Sick? Stop Writing and Rest by Rochelle Melander

file4531299933608Dear Writers,

Happy Spring! After months of teaching sneezing, coughing kids at the library, I finally got sick. Last Wednesday, I came down with a sore throat and chills. I cancelled all my meetings—I didn’t want to make others sick—but thought, “I can still work.”

And then I got worse. By Sunday, I was a sneezing, wheezing mess. Evidently, sometimes you can’t write through it!

So writers, I’m taking a few days off. I’m moving the Write Now! Mastermind class to next Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at 12:00 PM CDT. Hopefully by then I’ll have my voice back!

Today’s tip talks about how writers can make the most of a sick day (an earlier version of this tip was published in the summer of 2011).

Happy Writing! Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach

 

file000233133941Sick? Stop Writing and Rest!

By Rochelle Melander

Being a real writer means being able to do the work on a bad day.
—Norman Mailer

I’ve read and shared this quote from Norman Mailer multiple times. He gives good advice: real writers work even when they don’t sleep well, the kids get sick, and the basement floods.

But still, sometimes you’re just too sick to write. Instead of beating up on yourself—I should be making progress on the novel, Stephen King would be writing, I’m such a loser—give yourself a break! Instead of writing, try this:

1.         Sleep. Rest helps you to recover faster. At least that’s what my mom used to tell me. Plus the dreams you have when you are sick are wacky and fun. Jot down the best dreams and use them for inspiration next time you have writer’s block.

2.         Have a Film Fest. I rarely get a chance to lie in bed and watch movies. This week, I plan to work my way through my Netflix queue. Next time you have a free moment, make a list of everything you’d like to watch. Next time you are sick, tired, or just in need of some inspiration, you’ll be prepared! Sit back and enjoy.

3.         Read. I’ve always got a stash of books to read, and that’s what I’m planning to do this week. Keep a stack of books you want to read “someday.” Next time you get sick or snowed in, you’ll be prepared!

4.         Take notes. Being sick gives you way too much time to think…and worry! Instead of tormenting yourself, take your journal to bed and jot down your ideas.

5.         Surf the net. I spend so much time on the computer for work, I rarely have time to seek out great blogs, resources, and other tools for myself and my clients. What do you long to know more about? Make a list of all the information you’d research online if only you had the time. Next time you have the time, you’ll know what to search for!

Your turn: Share your best ideas for making the most out of being sick.

 

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Stuck? Three Ways to Discover New Ideas By Rochelle Melander

file000739558943Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen. —John Steinbeck

Last Tuesday at the library, we wrote noisy poetry. An eight-year-old girl whined, “But I don’t know what to write about!” I asked her questions: What interests you? What annoys you? What are some noisy things in your life? She shrugged. She doodled. Finally, after much discussion, she said, “Well, my cat has a stinky butt!”

“Does your cat make noise?” (Yes, I know—a risky question, given that she’d just mentioned her cat’s stinky butt.)  Thankfully, my young friend suddenly remembered how her cat liked to leap onto things that made noise. And off she went, writing a poem about her noisy cat.

So writers, what do you do when you’re out of ideas and don’t have a writing group to help you? Here are three idea-generating tools:

1. Title Generator. I happened upon the Tweak Your Biz title generator when I was researching blog titles and fell in love. Type in your topic, let the tool know if it’s a noun or a verb, and abracadabra: the tool delivers oodles of titles. It’s not perfect, but it will spark some ideas.

2. Lists. I often make lists or mind maps of writing ideas. But when I’m out of ideas, it’s helpful to read other people’s lists of ideas. Here are a few to get you started:

+Stuff kids love.

+Bernadette Mayer’s List of journal ideas and prompts.

+List prompts for your art journal. Use these prompts to create your own lists of ideas.

3. Idea Networks. An idea network collects the best business ideas from around the world in a single place. While these ideas are geared toward entrepreneurs who want to start businesses, journalists and writers can use these ideas in blogs, articles, and novels.

+Springwise: http://www.springwise.com

+Trendwatching: http://trendwatching.com

The next step: Once you have a list of ideas that excite you, spend time journaling. Create a mind map or list (!) around one or more of the ideas to see if it’s juicy enough to develop into a blog post, an article, or even a book!

Your turn: What sites do you use to gather ideas?

