Sunday, January 29, 2012

Reader's Bliss

Photo courtesy of Free Artistic Photos

In my last post, I mentioned the beautiful stack of new books on my desk. I'm quickly making my way through that pile and experiencing all kinds of reader's bliss in the process. Here's a look at what that means to me:

  • Bliss is finding a book that takes your mind off of your own writing for a while.
  • Bliss is finding a a book that is so beautifully written, that the minute you read the last word, you turn back to the front and begin reading it again.
  • Bliss is discovering a new (to you) author, getting hooked on her books, and not having to wait for her to write more.
  • Bliss is having a friend who reads the same books that you do so that you can discuss them when you finish.
  • Bliss is reading a book that not only inspires you to be your best, but makes you believe your best is truly possible.
  • Bliss is reading a book that makes you feel like someone understands you.
  • Bliss is reading a book that makes you feel like you've made new friends.
  • Bliss is reading a book that helps you understand more about human nature and how much we all have in common, no matter how great our differences.
  • Bliss is reading a book that makes you feel loved for who you are.
  • Bliss is reading a book that you think about for days after you finish reading it.

Photo courtesy of Free Artistic Photos

What does your reader's bliss look like and what was the last book that transported you there?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Time for a Little Fun

Last week I received The Versatile Blogger Award from new blogging friend, Fiona J. Phillips over at Fi's Magical Writing Haven. Thanks, Fi. I'd also like to thank C. Lee McKenzie from The Write Game, for bestowing this honor on me several months back.

The rules insist that I tell you seven things you don't know about me, and pass the award on to five other bloggers, so here goes:

1.  I'm keeping all of the chocolates I received for Christmas (coconut wreaths, cordial cherries, thin mints, assorted cremes, etc.) on my desk. I've been spending an inordinate amount of time in my office this month. Any connection? I'll let you decide ;)

2.  I also received a gift card to our local independent book shop. Stacked in a very satisfying pile on the corner of my desk (next to the cache of chocolates) are North of Beautiful, by Justina Chen HeadleyI am the Messenger by Markus Zusak, Second Sight by Cheryl B. KIein, and May B. by Caroline Starr Rose. I am in readers bliss.

3. I love to bake, but hate to cook. Give me Toll House cookie bars over pork chops any day!

4. I never learned to dress like an adult. I wear jeans, t-shirts and sneakers every day. (Although I recently went on a shopping spree in preparation for attending a writers conference later in the year.) I almost don't recognize myself all dressed up.

5.  Figuring out what to make for dinner is my least favorite part of each day. Sometimes I just want to scream, "Really, I have to cook every day?"

6. Although I swore this would never happen to me, I sometimes forget how old I am.

7. I was once asked if my (older) sister was my daughter. This happened only once and I tell myself that the room was dimly lit, the woman who asked was elderly and surely she had some sort of vision impairment. It wasn't. And to my knowledge, she didn't. But I tell myself this anyway.

And now I'd like to pass this award on to five of my blogging friends. I hope you'll click on over and check them out.

1.  Mirka Breen shares wonderfully honest posts on her own blog and is a faithful commenter on so many others. Thanks, Mirka!
2.  Susanna Leonard Hill runs a truly versatile blog. She's always got something going on: challenges, contests, polls, prompts. There's never a dull moment.
3.  Janet Sumner Johnson because she is awesome! See this post.
4.  Sarah Pearson has an addicting blog feature called Musical Stories. If you haven't already, you're going to want to check them out. 
5.  Rosalind Adam because she's one of the nicest people I've met since I started blogging.

Now, to celebrate the fact that I'm going to be diving into the query process with my YA novel in verse this week, I'm joining a reading challenge. My daughter, Amanda, is hosting a Novels In Verse Reading Challenge over at Born Bookish.

I've signed on at the Sonnet Level to read 9-12 novels in verse before the end of the year. I hope you'll consider joining as well. And if you've never read a novel in verse, you may be surprised to find how many of them there are. She's got lists of both MG and YA titles here.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Infused words

Photo courtesy of Free Artistic Photos

Last month, I was at the library one day looking for a book that might help my daughter with a paper she was writing for school. As I browsed the shelves, I found a book called The End of Suffering: Finding Purpose in Pain by Scott Cairns.  After having watched my father decline into dementia for years, caring for him, and then finally moving him into a nursing home, I have done a good bit of thinking about suffering. I left the library that day with a tall stack of books for my daughter and a tiny 126-page treasure for myself.

Ironically, just a few weeks after I picked up that book, my father’s suffering came to an end. As I mentioned in my last post, he passed away mid-December. And I have to say, there is great peace in knowing that he is no longer suffering. But we seek solace in many different ways, and after receiving the comfort of friends and family, I was ready to pick up Scott Cairns’ book to hear and learn from another’s experience. Just a few paragraphs into the book, the author writes, “Like most people, I, too, have been blindsided by personal grief now and again over the years. And I have an increasingly keen sense that, wherever I am someone nearby is suffering now.” His words are infused with empathy and compassion and though the author and I are strangers, I read them as the words of a friend.

The day following Dad’s funeral, I was drawn back to my desk, eager to get back to the business of writing. Friends advised me to give myself time, not to rush back into things, but I had to wonder, if I was not writing, what I should be doing. Getting back to words on the page was what I longed for.

Likewise, Cairns’ speaks of art as a form of consolation. “Laboring over the wheel, the canvas, the written page, or the musical score can bring to the laborer a powerfully consoling sense of purpose.” He then quotes philosopher George Steiner for a helpful sense of why this is so: “Any coherent understanding of what language is and how language performs. . .any coherent account of the capacity of human speech to communicate meanings and feelings is, in the final analysis, underwritten by the assumption of God’s presence.”

For me this brought to mind the four different clergymen who stopped into my father’s hospital room during the week he was dying. Although we only personally knew one of them, their words and prayers were no less comforting for having come from strangers. Their words were infused with strength, joy, hope, love, beauty, and truth.

What are your words infused with?