What if You Wrote a Book?

What if you wrote a book

What if you wrote a book? Would it be fiction or nonfiction? Would it be funny? Would it be a suspense-filled mystery? Would it be a romance novel? Would your book be a children’s classic or a self-help for struggling parents? Would you write your autobiography (a story of you)? What if you wrote a book?

This past weekend I had an amazing day with two of my sisters and our activities (of course) included a delicious and relaxing lunch. At our meal, I told my sisters of my goal to finally being writing the manuscript for a book idea that has been moldering around in my mind for awhile now. They were supportive and joked about if the book were about us.

In the book about us, each sister would get a chapter. My youngest sister’s chapter was titled something like, “We only had two beers, but I swear we were talking to an Angel named Holly and then he was gone.” (There is a story behind this title that will appear in a future blog post. Promise!) The other chapters are still to be determined but A LOT of great brainstorming went on with our second glass of wine.

I have written a few children’s mysteries and have gone so far as to talk to some artist friends about illustrating with me, but never pulled the trigger on getting those books out. I know there will be a time and a place for them in my writing future.  Continue reading “What if You Wrote a Book?”

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The Power of “Yet”

The Power of Yet

Do you know the power of “Yet”?

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu is a book by Joshua Hammer. I learned about The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu on Goodreads and I want desperately to read it. However, after laboring through the first few chapters, I realized that I do not possess enough knowledge about Timbuktu, Mali, or the plight of the Islamic peoples as they have been tortured by Al Qaeda. The words of Adbel Kader Haidara, the original Bad-Ass, were beautiful, terrifying at times, and wonderfully descriptive, but my ignorance of how to pronounce and process many of the words left me feeling lost. After page 70, I put the book back on my “To Read” list. I just wasn’t smart enough for this book.

When I told my husband about being confounded by the book, he told me that I would get it; I just might have to read it a few times. He was hinting at the “Yet.”

The Power of Yet 3.jpgA few days after re-shelving The Bad-Ass Librarians, I was speaking to my friend Donna. We were discussing The End of Your Life Book Club and the reads that were recommended in it. It was fun to compare what she had read to what I had read and what we both still wanted to read. It was then that I told her about Hammer’s book. I shared my disappointment in myself for not being educated enough to read the book. That is when Donna reminded me of the power of “Yet.” Continue reading “The Power of “Yet””

Responsible Reading and Radical Listening – The Time I Met Will Schwalbe

There were so many things I wanted to title this post… “Long Live the Tree Books,” “Becoming a Watch Deputy,” and (the title that almost made the cut) “Buying Books We Knock Over.” (I call dibs on all these titles for future posts.)

This past spring Aunt Carol recommended that I read The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. The End of Your Life Book Club is a memoir of the books Will and his mother read and bonded over during her diagnosis and treatment for Stage IV pancreatic cancer.

I am not gonna lie. Reading this book made me feel smarter because Will and his mother Mary Anne read some AMAZING stuff. (I have an entire Goodreads book shelf dedicated to books I learned about in The End of Your Life Book Club.) It wasn’t so much the knowledge about the books they read that increased my intelligence; it was the way Will conveyed the powerful life lessons fostered by their reading, conversations, and the tremendous responsibility assumed because of their reading that made me feel smarter.

Will SchwalbeWill was announced as the author of the 2017 Capital READ in June. I was so excited! The date went immediately on my calendar and I ordered a new hardback copy of The End of Your Life Book Club from Amazon Marketplace.

Will Schwalbe 2When my copy arrived, I discovered that I had unwittingly ordered an autographed copy. I was bummed because I wanted my copy to be signed when I met Will. (Silly thing to be bummed about, right?) My signed copy ended up being a cool thing. Continue reading “Responsible Reading and Radical Listening – The Time I Met Will Schwalbe”

The Gift of Giving

 

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After reading You are a Badass by Jen Sincero, I was inspired to read other publications Jen recommended in her book. Cami Walker’s 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life was one of the books recommended by Sincero. In her book Walker tells the story of how a prescription of intentional giving and journaling has helped her battle the pain and hindrances caused by her multiple sclerosis. It is a powerful story and really propelled me toward a stronger giving purpose.

