Guest post by author Bay Collins
Yes! Book Clubs are Thriving.
Reading makes better writers. Writing stimulates analytical thinking. Thinking skills facilitates better communication. Communication inspires better communities and within the communities, starting or being a part of a book club is one of the most engaging activities inside and outside of the home. Regardless of age, millions are using their literacy skills to participate in book clubs in homes, libraires, meeting rooms and there's a shift to join book clubs through social media.
A lifelong learner and reader
The book club concept was founded as early as the 17th century and remains popular today. For many readers, their interest in reading commenced when someone selected and read the books, then the readings progressed to reading with others... a parent, a grandparent, a teacher or a librarian. And in the passage of time, autonomous reading prevailed with masterful creative thoughts and ideas to continue reading books with others.
Read a piece of work you never knew existed
The facilitator and book club members will select a book for the club members to read, members may choose a popular book from the past, books that are book club favorites or books on the best seller list. Books can vary from non-fiction, historical, poetry, mystery to romance and these various genres give the reader a variety of topics to explore and discuss.
Book clubs are a great way to see the world through another person’s point-of-view, sometimes the differences can be quite intense yet informative and these different perspectives encourage communication across generational and cultural differences. This type of learning takes place without a grade, and it helps individual retain information even if the novel is in the reader’s native language or an acquired language.
Being a book club member requires readers to be organized. There is a planned discussion date and readers should complete the novel to engage in a participative discussion. Being prepared may improve your reading speed, time management and can also help individuals overcome fear of public speaking.
Book discussion questions are uniquely aligned according to the book’s content and these questions often center around the characters, plot as well as the author’s insight. These questions are often given to the members prior to the meeting date which helps its members prepare for intellectual discussions.
A book club may or may not appeal to you
Book clubs are thriving and often consist of ten or less people. The latest trend is having a book club among family members nationally or internationally, now that is good news. However, it is commendable to know when a book club no longer suits your interest and it’s time to look for one that will meet your expectations to keep you reading ... there is a book club for you.
A final note: Book clubs are free to join and can be as close as a library, bookstore or on the internet. The assigned book for a book club discussion can be purchased or located online.
Post by Arielle Haughee
25 Sensory Winter Writing Prompts
Sensory details add realism to your writing and make the reader feel more connected to the work. Let’s get those creative juices going and do some practice working with sensory details as writing prompts. Look at the suggestions below and see if anything stands out to you. Can you combine more than one of these in a story?
There were so many great images, we included one extra!
Have fun and let us know which one(s) you worked with!
Guest Post by author Carissa Turpin
Writing Through Unprecedented Times
I was born in 1985, cementing my classification as an elder Millennial. If you poke around the internet—particularly Tiktok—looking for stereotypes about Millennials, you’ll find lots of muttering about side parts, skinny jeans, and participation trophies. There’s one attribute, however, that is often overlooked: the influx of trauma Millennials dealt with in their formative years.
I watched the events of September 11th, 2001 unfold on a television cart in my Social Studies classroom. The years that followed introduced additional moments of fear on a national and global scale: anthrax scares, school shootings, wars and bomb strikes, recessions and the bursting of bubbles, a bleak economy and job market. For this reason, breaking news alerts with their intense music and stoic-faced anchors still send a peal of panic through me. I still get my news in short bursts as watching 24-hours news channels still brings back a suffocating, expectant feeling.
In March of 2020, the world received news of the COVID-19 virus. Businesses, schools, events, and life as we knew it quickly ground to a halt. I watched all the developments with fear, yes, but also with a selfish degree of exhaustion. I had already dealt with my share of unprecedented times—how would I survive yet another?
Stuck within my house for the unforeseen future, I looked for ways to distract myself. Ordering delivery and panic buying toilet paper and watching entire seasons of television worked for some time, but eventually even these activities felt stale. It was time to address that frightened, tired Millennial within me.
