How are you doing on your To Be Read (TBR) Lists?

Good Morning! Here’s my Monday Morning Blog!

With the stay home orders, I’m enjoying a lot pleasure reading. How about you?

Have you ever heard of TBRs? If you are avid readers, you may know what that acronym means. Even though I consider myself an avid reader, I didn’t know what a TBR was until just recently. A TBR is your To Be Read (TBR) list. Simply, a list of books you want to read.

Have you ever used the Libby app? It allows you to check out eBooks from the library and has become one of my favorite apps to use to pick up eBooks or audiobooks for my phone or tablet. It is also a great way to pick up books while the libraries are closed right now.

While I was waiting for one of my holds to come from the library through Libby, I checked out my TBR on my Goodreads App (where I keep track of it). I was amazed to learn I have 201 books on my Want to Read List (it is what Goodreads calls your TBR). I wondered what books were it and how long they have been sitting there. I browsed through a few of the titles I recently added and wondered, what title has been sitting on this list the longest? I resorted the list and saw Megan’s Way, was added on August 14, 2011. So, I went to my Libby App and found out it was available to borrow.

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title
Megan’s Way

Author
Melissa Foster

Type of Book
Women’s Fiction, Drama

Background
Melissa Foster is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She also helps other authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training program on Fostering Success. Foster has written over 152 novels in the romance and drama genres.

Summary of the book
Megan is a cancer survivor. She fought the disease once before and now it has come back with a vengeance. Her fourteen-year-old daughter, Olivia, dealt with the battle before, but Megan didn’t want to put her through the emotional strain of supporting cancer treatment again. She has to make the decision to keep fighting, or to let the disease take her. She makes a decision that will ultimately affect her family and friends.

Reaction to the book
I really enjoyed the book. Battling cancer and deciding when enough is enough was a path my family took when my mom was battling breast cancer, so I could relate to the choice she had to make. Megan’s story is true of many other families who have had or going to make the same decision, not only for their own families, but also for their own quality of life. I would recommend this book to young adult or adult readers who are looking for a story of hard life decisions and effects on themselves and others.

Link to the author
If you want to learn more about the author, here is a link to his website Melissa Foster

Link to the book
If you want to purchase this book, here is a link to Amazon. Megan’s Way

After I finished Megan’s Way, I went back to my TBR list to see what the next longest one riding on the list was. Dean’s List by Jon Hassler. It was put on the list on September 15, 2011. I have read quite a few of his books, so I was excited to read another one. When I went to find it on Libby, I learned not all books are available on the platform. Some of the older books don’t have an eBook format available. I will have to check out a hard copy when that option is available again. I checked through the next few books on my list and finally came across one which is available on Libby, The Devil’s Bed by William Kent Krueger, another of my favorite authors. It is available on Libby, but I actually had a paperback copy of it hanging around my house.

Selma’s Book Review

Book Title
The Devil’s Bed

Author
William Kent Krueger

Type of Book
Mystery/crime fiction

Background
William Kent Krueger is the author of the now nineteen book Cork O’Connor series and a couple of standalone novels like this one. His books are typically written at a diner in St. Paul, Minnesota and have their settings in different parts of the state. Being a Minnesota native myself, I can relate to the settings of his books. Krueger has always wanted to be a writer. His third-grade story, “The Walking Dictionary” was praised by his teachers and parents. Since then he has written many books and won several awards for his writing.

Summary of the book
Bo Thorsen, a Secret Service Agent, is assigned to protect the First Lady, when she comes to visit her dad after an accident out in his orchard. Things about the accident didn’t seem to add up for Thorsen, so he did some checking into the facts. This was starting to raise the eyebrows and anger some people connected to the case. As Thorsen got closer to the truth, connections to powerful people in Washington, DC start to surface and his investigation becomes more dangerous, even deadly.

Reaction to the book
Unlike the books in his Cork O’Connor series, this one had a more political flair with its characters being the President of the United States and the First Lady and the dealings with Washington DC. Even so, it still had the feeling of a William Kent Krueger novel which I really liked. The charters and story line were engaging and kept me guessing what was going to happen right up until the end of the book. I would recommend it for any William Kent Krueger or crime fiction fan.

