janet-riehl21Janet is one of those wonderful occurrences of the 21st century—an internet friend. Her blog, Riehl Life, continually demonstrates a love of life’s gifts.  And Janet has a gift of her own:  a talent for poetry and ear for music. 

I’ve invited Janet here to talk about the two projects in The Sightlines Collection: her book Sightlines: a Poet’s Diary and now a new CD, Sightlines: A Family Love Story in Poetry and Music, which brings in  music by her 93-year-old  father along with his family stories and banter at the recording session in his parlor.

So here’s Janet—

Molly:  Janet, tell us what inspired you to produce The Sightlines Collection. 

Janet: It covered a three-and-a-half year period. After my sister died in a car crash in August 2004, I began commuting from Northern California back to SW Illinois to our family homeplace. My father and I cared for my mother there. It was a hard time. But, out of the truth I found there, I wrote Sightlines: A Poet’s Diary.

My birthday is at the end of the year. I went into a small retreat where I received a clear leading that I needed to listen to the truth and meaning of this period in my life…and write a book to help others. When I returned to my parents’ place after this, I began the book. It flowed out in the form of story poems. This was an easy and effective way to tell my story. This form also provided a good way to make the story accessible, even to readers who weren’t keen on poetry.

After its publication, I gave talks and workshops in the Midwest and West to get the word out. Folks told me that hearing me read these poems added so much meaning to them. Several people suggested that I record them. I’d had this in mind for several years, but didn’t know how to proceed. In Spring 2008 I’d planned to visit two of my closest blogging buddies in Nashville. Suddenly, it occurred to me that the time had come for me to make the audio book.

Indeed, it had! One of my buddies—Yvonne Perry—suggested Scott Kidd, her son-in-law as my sound engineer. Suddenly, we were on the way. The music was recorded in my father’s parlor, and I recorded the 90 poems in Scott’s home studio. It took us eight months to produce, but moved smoothly the whole way.

Molly: Any tips for our book club members?

Janet: Yes. When preparing for the book club, use the Sightlines Collection as a package. Read the book while listening to the audio book. Taking in the material through both your eyes and ears leads even more directly to your heart. At the meeting queue up tracks on the audio book to enhance and deepen your discussion.

 Molly:
Here are a few tips of my own:
1. First of all, to purchase Janet’s Sightlines (the print only version) go here:  iUniverse.  Buy the new CD version here:  CD Baby
2.  To learn more about Janet and her collection, check out our Reading Guide for Sightlines
3. Download the delicious  recipe for scrapple that Janet and her father have kindly provided.  It would be fun to serve at a meeting devoted to Sightlines.

re-reading_revisited2I did a post recently on the pleasures of re-reading. I want to add an addendum to that post (original post, June 21, 2009).

My friend, Randy Minnich, is a great re-reader…maybe obsessively so.  See what you think—he’s read Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings series . . . 20 times.  Actually, more like 22.

Of course, you’re wondering about the movie. What did he think of Peter Smith’s adaptation?  Couldn’t sit through it. It would have ruined an entire world of his private imagining, he told me. 

But wait… there’s more!  Randy’s also read Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander series, all 24 volumes . . . get this: 8 times.  (If you’re doing the math, it’s 192 books .)  Like Tolkein, this was done over a period of decades. 

Anyone top that? Randy was a research chemist. Does that explain it?  (Nah…don’t think.)

800Just to let everyone know…we’ve hit the 800 mark!  That’s the number of Reading Guides we have on our main website, LitLovers. 

We add new guides all the time, keeping track of titles book clubs want to read.  Many are added by request from our users.  So to the wonderful readers in our community of LitLovers—thank you!  With your help, we’ve built a terrific index.

I think our guides are the best—the most in-depth and thorough on the web.  Along with author bios and discussion questions, we include both negative and postive reveiws, not just promotional blurbs from publishers. If discussion questions aren’t available, we often develop our own set of  ”talking points” to help get discussions off the ground.

A search bar is next—a real grown-up search bar to make it easier to find the title and guide you’re looking for.

Anyway…1,000…here we come!

* As of this date, 11/1/2013, LitLovers has 2,200 Reading Guides!

 

library

Treat yourself to an evening out and head to your local library. After a rat-race kind of day, the peace and quiet a library offers is refreshing. 

Take a leisurely stroll through the stacks ... or browse through the periodicals … just spend some time exploring all the resources.  And if your library is like the one in my center city, there’s a cool cafe with terrific snacks, pastries, and sandwiches.

Go as a book club, or make it a couple's date—it’s an inexpensive night out. If you’re a parent, take the kids. If you’re single, where could you find a cozier spot to just hang-out?

I always come home feeling refreshed…and regenerated with new ideas for books and things to write about–like this blog post!

Oh, that’s one of the libraries I use pictured at the top—Pittsburgh’s Main Carnegie Library (Andrew was a Pittsburgh boy, just so you know).

radio micShort update—I’ve just received a terrific invitation to be a guest on a local NPR station in Hampton, Virginia.  We’ll be discussing book club issues—the how-tos of starting and running a club, and handling difficult issues. 

The show is HearSay with Cathy Lewis.  Maureen Corrigan will also be on, as well as Susan Coleman who is leading Virginia’s Big Read!  Call letters are WHRV 89.5 FM. 

Most of you won’t be within reach, but for those in Southeastern Virginia and Northeastern North Carolina…tune in on Thursday, September 3, 2009, from 12 noon to 1pm.

radio micApparently, I’ve got a good face for radio. Two days ago, I was on the air again, this time on Martha Stewart’s Living Radio—Sirius Radio/XM, the satellite radio.

No, it wasn’t Martha but instead two shock-jocks, Kim and Betsy, who banter their way through morning drive time.  They’re a hoot.  We talked about starting a book club, how to talk about a book, etc.—the usual book club stuff. Here’s the short version (6 min.):

makeovers1A real challenge for any author is the remaking of a classic story. The new novel might set the older work in the modern era (Hamlet Edgar Sawtelle). Or it might use the older novel as a starting point—for a sequel, or a retelling of the story from a different perspective (Wizard of Oz → Wicked).  Here’s what I’ve come up with so far...

Makeovers
Resetting a classic in the modern era

Anna Karenina .......... What Happened to Anna K by Irina Reyn
The Great Gatsby ...... Netherland by Joseph O’Neill
Hamlet ...................... The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David
                                    Wroblewski
The Illiad .................... The Human Stain by Philip Roth
Howard’s End ............ On Beauty by Zadie Smith
King Lear ................... A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
Mrs. Dalloway ........... The Hours by Michael Cunningham
The Odyssey ............. Ulysses by James Joyce
Pride & Prejudice ....... Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
Sense & Sensibility .... The Three Weissmanns of Westport (added: 1/2011)

Starting Points
Writing a sequel, ”prequel,” parody, or using a secondary character’s point of view.

A Christmas Carol  ...... Mr. Timothy by Louis Bayard
Dr. Jekyll &Mr. Hyde  ... Mary Reilly by Valerie Martin        
Gone With the Wind ..... Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley
Gone With the Wind ..... The Wind Done Gone by Alice Randall
Great Expectations ...... Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones
The Great Gatsby ........ The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian
The Great Gatsby ........ Jack Maggs by Peter Carey
Jane Eyre ................... The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Ryhs
Huckleberry Finn ......... Finn by Jon Clinch
King Arthur ................. The Mists of Avalon
Mansfield Park ............. Murder at Mansfield Park by Lynn Shepherd
Moby-Dick ................... Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund
Pride & Prejudice ......... Pemberley by Emma Tennant
Pride & Prejudice ......... Pride & Prejudice & Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith
Rebecca ...................... Mrs. DeWinter by Susan Hill
The Scarlet Letter ........ Angel and Apostle by Deborah Noyes
A Tale of Two Cities ..... A Far Better Rest by Susanne Alleyn
The Wizard of Oz ......... Wicked by Geoffrey MacGuire
Wuthering Heights ....... Heathcliff: The Return to Wuthering Heights by Lin Haire Sargeant

What have I missed?  Surely, there are more.

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