Thursday, March 14, 2019

Book Beginning: The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS
THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



The woods of Arcady are dead,
And over is their antique joy
Of old the world on dreaming fed;
Grey Truth is now her Painted toy;

-- from "The Song of the Happy Shepherd," the first poem in The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats. Since we are heading into St. Patrick's Day weekend, it seems a good day to feature an Irish poet. I've been working my way through this book for a couple of years. I keep it on my table at work and try to read one poem every day. I can't say the first poem in the book is my favorite!




Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.

EARLY BIRDS & SLOWPOKES: This weekly post goes up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. But feel free to add a link all week.

SOCIAL MEDIA: If you are on Twitter, Instagram, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I try to follow all Book Beginnings participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING





TIE IN: The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.


MY FRIDAY 56

I heard an old religious man
But yesternight declare
That he had found a text to prove
That only God, my dear,
Could love you for yourself alone
And not your yellow hair.

-- from "For Anne Gregory." This is my favorite Yeats poem, so I cheated a bit to include it here because it is not on page 56. I've always kept this last stanza taped to my desk. I think of it as a reminder of the fickleness of the human heart and a warning against vanity. Or something like that.









Monday, March 11, 2019

Mailbox Monday: 36 Bottles of Wine by Paul Zitarelli

What books came into your house last week? I ended up with one new book, a gift from Memaloose Wine in appreciation for being a Wine Club member for so long. What a nice surprise!



36 Bottles of Wine: Less Is More with 3 Recommended Wines per Month Plus Seasonal Recipe Pairings by Paul Zitarelli




Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday, a weekly "show & tell" blog event where participants share the books they acquired the week before. Visit the Mailbox Monday website to find links to all the participants' posts and read more about Books that Caught our Eye.

Mailbox Monday is graciously hosted by Leslie of Under My Apple Tree, Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit, and Martha of Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Author Interview: Dr. Jody Fleming


Psychologist Jodie Fleming specialized in "psycho-oncology" counseling cancer patients before her own breast cancer diagnosis. Her new memoir, A Hole in My Genes, tells how Jodie went from doctor to patient and worked through grief and loss, surgeries, and infertility to cancer survival.



Jodie recently talked with Rose City Reader about her memoir, becoming a writer, and the Psychology of It:

How did you come to write A Hole in My Genes?

A Hole in My Genes came about incidentally really. In 2010, I received a breast cancer diagnosis which came exactly one month after my marriage had ended. I’ve always used writing as a coping strategy and so, began journaling in the form of letters to my Nana who had died four years earlier. She would’ve been one of my greatest supports and so, through the letters, I felt connected to her and comforted in a way. Once treatment ended and I stopped writing to her, I found I really missed the writing process. I stumbled across an online writing class, the Literary Kitchen with Ariel Gore, around the same time and used our weekly class assignments as a cathartic way in which to continue to process all of the changes that had just occurred in my life. Whilst it was therapeutic for me, I also started receiving feedback from my classmates that they too were benefiting in a variety of ways from my story. I think that as a part of coping with any of life’s traumatic events, we tend to go seeking meaning from them. The positive feedback allowed me to dream that perhaps there was a book in there somewhere that might be able to help at least one other person going through a trauma in their own lives and the idea for A Hole in My Genes was born!

You are a psychologist and, prior to your own cancer diagnosis, specialized in psycho-oncology. What is psycho-oncology and how does your professional background add to your memoir?

Psycho-oncology focuses on the psychological, emotional, social and ethical issues related to all aspects of cancer for not only patients, but also their families and carers. My work as a psycho-oncologist provided me with the privileged insight into my patients’ experiences. I’d also cared for my husband with testicular cancer eight years earlier and so felt very prepared for my own treatment, but that wasn’t to be the case initially.

It probably took me until mid-way through chemotherapy to realize that I probably had a set of skills that could alleviate some of the distress and discomfort I felt. I’m sometimes slow on the uptake! Luckily though, once I realized, I was able to rely on several helpful tools from my toolkit including accessing my social supports, mindful grounding techniques, and managing my catastrophic worries with some thinking tools. My prior knowledge and then lived experiences using those tools adds to my memoir which I’ve started describing as a hybrid book – half memoir, half educational instruction manual for the cognitive and behavioral strategies I engaged in my own treatment.

