We’re told from birth that we can’t judge a book by its
cover. If we’re honest, though, we are drawn to interesting book covers. Bright
colors and images catch our eye, whether we pick up the book or not. Everything
I read about self-publishing says not to skimp on the cover. Fair or not, the
cover can make a big difference in how that book sells.
Today’s writing prompt for the #TwoForTuesday blog challenge issued by Rae of Rae’s Reads and Reviews (https://educatednegra.blog/) is Two Books with Colorful Covers.
One book with a
The Favorite Sister, by Jessica Knoll is a recent release by Simon & Schuster. In fact, I learned about this thriller in an email from the publisher.
I have not read this book, and I don’t know if I’d choose to read it just based on the cover. My parents never played favorites with my brother, sister, and me, as far as I could tell. Of course, that might be because I was the youngest. I wonder if my brother and sister would say I was the favorite sister. I don’t think I’ll ask them.
Today’s #TwoForTuesday writing prompt made me look
over the list of books I’ve read since October, 1993 (when I started keeping a
list) and select two books that encourage change.
Life-Changing Magic of Tidying,
by Marie Kondo
I read this book four years ago this month. It
immediately inspired me to reorganize my dresser drawers. I changed the way I
stored many of my garments. It made seeing and finding what I had easier.
Marie Kondo’s mantra is, “Does it spark joy?” If an
item doesn’t bring you joy, she says it needs to go. I went through my clothes
and some kitchen items asking myself that question, and it felt good to donate
some things to Goodwill where they could bring someone else joy.
Reading the book a couple of months before a kitchen
remodel helped me part with some pots, pans, and dishes that held sentimental
value because they had belonged to my mother. One thing I learned was that I
don’t need the chipped or cracked bowl to remember Mama’s potato salad, and I
don’t need her beat up pots and pans to remember the delicious meals she
lovingly prepared for us.
Ms. Kondo says one must tidy by category, not
location. I tend to want to tidy a room and then move on to another room (or
not move on, as the case may be.) She says to start with clothing, then books,
then paper. I think that’s where the wheels fell off my wagon. Paper is the
bane of my existence. As much as I recycle and try to depend on technology, I’m
still overwhelmed by paper.
Four years later, I need to read the book again. I
think it will encourage me to donate or discard some things that have accumulated
since April of 2015. Why should I keep it if it can bring joy to someone else?
I plan to read this book again. After four years and
the gaining of a few pounds, it’s time to sort through my clothes again, donate
more books to a charity used book sale, and take that giant step into all that
paper that seems to multiply while I’m asleep.
Small Changes: One Year to a Happier,
by Brett Blumenthal
I read this book 15 months ago. The idea is that you
make a small change in your life every week for 52 weeks. At the end of that
year, you’ve theoretically incorporated all those changes into your daily life
The author says it’s easier to make small changes than
major changes. Also, it take time to make a permanent change in your life. A
study done by University College London psychologist Phillippa Lally found that
it take an average of 9½ weeks to make a lasting change.
I might give this book another chance, even though the
first change is a major one for me:
“Drink an adequate amount of water each day to maintain a healthy level
of hydration.” Water is not my favorite beverage but, starting today, I’ll make
an effort to drink more of it. The rule of thumb is: “Drink the amount of water in ounces that
equals your weight in pounds divided by two.”
Maybe that Week One change will inspire me to lose
some weight. The less I weigh, the less water I need to drink! Week Two isn’t
any easier: “Get seven to eight hours of
restful sleep every night.” I’m afraid to look at the third week.
I’ve blogged before about my love/hate relationship with social media. Most of the forms of social media take me out of my comfort zone. Actually, that is an understatement.
I enjoy blogging and interacting with people who read
my posts. I follow a lot of blogs and have benefited from them. I learn from
them, I’m inspired by them, and I’m entertained by them.
Facebook comes in a distant second place. I really
don’t need to see a picture of what you ate for breakfast. The most redeeming
qualities of Facebook are that it gives me an easy way to stay in touch with
friends in Europe and family around the United States, and it gives me a way to
know the political leanings of some of my Facebook friends so I’ll know what I
can or cannot say to them in order to keep them as friends.
The down side is that I’ve learned things I wish I
hadn’t about some of my friends. Suffice it to say, if the topic of politics is
going to come up at my next high school reunion or family gathering, I don’t
want to be there.
I like Pinterest, but I haven’t put enough time into
it to make it a productive platform for my writing. I spend more time on
Pinterest than I should, but not necessarily to promote my writing. I pin many
articles to my “The Writing Life” board, but I use it more for the hobbies I
I’m sure this sounds blasphemous to the young adults
who might read this post, but I’m not much of a cell phone person. I could
really do without it. I refuse to be ruled by a phone. I don’t want to be tied
to a phone. I don’t want a phone to monopolize my time, energy, or attention. I
want a phone available for emergencies – and I mean the old-timey understanding
of what an emergency is.
