Member Profile: Melanie Myatt of Tales From the Crib

baby mel myatt

Welcome back to our member profile feature on From Left to Write. Our club has almost 100 bloggers who love to read, write, and talk about books. On our book club days, you only get a glimpse into their blog so now you can get to know our members a little bit better.

baby mel myatt

Melanie still feels like a child sometimes, even though she now finds herself the mother of four kids. Her student husband has promised that life will get easier when he is done with school, but she isn’t holding her breath. In spite of two master’s degrees, she’s somehow never had a real job. Nevertheless, she dreams of the day when she can be . . . something. For now, she spends her days folding laundry, cooking, eating, cleaning up, wiping noses, changing diapers, and re-reading countless children’s books. When she can, she tries to find time for some grown-up types of thoughts to record at tales from the crib.

Melanie is one of our panelists for our upcoming Twitter book chat this Wednesday, August 15. Don’t forget to RSVP for the Twitter chat so you can win some prizes!

What childhood or children’s book has changed your life?

I read The Five Little Peppers, and How They Grew at some point in my childhood, and it has stuck with me all this time. I didn’t have a good relationship with my only sibling until we were older, so the thought of five kids all working together and playing together was so appealing to me. Now with my own family (with four kids), I see how friendly family can be (even in the midst of arguing) and how that community can help you overlook challenging circumstances, like being low income, just like it did for the little Peppers.

What fiction book has made you think?

After I finished reading The Book Thief, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. From the beginning, you know that the future is not good for the majority of the characters of the book. Yet instead of feeling horror while reading it, I felt incredible hope. I wish I had the ability to talk appropriately about incredibly hard things, like war-torn Nazi Germany, yet still bring a sense of hope and promise for my readers or listeners. I think this book should be a must-read for everyone.

What nonfiction book have you recently read that stuck with you?

I really don’t like reading non-fiction, so I only read it when forced. I had to read The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother for my real life book club, and it gave me a lot of food for thought when it comes to parenting. I definitely want to encourage and enable my kids to do their best in school and other activities, so that may involve pushing them at times. But I also want to be a good listener for my kids and hear what they are revealing about their passions, their interests and their goals. I don’t agree with some of her principles, but I do think that reading the book has made me a better mother overall.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I hate to be without a book. This online book club seems like one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I love getting a new book in the mail and waiting until “naptime” to curl up with a yummy snack and a new, sometimes powerful, read.

Thanks for sharing some of your most memorable books! Have you read any of the books on Melanie’s list? Don’t forget to visit Melanie’s blog and follow her on Twitter.

Member Profile: Nancy Cavillones of I Am

Nancy Cavillones

Welcome back to our member profile feature on From Left to Write. Our club has almost 100 bloggers who love to read, write, and talk about books. On our book club days, you only get a glimpse into their blog so now you can get to know our members a little bit better.

Nancy Cavillones

Today we’re profiling one of From Left to Write Members, Nancy Cavillones who blogs at I Am.  Nancy is a stay-at-home mom to two little girls. A former English teacher, she is now an essay coach and academic tutor. She also makes crayon rolls and doll carriers for children. Nancy shares a bit about some of most memorable reads.

What childhood or children’s book changed your life and how?

Honestly, this is such a hard question to answer. I read so many books as a child, and had so many books read TO me that I’d be hard-pressed to single out a book. I think the more lasting impression is the reading itself. Those early years were crucial to instilling a lifelong love affair with books!

What fiction book changed your life and how?

I was heavily influenced by Beat Generation writers in my teen years. I decided to read On The Road by Jack Kerouac, during the plane ride to Israel the summer I turned 16. I’d always been accused of not seeing the forest for the trees, and On The Road really opened my eyes to the possibilities of the world, which was only sharpened by the experience of being in Israel for five weeks, working on a kibbutz and seeing the Arab-Israeli relationship firsthand.

What book would you most want your children to read and why?

I loved The Anne of Green Gables series, and the Little House on The Prairie books, so I hope that my girls will love them, too. Those books fed my interest in historical fiction, and were so well-written. It was my first exposure to highly-developed characters and really activated the ability to create images in my head as I read, one of the Seven Habits of Good Readers that English teachers strive to impart to their students.

What are some of your favorite book related blogs or websites?

Thanks for sharing some of your most memorable books! Have you read any of the books on Nancy’s list? Don’t forget to visit Nancy’s blog and follow her on Twitter.
Interested in joining From Left to Write? Learn more and apply.

Books That Changed Taylor Usry’s Life: Member Profile

The Babysitter's Club #1 by Ann M Martin
Taylor Usry

Taylor Usry from The Quiet Moments and The Quiet Moments, Page 2

Welcome back to our member profile feature on From Left to Write. Our club has almost 100 bloggers who love to read, write, and talk about books. On our book club days, you only get a glimpse into their blog so now you can get to know our members a little bit better.

In our book club members profiles, we’re going to do things a bit differently. We’ve asked our bloggers to share some books that have affected their lives in some way.