 

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When Habit Isn’t Enough: How to Boost Productivity By Rochelle Melander

2013 T-Shirt and bib

2013 T-Shirt and bib

As you may have read last week, I’ve signed up for the Idle Ironman at my Y. In the next month, I’ll bike 112 miles, run 26.2 miles, and—since I don’t swim—run an extra seven miles.

The first year I did the Idle Ironman, I started a week late. But I figured it’d be easy: I already had a habit of getting to the gym every day. Ha! On March 31, I pedaled like a crazy woman to finish my miles. (I did finish, but it was painful!)

This year, I’m doing everything I can to finish early (or at least on time). Last week, as I added up my miles, I had a big aha moment (or maybe it was a duh! moment): I can’t rely on my exercise habit to get me across the finish line. If I just do what I normally do, I won’t finish the Idle Ironman. I won’t even come close. I have to put in more: more minutes, more miles and more effort.

When it comes to doing anything big—writing a book, running a marathon, or starting a business, your good habits will only take you so far. When I’m working on a book, I know that I can’t rely on my daily writing routine and expect to finish. I need to put in more time.

But how?

Recently, I came across this wonderful quote in Anne Truitt’s Daybook, the first of her three memoirs about her life as an artist.

“Before I went to sleep, I loosely organized the following day’s schedule—loosely because there were, of course, always unexpected events. … The periods left over from my practical responsibilities were spent in the studio. If there were fifteen minutes between shopping and carpool, I used them. If I had an hour, or two hours, I rejoiced, but didn’t even waste time feeling happy, just worked.” Anne Truitt, p. 126, Daybook

The takeaway? In addition to forming a writing habit—a set time you work on your craft each day—you can increase productivity in two ways:

1. Plan ahead. Every night, look over the next day’s schedule. After slotting in your regular writing time and other work and life tasks, assign one or more of your leftover periods to writing.

2. Create a plan for the in-betweens. When I read this passage, I was struck by Truitt’s statement: If there were fifteen minutes between shopping and carpool, I used them. Why not? Make a list of little bits you need to do for your book—small pieces of revision, research, reading, querying, or writing—and use the in-between times to tackle them.

Your turn: How do you increase your writing time when you’ve got a big project?

 

 

 

 

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Beat the Writing Blues: Make a Small Change By Rochelle Melander

file9621269753303All great things have small beginnings. —Peter Senge

In yoga, I notice that the small shifts yield big rewards. Tiny movements create aha moments. When I relax my shoulders, shift the angle of my foot, or lift my chin—the correct pose emerges. It feels right.

I’ve noticed the same phenomena in writing. Often, a client comes to me with what seems to be a big problem:

+When I finally get to the computer, I have nothing to say.

+My book structure doesn’t work.

+I can’t find time to write.

As we talk, the client comes up with one or two small shifts to try out. And guess what? These small shifts yield big rewards. These shifts have the power to demolish writer’s block, clear up book outlines, and create space to write.

The mistake most of us make, I think, is to believe that writing success comes when we make a giant effort, working ourselves to death every single day.

And effort matters. But for most of us who work as professional writers, this job is more like a marathon than a sprint. Yes, we must make an effort to reach success. But we must exercise that effort slowly, steadily, and over time.

When something is not working in our writing life, we can often make the most impact by tweaking our routine or our writing craft.

So this week, when you notice what does not work, make a tiny shift. Write in a different place, at a different time of day. Change point of view. Start in the middle of the story. Then see what happens!

 

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How to Write Through Doubt by Rochelle Melander

file5411297239569Remember these things. Work with all your intelligence and love. Work freely and rollickingly as though they were talking to a friend who loves you. Mentally (at least three or four times a day) thumb your nose at all know-it-alls, jeerers. critics, doubters. —Brenda Ueland

Doubt happens. Rejections pile up. Someone offers a not-so-kind remark about our work. Our inner editor gets mouthy.

We face the page but worry if anyone will ever read our work. Instead of writing, we argue with our demons—those negative voices inside our heads that whisper: you’re not good enough to succeed, no one cares about this story, do something useful with your life, who do you think you are, you’re just saying the same things over and over again.

We won’t last very long as writers if we’re fragile beings who can’t take rejection, criticism, and difficult people. We need to shake off that doubt and write even when we don’t feel like it. Here’s how to write through doubt:

1. Expect it. Doubt happens. Shirley Hazzard said, “The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums to get rid of.” Most writers deal with self-doubt from time to time. Fighting against it takes work. Instead, expect it and accept it. When your inner doubter pipes up with a critique, acknowledge it, dismiss it, and keep writing.

