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Black River
Four starred reviews for this debut that will turn readers' hearts inside out.
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Excerpt
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Author Biography

If you have something you're good at, how have you felt when you've encountered someone with more skill – or less skill – than you possess?

Created: 01/08/16

Replies: 11

Posted Jan. 08, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1336

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If you have something you're good at, how have you felt when you've encountered someone with more skill – or less skill – than you possess?

Wesley attended a concert and heard a fiddler player who was good but "nowhere near as good as Wes had been." He couldn't decide if it was a "rare pleasure or an especially exquisite torture." If you have something you're good at, how have you felt when you've encountered someone with more skill – or less skill – than you possess?


Posted Jan. 11, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
mal

Join Date: 09/09/13

Posts: 155

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RE: If you have something you're good at, how have you felt when you've encountered someone with more skill – or less skill – than you possess?

Serves as a motivator to become better, improve as much as possible. Inspires me.


Posted Jan. 11, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dianem

Join Date: 10/25/12

Posts: 65

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RE: If you have something you're good at, how have you felt when you've encountered someone with more skill – or less skill – than you possess?

I would take it as an opportunity to learn more if the person was better at what I was doing. You can always learn more and if a person was worse I would take it as an opportunity to teach or help that person. We are always learning can get better at things.


Posted Jan. 11, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
kimk

Join Date: 10/16/10

Posts: 279

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RE: If you have something you're good at, how have you felt when you've encountered someone with more skill – or less skill – than you possess?

Although I enjoyed the entire novel, it's the musical sections that hit me the hardest. I was amazed at how well the author captured the mindset of the musician, and the difference between someone who's a technician and someone who's truly gifted.

I was one of the former types of musicians, and when the real world interfered with my ability to spend hours and hours practicing, I eventually gave up playing. I'd tried again later in life, but it was embarrassing so I've mothballed my instrument (and I've always thought about giving it to an up-and-coming musician, should I ever find the right person). It's consequently with incredibly mixed feelings that I attend concerts. On the one hand, I love the music, especially when it's well-played, but on the other it makes me long to be on stage with the rest of the crew. I consider it a bittersweet experience.

To answer the question, I look at talented players with both awe and envy.


Posted Jan. 11, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jeannewny

Join Date: 01/10/16

Posts: 20

RE: If you have something you're good at, how have you felt when you've encountered someone with more skill – or less skill – than you possess?

If someone is better than I at a particular thing I admire it. You can learn from someone that is better and as someone else said, if they are less talented you can be of help to them. These are two pluses.


Posted Jan. 11, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
bobbie7

Join Date: 09/19/13

Posts: 49

RE: If you have something you're good at, how have you felt when you've encountered someone with more skill – or less skill – than you possess?

My inclination, when someone is better at something than I am, is to silently take note of the person's talent, take it upon myself to to get better, and probably try to be better, or the best through reading, practice and determination.


Posted Jan. 11, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ABeman

Join Date: 01/14/15

Posts: 20

RE: If you have something you're good at, how have you felt when you've encountered someone with more skill – or less skill – than you possess?

I'm reminded of the saying, "If you're not the lead dog, the view's always the same." This applies to dog-sledding ... and to every other endeavor in life. If you're worried about spending your life staring at a faster dog's hind parts, you're in trouble. You better figure out how to be the lead dog. For the rest of us, it's more productive to spend our time besting our own efforts rather than worrying about besting everyone else.


Posted Jan. 14, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rorya

Join Date: 09/18/13

Posts: 10

RE: If you have something you're good at, how have you felt when you've encountered someone with more skill – or less skill – than you possess?

Before I became an elementary school resource room aide in my first official year in the Clark County School District, and then finally an elementary school library aide this year, I was a substitute library aide, among other jobs with the "substitute" tag within the school district.

One of the highlights of that year was running the library at Rowe Elementary in Las Vegas because the school didn't have room in the budget for a librarian that year. The week before I took over for the regular library aide, who was going to Hawaii on a yoga retreat, I shadowed her for a day (a lot of moving parts in that job). I liked her, I was impressed with how she stayed organized what with all there was to do in a given day, but it didn't seem like she was truly invested in the job. It was just a job. The yoga mattered more. And that was fine. But I've loved libraries and have been haunting them since I was two years old. I wanted to do more.

Now, for this particular position, I didn't have the skill when I went to shadow her for that one day. I saw the difficulties in the job, and adjusted as necessary when it was my turn and by midweek, I had the hang of it, including checking in books and checking out books in a swift amount of time as each class to come to the library was there. But it gelled a month later when I filled in for her for two more days.

During that time, the students were having what's called CRT testing, and it interrupts the time set out for electives. So many teachers, knowing of my willingness to do whatever I could for them during that one week, called me, asking if they could take their students to the library, despite it not being their time for it. I readily agreed, and took in eight classes nearly in a row, one in, one out, one in, and so on. The impression I got with how delighted the teachers were for their students to have this unscheduled time is that the usual library aide didn't invest herself in the literary health of the school as much as I did. Sure she had the same amount of skill as I was using during those days, but less skill in at least being interested enough in the job to see that the students are able to get the books they want. (Since that time, the school put in a librarian, who remains to this day.)

Also as a substitute library aide, I worked with librarians who had skills I could only dream of. There was the librarian at Paradise Elementary, located on the campus of the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), who had such zeal for being part of the community and talked about her experiences in bringing people from the community, such as soccer players, into the library to talk to the kids. She had that library set up so well, so roomy, with revolving racks for paperbacks, and a section for comic books next to the end of the fiction section. To her, it mattered that kids were reading, and that there should be enough options for them to explore whatever they'd like.

Then there was the librarian at Dean Petersen Elementary who I had an immediate rapport with, who was firm, but easygoing with the kids. And the librarian at Sunrise Acres Elementary, who retired at the end of last school year, who was exasperated with some of the classes sometimes, but never took it out on the kids. She told them to be quieter or whatever was necessary, but never got visibly angry at them. I admire that.

As a new elementary school library aide, I draw from all of them because they had more skills than me in what they did every day, and it's a different experience doing it every day. I love it, mind you, but working with them, I was reminded that you have to be prepared for anything every day. Today, for example, I rearranged the cart on which there are books for the kindergartners and first graders, with white and yellow stickers, as part of the Accelerated Reader program. My librarian, whose retirement I look forward to, didn't notice for four months that I had the books arranged so that it was nonfiction first, by Dewey Decimal number, and then the picture books, arranged in alphabetical order by author's last name, as it is on the labels on the side, for each shelf. Dewey Decimal to "Z" on each shelf of that cart. Never mind that she didn't tell me how she wanted them arranged in the first place.

So this morning, I rearranged the entire cart to wrap around from one end to the other on the other side, from nonfiction first to "Y" in picture books. If she doesn't like it this second time, she can rearrange it herself. I want to finally concentrate on alphabetizing the picture books properly, which are a mess in some sections, such as all the Cynthia Rylant books utterly disorganized, and discombobulated authors in the "S" section.

Tomorrow morning, I have to cut more bookmarks for the students, who get them after they check out books, choosing one if they checked out one book, two if they checked out two, and three if they checked out three. I made more than enough when I first did the January and winter-themed ones, so all I have to do is use the cutter, and possibly make more of the winter-themed coloring ones with the machine we have that's able to make copies on construction paper.

In these things, I remember those librarians I respect. I seek to emulate them in their organization, their ability to juggle these different tasks seemingly with ease. I have their passion, but I also remember the ways in which they expressed their passion for librarians, the students they helped, the books they discussed, the activities they had for the students to do that were firmly in the realm of the library, designed to give them more of the library. I don't want to be a librarian (I want to write more books and keep on going with my book reviews), but I want to do as well as these librarians have. I'm not intimidated by what they have achieved. I'm proud to have worked with them and to have learned from them.


Posted Jan. 14, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lynnw

Join Date: 09/01/11

Posts: 124

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RE: If you have something you're good at, how have you felt when you've encountered someone with more skill – or less skill – than you possess?

To be around someone who excels in something I am good at gives me an opportunity to learn even more. On the flip side if I can be of assistance to someone, that is good for both of us.


Posted Jan. 17, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
pennyp

Join Date: 03/22/12

Posts: 271

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RE: If you have something you're good at, how have you felt when you've encountered someone with more skill – or less skill – than you possess?

I paint and I often see artists better than I am. I guess there might be a certain amount of envy but I think there is more admiration. I try to figure out what I like about their painting and how it was done. I think it gives me an idea as to improve my own work.


Posted Jan. 19, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
bethb

Join Date: 04/08/13

Posts: 20

RE: If you have something you're good at, how have you felt when you've encountered someone with more skill – or less skill – than you possess?

Empowered, believe it or not. As a teacher, it's exciting when a student shows intelligence that surpasses your own.


Posted Jan. 29, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
poniesnpearls

Join Date: 06/28/11

Posts: 30

RE: If you have something you're good at, how have you felt when you've encountered someone with more skill – or less skill – than you possess?

I like this question! I think it's about being open to the possibility of something and/or someone.

Perhaps an occasional twinge of envy upon first observation of someone doing something I have may have tried very hard to achieve, but may not have the natural ability of the person I'm observing. Then, the envy is softened by knowing I can admire their ability and learn from them. Lots of questions for them though about what I can do to improve!

I like to mentor/teach, so I am open to sharing my knowledge and experience with someone just learning. If they eventually surpass my skill level, then I've helped them grow and that's very satisfactory.


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