New Reading Rotation

A Reading Rotation

As happens periodically, usually at least once per year, I get tired of my established reading rotation, and I revise it.

(So, why bother? Because I have found in the past that without some form of genre rotation, I get stuck in a rut reading the same kind of book over and over again, despite my wider range of interests. So, when I get tired of one rotation, I find it worth my while to reinvent the “beast”.)

This time, I felt like I was not getting to spend enough time in the genres I either write or love to read. So I revised.

Here is the New Rotation

How Does it Work?

The basic rotation is the column on the left and the top chunk in the middle. I read through this from the top down through the two columns and mark with the month and year each listing read.

Nightstand Book: If a book I’ve read in the rotation is a series, the rest of the series goes on my nightstand to pick from so I do not have to wait for a full rotation to read the next book in the series.

Other Fiction: This is a list of other fiction genres/categories (ex. Goudge is author Elizabeth Goudge, a long-time favorite. I just keep rotating through rereading her books.)

Mystery Rotation: This category allows me to rotate through my favorite mystery authors so I don’t have to wait for them to get their turn in the alphabetical rotation. (I have a lot of books in my favorite genres.) You will find the list of authors to rotate through in the right column.

Non-fiction: I both enjoy and need to read nonfiction (to expand my horizons, build my writing craft, and support the world-building for my fantasy writing). So, this is the list of non-fiction works I rotate through.

Byzantine

I know it looks rather crazy and complex, but it works for me. What really matters is not that I rotate through the genres but how much I read different types of books. This newest helps me read my favorite genres, while sticking to a desire to read other types of works as well.

Your Turn

How do you organize your reading time, or–not? What do you feel are the benefits of your method or non-method for organizing your life? I’d love to know! Just use the comment space below.

Reading and Writing: Work, Spirit, or Health?

Last post, after reading Writer’s in the Storm , I blogged about this quote:

Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air. You name them – workfamilyhealthfriends, and spirit – and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back.

But the other four balls – family, health, friends, and spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. They will never be the same.

You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.

~ Brian Dyson, CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises

In my reflection, I talked about my reading/writing life as if it were “work” (and that is how I tend to treat it in the summer when I am off from my job as a teacher).

However, upon further reflection, reading and writing, for me, cannot be labeled only as work, but rather as spirit and health as well. Why?

Writing as Spirit

I truly feel writing, and the reading necessary to be a good writer, is my calling. When I am writing, I feel as if I am doing precisely what I was created to do. The stories that drive me and the poems that sing through me feel like “gifts” received, not something I came up with on my own.

Furthermore, as a praying Christian who has served a long writing apprenticeship, I talk to God about it rather frequently. Many, many times I have considered quitting. (Once I actually did, but not because I didn’t want to write anymore, but rather as a newbie teacher, I could not find the time. This was not a pretty time physically or spiritually.) As with most major decisions, I talk to God about it, and instead of telling me to quit, he always sends me more ideas.

Therefore, writing has come to feel as if it is not just my personal passion, but my calling and my responsibility to the God I love.

Writing and Reading as Health

As stated above, refraining from writing impacts me physically as well as emotionally. The one time I quit for an extended period of time resulted in depression and illness.

Reading and Writing rarely feel like work, although some of the support activities–like researching markets and preparing submissions do. For me, reading and writing are joy, abundance, and life! Writing sustains my spirit, and reading fuels my brain.

These are powerful passions, however, in spite of appearances, I do not love them more than my family and friends.

The Real Balance

As an introvert, I tilt toward quiet time at home. Therefore, I realize I need to push myself to get out of my head and house and spend more time with my husband, family, and friends because I do, indeed, love them very much. Dad’s death this spring has reinforced the importance of spending time with the people I love and who love me.

I want to be a more involved wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, and friend. I definitely need to keep practicing.

What About You?

Which of the “balls” from the quote corresponds to the roles of reading and writing in your life? Are there any other “balls” you feel might need more attention? How would you make the adjustments? Please use the comment space below to share your thoughts. We are all a work-in-progress; let’s help each other along the way!

