Found Friday: Bookmarks

TextSwag-1461885351160You would think finding a bookmark in a book would be the most common thing in the world, but I’ve only found two. I’ve found used tissues, scraps of paper, gum wrappers, grocery lists, pictures, etc, but only two bookmarks. The one with the hat on a stack of books is from Saturn Booksellers in Gaylord, Michigan, and the other is homemade. Enjoy!CAM00229-2-2CAM00227-2CAM00226-2


Why Now?


I’ve wanted to start a blog for a while now. So, why start now? Well, I’ve been participating in a fun and challenging contest on Instagram hosted by Slap Nutrition called “Slap 90 Days.” If you want to participate, it ends May 1st, so hop to it! The rules are posted here. In my personal experience (not sponsored or being compensated in any way!), Slap Nutrition has the cleanest, best tasting supplements; try the strawberry protein powder, the salted caramel BCAA’s, or Slapuccino pre-workout. Or everything. It’s all delicious.

As part of the contest, we were asked to post goals-physical, mental, etc,-that challenged us to be a better person. I chose two physical and two mental goals. Physical: Lose 15 pounds, and walk 10,000 steps a day. Mental: Write 1,500 words a day, and read two books a week. Lofty goals, to be sure. Did I crush those goals? Not exactly.

I lost ten pounds. My fitbit started irritating my skin, so I didn’t log all my steps. I wrote quite a bit, but didn’t always hit 1,500 words. I read at least one book a week. I had great days where I ate clean, worked hard, and connected with some awesome people, and not so great days, like when I broke a tooth and ugly cried in front of the receptionist at the walk-in clinic. Now we are in the process of moving to a new house. Life happens!

Even though I “only” lost ten pounds, it wasn’t easy. I got up before five am most mornings and ran around in the basement like a crazy person because I couldn’t get to a gym and it was too cold outside. I started lifting weights. I made Hannah’s protein pancakes (give her a follow, she’s the best). I started these goals for a contest to win supplements from an amazing company, and ended up doing it for myself. I didn’t hit my goals. But I changed myself for the better. I found the confidence to start this blog. I bought new jeans. I wore a shirt without a jacket or cardigan to cover up my arms. That’s a win in my book.

I’ve started diets and programs before. Some have worked, temporarily. To be honest, I’m not sure why this one clicked, but it did. Even though the contest ends in less than a week, I’m going to keep improving myself, keep growing, and writing.

I’m getting a root canal tomorrow, and I couldn’t be happier.



Found Friday

Have you ever found a lost treasure in a book?  An inscription, a bookmark, or perhaps a pressed flower? I decided to start a series called “Found Friday” to document all the things I have found in books. Today, I’m sharing a sweet note from a granddaughter to her grandmother inscribed in December of 1994 on the flyleaf of Leaving Cold Sassy by Olive Ann Burns.CAM00210

“Dear Grandma-

I fell in love with literature at a very young age. Perhaps it is something passed down from generation to generation.

So many stories have touched me in so many ways. I laugh, cry, mourn, and rejoice with countless characters-stories touch the soul. They touch people. I think it’s odd that the two of us, grandmother and granddaughter, never realized how alike we were until now. I feel books and stories served as our bridge-allowing our lives to touch in a personal and private way.

so wish to be a writer someday-to see my own stories in print in bookstores. But more so to touch people as so many writers have me. And as you have.

You are an inspiration to me Grandma. Your spirit and soul so strong. When I’m a grandmother, I want to be just like you-



P. S. The story of Olive Ann Burns is as good as the book!”

I hope Cathy followed her dream.

It Was the Best of Lines, It Was the Worst of Lines


It’s easy to  look at the books written by the Great Authors and get discouraged. How can you hope to compare with their perfectly crafted sentences, their vivid imagery, their full, fleshed out characters? Well, the Greats came up with some pretty rotten lines too. Check these out.

