Friday, June 28, 2019

My Scribbler Box

Subscription boxes are a thing, and I have purchased my fair share.  I love Page 1, Book of the Month, and Fab Fit Fun.  But my favorite is my Scribbler box.

I'm a writer and if you are too, you need to stop and consider this box.  It has improved my writing life and kept me writing even when I was too busy/stressed/emotional/just plain didn't want to do it this spring.  

The other day I was avoiding my writing time and then my kids ran in with with the scribbler box.  I opened it slowly.  So often I rush through the good things in my life--a passing glance at a beautiful sunset, a quick moment of gratitude in the garden that gets interrupted by someone asking me for something, and the joy of opening a package addressed to me.  

I was not going to let that happen.  

Another thing that makes the scribbler box so great is that you don't know what's inside.  It's rare for me to get a box in the mail without prior knowledge of its contents.  And usually, they are boring (baseball socks for my son, floor cleaner that we ran out of, gifts for my kids' friends).  But the mystery of what will be inside the box makes opening it even sweeter.

So, here's what I found:

A cute box that automatically makes me want to run to my computer.

Happy orange crinkle paper and postcard with the details for a writing contest (!!) on the back.

A fantastic coaster for my desk to limit the coffee and iced tea rings that have given my desk so much "personality" (the personality of a slob). 

Each month you get an inside look at the publishing process.  This has been soooo informative for this newbie.  

A book that highlights some of the box's themes with an autographed sticker.  V. cool. 

Coffee that is delicious and helps me write/read more.

Bookmarks for all that reading I can now do thanks to the coffee.  My favorite says "This is where I fell asleep."  #truelife

There is always a writing passport with tips and tricks for the writing life and an invitation to a live talk from an industry insider.  They are both life-changing.  

As a writer who believes in the value of reading as part of my craft, I love this.  This pad gives you a chance to reflect on what you just read and notice what the author did that you liked and didn't like.  

So, there you have it.  Each month there are different goodies but they are always useful and adorable.  My kids couldn't believe how much they packed into one box and I sat there beaming with joy for a minute before I toted everything up to my desk to get to work.  

This is not an ad.  I pay for this box with my own cash money.  It is so worth it.  The variety is great and I learn things that I couldn't learn anywhere else every. single. month.

Do you believe in subscription boxes?  What are your favorites?

Monday, June 24, 2019

Summer Reading 2019

Today is the first official day of summer for my kids and I am here for it.  

I survived the concerts, picnics, and finals and I'm ready for my reward now.  

Some might say I sound sarcastic, but I am so excited to have the kids home.  Don't get me wrong, my quiet time won't be so quiet anymore and there will be plenty of activities to drive them to (swim team, I'm looking at you), but I couldn't force another person to do more homework or wake up before 6:30 if my life depended on it.  

One of the many things I love about summer is that my reading time increases.  There are times I get interrupted, but mostly they leave me alone when they see I am reading.  I have trained them to know books are good for mom and happy mom = happy kids.  Plus, summer is the time we do our mother-daughter book club which means they are often reading the same book and looking forward to a girls' night out to celebrate all of us finishing.  

The free places we go often include reading time for mom too: the library, the pool, the park.  I feel almost giddy just thinking about this.  

Part of who I am as a reader is that I don't want reading to detract from living my life.  So, please don't misunderstand.  The number of books I finish this summer doesn't really matter.  I will read at the pool (but I will also go into the pool).  I will read at the library (but I will also peruse the shelves with my kids).  I will read at the park (after a nice walk or pushing kids on the swings).  Reading is a luxury and I just get a bit more time to spend on this particular luxury during this season.  

So, what am I reading this season?  Here's a short list of some books I'm excited to dig into, but please note this list is subject to change at any given moment depending on my mood.

1.  The Gown.  I've seen this everywhere and am halfway through.  The story is about the embroiderers of Princess Elizabeth's wedding dress with flashforwards to a storyline set in the present.  This usually isn't my thing, but I am loving every minute of it.  

2.  Inkling.  The story of an "intelligent inkblot" that is my 10 year old's choice for mother-daughter book club.  It's fun and thought-provoking (what would I do with Inkling) and has a ton of hat-tips to other kidlit classics.  

3.  Little Fires Everywhere.  This has been on my TBR for-EVER and this summer I'm going to check it off the list.  I'm working on writing a novel that is a modern family literary drama and I think reading this would give me some inspiration as it falls squarely in that genre.  

4.  Garlic and Sapphires.  Again, on my list forever.  I wanted some non-fiction and this story about a food critic's real-life adventures in NYC sounds like it would also bring in a little humor.  I have a feeling I'll also be hungry after reading it and maybe force my family to visit the city in August or September.  

5.  A Great Reckoning.  I'm trying to get caught up on the Louise Penny novels and this is the next book in the series.  I can't wait to return to Three Pines.  

I have about a hundred other books but let's just start with these five and see what happens.  

What are you reading this summer?  Also, what do you think my book club should read after Inkling...remember our members are 10, 13, 15, and 37.  Give me all your recommendations.  

Friday, June 21, 2019


It's a rare occurrence that I do not finish (DNF) a book.  But it happens.

Recently, I put down one of the most hyped books of the year.  And I have feelings about this.

Unless you're living under a rock, you've probably heard about the book: Daisy Jones and the Six.  It's exciting!  Sex!  Drugs!  Rock-n-Roll! Told in an oral history format!  The cover is great!

I was excited to pick this for my Book of the Month subscription a couple of months ago.  Often, I get my BOTM box and set the new book in a stack of other books and move on with my day.  But this one was different.

So many people were raving about it on podcasts and Reese Witherspoon had picked it for her book club.  I didn't want to wait, I opened the box and ran to my favorite chair to start reading.

As I was reading, a friend texted me and asked what I thought.  She hadn't been able to get into it and she wondered if she had missed something.  I kept reading.

I felt such a swell of pride, pulling the book out of my bag at various school events and in between errands.  Surely someone would see me with this very hip book and think, "There's a woman who knows what's cool.  She's up on the latest trends.  She looks like a real style icon."  

But I wasn't connecting with characters.  I rolled my eyes at their amazing attention to the details of fashion as they were recounting things that happened years ago while they were high.  They seemed flat and typical.  I like nuance in my characters, I like depth and by page 125 I just didn't care anymore.  

The oral history that is also being touted as an exciting new format just seemed lazy to me.  I felt like I was being spoon-fed the story.  Perhaps if there were excerpts written like a magazine interview I wouldn't mind that, but for an entire novel, it wasn't to my taste.  

As I closed the book and set it aside I kissed my dreams of literary influencer good-bye.  I didn't have my finger on the pulse of the modern literary scene after all.  But, I believe there is still hope for me.  

Since dnf-ing Daisy I've heard friends complain that the Instagram culture is negatively impacting their reading lives.  We're not picking books that genuinely appeal to us, we're picking them because someone told us to or they've popped up on our feed a bajillion times.  There's a reason some of the current best-sellers are riding high and it's not always because they are good stories, well told.  

And, don't get me wrong, I think Daisy Jones and the Six could have real appeal to a certain reader.  But I'm not that reader, and maybe, just maybe I need to vet my books (and all things in my life) not just based on popularity.  

listen to mom

What did you think about Daisy?  If you haven't read it yet, do you think you will?