Wonderful Words: Work-Life Balance

Reading Writer’s in the Storm this morning, I came upon this quote:

Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air. You name them – workfamilyhealthfriends, and spirit – and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back.

But the other four balls – family, health, friends, and spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. They will never be the same.

You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.

~ Brian Dyson, CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises

As the daughter of a work-a-holic, who is as driven as the beloved father who bore the trait before her, I have always struggled with work-life-writing balance, the most recent bout culminating in my physical collapse this spring.

In theory, this summer is (according to me) supposed to be about resting, recuperating, and enjoying my relationships with children, grandchildren, parents, and friends. I remind myself over and over again that there are no goals, writing or otherwise, that need to be accomplished this summer.

And yet, my mind lives in both the actual, physical world and the literary worlds of my reading/writing lifestyle. There are writing projects I want to finish even though I keep telling myself I don’t have to be done before September 1. These include building databases–of markets, agents, and editors, and revising a novel that has been a life’s work. And I yearn to finish before school starts (but honestly will not be able to) in spite of the constant reminder, “Debby, you don’t need to finish anything before September.”

And so, this quote is a good reminder. What I came out of my weeks of illness feeling was a determination to make more time for my loved ones, and a yearning for more time for my writing. I confess, God forgive me, I am too often motivated by the second, rather than the first.

And so I’ll sign off. My granddaughter has a music camp concert tonight, and then I have a writer’s group meeting. I want to be ready to enjoy both!

Your Turn

What new priorities have you been trying to introduce to your life? Do you, perhaps, have some good ideas to help me stick to mine? I would welcome your advice. Please chime in using the comment space below.

 

Favorite E-Reads of the Month: June 2017

With the advent of blogs, I have slowly shifted my magazine reading to what I call E-reading. A perfect morning starts with a poor-man’s-mocha, a chapter of the Bible, and E-reading–reading posts from the blogs I follow. Many I read and then pin on my Pinterest boards, and some I read and delete. But this month it occurred to me: shouldn’t I share some of my favorites with you?

Hence…

Favorite E-Reads for the Month of June 2017

Here are links to the posts that really stuck with me this month:

  1. Is Self-Compassion More Important than Self-Esteem? by Stephen C. Hayes, Ph.D., on Psychology Today
  2. How to Cultivate More Self Compassion: Learning to be Kind to Yourself by Allison Abrams, LCSW-R, also on Psychology Today
  3. 10 Ways to Switch Up Your Sentences by Chris Winkle, on Mythcreants: Fantasy and Science Fiction for Storytellers
  4. Four Functions of Amazing Opening Lines, also by Chris Winkle, on Mythcreants: Fantasy and Science Fiction for Storytellers
  5. How Writing can Assist Sufferers of Mental Illness  by Cassandra Hawkings, on C.S. Lakin’s Live Write Thrive
  6. Worldbuilding Demystified by Becca Puglisi, on Writers Helping Writers
  7. 5 Ways to Use Meyers-Briggs for Characters by K.M. Weiland, on Helping Writers Become Authors
  8. What Exactly Does Facebook “Friend” Mean? The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly by Kristen Lamb, on Kristen Lamb: Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi
  9. Heartened by Wonder Woman–The Case for Sincere Storytelling by Vaughn Roycroft, on Writer Unboxed
  10. Plot vs. Heart by Donald Maass,  on  Writer Unboxed

As you can see, they cover a range of topics.

The Self-Compassion articles really grabbed me because I am coming out of a “Debby can’t do anything right” period of thinking. It is a comforting topic, but moreover, it is also complements the Growth Mindset training which has been sweeping our school district for the past two years.

Mythcreants is my favorite blog for building fantasy writing skills. I love almost everything I read there.

Writer Unboxed has been a favorite general writing site for many years, and this month I was privileged to be able to hear Donald Maass teach on the same topic–getting more emotion into our fiction. He is an amazing teacher!

All these writers are amazing and enrich my life.

Happy Reading!

P.S. What is your favorite blog, or a favorite post you’ve read recently? Please use the comments space below to respond.

