Word of the Year

Why choose a word (or phrase) of the year? Because unlike a resolution, you can’t fail an idea. A concrete goal might be “lose 20 lbs.” You could succeed or fail at that. But a word of the year provides a direction for your compass. Maybe that word would be “health,” if you’re looking to become healthier, but maybe it would be “let go,” if the idea is to get rid of elements in your life that aren’t serving you any longer. See how it’s different? I like to think of the WotY as a gentler, kinder guide than the more militant new year’s resolution.

Here’s a quick review of all the words of the year I’ve chosen and why:

2017. habitual = habit + ritual. I wanted to take the activities I enjoyed and make them more sacred. I wanted to celebrate those things I did regularly rather than criticize myself for when my discipline lapsed. Reading, writing, cleaning, exercising.

2018. get up and go. I was active and I wanted to stay active. This was an exercise year.

2019. grind. I loved the double meaning of grind being a workout word as well as a coffee word. This was also an exercise year.

2020. realize. I wanted to “realize” — to make real — my dreams. The forever dream is to publish a book, which I didn’t do that year, but I did start a writing group, which gave me the accountability I needed of deadlines and expectant readers.

2021. step. As y’all likely remember, everything felt difficult that year. But I told myself that I could focus on one step at a time. Just write a little each day. Just tidy a few things. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be worth it.

2022. stride. Keeping with the forward movement and picking up the pace. I felt a little more empowered to keep going strong. This was a writing year.

2023. reach. I love that reach means “to try” and also “to achieve.” I chose a tarot card this year as well, the seven of pentacles, because it’s about trusting that the hard work you’re doing is good work and that it will pay off in the end. As I see it, this is the Trust the Process card. Don’t lose hope, don’t lose faith. Keep on keepin’ on.

Thanks for reading. I hope you choose a WotY that works for you. Remember, you don’t have to pick it by Jan 1 and you don’t have to keep it if it isn’t working–change it up any time! Love, Jobe.

YA novel research

I’m back to working on my YA novel this year, taking it through our writing group chapter at a time. We’ve done the first three of fifteen and I’m submitting tracked changes this time around. The research I do for this story is sometimes silly, sometimes disturbing, but always interesting. Here are some highlights.

Google searches like:

brown recluse eyes
brown recluse eyes close up
human extra eyes
human six eyes
do spiders have hair or fur? (hair)

I also looked up pictures of woad and information about Celts. (Curious about Celts? This was a nice read.)

Reading Series

Karen Hayes was an incredible poet who worked with children, adults, veterans, and dementia patients to share her love of poetry and its transformative power. She celebrated and was celebrated in every aspect of her life. She was loved unanimously. She carried an inextinguishable spark. If you would like to learn more about the life and times of Karen Hayes, check out here, here, here, here, and here.

Karen ran a monthly reading series with open mike and featured readers at a local Little Rock coffee shop called Guillermo’s. For years she kept it alive and going strong, always discovering new talent and spreading the good word. I kept meaning to go but other stuff would get in the way, I’d forget, I’d put it off. I’m no poet, I’d tell Karen. But Karen knew that even prose writers could have that poet soul. I finally hiked up my big girl panties and got to it. I went to one. It was so awesome, the energy was palpable and everyone there was there for the love of the craft. I decided my first night I’d be a regular from then on. And then my first was her last. When Karen died suddenly, no one knew what to do, what to say, or how to process. Instead of the next reading we held a poets wake. And then there was this question: what would happen? Who would lead? Who would keep Karen’s dream alive? I stepped up.

There was no one else, I only lived five minutes away, and it all felt like a sign. Working at the library, being a grad from UCA, being a local writer and a participant in Nanowrimo, I was in a unique position to invite friends and acquaintances from so many different circles to come together. I expanded the umbrella to include poetry and prose and I ran the series, posthumously named for Karen, for one year. Then Covid happened. We were once again in a situation where no one knew what to do or what would happen next. I couldn’t keep an in-person program running, and I didn’t yet know all all the ins and outs of Zoom. I set it aside, hoping Covid would run its course and we could get back together when Covid was over. Well. That clearly isn’t going to happen, and I think we’ve waited long enough. I know some people are understandably burnt out on Zoom, but I’ve come around to the way of thinking that something is better than nothing.

I return to you, now under the auspices of the CALS Writing Circle, the virtual Karen Hayes Poetry and Prose Monthly Reading Series. To kick it off right, the first event will be a two-night extravaganza, and attendance will determine which night we schedule going forward. Mark your calendars, friends, for the last Tuesday and Thursday in April. 4/26/22 and 4/28/22. 6:30pm-8:00pm both nights, online only, Zoom link to follow closer to time. Bust out and dust off anything you’ve been wanting to read. We’re back.


In case you need to name a bookstore

All of my fantastic suggestions were shot down.

Shelf Care
Bragging Writes
Word’s Eye View
Vital Spines
Rise and Spine
Bookmark My Words
Tied in Plots
Connect the Plots
Melting Plot
Lost in Plot
Penny for Your Plots
A New Trope
Trope Springs Eternal
Lost and Bound
Willing and Fable
Stay True to Your Shelf

Jobe. Scouring the internet so that you don’t have to.

Thank you Little Rock for continuing to support library millages

Q1. Why is the library important to you, personally?

