Although the bookish resolutions challenge is not being run this year, I am still going to do it, because I found it to be very helpful for my Focus, which was my word of the year last year.
This year, my word of the year is Nurture. I chose this word, because it encompasses a bunch of things I want to nurture, including my writing and my connections.
One of the suggestions I read was to make a stone with your word on it. Well, mine didn’t turn out exactly like I had hoped, because the paint got stuck in their tubes and swooshed out. I’m taking it as a sign to also nurture my inner child…
-Read 12 nature related books to enhance my horticultural therapy study.
Luckily the CHTA is starting a book club this month, so that will help.
-Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.
-Write or revise 15 minutes a day.
That’s a slight change from word count. I’m going to see if a time limit works better for me than a word count.
-Read 3 creative nonfiction essays a week.
This is a slight decrease from last year’s 5 creative nonfiction essays a week.
-Read 5 picture books a month.
I am decreasing it from 5 picture books a week, because I’m not going to be concentrating on my picture book writing this year, but I still want to stay informed.
-Submit one story to a contest per season.
New this year for me, I am hoping that this resolution will help me to stay committed to writing something so I can submit something.
-Attend one writing webinar per month.
There were so many choices last year, and I am sure that will continue.
-Work on one lesson of a writing course per month.
I have so many writing courses that I have never finished, and that I would like to finish.
-Attend a writing group session per week.
So far I am in two writing groups, so I should be able to finish this, barring problems with schedule conflict.
-Blog at least twice a month.
I want to take the pressure off myself a bit this year, but I do still want to maintain my blog. With this second blog post of the month already, I’ve actually already completed this part of my resolutions for this month! However, I do know that I will do a check in later this month.
So that’s my bookish resolutions for 2021! The revision reflects a change of goals for me.
I have been working through Julie Hedlund’s 12 days of Christmas and just started Tara Lazar’s Storystorm. How about you?
Have you made any resolutions? Do you have a word of the year? I’d love to hear about it.
WordPress.com is excited to announce our newest offering: a course just for beginning bloggers where you’ll learn everything you need to know about blogging from the most trusted experts in the industry. We have helped millions of blogs get up and running, we know what works, and we want you to to know everything we know. This course provides all the fundamental skills and inspiration you need to get your blog started, an interactive community forum, and content updated annually.
It’s the first “Six Degrees” challenge of the year, and I am super excited to see where our book journeys will lead us this year.
For the first chain of 2021, we are going to start with “Hamnet” by Maggie O’Farrell. Alas, I am still waiting for the book from the library, so I’ll have to construct my chain based on the synopsis.
“Drawing on Maggie O’Farrell’s long-term fascination with the little-known story behind Shakespeare’s most enigmatic play, HAMNET is a luminous portrait of a marriage, at its heart the loss of a beloved child.
Warwickshire in the 1580s. Agnes is a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts. She settles with her husband in Henley street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet.”
Another children’s book writer—“Mabel Murple” is her most famous book, and it’s a book that is delightful on the tongue—Fitch also lost a son. In this memoir in verse, Fitch writes movingly of the loss and of her reconstructed world.
“Still: a Memoir of Loss, Love, and Motherhood” by Emma Hansen
On my list for my Mount TBR challenge, this book I acquired from one of the local little libraries is a memoir of one woman’s experience of something little talked about in our society: stillbirth.
“How to Pronounce Knife” by Souvankham Thammavongsa
This 2020 Giller award winning book of short stories pivots around the theme of loss of culture and values. All the main characters are from Laos, a country I’m not too familiar with, but I’m always interested to learn more about other countries and cultures. Favourite quote: “We lose each other, or the way we know each other gets lost”.
“How to Fly: In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons” by Barbara Kingsolver
Though the poems in this book, Kingsolver’s second book of poetry, have many themes, there are many that are threaded with a palpable sense of loss, especially in her section on ancestors. Kingsolver ends her poem about the death of her mother, with whom she had a challenging relationship, with “Here begins my life as no one’s bad daughter.”
“off script: Living Out Loud” by Marci Ien
Rounding out the list is this book that I mentioned in last week’s blog post. Ien writes about the ups and downs of her career and her personal life, including several significant losses.
I hope the theme of loss hasn’t gotten you down. As we look back on 2020, we have all experienced some sort of loss, and sometimes reading about others’ loss in some form or another helps us to cope. I hope that you find something to read from this list, and I hope you join us next month where we’ll start with “Redhead by the Side of the Road” by Anne Tyler.
That wraps up my first blog post in 2021! Happy New Year! Here’s to better times in 2021.
