Sunday, April 7, 2019

Two Books for Book Lovers

Browsing my local library recently, I came across two books that would make great gifts for the book lover in your life. 

Improbable Libraries: A Visual Journey to the World’s Most Unusual Libraries by Alex Johnson explores libraries that don’t fit one’s usual mental picture of “library”. Johnson, the son of two librarians, was clearly raised with a love of books. In Improbable Libraries, he showcases libraries found in airports, tents, subway stations, taxes, and hotels. He highlights libraries in rural locations that travel via mules, donkeys, camels, and elephants. There is also a section on the Little Free Library movement as well as on home libraries. Improbable Libraries is a delight to explore and will challenge your thinking on what a library can be.

Remarkable Books: The World’s Most Beautiful and Historic Works is a feast for the eyes. Using a chronological format, it traces the history of influential books from 3000 BCE to today. This oversized book features breathtaking photos, allowing readers to appreciate the history and beauty of these books, many of which are works of art. From the Dead Sea Scrolls to The Exeter Book to medieval illuminated manuscripts, the Gutenberg Bible, Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester; Robert Hooke’s Micrographia; Johnson’s Dictionary; Louis Braille’s Procedure for Writing Words, Music, and Plainsong in Dots, to Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit; and Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, each two-page spread is a visual delight. Both historians and book lovers will enjoy perusing and studying this impressive work.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Ever Eden: New Catholic Literary Journal

Ever Eden is a new Catholic Literary Journal written by women but intended to be read by both women and men. It is a print quarterly and features fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

From their website:

Our literary journal is not strictly about the Faith. Although some pieces explicitly concern Catholic tenets, many do not. All pieces are created flowing from the writers’ identity in Christ.

Our literary journal, complete at 68 pages, features creative nonfiction, flash fiction, and poetry that will nourish your soul, engage your mind and draw you to true wonder.

To find out more as well as download a free sample of the first issue, please visit

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

A Fascinating Look at the Library Card Catalog

Those of us of a certain age can recall the joy of flipping through the cards of a library card catalog. A few years back, I walked into a rural library and was ecstatic to find that they still had one! Yes, a card catalog may be “prehistoric Google” as the internet meme states and I certainly wouldn’t want to trade the ease with which I can search for and request a book via my computer. However, card catalogs served a useful purpose for a century.

 The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures by the Library of Congress is a delight for anyone who enjoys history, literature, or libraries. It traces the history of how books were organized in libraries (going all the way back to the Library at Alexandria); how the card catalog was ultimately developed; how technology impacted it; and how it has evolved into the computer systems we use today. Anyone reading this book will gain a whole new appreciation for those index cards and the people whose job it was to create them. 

In addition to the narrative, there are many full-color photos and illustrations of classic works of literature and their accompanying card catalog entry in the Library of Congress. Many of the cards have notations on them in addition to the standard information – I wish that there had been more text explaining why and what information had been added.  

Overall, The Card Catalog was enjoyable to both read and look at. It would make a great gift for the library lover in your life.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Write a Novel in 10 Minutes a Day

I had seen the hashtag #10minnovelists on Twitter but never realized it was a book until I Googled the hashtag! I was excited to discover that Write a Novel in Ten Minutes a Day was written by Katharine Grubb, a fellow homeschooler from my state of Massachusetts (not that I know her) and edited by Barbara Szyszkiewicz, a colleague from the Catholic Writers’ Guild. 

It makes sense that a homeschooler would write this book because, for the most part, homeschooling parents only have little snippets of time in which to get non-essential tasks done. I especially love the subtitle of this book: “Because your dreams are worth 10 minutes.”

Yes, your dreams are worth ten minutes and it is amazing what you can accomplish by simply setting aside a little bit of time each day to pursue something you love. 

If you have always wanted to write that novel, but keep feeling like you are too busy, this might be just the book for you. You can also check out the website at

Part One is dedicated to time management, helping you to carve out the time to work on that writing project you have been putting off. The rest of the book is a how-to guide for writing a novel. There is a huge amount of useful information packed in this book including writing prompts, character archetypes and exploration, story structure, and inspirational quotes from well-known authors. 

Write a Novel in Ten Minutes a Day will definitely appeal more to planners rather than those who prefer to simply sit down and write, but it is a very thorough guide to writing a novel and may be exactly what you need to start working on that story that has been itching to get out!

This post contains affiliate links to Amazon – purchases made help support this site.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Searching for a Reason to Write

I've been tossing around novel ideas in my head. That's always something of a fun process. I have a germ of an idea - could I make something out of it? The whispers of inspiration start coming. Will I listen? Should I listen? Is this what God wants me to be doing with my time right now? Is it really worth it to spend so much time on a project that I know will never recoup the cost in time or money? Is it worth it to write when my stories find such a small audience? Clearly, the literary world gets along just fine without my meager contributions.

One of my friends posted this article today on writing: Who Will Buy Your Book? There are lots of words of wisdom there, but these really spoke to me:

As a writer, you need to approach every project with the understanding that you’re doing this work for yourself, and everything that happens once it’s in the world is out of your control. Whatever project you’re working on now doesn’t derive value from your friends’ approval, but rather from the love and energy you pour into it. You can do the work, and you can keep showing up, and that’s all you’ve got. Most of the time, it’s all you need.  

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

A Fascinating Look at How Dictionaries are Made

Like most people, I have never given the dictionary much thought. It’s a useful tool that I appreciate having, but I never considered that there are people whose job it is to write all those definitions. In her new book, Word by Word, Kory Stamper, lexicographer at Merriam-Webster (located in my hometown of Springfield, MA), takes you behind the scenes of what actually goes into creating a dictionary. 

She states, the dictionary “is a human document, constantly being compiled, proofread, and updated by actual, living awkward people. In that unassuming brick building in Springfield, there are a couple dozen people who spend their workweek doing nothing but making dictionaries – sifting the language, categorizing it, describing it, alphabetizing it.”

Word by Word is awesome for anyone who loves the English language. Stamper’s writing style is incredibly engaging with a healthy dose of humor. This book was both fascinating and laugh-out-loud funny.  There is a healthy amount of swearing in this book. After all, all those expletives count as words as well. But even with that caveat, I am heartily recommending Word by Word. I’ve never read anything like it before and it opened my eyes to a whole new appreciation for both dictionaries and the English language. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Your Word is My Delight: A Catholic Writer's Retreat

Do you need time away to finish or start a manuscript? Work on that proposal? Organize your writing project? Finish work to meet your editor’s deadline?
On October 8-12, 2017 the Catholic Writers Guild, for the fourth time, is offering a writers retreat near Lansing, Michigan.
St. Francis Retreat and Conference Center, 703 E. Main Street, DeWitt, MI, is situated on a 93 acre site of woodlands, meadows, and prayer gardens.
$550 includes a private room with a bath, three meals a day (and all the coffee you can drink!), internet access, breakout spaces, resource library, three daily presenters, critique sessions, Mass and reconciliation.  
The power of the Catholic Writers Guild is why we can keep the cost so low! This retreat, offered every other year, is popular because it is a true writers retreat offering you abundant time to work at writing, and time to critique with other Catholic writers.
You can register on line at , or if you have questions email the coordinator, Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB at .
Handicap accessible and dietary needs accommodated.
If you fly into Lansing Capital Region International Airport, a shuttle to the retreat house—only 7 minutes away—is provided.
Retreat is limited so register soon!