Your book is intensely personal – did you have any qualms about sharing so much?

This is a question I’m asked very often, closely followed by a comment about how brave I am, which I assume means that no one else on the planet would include some of the personal details I have! For me, it was a no-brainer to include everything that I did because those were the topics that everyone in my treatment team and surrounds avoided. I struggled with things like sexual dysfunction and menopause because no one had been brave enough to have those conversations with me and for years my quality of life suffered because of that.

I’m a massive believer that if we were all just a little more honest with our inner worlds then it would go a long way to stopping people from feeling isolated and alone with some really common, normal reactions to some abnormal life events. One of the main reasons I wrote this book was to hopefully give someone, somewhere the benefits of the knowledge I gained along the way so that they wouldn’t have to turn to Kathy Bates for sex education! (For those who have read the book, this will make a lot of sense). There was no way in good conscience that I couldn’t go all the way in telling my story, even though that has meant having to speak in public about my vagina way more than possibly imaginable!

Who is your intended audience and what do you hope your readers will gain from your book?

This is a book for healthcare professionals. It is a book for the families and friends of loved ones going through cancer. And it may even be for patients. More than the cancer world though, this is a story of facing and overcoming adversity, about human resilience, hope, and imperfect life. Having said that, maybe there’s something in there for anyone going through a really hard time.

Can you recommend any other memoirs that deal with going through cancer with the kind of heart and honesty you put into yours?

Cancer memoirs are books that I read before having cancer. They aren’t books that I’ve chosen to read since. In fact, I did read Susan Duncan’s Salvation Creek after treatment not realizing she had breast cancer and had the strongest visceral reaction when I arrived at the page that described in detail one of her chemotherapy treatments. One book that I read afterward, gifted by a friend was Pretty is What Changes by Jessica Queller about her family’s quest navigating their way through having one of the breast cancer genetic mutations. Jessica herself had to decide about prophylactic surgeries before marriage and before having children and her writing style was incredibly engaging which we’d expect given she is a television writer. I truly loved her book as it gave me some insight into my family’s fears and decision making around the same issues.

What did you learn from writing your book – either about the subject of the book or the writing process – that most surprised you?

Mostly I’ve learnt how much I value and rely upon the writing process to cope in life. I still don’t see myself as a writer but having spent all of those years in and out of the Literary Kitchen, I feel as though I learnt to write, to express myself with an authentic voice and to paint a picture with words. The whole way along the biggest surprise to me has been the large amount of positive feedback I receive about my writing style, especially from the people closest to me who appear equally as surprised as me that I created this book that tells such an honest story that people seem to be gravitating towards. Reading my book on the other hand, which I’ve only done once from cover to cover, surprised me by highlighting to myself just how resilient I must be. That’s kind of nice.

What is The Psychology of It? 

Well, once active treatment ended and I stopped writing the letters to my Nan, I really missed writing. So, I began writing the book. Once the book was finished, I really missed writing and so I had to find another place to motivate and inspire me to write. I’d really enjoyed writing about the therapeutic strategies in the memoir and I also had a greater urge to normalize common human experiences to enhance a sense of connection and similarity between us all because I see the complete opposite when people walk through my clinic door. My website, The Psychology of It, became the place that I could do that.

I specifically added five different components which supported five different writing styles. Analyse interprets the science into easy to understand concepts; The Coping Toolkit is full of easy to implement coping strategies; Conversations on the Couch are interviews with everyday people about life; Up Close & Personal are more personal reflections on global topics; and New Things sort of gave me a place to post articles that didn’t fit anywhere else. The Psychology of It Facebook page took on a life of its own though, with over 3,500 Villagers which provides a real sense of community. I share loads of things I find useful as well as original articles from time to time on the Facebook page and I have a very strong hunch that it’s due to Village that 550+ people filled our local theatre for the launch of A Hole in My Genes. The positive power of social media!

