Did you eat well? Dining on leftovers today? Recovering from the relatives? Preparing for Christmas shopping?
May I suggest a pause to read a little and find your smile.
At least one of the trio above should bring a smile to your lips and a chuckle into the room. Animal stories told in a lighthearted style. Another sort of animal described in the adventures of raising children in the 1960’s suburbs. And to really step back in time — join the antics of courtship, marriage, and love (not necessarily in that order) presented by a modern author.
So…this author’s advice. Take a book break on the light side to prepare you for the hustle and bustle of the modern year-end holidays.
Quick — name the first three United States presidents.
Did you get it? If you paid attention during history in grade school you should have gotten Washington, Adams, and Jefferson without missing a beat.
Can you list more?
Thanks to a lifelong interest in history — and a thick pamphlet study guide in 8th grade — I feel confident naming most of them in order. Yes, I’ll get a little confused here and there. And don’t ask me the accomplishments of some of them.
During the last several years, I’ve tried to expand my knowledge. I’m glad to live within a good library system to supplement the ones on my own shelf. And it’s rather humbling to find biographies of presidents I remember from the TV news filed under “history”. Yikes! Does that mean I’m old? (Please — don’t answer.)
Want to learn about prominent figures from the past as people, not only doers of heroic deeds? Find a book and settle in with the expectation of learning something.
A trio of uncommon “common” men guided the early United States on the path to growth and expansion. Were they privileged? Yes, they came from families wealthy enough to give the sons the best education available and a place of status within the community. Yet, they learned the value of work and faced the hardships of daily life and travel in their time. They left a rich record for future generations.
Classic openings can start a person down a path, trail, or road to worlds of fantastic creatures and deeds. What’s at the end of the road? Or on the next planet? Is the destination or the journey most important?
When I was a small child, my brothers and I looked forward to the arrival of a weekly magazine. We all liked the cartoons sprinkled in the second half — past the major articles and some of the features. Did I read the captions? Likely not — while I can’t remember not knowing my letters — I didn’t do a lot of reading before school. Did my brothers read captions to me? I think so — if I could get them to stay on the same page long enough.
Picture books. Chapter books. Children’s classics. Anything with print that arrived in the house. As time progressed, I read all of it. I think my favorites, even as a child, were books with a happy ending. I wanted the family to be reunited. Or the hero/heroine to gain the prize, solve the mystery, and be confident taking the next step in life.
Some things stay the same. I enjoy most books that end happy. So reading romance fits. Writing romance fits also — after all, I’m trying to write the book I want to read.
Titles in the Crystal Springs Romances:
Starr Tree Farm Hiding Places Seed of Desire
Titles published by The Wild Rose Press:
Stare Down Comfort Zone
Click over to the title pages to read the complete blurb and find purchase links.
Writers read books. I think I’ve mentioned the fact several times over the years.
Writers do research. I’ve touched on this topic. Sometimes, depending upon topic, this can be the most interesting part of writing. After all, unless I already had the idea in hand, why would I visit a Christmas tree farm, or interview an apple orchard owner, or attend dog agility trials, or visit three Missouri state parks and historic sites in one day?
Use the computer search engine? Yes, it comes in handy. I depend on computer information when getting background places difficult or impossible for me to visit. Or looking for historical treatment of a disease. Or what sort of fabric was popular in the United States in 1851? Lots of useful and interesting information — best to double check before you put specifics in your manuscript. (When you have a character use an invention two years before the patent was granted — you risk creditability.)
This writer — and my writer friends — also depend on books. You know, the hold-in-your-hand bound paper volumes.
Popular, and useful, references for the writer in the house. Some, like the almanac and atlas are found in many homes. The use is wide-ranging — who was vice-president of the United States in 1852 or can you drive direct from Point A to B. Others, the human body atlas and gun guide are more specialized. Specialized thesauruses aid the writer to create a better character and present them well on the page. Dictionary? Thesaurus? When you can’t find the right word they can come to your rescue. (Also a great help when your spelling leaves word-check programs scratching their electronic brains.) Are these all? Absolutely not! Books on the craft of writing fill a good sized shelf in my office. Other books — special dictionaries, travel guides, non-fiction history — are scattered from one end of the house to the other. After all — a person never knows when they’ll have the need to find the directions for making soap in the 1830’s — or the name of that particle smaller than an electron.