I grew up in libraries at school and in the community wherever we lived. We moved around a lot but I always knew I would feel at home in a library. Being surrounded by books as a child and knowing I had the freedom to learn anything and experience any adventure was empowering and exciting. My parents read to my siblings and I and imparted a voracious love of reading and learning. I have been a lifelong reader and an aspiring writer for most of my life. I had always hoped I would end up working at a library or bookstore, surrounded by books and knowledge and people who valued them. I treasure the fact that this dream came true.

Q2. What is your favorite reason to use the library?

I love that we serve the community and are able to make services available for free or at very low cost to people who might not otherwise have access to them. I love that we are able to stay current with technology and reading trends. I love that we offer a multitude of avenues for obtaining knowledge, whether checking out audiobooks, paper books, e-books, accessing information on one of our many databases or websites. I love that we offer programming for children, teens, and adults, and offer a safe, positive environment for all these ages. I love that we maintain a peaceful, welcoming environment for gatherings and study and solitude, that all ages can discover and learn in so many different ways. I love that we make technology and meeting space available to the community and facilitate gatherings for such a variety of interests and concerns. I love that our book collections are just the tip of the iceberg of what we have to offer. I’m constantly impressed at the ways we are always expanding our offerings from cooking classes to the tools library and the toys library to our art gallery, used book store, theater, maker space, genealogy studies, and more.

Q3. Who does the Library serve?

The library serves everyone in the community. The library is for the young and the old, the rich and the poor, people of all colors, all religions, all abilities, all orientations and genders. The library may be one of the last places in America where you don’t have to buy anything to have “permission” to take up space. The library is for the homeless, the elderly, parents, kids, teens, introverts and extroverts, groups and loners, public and private and home-school students, the traditionally employed, unemployed, and the self-employed. The library is for everyone.

Q4.  Why is the library important to those people? What will new funding do to help them?

The library offers access to reading and listening and watching materials, education and entertainment, current news and data, access to databases and apps and streaming. The library has the ability to aid people in internet use, printing and copying, gathering for study groups and meetings. The library has the availability to be of use throughout the week and on the weekends. The library offers programming in a hugely diverse range of topics from book clubs and specialty interest groups to mindfulness and meditation to fandom clubs and video gaming to puppet shows and sing-alongs to art groups, creativity groups, and writing groups. The library even transitioned seamlessly between virtual and in-person programming as dictated by COVID safety concerns. Continuing to fund the library will continue to ensure that we are able to provide in these myriad ways, while new funding will enable us to serve even more robustly than we already do.

Q5. Who is going to be uncomfortable if you ask for new funding?

I would hope that no one is uncomfortable being asked to continue to fund libraries as we are so obviously benefitting the community in such a huge way and in such diverse ways.

Q6. What community groups do you belong to?

I’m a gamer, a reader, a writer, an artist. I’m interested in music and food and cultures around the world. I’m interested in languages. I’m an LGBTQIA+ and Black Lives Matter activist. I’m a UCA alumni. I’m neurodivergent and the parent of a neurodivergent kiddo. I’m a coffee enthusiast. I love buying local and supporting Black-owned businesses. I’m an amateur Arkansas history buff. I love stickers and planners and office supplies and art supplies and arts and crafts. I love teaching classes and leading group discussions. I wear glasses. I take medication. I try to exercise and eat healthy. I love rainbows and unicorns. I love junk food and sweets. I’m interested in satanism, wicca, Buddhism, yoga, tarot, numerology, astrology. I play Dungeons and Dragons and Vampire Larp and more board games than I can count. I love science fiction. I love animals, I have two dogs and three cats. I love swimming. I watch cartoons. I’m pansexual polyamorous cisgender and my pronouns are she/her.

Q7. Where do you live and where do you spend your time?

I live in west Little Rock and I spend my time all over. I love going out to eat at restaurants all over Little Rock. I love spending time downtown. I have lived in the Central High Neighborhood Historic District. I spend time in SOMA, Argenta, North Little Rock, and further out. My husband has friends and family in Benton, Bryant, Cabot, Sheridan, East End.

Q8. Who do you know who knows everybody?

Honestly, I’m one of those people. I’m also connected with a multitude of poets, writers, and professors.

Book Review: Quiet by Susan Cain

As an extrovert I wondered if this book would simply extol the virtues of the quieter persuasion and end up making me feel bad about myself. It did nothing of the sort! I gained so much insight and empathy for how introverts are raised and pushed by parents and society to be other than they are. I had no idea! I was also surprised that introverts may make up as little as a third of our population. I work in library science, a traditionally introverted field, and am a hobbyist writer, another predominantly introverted field! I thought surely introverts must outnumber extroverts ten to one. We are certainly fewer and farther between in my personal experience than in the lawyering and business worlds that Cain describes. But I think I must’ve also had a unique upbringing being raised by a handicapable introvert. I was taught to use my voice to make sure everyone got a chance to be heard. To use my social prowess to check in with individuals one on one and make each person as comfortable as possible. I am so grateful to have been made aware at a young age that this world takes all kinds and that just because a person is quiet doesn’t mean anything negative about their personality, value, or the quality of their ideas. To Cain I would say thank you so much for the insight you provide to those of us who have not experienced growing up introverted in our extroverted American society and thank you again for the invaluable validation you provide for introverts everywhere to be so affirmed. I want to share this book with everyone I know, introverted and extroverted alike. Beautiful, timely, insightful, and much needed.

Jobe, The Rainbows Herself