I set up an account a couple of years ago and never
took the next step. Again, it’s related to my cell phone and its built-in
camera. I’m sure it’s convenient for many people. I just don’t get it.
the Social Media I’ve not heard of
I guess that’s self-explanatory.
Since my last blog post
I’ve had a net gain of 4,550 words to my The Doubloon manuscript,
bringing my current word count to 55,400. I get to start on Chapter 14 today. I
Until my next blog post
I hope you have a good book to read. Nothing grabbed my attention last week.
I had to return The Irishman’s Daughter, by V.S. Alexander to the
public library without finishing it. I’m on the waitlist for it again so I can
finish reading it on my Kindle. Part of the problem is how tired my eyes get
reading regular size print. On my Kindle I can adjust the font size. This
historical novel is set in Ireland during the potato famine.
If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time.
Look for my #TwoForTuesday blog post tomorrow: “Two Books that Encourage Change.” Thank you for providing the writing prompt, Rae, in “Rae’s Reads and Reviews” blog. Here’s a link to her April 1, 2019 blog post in which she listed all the #TwoForTuesday prompts for the month of April: https://educatednegra.blog/2019/04/. Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog.
In my blog on Monday, April 29, 2019 I’ll explain what triggered today’s rant.
Let’s continue the conversation
What’s your favorite of all the social media? What’s your least favorite?
Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
If you’ve been following my blog for a few years, you
know I love nothing better than attending an author’s book reading and signing.
After not getting to one in a long time, on April 4, 2019 I had the pleasure of
attending Anna Jean Mayhew’s at Park Road Books in Charlotte, North Carolina.
I thoroughly enjoyed her reading at Park Road Books.
She read selected excerpts from the book and talked about the three narrators.
She also played a song written specifically in conjunction with Tomorrow’s Bread and had copies of the
words for all in attendance.
If you’d like to listen to the song and see the accompanying artwork, go to http://shari-smith.com/trio-2019/ and scroll down to Tomorrow’s Bread. The song and artwork came together with Ms. Mayhew’s book through the work of Shari Smith and an entity called Trio.
Trio pairs books with songwriters and visual artists to create a total package based on a novel. I hadn’t heard of Trio or Shari Smith before, so I was thrilled to learn about this concept at Ms. Mayhew’s book reading in Charlotte.
Many of her high school classmates and other friends
from when she lived in Charlotte were there, as well as Catherine Frey, who had
assisted Ms. Mayhew with her research.
I was delighted to renew my acquaintance with Ms.
Mayhew. When I got the chance to talk to her at the end of the event, she again
offered me encouragement on the writing of my historical novel. She has been an
inspiration to me on my journey as a writer.
my last blog post
I have enjoyed rewriting several more chapters of The Doubloon (former working title, The Spanish Coin) and forgive me if I toot by own horn here. Since last Monday’s blog I’ve had a net gain of 20,525 words. The current word count is 50,850. I’m more than halfway to the completion of this rough, rough, rough draft of my novel.
my next blog post
I hope you have a good book to read.
If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time and your
projects are moving right along.
Look for my #TwoForTuesday blog post tomorrow: “Two
Books that Make Me Smile.” Thank you for providing the writing prompt,
Rae, in “Rae’s Reads and Reviews” blog. Here’s a link to her April 1, 2019 blog
post in which she listed all the #TwoForTuesday prompts for the month of April:
Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes
doing something else, but you chose to read my blog.
Let’s continue the conversation
Have you read Tomorrow’s Bread, by
Anna Jean Mayhew? If so, please share your thoughts in the comments section
below or on Facebook.
Have you attended any author book readings or book signings? What do you
like best about such events?
This week’s writing prompt for Rae’s #TwoForTuesday blog post was a real challenge for me. I don’t tend to read books with flowery language, so I was stumped for a few days. If you’re interested in participating in Rae’s #TwoForTuesday blog post prompts or want to read what other participants are saying, go to Rae’s blog at https://educatednegra.blog/2019/04/01/april-two-for-tuesday-prompts.
A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
Many novels of the 1800s would qualify for today’s
#TwoForTuesday prompt, but I decided to go with A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. You need go no further than
the preface to know you’re in for some flowery language.
“I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise
the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with
themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their
houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it. Their faithful Friend and
Servant, C.D., December, 1843.”
The Presbyterian Congregation on Rocky River, by Dr. Thomas Hugh
The first book that came to mind for today’s topic is an excellent nonfiction book by Dr. Thomas Hugh Spence, Jr. You might be familiar with it if you live in the Charlotte area or have ancestors who were or are part of that congregation. It’s a history of Rocky River Presbyterian Church called The Presbyterian Congregation on Rocky River.
Dr. Spence’s father was the pastor of Rocky River Presbyterian Church in Cabarrus County, North Carolina in the 1910s, and Dr. Spence loved that church. He did a yeoman’s job of researching the first 200 years of the life of the congregation. The flowery language Dr. Spence sprinkled throughout this 1954 book endear it to me all the more because it demonstrates his abiding love for the congregation.
After the preface, is a page about the Rocky River and the first
church that took the river’s name. I think you’ll agree that the language is a
“The waters of more than two centuries have followed the course of Rocky River toward the Eastern Sea since the vanguard of the Scotch-Irish settled along its banks and branches…. The foundations were laid beyond the seas, amid the verdant valleys of Ulster, or, even earlier, upon the heathered hills of Scotland. But there is no uncertainty in regard to that staunch and sturdy race who made their way across the Atlantic, settled for a season in Pennsylvania, and then resumed the march to rest only intermittently until the Yadkin had been forded and the region of Rocky River attained.”
(This book is available from the Rocky River Presbyterian Church office at 7940 Rocky River Road, Concord, NC 28025. You may contact the church office at 704-455-2479 or firstname.lastname@example.org for details. The church’s website is http://rockyriver.org/.)
Jacksonland: President Andrew Jackson, Cherokee Chief John
Ross, and A Great American Land Grab,
by Steve Inskeep
I can’t remember how I became aware of this book, and
I don’t remember what I expected it to be. What it turned out to be was a real
eye opener! I consider myself a bit of a student of history, but I had never
read the details of how Andrew Jackson speculated on land and grabbed it up by
the tens of thousands of acres as a result of the inside track he enjoyed.
The main things I knew about Andrew Jackson were:
He was born near the North Carolina – South Carolina border, so both states claim him as theirs;
His father died just days before he was born;
He was delivered by his Aunt Sarah Hutchinson Lessley, who just happened to be my 5th-great-grandmother;
He became famous for his service in the Battle of New Orleans;
He was the 7th President of the United States of America;
His image appears on the United States $20 bill; and
He is blamed for the Cherokee “Trail of Tears” as he forced them off their ancestral lands in western North Carolina and northern Georgia and into a grim and often fatal march to the Oklahoma Territory.
The more I learn about Andrew Jackson, the more I
wonder why North and South Carolina fight over him. Let’s just let Tennessee
have him, since that’s where he chose to build his estate called The Hermitage.
The more I learn about him, the more I wish my ggggg-grandmother had delivered
a president of better character. I don’t blame her, though. Her sister, Jean
Jackson was in need of a midwife.
What I learned by reading Jacksonland: President Andrew Jackson, Cherokee Chief John Ross, and A Great American Land Grab, by Steve Inskeep was that President Jackson not only forced the Native Americans off their lands throughout the Southeast, but afterwards he personally gained financially from purchasing thousands of acres of those lands. So did his friends and his wife’s nephew. That’s just the half of it.
Ignorance is bliss. I almost wish I hadn’t read the book.
No, I’m glad I did. I wish I’d known about all this thievery and fraud earlier. It’s amazing the details that are not included or are just mentioned in passing in history textbooks!
Island of Sea Women,
by Lisa See
I listened to this historical novel on CD. It is based
on the women who live(d) on the island of Jeju off the coast of Korea. The book
covers nearly 100 years of life and changes on the island, from the 1930s,
through Japanese colonialism, through World War II and the Korean War, to the
On Jeju, women learn from a young age how to dive deep
into the ocean to harvest certain fish and other sea life. They can hold their
breath longer than any other people in the world. They are known as haenyeo.
The women do this dangerous work, and their husbands raise their children.
This is a story of friendship and betrayal against a
back drop of war and military occupation. I was mesmerized by The Island of Sea Women, by Lisa See.
Due to spending so much time deep in the water, the
haenyeo have hearing loss. For this reason, the older women speak loudly. It
took me a while to get accustomed to the varying volume of this book on CD, as
the narrator went above and beyond the call of duty in demonstrating how much
louder the women spoke compared to the other characters. For that reason, it’s
not the best choice if you like to listen to a book at bedtime or with ear
buds. You, too, could suffer hearing loss!
Tales: The Magic of Creating Stories and
the Art of Telling Them,
by Jackie Torrence
Jackie Torrence was a master storyteller and a
reference librarian in High Point, North Carolina. This book includes 16 folk
tales along with Ms. Torrence’s stage directions and sidebar comments for each
story. I’d never in my life considered being a storyteller until I read this
book. I don’t know that this is something I’ll pursue, but the book is so
inspiring that it made me entertain the idea!