Taking the 29 Gifts Challenge was a positively impactful experience. For 29 days I intentionally gave gifts and journaled about my giving. The act of giving and reflecting on the impacts made through giving made my life more meaningful.

Excitedly I joined the 29 Gifts Community at http://www.29gifts.org and began to follow Cami Walker and the 29 Gifts page on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/29Gifts/. Both of these connections inspired me as I saw that there were many others who had taken the 29 Gifts Challenge and were motivated by the book’s message. Continue reading “The Gift of Giving”

Don’t Keep All Summer in a Day

All Summer in a Day.jpg

Ray Bradbury’s short story “All Summer in a Day” takes place on Venus and at a school where the children eagerly await the one day that summer will occur. On Venus summer comes once every seven years for just a matter of hours. The rest of the time the weather is stormy, windy, and overcast. This day is especially important to young Margot. Margot’s family moved from Earth and are considering the costly and arduous process of returning to the third planet from the sun for fear of losing their daughter to heartbreak. Margot is small, pale, and all too lonely. ‘She was an old photograph dusted from an album, whitenedaway, and if she spoke at all her voice would be a ghost.” The school children tease and ostracize her for her homesickness and taunt her about the only artwork she creates, pictures of life back on Earth. (The other children have no memories of what life is like on Earth.)

As the time nears to go outside and enjoy the rare sunshine, plants, and warmth, the children think it funny to lock Margot in the closet. They do not intend to leave her there but forget the grief-stricken girl as soon as the first rays of sun appear. Continue reading “Don’t Keep All Summer in a Day”

goodreads.com – My Newest Obsession

Goodreads.com is a home for book reviews, book recommendations, book lists, book clubs, and author bios and I am now obsessed with it.

If you already enjoy Goodreads, you might find humor in my newness or appreciation for the joy the site has brought to me. Please comment about any features you like or dislike on Goodreads. I had read about Goodreads from a number of other bloggers’ sites, but until our local librarian recommended it to me recently, I had not given it much consideration.

I checked out the site on Thursday and Friday created my account. Now I can’t stop reading reviews, searching for books that I have read or want to read, and am so enthralled by the give-aways, book clubs, and Goodreads blog that I am having trouble concentrating on what I wanted to type here.

goodreads addiction 6There are  many features to this site that I find beneficial. I love how the genres are organized. The search options are everywhere. I can even automatically search for the books I get from Amazon.

Good Read Addiction 2One of the best features for me is the ability to make a “Book Shelf.” I created a Book Shelf for the book club I sponsor at my kids’ school. I was able to find all of the book on the Mark Twain Reading list and add them. This will allow me to rate and review the books as soon as I read them. I can refer students and parents to this list and the sharing grows from there. Now I just have to get my hands on all those books. 🙂

I had the local library’s website open in split screen yesterday so I could start requesting some of the books that intrigued me from the Goodreads site. There is a way to find your local libraries and their catalogs through Goodreads and request your books. (I may wear out that Request button.) I still have to set the library request feature up on my account; searching for books and authors has prevented me from dedicating enough time to it. 

Goodreads is on Twitter (of course) and I have really enjoyed the prompt posts they have published and found some very positive reviewers and followers in the Goodreads’ throngs. Continue reading “goodreads.com – My Newest Obsession”

On Quitting – Thoughtful Thursday

 

Kelly Smith 2

Kelly’s portable “office” 

At my old office, I surrounded myself with framed quotes.  They helped motivate me and, I hope, inspired some of the people who came and went in the little non-profit I managed.

One of my favorite quotes was this, by William G.T. Shedd: “A ship is safe in harbor, but that is not what ships are for.”