2. Disagree with it. John Steinbeck wrote, “The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.” Sometimes, being a writer means believing your own crap—and when it comes to writing through doubt, this is absolutely essential. Forget the friends and colleagues who dis you and your work. Instead, dig up all those nice notes your readers and editors have written to you over the years and put them in a box. Read them, remember you rock, and write.

3. Nurture yourself. Criticism, rejection, and inner doubt can damage our resolve to write. It can also deplete our inner reserves. In Daybook, Anne Truitt wrote about harsh critiques of her Arundel exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art. She said, “I am not concerned with reviewers’ judgments, yea or nay; they cannot deflect my course. What they can do, and this seems beyond my resistance, is hurt my general self, the supporting troops, so to speak, of my striking force.” (Daybook, p. 140) Make a list of ten soul-strengthening actions and do them regularly. When you’re feeling especially low, give yourself a day of nurture!

Your turn: What do you do when self-doubt strikes? What soul-nurturing actions do you use to support your art?

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Writer Interview: Paul Geenan by Rochelle Melander

Paul photo two cropped_edited-1I met Paul Geenan several years ago and was immediately intrigued by his intellect and curiosity. When I heard about his new book, Civil Rights Activism in Milwaukee, I wanted to learn more about the book and Geenan’s writing process. Geenan was kind enough to offer an interview, and you can read it below.

If you’d like to learn more, Paul Geenan will appear at Boswell Book Company this coming Thursday, February, 27 at 7:00 PM. For more information, visit Boswell Book Company’s website.

What’s this new book about? This book describes the struggle for civil rights in the 60’s and the 70’s on the South Side of Milwaukee.  Blue-collar workers living in small bungalows, duplexes and rear-lot cottages supported the numerous churches and visited the “ma and pa” taverns on almost every corner. Freeway construction played a role in the resistance of the South Siders to African Americans moving into their neighborhood. Young, newly married couples lost access to inexpensive homes taken by freeway construction, resulting in being forced to live with their parents.

Nuns at Alverno College offered programs on race relations to its students, faculty, and the community, resulting in two Alverno students, Maria Varela and Margaret (Peggy) Rozga traveling to the South, putting their very lives at risk, to help African Americans gain their voting rights.

Jesús Salas, David Giffy and Bill Smith, with the support of Cesár Chávez, organized Wisconsin migrant workers into an independent union called Oberos Unidos, fighting for improved working and living conditions. Failed cucumber and potato strikes resulted in many of these workers moving to the South Side of Milwaukee.

Since Wisconsin was the highest consumer of brandy, the state was an important target for the United Farm Workers strike against grape producers in California. African Americans, students, church and community members demonstrated at grocery stores, encouraging shoppers to not buy grapes resulting in grape shipments to Wisconsin dropping by 61% in 1969.

Hispanics fought for the education of their children in Milwaukee Public Schools and at the city’s universities.  After several months of daily protests, 24 hour vigils and hunger strikes, Hispanics took over the UWM’s Chancellor’s office, locking a university staff member in a rest room This resulted in Hispanics being given access to the University for the first time.

Jesús Salas, Vel Phillips and Father Groppi led “Welfare Mothers’ March on Madison” resulting in taking over the Assembly Chambers and one thousand National Guardsmen being called out.

The decision by Federal Judge John Reynolds to desegregate MPS schools set off a struggle to keep bilingual schools in Milwaukee. Sophisticated Hispanic parents were successful in strengthening the bilingual schools, working with the African American community, the special master appointed to oversee the desegregation effort, the school board, school administrators, the teachers’ union, the media and community groups.

New leadership in the South Side community is a direct result of the civil rights activism of the 1960s and’70s. Today’s leaders, such as Milwaukee’s first Hispanic Alderman Jose Pérez, and Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Vocés de la Frontera, have their roots in the civil rights activists that came before them.

How did you come to write this? A longtime civil rights activist worried that the people who lived on the South Side of Milwaukee in the 1960s and ‘70s were seen as isolated and prejudiced. This person was worried that people would only remember the 13,000 angry South Siders who screamed epithets and threw garbage at Father James Groppi and his 250 young men from the NAACP Youth Council at the south end of the Sixteenth Street Bridge in August of 1967.

Can you talk about your research process? I relied heavily on personal interviews for this book in addition to the existing published works on the subject. Often a person being interviewed makes suggestions on other people to interview and knows of additional sources.  After a month or so of research I usually have enough to create an outline, which gives me a sense of how to budget my time. I continue interviewing and doing research right up to the point where I submit my book for publication.

