Celebrate! Celebrate! Celebrate!

Today I celebrate!!
I celebrate a new job!  It’s been in the works for a little while, but now it’s officially official I can celebrate it!  In the same office, with the same people, but a different role with more responsibility.  I’ve already started in on it (though I officially don’t start until April 1st!) and love the change :)

I also celebrate upcoming kick offs!  Sunday is the start of Taliana’s next adventure, and Wednesday is the start of the A to Z Blogging Challenge!  Looking forward to both of these :)

What do you celebrate today?


Today is Celebrate the Small Things Friday.  Hosted by Lexa Cain, L.G. Keltner of Writing Off the Edge, and Katie of The Cyborg Mom, Celebrate the Small Things is a time when we all take a moment to celebrate something good from our week.  It can be small, it can be big, just something to look back on the week and celebrate!

Celebrate the Small Things

Does Gender matter in Book Recommendations?

The vast majority of my friends could be categorized as “readers.”  It’s pretty common these days for me to come across Facebook posts by friends requesting book recommendations, for themselves, their children, friends….  And these requests are often followed by long threads of recommendations.  It’s one of the things I adore about my friends, they are always ready to lend a hand, especially in the interest of helping someone find more great things to read.

Another thing I love about my friends is their openness, inclusivity, and encouragement.  I have been able to surround myself with an educated, intelligent, and active group of people who can be quite vocal around matters of race-, gender- and socio-economic inequality, among other things.

So it was kind of interesting when I “boosted the signal” on a book request from a friend, looking for fantasy stories for their pre-teen child.  My friends suggested away, with some great ideas and awesome suggestions (increasing my own TBR list… as well).

Then I noticed something.  No gender pronouns had been used in the original post, and I hadn’t added any of my own.  Of the many responses only a few used any sort of gender pronoun.  All of those used masculine pronouns.

This piqued my interest.  Why the assumption that the child in question was male?  Especially given that so many of my friends are females, who have been reading fantasy stories since they were young.  Especially since I knew that every last one of them would encourage a young person, regardless of their gender identity, to read.

I brought that observation up.

A great conversation ensued.  Some realized that they had suggested, or not suggested, certain books because they assumed the child in question was male.  Some had initially had that inclination but fought it.  One said she had assumed the child in question was female, due to one of the books that had been listed as an “already-favorite.”  There was a variety of commentary and analysis on the issue, but it was really just a scratch on the surface of the conversation.  And it’s a topic I plan to explore more.

However, I wanted to start out by opening up the conversation.  I was curious what everyone else’s experiences were on this matter.  Have you encountered people who think that you should (or should not) like a certain kind of book because of your gender?  If asked to recommend books for a child, do you find yourself coming up with different recommendations if the child is male or female?  Why do you think that is, or what influences that?  And, do you fight that difference and end up recommending the same books regardless? Do you feel like some books are more suited to boys than girls?  I want people to answer honestly

Let me know!

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books From my Childhood to Revisit

Every week The Broke and the Bookish  hosts the “Top Ten Tuesdays” a great blog-hop for readers to reflect on their “Top Ten”

toptentuesdayTop Ten Books from my Childhood to Revisit

1) The Werewolf Family, by Jack Gantos, Nicole Rubel

I LOVED this book as a kid, and still do.  It’s a strange little story but, man, I adore it.

2) Something Queer…., by Elizabeth Levy

The “Something Queer” series were ones I loved when I was little.  And Elizabeth Levy is one of the first authors I remember getting to meet!

3) Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

I first read this story in third grade, and re-read it somewhere along the line.  I’m long overdue for another read.

4) Strega Nona, by Tomie dePaola

Loved this story.  Still have the copy I read as a kid.

5) Maniac Magee, Jerry Spinelli

I read this for school, and then again in college somewhere.  Just a great book.

6) Ramona Quimby, by Beverly Cleary

I grew up with Ramona, and grew up with the stories, and knowing the author had grown up in my city.  I remember the TV show that was on for a while… and really just think Ramona needs another read.

7) Kate’s Book, by Mary Francis Shura

I was  obsessed with the Oregon Trail when I was younger, and this was one of the key books I adored.  (also really liked the sequel, Kate’s House)

8) Matilda, by Roald Dahl

A girl, who loves books.  Lots of books…. How could I not love it?

9) The BFG, by Roald Dahl

My fifth grade teacher read books to us out-loud after recess.  It was such a gift, at that age when you were getting some pressure to be “grown up” to have someone still read aloud to you.  The BFG was one of the books he read to us.