Link to the author
If you want to learn more about the author, here is a link to his website William Kent Krueger

Link to the book
If you want to purchase this book, here is a link to Amazon. The Devil’s Bed


How many books do you have in your To Be Read (TBR) pile? Please let me know in the comments below.

Have a great week!

A Girl With a Dream to publish a book

Welcome to June!

Many years ago, I was a young girl with a dream. Now I’m a middle aged woman on the brink of having it realized. My first completed manuscript is coming back from my editor with the first round of edits this week. I can see myself taking another step closer to my dream, to publish a novel. And it is pretty exciting.

This girl has always been an avid reader. The Little House on the Prairie series and Nancy Drew mysteries were books always found on my book shelf. But there has always been a creative writer inside of me. I started writing in diaries with thoughts about a day in the life of a young girl growing up. Secrets about who I liked and what I thought about things that went on in school, only shared with the lined pages of that little book with the lock on the edge.  I still have those diaries in my hope chest. I can see them in my mind. One green, one red and one blue.

From writing in my diary, the creative writing evolved itself into silly stories that were caught in my imagination and needed to come out. Being at the time before computers became common for all to have, I wrote them down in three ringed notebooks or on pieces of notebook filler paper. I have a few of those saved in my writing archives.

In elementary school, we had units on creative writing during English and penmanship class. I have a packet of poems and thoughts about Christmas a teacher put together from one of my classes in my archives too. In another grade we learned how to write in a journal. Our teacher had us start with basic facts about ourselves. Who is your dad? What color is your house? What is the name of your pet? This question was a hard one for me to answer because at that time my family didn’t have a pet, so I would have to write that fact in my journal. Kind of made me feel sad, or I guess feel different from the other kids. Then our teacher would have us write about a place you visited with your family on vacation to give us all an idea that we could write about. Little did I know then these activities would become a part of the foundation for the writing that I do now.

Then came all of the research papers written in junior high and high school. I really enjoyed researching different people and learning about who they were and their role in history. I also love researching historical events and finding out why they happened. I remember getting into mythology, the gods and their functions in the myths. I even put together a family tree to follow who was related to who. Not as an assignment for school, but because I was keenly interested. Abraham Lincoln and Charles Lindbergh were and still are fascinating people to me, so I wrote school papers about them. I believe some of the Charles Lindbergh research I did brought to light an interest in aviation and ultimately obtaining a pilot’s license. It also intrigued me enough to go visit his family’s home in Little Falls, Minnesota.

When I look back on it, my novel writing really started with a short story that I wrote in 1994 about a weekend I spent at a Bed and Breakfast over Memorial Day weekend. It was a last minute decision to take the trip, which isn’t like me to do. My experiences from that weekend worked their way into a WIP I started called Mentoring a Dream. That story brought many things I was dealing with personally and professionally together into a story. It was about what I was doing with my life, things that I wanted to do and dreams of mine at that time, written through a character based on me. It was like I was figuring out who I was and where I wanted to be through writing. I’ll talk more about my Mentoring a Dream WIP later on this month.

All of these writing experiences have brought me to where I am today, working hard to make my dream of publishing a novel come true. It feels so good that achieving the goal is getting closer to actually happening.

Writing and publishing a novel is not an easy journey by any stretch of the imagination. There is a lot of work involved. With all of the self publishing and promotion things added into the author’s work load these days, it isn’t just a writing journey anymore. Many publishers want to see an author platform and fan base before they will pick up a book to publish. So, building a social media presence has become a part of the writing journey an author must do to publish successfully, whether it is being published by someone else or self published. Add that to all of the hard work already done to write it and self edit it to get it ready to send it out to alpha and beta readers, it is a pretty heavy work load. Once it comes back from those readers, it gets polished up and sent out for a professional edit to tear it up and make it even better. This is where I’m currently at in my writing journey. When I get the suggestions back this week, I’ll clean it up and send it back for one more read through by my editor.

Now, I get to take a break, right? No. When a writer gets to a place where the story is finally working and readable, there is a cover design that has to be thought about and created. Until I started on the road to publish, I don’t think I was fully aware of all of the pieces that have to come together for the finished product, the actual book. I currently have a rough idea put together of what I want the cover to look like, but I may need a professional to come in and put that piece together for me.

It will be very satisfying to accomplish this goal. Working through each step of the process has given me a greater appreciation for all of the hard work it takes for an author to get a book published.

