The Booker Award and couple of repeat offenders drop by.

One nice thing about going on vacation was that I received several awards while I was gone. It was like coming home and checking the mailbox to find it stuffed with wonderful packages instead of junk mail. Thanks so much to Paula at stuff i tell my sister for giving me another Sunshine Award (I never get tired of that colorful one) and thanks to Sarah Henson at Word (en)Count(ers) for another Versatile Blogger Award (I’m always trying to be versatile). I’m loving the repeat awards just as much the second time around. (See this post for my response to the first time I received both awards.) Greed, thy name is Valerie.

Then, I received a brand, spanking new award from Suzi Retzlaff at Literary Engineer. She passed The Booker Award on to me, and I must say it is the most interesting award I’ve received so far.

The rules for the Booker Award:

This award is for book bloggers only. To receive this award the blog must be at least 50% about books (reading or writing is okay)

Along with receiving this award, you must also share your top five favorite books you have ever read. (More than five is okay) You must give this award to 5-10 other lucky book blogs you adore.

Now for the hard part; whittling down all the books that I have fallen in love with throughout my life that have for one reason or another moved me in a very special way down to just five ten (I couldn’t make it down to five). Impossible, you say? Yes! I agree. So I just randomly drew these lucky souls out of a bowler hat:

  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis – one of the first books where I really discovered the magic of the written word. It sunk its teeth into me and never let go.
  • Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler – such a beautifully poignant story about loss and what comes after. It just made my heart ache over and over.
  • Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King – my first introduction to the wonder that is Amy King.
  • Ethan Between Us by Anna Myers – one of my favorite books by my dear friend.
  • Shalimar the Clown by Salman Rushdie – such a fantastic writer. This book has one scene that is so horrifically violent, so devastating, yet told in such a way that it is emotionally moving as well. I cannot get it out of my head to this day.
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green – started my love affair with all that is John Green.
  • The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood – one of the first dystopian books I ever loved.
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – who wouldn’t love a book narrated by death?
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – I loved everything about this book. It stands the test of time.
  • The Underneath by Kathi Appelt – I never thought a book about animals could be so emotionally evocative. This is a book meant for writers to read.
  • Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume – she really answered all of my serious questions that no one else in my life at the time could answer. This is why I write the kind of stories I do now.

So many other books on my shelves are screaming, “What about me? Didn’t you love me just as much?” Poor, sad books. Of course I did. I wish I could tell all about you as well, but that would take all day. I can let the kind people reading this blog learn more about the other books I’ve read so far this year here. As for the rest of you, I’ll dust your shelves extra well and maybe even reread a few of you soon, all right? (I’m not the only one who talks to their books, am I?)

As for the lucky stories listed above, when I read each of them, at some point along the journey, I had a visceral response to what the characters were going through that connected me to it forever. That’s all I really want in a story; an honest emotional connection that grabs me right in the gut and makes me continue thinking about it long after I’ve reached the end. I really am easy to please.

What about you? What qualifications does a book need to meet in order to make it on to your top ten list?

And finally, I hereby bequeath this most revered of blog awards onto the following worthy bloggers:

I look forward to seeing your literary selections in the near future.

Walking on Sunshine and I’ve Got Versatility – The Blog Awards

Two awards in one week? How exciting! Well, somebody out there knew I needed a confidence boost. Thank you to Laura Stanfill for the Sunshine Award nomination and thank you to Paula of the stuff i tell my sister blog for the Versatile Blogger Award nomination. You are both too kind. I’ve often thought of myself as full of something, why not sunshine? And despite what my children think, I CAN be versatile. I will do my best to live up to the honor of both awards.

Here are the rules for the Sunshine Award:

Include the award logo in the post.
Link back and thank those that nominated me.
Answer 10 random questions about myself and/or tell seven random facts.
Nominate 10 other bloggers and link them to the award in their comments section.

Laura provided some questions of her own for me to answer. Sooooo much easier than digging around in my brain for interesting facts. I’ve known me all my life; I don’t really know what other people will find interesting about me.

Here are Laura’s questions:

  1. What’s one of your favorite books from childhood? The Chronicles of Narnia. I read them all many times.
  2. What are you reading right now? Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys and Shine by Lauren Myracle. (I rarely read just one book at a time.)
  3. What’s a go-to meal you make on busy weeknights? Okay, I think I’ve mentioned that I’m not a fantastic cook, but there are a few things I can stumble through without burning down the kitchen. Spaghetti Carbonara is one of them.
  4. Favorite thing to do in your free time? Besides reading? Hmmm, I don’t get that much free time. Maybe having in-depth conversations with open-minded adults that challenge me to think about something in a new way. Yeah, I love that – and it happens so rarely.
  5. Favorite season? Sprummer? I love late spring and early summer the best. All of the rushing around to get the kids to their numerous activities has slowed down to a trickle and we can start sleeping in on the weekends. Also, the temperature hasn’t broken the 100 degree mark and yet it’s high enough that walking into the sunshine feels good, not shivery.
  6. Favorite magazine? Not a big magazine person. I did love Interview magazine before Andy Warhol died and they made a variety unsavory changes. I used to make some funky collages from the artwork in those pages. I still have one of them.
  7. Favorite author? Unfair question to ask a writer; too many to even begin narrowing the list down to one. I love just about everything the following writers have published: John Green, Libba Bray, AS King, Rachel Cohn, David Levithan, JK Rowling, and tons more.
  8. Favorite teacher (and why)? Mrs. Franklin. She was one of my GT teachers that I had for a couple of years in high school. We were a tight-knit group in the GT program as we had a lot of our classes together in a block. She was an outstanding teacher of history and taught us more than the dry facts, she got us involved and that made it come alive. She also cared enough to ask questions when someone was lagging behind or, in my case, not showing up.
  9. AP Style, Chicago Style, neither, or a mix of both? I actually prefer NY style pizza. Blech. Hate this question. Moving on.
  10. Do you prefer reading short stories or novels? I’ll read anything. I prefer quality writing in any form.

