Sunday Smatterings

Smatterings - April 21.png

Happy Sunday, and a blessed Easter to those who celebrate. I wish you peace and joy, today and all days!

It was a rather crazed week here. We have a vacation coming up, and the preparations coupled with the fact that I haven’t been able to do much outside of write, edit, promote for the past several months means I’ve let too much go around the house, too. Friday I did one more massive Goodwill run, and I can breathe easier. Re-homing my former treasures is one of my favorite things to do.

All of these “things” I’m juggling pale in comparison to an experience I had last week. As you may have heard, A THOUSAND DOORS was chosen for a very special bookclub in Iowa, Changing Lives Through Literature. The program has been geared toward men in the Iowa corrections system; this particular group was for women only, the first of its kind. Its members are women on parole, their parole officers and residential advisors, and the wonderful librarians who scouted this book for their book group. Over the course of the reading, many of our authors Skyped in with the group to discuss their individual stories. I participated as well, on the final day. The ladies brought me to tears a couple of times with their frankness, openness, and humility. An experience I will never forget.

Susan Henricks, director of the Carnegie-Stout Public Library in Dubuque, Iowa, put this together, and Heather Gudenkauf, one of the authors in ATD, cat-wrangled us all together. You Iowans know how to get things done!

Susan sent me a wrap up, and I asked for permission to share here.

The group has finished now.  During our first session I asked the women to write down what they expected to get out of the group, and on the last day (10 sessions later) I asked them to write down what they got out of the group.  Here are a few of the responses at the end:

  • What did I learn? No matter what choices I make, I can start new every day 

  • Keep pushing, don’t give up

  • I wanted to learn some things I can use in everyday life and I did

  • I got a new perspective on life and that I can change my story at any time

  • Being involved with a program outside of the DRF makes our time together more open to discussion and [helps form] better relationships with the Parole or Residential Officers involved

Thank you for being a part of positive change!

Books change lives. I think we sometimes forget the effect our words have on people. That Mia’s many lives and choices helped real women facing real problems, hard choices that affect their very freedom, their safety, their lives, makes every ounce of labor that went into the project worth its weight in gold. I hope the program will grow to the entire state of Iowa and even farther, because giving women a voice, showing them how their lives can be changed, that they have control and agency, is incredibly powerful.

So you librarians and corrections officers out there — give Susan Henricks a shout and see how she did this. It’s a brilliant program, one that would benefit your patrons.

Let’s take a look at the latest links!


Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

It was an absolute delight to interview the mega-bestseller Delia Owens in this week’s episode of A WORD ON WORDS. She was such a good sport, shooting outside on a very chilly day. #KeepReading

Dutch Artists Transform a Utrecht Apartment Building into a Tri-Level Trompe L'Oeil Bookcase. This is absolutely incredible!

A Bookstore Of One's Own. When you read an article and think to yourself, yes, I would like to own a niche bookstore focused on brilliant writings of lesser-known female authors...

The 12 Best Books of Spring. So excited to see the amazing Helen Ellis’s new collection of essays SOUTHERN LADY CODE on this list. You NEEDS, precious.

‘Game of Thrones' composer looks back on that iconic theme song. Composing fascinates me. I write to scores from both movies and television, and this breakdown makes me love the music for AGOT even more.

OK, this is the coolest - two poems by the great Daphne Du Maurier found hidden in picture frames? Makes me want to slip a little something into one of mine for fun. 

I was on Public Display Of Imagination Podcast last week! Listen in. Mark and I covered a range of topics from TEAR ME APART to the vagaries of social media to the importance of Project Semicolon in our lives.

A Bucks County bookstore is looking to sell its ‘wall of fame’ to keep the lights on. Think J.K. Rowling. What a treasure! But how sad. I hope they get the money they need.

Six Steps for Decluttering Your Kitchen . . . and Reclaiming the Heart of Your Home. Excellent advice. I’m looking at my counters right now thinking they could use a few less items…

13 Game of Thrones-Themed Tours You Can Take Around the World. Because Game of Thrones, y’all! Let’s go!


What I’m Reading:

BEFORE SHE WAS FOUND by Heather Gudenkauf

Speaking of the lovely, talented Heather, her new book just came out! Heather writes intricate, emotional suspense, and her latest, BEFORE SHE WAS FOUND, is hands down her best yet. Told through journals, police interviews, and a stellar narrative, this perfectly terrifying story is ripped from the headlines (there are parallels with the Slenderman case) and layered with Gudenkauf’s flair for small towns and intimate family portrayals. Heartbreaking. Devious. Intelligent. Misleading. Too familiar for comfort. I couldn’t put it down. Have you read Heather before? If not, add her to your list immediately!

What are you reading this weekend?


And with that, I’m off to find some jellybeans. Be kind to one another, take a 24-hour internet sabbatical, bake some cookies, and I’ll see you next week!

peace and hugs,
J.T.