 

A Book Report

As I sit here writing and looking out of my deck door, I see a beautiful day coming along. This morning the sun is out and the blue sky is showing itself with no clouds. They say it is supposed to be almost 60 degrees here in Minnesota today. That is rare for this early in March, but I’ll take it. I think I’m ready to be outside again, without a heavy coat and boots on.

I’m still reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It is a longer book, but it is also taking me longer to read. I think I’m just in a busy life period lately. Or maybe I have a lot on my mind. After blogging last month about black American people who made some great things happen in the history of our country, I think I got a little heavy hearted about how they were treated. Even as I read Uncle Tom’s Cabin, I feel sympathy for the characters and how they didn’t have many choices. They were split up from their families with no regard for their feelings. They were killed if they were caught escaping with no consideration of why they had to leave. Many did escape and become free, but it wasn’t an easy journey. It was pretty stressful not only for them, but also for the people who were helping them get away from slavery.

Thinking about the title A Book Report, I remember the book reports that we did in school. It made me go back into my archive files to look through some papers that my Mom had saved for me from grade school and high school. I saw some poetry that I had written in fourth grade. I saw the awards I got for reading books in the Bookmate Program in fifth grade. I have memories of walking into our library at my elementary school, which I think was actually called a media center, and going to the posted list of Bookmate books. I wish I had a list of the books I read, it would be fun to see what kind of books were of interest to me then. I know at home I was reading Nancy Drew and Little House on the Prairie. My Godmother also gave me some books from Janette Oke’s Love Comes Softly series. This books were similar to Little House on the Prairie in setting, but was more of a Christian romance story.

So, after looking through those papers I wondered how would I write a book report about Uncle Tom’s Cabin? Well, first off, I should probably finish the book to have the full story to work with. Back in the school days, I wonder how many students did write their book reports without finishing the story. I know that some kids were watching the movie and writing their reports based on that version, which the teacher would always catch them at. Nowadays, kids can go right onto the internet and find reviews and even videos about the book to write the report from. How about Cliff Notes? I know that I received some help from copies of those to write my English papers. Are they even still available? I just googled it and they are still out there.

With another google search, I found out how to write a book report on wikihow.com

http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Book-Report

I think the first paragraph is great advice to how to get started. This information could have been helpful to me when I was assigned this task back in the day.

Most students will have to write a book report. But writing a book report isn’t always easy. It is best to enjoy the book and not think about the report until you have finished reading. Now, absorb and think about what it was you read. Get up from your chair, walk around, then sit down at the table and start to write.

wikihow.com talks about the process to write the book report

Method #1 – Before you write the report

  1. know the requirements of the assignment
  2. read the book an annotate
  3. Outline main ideas and sub ideas of your book

Method #2 – Form of your report

  1. Introduction
  2. Body
  3. Conclusion

Method #3 – Final Copy

  1. Reread your report
  2. Edit your report

The process sounds familiar, but I don’t think I had it spelled out like this for me before. As I look through the steps, I would say that I probably did them all, but maybe not as in depth as I could have. I am not sure if I did any annotating or outlining while I was reading the book then, but it may have helped in writing the report. The form of the report is how all reports and research papers are set up. I remember the teachers talking about that format a lot, not just for a book report but other research papers too. Then there is the reread and edit phase. I think I was so happy to get the thing done, I may not have did such a great job at the proofreading part. Now, as a writer of blogs and manuscripts, I do this step a lot before I post or publish. Oh, how my writing process has changed since then!

A book report is a paper about what the book is about that is usually written for a class assignment. How about a book review?  I have seen them as articles in the newspaper that are like a mini book report. On the other hand, the ones that I see posted on Goodreads and Amazon.com, tend to be little blurbs about what the reader thought of the book. They are usually accompanied by star review, one star being dislike and five stars being liked a lot.

Authors like to receive reviews from their readers and reviewers, either good and bad. One of the things that I have learned over my years of writing is that not everyone is going to like what you write. It is just like with people, some are going to like you and some aren’t. That shouldn’t be your motivation to write. Your motivation to write is that you enjoy writing and to get your voice out there. Any feedback that we can get from the readers is a gift. They took their time to let us know how they felt about what we wrote, good or bad.