Although I know many bloggers that exude sunshine, there’s no way I can come up with 10 unique nominees. Here are my nominees for the Sunshine Award:  A. E. Welch, Mike Reverb, Papasense, Paul Robert Adams of The Haunt, and Cheyenne Hill of A Leap in the Dark.

For the Versatile Blogger Award, the rules are slightly different:

Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy. (I love instructions that remind you of good manners, don’t you?)
Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly that are excellent.
Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award. (Fifteen? There’s just no way. I don’t follow enough blogs, yet. I’m working on it!)
Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself. (Dang it! I  still have to come up with random facts.)

  1. I love olives. I once parked myself in front of a giant bowl of black olives at one of my cousin’s weddings when I was about 11 and proceeded to eat myself sick. Best. Wedding. Ever!
  2. I love driving a stick shift better than an automatic. My first car was a little blue Honda Civic. I learned to drive a standard in that car one afternoon with only my brother sort of guiding me because I was too impatient to drive my new car to wait for proper instruction. It was years before I stopped jerking that poor car along. I’m now very adept at smooth transitions and you can go so much faster in a standard! Maybe I have control issues and want to shift gears when I’m ready, not the car telling me when it is proper to do so.
  3. I hate commercials. Of any kind. We DVR most of our shows and I zip through the commercial breaks as fast as possible. If I want to watch something not already recorded, I’ll put it on pause for awhile so I can still skip the commercials. My husband likes to take his time and check for commercials he might like. Whenever he does this, I sigh heavily. If that doesn’t work, I mime pushing the fast forward button repeatedly. When that doesn’t work (yes, using your words is important!) I tell him to get moving or give me the remote. (Yeah, that does sound like control issues…)
  4. I was once serenaded in a bikini. We were on vacation in Hawaii when I was about six years old on the top of some hotel that had its pool area on the roof. There was a little three-piece Hawaiian band playing songs and we were sitting down at a table eating, I think. They started singing about my “Itty Bitty Teeny Weeny Blue and White Checked Bikini” because that’s what my swimsuit looked like. (Gingham prints were so the thing back then.) My mom nudged me and told me that they were singing to me. I was too busy swinging my feet and staring off into space to notice – probably wondering when we were going back into the pool.
  5. I was once hit by a drunk driver on my bike. It was the summer before ninth grade and I was delivery sprouts to a local restaurant – totally another story for another time – and I was in a hurry to get home so I could go swimming with my best friend. I’d tried to talk my brother into doing it for me, but for once, my powers of persuasion failed. I thought at first that the accident was my fault because I turned left on a yellow light. I remember thinking “I’m going to get hit” right before the truck slammed into me and sent me sailing. This was downtown Enid, Oklahoma, on a busy afternoon. A crowd of people gathered around me quickly – probably because I was screaming bloody murder. One slurring voice that reeked of alcohol pushed into the gathered crowd and apologized for hitting me. Luckily, the sprouts in my backpack saved my head – this was before bike helmets – and I only ended up with a clean break in my left leg. At the time, when I was lying on the hot asphalt surrounded by people debating whether or not to move me – ( I tried to tell them that was not a great idea, but I was going into shock and my words were getting mixed up.) –  I didn’t feel so lucky.
  6. I had my first job when I was thirteen. It was at the local Mad Calf Drive-In two blocks from my junior high school. As most jobs required you to be sixteen, my dad had to give permission for me to have this job. I only made $1 an hour during my training and then got bumped up to a whopping $1.25 after that. That was below minimum wage, but I think the whole thing was off the books anyway. I would put a Sprite and a frozen Snickers bar on my tab for the walk home every night – probably spending a good third of my earnings. Frankly, he could have paid me in frozen snickers back then and I’d have been thrilled.
  7. I once was a vegetarian. It  was a little weird to be a vegetarian in a small Oklahoma town, but my best friend had been a vegetarian all of his life and in high school, I started questioning all sorts of things. I thought I should start being more conscious of what I ate. I decided that if I couldn’t bring myself to kill animals, then I shouldn’t eat them. Simple. I didn’t care what others did, although it always seemed to make people feel uncomfortable to eat meat in front of me. What was so hilarious – or maybe not – my dad never could remember this decision, so anytime I came home to visit, he’d always try to feed me meat. Thanksgiving was always fun. i ate a lot of green beans and mashed potatoes. I also ate a lot of cheese, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches at family cookouts – everything but the hamburger. Then when I was pregnant with my second child, I started craving chicken wings – seriously craving them. I gave in and sated my palate’s desires. It all went downhill from there, although it was still about ten more years before I ate red meat.

That’s enough about me. To wrap things up, I had a hard time finding favorite blogs that hadn’t already received this award, so again, I’m only choosing these fab five for the Versatile Blogger Award: Becca Weston of Peculiar Light, Lisa the Word Nerd, Stephanie Carmichael of Misprinted Pages, Jo Hart of The Graceful Doe, and Leila Gaskin of Write Am I.

I thought I’d leave you with a catchy pop song from the eighties to reflect my mood. This song always reminds me of my best friend, David, whom I would nominate a thousand times over, if only he had a blog. Once this song gets into your brain, you have to extract it with lasers. Love the awful eighties styles in this video, and you’d think a song about sunshine wouldn’t be shot on a chilly, overcast England day, but maybe they were trying to be ironic.

Have a Sunshiny day filled with Versatility!