You have a great website and are also active on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even YouTube. From an author’s perspective, how important are social media to engage with your readers?

Authors need a platform from which to launch their books and creating that platform begins to happen perhaps even before a book exists and is crucial for promoting and selling books. Social media engagement provides reach far greater than my website could as a standalone method for communication and I rely on it heavily for engaging with my Village. It’s instant. It’s an excellent source of information and it tells me exactly what my followers are into and what they’re looking for. I am still experimenting with all of it to be honest, but I’m learning as I go and am enjoying the process. In direct relation to A Hole in My Genes, social media has introduced me to so many amazing people and already has provided me with opportunities that never would’ve existed without it. This interview is one example of that. You would never have found me in my little pocket of Australia had social media not connected us.

I will soon have a new author website in addition to The Psychology of It website.

What is the most valuable advice you were given when writing your memoir?

Diana Kirk, who introduced us, actually was so instrumental in advising me to write with my own voice and to write for myself, as if no one else would ever read it. In the beginning, I got too caught up in what other people would think and it created too much self-doubt, not to mention painting a completely inauthentic version of myself. Once I had that all worked out, writing became easier.

Any tips or hints for authors considering writing a memoir?

Do it. Get started. It’s easier to edit something that exists than trying to find the perfect first sentence and staring at a blank page. Consider the other people in your story and how you might seek their permission to include them, or how you might protect them if need be. But really, it’s the Nike principle. Just do it.

What’s next for you? What are you working on now?

Well, I’d love to say I have a solid idea for book number two but I don’t really. I’m busy working full time and promoting this book which I’m trying to mindfully enjoy as a process. In one of life’s great ironies, with all of the time that social media and book promotion takes, I’m simply not getting the chance to write! So in all honesty, what’s next for me is to join a local writer’s group that meet only monthly, but that’s better than nothing.

THANKS JODIE!

A HOLE IN MY GENES IS AVAILABLE ON LINE, OR ASK YOUR LOCAL BOOK SELLER TO ORDER IT!


Thursday, March 7, 2019

Book Beginning: Staying On by Paul Scott

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS
THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



When Tusker Smalley died of a massive coronary at approximately 9:30 am on the last Monday in April, 1972, his wife Lucy was out, having her white hair blue-rinsed and set at the Seraglio Room on the ground floor of Pankot's new five-storey glass and concrete hotel, the Shiraz.
UPDATE, Saturday, March 9, 2019: 

Apparently I was so distracted when I put this post up that I didn't realize I left out the name of my book and any description. It's been that kind of week.

-- Staying On by Paul Scott is a sequel to Scott's Raj Quartet about the wind up of British rule in India during WWII. He won the 1977 Booker Prize for Staying On.




Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.

EARLY BIRDS & SLOWPOKES: This weekly post goes up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. But feel free to add a link all week.

SOCIAL MEDIA: If you are on Twitter, Instagram, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I try to follow all Book Beginnings participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING





TIE IN: The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.


MY FRIDAY 56

My Friday 56 is missing this week. I don't have the book with me and I am still at the office after 8:00 pm -- something I almost never do. I have a brief to file in a case in Idaho tomorrow and a court hearing here in Portland, so I barely got my opening sentence up. Next week!

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Favorite Author: Tana French


Tana French is an American-born author who lives and writes in Ireland. Her popular Dublin Murder Squad series switches protagonists from book to book, with one of the side characters in an earlier book moving forward into the leading role in a later book. Her latest is a stand alone.

In the books, the Murder Squad office is in the Dublin Castle. In real life, homicide detectives in Dublin worked in Harcourt Square until the Garda headquarters moved to Kevin Street in 2018. Look who's a detective!

I'm late to start the series, but looking forward to reading them all. Those I have read are in red; those on my TBR shelf are in blue.

In the Woods (2007)
The Likeness (2008)
Faithful Place (2010)
Broken Harbor (2012)
The Secret Place (2014)
The Trespasser (2016)
The Wych Elm (2018) (stand alone)



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