1) “…though he was wrapped in fire and wounded with many wounds; but at the last he was smitten to the ground by Gothmog…” -The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien. Maybe he was tired of describing the carnage. Maybe he thought he would edit that bit later, but never did. In any case, it lacks Tolkien’s usual finesse.

2) “…his large nostrils dilated; his eye blazed..” Jane Eyre  by Charlotte Brontë. She is describing  Mr. Rochester having a heated argument with Jane, but this line always makes me picture a cranky horse. I also think it’s strange she chose to describe his nostrils as “large.” I’m sure I’ve never looked at a man and thought, “My, what large nostrils you have.” Perhaps the better to smell you with, my dear?

Consider this: Hemingway wrote one of his worst received books, Across the River and Into the Trees two years before the wildly popular The Old Man and the Sea. Lord of the Flies, Gone with the Wind, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone were all rejected multiple times. So write. Write to the best of your ability. You are going to produce some cringe-worthy lines ( I know I have) and that’s okay, as long as you keep writing, keep improving. Who knows? You may be the next Margaret Mitchell.



The “Write” Tools

I planned tasks out to the extreme up until my early twenties. I would draw up complicated plans, schedules, and lists that never functioned the way I designed them to. Don’t misunderstand me, a good plan or list is invaluable, but, to paraphrase Robert Burns, “The best laid schemes of Mice and Men/oft go awry.” I still plan tasks to the best of my ability, but now I leave plenty of wiggle room. Except when it comes to writing.


Writing is one task that will never be accomplished if I do not plan it carefully. Here is a list of tools that help keep me inspired and on track.

1) Books.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. A memoir style book packed with gems of advice.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. This book, while not on writing, helps to focus on priorities and teaches you how to say “yes” to things that are genuinely essential.

The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published: How to Write It, Sell It, and Market It . . . Successfully by Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry. If I only had one book on writing, it would be this one. It’s full of great tips from experts who have been where you are!

2) Websites/Groups.

Aerogramme Writers’ Studio on Facebook. They post insightful articles and humorous memes.

TED Talks. Do you need inspiration? Look no further than this website full of talks given by some of the greatest minds in the world in almost every category you can imagine.

Podcasts: NPR is also an excellent source for inspiration.

3) Apps.

Expresso is a tool I learned of today. Copy and paste your work into this app and it will analyze your weak points.

StoryCorps is a website with a downloadable app that you can use to record interviews. They have questions you can ask, interview lengths (the app with automatically stop after 45 minutes), and you can upload the interview to their archive.

Was this list useful? What tools do you use to help you write?

What I’m Reading: The Advanced Genius Theory

moon-1275126_960_720Image from Pixabay

Have you ever looked at a celebrity and thought they must be losing it? That almost everything they are acting in/writing/producing is complete and utter drivel? The book I’m reading, The Advanced Genius Theory by Jason Hartley, explains why you might be wrong.

Do you love Star Wars but hate Jar Jar Binks? Jason Hartley explains that George Lucas is an Advanced Genius, so in reality, Jar Jar is just ahead of his time (which doesn’t make the character any more likable to me, but at least there is an explanation). So, what does “Advanced Genius” mean? According to the author, you have to meet five criteria:

1) You must have done great work for more than fifteen years.

2) You must have alienated your original fans.

3) You must be completely unironic.

4) You must be unpredictable.

5) You must “lose it.” Spectacularly.

He explains his theory in depth from there. So if you want to figure out if your favorite actor/chef/politician/public figure is actually an Advanced Genius, or really is losing it, read the book. If you want to see people in a fresh perspective, read the book. If you want to learn an Advanced mind set, read the book.

I give this book five out of five stars. What are you reading?


A Classic Question


Image from Pixabay

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what five books would you have, and why?  Never mind about food, shelter, weapons, or even “how to” books. Banish those logical thoughts from your mind. Tell me what books so speak to your soul that you would be content to read only those precious five for the rest of your conceivable life.