Today, meet Taylor Usry, From Left to Write’s Assistant Editor. Not only does she writes almost weekly for the site, she’s busy behind the scenes to help keep our book club running. Taylor is also a talented crafter and blogs at  The Quiet Moments and The Quiet Moments (Page 2.

Let’s find out what books have stood out to Taylor.

Q: What childhood or children’s book changed your life and how? 

The Babysitter's Club #1 by Ann M Martin

I read everything I could get my hands on when I was younger. I had an extensive collection of Nancy Drew books, read all the L.M Montgomery happiness I could get my hands on, and like every other pre-teen girl I did the required reading of the Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High. I have also always love the Chronicles of Narnia.

My mom used to drop me off at the public library while she shopped (things were WAY safer in a small town 25 years ago!); it was there I discovered Jean Auel (not for kids, but I snuck over to the adult stacks).

Neither one of my parents are what I’d call “readers”, but they did always read to me. And they encouraged my voracious literary appetite. For that, I am am forever grateful!

Q: What fiction book has changed your life?

Wuthering Heights by Emily BronteWuthering Heights by Emily Bronte and Dracula by Bram Stoker. I read them for a College Lit class when I was a Junior in High School, and they gave me an instant love for the classics. Such depth of feeling, such rich stories and characters – I was hooked.

Q: What nonfiction book has changed your life?

1066: The Year of Conquest by David Howarth. I have always loved history, and I’m a total Anglophile. When my husband, a British History major in college, gave me a copy of 1066 to read, I read it cover to cover twice before getting off the couch. I was SO hooked. This book ignited a love of reading British History, and I’ve not looked back since. Our collection is impressive. (And really, I’ll read any well written history book I can get my hands on.)

Q: What other books affected your life?

Dead Reckoning by Charlaine HarrisThe Sookie Stackhouse Novels by Charlaine Harris. Who knew vampires and werewolves were so much fun?? I love these, because I don’t even have to think while I read them – they are just pure fluff and fun. I re-read them all in the wee hours of the morning after my 15 month old son was born last year, because the poor boy wouldn’t sleep without being held. They completely got me through a rough few weeks!

Q: What book would you most want your children to read?

You Are My I Love You by MaryAnn Cusimano (for both of my kids). I cry every.single.time I read this to my kids. It’s a wonderful reminder of what they mean to me, and what I mean to them. I think my favorite line is “I am your quiet place, You are my wild…”

Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman (more for my daughter than my son, and we read it to her regularly). A wonderful sentiment about all of the things we want for our daughter as she grows up. This is a beautifully written and illustrated book! My favorite line is “Help her to help herself, help her to stand, help her to lose and to find. Teach her we’re only as big as our dreams, show her that fortune is blind…”

As you can see, Taylor’s interests in books span through many genres.

Taylor Usry (@taylorusry) is a 32 year old mother of two, married to the love of her life. She works part time from home as the Executive Administrator for an online forum, and is a freelance designer lucky enough to work with several major stamp and craft companies. With every second of her spare time Taylor enjoys creating art, reading good books, and cooking excellent food. She is an advocate for mental health, women’s rights, and education.

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Books That Changed Nicki Andrews’s Life: Member Profile

The little Prince
Nicki Andrews

Nicki from Suddenly Single Journey

Welcome back to our member profile feature on From Left to Write. Our club has almost 100 bloggers who love to read, write, and talk about books. On our book club days, you only get a glimpse into their blog so now you can get to know our members a little bit better.

In our book club members profiles, we’re going to do things a bit differently. We’ve asked our bloggers to share some books that have affected their lives in some way.

Today, you’re going to meet Nicki Andrews.  You can find Nicki blogging at Suddenly Single Journey – living, loving, writing, surviving… and on twitter at @thenicknick.

Q: What childhood or children’s book changed your life and how? The little Prince

Nicki: I was always very interested in books with meaning...The Velveteen Rabbit, The Little Prince, The Giving Tree.  I loved books that made me think.

Q: What fiction book has changed your life?

Nicki: Reading the Harry Potter series with my kids both inspired me to write and made me feel inadequate to do so.  The books were brilliant and meaningful.  They spoke to generations of kids and adults.  They made people who never read pick up books.

Q: What other books affected your life?

Nicki: I read books about strong women growing up…Amelia Earhart, Florence Nightingale.  They made me believe in equality of the sexes, that anything was possible.  

Q: What book would you most want your children to read?

Nicki: I’ve made sure my kids have copies of The Little Prince.  I think it’s a great story about life and what truly matters.

Thanks for sharing your good reads Nicki!

Nicki (@thenicknick) has lived in Charlotte, North Carolina with her children for the past eight years, and once again, with her fiance in The Bubble. Her time of self-improvement and self-discovery has barely begun. Every day of her life seems to bring new adventures, some bigger, better, shinier and prettier than others. She’s still getting used to that new life smell she’s experiencing, a combination of hope, love, and happiness. (The perfect scents to build a new life on…)

Affiliate links are included in this post.


