Thursday, August 30, 2012

Does reading make us more human?

Readers.  Writers.  We’re all gluttons for books—both new and borrowed, aren’t we?
 
Regardless of pending appointments or deadlines, if we happen to see an interesting cover, more likely than not we can’t resist the urge to pause and browse. Sometimes, we even go out of our way to spend hours visiting them at book stores, at the library, or around the web just to see what’s been recently published, or what our favorite characters have been up to. Sometimes we may even come across a book that makes us proclaim to our nearest book-loving neighbor, “This is the next Newbury!” Or: “This is the next NYT bestseller!”
What’s wonderful about sharing these proclamations is that our nearest book-loving neighbors are never hard to find. Readers and writers can always find company, whether it be among the shelves at the bookstore or in the comments and chats of our favorite websites and ezines. And if we happen to be holding a book or an ereader in public, more often than not someone will pause to ask what we’re reading.
So I ask, What keeps humanity coming to books?  Turning page after page? 
Perhaps it’s because reading a book is like opening ourselves up to an emotional caress, regardless of whether the book is humor, suspense, or chick-lit-light.  In books, we can step into another world where another person’s problems are solved within the confines of a safe environment. An environment contained on bound sheets of pressed paper, dressed with ink (or the soft glow of a tablet). An environment where the conflicts faced by a character we’ve grown to like and understand are eventually sorted out, but on our own schedule.
Perhaps what is most appealing about reading is that we benefit from viewing the story and its conflict with an empowering perspective. We have a bilateral view of two worlds—that of the character and that of our own. Coupling our own experience with that in fiction gives us an advantage in focusing on a character as they move down a path toward resolution.
This dual perspective broadens our ability to empathize—with the character, with others, and ultimately with ourselves, particularly when we go on to carry the story within us. In essence, perhaps we become more human through reading, whether it be fiction, nonfiction, or poetry.
If this is true, could reading be the key to any amount of success in our lives? Is it possible that one of the most relaxing, quiet, nonintrusive activities could be the most empowering?
Perhaps it’s time to explore that option for ourselves, or rediscover it. Then again, I never need a reason to pick up a good book. How about you?


NOTE: Today's post appeared first at the Blogging Authors blog. Giving these peeps a big wave and wiggle for having me as a guest! >

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Rise of New Genres


I remember sitting in a workshop at writer’s conference a few years ago when one of the attendees asked the visiting editor from New York why publishers didn’t print books featuring college-aged characters (18-25). The editor replied that there wasn’t a market for them and likely never would be. She suggested the writer change the age of her characters and rewrite the story as necessary.

If I have learned one thing about the publishing industry, it is this: everything changes. What is wallowing in the deep, dark, off-the-radar abyss today could be hot-trotting all over the best-selling lists tomorrow. And despite our desire to appease and allure book editors in NYC with what they say they want, these peeps don’t know everything. And it’s likely that a writer who has done his/her homework and has written a book that been begging to be written might know a bit more. Which is why I loved meeting Angela Corbett, author of Eternal Starling, at a book fair last winter.

Angela, along with many other authors, writes in the New Adult genre—that one that was deemed unmarketable and unpublishable by that NYC editor five years ago. It's a genre that's hopping now -- both in print and on the screen. Basically, it's all over the media.
And that’s not all.

What tickles my toes even more is discovering another new genre. One that my own book, The Ghost in Me, fits into: Spirit Travel. (Who would have thought I could be included among the hip and the smart? Not me.)

The Spirit Travel genre was coined by author Mimi Barbour, who has written many titles including We’re One, He's Her, and She's Me. As the title of these books indicate, the Spirit Travel genre can be loosely described as alluding to situations in which two spirits exist in one body.

While this genre is encompassed under the Paranormal umbrella, the umbrella is getting a bit crowded with ghosts and zombies, vampires and werewolves, and angels among other things, that are running wild all over the shelves. Thus, it's nice to have a sub-genre that beautifully and succinctly alludes to specific plot elements.  

Indeed, Mimi and I are not alone in the Spirit Travel genre and can give a wave toward many other writers, including Rachel Hawkins (Spell Bound) and Stacey Kade (Body & Soul).

What should you say next time when you hear something will never happen?

Never say never.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

on chasing happiness



Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our lives. C.S. Lewis

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.
Lao Tzu


A very small degree of hope is sufficient to cause the birth of love.
Stendhal


Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn't know you left open.
John Barrymore


May we find that open door, 
that small degree of hope, 
that strength, 
that courage, 
and that affection. 
~love, me


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Your Mother Doesn't Live Here


In a state acclaimed for its outdoor recreational opportunities, where the license plate reads “Life Elevated,” and showcases outdoor natural park treasures, it was almost surprising to see a front page article in The Herald Journal on July 7 about the proliferation of trash at First Dam and other parks in Logan, Utah.  I say ALMOST because I spend a lot of time outdoors. I fish and I run, among other things; and no matter where I go I’m always dismayed by the trash I see left behind by others. I find it on the river banks. I see it along the side of the road. I find it under the park bench. 

The trash is as wide-ranging as anything you can possibly buy at the local market. On the Blacksmith Fork river bank and along every road in the valley, I’ve found plastic shopping bags, empty cardboard boxes that had held a fisherman’s new pair of waders (Really?!?),  beer cans,  life jackets, cups from McDonalds, plastic drink bottles, a leather loveseat, lone shoes, and empty shot gun shell casings.
Why?