I personally own a great many books. If you asked me to give them all away but five, I would ask you to take a long walk off a short precipice. Nevertheless, for hypothetical purposes, here are my five picks:

1) Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë 

Unrequited love, unrelenting hate, revenge, and characters that give you all the feels are a few reasons why I read this book at least twice a year. It makes me feel sad in a way that makes me feel happy; if you understand what I mean, come over with a cup of tea sometime and we’ll read it together. If you don’t understand, just read this quote from one of the main characters, Heathcliff, who is longing for his dead love:

” …Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living; you said I killed you—haunt me, then! The murdered do haunt their murderers, I believe. I know that ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always—take any form—drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! it is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!'”

I get goosebumps every time.

2) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This is probably a book you had to read in school. Did you skim it and just watch the movie? Shame. This book is about a small southern town with all its hopes and predjudices  as seen through the eyes of a young girl who worships her father and tolerates her brother.  At the age of 14, I knew I would name my first-born son Atticus Finch (insert last name here). That never happened, but my love for this book is just as strong as it was then. Incidentally, I actually do love the movie almost as much as the book; a rare opinion from me. I like Go Set a Watchman as well, though as an extended look into Scout’s life rather than a stand alone book.

3) Tisha as told to Robert Specht by Anne Purdy

A young woman goes into the Alaskan wilderness in the 1920’s to teach children in a remote mining village. She tries to teach some Indian children along side the white children, but encounters suspicion and resistance from the villagers that builds into aggression when she starts dating a man who is only half white. The best part? It’s a true story. I have bought every copy I have come across so I have extras to give away. The copy I keep my mother gave me, and I read it about once a year.

4) And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Written by the Queen of Mystery, this book follows a group of people-each hiding a dark secret-that come together on a strange island. One by one, they are murdered, and their deaths are eerily similar to the lyrics of a children’s nursery rhyme. Who is killing them, and why? The movie (1945) is fun to watch, but they ruin the ending. Read the book!

5) The Magic of Oz by L. Frank Baum

I’m consistently surprised by the large number of people who do not realize just how many books are in The Wizard of Oz series. You are certainly familiar with Dorothy, the Wizard, the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow. Perhaps even Princess Ozma. This book has a wicked Nome king, a Munchkin magician, Li-Mon-Eags, a magical island, and a plot to invade the beloved Emerald City. A fairy tale at its finest.

This list might change tomorrow. Maybe I’ll find a new favorite, or remember an old one. Maybe next week I’ll be in the mood for some sci-fi or a good western. The beauty and the brilliance of books is that, no matter how much you change, they will always be there to read again, and again. And again. What else is there to do on a deserted island?


My name is Kalico. Yes, like the cat, but with a “k.” No, my mother did not name me after the cat. Or the fabric.It’s just my name. I’ve always enjoyed having an unusual name. It gives me a sense of individualism, of being special, and the keen disappointment of never finding my name on a personalized mug or key chain.

My mother also instilled in me her love of reading.12347713_1530158663975829_5975033143320832240_n

That’s my, “Go away, I’m reading” face.

I read all five of James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales (Last of the Mohicans, etc) in less than nine days. I stayed up all night reading Robinson Crusoe, promising myself I would sleep after I finished the chapter, only to realize the book had no chapters about halfway through. I finished it anyway. My love affair with the written word has been a long and enriching journey. Now it’s time for something more.

I’ve dabbled in writing before. I’ve shown a select few bits of my poetry. But I’ve never shared anything of depth on a public forum. To be quite honest, I’m completely terrified to start this blog. I don’t have the most polished grammar, the best word choice, or even particularly well crafted sentences. I’m pretty new to this. So why start?

“Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. To Why am I here? To uselessness. It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus.”
—Enid Bagnold, author of National Velvet

My name is Kalico, with a “k,” and this is my cactus.