Life is Brutal…

Little did I know when I went on hiatus in March that I would not be back to Literate Lives until mid-June. A lot has happened since that last post:

My son is not only out of ICU, he’s been released from skilled nursing, residential physical therapy, and is home. We praise God for how he has recovered! He has regained the use of both arms; he can walk again, although with a cane, he can talk again, and most wonderful of all his personality and intellect remain unchanged by the accident.

One week into my son’s two-plus weeks in ICU, I got a call from my stepmom telling me my dad, who was in hospice care with Alzheimer’s, was not predicted to hold out more than a day or so. My husband and I rushed to Washington, where we spent the next two days at Dad’s bedside. I am so grateful I was able to be there, able to tell him how much I love him, and talk about all my wonderful memories as his daughter. Although he remained unconscious, I held his hand, prayed his ears were still working and somewhere deep inside him he knew how greatly he is loved, and was able to kiss him good-bye his last night.

I got sick on the way home from Washington, and as usual asthma prolonged the illness for two weeks–two weeks I could not go to see my injured son.

I had a couple of routine weeks. My son left the hospital for skilled nursing. Then Easter Sunday, I felt so exhausted, I came home from my daughters Easter Breakfast, went back to bed, and slept the whole afternoon. The glands in my neck were completely swollen, I was physically wiped out, and I kept popping off-and-on fevers. For the next two weeks, my doctor tried to figure out what was wrong, finally narrowing the potential diagnosis down to lymphoma or mononucleosis, although she was convinced it couldn’t be mono because of my age (Adults do not get mononucleosis). Finally after more tests and almost another week of worrying and feeling half dead, we got the news: It was mono. Hurray–Oh, no! Because I was so contagious, I had to miss my dad’s memorial service.It took more time to recover from the mono (and all this time I was missing work). Just as I was nearly healthy enough to return to my teaching job, I caught a cold. A cold, plus asthma, meant two more weeks out, and then…the cold turned into pneumonia! I didn’t return to work until June.

This has been a very difficult and emotional season, but as Piper says in the quote, God has been good. I am so grateful for my son’s recovery and so grateful not to have lymphoma. In all this time I’ve had to rest and recuperate, I have been so touched by the many kindnesses of the people in my life. In addition, I have come to realize how much I love my job and the people I work with, and how much I love writing and blogging.

At present, because I am still recuperating, I am only going to commit to one blog post/week. However, as I grow stronger and require less rest, I intend to get back to my two-day per week schedule.

So, welcome back to Literate Lives (and welcome if this is your first visit)!

Please use the comment space below to share some quotes that help you through tough times. Also, if you’d like, let me know what kind of content you are interested in seeing this summer.

Temporary Hiatus

Purple Writing

My oldest son has been injured (with a longsword no less!). He is in ICU and likely to be there for at least this week. Needless to say, I’m trying to spend as much time with him as I can. Therefore, I am temporarily suspending my posts until he has recovered.

I’m praying like mad, and I know God loves him even more than I do! I’m counting on that.

Best Books of February

best-books-logo

Initial Choice for Best Book of February

All through February, the book I had in mind for “Best Book of February” was The Devlin Diary by Christi Phillips, a double mystery set in contemporary Oxford and 17th century London. However, on February 28, I finished reading Donald Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel.

breakout-novelBest Book of February

Writing the Breakout Novel is a book I have heard recommended at more writing conferences than I can even remember to count. Finally, I have read it, and I understand the raves. This book is about the characteristics that move a novel beyond the mid-list into best seller territory. Maass describes each quality, gives examples, and provides practical advice for working it into your novel. The book is both inspiring and practical at the same time. I would recommend “Breakout Novel” to any novelist, and I know I’ll be reading more of Maass’ books.

Your Turn to Recommend a Book

So, I shared my favorite February read. Tell me, please, what was yours? It could be fiction, nonfiction…any genre. What book did you or maybe your children really enjoy? What book made a major impact on you? Please use the comment space to share the title, author’s name, and just a snippet about your book to whet your fellow readers’ appetites.