Monday, January 27, 2020

Authors Who Have Influenced My Writing


This week, I was considering the need to de-clutter my house. Closets, drawers, entire rooms...

I even told my husband that I might need to downsize my library. (Gasp! I know!)

I have hundreds of books. A couple thousand, probably. And I'm always up for acquiring a few more, so pausing to think about which books I could 'do without' had me puzzled. How could I part with these stories...these AUTHORS...who had meant so much to me?

Image result for LIttle House on the prairie books blue
Obviously these aren't mine, because these
are in much too nice a condition. :)

How could I give away my Little House on the Prairie books? My copy of paperbacks is tattered from being read so often. If I was ever to give them up, it would be because I received a hard cover set with dust jackets.

Laura Ingalls Wilder influenced my writing by showing me that a little girl who once lived in Kansas could grow up to be a writer.

Louis L'amour books You choose your title image 0
These are but a handful of L'Amour's many books.

What about my collection of Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour books? Could I shed a few of those? Um...no.

Louis L'Amour taught me about how to increase the tension in a story and never let up. Zane Grey taught me about description and about the "Code of the West" which is really just that right is right and wrong is wrong.

Image result for Dick Francis Books
One of the most respected mystery/thriller writers ever!
Then there are the two entire shelves of Dick Francis books. Dick Francis was a British steeplechase jockey-turned-author who wrote amazing mysteries. He became the benchmark for fast-paced, detailed, and high-stakes mystery fiction, and he won too many awards to list here.

Dick Francis taught me about the power of first-person writing, compelling looks into worlds not my own, and the art of the TWIST ending! He also broke into my sheltered little world and showed me that people live by codes other than my own. He broadened my horizons and my mind.

Image result for Essie Summers books collection
The author who as influenced me the most!
Then there is Essie Summers. Essie is the author who has influenced me the most. She was a minister's wife in New Zealand, and one of Mills & Boon/Harlequin's first Rock Star authors. She sold millions of books worldwide from 1957 to 1997. She wrote in one of the dedications of her books that she had ceased responding to each and every bit of fan mail sent her way, because she realized if she stopped, she would have time to write a whole extra book a year, and she thought her readers would prefer that. What a professional!

Essie taught me that romance doesn't have to be steamy scenes. That family connections in fiction and cross-over characters are very appealing in fiction. That a story's setting can become a character in and of itself. 

So, after perusing my bookshelves, I think I'll start the decluttering somewhere else. There's always the closet under the stairs, and that utensil drawer in the kitchen. :)

How about you? What authors have influenced you over the years? What are some books with which you could never willingly part?

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Now Evan has a new title, a manor house in shambles, and a stranger for a bride, all thrust upon him by a grateful ruler. What he doesn't have are all his memories. Traumatized as a result of his wounds and bravery on the battlefield, Evan knows there's something he can't quite remember. It's important, dangerous--and if he doesn't recall it in time, will jeopardize not only his marriage but someone's very life.
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Best-selling, award-winning author Erica Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. She’s a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota, and she is married to her total opposite and soul mate! When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks. You can connect with her at her website, www.ericavetsch.com where you can read about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her online at https://www.facebook.com/EricaVetschAuthor/ where she spends way too much time!

78 comments:

  1. Good morning, Erica. What a fascinating glimpse into your reading life.

    I'd have to give some thought to my older self influences, but the younger ones are easy:

    The Happy Hollisters (first and foremost because they made me a reader)
    Any book about horses
    Trixie Belden
    Nancy Drew
    The Hardy Boys

    As I got older, Mazo de la Roche's Jalna series.

    There are a couple of other teen series I'm drawing a blank on right now, and it's time for work. I look forward to coming back and seeing what others have listed.


    Happy Monday!

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    1. I liked Rosamund du Jardin and Betty Cavanna when I was a teen. My sister was a fan of Nancy Drew, but I much preferred Cherry Ames. :)

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    2. Yes, Rosamund du Jardin. I couldn't remember her full name earlier, but for sure. I loved those. I didn't have access to too many Cherry Ames books.