Not strictly a memoir and definitely genre pushing. Read my review here.
“off script: Living Out Loud” by Marci Ien
I have long admired Marci Ien, and I loved this book about the highs and lows of her personal and professional life. The structure—a bunch of short stories—is one that I aspire to for my memoir.
Ien is now an MP, and I hope that she’ll write about that experience too.
“Fuelled by, I have to confess, a simmering resentment, I began posing the question myself in interviews—not to women but to men. After listing all their accomplishments, I’d say something like, ‘I notice you have four kids. How do you do all that and balance time with your family?’
I’d often be met with long pauses. With, say, ‘I’ve never been asked that before.’ And, sometimes, answers that were quite thoughtful. There are men out there who want to make sure they spend time with their families and are trying to do better on that front. But even these men were slightly taken aback. It wasn’t a question they were used to being asked.”
“I saw clearly the ways in which they lift my spirit and lighten my heart. They often recover from intense situations quicker than I can even process them. They constantly teach me the necessary art of adaptation to life’s various surprises. They remind me to loosen my grip on certain aspects of life because when those things are gone, acceptance is always less painful. There is always a tomorrow in their world. And if there’s no tomorrow, there’s still today and we might as well enjoy it.”
“The following Christmas, my parents bought a miniature tree that came up to my waist. I was so proud of it and decorated that thing like there was no tomorrow. That year, the best gift my parents gave me was keeping my light on: They knew that fostering my spirit was more important than any cultural distress they may have felt. I was not asking to be Christian, I was simply asking to be a part of the holiday spirit.”
Last year was my first year participating in the Mount TBR challenge, a challenge in which you read your own books that you have accumulated over the years. It may seem odd to some people that you haven’t already read your own books, but hey, there are so many distractions to doing so, including buying even more books. All kidding aside, I find that the biggest challenge I have to reading my own books are the many recent books that can be found in the library, especially ones I discover after I read those top 10/100 lists or best new books of the season lists or best books at the end of the year lists. You know the ones that I mean.
Last year I chose to start with Mount Blanc—24 books—thinking that it would be easy peasy, and that I would far surpass that level. But no, I struggled with even completing that level! But I’m going to strive for Mount Blanc again and see if I can overachieve this year.
I have a bunch of recent books I got from the little libraries in the area—score!—that I saved for this challenge plus some that I barely made a dent in reading last year (less than 50% read counts). I look forward to devouring some and grazing others.
Interested? Click here to read the rules for the challenge. You can also click here to see the books I read for last year’s challenge.
This year’s guidelines: “Write a children’s holiday story (children here defined as age 12 and under) about a Holiday Helper!…Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, New Year’s or whatever you celebrate during the Holiday Season, but is not to exceed 250 words…”
Today’s the last day to enter, so you still have some time. Click here to read the rest of the guidelines or to access the link to read the stories.
Maria tugged on Mommy’s arm sleeve. “Do we have to do this, Mommy?”
Mommy smiled at Maria. “You’ll see why.”
Maria and her mommy were at their local senior’s home. Maria looked at the plants on their cart. She didn’t see why they were delivering plants to the seniors. They didn’t know anyone here.
Maria hopped from foot to foot. “What do I do?”
“Why don’t you push the cart?” asked Mommy.
She could do that. She leaned all her weight onto the cart, and they set off.
Mommy knocked on the first door. “Come in,” said a quivering voice.
Maria swallowed. “Mommy, I’m scared.”
Mommy grabbed Maria’s hand and squeezed it. They entered. An old woman sat in a wheelchair, hunched over, frowning.
“Merry Christmas. Happy holidays,” said Mommy. She handed the old woman a plant.
The woman looked up at them and a smile crossed her face. “Thank you.”
They left the room and went to the next. This time an old woman clapped her hands at the gift. “Oh, I Iove plants. Thank you so much.”
Next was an old man. He grunted at them, but Maria saw a twinkle in his eye as he put his plant on his nightstand. He chuckled as they left the room.
“Mommy?” asked Maria. “Can you push the cart while I hand out the plants?”
Mommy smiled. “Yes, let’s do that.”
Maria knocked at the next door. “Merry Christmas. Happy holidays.” The next smile enveloped her like a warm hug.
I hope you enjoyed my story. Wishing you much peace this holiday season.
It’s time again for the monthly “Six Degrees” challenge hosted by Kate from Books are My Favourite and Best. This month we are starting with “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” Did you know it is the 50th anniversary of the book? Wow! The book is one of my favourite childhood books. Have you read it? It is considered controversial—and has even been banned—for its talk of periods.
For those of you who have never read the story, here is part of the introduction from Goodreads:
“Margaret Simon, almost twelve, likes long hair, tuna fish, the smell of rain, and things that are pink. She’s just moved from New York City to Farbook, New Jersey, and is anxious to fit in with her new friends—Nancy, Gretchen, and Janie. When they form a secret club to talk about private subjects like boys, bras, and getting their first periods, Margaret is happy to belong.”
My first link is “What the Dog Saw” by Malcolm Gladwell. What? you might be thinking. How would that link? Specifically, I am talking about the essay called “John Rock’s Error (What the inventor of the birth control pill didn’t know about women’s health)”, which I think that all those who are having periods—and all those who love them—should read. Gladwell has other essays in the book that I also found fascinating, such as “True Colors (Hair dye and the hidden history of postwar America)”.
From there I am making the connection to “The Slow Moon Climbs” by Susan P. Mattern.
From period matters to lack of period matters. There tend to be a lack of good menopause books. This one comes highly recommended, and I had intended to read it this year, but it’s one for my 2021 Mount TBR challenge. The book is a comprehensive look at menopause from prehistory to today. Historian Mattern takes us on a journey in which she discusses how the way we look at menopause today is incorrect.
Now I will connect to “The Dangerous Old Woman” by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. This is a book that I’ve been listening to a bit at a time. The gifted storyteller Clarissa Pinkola Estés is more famous for another book, but I am choosing this book, because it is six stories and commentaries about the “old wise woman” archetype, in which the author writes about a different way to look at aging.
Speaking of storytelling, this is one of the spiritual endeavours that Anne Boksma experiences in her book “My Year of Living Spiritually”, which she wrote about her year long quest at age 55 to become more spiritual. I wrote about the book in last week’s blog post.
Another gifted storyteller, poet Rupi Kaur’s latest book is “home body”. Kaur is never afraid to talk about blood or women’s blood. In fact, click here if you wish to see her period picture that went viral. In this book, my favourite section is “rest” although my favourite poem is from the “awake” section. It begins:
“give me laugh lines and wrinkles
i want proof of the jokes we shared”
My final link is to “Dearly” by Margaret Atwood, who was a poet before she was a writer. “Dearly” is Atwood’s latest collection of poems, and the collection contains poems about a wide variety of topics including aging. Click here if you want to hear her reading the title poem “Dearly” as well as hear the background behind it. I’ve not read the book, but I’ve listened to a webinar in which Atwood has talked about the book and read some of her poems, and I am really looking forward to reading “Dearly”.
So what’s the connection here? Both Blume and Atwood (most famous for “A Handmaid’s Tale”) are authors who are not afraid to tackle controversial subjects including menstruation. They like to tell it like it is, and we are the better for it.
Be sure to check out some of the other chains where you’re sure to discover some book that piques your interest. I’m in the middle of reading one of the books I discovered last month.
Maybe you’ll join us next month? Click here to read the guidelines.
It’s hard to believe that I’ve been successfully sticking to my bookish resolutions for 11 months!
-Click here to read what I read for the Mount TBR challenge.
-I read one memoir:
“My Year of Living Spiritually” by Anne Bokma
Bokma writes about her year of trying everything from singing to magic mushrooms, goat yoga to witch camp, gratitude to crystals. The back story is her break from her fundamentalist religion causing a rift from her family, especially her mother. One of my favourite chapters is called “Into the Woods”, which includes her experiences in forest bathing and tree climbing.
“I challenge that those individuals have never actually had their personal rights and freedoms taken from them. If losing the freedom of being able to shop without a mask is the worst you’ve experienced, then count yourself lucky.”
“Don’t get me wrong, they’re still problems. I don’t mean to belittle the issues of emotional dysfunction, but they are problems that only emerge once the issues of immediate threat to survival wane. We can only have emotional-support chickens after we’ve stopped eating every chicken that crosses the road.”
I recently attended the virtual CHTA conference and was delighted that one of the webinars was a reading from the book “The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative”. The structure of the book, according to author Florence Williams, is “quick doses of nearby nature to longer spells of wild places”.
Click here for more information and a video on the book and on some benefits of being nature.
Growing up I spent a vast amount of time outside, but for many children that is no longer an option. The result is “Nature Deficit Disorder”.
A good place to start to introduce the concept of spending more time outside is books. Here are some quick doses of nature through picture books for both children and adults:
“On a Magical Do-Nothing Day” by Beatrice Alemagna
These are the types of days I grew up experiencing.
“My Forest is Green” by Darren Lebeuf; illustrated by Ashley Barron
All kinds of colours and textures a forest can be.
“Finding Wild” by Megan Wagner Lloyd; illustrated by Abigail Halpin
What is wild and where can you find it? I especially like the exploration of the not so good along with the good.
“tiny, perfect things” by M.H. Clark; illustrated by Madeline Kloepper
Go ahead, take a look at the tiny miracles outside.
”Outside In” by Deborah Underwood; illustrated by Cindy Derby
Even if you’re inside, the outside will find a way in.
I recently listened to a webinar (available until the end of November) in which Julia Zarankin, who wrote the book “Field Notes from an Unintentional Birder”, talked about how one of the benefits of her hobby of birdwatching was that she paid more attention to detail, which then enhanced her writing.
I’ve been spending a lot of time in nature lately as I am learning how to be a horticultural therapist. One thing I’ve been doing—through the encouragement of Shelagh at “Thrive with Nature”—is paying more attention to nature through different senses. We often rely on our visual sense, so we’ve been focussing on other senses, such as hearing, a week at a time.
This week has been the sense of touch. It’s interesting that a lot of people don’t touch the nature around them—including me—and I wonder why. I’ve been having fun with it this week.
In paying attention to these other senses in nature, I have realized that I would like to pay more attention to these other senses in my writing.
These days with the decline of hugging people, maybe we should be hugging trees instead. I’ve always found it to be beneficial. The term “tree hugger” can be viewed as a negative label, but perhaps we should be revisiting that notion.
This is my first time being a part of a WOW! Women on Writing Blog Tour, and I am so happy that I am starting with the book “The Silver Box” by Margi Preus.
Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
“The Silver Box” is part of a series but could be read as a standalone without any problem. I have not read the first two books of “The Enchantment Lake” series, but reading this, the final book in the series, makes me want to read the whole series.
From the get go the author captured my attention with not only one but several mysteries—what happened to Francie’s mom, how to open the box, why the box is so valuable—and I was intrigued by all these layers. Preus had the right amount of tension to keep me interested throughout the entire book. In fact, had I had the opportunity to do so, I would have read the book all in one sitting.
The focuses of the book—concerns about the environment and racism—are timely matters, and I appreciated that. I loved the diversity of the characters in the series, which included an indigenous character and elderly characters.
I also found myself googling to find out more about the plants and incidents that are in the story. There is an author’s note at the end about what is factual in the book.
I highly recommend this middle grade novel.
In the final Enchantment Lake mystery, Francie’s search for the truth about her mother—and herself—plunges her into danger during a North Woods winter.
When she wakes in her aunts’ cold cabin on the shore of Enchantment Lake, Francie remembers: everything about her life has changed. Or is about to. Or just might. Everything depends on the small, engraved silver box that she now possesses—if only she can follow its cryptic clues to the whereabouts of her missing mother and understand, finally, just maybe, the truth about who she really is.
Francie, it turns out, has a lot to learn, and this time the lessons could be deadly. Her search for answers takes her and her best friends Raven and Jay as far afield as an abandoned ranch in Arizona and as close to home as a sketchy plant collector’s conservatory and a musty old museum where shadows lurk around every display case. At the heart of it all is a crime that touches her own adopted North Woods: thieves dig up fragile lady’s slippers, peel bark from birches, strip moss off trees, cut down entire forests of saplings to sell for home décor. But Francie is up against no ordinary plant theft. One ominous clue after another reveal that she possesses something so rare and so valuable that some people are willing to do anything to get it. When Francie’s investigation leads her into the treacherously cold and snowy North Woods, she finds out that she too is being pursued.
Margi Preus is the author of the Newbery Honor book Heart of a Samurai and other books for young readers, including the Minnesota Book Award winning West of the Moon, and the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award book The Clue in the Trees. Her books have won multiple awards, landed on the New York Times bestseller list, been honored as ALA/ALSC Notables, selected as an NPR Backseat Book Club pick, chosen for community reads, and translated into several languages. New titles in 2020 include Village of Scoundrels, The Littlest Voyageur, and The Silver Box, part of the Enchantment Lake mystery series.
Back when such things were done, Margi enjoyed traveling, speaking, and visiting schools all over the world. Now mostly at home in Duluth, she likes to ski, hike, canoe, or sit quietly with a book in her lap.
