.  Now I have an inspiring poster to kind of help keep me on track.

Hopefully this week will be calmer and productive.  It can be both can’t it?  I’ll hope so anyway.  Happy writing…

Of Course, More Books About Writing…

Photograph of one of Ronald Skirth's journals.

Photograph of one of Ronald Skirth’s journals. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of my great loves above writing is reading.  Sometimes I’ll read one book for hours and other times I have several going at once.  Not reading them at once, but I’ll read a bit of one and then read a bit of another.  Well, I discovered some more gems at my local public library I thought I’d share.  I’m always on the look out for a good book.

I’ve dabbled in journaling through the years.  More of an on again, off again type journaler, but attempted to journal.  Usually my results are a few entries and then it may get picked up again several months or a year later.  Well, I decided to pick up my journal again and start anew, so timing was perfect to spot the book Note to Self : On Keeping a Journal and Other Dangerous Pursuits by Samara O’Shea.

I’m almost halfway through, but have enjoyed this book.  Makes me feel so much less guilty in my journal attempts and gives me some thoughts to free my mind to journal.  She says even the sporadic journal entry will shed a lot on your life through the years rather than not journaling at all.  The author is even so brave as to share many of her actual journal entries with her readers.  She even gives ideas on topics you may want to journal about if you find yourself lacking ideas.

It’s funny how small the world is and the coicidences which occur at times.  Not too long ago I saw the movie Sylvia, which had Gwyneth Paltrow playing the American writer and poet Sylvia Plath.  I  had never heard of Sylvia Plath and have been reading up about her as well as some of her works.  Well, in the book, it says Sylvia was an avid journaler and there are some of her journal entries included as well.

I’m looking forward to finishing this book and have began to start journaling at night before I go to bed.  I’m trying to do it nightly, but giving myself permission to skip a night or nights if need be.  Hopefully will fend off discouragement and plan to do what you do if you fail at dieting one day, which is just get back up and try it again the next day.  Some reasons to journal are it’s cathartic, provides some historical evidence of your life for personal reflection, and provides another opportunity to write. 

The other book I discovered was Shimmering Images : A Handy Little Guide to Writing Memoir by Lisa Dale Norton.  It’s a small book and is written in a good conversational tone I quite enjoy.  I finished reading it in one evening.  Thought it might give me some helpful advice as I continue to plunge into writing a couple of memoirs and personal essays.  I’m not closing the doors on fiction, but have decided I am  more of a personal and non-fiction writer.

I really like the first part of her book, which shares our right to writing truths and at the same time doing so compassionately.  This includes being soul searchingly honest with ourselves as well as not playing the blame game.  While being careful not to persecute others unjustly, we must also not overly berate ourselves.  This is probably very hard for most, as it’s often said writers are their own worst critics.  I know I’m quicker to criticize myself than anyone else.

The second half of the book she shares what she means by shimmering images, which is basically a kind of memory in your mind you can see bits and pieces of, as well as gives ideas how to fill in those memories some.    Some of the ideas are doing things like memory mapping, asking family members questions, looking at old photos, and researching what was going on in the world during the time period of your memories.  Lastly in the second part she discusses how to get to the heart of what your story is actually about, so it has meaning.

The third part of her book shares information about useful tools for the writer.  She covers such things as choosing which perspective to write from and creating scenes in your memoir, which are important in memoir writing just as in writing fiction.  There is also helpful information on imagery and ways to avoid using cliches.  This was a good book and I appreciated the examples of memoir writing included by the author.

Do you journal?  What kind of journal writer  are you?  Besides Anne Frank, can you think of any other famous journalers or writers who keep/kept journals? . . .

Happy “National Poetry Month”

National Poetry Month Display @ Forest Hills

National Poetry Month Display @ Forest Hills (Photo credit: mySAPL)

Happy “National Poetry Month!”  I love poetry, so I am very excited there is a whole month dedicated to it.  Still reading the book about poetry I mentioned in a previous post.  It’s great and I am continuing to write more poems.  Finally wrote my first sestina, but think I prefer sonnets and free verse poetry.  Here are a few links for places to explore more about poetry :   Poetry Foundation , Everyday Poets, and Poets.org.

This post is a little later than I had planned, but life has gotten a bit busy.  The good thing is I am still writing and plan to endeavor to be better about blogging as well.  Presently been working on a few essays as well as the poetry.  Happy writing and I hope everyone has a good Easter!

Thoughts on Books about Writing

Amazon Kindle DX Graphite displaying Pride and...

Amazon Kindle DX Graphite displaying Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know I have mentioned before, I love bookstores and love to read!  This week I got a new book on my Kindle from Amazon and also picked up a new book at Barnes & Nobles in the mall on a trip with my daughter.  I have spent way too much time reading this week.

The book I put on my Kindle is Crafting the Personal Essay : A Guide for Writing and Publishing Creative Nonfiction by Dinty W. Moore.  Actually saw it in the mall, but just wrote down the title for future reference.  Well, ended up deciding to get it sooner than later, so did the Kindle version.

The book was so good to me, I have already finished reading it.  It contains so much information on writing personal essays.  Many different types of essays are discussed : memoir, contemplative, spiritual, gastronomical, lyric, nature, travel, and humerous.  I found out there are way more types of essays than I even knew existed.  The author does a good job of providing personal, historical, and more modern examples of essays.  There are also plenty of ideas provided for writing exercises and prompts.

The author shares essays are in a way like poetry as you have the freedom to explore any subject without being forced into a certain mold.  As with other forms of writing, details are important.  Again I saw the recommendation I’ve read in other places of the importance of “show, don’t tell.”  Making a point to try to include the reader of your writing into the world you are sharing with them.

There is general information and recommendations in the book, which would be beneficial to any writer.  Things such as expect the first draft of anything to be bad, expect rejections, and write anything as long as you are writing if faced with writer’s block.  There are sections about blogging, writing groups, and preparing submissions as well.

Even the appendixes in this book are great.  They contained lists of essay examples, books about writing, and places in print as well as online that will accept personal essays.  Overall it was an easy to read book written in a friendly tone and the only sections I occasionally skipped over were if there was a rather lengthy essay example that was not catching my attention.  It is a book I plan on referring to again for pointers and ideas for writing essays.

The other book I got at the mall was Writing The Life Poetic :  An Invitation to Read & Write Poetry by Sage Cohen.  Besides writing essays, I have found a true love of poetry and enjoyed this book on my initial thumb through.  It has 80 short chapters and instead of reading it straight through as I do most books, I’ve started on chapter 56 and read about 10 chapters so far.  So far so good.  Has lots of examples of poetry, good information about writing poetry, and how to share your poetry with others.  I will try to share more once I finish reading it.