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    3. I still re-read Rosamund du Jardin and Janet Lambert from time to time. :)

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    4. Cate we had all the Happy Hollister books. My mom like...accidentally subscribed to them and then couldn't get it to stop. I didn't mind but she didn't like paying for them. We were huge library lurkers!!!

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    5. I met some of my best book friends at the library. :)

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  3. My love came of books started with favorite Golden books, then the Bobbsey Twins, on to Nancy Drew, my sisters copies of Little Women and Little Men, Christy, to now having books I can’t part with but I know I need to downsize. Have a blessed day.

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    1. Lucy, those are lovely books. My mom read the Bobbsey Twins to us when we were little!

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    2. It seemed like I'd read Bobbsey Twins for a long time before I realized there were two sets of twins. I just went with the little ones for some reason. Maybe if they'd called them the Bobbsey Twinses...or something.

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  4. Whoops! Let me try my comment again :) I love this post and all that you've learned from such different genres and authors. My mom gave me Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames when I was quite young and I learned to love mysteries. I moved on to Narnia and learned to love the imaginative stories of fantasy and fairy tales. Janette Oke and Grace Livingston Hill gave me a love for inspirational romance. And although I don't reread a lot of books, I pull out Rosamunde Pilcher's The Shell Seekers every couple of years because I love the sweeping family drama, the rich characters, and the descriptions of places I've never seen like Majorca, Scotland, and Cornwall.

    Thanks for reminding me why I love reading so much and I'll be interested to see what other people comment. Have a great day, everyone!

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    1. Hi, Glynis! Cherry Ames was GREAT, wasn't she? I loved Flight Nurse and Chief Nurse the best. :)

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    2. I at one time owned about one zillion Grace Livingstone Hill books. I still think of them sometimes. I loved her.

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    3. My favorite GLH books are Partners and The Christmas Bride. I was glad to hear that Barbour was reissuing her books.

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  5. Maud Hart Lovelace's "Betsy, Tacy and Tib" books influenced me because Betsy wanted to be a writer. Janette Oke influenced me that "clean" romance could exist, and Brock and Bodie Thoene influenced me that Christian writing could be more than a "clean read," that it could influence people toward the Light and dig deep into our souls. I also like Lauraine Snelling for character development and for how she portrayed Ingeborg's depression and recovery that first winter. That needed to be told and erased some of the stigma from nental illness.
    I need to downsize. Badly. We still have VCR tapes.
    May be back later,
    Kathy Bailey
    Wallowing in junk in New Hampshire

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    1. Ah, what to do with the dreaded VCR tapes? I know, right? I've got a box of them here too. Maybe they'll come back into vogue one day like vinyl records have recently? If so, we're sitting on a gold mine! :)

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    2. I found a library that took all my VCR tapes but I suspect she was just being polite. She'd probably tossed them out before I'd backed out of my parking space. Still, I felt better not having to do that myself.

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  6. I actually have gotten rid of books in the last few years. Even with a wall full of bookshelves, I just didn't have enough room. But I still have more than fit on my shelves. Might be time for new shelves! Since I have been following Seekerville, I have won lots of books that have been signed by the author, and I can't get rid of those!

    Books I tend to keep are the classics. I have all of Jane Austen's six novels, for example. Some books I read again from time to time, like Austen's Pride and Prejudice or Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Another classic favorite that I just finished reading again is Giants in the Earth by O.E. Rolvaag. Anybody who writes about the settling of the west needs to read that book. It really shows just how difficult it could be.

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    1. Sandy I should check that out, I've heard of it but never read it.

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    2. kaybee, you NEED to read Giants in the Earth! I read the book at least forty years ago, but some of those scenes are still fresh in my memory - as fresh as if I had read the book last month. Now THAT'S a writing skill I'd love to learn!

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    3. I agree, Jan. The physical descriptions of the sunsets and the snowstorms are such beautiful writing.

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    4. I'm going to have to take a look at Giants of the Earth. I don't know if I'e even heard of it before!

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    5. I looked up giants in the earth and it reminded me of Willa Cather's My Antonia.
      My fave Pioneer books is A Lantern in Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich. I dare you to read it and not cry like a baby.

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    6. It is very close to the perfect book and ranks as my top one or two of all time.

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    7. Six Horse Hitch is my favorite westward expansion book. Janice Holt Giles must have done a TON of research on the history of stage coaches to write that book.

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    8. Oh, yes, Six Horse Hitch was a favorite of mine for years!

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  7. I did get rid of some books earlier this year, but I put them in the church library so I could revisit them if I wanted to. Still, one small step...

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    1. LOL! That's a canny way to do it, gone but not gone far! :)

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    2. I sometimes donate books to the area libraries. I donate a copy of each of my books to our church library. Yes, I always hope the library puts them on the shelf instead of putting them on the 'discount books for sale' table.
      They do with mine, with the ones I donate, I don't want to look. But they do agree to not charge me for a library card, based on the donations.

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    3. You have to pay for your library card? Reason #5743 to move to Rochester. :) Free Library Cards!

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    4. Too far from my grandbabies. You might know what that feels like someday, Erica-girl!

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    5. Bring the grandbabies to Rochester! We'll get them some library cards! :)

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  8. Is this when I tell you about my collection of Laura Ingalls Wilder's books? hardcover? with dust jackets? and protected with mylar library covers?

    There is a definite advantage to working at a book store!

    We'll keep those books in the family...maybe I'll pass them on to a Drexler/Vetsch grandchild one day!

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    1. :D :D :D That would be the BEST!

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    2. I read Laura Ingalls Wilder aloud to my girls every winter for a decade.
      There was a time when they all called me MA! It got annoying.
      My 2nd daughter had a small toy dog (stuffed, not like a toy poodle) she named Jack and we go back and look at old pictures and Jack is in every one of them for years! So the Prairie Books run deep in the Nebraska soil.
      I've always wanted to go to Laura Ingalls Wilder's home in South Dakota. And I just keep NOT DOING IT!!!

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    3. If you're going to go to De Smet, let me know! I'll meet you there. I LOVED visiting De Smet, and I wasn't there nearly long enough. I actually broke a museum rule and TOUCHED the bureau that was made by Pa Ingalls. And I'm only a little bit sorry! :D

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    4. I just might do this, Erica!!! We used to go up I-29 on our annual Minnesota vacation trip and I think (faulty memory) there was a sign on an exit saying Home of Laura Ingalls Wilder 40 miles...and an arrow.
      But on the forced march up and back we were NEVER able to stop.

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    5. We've driven by that sign on I-90 many, many times...but I'm the only one in the car who wants to stop. And in the middle of a two-day drive, I'm not going to complain.

      But I'm planning to take a few extra trips to Minnesota this year and a stop in DeSmet is on the agenda!

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    6. You'll love it! Standing on the homestead site and touching one of the cottonwoods Pa Ingalls planted was sooooo amazing! Witness Trees!

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    7. I LOVE THIS! WE COULD MEET THERE.

      Maybe leave an extra few hours on the way to the wedding, Jan. You won't be distracted or anything.

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    8. Wait, if you stop at De Smet on the way to the wedding, I can't go! Let's have a Seekerville retreat there in the fall. :)

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  9. Learning from other writers is why I read and re-read some of the best. I go through binges - right now it's mysteries as I prepare to write a cozy mystery later this year. I've read the classics: Poe, Dorothy Sayers, Patricia Wentworth, Agatha Christie. And many, many modern cozies, and learning from all of them.

    But I'm with you - I've moved my collection of books all over the country. Why would I want to get rid of them now? :-)

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    1. Oh, Jan, I LOVE Dorothy Sayers, Lord Peter Wimsey and especially Harriet Vane. What a role model and so ahead of her time.
      I go through binges too, a certain author or a certain genre.

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    2. I love Agatha! I love Poirot the best, but The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is a fave, too!

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    3. I love Agatha Christie, too. There are so many great authors here. I've not read them lately. I did watch a couple of Agatha Christy novel/TV shows on Amazon. I wanted to love them but they were pretty grim. Not her lighter stuff. And I have to ask why?

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  10. What a fun post, Erica! I always go back to some of the authors of the first romance novels I read that hooked me on the genre (after an earlier stint of reading Harlequin/Silhouette romances during college). I still have a shelf for my keeper books/authors: Jude Deveraux, Judith McNaught, Nora Roberts, Susan Wiggs, Lavyrle Spencer... And I have more than a shelf of Seeker author books.

