In Part One: Story Structure, the assignment is to list ten books and films similar to our story in both genre and structure. She then asks readers to break the stories from our list down and analyze why they have an impact on us specifically. She says the movies and books that make it onto our list say a lot about us and what we like or what we are trying to say with our books.
I find this theory very interesting and thought I’d share my list. We had to list at least five movies and three books. Here’s mine, in no particular order:
1. When Harry Met Sally
2. Love Actually
3. Catch and Release
4. The Wedding Date
5. Pretty Woman
6. Chesapeake Blue (Nora Roberts)
7. Belong to Me (Marisa de los Santos)
8. After You’d Gone (Maggie O’Farrell)
9. Nobody’s Baby but Mine (Susan Elizabeth Phillips)
10. Peachtree Road (Anne Rivers Siddons)
I made this list pretty quickly and I’m sure I left off some good ones, but I feel pretty comfortable with what I’ve put down. I haven’t analyzed what they mean yet, but I’m looking forward to figuring out what it is about each of these works that speaks to me.
Just for fun and if you have the time, I’d love to see a list of your favorite books and movies. If not, go ahead and guess what my list means.
My family went to a wonderful concert at the University of Georgia (my alma mater) stadium last weekend featuring Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, and Jake Owen. The stadium was packed, the music was wonderful, and the weather was PERFECT. Seriously, it was a very rare evening in the south.
We had my two kids with us along with another thirteen-year-old and two fifteen-year-olds. The concert started at six and we all got to our feet to enjoy the show not long before Jake Owen took the stage. As the sun set and Jake relinquished the stage to Luke, the group of students behind us began to get a little rowdy, dancing and hollering along to the music. No problem, except they were dancing on top of our seats.
The girl directly behind my daughter and I had a cross body purse with a big metal clasp. After getting knocked in the back and arm several times by her purse, I tapped her on the shoulder and asked if she’d please move her purse to the back of her body since it kept hitting us. She leaned down, looked me right in the eye and said, “You want me to move my purse?” as if I’d just asked her to strip naked and run through the crowd.
I didn’t know she’d already smarted off to my husband when he asked her to get down from his seat so he could sit down. When he heard her reply, he told her to get off the seat. She flatly refused to our shock and dismay, so he took off and returned a few minutes later with cops. She’d beat a hasty retreat by this time and left her friends to deal with her mess, but not before berating me in front of my kids. The only good thing I can say is that she didn’t use foul language. I bit my tongue and told her how proud her parents must be of her, and of course, according to her, they are. I beg to differ.
I relayed this story to a friend and he told me something similar happened to him recently at the Final Four tournament. Two students were standing in front of him when the entire section was seated. He asked the boys to please sit down and the student told him to, “stand the **** up.” Needless to say, the boys sat.
I don’t think these two examples are the norm; I still believe most of America’s young adults behave much better than these two, but it still leaves me staggered and mostly just sad. Perhaps right along with reading, writing, and arithmetic, our schools should dedicate teaching time to character education and reward students who do the right thing. Perhaps us parents need to do the same, although sadly, mine got an up-close and personal lesson that night.
Happy April Fool’s Day!
Because I’m not writing this post on April Fool’s Day, I’m going to bypass the nonsense and write a serious post. I know, what a shock coming from me.
My bible study is currently doing a study on boundaries called Boundaries: When to Say YES, When to Say NO, To Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. THIS IS NOT A RELIGIOUS POST, I’m simply providing context. I thought it might be helpful for you all to understand why this particular topic is on my mind.
Boundaries is a thought provoking study and one I wish I’d read about twenty years ago. For those of you who are Christians and have young adults in your life, I’d highly recommend this book and the accompanying study. But I digress…
We recently discussed the section on friendship and in a group of approximately twenty women it was a lively debate. When I looked back over the years and analyzed my friendships, I realize I’ve become much more selective in choosing and maintaining friendships. When I brought this up to the group, we all (a group of women ranging in age from mid-30’s to mid 50’s) realized the same.
I had a college roommate who was a very close friend. We don’t live near one another and we used to talk on the phone every few months. I used to wonder why I felt so dissatisfied after every conversation, but never gave it much thought until she called my son by the wrong name. I have two children—one boy and one girl—and she couldn’t remember their names? After this lightening bolt moment, I realized the only time she called me was when she had something to brag about—new job, new car, new home, whatever. Other than those times, I was calling her out of a sense of obligation.
I suspect this is when I first began weighing my friendships and cutting off the dead weight. Now that I’m writing, I have to judiciously organize my time so I’m not frittering away the day on people who add nothing to my life when I could be adding words to the page.
Which leads me to a question for our WU readers: How have your friendships changed in the last 20 +/- years? If you’re too young to answer this question, do yourself a favor and read the boundaries book!
