Child Vision Goggles

It’s about time I start utilizing my library card! It seems strange that someone like me who reads every available second rarely visits the library, but since I collect books it was hard to justify reading a good one and then not having it to add to my own library (three bookshelves now!)

Photo courtesy of the Boys and Girls Club of the Fox Valley Facebook page.

Photo courtesy of the Boys and Girls Club of the Fox Valley Facebook page.

However, I couldn’t get myself to purchase all the children’s books I was contemplating reading. The idea to read more children’s books came to me over the hours I spent at an elementary school, working for the Boys and Girls Club. I started remembering the way my mind saw the world when I was younger: so innocent, so naive, and everything about it was exciting and I never sat around worrying what was to come or leave. I think even the choices I made as a child were more noble then some of the ones I’ve made as an adult.

My students, the 20 or so Kindergarteners, are always looking for attention games to bring them back to the present moment; otherwise, they are an angry bird, or a pet, or a mommy and a daddy, or a wizard, or a super hero. And some just want to push my buttons by playing on the expensive musical instruments and band stands around the room (because someone thought it was a good idea to put the Kindergarteners in the Music room).

Photo courtesy of www.millvalleylibrary.net.

Photo courtesy of www.millvalleylibrary.net.

One student drew on the piano with pen to get my attention, but to her it was worth being talked to for those few minutes when I had to scold and explain why what she did was not OK. She didn’t need to worry about the price of the piano. She didn’t need to worry about forking over the bills. She didn’t need to worry about hurting the Music teachers feelings or mine. She fulfilled a single need, the only need she had at that moment: eye contact. If she’d made that mistake again as an adult, she would have been fined hundreds of dollars or at least paid for the cost of cleanup. And what needs as an adult could she say she needed fulfilled after a vandalism act like that? The same one? It definitely wouldn’t fly.

I decided that my life was missing a big part of literature as an adult. Reading novels like The Giver are completely different when you read them as a child vs. as an adult. So, I began with a few random authors, including Neil Gaiman. But then I rediscovered Lois Lowry. I am not a fan of her really young fiction books, like the Sam and Anastasia books, but the junior high age, such as Number the Stars, The Giver, A Summer to Die, and Autumn Street are beautiful stories.

Reading children’s literature as an adult has opened a different chapter to my reading/writing career.

I Love Book Festival Week!

The Fox Cities’ Book Festival is my new favorite week of the year!

Lisa Genova speaks about her writing career at Lawrence University on April 19, 2013.

Lisa Genova speaks about her writing career at Lawrence University on April 19, 2013.

While I was only able to make it to two events, the ones that I chose suited me well. First I met Lisa Genova, a neuroscientist gone author. When she had her first child and struggled through a divorce she decided scientist was no longer her calling and instead decided to write novels about the diseases she’d studied in college.

Her stories include “Love Anthony” (a story about a boy with Autism), “Left Neglected” (about a woman suffering from Left Neglect after an accident), and her most famous novel “Still Alice” (about a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s). During her speech she announced that her up and coming novel will be about a person with Hungtington’s disease. I was excited to hear that since a close friend has a family member suffering from this disease (no blood relation, thank goodness).

Lisa Genova takes a picture with me after her speech at Lawrence University.

Lisa Genova takes a picture with me after her speech at Lawrence University.

Afterward I purchased “Love Anthony” since I’d forgotten my copy of “Still Alice” at home. Then I got at the end of the long line of fans and asked her to sign it. Some of the women standing in front of me in line asked if I was a writer or just an avid reader because I stood out as “the youngest person here.” I told them I was a writer who has been published as a journalist but not as a fiction author … yet. The women asked for my name, just in case.

Once Lisa signed my book, I asked her for a picture and promised to share it on her Facebook fan page. I was so excited to have met her and happy that the Boston Marathon Bomber Chase did not stop her from arriving (her daughter was staying with her father in Watertown and then her flight from Chicago got canceled so she had to drive to Appleton and made it just in time — YIKES!).

Dean Bakopoulos reads his literary fiction at Atlas Mill Coffee on April 20, 2013.

Dean Bakopoulos reads his literary fiction at Atlas Mill Coffee on April 20, 2013.

The second event I went to was a Storylogue presentation by Dean Bakopoulos and Katie Burns. Dean read a short story about a man named Blizzard who falls in love with a New York City actress playing a theatre role over the summer in his hometown. Between four different sections of the story, Katie Burns played the acoustic guitar and sang, making it part-concert, part-literary reading.

Katie Burns performs four songs on the acoustic guitar for an audience at Atlas Mill Coffee.

Katie Burns performs four songs on the acoustic guitar for an audience at Atlas Mill Coffee.

I enjoyed my first Storylogue. It was relaxing and a different way to share stories. Dean and I had a nice, quick conversation afterward about how the first chapter of his “Please Don’t Come Back from the Moon” novel was his first breakthrough as a writer.

Of course, I purchased the book and had him sign it. What can I say? It’s my thing. Not only do I collect coffee mugs, but also books signed by their authors.

I am so glad I took the time to go to these events. It is encouraging to hear them talk about their struggles to the top. Next year I plan to go to more events and maybe even volunteer my time. For those interested in volunteering for the Fox Cities Book Festival or if you just want to see what the next year will bring, check their website.

 

Toni Morrison Turns 82 Years Old

Toni morrison

Photo courtesy of kcet.org.

Happy birthday to the most inspirational writer of our generation!

Toni Morrison was born Chloe Anthony Wofford in Ohio in 1931.

If I had to pick one book to save, it would be one of her novels.

Toni Morrison Novels

Love—love—love—

For those of you who know me, know that my life has always revolved around love stories. All the books that I read and write involve some sort of romantic relationship. No matter what other idea I originally have in my head, romance seems to find it’s way in. In high school, I was known as the girl with the smutty romance novels I stole from my parents’ bedroom — mom’s side of the bed, of course! Being young, I didn’t focus on the trashy parts of the novels — that was too embarrassing. I instead loved reading the progression of relationships and the distinct moment in the story when I recognized love existing between the two characters (even through all the conflicts).

 

Valentine’s Day gives me the opportunity to celebrate my favorite thing in the world, even those years when I was a skeptic. But I’d come to realize that celebrating love is not limited to marriage, dating, and romance, it’s about anyone or anything you care about:

    • Family
    • Friends
    • Pets
    • Stories
    • Ideas
    • Art
    • Religion

Celebrate what/who you love, even if you’re single. The Beatles had it right when they sang, “All you need is love…”

I felt loved this afternoon when my wonderful boyfriend stopped over during his lunch break just to see me! He led me to believe that he hated Valentine’s Day because it was “just a stupid Hallmark holiday.”

And then he went all out…

Heart in Rose

Vday gifts

Smartphone Editing

Last night into this morning, I could not fall asleep. I tossed and turned so much I wrapped myself up in my sheets, uncovered myself, recovered myself, twirled my curls, and turned on a “Friends” DVD, but nothing exhausted me. Perhaps it was because I knew Labor Day weekend was over and my set schedule of work was returning. So what did I do? I grabbed my smartphone and began editing my blog posts. I found many embarrassing errors in my writing.

It’s interesting how well one can edit into the late hours of the night, even when knowing how soon the alarm will sound.

Moral of the story?

When you can’t sleep, you edit. When you can’t edit, you sleep.

Now, if only my bosses thought like that …

Reading Inspiration Gone Wrong

Today, I finished Virginia Woolf’s “The Waves” in my backyard with three cups of tea, accompanied by my sister’s dog Xander and my cat Luna. I established that today was the day I would finally finish it. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the story — not one of my favorites — but it was a very slow read and it was hard to follow the characters. I continued trying to keep the six main characters straight while also grasping Woolf’s concepts at the same time. It is a stream of consciousness story written through the eyes of each character all rolled into one novel without chapter separations, except for beautiful ocean/wave imagery in italicized letters to differentiate between the characters’ stages of life.

As a writer, I am constantly mimicking author’s writing styles of those I am currently reading. Toward the last fourth of this story, I was finding myself inspired to write a stream of consciousness piece about characters I have had bouncing in my head over the years. Instead I stuck to my reading goal and forced myself to finish it without any breakfast or brunch. When  11:30 am rolled around (mind you, I started reading around 8 am) I finally finished the last sentence and breathed a sigh of relief. Still inspired to write but absolutely starving, I decided to cook myself some organic Moroccan style rice, fold/hang up my clean laundry, and shower before my dentist appointment at 3 pm. By the time I completed all of those tasks, I had two hours to spare, but my inspiration and ideas were missing.

I stared at my computer for awhile, opened and closed Facebook and Gmail, waiting for the motivation to come back, but it never did. So instead I am writing this blog entry, complaining about these moments that seem to happen to me more than not.

It’s really too bad, because when I read novels and pick up an author’s writing style, my short stories tend to come out crisp the first round; words seem to type themselves in Microsoft Word and, sometimes, I don’t even stop for typos. It’s like writing my own steam of consciousness piece every time.

Darker Print

When you’re reading novels, do you ever notice how the ink is sometimes printed darker on one page versus the other? For me, I typically notice lighter ink printed on the right page of an open book.

This may sound strange, but relief overwhelms me when I flip a page and see darker, bolder words again. Motivation to read the entire page and possibly the remainder of the chapter without interruption kicks in. I find coziness in my seat again (wherever that may be at the time) and read away.

I found a perfect video of what I mean. If you pay attention to either the left or right pages, you will notice how often darker print slips through, making THIS reader happy.

I wonder how many other of my fellow bookworms find pleasure in this reading moment.