Friday, October 27, 2017

Turn the Page



Over the past few months, I’ve been spending a lot of time in libraries.

I remain in awe of the architecture, particularly in an older structure. I enjoy the helpful attitude and enthusiasm of the librarians—I mean, why wouldn’t they be enthused? They have the best job ever! And then, there’s the books. Oh, the shelves and shelves of books—a free bounty for our browsing and borrowing.

Several months ago, someone asked me about the books and authors who most influenced me as a writer. I named several, with ease: those that awakened the fledgling writer in me as an eight year old girl as well as the fiction writers, memoirists, and humor essayists who still inspire me now.

Yet this also prompted me to recall those books that first made me a reader, too: picture books, paperbacks ordered through my grade school Scholastic flyers, and early chapter books.

I remembered, particularly, a single moment of raw reader excitement. I was six or so, newly able to tackle an early reader independently. On one of my weekly trips with my mother to the library, I checked out a book at the librarian’s suggestion. When we returned the following week, I told the librarian how very, very much I loved it.

She walked with me to the children’s section and pointed to a shelf. Waving her hand, she noted that it was just one of an entire series by the same author. I stared, wide-eyed, at a dozen or so books lined up there, simply waiting for me to take them home and escape into their stories.

It may have been one of the most joyous moments of my life.

For months, I have tried to remember the name of the author or the title of the book series. I knew it was about a family with a last name beginning with B. That’s all I could recall. After all, I had been only six or seven the last time I read one. I searched online, but with little else to go on, it was a futile quest.

Last week, out of nowhere, it suddenly came to me.

I discovered the books were no longer in print, so I ordered a couple from an online used book site.

When they arrived in mail, I picked one up. I brushed my fingers over the pebbly hard cover. I opened it up and paged through. And then, I instinctively sniffed the pages.

Within seconds, the musty book smell returned me to my childhood library, 50 years ago.

When I was little, I believed the library was the most magical place in the world.

Some things never, ever change.

Is there any better smell than that of an old library book? What are your most beloved childhood books?

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Badasslands: You Have to Live It Every Day


Public speaking is among those life experiences that still remains outside my comfort zone.

As an author with a new book, I have to do it anyway. A lot.

Speaking at book events has proven simultaneously exciting and intimidating. Like any challenges in life, I find it becomes easier and more successful the more times I put myself out there. As I mention in my book, the anticipation of what we fear is generally far worse than the reality. So far, speaking at book events has definitely proven that to be true.

And book events are less painful and weigh FAR more on the amazingly fun side when a reader in the audience holds up a sign like this.

Speaking in front of a crowd? A yay or a nay for you?



Friday, September 29, 2017

Seeing the Light(s)

When I first envisioned what would become “Finding My Badass Self,” I mostly hoped it would push my personal boundaries and shake up my life. I never expected it might nudge others to venture outside their own comfort zones or change their life in any way.

As delighted as I am that my story has invoked a few chuckles, I am also pleased it has prompted readers to reconsider aspects of their own life and to open the door when the winds of change—or else a breeze of pure serendipity—comes knocking.

This review isn’t necessarily the highest praise the book has received. (Whodathunk I was so punny? Well, surely when I had a colonoscopy. You need to find some way to laugh at that shit. Oops. Touché.)

But the reviewer’s note about how my journey encouraged her one night to embark on an impromptu and rewarding adventure was incredibly heartwarming to hear. I hope, as she mentions, that she will indeed hold onto the book and open it back up 20-30 years down the road, when she may need a little adventure in her life.

And if an untimely opportunity like heading out to see the Northern Lights ever comes your way? I hope every one of you will follow her lead.

Adventures and fulfilling experiences arrive in all kinds of packages. And you never know exactly what gift you’ll receive—or how unexpectedly gratifying it may prove to be—unless you unwrap it.

http://foghornreview.com/finding-my-badass-self/

When's the last time you did something for the first time--especially when you were inclined NOT to?

