When I was six years old, my family moved to a house that was very close to a public library. I couldn’t wait to get over to the large, gothic looking building to apply for my new library card. Every time I went to the library, I would check out five books, which was my limit. I was always so excited that I would run home and take the books to my bedroom. Not knowing which book to start reading, I would pick up each book and read the first chapter of the book. Sometimes I would continue taking turns with the books, but other times one book would become so interesting to me that I would have to stick with that one until I was totally finished reading it and then go back to the others. This book ritual continued on during my entire childhood. It didn’t matter what in the world was going on outside my bedroom door, because in my room I was flying high on broomsticks with witches, standing next to Martians exploring Earth, or helping Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys solve mysteries. As an adult, I found that I didn’t want to just read the books, I wanted to own them. A number of book titles were always added to my wish list every year for Christmas presents from family and friends. However, my Christmas wish list didn’t contain any books at all for three years, beginning in 2013.
In November of 2013, I completed writing a young adult novel entitled “COOPED UP: A Factory Farm Novel”. The day I finished writing the novel was one of the happiest days of my entire life. I mailed my manuscript off to an editor friend who had offered to edit the book for me. Just a couple of weeks later, on the day before Thanksgiving in 2013, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, which involved major surgery and three rounds of chemo. It was a few months after surgery before I felt like reading a book. Just as I did when I was a child, I checked out a few books from the library, digital copies this time, and I read the first chapter of each book. Unlike when I was a child, I didn’t seem to become interested enough in any of the books to complete them. Being an avid reader, this just about broke my heart. After about six months of this, I found that I could actually finish reading a book if I thought it was truly one of the best books ever written. So, my reading was sporadic to say the least. I had somehow managed to get my book formatted and self-published on Amazon in April of 2014. The novel was supposed to be the first in a series about factory farm animals, but as with reading, I found it very hard to concentrate on writing. I wrote an outline and put it down for a couple of weeks. When I went back to it and read it, I said to myself, “This is crap!” and threw it away. I wrote a prologue for the second story, with the same result. I was totally miserable. My oncologist told me that my problems were probably due to chemo brain, which is a very real thing. She told me that it might eventually get better.
In July of 2015, my novel received a B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Award. I was very proud to receive the award, but I was still pretty much in my reading and writing fog. Over the next seven or eight months, I received several emails from Geri, the President of Bragmedallion.com saying that they were looking for new readers to join them. I totally ignored those emails, until one day a light went on. It dawned on me that during my entire life, if I was given a job to do I always did it the very best that I could, whether it was sweeping the floor, writing a computer program, or anything in between. What if, I said to myself, just what if I looked at being a reader for Geri as a job? Could I then start finishing every book I started? The answer to that? Yes, I could! I started reading and reviewing books in March of this year. I have finished every book that I started and almost every one of them have been excellent reads. At first, I treated it as my “job”, but it is no longer a job. It is one of the joys of my life. A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that I had a pile of five books waiting for me to read. These were not Brag Medallion nominee books, but other books that I had purchased and put aside to read when I had time. I wrote to Geri and told her that I would like to take a break for a couple of weeks to read these other books. With her blessing, I went to my room, read the first chapter of each book, and chose the one I wanted to read first. My life had come back to me.
I’m very happy to say that there are plenty of books on my Christmas wish list this year, but I am also looking forward to reading and reviewing many more books that are nominees for the B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Award.