I thought back to the first time I felt a sense of fear and helplessness and landed squarely on the predicted—and eventually underwhelming--Y2K disaster. Inspired by a conversation about Y2K I’d had with my middle school students only a few months before, I decided that I would channel my uncertainty into a story about an anxious pre-teen who didn’t know what the new millennium held for her. It felt good, as the author, to know that ultimately my young protagonist would be alright and perhaps even stronger for her experiences... That therapeutic writing sprint turned into Doomsday Dani, my first middle grade novel. It will be published in March of 2023.
An Outlet During Uncertain Times
Writing during moments of uncertainty needn’t take a global event. Writing buoyed me through my divorce, work related stresses, loneliness, and fear of all kinds. When I find myself in the midst of a unique situation—be it a newsworthy, historical event or a day that leaves me feeling glum—I try to produce something. If I’m not feeling up to tapping away at a novel or short story, I at least try to scribble in my one-line-a-day journal.
So, yes, Millennial stereotypes claim that we baby our dogs and make impulsive financial decisions. But don’t forget, too, that we’ve endured our share of uncertain global events. No matter your generation, I encourage you to write through unprecedented times. It will bolster your hope until you come out unscathed on the other side.
Guest post by author Alicia Griffin
The Road to Self-Worth
The perception of a woman can be portrayed as one who holds many qualities and skills. She is one of grace and beauty, which amplifies her femininity. She masters composure and leaves you to wonder how she continues to do so under such extreme measures. Her skillful tactics are admirable yet expected. A beautiful woman indeed. But what happens when she questions her own self-worth?
There are so many factors that can play out in the, I’m not worthy, scheme of life for many of us. They can be detrimental. I can’t remember exactly when it all started for me. It could have been the minute I was exposed to what the media advertised what beauty should look like - slim with small waistlines, long legs, and full breasts. We tend to compare ourselves to other women, which has become the downfall spiral that most of us fall into. Nowadays, it’s much easier to do so. With social media and the internet just a swipe or click away, we can’t help but be exposed to this reality. Besides media exposure, rejection is another factor that plays a role in this scheme. I’m almost positive that I questioned my self-worth the minute I got rejected by the boy my heart throbbed for because his heart was set on someone else; in my opinion, someone prettier. Maybe it’s a combination of these, as well as other factors, which made me feel less worthy of the things I wanted.
The Under-Average Scale
As a child, I fell under the average weight scale. As a matter of fact, I fell under the average scale of practically everything! I was petite. By the time I was in high school, my girlfriends were far more developed than I was. They had, what I considered to be, the perfect bodies - while the occasional acne breakout was the only sign of puberty I exposed. It was embarrassing. I had no curves to claim my own. Nonetheless, there I was, far from the average group of well-developed teenage girls. As a result, I didn’t get much attention from the boys. In fact, I was ridiculed, which made me the result of their amusement. Their hearts were set on curvy girls, and I didn’t fit in their category. Unfortunately, they were influenced by society and how beauty was defined. We tend to look past a person’s personality and qualities because our first instinct as human beings is to size up their physical appearance. Is it wrong? Maybe so, but who are we to judge? The irony of it all.
A number of us fall under these well-developed adolescents. We may have been more easily desired if humanity would focus more on inner beauty rather than a woman’s breast size. Needless to say, and due to the lack of, insecurities crept its way into my subconscious mind. As a result, my self-esteem fell short, and I felt compelled to alter my physical appearance when I became of age. Did it improve my self-esteem? Only temporarily. I wasn’t aware that I had a lot of work to do - from the inside out.
As if dealing with self-image wasn’t enough, I always seemed to get wrapped up in poor relationships. They were anything but healthy and functional. These relationships left me confused and doubtful; more so of myself. They were manipulative, which in turn, made me believe that every obstacle we faced in the relationship was solely my fault. I recall a time when the way I dressed wasn’t desirable by my significant other. What was so wrong with the way I dressed, anyways? Yet, to appease him, I wore what he chose - leaving myself feeling so uncomfortable in my own skin. I felt completely lost. Was it worth it? Absolutely not, but I didn’t know it at the time. I was young, and unfortunately, blooming in confidence was not my forte.