Hey! I never claimed to be a poet. My use of meter and rhyme stalled out about age nine.
Can you imagine having a quiet afternoon in this room? The light looks good to curl up beside the dog on the couch and enjoy a book. What would you read? Adventure? History? Romance? Or how about — a historical romance full of adventure?
I think you can find a volume to your liking at any public library. And the writing should be better than my poetry.
One of my habits, familiar to those who know me in person, is making lists.
Grocery lists, shopping list for home improvement store, or Big Box store. A list of errands when making the rounds of library, bank, post office and other places. Scribbles on the calendar in my purse. (Only recently have I started using the electronic calendar connected to by email account. — What can I say: I was an adult before the current millennium?)
For years, at least a decade before the above millennium change, I recorded books read. Later, after a few computer classes, I transferred the record to electronic form. However, this old-fashioned person keeps a printed copy.
I can’t remember the occasion — but something prompted me to take a photo of a portion of my reading in the spring of 2013.
Hmmm. I remember a few of these well. I do hope I inserted a non-fiction or two during this reading span. Yes, my favorite is romance — with an emphasis on romantic suspense according to this stack o’ books. What’s your favorite?
Have you visited an orchard this year? Last year? Ever?
Commercial orchards offer more than apples these days. Depending on size or location — you can get a ride on a wagon behind a tractor, get lost in a straw or corn maze, pick a pumpkin, or attend a lecture about apple varieties.
When I was a child, we visited a small, commercial orchard each year. No fancy rides or entertainment. A shed full of the sweet, welcome scent of apples and bushel after bushel set out with names for each type. Fresh cider if you went to the largest. Mother had a list — either written or mental — of which varieties she wanted. Cooking apples found their way into pie and cobbler. Eating apples offered dad a nutritious evening snack. We bought them by the bushel (sometimes a peck) and stored them in the basement. With luck, and planning, we didn’t need to buy apples at the grocer until well into the summer.
Have you ever thought an orchard at the other seasons? Spring brings the blossoms– and maybe a little more if you are reading about Hilltop Orchard near Crystal Springs, WI. (Don’t look on a map — the village is fictitious.)
Ebook on sale for limited time — try a sweet romance for .99
Let the gift buying for the end-of-year Holiday Season begin!!!
No — this non-enthusiastic shopper has not been hijacked. I do experience positive emotion at both the purchase and receiving of gifts. However, I do try to accomplish my seasonal shopping in a small number of excursions.
Are you looking for something unusual? Perhaps a handmade item you don’t have the talent or time to create. Do you want to support some local, very small business persons?
Perhaps you should take a look at local ads and attend a craft show. Many are sponsored by organizations associated with churches and schools. Give them a little boast — even if they don’t charge an attendance fee, they often operate the snack bar. How about a drink and snack during your stay?
The season for outdoor events is drawing to a close in Missouri. See you inside, with mask, at my next event. November 6, Mary Queen of Peace, Webster Grove, MO. (Reasons to give a book as a gift: easy to wrap, quiet, no batteries required.)
Have you read a book in the last week? Month? Six months?
Did you like it? Did you laugh? Learn something? Do you want to find another that’s similar?
If you answered any of the above questions with “yes” –I urge you to write and post a review.
You don’t need to be fancy. Forget about the paragraphs or columns you find from professional reviewers in your local newspaper or popular internet feed. Can you string a couple sentences together? That’s all it takes.
Where to post? Reviews are generally welcome on any internet site where books are sold. You can post to the large retailers (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple) or find author oriented sites like Goodreads or Bookbub. Post on your favorite social media site — remember, short is okay!