Tag Archives: blessings

A Review of Anna Quindlen’s Blessings

(goodreads.com)

I just finished reading Blessings by Anna Quindlen.  My mom bought me this book for Christmas, and I admit, I wasn’t so sure I’d like it.  I had recently read The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton, and I was afraid the stories sounded too similar.  But I was way wrong.

I picked up the title again as part of this year’s To Be Read Pile Challenge, and I ended up loving Blessings.  If I had to describe the book as a food, I’d call it a soup book.  It’s a feel good kind of story.  It’s a tale of friendships, unlikely ones, and the bizarre and unplanned events that take place in our lives.

The Goodreads synopsis:

Late one night, a teenage couple drives up to the big white clapboard home on the Blessing estate and leaves a box. In that instant, the lives of those who live and work there are changed forever. Skip Cuddy, the caretaker, finds a baby girl asleep in that box and decides he wants to keep the child . . . while Lydia Blessing, the matriarch of the estate, for her own reasons, agrees to help him. “Blessings” explores how the secrets of the past affect decisions and lives in the present; what makes a person or a life legitimate or illegitimate and who decides; and the unique resources people find in themselves and in a community. This is a powerful novel of love, redemption, and personal change by the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer about whom “The Washington Post Book World” said, “Quindlen knows that all the things we ever will be can be found in some forgotten fragment of family.”

Anna Quindlen (goodreads.com)

Author Anna Quindlen is no slouch to the publication world.  With five bestselling novels, seven nonfiction books, and a Pulitzer Prize for her New York Times column, “Public and Private,” she’s achieved every writer’s dream.

If there was a stand out thing about this book, it’s Quindlen’s voice.  She writes characters the way someone you just met shares an intimate secret with you.  You immediately feel a bond to them.  You know they’re flawed, you may not agree with their actions, but you’ll defend them anyway.

The unlikely partnership of Skip Cuddy, a hired hand, with Southern Estate owner and matriarch, Lydia Blessing, is at the core of this book.  What could a man with calloused hands and no family have in common with an 80-something year old woman who never leaves the house?  If there’s a child involved, it turns out quite a bit.

I’m not a fan of spoilers, so I can’t give anything away, but there are some incredibly honest and moving scenes in this story regarding the raising of that baby.  Quindlen will make you redefine family and look at alternatives in a whole new light.

Plus the ending will surprise you!  I was sensing something was up, but didn’t know when we’d get any answers.

Overall, I’d recommend this book if you’re looking for a hearty, comforting read.

What about you?  Did you read Blessings and enjoy it?  What else from your TBR Pile have you been reading now?  Or if you’re like me, what did you buy that you’ll be getting around to for 2013’s TBR Pile Challenge?  

#ROW80: My Writers Clock is Ticking

(universecityblog.wordpress.com)

So all I do now is work, write, eat veggie chips, and feign a few hours of sleep each night.   I am immersed in Fast Draft and it’s all I have time for.  But, it’s for 2 weeks!  And I can do anything for 2 weeks!

I’m also two weeks into ROW80.  Seems to be my lucky number!  Here are my ROW Goals.

  • Blessings vs. Gratitude Challenge  For the month of June, I want to journal about the blessings in my life rather than just things I’m grateful for.  I’ve been blessed by some great experiences and introductions lately, so I’m hoping by focusing on the positive in my life I can learn to better handle the negative.
  • Fast Draft!  Fast Draft is a process I learned about from Candace Havens at the DFW Conference, and it is set about to help you write a first draft in 2 weeks by writing 20 pages/day.
  • Still blog ahead.  Blogging ahead helps me to focus on my WIP now.  I was able to get some posts prepped in my first week, and now I’m busy connecting and completing several guest posts for my new Tuesday Featured Writers series.
  • Read 2 books a month.  I have too many books going at once right now!  I’m currently focusing on the Fifty Shades series (stay tuned for an upcoming blog post) and on These Things Hidden, which is a selection for my book club.

So what have I accomplished?

I’ve definitely been thinking about blessings and I’ve shared some of them with my book club and my parents, but I haven’t been journaling about them yet.  I do want to get back into that.  I know I’m thinking differently, but I want to record that because I think it’s important to know when you’re learning something new.

(emcastellan.worpress.com)

Blog ahead.  I have some reviews backlogged for rainy writing days, but I’m so excited about my new Tuesday series featuring writers!  Thriller writer CJ West kicked us off, and in case you missed her, women’s writer Patricia Sands joined me yesterday!  Next week I’m thrilled to host a WISCONSIN writer!  And the series will finale with a New York Times Bestselling Author!  But I’m not saying who.  😉  You’ll just have to wait and see.

I’m getting back into gear with my reading which is another reason I’m not sleeping.  The other night I was up until 4 am reading the Fifty Shades series!

Don’t tell mom what I’m reading!!! (goldenbookwyrm.wordpress.com)

I’ve now fallen asleep and woken up with my kindle still in hand 3 out of 4 nights.  And once I woke up after dropping the kindle on my face!  I’ve been audio booking it in the mornings while I get ready for work.

And that brings me to Fast Draft.  My biological writers clock is ticking!  While attending my second writers conference, I knew I needed a change so I could finish a first draft already.  And that’s when Candace Havens walked into my life!

You can learn all about Fast Draft today in my contributing post at The Life List Club!  I shared #FastDraft:  How To Do It Successfully and What You Learn Along the Way.

How are your ROW goals going for you?  Does your writers clock need a new schedule?

I Met Kait Nolan, and Now I’m Joining ROW80

In truth, I had contemplated joining ROW80 before, but after meeting the WONDERFUL Kait Nolan in person at the DFW Writers Conference, I just had to sign up!

Kait is one of those people you meet and instantly love.  She is outgoing, funny, and genuine.  She takes time to get to know people and I watched her do this so well, that twice she met someone who worked or lived something one of her current characters does.  Now, she’s in contact with them for character research.

I think that says something about Kait.  She’s interested in people’s stories, and she recognizes that everyone’s is different.  Kait is the founder of A Round of Words in 80 Days, a goal setting system with weekly progress updates and a community of people who support you on your journey.

Besides being the ROW80 founder, she’s also a blogger, and self-published author extraordinaire.  I’m reading her newest book, Red, right now and it’s amazing!

Kait and I at the DFW Conference!

Needless to say, after listening to my goals and what had been my setbacks, Kait invited me to jump into ROW80 and get started.  I am so very grateful that she did.

My ROW Goals for This Week are:

  • (image courtesy amazon.com)

    Blog Ahead!  I’d like to have at least 5 blog posts written ahead to get me through the time I’ll be working on Fast Draft.

  • Clean my room.  As part of the preparation process for writing, I need to unearth the mound of transitional season clothing and other lost and found objects taking over my desk.
  • Plot my novel.  This doesn’t seem like a small feat, but I got some good workshopping done at DFW Con.  Need this done before I can write the book.
  • Finish reading Moon Over Madeline Island and Back to Madeline Island for my Book Club getaway to Madeline Island next week!

My Longterm ROW80 Goals:

  • Blessings over Gratitude.  I read this post by Ollin Morales and he got me thinking that my life could stand to use a little more positivity.  I’m going to spend time over the next month journaling about blessings rather than just things I’m grateful for.  Read Ollin’s post and you’ll see the difference.  I hope by doing this, I can empower my inner writer and tell my inner editor to go drink a bottle of herself!

(image courtesy: skaggymaggie.tumblr.com)

  • Fast Draft!  To get my butt in gear, I’m participating in Fast Draft.  It’s a workshop where you write 20 pages/day for 2 weeks.  I will attempt to get my first draft written during this time.
  • Still Prepare for Blog Posts.  I’m fortunate to have several writers interested in doing interviews with me, but that means I need to stay on track with their works, and prepare thought provoking questions for them.  CJ West is featured this week!  Stay tuned to see who’s next!
  • Read.  I’ve been reading a ton, but I’ve got about 7 books going at once now.  *crosses eyes* I want to get back to my TBR Pile Challenge list and add a craft book in there as well.  Thinking of starting with Story Engineering.

That’s my plan!  I’m sure it’ll evolve as I get started, but I’m getting excited as the date draws closer for Fast Draft to begin.  

How are your goals going this week?

%d bloggers like this: