Archive | January, 2016

Library Writers’ Group: Blog Writing

28 Jan

My library’s writers group has taken a change in direction. With our lead librarian finding a full-time job at another library (yay Amy!), we’ve turned to a member-run group. I volunteered to run the first meeting and I felt it was appropriate to talk about something I know well; blogging! Here’s a short summary of what I talked about. This is all personal advice so if you’ve heard something else or disagree, please share your thoughts in the comments for others to explore.

I think it’s important to pick a topic for your blog and stick to it. If your blog is about traveling, you shouldn’t have recipes that you didn’t pick up while traveling or review books that aren’t about traveling. If you’re writing about music, your blog isn’t a good place for a religious discussion. Stick with one post. Those that follow you share the interest your blog covers and they could be dissuaded by your other interests.

Don’t worry too much about your layout unless you’re a pro. On mobile devices and blog rolls, the layout doesn’t matter as much anyway. Most blogs go to a single format. WordPress and (I’m told) Blogger offer templates. These are safe and you can stick with one and not sweat it.

Posting on a regular schedule is a great way to stay consistent. I post Monday through Thursday and I’ve done this for almost a year now. I write my posts over a week ahead of time (except WWW Wednesday) and hold myself accountable to the schedule. It also allows my followers to know when new content will be posted. I try to keep the posts I put up to a few types: book reviews, book club reflections, book/movie reviews, writing group summaries, statuses on my writing journey, WWW Wednesday, and challenge updates. You won’t find too may posts on this site outside of these categories.

Memes, awards, and challenges are a great way to start your blogging platform and to continue growing it. Jumping into an already established meme gives you a way to join an established community and hopefully meet like-minded bloggers who share your passions. Your participation in these will likely change over time as you begin to post more original content and you might find yourself hosting some of these.

when are you reading 2016 finalOriginal images are a great way to brand your blog. Make sure they have no content that someone else could claim such as a picture of a celebrity or a book cover. An original image is completely owned by you, either created or photographed. I’ve put my 2016 When Are You Reading image here as an example.

I believe very strongly in comment management. If you take the time to read my post and write a comment, you deserve a response or acknowledgment of your comment. I try to respond to all comments within twelve hours. If  you don’t care what others have to say about what you post, why do you have a blog? Write in a journal if you don’t want to share it.

There is such as thing as ‘shameful self-promotion.’ Posting your links in unrelated posts is spam, don’t do it! Promote yourself in an organic way. If you wrote a similar post to the one you read, leave a comment and a link. You can leave a comment with no link and it’s likely others will explore your site. Promote yourself by being active in the community and interacting with other bloggers.

Social media can be very powerful. At the end of every post, I give you six ways to contact me: Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Most of these accounts I use personally and for my blog; Facebook is the exception. Know that there will be bloggers who want to follow you in these mediums and decide which ones you’re comfortable sharing and which you want to keep private. Continue interactions on these other platforms when you can. Connect with other bloggers on them. If you don’t want to, leave your email and nothing else. Again, it’s all about connecting.

So there’s my blogging advice. Not a lot of it is about writing, but it will set you up for a good way to start a blog which is all writing. If you disagree with me or have something to add, please leave a comment so others can hear your advice. I’d love to learn even more.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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WWW Wednesday, 27-January-2016

27 Jan

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


BellwetherCurrently reading:  A lot of changes this week! I’m super close to the ending of Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson. I’m on the last disk and I’m tempted to sit in my car for a while just to finish it!
I grabbed a new audiobook this week, Bellwether by Connie Willis. I read Willis’s novel The Doomsday Book a while back and another blogger (and I, unfortunately, do not remember who) recommended this novella. It’s a short one, only five hours on audio, and I’m looking forward to it.
I’m finally picking up Harry Potter y el misterio del príncipe (Half-Blood Prince) by J.K. Rowling. This will be my Spanish language book for the year and I’ll come and go with it for a while so I’m expecting this book to be on here long-term.
I picked up a new ebook as well. I decided on Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. It’s another classic book I’ve never read and I’m in the mood for a few more before I get over this kick.

A Darker Shade final for IreneRecently finished: Such a good week for finishing books! I finished A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab while cooking and working out early this week. I liked it a lot and I’m not on the bandwagon of those excited about the sequel. Turns out Schwab was in Michigan over the weekend for a con and my friend Rachel met her. Lucky girl.
It was a big push and I feel asleep once or twice in the process, but I finished One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez! My book club met on it on Monday so I cut it close. Phew.
I bunkered down on Sunday and finished Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. I might have avoided some blog writing and chores, but it was totally worth it! I was never a slash fangirl, but I still enjoyed the story and know it must have made a lot of other Fangirls really excited.

ShanghaiReading Next: Hm, not anything major lined up now. I’ll probably be starting Shanghai Girls by Lisa See not too long from now. My book club is reading this for March so I’ll pick it up in the middle of April. See is coming to Detroit and I’m excited to meet her!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Published: My Most Memorable Door by Sam A. Stevens

26 Jan

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you might have seen this announcement on Saturday:

Yeah, that really happened! My husband came home while I was doing situps and told me I had a package from The MacGuffin. It’s been almost a year since I submitted to the magazine and the publication of this issue was four months delayed so FINALLY is appropriate.

And if you follow me on Facebook, you probably saw this slightly more planned post a little while later:

Doesn’t it look beautiful?

This has been a long time coming. I have a folder filled with drafts of this story. The oldest date I can find is April 2014 but my records tracking shows I started submitting it in January 2014, two years ago! I submitted it to a total of 14 literary magazines and had to withdraw it from four of those when The MacGuffin accepted me. They responded on May 1st 2015 and I’m just now seeing my name in print. It’s been a long journey.

I’m learning not to give up on the long game and the investment in writing. It will take a lot of work and a lot of drafts you should see how thick the folder is for this story). But this feeling is incredible. Nothing feels better than this. Nothing.

If you want to read it for yourself, you can order a copy from The MacGuffin website. Be sure to get the Fall 2015 edition.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Club Reflection: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

25 Jan

I’m excited to share my second post about Great Michigan Reads selection, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. I’ve previously posted a book review you can read here. This was one of my top books of 2015 and if you haven’t picked it up yet, I really highly recommend it. You can follow along with the posts I have forthcoming (at least two more).

Emily St. John Mandel Image via Michigan Radio

Emily St. John Mandel
Image via Michigan Radio

Emily St. John Mandel was born in British Columbia and studied dance in school. I liked that the story focused a lot in her native country, Canada, and not in her current place of residence, the United States. She was homeschooled as a child and every day had to write a story or poem which helped fuel her love for writing. She currently lives in New York and in the opinion of my book club, she looks a lot like Anne Hathaway.

Jeevan had an interesting role in the book, being at the beginning and appearing throughout. Whatever his role was, he was anonymous or unknown to the characters he was interacting with. He was ‘the paramedic in the crowd,’ ‘the paparazzo,’ ‘the doctor.’ His brother and later his wife knew him well, but the main characters in the story were always removed from him, like he was there to help but never to participate fully.

By the end, he’d found his purpose and calling in the medical field. Finding a purpose was important in the story. Arthur never found his. He was always acting, even in front of his good friend, Clark, and his wives. He tried to be close with his son, but it never worked out. The symphony, on the other hand, had found their purpose in performance. For them, surviving wasn’t enough. They needed something else to keep them going, to help them feel connected to humanity. Art and performance was their purpose, something Arthur never seemed to find.

We had hoped Miranda would make it back to North America. She was describing the boats in the water that would have been isolated with no contact to the outside world and the virus. She could have been safe if she’d made it to those boats and sailed away. On the last pages, Clark mentions ships sailing out in search of other humans. We thought that would be Miranda. Kirsten is a lot like an heir to her because she has the comic books and the paper weights and it would have been really cool to have them know about each other.

The comic was an unusual way to tie the characters together and parallel the main plot at the same time. The comic characters want to return to what they knew before their world was destroyed which is the goal of many of the inhabitants of Year 20. With the two copies in the world, Tyler and Kirsten take them and interpret them completely differently. This isn’t so different from how religious works are interpreted in different ways by individuals or sects. Having them come together at the end and fight was a really cool way to see what determination and the passage of time did to Tyler to make him into the Prophet and how it helped keep Kirsten grounded.

The tagline ‘Survival is Insufficient’ permeated Kirsten and the novel. Books could have survived in libraries, but music would have been lost. No radio and no way to play recorded music erases all the history of music but having survival as a main priority almost completely wiped out the players. The symphony must have been one of a kind. The people who came to hear them probably hadn’t heard music in years besides what they could sing themselves.

One of our members lived in a small, remote town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for a few years and she told us about groups performing opera, ballet, bluegrass and other mediums that would come to town and be attended by everyone in town. There wasn’t a lot to do for culture and arts so when the opportunity presented itself, the whole town grabbed it and took advantage of the time. The Traveling Symphony would have attracted crowds in much the same way for a long time. It’s similar to when traveling circuses would roll into town and attract crowds.

We questioned why Shakespeare was performed. Other than the tie-in Shakespeare has with the plague in Europe, they’re well-surviving plays that can be performed without technology. In Shakespeare’s time, there wasn’t lighting and special effects and sets like you’d see in 2016. They could be performed with simpler techniques which the magicians knew how to do. Plus, there would have been plenty of copies available at abandoned schools and libraries and people would be familiar with the topics. The culture had started to evolve to a point where some were ready to start creating their own art as demonstrated by the Clarinet writing her own play. Their way of life was stable enough to start making something of their own.

Would the remote societies of Mandel’s world have been as impacted? Would the small towns with limited access to major towns have been hit by the illness? How self-sustaining could they have been and could they still be there? Small island nations might not have been touched at all and indigenous people might not have noticed. We tend to think of society as those who are connected but there is still a large group of people who would have been less impacted and could still be living a similar to what they had before the flu.

The flu gave humanity to start the world over. We could have stopped the evil and violence that had become engrained in societal dynamics but it was still there. Good and evil would not go away, it’s something that we can’t wash out of human nature. There is a shame and a pride in the tattoos Kirsten has on her wrists. She doesn’t want to talk about those she’s killed, but she feels a need to recognize that it’s happened. There’s an organization to the society that could not be escaped. People still form into groups and cities.

We were left hanging at the end. So many of our group wanted them to go on to the city with electricity. One member predicted that they would go, perform, and leave the city. They did just fine without lights and their purpose was to perform so staying did no good. As of now, I can’t find any Station Eleven on Fanfiction.net, but I’m sure someone is writing it somewhere.

I’m looking forward to another discussion on this book in late February. Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Sunshine Blogger Award

21 Jan

I’ve been very fortunate over the past few months to be grace with a few different blog awards. Thank you all for letting me know you appreciate my blog, it’s very humbling. The first award I received was the Sunshine Blogger award from Rabbit Ears Production Blog. I’ve never received this award before and I’m very humbled. The second is The One Lovely Blog award from Alicia at The Cyborg Knight. I’ve received this one before so I’ll list the facts, but will not be nominating new winners.

I’ll start with the One Lovely Blog award. Here are the rules:

LovelyBlog

  • Thank the person who nominated you and included a link to their blog
  • List the rules and display the award
  • List 7 facts about yourself
  • Nominate 7 other bloggers and let them know they have been nominated.

Seven facts about me:

  1. I graduated with a degree in Spanish. I try to read books in Spanish and watch movies in Spanish whenever I can because I don’t use it very often and I’m afraid I’ll lose the skill.
  2. I’m currently enrolled in an MBA program in Human Resources. I love it.
  3. I have two pet turtles, Marty and Jane. They don’t get along well because Marty bites.
  4. I’m a triathlete. I’m recovering from tendonitis now with a coach to help me, but I plan to compete again this summer.
  5. I’m afraid of feet. I think they’re absolutely disgusting and I change my socks whenever possible.
  6. My mom and I work in the same office. I love seeing her every day.
  7. I’m going to Florida next month only because I want to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I’m so excited to cross this off my bucket list.

Thanks again, Alicia!

The next award is the Sunshine Blogger award, which I’ve not received before. I’ve added the icon to my blog awards reel. Thanks so much again!

Sunshine

The Rules:

  • Thank the person/people who nominated you
  • Answer the questions from your nominators.
  • Nominate eleven other bloggers and give them eleven questions.

What’s your favorite underrated book?
There have been a few I liked that others didn’t enjoy. Most recently, I can think of the two Beryl Bainbridge books I’ve read, The Girl in the Polka-dot Dress and Every Man for Himself.

What’s your favorite movie based off a book?
Harry Potter.

What do you like to eat or drink while you are reading?
I usually stick to tea though when my husband is out, I’ve been known to eat Kraft Mac & Cheese while reading.

Where do you like to read?
My favorite is in bed before going to sleep or when I wake up on the weekends.

When did you start your book blog?
I started in September 2013 and I haven’t stopped since.

What’s the scariest book you have ever read?
I read Josh Malerman’s Bird Box this October and it scare the pants off of me!

What’s the worst book you have ever read?
Many disagree but I absolutely hated Alice Hoffman’s The Ice Queen.

Have you heard of Rabbit Ears Productions before?
No, though I think you’ve participated in WWW Wednesday in the past.

What book would you like to read again?
I always love rereading Harry Potter.

Favorite childhood book?
Gosh, I didn’t reread a lot. I remember really enjoying Blueberries for Sal because I thought the bear was cute.

What other country do you want to travel to?
South Korea. I’d also like to go back to Scotland with my husband because it was a great place to travel and I think he would enjoy it.

So, time for me to nominate people. I’m going to base my nominations on those who are most active on my blog to thank them for networking with me. You all are nominated for both awards and can participate however you’d like to. I’m not going to nominate the full eleven so the six I have nominated should feel doubly special!

Makayla @ Random Reads
Yvo @ It’s All About Books
Michelle @ Sidereal Day
Claire @ Art and Soul
Emily @ A Keyboard and an Open Mind
Ali @ I Wuv Books

Their Questions:

  • What is the most recent book you read?
  • Why did you decide to follow my blog?
  • Do you write as well as read? What do you write?
  • Who inspired your love of reading?
  • Do you have a friend or group you talk about books with in person? Where did you find this group?
  • How many books did you read in 2015?
  • Do you have a favorite genre? Or do you prefer literary fiction?
  • How about historical fiction?
  • How many hours a week do you spend on your blog?
  • What’s your favorite part of blogging?
  • What can you reach out and touch now with your right hand?

Thanks again for the nominations and congrats to my nominees!

Until next time write on.

 

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 20-January-2016

20 Jan

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Carry OnCurrently reading:  I’ve tried to make progress with A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab while I’m cooking or working in my model, but it’s a slow process. I’ve got a lot of things I’m focusing on finishing before my semester starts in February and a lot of them aren’t mindless enough to listen to an audiobook. I’m still making forward progress, though!
I dedicated myself to One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and the results were okay. I didn’t get to the end, but I made some headway. I’m hopeful I can finish this before the book club discussion but I’m not sure how much prep I’ll be able to do for the discussion.
I’ve gotten past the torpedo in Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson and I’m looking forward to getting to the end! Larson always writes an amazing book and I’m loving this one a lot so far.
I found a new eBook and I’m really excited about it! I was checking back through my TBR to see if there were library eBooks for anything on there and I found the eBook for Carry On by Rainbow Rowell was available! I’m just getting into it but I’m hopeful I’ll fly through it!

Recently finished: Nothing this week. I have a suspicion this section will be full of books in a week or two as they all seem to be getting close to the end.

I’ve managed to get two reviews up this week. The first is Yes Please by Amy Poehler which I gave Three out of Five stars.
The second is I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai. This book was well done and I gave it Four out of Five stars.

PrincipeReading Next: I’m waiting to pick up Harry Potter y el misterio del príncipe (Half-Blood Prince) by J.K. Rowling as soon as I finish Marquez. It’s taunting me on my bedside. I miss Harry and I really want to read this soon.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Submitting Again

19 Jan

I’m so excited to announce that I’ve started submitting to lit mags again! I finished up a short story last week and I’ve sent it out to three different literary magazines and I hope to send it to a few more. It’s been a year since I submitted my last piece which should be published very soon. (There will be a post when that happens, no worries!)

I’m excited about this piece. I’ve had a lot of people look at it and I’ve made a lot of changes since it was conceived and I think its message comes across now. It was a piece I wanted to say something with and I hope I’ve said it. I hope.

Anyway, get ready for more post about dealing with rejection! It’s that time for me again. I’ll keep submitting to new magazines when I have time. The more eyes that see it, the more likely I’ll get some solid feedback or that someone else will like it. I’m being hopeful, it probably needs another round of revisions.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (4/5)

18 Jan

I hadn’t heard about Malala Yousafzai until I saw her interview with Jon Stewart on the Daily Show just after her book came out. I’ve put the interview below because it still brings a tear to my eye. What a wonderful and powerful woman. She accomplished things before her 16th birthday that many will never accomplish in their lives. I’ve put the video below so you can see what I mean.

MalalaI Am Malala: The story of the girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

Summary from Goodreads:

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.

Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

I’m glad Malala was able to write her story in her own words. I’m sure that after winning the Nobel Peace Prize, there were a lot of people who wanted to write the story for her. Christina Lamb did a great job of helping Malala’s voice come out and deliver a comprehensive memoir. Malala gives us stories of her friends and family that make this book deeply personal. She’s used stories from her doctors and family to illustrate her recovery and the political history that’s presented in the story is well researched and explained simply. You don’t need a Ph.D. to understand what’s gone wrong in Swat Valley, you only need it to be explained to you by someone like Malala who lived through it. I was very touched by Malala’s love of education.

Malala had very fair depictions of the leaders, Talibs, and people of her life. She was very kind when speaking about her teachers and doctors and I felt the way she described the army and Taliban were very fair. She didn’t say they were devils  (thought it was implied sometimes) but explained their influence and why their ideas were so off base with Islam. I was amazed when reading the authors note at the end how many famous politicians and celebrities had helped her along the way and how grounded she still is.

Malala’s father is an incredible man. He saw a lot of himself in his daughter and empowered her to be as active and outspoken as he was. His encouragement is the single thing that made her as strong as she is, I have no doubt. In the face of threats, he still spoke out and encouraged his daughter to join him. He loved and respected his daughter when his culture told him sons were the ones to encourage and be proud of.

I’m glad to say that it was hard to relate to Malala’s story. I’m glad that my freedoms and access to education have not been challenged the way the girls of Swat have had theirs challenged. I think a lot of the Western fascination with her story comes from this. It’s hard to imagine being denied the right to go to school. Children in the United States don’t want to go to school because they have to. My teacher husband would definitely agree with me there. But what if that requirement was no longer a right of the American children? Would someone speak up the way Malala has? I honestly don’t know, but I would hope so.

The stories Malala told about her friends at school helped me connect with her the most. She has a best friend that she fights with and reconciles with often, she has to study hard to get good grades and she’s competitive with her friends and herself. Her school life of eating with friends and dreading exams was the most relatable. Not being able to go off the premises to buy snacks and having teachers leave to work with the Taliban were not.

Some of the political parts were hard to follow. I don’t know my Pakistani history or politics very well and the names of several leaders were brought up once or twice and then dropped or not mentioned again for fifty pages, which made it hard to identify them. This is a small complaint of a very well written book.

There is no age at which your voice suddenly becomes meaningful. If you have something to say, it’s always worth hearing. Malala started to speak out when she was very young and people listened. They didn’t discredit her because she was 13. Children have the power to shape the future if they will only speak out. I think Malala is an incredible example of how strong the voice of a child can be.

Writer’s Takeaway: Because of the ghosting writing of Christina Lamb, it’s hard to say what comes from Malala’s mouth and what was changed by Lamb. I think the juxtaposition of Pakistani politics and friend politics at school was great. There might be a fight between Malala and Moniba, but it will always be resolved. The Pakistani politics don’t always end the same way. If we loved all of those around us like friends, would things resolve faster? Malala’s answer for peace in the Middle East is simple yet huge: education for every boy and girl. If only it were that easy.

I really enjoyed this book and the message it carried. Four out of Five stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
151. I Am Malala- Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb | thebookheap
Book Review: I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb | MetroGirl
Book Review of I am Malala | WellofLostPlots

Book Review: Yes Please by Amy Poehler (3/5)

14 Jan

The last book I received from the Ford Audiobook Club was Amy Poehler’s Yes Please. I’d thought about reading this one and a free copy was a great way to get me to take the plunge. I’ve read Tina Fey’s Bossypants and loved it so I was excited about Amy’s book. My husband and I were unable to get a library book for our Christmas and New Years drives, so picking this one worked great.

Cover image via Goodreads

Cover image via Goodreads

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Summary from Goodreads:

In Amy Poehler’s highly anticipated first book, Yes Please, she offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice (some useful, some not so much), like when to be funny and when to be serious. Powered by Amy’s charming and hilarious, biting yet wise voice, Yes Please is a book full of words to live by.

It must be really hard to be famous, and I don’t mean that sarcastically. The Amy Poehler I’m most familiar with is Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation though the many-faced actress from SNL is another one I love. I don’t know the Amy who divorced Will Arnett or that struggled to make it in Chicago while waitressing. What we see of famous people is the rosy side of them that they want us to see. Amy’s book showed me the dirtier side as well. She wasn’t afraid to give her readers a look at her low moments (divorce, drug use, delayed apologies) or shift the focus away from herself, normally to other SNL cast members. I guess I wanted Poehler to be a bit more empowering than she was or talk more about Parks and Rec, but it’s not my book. It was funny at times and a good memoir, but honestly, it wasn’t my favorite.

Amy was very honest about everything she wrote about, maybe a little too honest. But it was refreshing. I’ve read a few memoirs where it feels like the main character is leaving something out that he or she is trying to hide while being open about everything else. The only thing Poehler didn’t get into was her divorce from Will Arnett, but I felt that was appropriate. It’s part of Will’s privacy as much as hers. The book wasn’t a platform for her to air her dirty laundry and I appreciate that she didn’t treat it that way.

Amy was easy to relate to. She grew up in a working-class family and the way she recalled her childhood reminded me of mine. She had supportive parents though I don’t think mine would have supported me moving to Chicago to try to get work acting. She has great friends who love and support her. I was surprised how close she is with Seth Meyers but I think SNL would be an experience that brings people together. She was very honest about things she loves (her kids, the moon, her parents) and how she feels about being where she is now. She worked hard to get where she is today and while she doesn’t demand that others respect her for it, she’s not going to let anyone ride her coattails to the top. She believes you have to work hard to get what you want, just like she did.

Amy Poehler Image via OK Magazine

Amy Poehler
Image via OK Magazine

The stories about Amy’s kids touched me the most. So often, I feel that a celebrity’s life takes a back seat to his or her career but Amy made a point of her kids coming first in her life. With her and Will’s busy schedules, I’m sure this isn’t easy, but she made it seem that spending quality time with them doing uniquely mother/son things was a priority and I appreciated that. She always commented on her famous friends relationships with their spouses and children and I liked that a lot. It made her seem very normal.

I didn’t think I’d say this, but my least favorite part of the book was the chapter Amy used to talk about Tina Fey. The media always puts the two together because they both came from Second City, had massive careers on SNL, and have been successful since, but I get the impression they have other friends that mean more in their lives and the sentiments seemed forced. I believed her remarks about Louis CK a lot more than the acrostic poem to Tina Fey.

Having Poehler read her own book aloud was a great touch. There were bits that I’m sure didn’t make the book such as her banter with Seth Meyers and the asides while she read the final chapter in front of an audience. I’m not sure her tone and inflection would have come across in words alone and I think a lot of Poehler’s humor is in the delivery. I’m glad I experienced the book this way.

One of the mantra’s Poehler repeated was “Good for you, not for me” and that was one I could take a lot away from. We don’t have to imitate another person because what they did is worthy of praise and recognition. That’s their thing and my thing can be different. Home birth worked for Maya Rudolph, Amy needed drugs and a hospital. I’m not very good at this mantra. When I see someone do something and I respect it or think it looks cool. I want to do that thing, too. I need to remember to do things for myself and not for the fictional person I could be.

Writer’s Takeaway: Amy’s honesty is admirable. I sometimes feel people hold back and wonder what those who know them personally will think of the memoir. Amy, on the other hand, talks about her favorite kinds of porn and the drugs she’s taken. No smoke and mirrors here! I think those that prepare to write a memoir need to be real with themselves about what is going to need to come out in the story. If you don’t need to write about the time you were in college or the years you did questionable things, that’s great, but don’t skip something important because it’s embarrassing. Tell the whole truth like Amy did.

Fun and funny but not as much of either as I would have liked. Three out of Five stars.

Because it’s my frist book of the year, this book fulfilled the ‘2000-Present’ time period in the When Are You Reading? Challenge. One down, eleven to go!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Review: Yes Please | The Literary Omnivore
Yes Please by Amy Poehler | Coven Book Club

WWW Wednesday, 13-January-2016

13 Jan

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


A Darker Shade final for IreneCurrently reading:  I haven’t had much time for A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab but I’m still enjoying the story. The main action is just starting and Kell and Lila just got to Red London together. I can tell it’s about to pick up quickly.
Again, small progress One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I’m not really getting into this one which is unfortunate because it’s keeping me from the books I want to read after it. I just need to power through but then I have to find the time! Ugh.
Decent progress with Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson due to errands and going out with my girlfriends a few times this week. I can feel the attack coming and I’m super anxious about it. I don’t know as much about this wreck as I do others so I’m not completely sure how devastating it will be.

MalalaRecently finished: I was able to finish I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai faster than I thought. The last 40 pages were a reader’s guide and some pictures which I skipped and flew through respectfully. I liked Malala’s words to describe the situation in Pakistan. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. Look for a review early next week.

I posted a review for David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas last Thursday. I’m glad that one is finally over! It’s been hanging over my head for months.

TruthBeautyReading Next: Still  Harry Potter y el misterio del príncipe (Half-Blood Prince) by J.K. Rowling. As soon as I get through Marquez, I can’t wait to pick this up. I feel like I’m losing my Spanish a bit so reading it will help me with that. I hope.
I need a new ebook now that I’m done with Malala. I put holds on a few titles but I’m hoping the one that comes up next is Truth and Beauty by Anne Patchett. Someone recommended this title to me when I was talking about how much I love writer memoirs so I’m excited to read it.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!