9) Midnight in the Dollhouse, by Marjorie Filley Stover

I went through a whole era of wanting to read tons and tons of books about dolls who came alive, this was one of my favorites.  Also, I totally wanted a dollhouse like the one in this story. (Also enjoyed the sequel, When the Dolls Woke).

10) Maggie Adams, Dancer, by Karen Strickler Dean

I also went through a stage where I read a lot of books about dancers.  This series was just one of them that I think would be fun to revisit.

A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal!!


Today’s the day!  The day to announce the theme  I’ve chosen for the upcoming A to Z blogging challenge!

For those who aren’t aware, this is a challenge to create a blog-post every day (except Sundays) for the month of April.  Starting April 1st with a topic that starts with A, April 2nd one that starts with B, and so on.  (I’m also hoping to keep my “If We Were Having Coffee..” posts going through the month, so those will go up on the Sundays… Because I have a real tendency to over-extend myself).

I decided to set a theme for the month… in an attempt to keep me focused?  I laugh as I type that, since I’ve ended up kind of all over the place anyhow in planning these posts.

Anyhow… the theme!

“Telling Tales”

In large part this is turning into short stories and vignettes.  I’m trying to do them in different voices, with a different feeling for each one.  Mid-month I have a few posts going up for National Holocaust Remembrance Week here in the US, and there is the possibility that some non-fictional “Telling Tales” will occur.

Additionally, I am going to be having some very special guest posters that I am super excited about :) I’m going to keep their identities secret until their posts show up.


If We Were Having Coffee – What a week!

If we were having coffee I would probably look a bit worn down.  It was a very stressful week at work.  Finals Week always is busy, but this time we were understaffed and saw record-breaking levels of students.  It made for non-stop work, and I pretty much came home from work and went right to bed every night.

If we were having coffee I would tell you that I’m really excited about how my plans for the A to Z challenge are coming together — my big theme-reveal will be coming out on Monday and I’m excited about that.  I’ve been doing some real plotting and planning, and am super-excited about how things are coming together.

If we were having coffee I’d admit that I’m feeling a bit behind on my writing.  This week of not even writing during my lunch-breaks really threw me off my game — I’m glad I decided not to write during those breaks I needed the time to read and relax completely.

I did do a little writing one morning while I was waiting for the bus (which may well take the prize for the most unusual place I’ve written, standing on the sidewalk before 7am the sun not even completely risen, scribbling in a notebook before the bus arrives.  It was completely unrelated to any of the other writing projects I have going on right now, so I just wrote the scene that had come to my mind and a few points about the story so that when I do get back to it I will hopefully still remember what I was thinking for it.

I feel like there was something more I wanted to share today, but my brain is a fuzzy-mess and I’m having trouble remembering just what it was.  So, if we were having coffee, I would  settle back with my mocha (it feels like a mocha day), and ask how your week has been.

Today’s post is a part of the Weekend Coffee Share, graciously hosted by Part Time Monster every weekend! A time for us to come together, share a cup of coffee (or our beverage of choice) to share some of what is going on in our lives.  It’s a lovely check-in time.

Celebrate the Small Things: On The Go

Trying this update on my phone, since I really just have had no time the past few days!

Today I am celebrating the first day of Spring! It’s been a terribly mild and dry winter here in Portland (Oregon), so the transition to spring is small, but I know it’s there.

I also celebrate the arrival of Friday. This has been a particularly long week, and while I still have a full work day ahead I am glad that the bulk of the week is behind me.

Today is Celebrate the Small Things Friday.  Hosted by Lexa Cain, L.G. Keltner of Writing Off the Edge, and Katie of The Cyborg Mom, Celebrate the Small Things is a time when we all take a moment to celebrate something good from our week.  It can be small, it can be big, just something to look back on the week and celebrate!

Celebrate the Small Things

An Interview with Erica L. Bartlett, Author

Erica Bartlett is the author of the recently released Winning the Losing Battle: A True Story of Weight Loss and Transformation.  Winning the Losing Battle is an inspiring story of Erica’s journey of transformation.  Erica is an old friend, I’ve watched her through the process of putting this book together, and thought it would be great to have the chance to interview her about the process.


Erica Bartlett cover-no small

 “Does everyone hate themselves? I wish I knew, because then I’d know if what I’m feeling is normal or not.  Where did I go wrong?  I was so adorable as a child.

