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— I love to read and read about one book a week. My passion for books probably began in about the third or fourth grade. In my classroom at Southwest City, Missouri, there was a library in our room. I read every book on those shelves. Mostly the stories were about a princess in trouble that only a prince could solve. After getting the princess out of her difficulty, they would fall in love and live happily ever after.

I thought life was like those fairy tales.

I got a rude awakening after marrying my prince.

The kids came and, while they were great, it was a lot of work and responsibility. My prince did not cater to my every desire. Get the picture?

Though life was not a fairy tale, my love of reading never waned. In my home growing up there weren't many books but I devoured the few we had, reading them over and over. One year Jerry and I rented a house and the owner left her bookshelves full of books - she'd once belonged to a book of the month club. I thought I was in heaven. My own library!

Needless to say, I spent a lot of time reading.

I just finished a delightful series, the Mitford books.

The only part about reading good books, there is always a certain sadness when I finish.

The characters come alive as I read about them and when I'm finished it's sort of like a death.

Another author I loved was John Grisham. I read every one of his books I could get my hands on. As I've mentioned before I don't care for violence, foul language or torrid love scenes. I also don't care for books that are just "fluff". My friend loves books about the Amish and I read one but it had little plot to it and the suspense was very mild. That's what I call "fluff".

Each night, before I go to sleep, I read. Even if it's only a few pages. Then sometimes I dream aboutthe characters.

Through the years I've corresponded with some authors.

That is always so fun when I write them and they answer.

This was especially true when I was reading lots of self-help books. Those books probably weren't as big sellers so the writers may have been glad to hear from their readers.

Years ago I attended many writing seminars.

Some of those writers have become quite famous. The ones leading the workshops were so knowledgeable.

Specially rewarding were correspondences with Mary Ann O'Rourke of Guideposts magazine and Dawn, an editor with Harvard House who lived in Wheaton, Illinois. She even called me and we talked by phone a couple of times.

Mary has written me many notes. Authors are normal people. Sometimes they are viewed as super humans but I found them to be just like you and me. At the seminars the leaders wanted so much to see us get published. Often they requested we send them some of our material. They would critique it so we could rewrite it, with hopes of getting published. They were so helpful.

Writing is hard work. Visiting with Marjorie Holmes (author of Promise, a show in Branson) she told how she entered her office early every morning and wrote all day. This is true of most successful writers. Maybe that is why I only wrote one book. The workshop leaders encouraged us to write at least two or three hours every day.

Thanks, but no thanks, I'll just read what others write.

My mother and I belonged to a local writing club for years. She was an inspiration to me. I can still remember her pecking away on her manual typewriter when I grew up on the farm west of Gravette.

( Marie Putman, formerly of Gravette, is a longtime freelance columnist for The Rogers Hometown News.)

Opinion, Pages 4 on 09/23/2009

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