Even if you just want to be able to read stories to
your children or grandchildren with more enthusiasm, facial expression, and use
of your hands in a demonstrable way, you can benefit from this book. An
alternative title for the book could have been, “The Many Faces of Jackie
Torrence” because there are numerous up-close photographs of her
extraordinarily expressive face as she told the stories.
Tales: The Magic of Creating Stories and
the Art of Telling Them, Ms. Torrence explains what makes a good Jack Tale
and what makes a good story. She writes about adjusting stories depending upon
the age of her audience and how to (and how not to) hold children’s attention.
If you have an appreciation for the art of
storytelling, you will enjoy this book. Look for a copy in used bookstore and
online at used bookstores or consortiums such as Advanced Book Exchange.
I read one story each night before going to bed, and I hated to see the book end. It’s one I’ll definitely reread and enjoy just as much the
second and third times.
Since my last blog
I had the pleasure of attending Anna Jean Mayhew’s reading
and book signing at Park Road Books in Charlotte on Thursday night. What an
enjoyable evening it was as she read from and talked about her latest
historical novel, Tomorrow’s Bread.
More on that in my blog post on Monday, April 15.
I’ve had a net gain of 8,325 words to my The Doubloon manuscript, bringing my
current word count to 30,325. I get to start on Chapter 8 today. I can’t wait!
Until my next blog
I hope you have a good book to read. I started reading The Irishman’s Daughter, by V.S. Alexander yesterday afternoon. After reading Mr. Alexander’s earlier novels, The Magdalen Girls in 2017 and The Taster last year, I was eager to read his recently-released novel, The Irishman’s Daughter. He writes extraordinary historical fiction.
If you’re a writer, I hope you have
quality writing time and your projects are moving right along.
Look for my #TwoForTuesday blog post tomorrow: “Two Books with Flowery Language.” Thank you for providing the writing prompt, Rae, in “Rae’s Reads and Reviews” blog. Here’s a link to her April 1, 2019 blog post in which she listed all the #TwoForTuesday prompts for the month of April: https://educatednegra.blog/2019/04/01/april-two-for-tuesday-prompts/.
Thank you for reading my blog. You
could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to
read my blog.
continue the conversation
Have you read any of the three books I talked about
today? If so, please share your thoughts with me. Have I piqued your interest
in reading any of these books?
month’s prompts are more challenging than the ones from the previous month. It
remains to be seen if I can come up with books to write about this month. Rae
is stretching my memory to think back through my many years of reading.
With today’s theme in mind, I selected two book series instead of two individual books. (There I go, bending the rules again!) They are series I enjoyed a few years ago. They are books you might enjoy when you want something light to read, although after a while they become somewhat predictable.
Stephanie Plum Series
appreciate how Ms. Evanovich numbers her books in this series in chronological
order. It makes it easy to keep up with where you are in the series, especially
if you’re late coming to her books and you want to remember which ones you’ve
Stephanie Plum is a bounty hunter for her New Jersey cousin of questionable character. Stephanie is white. Her sidekick is a large black woman named Lula. There’s no end to the trouble Stephanie and Lula get into. This usually involves Stephanie’s car getting blown up and one of her two heart throbs, Ranger, coming to her rescue. The earlier books in this series were fresh and laugh-out-loud funny. After 25 books, though, they don’t make me laugh as much.
If you want to give Ms. Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books a try, start with One for the Money in order to get acquainted with the recurring cast of characters. The books don’t have to be read in order, but occasionally knowing what has transpired in the past will help you appreciate a later book.
Ms. Evanovich writes one book every year now in this series, with Look Alive Twenty-Five being released last fall. The Stephanie Plum books are stereotypically-New Jersey.
Ann B. Ross’ Miss Julia Novels
I read a few of Ann B. Ross’ Miss Julia novels a few years ago before I got hooked on historical fiction. That’s not to say they don’t still make me laugh.
Miss Julia is an elderly widow who lives in a town in western North Carolina. Every time Miss Julia thinks life might settle down, a relative or other ne’er do well shows up on her doorstep to throw a monkey wrench into her life.
Miss Julia rolls with the punches with good humor. Start with Ann B. Ross’ debut novel, Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind. This is great Southern fiction.
Ironically, Ms. Ross’ latest Miss Julia novel is being published today. The title is Miss Julie Takes the Wheel.
Until my next blog post
Thank you, Rae, of “Rae’s Reads and Reviews Blog” for this month’s #TwoForTuesday blog post prompts. Visit her blog, https://educatednegra.blog.
Let’s continue the conversation
In the comments section below, tell me about
one or two books that made you laugh.