    You know, now that I typed that list, I realize that most of my early romance reading was historicals! And I have never written one.

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    1. One of my favorites is Julie Garwood, her early stuff which is all historical. But currently, I read mostly contemporary thrillers, so I don't think you have to read only what you write.

      Lavyrle Spencer is from Minnesota! I was sad when she just called time on her writing and stopped.

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    2. Jayne Ann Krenz/Amanda Quick (one author, in her contemporary and historical guise) is a fave. Mischief by Amanda Quick remains one of my very favorite books ever written.

      And try Mary Balogh. Oh wait, we're supposed to be talking about writers who influence us, not just authors we love. HAH, off topic alert!!!

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    3. Any author we love influences us! :) And you recommending Mary Balough is what got me into writing Regency! So...thank you! :)

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    4. Mary, I should have included Jayne/Amanda in my original list! I used to check out all her books at the library. :)

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  11. The Lost Lieutenant sounds wonderful, Erica!!! A must read! BTW, have you seen the new Masterpiece Theater series? Sanditon? Your thoughts?

    Nancy Drew stories influenced me greatly as a youth! I WAS Nancy Drew, and I solved those crimes right along with her. :) I was a huge Laura Ingalls Wilder fan. Did I mention that I loved the Little Women movie and hope to see it again? Also Dauphne du Maurier! Loved Rebecca! And My Counsin Rachel. Edna Ferber! Anyone remember her stories? Show Boat, Cimarron, Giant, Ice Palace. I read everything Leon Uris wrote. Read every book I could find about WWII and the Holocaust. Anne Frank's Diary. The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. The Wall by John Hersey. Then everything James A. Michener wrote. I adored his sagas. Ah youth, when I had time to read and read and read some more! Those were the days!

    So many books...so much joy! Thanks, Erica, for the memories!

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    1. Debby, we have so many books in common! I loved Rebecca (and the various tv adaptations) and Giant! Ferber was a genius. I loved Michener's Centennial best, but I liked Chesapeake, too.

      I haven't watched Sanditon yet. I've heard many mixed reviews, but I'll watch it eventually. :)

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    2. I read all the Nancy Drew books. Love them.
      Hardy Boys. I loved Frank Hardy so much!!!
      The Trixie Belden Books.

      Rebecca really bothered me, haunted me. I read it once and never again but it really stayed with me.

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    3. I think I had a huge crush on Frank Hardy as a kid! I remember the joy of finding a series of books that were Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys Mysteries combined! Le sigh.

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    4. Oh, I also loved Nancy Drew and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Also L.M. Montgomery. Adored Anne of Green Gables!

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    5. Anne with an E is soooooo wonderful! I adored all the Anne of Green Gables books, and Emily of New Moon, too!

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  12. My main three are:
    Mary Higgins Clark
    Clive Cussler
    Walter Farley

    Walter Farley is the first time I remember thinking, "How did he do that?"

    The Black Stallion books!!! How did he make me HEAR those thundering hooves in a horse race? How did he make me feel the tension, those big bodies bumping against each other. The speed the smell. Just all so vivid.

    Mary Higgins Clark taught me writing can be a roller coaster ride. She'd grab me by the front of the shirt and just drag me through those books.
    And she, and Clive Cussler, the way they'd set up a scene, leave it at a cliff hanger and jump to other characters in other messes. And I'd think, "NO NO NO DON'T LEAVE THE HERO HANGING FROM A CLIFF!!!"
    And I'd start the next scene and remember that another character had been left hanging from another cliff in the chapter before and think, "OH YEAH! I'VE GOTTA SEE HOW THIS ENDS!"

    It's just an incredibly addictive, fast paced, engrossing (as in NO ESCAPE) way to write a book. I aspire to that.

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    1. I agree on Walter Farley. Those races! He taught me that fast moving scenes can be slowed down to allow the reader to experience the action!

      My mom is a big MHC fan. I've not had the pleasure yet.

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    2. Read her older stuff first. Where are the Children. While My PRetty One Sleeps. A Stranger is Watching.
      The older books seem better--she had an unfortunate cozy mystery phase and now I think she's gone back to the thrillers but I lost track of her releases--also she's 92 so I'm giving her a break.

      And read Kitchen Privileges. It's her auto-biography and really good.

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    3. I read all Mary Higgins Clark books I could find in my youth and young adulthood. Loved the ones you mentioned, Mary. Haven't read her recently. Isn't her daughter (or son) writing with her now?

      Yes to enjoying Walter Farley. But Black Beauty was my favorite. I found Farley when my daughter was a girl and read them to her. We had a number of big books with lots of photos that she loved.

      Was at the store today looking for a book club selection for FEB since I'm hosting and get to choose the read. There's a new book about the making of the Wizard of Oz called Finding Dorothy that looks interesting. Just FYI. Has anyone read it?

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  13. I'm a HUGE Louis L'Amour fan. Love him. I've learned so much from him.

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    1. His book Sackett's Land was a huge learning read for me!

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    2. I'm still a little haunted by Jubal Sackett. Daybreakers is probably the best. Sackett Brand is probably my favorite.
      but my favorite Louis books are non-Sackett books...Down the Long Hill and Flint.

      They're just different and for that, I love them

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    3. My favorite Louis L'Amour is The Walking Drum, a medieval story of the Crusades. I am so mad at him for dying before he could finish what was supposed to be a trilogy!

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    4. I haven't read that one in forever!

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    5. I agree he had a hundred gaps in the Sackett books to fill. He was telling the whole story of America since before there was a country in that series.

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  14. After reading Little Women in grade school I knew I wanted to be a writer. There are so many books to list but Janette Oke's books speared that desire. One writer who has influenced me as much or more is Erica Vetsch. Our paths crossed nearly fifteen years ago before she was famous :) It's been amazing to watch what God can do with a person with a desire to write Christian romances.

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    1. Thank you, Jamie! What kind words. Has it really been 15 years? When I started writing, it was like a light went off in my head, part of my brain that had been sleeping for a long time woke up and I just knew this is what I wanted to do! You've had great success yourself since those early days! Yay us! :)

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    2. I just saw the movie, the newest version of Little Women.
      I'm not sure I exactly loved it but it held my attention.
      I sort of wanted to re-read the book because some of the stuff in the movie isn't in the book.
      I don't think.
      I haven't read it for years.

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    3. I am so late for this, but I remember knowing I wanted to write books after reading "Understood Betsy" as a nine-year-old... and that I wanted to create stories, because I was already imagining stories in my head.

      Writers are the strangest things!

      And I've made it a point to re-buy some of those early books so I never forget my roots, the inspiration, the drive that inspired me to want to create characters and plots and situations.

      I love seeing them on my shelf!!!!!

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    4. We are the strangest, aren't we? I used to continue stories in my head, inserting myself into the adventures of Alec Ramsey of the Black Stallion Series, or The Beebes of Misty of Chincoteague, and so many more! My book friends were so real to me!

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  15. Hi Erica - I just de-cluttered baby clothes and other items I haven't used since we moved into this house. I suggest you leave your books alone. If they're like mine, they call your name every so often and need your attention (like, "Erica - come read me...please." not, "Mo-om!" ;P ).
    I kept two boxes of childhood books - Nancy Drew, Little House series, Anne of Green Gables series, Elizabeth Gail series, the original Mandie series, and the original Babysitter's Club books. Those were my favs growing up. As for my adult books, um, there's even more than that I don't want to let go. I try to purge books every so often. My rule is, if I've had it for five years or more and haven't read it, I likely won't read it - and then I proceed to put it back on my shelf for another 5 years just in case I get around to reading it. lol

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    1. I totally endorse your system! 5+5 more seems quite reasonable! :)

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    2. I agree about the 5+5 method!

      BTW, I failed to mention Charlotte's Web! Oh my, I cried and cried reading that story. Still remember how tragic it was.

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    3. The story that broke my heart was Where the Red Fern Grows. I bawled!!!

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  16. I have a set of The Little House on The Prairie Books also I Love reading !

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