Writing has changed the way I read books. In my case, the same can be said for parenting. The older my kids get, I’m less able to lose myself in a story.
I’ve been reading a lot of young adult books recently. As a self-published author, I’m always checking out the bestselling SP titles. Frequently they are YA, or more specifically the recently crowned and much needed genre classification called New Adult. There’s a lot of S-E-X in these books that’s not appropriate for the younger YA crowd.
The good news is that I could easily converse with a population of girls more than half my age. The bad news is that I worry for our girls.
Let me preface this by saying I have a thirteen-year-old daughter, so the lens I view these books through isn’t exactly clear. I can’t help but read these books without worrying. Why worry, other than the S-E-X? I’ll summarize the plot of the majority I’ve read: innocent, virginal girl moves to a new high school or goes off to college and is suddenly discovered and appreciated by the campus bad boy. He’s slept with a million girls and no one can tame him but our innocent, virginal heroine. All the boys fall at her feet and all the girls want to be her best friend. I don’t mind a little fiction in my fiction, but the plethora of these stories has me scratching my head.
Why does this bother me so, especially since I’ve never considered myself a raging feminist?
All of our daughters are beautiful. Some more on the outside, some more on the inside, but they are all beautiful. All of them. Many times, these girls—our daughters—go unappreciated just like the girls in the books I’ve been reading. Is there always a boy who’s going to magically make them feel better about themselves? No, and why would we want these heroines—our daughters—to only find themselves worthy because some boy wakes up and realizes she’s wonderful?
I’ve been to college, and I was that innocent virgin. Did I find myself during those pivotal years? Yes! Did I find myself because the campus bad boy saw what every other boy I’d ever met couldn’t see? Heck no! I found myself. I discovered myself in the pages of the books I read, in the responsibilities I carried, and in the process of letting go of my childhood. As I came into my own, I met the man who was to become my husband. Was it love at first site? Nope, not even close for either one of us. Did I save him or did he save me? No. If we’d never met, I feel confident we both would have gone on to live happy, productive lives. I must add here, for the sake of my marriage, that our lives are infinitely better for having met and fallen in love.
It is my greatest wish for my daughter to find love with a man who appreciates every wonderful thing about her (even the not-so-wonderful things). Will this man have a tortured past, be (God help me) covered in tattoos, or come from a broken home? Maybe, but if he loves and appreciates my daughter, I won’t care. What I do care about is that before she pledges her love and her body to a man, she will truly appreciate the value of her love and her body and know what a gift she’s giving. And that man better appreciate and cherish the gift he’s receiving, because if he doesn’t, her father and I will be happy to tell him. For those of you lucky enough to know my daughter, you know I won’t have to—she’ll tell him all on her own. J
I don’t begrudge the authors of these books or the readers who devour them. Who doesn’t love a well-written good-girl saves bad-boy story? I know I can’t assume that all girls who read these books will believe there’s a bad boy out there who’s going to be the answer to her prayers. I read Cinderella and Snow White and Sleeping Beauty when I was a young girl and I never expected a handsome young prince to ride up on his white horse and make me his princess. But somehow I can’t help but feel sad.
Perhaps this is what happens when someone who’s not a new adult reads books written for new adults. I’m too old to appreciate the genre. Phooey. I should have known it would boil down to this…
My dad passed away a year ago last Christmas. The holidays were a bittersweet time without him. As 2013 chugged along and life got back to the day-to-day grind, my sister received a message from a man I remember meeting at my dad’s funeral. He passed us his card, told us he’d umpired baseball with my dad for years, and said he wanted to share some things with us later.
Obviously, later meant much later. This past week, my mom, sister, and I went to a meeting of the umpire association where my dad worked and volunteered for many years before his “retirement” from baseball several years ago. The things he wanted to share were touching personal stories about how my dad had met and influenced a whole group of men the three of us had never seen before.
Of course we knew he umpired. My dad was a baseball fanatic, a true lover of the game. He played for many years as a young man, coached my sister and I in softball, graduated to men’s softball as he aged, and then returned to his true love playing in men’s leagues. He retired his glove after several seasons in the men’s senior league. What’s a grown man to do when he hangs up his uniform for the last time? Fortunately for my dad, he discovered what my family believes was his true calling: umpiring.
At this meeting, several men told funny stories about my dad during his umpiring days and they named an award after him and presented that award to three recipients during the meeting. My mom, sister, and I left feeling like these special people who took the time to share their memories had given us a gift. Even for my mom, it was like seeing a side of him we never knew.
Now that my son is starting his high school baseball career, I’ll take the time to really look at and appreciate the umpires who call his games. I might even thank them—if they call a good game
Has this ever happened to you? Has anyone ever shared an unexpected memory of a lost loved one? I sure hope so.