Featured Member: Interview with Darryle Pollack from I never signed up for this….and Boobalas

Boobalas by Darryle Pollack

Welcome to something new on From Left to Write, where one of our amazing and interesting book club members will be interviewed. All of our members have blogs of their own, telling captivating, funny, informative and insightful stories every day.

Darryle Pollack - photo by Carla Duharte of

Our first interview is with Darryle Pollack, a big supporter of the From Left to Write community. She has fashioned herself a bit of an “agent,” sourcing two books for us so far – Following Polly and The Earthbound Cook (which is coming up next week at From Left to Write). More great picks from Darryle are coming too, so stay tuned. Thank you Darryle!

Darryle Pollack calls her blog I never signed up for this……which pretty much explains her spin on her life story.  After being a pioneer as one of the first women to graduate from Yale, and a TV newscaster, she switched to freelance writing when having children spun her life in a new direction.  Life spun again (at warp speed) when she was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer.   Always artistically challenged, she was surprised to discover that creating art helped her relax; and even more shocked that it became her passion.  Today she is a mosaic artist and cancer activist, in addition to freelance writing aned blogging for sites including the American Cancer Society and the Huffington Post.  As a 15 year survivor, with her two children out of the house, she’s ready for the next spin.

Darryle Pollack around the web:

Darryle’s Blog: I never signed up for this….
Twitter as @DarryleP
Darryle on Facebook
Darryle’s category on From Left to Write

Darryle’s latest posts on her blog “I never signed up for this…”:
Buried Treasure
Anna Nicole Smith and the Breasts that Shook the World
Political Gridlock
Boobalas: Thinking Outside the Bra

Where is your favorite place to write?
Sitting at my desk with my cat on my lap.

Any latest news to share?
Yes!  Boobalas! I created this collection of art pieces which really tie together my whole cancer journey in a sometimes inspirational, sometimes irreverent way.  I  discovered art as a way to escape from cancer, it became my passion, and I’ve been making mosaics ever since.  But it’s taken me years to put any of my artwork online so I consider this a major victory against procrastination.

Boobalas - an art collection by Darryle Pollack

As a mother, I also have news regarding the saga of my daughter’s education.  She was an amazing student who chose not to go to college, and work full-time instead. I thought I’d never recover—but instead I learned to accept her decision to follow her own path. (I wrote an article about it a few years ago for More Magazine called “Learning Curve”). Over the last few years, she put herself through college at night—taking a full course load on top of working fulltime all day….and she’s graduating in December.  It wasn’t the Ivy League as I had expected, but I couldn’t be more proud of her.

When and why did you start writing your blog?
Funny enough, since I mentioned procrastination, it started with me planning to get my artwork online.  As part of that, someone suggested that since I was a writer, I should blog.  I had no idea what a blog was, had never read one.  Though I was completely clueless, I like the unknown so I plunged right in immediately.  I had no idea how much it would change my life, and it’s hard to believe that was only 2 1/2 years ago.

Is there a message in your blogging that you want readers to grasp?
I write about so many different things, but I guess the message is really in the title: I never signed up for this…..  I think that’s the story of our lives—how things don’t go as we plan, or imagine—and how we figure out how to make it work.

What was your favorite book as a child? As an adult?
As a child, I read obsessively so it’s hard to think of just one book—but I think I’d say Black Beauty or Little Women–neither of which I could ever get my own children to read. Also impossible to choose one as an adult—I read so much that sometimes I think my favorite is the last one I read.

What book are you reading now?

I’m now reading “My Name is Memory” and “The Art of Racing in the Rain.”

How does your family feel about having a blogger in the family? Do they read your blog?

Back when I started I figured this would be an issue and it’s the first blog I wrote—trying to figure out how to negotiate family privacy. They’ve all got different feelings about it, but overall I think they’re proud of me for doing it.  My kids claim to read it,(haha) and so do some of their friends.  My daughter has actually written two fabulous  guest posts (read “Fasten Your Seat Belt” – I could not be more proud of her, she is a fantastic writer) and I wish she had time to write more.  My two most faithful and supportive readers could be my husband and my ex-husband.

Do you write full time? What did you do before you became a blogger? Or still do?

I used to write full time for work—television news, reality, magazines, marketing.  After I became so passionate about art, I didn’t write much at all, just an occasional piece.  Blogging actually helped me love writing again.

Do you have any advice for other bloggers?

As a reporter, I always wrote about other people, never about myself.  And it’s been a learning process to insert my own feelings into my writing.  I think that’s what people respond to the most.  So though it’s a cliche, my advice is to be transparent.

What’s your favorite thing to do on the weekend?
Reading the entire New York Times.

What has been your favorite From Left to Write book club selection or experience so far?

It hasn’t happened yet; but I know my favorite experience will be the upcoming events merging my real life friend Myra Goodman and her new cookbook with the women in the book club.

I love to read so naturally I’ve joined several book clubs over the years, but they never worked for me.  I even wrote a post once called “I was a book club dropout.”  I don’t know what it says about me, that an online book club is the one I’ve enjoyed most.  But it’s true—and I really enjoy and appreciate being part of this one.  Thanks so much, Linsey, for organizing it and all you do to make it work.