Admitting a problem is the first step…

I recently acknowledged a serious problem: I am well on my way to becoming a book hoarder. Instead of shopping for the latest fashions, I prefer to spend my time in bookstores and libraries, adding books to a reading list beyond completion. On weekends, I’d rather relax on the back deck and read for a few hours than spend “a night out on the town.” My parents only encouraged this behavior with regular gifts of books. I even decorate with books!

We have lived at Cairn Hill Farms for almost four years now, and with the departure of kid #2 to college, I started to unpack the many, many boxes of books in the basement. However, it quickly became evident that we lacked the shelf space to utilize the vast collection. So I began the challenge of drastically reducing our family book collection.

To start, some piles were quite easy: We do not need 40 cookbooks (I kept our 10 favorites). We also didn’t need dated reference materials. Certain tomes were easier than others. One son enjoyed the Gary Paulson books, so these were set aside in the chance that he might want them later. Certain popular series were worth keeping: Anne of Green Gables, The Lord of the Rings, The Narnia Collection, Harry Potter, Little House, etc.

Sentimental books presented tougher choices. Favorite nightly readers from childhood like Goodnight Moon were saved as were books inscribed to the kids. In fact, giving books with cherished inscriptions is a family tradition in both the Roche and Murphy Families, the copy of Smoky by Will James from my parents, Horse Stories for Children signed by one of my first riding instructors, the copy of The Imitation of Christ signed by Dr. Febes Facey (a high school graduation present). There are also books that provide insight in my parents’ lives, Dad’s graduate school copy of The Hedgehog and the Fox filled with handwritten notes.

Throughout this process, I recognized sentimental attachments that didn’t really connect to books. For example, I held onto a copy of Ken Kesey’s Sometimes a Great Notion. While the movie was a favorite of the men in the family, I didn’t connect with Kesey’s stream of consciousness, not worth keeping for me, personally.

What should be done with all those extra books? I started by piling them on the dining room table and asking family, friends, and neighbors to take a few. Then some books were donated to local libraries, donated for fundraisers, or donated to Goodwill. In closing, purchasing books can be rather costly. Do you have some just gathering dust? Share! Donate! You never know when a book will start a memorable adventure.

Thanks for reading!


A Special Offer for a Special Anniversary

cover for amazon and bandn

One year ago, I began a journey with my daughter, Mary Kate. We published a children’s book together. The idea for Sara Dippity began in 2006 after the passing of my father. Dad and I were quite close, and while I knew he was ill, his unexpected passing was devastating. He passed in early May, and it was up to me to notify family and friends. When I went out on my front porch to begin the many phone calls, a male cardinal joined me.

I didn’t think anything of it at first, but every time I went outside that spring and summer, a male cardinal continued to visit. Over that time, I found his presence healing and even began to look for cardinals when I ventured outside. I thought children and even adults who lost loved ones could benefit from a similar journey, so I asked MK if she would illustrate my story.

Sara Dippity tells the story of a young girl who is saddened by the loss of a loved one. She finds peace and healing from her encounters with a cardinal in her back yard. The illustrations demonstrate healing through the emergence of color as the story progresses.

barnes and noble pic

We printed a limited run of hardcovers and softcovers, and we formatted both Kindle and Nook editions. Our journey began with a book release party and several book signings over the summer and fall, including one at Barnes and Noble. These road trips were among our favorites because we had the opportunity to meet people who would benefit from our story. One gentleman sticks out in my mind.

At our Barnes and Noble signing, we held a raffle for a free hard cover. A man in a wheel chair spent the majority of the signing visiting with us at our table. When we drew the winner and the gentleman saw that he had won, the look on his face showed happiness mixed with sadness. He thanked us and shared that our story meant so much because he had lost his father the week before. We found many cases just like this where we were in the right place, at the right time, with the right story to truly help others.

MK - book house with tree in color

What have I learned this past year? My first lesson was an educational introduction to the world of indie book publishing, the ups, downs, and everything in between. I also learned that this journey with my daughter was something special that few mothers and daughters ever have the opportunity to share. Finally, I learned that while we are not famous and well paid in the world of books, we still have a story that makes a difference, and will continue to make a difference, in the lives of others.

To commemorate the one year anniversary of Sara Dippity, I am offering the Kindle and Nook editions for 99 cents through the month of May (Regular Price $2.99). During this time, I am also offering free shipping for the hard cover editions (US only, quantities limited):

Hard Cover Editions

If you know anyone who might benefit from our story, please share!

All profits from Sara Dippity are for further art training for Mary Kate. Thank you for your support!

cardinal in flight final