Can you offer advice to writers who want to write a nonfiction history book If it is possible, using personal interviews gives an added perspective to the story you are telling.  Using as many names of people as possible adds to the credibility and interest of a book.  Using photos from private sources are best, as other sources, such as local and state historical societies, are expensive.

9781626193789_42e639071a9db663c36cb34da3185ac1Can you talk about your road to publication: I submitted an Authors Proposal to History Press in January of 2013 and got an email in June saying that they liked my book concept. So it took a while to get an answer. The effort I had put forth in marketing my first two books with History Press, Schusters and Gimbels: Milwaukee’s Beloved Department Stores, and Sherman Park: A Legacy of Diversity in Milwaukee, helped in getting this proposal accepted.

What’s your next project: I would like to write about some of the major players in the civil rights movement in Milwaukee in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

 Your turn:  Writers, what questions do you have for author Paul Geenan?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Stuck? Write Out of Order By Rochelle Melander

file0001601824864Genius is finding the invisible link between things. —Vladimir Nabokov

Vladimir Nabokov, author of Lolita, wrote all of his novels on 3 x 5 index cards. Each day as he began his writing period, he would shuffle the cards until he found a scene that had energy for him and started writing from there. When the scenes were done, he rearranged the cards until he discovered the novel’s order.

How many writing projects are abandoned half way through because we are slaves to writing in order? Skip the boring or difficult parts and write the scene you have the most energy for right now.

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Are You Writing at the Wrong Time of Day? By Rochelle Melander

file1761306949777Dear Writers,

Last week, Chuck Wendig wrote a great post on the quantity and quality of self-published books, Slushy Gut Slog: Why the Self-Publishing S$*t Volcano is a Problem.  He said, “An author on Facebook the other day noted, quite correctly, that writing is a craft and as a craft it can be evaluated fairly easily.” Well said!

As a writer, reader, and coach—my job is to help you make sure your book is good enough to stand out from the slog, whether you want to self publish or submit your book to agents. That’s why I’ve invited editor Amanda Valentine to come to this month’s Write Now! Mastermind class to talk about how you can revise and edit your own work. Join us on Wednesday, February 19 at 12:00 PM CST. If you’re not yet a member of the Write Now! Mastermind class, you can sign up here.

Happy Writing! Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach

 

Me and My Shadow, at the Urban Ecology Center Sundial

Me and My Shadow, at the Urban Ecology Center Sundial

Are You Writing at the Wrong Time of Day? By Rochelle Melander

The right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing. —Joshua Harris

According to scientific research, our bodies peak for physical, social, and intellectual tasks at specific times of day. Researchers offer broad suggestions about when we do best at various activities. For example, many of us do well at intellectual tasks during the late morning while we excel at creativity in the evening when we are tired and more open to new ideas.

But even scientists admit that peak working times are different for each of us. Though some people can be classified as early birds or night owls, many people don’t fit easily into any category. As a writing coach, I encourage clients to examine their own life in order to discover when they write best. Here’s how:

+For the next two weeks, try working at different times of day. Keep a journal of your work. For each session, note the time, where you are writing, how the writing went, and any important external details. Additional details might include preparing beforehand, working in a quiet house, or trying to meet a deadline. Did you feel engaged? Creative? Did you experience flow or did you encounter blocks?

+Review your writing journal. When did the most productive writing sessions occur? When did your second best writing sessions happen? Did anything besides time of day contribute to your productivity?

Once you know when you write best, schedule your writing during those times of the day. Keep your second-best times as a back up for those gnarly days when your precious time gets taken up by drama or you need the extra hours to complete assignments.

What I learned from my writing journal: I’m a morning writer. I’ve always believed that if I squander those early morning hours, I’m done for the day. But after reading this article in 2012, I played with my schedule. I wrote at different times of day just to see if I could be productive at other times of day. I was surprised and delighted to discover that I enjoyed drafting work in the afternoon and evening. But I also found that I had a hard time polishing work at night—I was too tired. I encourage you to play with your writing schedule, too. You might find enough extra time to finish a new novel this year!

Your turn: When do you write best? Why?

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Manuscript Makeover: A Checklist for Nonfiction Articles by Rochelle Melander

Writing without revising is the literary equivalent of waltzing gaily out of the house in your underwear. —Patricia Fuller

Last week, my dogs went for their regular grooming session. I was amazed at what they were able to do for Muffin Man in just a few hours. Take a look.

Muffin (before)

Muffin (before)

Muffin (after)

Muffin (after)

That’s kind of what I do as an editor. I take a messy manuscript and make it magnificent—or at least better than it was.

No one wants to turn in a mediocre manuscript. But when we’re facing multiple deadlines and juggling other responsibilities, we need to figure out how to quickly revise our rough draft so that we can turn in a stellar final draft. But how?

Over the years, I’ve developed checklists to help me edit. I’ve also created lists to help me makeover my own manuscripts. Today, I’m sharing my checklist for a nonfiction article or blog post with you.

 

Content Checklist

1. Assignment

+Does the content accomplish what I promised or what the editor assigned?

+Review the article with the query letter in mind: did you present the points you promised to explore?

+Review the article from the point of view of the editor: does the article accomplish the goals outlined in the assignment?

2. Lead

+Does the lead hook the reader with juicy language and one of the following: a great idea, good information, or a compelling story?

3. Body

+Do I support my claims with adequate information from interviews with experts, anecdotal evidence, or research.

+Have I sufficiently explained difficult or challenging ideas?

+Have I left out any key information or points?

+Have I included any information that doesn’t fit?

+Does any of my content raise issues I do not want the article to address? (E.g., political or social issues)

+Have I adequately identified terms and people who appear in the article?

4. Conclusion

+Does the article end in a way that’s appropriate to the medium?

+Does the conclusion adequately wrap up the piece?

+Does the conclusion offer the reader something helpful to take with them. This will differ depending on the topic and medium but it might include an idea, a challenge, or a new way of thinking about a topic.

+Does the conclusion answer the question, “Why does this [topic] matter?”

5. Organization

+Do the headers help the reader follow the information presented in the article?

+Is the content organized in a way that works for the medium? (E.g., in an online article, most editors want the juiciest information at the top of the article because readers don’t always read through. In a print publication, the requirements may be just the opposite.)

 

Technical Checklist

1. Does the piece meet the technical requirements of the assignment?

+Is it the right length (word count)?

+Have I provided all of the pieces the editor asked for? In addition to the article, that may include a sidebar, research links, headers, quizzes, author bio, photos or any other additional information required by the assignment.

+Is it in the format the editor asked for? (RTF, MSWord, etc.)

2. Language

+Have I used any jargon? Is that acceptable for this publication, or do I need to change it?

+Did I write enough of the article in active voice to keep the information interesting and lively?

+Is my sentence length appropriate for the piece and the publication?

+If I’m using headers, are they parallel construction?

+Is the point of view consistent?

+Do my pronouns refer to clearly identified subjects?

+Have I checked the article for my frequent mistakes? (Pro Tip: Create a list of the mistakes you tend to make repeatedly.)

3. The Nitty Gritty

+Have I proofread the article for grammatical, spelling, and typographical errors?

 

Your turn: What else?

What else would you add to my checklist? Add your comment below. When I have everyone’s suggestions, I’ll put together a big ol’ checklist that you can download and use in your own writing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#WritersRead: Five books with Soul by Sarah Allen

I’m always curious about what writers read—so I started a blog series! In #WritersRead, authors share five books that have inspired or educated or nurtured them in some way. Today I’m delighted to welcome fellow blogger Sarah Allen to talk about five books with soul. Enjoy!

 

file000336805371#WritersRead: Five Books with Soul by Sarah Allen

Writing this post was much more troublesome than I expected. I mean that in the best way. I’ve pondered for days about which books have meant the most to me and why, and how I could group them together for a cohesive post, if I could do it at all. As for all of us, so many books have influenced me in so many different ways. But when I really thought hard about which books have remained with me since I opened the first page—in fact, when I listed them—I realized they all have one thing in common. They all have soul.

Here’s what I mean by that. The publishing industry delineates between fiction meant for a religious market and fiction for a non-religious market. I think that is a false dichotomy. And before you get too squirmy, let me explain. The largest portion of humanity has some kind of spiritual belief. Not only that, but those beliefs form the core of who we are. I think most of us don’t really see that thick of a line between our “spiritual” lives and our “normal” lives. They’re one and the same—just, us.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There is definitely a place for explicitly religious fiction and a place for books with no religion. Obviously. But the books I want to talk about today are books that, while not specifically for any type of religious market, still have a spiritual soul at the heart of the story.

