Monday, June 23, 2014

Blog Tour in Progress

 Welcome to my leg of the blog tour!  While I've been blogging for quite awhile, I hadn't realized how many of my former favorite bloggers have stopped altogether or at least taken a hiatus. I've enjoyed exploring who IS still out there writing and sharing.

 I was asked a week ago to join this endeavor by one of my fellow "Baker's Dozen" poets S.E. Ingraham.  She is one of several "good friends I've never met"--poets who got to know one another through our common interest in writing.

She is a retired mental health consumer, pens poems from the 53rd parallel where she lives with the love of her life, as well as a very old wolf/border-collie. Recently she's had work published in a number of online and print journals: Poetic Pinup Revue; Free Fall Literary Mag; and from kind of a hurricane press: Tic Toc, Something's Brewing, In Gilded Frame, Storm Cycle-the Best of 2012 and 2013, to name a few. She continues to work on chapbooks, and has  more plans for publication.  Ingraham won 2013's Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry contest, but her fondest accomplishment is a side-walk poem that will leave her words "written in stone" on a walkway near where her grandsons live. Her work can be found on her blog:

1. What am I currently working on?

While I have other blogs I use sporadically, I have been keeping up this one for several years now.  The name  Discriminating Reader came from Margaret Comer Epperson, who was my elementary school librarian, as well as my best friend's mother. Not only was she always sending good books my way, but I often monopolized her time on library day, needing her help to find just the right book.  I would tell her how much I had loved Charlotte's Web or Island of the Blue Dolphins, and ask her to find me another like them.  When she signed my yearbook in the third grade and wrote "to a very discriminating reader," I asked her what that meant.

"Some day, little girl," she told me, "you'll understand."

And I did.

For many people reading is a solitary pleasure, but I enjoy talking books. And since I get more time for reading (for pleasure at least) during the summer months than I do during the school year, I have tried to stay current with my book posts. This has been a great reading summer.

Although some people are reading purists, I will take my lit anyway I can.  I usually juggle at least one "real book" (paper and ink) simultaneously with an eBook on my iPad and an audiobook in the car.  The only disadvantage of audiobooks I've found is that I often don't know how names or places are spelled.  (This also helps me understand why some of my students can't spell: they don't read, so they don't actually SEE words.)  I thought at first that an eReader would help me curb my book collecting, I don't see a big change.  In fact, when I really love a book--even one I listen to on audio, sometimes I feel a need to own a copy.  This was the case this summer with Zevin's The Storied Life of AJ Fikry.  I knew that even if the author hadn't provided a list of all the  books mentioned at the end, I could at least create one myself.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I know there are other book blogs.  I check several myself, especially when I want to know what someone else has said about a book I particularly liked.  Some of the readers whose taste I have come to trust will blog about their favorites, providing me with fodder for my "must read" list.

The main difference is that my blog is about the books I read--not anyone else.  I rarely post negative reviews. Long ago, I remember a local journalist saying something similar about community theatre.  There's no point in writing a bad review.  Unless a book is SO bad I would want to warn others against it, I don't see the point.

I do occasionally include a post on a reading related topic that isn't a review of a specific book.  Since we have several venues for writers to read their works in my general vicinity, I sometimes add notes of those occasions.  One in particular I remember was Junot Diaz, who spoke at Lenoir-Rhyne University's Visiting Writers Series.  He was one of those writers I have liked even better after hearing him speak.

Concerning the books I discuss: My reading list is eclectic to say the least. As to the "discriminating" part of my title, I just won't read some books even if they are on the bestseller lists.  I'm contrary enough that sometimes I avoid books (or series) simply because everyone else is reading them.  I shudder to think, though, that I might have missed the Harry Potter series for that reason if I hadn't learned about them before they became such a phenomenon--and that would have been a disaster.