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Lights, Camera, Anxiety

I've been a bit occupied with book promotion, and it appears this includes public speaking--and even TV.

Ugh.

But I'm pretty sure I heard somewhere that it's good to go outside your comfort zone...

Like most things, the anticipation has been worse than the reality. And my latest TV appearance at least went better than the time I ended up on 20/20 in a segment called "The Moochers."

You can watch it here.



What happened the last time you faced your fears--or faced a TV camera?

Monday, August 21, 2017

Cowgirl in the Stand

Reason #819 why I don't believe in coincidence:

My book cover for "Finding My Badass Self" was designed in January, with the cowgirl artwork provided through a stock photo my publisher bought the rights to use.

Realizing that the cowgirl figurine was probably an old toy or statue, I set off on a mission to find one. I have been searching the Internet for over six months and have never found anything similar except that photo.

On Saturday, in the midst of my book launch event, an old high school friend posted a picture on Facebook of a toy her husband found at an antique store. She recognized it immediately--but she had no idea I had been looking for one for months.

She brought it to me yesterday.

Nope. No such thing as a coincidence.

What do you believe in? Fate? Karma? Coincidence? Or just dumb luck?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Happening Now!

Yowza!
 
It's been four years in the making, and today my private stash of "Finding My Badass Self" arrived one week early--just happening to fall on national #bookloversday
One badass day indeed!

And, be sure to check out my new website, at sherrystanfa-stanley.com to stay up to date on my upcoming events, published stories, and other news.

Hope to meet up with many of you soon. Thanks for following along!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Dream a Little Dream of You

A few folks have asked who I thought should play me--or with far greater interest, asked who should play my mother--in any movie or TV show based on my new book, Finding My Badass Self: A Year of Truths and Dares. (Have I mentioned the book is being released Aug. 15--in just two weeks?!)

Ahh, a movie or TV series. As if. But a girl can dream, yes?

The first time I was asked this, a couple years ago, I answered Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. (Sigh. Insert major Sad Face here.) Today, when pressed by a friend, I said Holly Hunter (or maybe Lauren Graham) for me and Bette Midler for my mother, Glo.

But of course. Why not?

So that begs the bigger question: In a film or show about YOUR life, who should play YOU?

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Heroes

As part of my book promotion, I was asked to list five authors or books that most influenced me or my writing. It proved to be a nearly impossible exercise, since I could name dozens.

But, when pressed, I finally came up with these:

NANCY DREW MYSTERY STORIES: When it came to female protagonists, Nancy Drew was surely the original badass. Independent, brilliant, and bold, she was everything my preadolescent self hoped to be. I started collecting the series when I was nine, and I gained a whole new appreciation for it decades later when I learned most early books were ghostwritten by a newspaper reporter named Millie Benson, who lived and continued to write--with not nearly the national fanfare she deserved--in my hometown of Toledo, Ohio.

THE OUTSIDERS (by S.E. Hinton): I first read The Outsiders when I was ten, and I went on to reread it at least 20 times. It was the single most influential book that inspired me to write. Her voice, her characters, and the story she wove still resonate with me, even as an adult reader. Connecting recently with the author on Twitter, and having her congratulate me on publishing Finding My Badass Self, was a teenage dream come true.

ERMA BOMBECK: Erma was one of the first female newspaper columnists to gain national exposure and respect, with writing that captured everyday family life in both a laughable and often poignant way. As I have come to discover through my involvement in the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, she also continues to inspire humor and human interest writers across the world.

NORA EPHRON: To this day, I believe no one can write books and screenplays portraying the humor, heart, and essence of being a contemporary woman like Nora could. She was the voice of the "everywoman."

CARRIE FISHER: While best known to many as Princess Leia, it was Carrie's writing that most endeared her to me. With honesty, self-deprecation, and razor-sharp wit--and always the perfect turn of phrase--Carrie's writing taught me that even the weirdest or most cringe-worthy topics and situations are fodder for introspection and humor. Damn, do I miss her.

Your turn: Favorite writers or influential books you'd like to share?