Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Master Brooks's Bookses: Should I Share My Ice Cream?

            Sorry it has been so long since my last review, but lately life in our household has been hectic. And a little strange. First, my mommy and daddy started asking me if I would like to have a baby brother. I’m not sure what a baby brother is, but I try to be cooperative as often as possible, so in response to the question, I always say, “Okay.” Then some men came to our house and started tearing up the big, messy room upstairs. Now Daddy asks me if I want to sleep up there with Bennett. Huh? Who’s Bennett? And why would I want to sleep upstairs with him? Sounds kind of scary to me. My answer to that question is an unequivocal “No.”  Cooperation is fine in its place, but no need to get carried away. 

Should I Share My Ice Cream? (An Elephant and Piggie Book)            The best thing that has happened over the past few weeks, though, is that I turned two.  Two!!! Can you believe it? And for my second birthday, Aunt Missy and Uncle Brandon gave me a terrific new book by Mo Willems entitled Should I Share My Ice Cream?  

Aunt Missy reading my new book to me.
It's a particularly gripping moment in the plot
when Gerald's ice cream is about to fall on
the ground!
     Of course, my immediate reaction to that question is “no way,” but remember I’m working on cooperation these days, so I decided to give the book a read-through and see what it had to say on the subject. I’m glad I did. Not only did I read it once but about twenty-one-hundred times just to be sure I got the message right. It seems that sharing is a good idea. Not only does it pay off in the event your own ice cream cone falls on the ground, but also sharing ice cream with a good friend can double the pleasure of the experience. In addition to the great story, I enjoyed the simple, comic-like illustrations of Gerald the elephant (who, by the way, wears glasses), his friend Piggie, and LOTS and LOTS of pastel -colored ice cream cones! 

            Yum! I’m making myself hungry. Think I’ll close this post and go have a snack. Maybe some ice cream.

I give Should I Share My Ice Cream 5 out of 5 goldfish.
(Another good idea for a snack!)








Sunday, September 16, 2012

What a Difference a Phrase Makes

              “You watch your phraseology!”

            Remember that line from The Music Man? Audiences laughed at Mayor Shinn’s pretentious use of phraseology, but when you think about it, there is wisdom behind the caution. Friend and fellow writer Carol Gee recently reminded me of the difference a well-turned phrase can make.
             Unless you’re a Danielle Steele or a Ken Follett—writers whose names ensure instant bestsellers—the responsibility for book sales falls heavily on the author. Not good news for someone like me, someone whose attempts at sales have met with dismal failure over the years.
            My lackluster career started with a seventh-grade fundraiser. For Christmas that year, many of our friends and relatives received a two-foot long, plastic candy cane filled with M&M knock-offs, courtesy of the Southmore Junior High choir and my mother’s willingness to buy up my inventory. A few years later, as a young adult, I let my sister recruit  me to sell Amway products. When I announced my new enterprise at work,  fellow employees couldn’t have cleared  the coffee room  any faster had I declared I was carrying the Ebola virus.  Even my best friend returned my glossy brochure with a polite  note—“I’m sure you’ll be successful,”—but without so much as  an order for shampoo. Then came a short—and I mean very short—stint selling World Book encyclopedias.

             But what I lack in salesmanship, I make up for in gullibility and baseless optimism. So fifteen years ago at a Mary Kay rally, I signed  up to be a Personal Beauty Consultant. I’m still using up my lifetime supply of Extra Emollient Night Cream and hoping it has a long shelf life.

            Don’t get me wrong. None of those are bad products. It’s just that I’m a very bad salesperson. So, understandably, my excitement at the publication of Beyond the Farthest Star was somewhat tempered by the discovery I was once again in the selling business.

            Then came Carol to the rescue. In an email she asked me about ways in which I was generating interest in my book.  The words generating interest gave me an immediate attitude adjustment. Maybe because I can “generate interest” by doing activities I like such as talking and teaching and encouraging others on their writing journey. And maybe because it sounds so much better than promotion or marketing which—let’s be honest here—are just kinder, gentler ways of saying sales.

             Generating interest. Yes, I like that phraseology. What about you? Have there been moments in your life in which just the right words gave you an entirely new outlook? If so, please share!

"Generating interest" this past weekend at the
 Into the Book:Festival for Readers and Writers.
Thanks, Bartlesville WordWeavers for a great experience!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Circle of Friends Book for August: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

            The Circle of Friends Book Club met last week at Carole’s house, and, as usual, the food was amazing and the conversation engaging. At least, that’s what they told me. I missed it because I was in Nashville celebrating my grandson’s second birthday. Talk about being torn. I love seeing Brooks and his mother and dad, but I particularly wanted to be at this meeting as we were discussing Unbroken, one of my all-time favorite books. 

            No doubt, you’ve heard of this book by Laura Hillenbrand (of Seabiscuit fame) and  probably have read it. If not, RUN to your nearest bookstore, library, e-reader and buy, borrow, or download it. I promise, you’ll be entertained, engrossed, and inspired. I happened to be in Washington, D.C. when I read this book and, right after finishing it, toured the World War II Museum there. The combination of those two activities gave me a better understanding of that tumultuous period and a renewed appreciation for the men who served in that war. In times when there is so much criticism of the United States’ actions and involvement in world affairs, we can look to that event and know we got it right. 

            But enough of my ramblings. What were the “Friends” thoughts? Brenda, our de facto leader, was kind enough to take notes, and this is what she reported:

·         Judy (who taught journalism) felt the beginning was repetitive and “unjournalistic” in style. But once the action started, she was into it.

·         Elizabeth commented that Hillenbrand suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome and was never able to personally meet with Louis Zamperini while writing the book. Some critics feel that “Zamperini’s personality suffered at her hands” because of this, while others say the writing was not affected by it.

·         Probably the question that most closely deals with the theme and title of the book was raised by Nicci: What can the human spirit survive? How strange it seems that Zamperini was able to endure the loss of a promising track career, a plane crash, being lost at sea for forty-seven days, and a Japanese POW camp, but what came closest to “breaking” him was post-traumatic shock disorder and alcoholism. What rescued him from those destructive forces was his faith and ability to forgive.

·         As a group, the Friends agreed this was a great book, some even saying it was the best book they’d ever read. Shelly said it was one of those books that you can’t get out of your mind and continue to think about even after you’ve finished it. I agree. Your thoughts? 

            On a lighter note, it seems the star culinary attraction of the night was Tomato Pie, prepared by Sandra. Sandra reports this recipe is “pure Paula Deen." I tried it myself and am both happy and sad to report that Bill and I finished a whole pie in two meals!