All the Little Live Things by Wallace Stegner. If you asked me which writer, out of any, I would choose to write like if I could, it would be Wallace Stegner. His words sing. This is a short, simple story about an old man who has learned to close himself off to feeling too much, until a young woman and her family move next door and rips off the protective layer from around his heart. This book is not explicitly religious, but the beautiful thoughts of this man as he becomes friends with this new family can only be described as transcendent. My description dims in comparison to how brilliant Stegner’s writing really is, so I’ll let him do the rest of the talking himself:

“One thing I have learned hard, if indeed I have learned it now: it is a reduction of our humanity to hide from pain, our own or others’. To hide from anything. That was Marian’s text. Be open, be available, be exposed, be skinless. Skinless? Dance around in your bones.”

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. The next writer I would pick would be Marilynn Robinson. She also is the level of genius I can only ever aspire to. Gilead is the story of a pastor in his seventies writing a letter to his young son who will most likely grow up without knowing much of his father. As this pastor writes his thoughts and experiences and current struggles, you see all the heart-wrenching stories going on around him. Written from the perspective of a pastor, the story often deals with his spiritual questions and ponderings, but this book is the opposite of preachy or didactic. It is clear, open-minded, heart-stirring and thought-provoking.

“It has seemed to me sometimes as though the Lord breathes on this poor gray ember of Creation and it turns to radiance – for a moment or a year or the span of a life. And then it sinks back into itself again, and to look at it no one would know it had anything to do with fire, or light …. Wherever you turn your eyes the world can shine like transfiguration. You don’t have to bring a thing to it except a little willingness to see. Only, who could have the courage to see it?”

Lost Boys by Orson Scott Card. Though Orson Scott Card is definitely more known for the Ender’s Game series, this may be my favorite of his books. This story centers around a young man and his family. It talks about the relationship between the man and his wife and his children in an incredibly honest and poignant way. The family themselves are Christian, and that comes into play in so far as it develops plot and character, but as this is OSC, there is something much larger, and most likely sinister, going on under the surface. There is something going on with their oldest son and both allies and enemies are found at church, work, and the children’s school. I won’t give anymore away than that, but it is a beautiful story.

The Green Mile by Stephen KingIf Lost Boys is probably my favorite OSC, The Green Mile is definitely my favorite Stephen King. I’m not a big horror reader, and when I recommend this book to people I often get wary looks, like “Really? Stephen King?” Yes. Really. King has his own brand of gritty genius that stays with you for a long time. The Green Mile was made into an Academy Award winning film several years ago, and I’m sure many of you know it. But this story is set on death row during the great depression. The main character is a guard on death row, what they call The Green Mile. Among other prisoners, an almost inhumanly large black man is sent to their block. Through various incidents involving a urinary infection and a squashed mouse, the guards realize that this man has an ability that really is beyond human. And more than that, he’s probably innocent.

So why do I add this to my list of books with soul? Because even though this isn’t directly religious, it’s a bit of what might happen if a thread of the supernatural got loose in our “normal” world, which isn’t quite that “normal” after all. Read the book. It will definitely keep you up past your bedtime.

The Wednesday Wars by Gary SchmidtThis book makes me smile just thinking about it. This is a middle grade novel about a young boy who is the only Presbyterian in his class, so on Wednesday afternoons, half his class goes to Hebrew school and the other half go to catechism at the Catholic church. This means he has to stay with his teacher, who he is sure hates him, and study Shakespeare. The story is set in the Vietnam war era, and maybe it’s weird to say that this story is a beautiful mix of Shakespeare and the complicated mentality of the Vietnam war, but it is. Apart from the mentioning of the other students leaving on Wednesday afternoons, there isn’t much direct mention of religion. However, the whole story is about this young boy’s journey of discovering what makes a person really good, and what good people can do when things are bad.

If you’re like me, these books will stay with you a long time after you read them. Not just that, but you’ll feel your soul expanding.

Happy reading!

130609-1208502About the author. Novelist and freelancer living in Las Vegas and working on querying two novels. Blond, fanatical, not-as-naïve-as-you-think uber-dork. Either writing, reading, or obsessing over a movie or show with painfully stunning acting. Slyther-puff, cinephile, Jane Austen groupie. Secret lover of jazz and post-grunge rock, not so secret lover of Colin Firth, white chocolate, cavalier king charles spaniels and Frasier. Find her at her blog: http://fromsarahwithjoy.blogspot.com/

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