Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Value of Losing Our Leaves

In my reading this week, I came across an excerpt from the poem "A Home in Dark Grass" by Robert Bly.

We did not come to remain whole.
We came to lose our leaves like the trees
The trees that are broken
And start again, drawing up from the great roots.

Photo courtesty of Free Artistic Photos
His words spoke to me on so many different levels. They illustrate the cycle of life, the fact that nothing remains the same. We all have journeys to take, changes to experience, growth to let shape us.    

Photo courtesy of Free Artistic Photos
Then as it relates to writing. We did not come to remain whole, to keep our words and our stories within ourselves. We came to lose our leaves like the trees, bloom in brilliant colors, but then let go of our stories, send them fluttering on the wind to distant places, beyond ourselves. Each time we start anew we draw up from our roots, from the things within us that strengthen us, and start over. Thinking of it in this way, as a cycle that repeats itself like the seasons within the perfect timing of God’s universe, gives me hope for those days when I finish a story and it feels like I’ve just used up my last idea. Ever.

I don’t worry in autumn when the leaves turn brown and crisp, that the trees won’t bloom again in spring. The resting phase of winter is necessary. In that same way, I’m learning to trust the writing process and to enjoy every season.

Photo courtesy of Free Artistic Photos
Do you go through a "resting phase" with your writing, allowing ideas to strengthen and grow below the surface before you approach the page?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Getting Well, Joining the Campaign, and Sharing the Love

I've signed on for another round of platform-building, blogger-friend-finding fun with Rachael Harrie's Platform Building Campaign. I had meant to post sooner to help spread the word before sign ups closed, but I was knocked out of commission for a few days with a nasty stomach virus. Thankfully, my daughter and my husband took good care of me, making sure I had plenty of saltines, ginger ale, and soup.

In any case, if you're a new visitor, thanks for stopping by and I look forward to getting to know you and your blog better throughout the campaign!

I'd also like to thank Patricia from Children's Books Heal for awarding me the Kreative Blogger award. She runs a wonderful book review blog and I'm so happy to have gotten to know her through the blogging experience.

The rules of the award are to thank the person who nominated you for the award and post a link to their blog. Then list 10 things about myself and award the blog to six other deserving bloggers.

However, I'm shortening things a bit, because being out of commission for the past four days has set me behind on EVERYTHING. I need to start catching up with life again!

Five things about me:

1.  I am constantly fighting the battle against clutter, but rarely feel like I'm winning.

2.  I made Ranger cookies last week and convinced myself that with all of the Rice Krispies and Oatmeal, they were a justifiable breakfast food.

3.  Somehow I always end up watching American Idol, even though it drives me crazy.

4.  One of my favorite things about February are the cherry pies at McDonalds.  Mmmmm.

5. In junior high my teachers got together and presented me with a certificate naming me "Most Talkative." (It was a joke, because I was sooooo shy.)

And now, I'd like to pass the award on to:

Vijaya Bodach at Reading, Writing, Ruminating. She's a scientist turned children's writer who shares her thoughts on faith, family, and writing. And she's a lovely person.

Heather Ayris Burnell at Frolicking Through Cyberspace. She's a PB writer who also runs a cafe & gallery. That's a lot of creativity! Plus, you've gotta love a blog with "frolicking" in the title ;)

Ardith Goodwith at Ardith's Art Journal. I was introduced to Ardith, her blog, and her art through last year's platform building campaign.

The Muse at The Writer Shade of Pale. Not only do I love the title of her (recently discovered) blog, but I'm loving her thoughtful posts.

Leslie Rose at Yes, This Will be on the Test She's a fifth grade teacher and a YA writer.

They're all blogs worth visiting. I hope you'll click over and check them out.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Two Reviews for the Novels in Verse Reading Challenge

Today I'm posting two reviews as part of the Novels in Verse Reading challenge hosted by Amanda at Born Bookish. In January, I read the first two books towards my goal of 9-12 novels written in verse for the year.

May B by Caroline Starr Rose
Middle Grade

Synopsis (from Amazon)

I've known it since last night:
It's been too long to expect them to return. 
Something's happened.

May is helping out on a neighbor's Kansas prairie homestead—just until Christmas, says Pa. She wants to contribute, but it's hard to be separated from her family by 15 long, unfamiliar miles. Then the unthinkable happens: May is abandoned. Trapped in a tiny snow-covered sod house, isolated from family and neighbors, May must prepare for the oncoming winter. While fighting to survive, May's memories of her struggles with reading at school come back to haunt her. But she's determined to find her way home again. Caroline Starr Rose's fast-paced novel, written in beautiful and riveting verse, gives readers a strong new heroine to love.

My Review

I’m a big fan of novels written in verse, so I’d been waiting for this one to come out. When I finally got my hands on it, I read it in one sitting.

 I felt for May right from the start, as she’s told that she has to quit school, leave her family, and go live with strangers to work on their homestead. Talk about drama!

The author does an amazing job of creating characters and emotions we can relate to, even though the circumstances of May’s family are quite different from anything I’ve ever experienced. I felt the weight of her parents’ decision to send her away, not only as it affected May, but also as it affected her whole family.

Another thing that May struggles with is reading. Although her schoolteacher and her classmates ridicule May, she is determined to do better. One of the few things she brings with her when she leaves home is her reader.

When May is dropped off at their neighbor’s homestead she’s full of doubt. But as May adapts to her new circumstances, firstly getting accustomed to the family she’s been sent to help, and finally, being left alone to survive the winter, she finds her strength and her voice.

This was a lovely, captivating story. I’m glad I purchased the book, because I know I’m going to want to read it again!

Love & Leftovers by Sarah Tregay
Young Adult

Synopsis (from Amazon)

My Wish 
is to fall 
cranium over Converse 
in dizzy daydream-worthy love. 
(If only it were that easy.)

Marcie has been dragged away from home for the summer--from Idaho to a family summerhouse in New Hampshire. She's left behind her friends, a group of freaks and geeks called the Leftovers, including her emo-rocker boyfriend, and her father. 

By the time Labor Day rolls around, Marcie suspects this "summer vacation" has become permanent. She has to start at a new school, and there she leaves behind her Leftover status when a cute boy brings her breakfast and a new romance heats up. But understanding love, especially when you've watched your parents' affections end, is elusive. What does it feel like, really? Can you even know it until you've lost it? 

Love & Leftovers is a beautifully written story of one girl's journey navigating family, friends, and love, and a compelling and sexy read that teens will gobble up whole.

My Review

Okay, I’ll say it again: I love books written in verse. And Love & Leftovers is no exception. It’s like getting all the good parts without any “filler” to slow things down. Which is probably why, even at 432 pages, I couldn’t put this down. I read it in one sitting.

When Marcie’s dad leaves her mother for another man, it affects not only her family, but her other relationships as well.  Marcie begins to question everything in her life. Why didn’t her father love her enough to stay? When will she be able to go home to her friends? Why doesn’t her boyfriend show the extent of his feelings for her? What does being in love really feel like?

Far from home, her friends, and her musician boyfriend, Marcie is lonely. So when a boy at her new school starts showing interest, she rationalizes a new relationship even as she sees it crossing from friendship to something more. Will this be true love?

Although Marcie’s story is not as sweet & innocent as I like teen romances to be, the author creates characters you’ll really care about. 

I'd also like to thank Amanda for posting my review of Gayle Forman's Where She Went. Look for it here.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman
Sequel to If I Stay

What book are you currently reading and what do you like most about it?