Do so many people think it really doesn’t matter?
Do people really believe the “biodegradable” labels? Really? In whose lifetime will all this trash biodegrade to minute particles? Not in mine. Not in our grandchildren’s. That I can guarantee.

Fifty years from now, the junk thrown out the window or left to blow away in the wind will still be here—scarring what little natural landscape we have left.
What’s to be done? Who will pick it up? Will you?

What will you think if you see me walking with a trash bag along the road? Will you think I’m a crazy homeless person? Someone who has gone off their meds? Will you notice me picking up litter? Will you consider stopping to lend a hand? Or shake your head at the thought of someone who has too much free time on their hands? Or will I remind you of your mother—the one who might have picked up after you?
Well, last time I checked, your mother doesn’t live out here.

Perhaps it is time to renew a commitment to taking care of our planet. At the very least, please take your trash with you when you head back inside. Dont' count on the tree in the photo below to do it for you. (Contrary to what the Olympic ad might lead you to believe, he really doesn't move around with opposable thumbs.)


This post first appeared on povblog.net. Big waves and wiggles for having me as a guest!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My Children Want Me to Die!

Okay, maybe I'm over-reacting.

They only want me to lose weight.
Just a little weight.
Weight that only has to add up to one inch off my waist line.

The problem?

The way they want me to lose that inch may do me in.

How?

They want me to take the Special K Challenge.

You know, the one where I happily eat a bowl of full of air, I mean Special K flakes each morning, and then whallah! I'm find myself dancing a week or two later with a tape measure wrapped effortlessly around my skinnier, slimmer waist.

The catch?

Of course there's a catch.
If I register and share the stats of my pre- and post-Special K diet waistline with the on-line world, I could win! Or rather, my kids could win! (By default.) Because they are assuming that I would take them with me on that all-expense paid trip to HAWAII. They are assuming that I am dreaming of us ALL dancing together on beautiful beaches dressed in nothing but grass skirts, bikinis, and tape measures!

The risk? Of course there's a risk. Did you not read the title of this post?

Of course you did!

The risk is within Special K itself. Consider what I am being asked to eat. Have you ever held a fistful of Special K in your hands? Go ahead. Refresh your senses! What do you feel?

If you are like me, you feel a whole lot of NOTHING!.

In fact, I propose that if you were to capture air and wrap it up in a bit of sugar-puff, this is what it would feel like. Air with substance. Not much substance mind you, but if air were to retain it's air-like qualities while gaining a touch of substance, Special K would be right on target. Technologically advanced air!

Which begs the question, Why are food companies making products that they want us to buy while asking us to eat less? How is it possible that food companies get people to buy technologically and re-packaged air put forth as food?

I've always breathed air, but I've never made a habit of eating it.

Hmmm. Maybe that's the trick here. Maybe the health/obesity/diabetes epidemic on our planet can be solved if we all evolve toward eating air....

But I digress. Back to our fistfull of Special K cereal.

While you've got your fistful of technologically advanced air, let's stir things up a bit. Go ahead and blow on those flakes. Or take a walk outside on a breezy, go-fly-a-kite kind of day.

Did those flakes take flight?

Mine did. And I'm thinking I could probably use Special K flakes to demonstrate the properties of aerodynamic lift in my physics class next term.... That is, if I survive that long. After all, after a week of eating Special K, I might be blowing away in the wind just like those flakes.

Wait a minute. That could be what I'm after. Maybe after a week of Special K I'll be able to blow myself all the way to HAWAII. Like a balloon. Like a pretty blow-up doll. One with an hour-glass waist.

Wow, the very thought almost makes me feel like I'm HULA dancing on air.... In a one-size fits all grass skirt.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Here Comes Honey Boo Boo?

Some new favorites found this past week with my kids

Auburn: Perfect Two




Here Comes Honey Boo Boo



Mermaids: The Body Found (Discovery Channel)


WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE? vote in comments below

Friday, August 10, 2012

(My) Utah Garden... This is the place?

Going away in summer during peak garden production is always a bit of a personal tug-of-war for me. While I LOVE LOVE LOVE going to NH and will NEVER EVER give up this annual summer trip EVER, I do regret missing out on the reaping the rewards of my early spring efforts.

The return home always brings its surpises, though. Here are a few of the visuals I found this year. Mainly, I discovered that the seed source for the produce growers this year were a bit mis-marked.



 
(Not the brocolli I planted)

 (not the neighbor I left)



 (not the zuchinni that I planted...)



Nevertheless, I am finding it a bit difficult, as always, to keep up with the picking.

Time to call the neighbors!

Monday, August 6, 2012

My author interview with Indie Book Promo

Just when you'd thought you'd read enough, there's more!

Here is an interview I did with the lovely peeps at Indie Book Promo. So, yes, I'm sending you away to another blog today. But only because I hope you'll enjoy your trip to other nifty places, which will lead you back to me tomorrow.

Until then, remember:
In summer, the song sings itself.  ~William Carlos Williams

http://www.indiebookpromo.com/2012/07/26/interview-with-shaunda-kennedy-wenger-author-of-reality-bites-tales-of-a-half-vampire/

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Family

Wrapping ourselves up in it at the Lake. New Hampshire, 2012.







Friday, August 3, 2012

4th Annual Book Day at the People's Market

People’s Market
4th Annual Book Day featuring Utah authors, readings, sales, and swaps!

August 5th
10 am to 3 pm
The People's Market home is Jordan Park by the International Peace Gardens.
1000 South 900 West in Salt Lake City, Utah.