I had to come to terms with my own “shipness” (it’s not a word, but I’m making it so) after the birth of my third child threw my work-life balance into an overwhelming tailspin.  After weeks of crying in the daycare parking lot and crunching household budget numbers, it was made clear that something would have to give.  That something?  The job I’d loved for a decade, the one I never imagined leaving,

I saw a job ad for an adjunct communications instructor at the area technical college.  I hadn’t applied for a job in more than ten years, but I enthusiastically submitted my name for the position. A part-time job would allow me to keep my professional life active and free up much-needed time for my three kids, including one with cerebral palsy who logs multiple doctor’s appointments each month.

While I waited, I continued to struggle in my full-time career.  Even though I was stressed to the breaking point, I still didn’t know if I was ready to leave.

The day I finally hit a wall at work and came home devastated was the day I received a phone call about interviewing for the part-time teaching position.  The relief and excitement I felt was the answer I’d been waiting for.

As soon as the interview was scheduled, I gave my notice at work.  I didn’t even wait until I had the job, because I was that secure in the decision.  I knew I could no longer “make it work” (said in my most exaggerated Tim Gunn voice). Continue reading “On Quitting – Thoughtful Thursday”

Retirement Reinvention – Ahhh!! Retirement!

Retirement Reinvention

Ahhh!! Retirement!!!  I’m the kind of person that makes plans and likes to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  So, last year when I was trying to wrap my head around the idea that I would be retiring that July, I was casually talking to another teacher and expressing my concern of not having anything of importance to do.  She said, “Reinvent yourself!”  What the heck did that mean?  How do you do that?

At first, I found myself kind of lost.  Before when someone asked, “What do you do?”  I would say, “I’m a first grade teacher.”  The conversation would continue about kids, teaching, the times, and more.  Now when they ask, “What do you do?”  I say, “I’m retired.”  They smile and give me a look that says, “isn’t that nice?”

Teacher was my identity for 40 years.  Now there are no students, co-workers, papers, tests, grades, meetings, lesson plans, schedules, or conferences.  What do I do?  Well, without planning, I find myself back to my roots as a Catholic School teacher and am able to work with children by teaching religion through the parish religion education program.   I was asked to substitute in a few different schools which pushed me to step out of my comfort zone and experience new schools, classrooms, and students while still getting to see some of my former students and teachers.

So, without even trying, I see that I have reinvented myself.  I now have an alphabetized spice cabinet and an organized utility room.  There is something to be said for peace of mind!  I am able to see what life is like between 8 and 3 outside of school.  I stay up late during the week – on purpose!  Now I relate to wife, mother-in-law, grandma, aunt, sister, friend, and retired teacher.  Retirement has given me the gift of time.  Now it’s Ahhhhhh, retirement!

By: Carol Haslag

Guest Post for 2017 Lessons Learned in the Last Year Intentergy series.

P.S. Carol and I served together on the Community Teachers’ Association. She appreciated my crazy ideas and I appreciated her kindness. Thank you, Carol, for all you do for our church and community. There are so many whose lives are enriched because of your work.
– Melanie A. Peters

What Goes in a Book Review?

Seriously, what goes in a book review?

Book Review Insights Wanted

I have read many reviews of literature and all are different. As I embark on the journey through my summer reading list, I have found some amazing works to devour. I would love to share my thoughts on these books but am looking for guidance on what makes a successful book review.

png 1 It is always important to know if the reader recommends a book, but is the moral of the story as important as the author’s ability to build characters or describe scenes?

png 1 Is it better to give away the majority of the plot or build suspense with a few small snippets?

png 1 Personally, I love when reviewers share their favorite quotes from books. Does this appeal to you?

What gets you to read a book or at least a book review? Please share!

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. I love recommendations for books to read too. 🙂

 

Happy Haiku Day!

Haiku Day

A decade ago I began celebrating Haiku Day on May 7th with my students because it is 5-7. Haikus are traditional Japanese poetry that follows a 5-7-5 syllable pattern and are usually about nature.

Luckily the other educators at my school embraced my enthusiasm and encouraged the composition of haikus in their classrooms as well.

Today I am sharing this celebration with you.

Take time to pen a haiku for yourself and document the beauty of something in your life.

Sharing our writing
Brings life to our word and thoughts 
Happy Haiku Day!

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S.
Share Intentergy
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Adds to your intent