Was I not enough?
Can we discuss infidelity? This is a big one! It can leave you questioning your self-worth as a whole. It did for me. Was I not enough? This question seemed to sneak into my psych daily. If I didn’t feel inadequate before, infidelity really shook the foundation beneath my very own two feet to make me feel exactly that. If he couldn’t be faithful to me, who possibly would?
It’s interesting how such a traumatic experience - and yes, infidelity can be traumatic to someone’s whole being - can alter the way you perceive yourself. It left me doubting whether I could trust or love again, whether or not I was worthy of love. It left me questioning whether I could have done something different to keep my significant other happy. Why can’t I be enough? But the truth is, and always was, I am enough. I am more than enough.
So many of us get consumed with the grief we feel from the betrayal that we fail to see our value. I had to dig deep to see that I am worthy of real love. Only then I realized that I was no longer willing to tolerate this kind of behavior. In the trajectory of my divorce, I learned that not everyone will value a person the way they deserve. It’s our job to know our self-worth, not anyone else’s.
With the trials and tribulations that in essence, we all do face, I grew to learn more about myself than I ever have. I drew into the silence and did much needed reflection. Soul searching was deep, and in turn, it allowed me to learn to accept my flaws just as much as my perfections. However, it didn’t come without hard work. I had to succumb to the painful memories. Only then was I able to learn to forgive. And that’s when the magic started to unfold. With time, I began making changes within myself. I learned to love myself the way I deserved to be loved. I no longer needed acceptance or validation from others. If I decided to wear a pair of denim jeans, a t-shirt, and no make-up on a Friday night instead of getting all dolled up, so be it. I was now making decisions for myself. With self-acceptance, I craved authenticity, and I made the decision to age naturally and gracefully. I gave myself the greatest gift I could have ever hoped for - self-worth and love.
When women know their self-worth, they demonstrate power, resilience, and beauty. We don’t need to seek validation from anyone. We can truly conquer anything in this world if we believe that we are truly enough.
Guest post by River Jayla
Four Female Writers
Liz Little likes to do the things Mama says you can’t do like have babies before college, or start a new business with no money, or move across the country and open a cafe/toy store or let people know who you really are and expect them to love you. She is a mathematician, writer, teacher, dancer and serial wife. Find her blog at https://cicadatreeproductions.wordpress.com
Tonya Spitler is the author of the upcoming Focus Journal The Caregiver's Journal for Avoiding Burnout. She is also a contributing author to the upcoming anthology Along the Shore: Strategies for Living with Grief edited by Cheryl Lynn West.
When she isn't writing or reading, Tonya is homeschooling her three tween/teen children. Tonya is a recent transplant to the central Texas area and enjoys exploring her new home with her family. Currently, you can find Tonya at her
or on Instagram @anovelchoicellc and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/anovelchoice/.
Previously an elementary teacher, Arielle Haughee (Hoy) is a five-time RPLA-winning author and the owner of Orange Blossom Publishing. She is an editor, speaker, and coach. She is the author of The Complete Revision Workbook for Writers, the children’s books Grumbler, Joyride, Pling’s Party, and Sixth Sunday, the editor of the How I Met My Other anthology series, and the creator of the Focus Journal line of journals. She was also honored with the President’s Award from the Florida Writers Association in 2020.
She has a serious reading addiction, fantasy romance her absolute favorite, and loves nothing more than good conversation paired with a good wine. She is surrounded by males at home—a husband, two sons, and an energetic dog—and tries to integrate as much purple and flowers in the house as possible.
Karen Pedersen Travis is a retired communication consultant, a mom, and emerging writer. She received a BS degree from the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University and now writes creative nonfiction from her home in Eden Prairie, MN, with her husband and two aggressively loving golden retrievers. She is currently working on a book about her experiences growing up in Southeast Asia in the 1960s, where her parents worked as Lutheran missionaries.