“What did I do to deserve this transformation from beauty to beast?  I think, if I weren’t so gross, I’d be an actress; I’m already so good at pretending. Fulfilling that stupid myth that fat people are jolly, like Santa Claus.  Only Santa Claus doesn’t exist, and how should I be jolly when people call me a cow, or porky, or say I’m dull?”

As an overweight teen, I wanted so much for things to be different, to not feel guilt and shame about food or my body, to not be judged, to buy clothes in a regular store, to climb Mt. Katahdin with my family.  I felt alone and isolated, a pariah because of my excess fat.

I also believed if I achieved the goal of Being Thin, my life would truly start and everything would be perfect.

Much as I tried, I didn’t succeed until tragedy motivated me to ditch dieting and find my own way to lose weight.

That didn’t mean I got the life and body I expected.

Instead, I got something much greater.


Allison: Thanks for agreeing to let me interview you Erica.  I was wondering, what originally inspired you to try your hand at a memoir and particularly about this aspect of your life?

Erica: In the summer of 2009, when I began looking at my mom’s diaries for the first time, I discovered that she had written about my weight. She noted every Weight Watchers meeting and if I’d gained or lost, as well as when she had me see a counselor, a nutritionist, try a yeast-free diet, etc. It caught me off-guard, since despite her focus on my weight, I never knew she did that. Then I got curious, because I’d forgotten the order of events, or in some cases completely forgot about a diet or weight-loss attempt. So the book started as an exercise for myself to piece together what had contributed to my weight gain, and when things had happened. I also wanted revisit how I had lost weight and try to understand the impact it all had on my life. After talking to a few people about it, I realized that other people might also relate to my story, and that’s when I started thinking about publishing.

 Allison:  Who would you most like to see reading your book?

Erica: Anyone struggling with food or weight issues, who feels alone or isolated by it, who feels like their worth is defined by their appearance, or maybe feels helpless to do anything that will bring real change and has given up trying. I want them to know they’re not alone, and that they can find your own way to happiness, and that they deserve joy and love no matter their appearance. I did write it to hopefully be accessible to young people, but parent and older adults may also enjoy it.

Allison: What advice would you give to someone who wants to write a memoir?  What were some of the challenges you faced?

Erica: If you want to write a memoir, you might face a couple of the same challenges I did.

One was simply how much information to include. My first draft of the book was mostly a brain dump and included everything going on in my life. It was useful, but I realized I couldn’t inflict all that on the general public. That meant I had to go through the long process of winnowing down to the most significant events.

The other challenge is with anyone else who appears in your book. For me, I worried especially about my dad, who doesn’t come across so well in the early part of the book. I didn’t want to hurt anyone, simply to tell my side of the story, but it did lead to some stress of getting in touch with people in the book to give them a chance to see how they were portrayed. In the end, everyone I could contact was very supportive, but certainly particular kudos go to my dad, who never asked me to leave out any of the really hard parts, and I’m grateful that by the end of the book our relationship had gotten a much better place.

 Allison: Why did you decide to publish independently?  What was that process like?

Erica: Going the independent route was not my first choice. In 2012, when I had a second draft done, I put together a book proposal and sent it to a bunch of agents, since everything I’d heard indicated that getting non-fiction published by a major publishing house requires an agent. I got turned down a few times and became discouraged, so I let the book rest for a while. Then in the summer of 2013 I joined a writer’s group and met a number of authors who had independently published. That idea became more appealing, but the real clincher came when I took a book publication course in 2014. Between the course and the writer’s group, I had a lot of support, and I also really wanted to get the book out soon, rather than sit on it for more years while trying to find a publisher.

Allison: I know you do other kinds of writing, what sort of other things do you write?

Erica: I sometimes think the better question is what don’t I write. But to answer what you asked, here’s a rundown. I regularly write in a journal and have for over twenty years, which was invaluable for the memoir. I write some short stories, fantasy and sci-fi mostly, but I’m starting to experiment with fiction. I write poetry and have placed in contests by The Maine Review and Blue Mountain Arts. I’m involved in lay-led worship at my church and regularly write reflections to share there. I keep a weekly blog about my musings on food and weight, and I’ve had blog posts published on AmIHungry.com as a facilitator for the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating program. And I’ve had Letters to the Editor about food and weight issues published in the Portland Press Herald.

Thank you Erica for taking the time to answer my questions!

Erica will be doing a radio interview on The Raugh Truth Health and Fitness show  March 28 at 11:00 am (EST), and will be on Citywide Blackout June 24 (sometime between 8 and 10 pm EST).

A bit of this, a bit of that, the meandering thoughts of a dreamer.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,605 other followers

%d bloggers like this: