Sunday, October 19, 2014

Book Blog is Back!

My loyal readers may recall I used to post twice weekly: my typical Girl on a Wire brain droppings on Tuesdays and a book review, author interview, or other literary-related bit on Thursdays.  Through the miracle of Google analytics, I learned that pretty much no one was reading my book blog posts.  So I gave myself permission to take the summer off.  I mean, if nobody's reading the posts anyway, why the heck not, right?  I did lots of reading, a little bit of writing, and rethought my approach to book blog.   

I am a natural storyteller.  I find the thread of narrative in just about everything in life.  And one of the beautiful things that's happened in my life thanks to social media is that I have been able to connect and share with other storytellers, including the authors of books I've really enjoyed.  So I'm bringing the book blog back with a twist - I'm inviting authors whose work I've enjoyed to share a story about the books that had a significant impact on their lives.  (I'll also post book blog on Sundays instead of Thursdays, because who the hell has time to read anything on a Thursday?)

Kicking things off today is Karen E. Martin, author of the hilarious, sexy novel Modogamous.

Here she is, in her own words:

A book that had a major impact on my life…wow, that’s a tough one. This is probably going to sound absolutely geeky, but the book that has probably had the most useful effect on my life is “What Color is Your Parachute?” and its companion workbook—both of which are still on my display bookshelf, a collection of fewer than 200 go-to titles that I keep on hand to loan out and for guests to browse.

So yeah. Why this book? Well, we didn’t have much in the way of career counseling at my high school, so when I got to college, I just picked a major that I thought I’d like—journalism. I ended up hating it. Sure, it was writing (which I love), but it grated on me to write about topics that I was assigned, rather than about what really interested me. I switched over to a double-major that I loved, English Literature and International Studies, hoping that with two such broad fields that I would eventually find some kind of employment that made sense and that I would enjoy.

That’s where WCIYP entered into the picture. Not only did it explain the world of work to me, but the workbook helped me pinpoint and prioritize both my skills and my true desires—not the things I thought I was supposed to want, but the things I actually wanted from life.

I discovered that the thing I most yearned for in my career (at that time) was not the job itself, but the setting:  I wanted to be overseas. I’m sure I knew that deep-down all along.  I’d spent a lifetime reading about other countries and daydreaming about joining the Peace Corps and jetting off to a little village in Africa somewhere, but seeing it on paper made me realize that I would never be happy unless I made it a reality. WCIYP forced me to take a cold, hard look at my dreams and decide whether I was going to commit to them (to hell with the naysayers!), or whether I was going to meekly give those dreams up and half-heartedly do what all the “normal people” were doing with their lives. The answer was right there on paper. In my own hand.

And I couldn’t turn my back on myself.

Luckily, following my gut on majors had been the right choice, as my college education was tailor-made for becoming an English teacher overseas. My first trip overseas was to study abroad in Bath, England, and eventually, I did go on to become that African Peace Corps volunteer, living in a tiny oasis town on the edge of the Sahara desert. That was just the beginning.

As my career continued to bloom, I found myself returning to WCIYP whenever I wasn’t sure what step to take next. I would rework the prioritizing charts, and often found that new interests and skills were now taking precedence in my life. The book always helped me to refocus and let go of old ideas, making way for growth and change—even giving me a needed boost of courage when I was ready to embark on a new path. In fact, I still return to the book every few years to reread notes from “the old Karen” to see whether I’m still the same person, and whether I need to make a few changes to my current world of work. WCIYP has seen me through a myriad of career changes: teacher, trainer, school director, desk editor at a publishing house, and now, as a freelance writer. And I still find it relevant and useful.

After more than 20 years of using the book, that’s probably about the highest praise I can give.

You can connect with Karen E. Martin via Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, or on her blog about writing, publishing, and literature.

Or just check out Modogamous - a funny, sexy read:

Kate Adams has a steady job, a home she loves in the big city, and good friends who always keep her laughing. Everything is going great—until the night she crosses the line with her best friend Mitch, and the boundaries between friendship and love begin to blur. Things get even more complicated when hunky JP enters the scene. Add to the mix a spunky little pug, and things start to get crazy!

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