While I prefer fiction--literary fiction--and poetry, I also find myself reading quite a bit of nonfiction.  My own teaching leads me to some topics.  In the past couple of years, I have team taught humanities courses on the Holocaust and on the South.  These two topics alone give me more reading options that I could ever exhaust.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

I love the unlimited options of creativity. I post on this particular blog because I have so many people asking me what I've read lately and what they should read.  (How many others of you out there have a gynecologist who makes books notes on your chart during an annual pap smear?) I have always loved "talking books." I have letters exchanged with a friend when I was in fourth of fifth grade, and they all include reviews of whatever Nancy Drew book she had just finished.

I also spend a lot of time writing--poetry, fiction, nonfiction.  Right now I'm taking an online Flash Memoir class taught by Melanie Faith.  My "cuz" Sandy is the only other student.  We will have to fight for Valedictorian status.  I'm also working on art projects begun during my Photoshop class in the fall and my Printmaking class in the spring.

I have also had the opportunity to take several art classes at the college where I teach, so I have been adding to my skills and pastimes--photography, Photoshop, and printmaking, for example.  I have learned in these classes some lessons that apply to everything I do that involves creativity:  Take the time necessary to get it right. Try new things. Don't be afraid to start over.  Learn from the best.

How does your writing/creating process work?

For my Discriminating Reader blog, the writing goes quickly.  In fact, in much of my writing, first drafts come quickly.  When I am writing fiction, memoir, or poetry, revision is of utmost importance.

I always try to include a book cover picture, and I try not to give away any spoilers.  I don't always write about books in the order that I read them.  Sometimes I love a book so much that I want to start blogging about it before I'm even finished, hoping I'll convince someone else to join me in reading so I can be sure of having someone to discuss it with me when I finish.

I sometimes like to write about two books together.  I love how reading causes what my friend Steve would call "cosmic" coincidences.  Connections are everywhere.  I could probably develop book charts similar to those for "Six Degrees of Separation."

I have a couple of other blogs that I let flounder or hibernate then resurrect as needed.  My "Alabama Tarheel" site sometimes gets pressed into service for specific writing challenges.  I also have another "Since You Asked" blog where I've posted some of my art work from classes.  This blog tour might be just what I need to get those back on track too.

I'm "tagging" three other blogger friends who will be posting next week--Monday, June 30. I decided to go for a variety of content. Be sure to check them out:

Jane Harrison is an artist who recently retired from teaching art at Caldwell Community College with me. She blogs at She not only works on her art at her home with a scenic view in Happy Valley but spends time at the Penland School for Crafts where she will be teaching Mixed Media with Encaustic  from September 21 to November 14. She recently exhibited her work at the Mica Gallery in Bakersville, NC, and delivered a commissioned a large commissioned piece.

Margo (Jodi) Dill now lives in Seattle, Washington.  Her blog is called "It's Always Something."  Jodi has been a writer, she says, "since she was able to hold a pencil." She has worked in journalism, both in school and locally.  She has gone on to work as a travel writer and poet.  Her books include a memoir,  Nothing Gold, and a novel, Sing, and Don't Cry.  She has a current novel project in the works.  

Writer Shari Smith, a North Carolina native, now lives in Fairhope, Alabama, and maintains a blog called "Gunpowder, Cowboots and Mascara." In addition to her piece in The Shoe Burnin': Collections of Southern Soul, she has been published in Thicket Magazine,Wildlife in North Carolina, Western North Carolina (WNC), The Draft Horse Journal, O. Henry Magazine and Pinestraw Magazine. She is currently working on her first novel and a work of non-fiction, building a fence and in a mortal brawl with weeds along the creek bed.



S.E.Ingraham said...

What a superb tour surprise there. I still hope to tour your state for real sometime in the not too distant future. Thanks again for taking part in this.

Linda H. said...

I hadn't heard about The Storied Life of AJ Fikry. I am not sure if it has been released in Germany but after checking it out a GoodReads it definitely sounds like a book I'd like to read. Thanks for turning me on to it.

A flash memoir class sounds awesome. Is it online or at you college?

Linda H. said...
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