Be sure to check out the other stops on the WOW blog tour:
October 12th @ WOW! Women on Writing What goes better with coffee in the morning than a muffin? Stop by WOW’s blog The Muffin and join us as we celebrate the launch of Margi Preus’s book The Silver Box. Enter to win a copy of her entire Enchantment Lake Mystery series.https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/
October 13th @ Mindy McGinnis Join Mindy McGinnis as she interviews author Margi Preus about how she came up with the idea of The Silver Box and the Enchantment Lake Mystery series.https://www.mindymcginnis.com/
October 14th @ Bring on Lemons Visit Crystal’s blog today and read her review of Margi Presu book The Silver Box, book three in The Enchantment Lake series. http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/
October 14th @ Reviews and InterviewsJoin Lisa as she interviews Margi Preus and finds out more about this incredible author!https://lisahaselton.com/blog/
October 16th @ The Frugalista Mom Visit Rozelyn’s blog today and read her review of The Silver Box, book three in The Enchantment Lake series. You can also enter to win a copy of the entire series!https://thefrugalistamom.com/
October 17th @ Carrie Sorens’ Blog Visit Carrie’s blog and read author Margi Preus’ guest post about raising big questions for readers to ponder (that don’t always have an answer).https://www.cksorens.com/blog
October 18th @ Fiona Ingram’s Blog Stop by Fiona’s blog and check out a spotlight of Margi Preus’ book The Silver Box. You can also enter to win a copy of the whole series!http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/
October 20th @ The Faerie ReviewJoin Lily as she reviews The Silver Box, book three in The Enchantment Lake middle-grade series.http://www.thefaeriereview.com/
October 20th @ Susan Uhlig Join us today as Susan reviews The Silver Box, book three in The Enchantment Lake middle-grade series.https://susanuhlig.com/
October 21st @ Lady Unemployed Visit Nicole’s blog today where you can read Margi Preus’ guest post about how all writing is political and how to weave local or national issues into storytelling.https://ladyunemployed.com
October 22nd @ The Knotty Needle Visit Judy’s blog today and read her review of The Silver Box, part of the Enchantment Lake middle-grade series.https://knottyneedle.blogspot.com
October 24th @ Carrie Sorens’ Blog Join Carrie again where you can read her review of The Silver Box, part of the Enchantment Lake middle-grade series. You can also win a copy of the series too!https://www.cksorens.com/blog
October 26th @ Kathleen Pooler’s BlogJoin us at Kathleen’s blog today where she will be featuring author Margi Preus and her book The Silver Box.https://krpooler.com
October 29th @ It’s Alanna Jean Stop by Alanna’s blog today where she shares Margi Preus’ guest post about finding inspiration out the window.http://itsalannajean.com/
October 30th @ Lori Duff Writes Join Lori Duff as she reviews Margi Preus’ book The Silver Box, the third book in the Enchantment Lake mystery series. https://www.loriduffwrites.com/blog/
November 1st @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog Visit Anthony’s blog today and read his review of The Silver Box, book three in The Enchantment Lake series. https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/
November 2nd @ World of My Imagination Join Nicole as she reviews The Silver Box, book three in The Enchantment Lake series. Also, you can enter to win a copy of the whole series.https://worldofmyimagination.com
November 4th @ Crafty Moms Share Join Carrie as she reviews The Silver Box by author Margi Preus, the third book in the Enchantment Lake mystery series.https://www.craftymomsshare.com/
November 5th @ Bev. A Baird’s Blog Join Bev as she reviews The Silver Box by author Margi Preus, the third book in the Enchantment Lake mystery series. Don’t miss her review of this charming middle-grade fiction series!https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com
November 7th @ BookMama789 Join us over at Jean’s Instagram page as she reads and reviews The Silver Box by author Margi Preus, part of the Enchantment Lake mystery series. https://www.instagram.com/bookmama789/
November 8th @ Shoe’s Stories Join Linda at her blog today and read her review of The Silver Box by author Margi Preus, part of the Enchantment Lake mystery series. https://lschuelerca.wordpress.com/
November 9th @ Always in the Middle Visit Greg’s blog today and read his review of The Silver Box by author Margi Preus. You’ll love hearing about this middle-grade mystery series.https://gpattridge.com/
November 11th @ Bookapotamus Join Kate as she reviews The Enchantment Lake mystery series, part of The Silver Box blog tour. You’ll love hearing about this middle-grade mystery! https://bookapotamusblog.wordpress.com/
November 13th @ Choices Join Madeline as she features Margi Preus’ book The Silver Box on her blog today. You’ll definitely want to add this book to your reading list!https://www.madelinesharples.com
November 14th @ Reading in the Wildwood Visit Megan’s blog today she reviews The Enchantment Lake mystery series, part of The Silver Box blog tour. You’ll love hearing about this middle-grade mystery! https://readinginthewildwood.com/