Tennessee author puts nocturnal writings in a book

By ALLEN MINCEY, Cleveland Daily Banner

CLEVELAND, Tenn. (AP) — Every night, Leslie Bennett picks up her cell phone and writes down her thoughts — about the day, about life in general, about her relationship with God, and about her family. With some friends, she took these thoughts and put them into a book.

“From Blog to Blessing” is Bennett’s first attempt to publish a book. The 134-page book grew out of writings that Bennett began after his mother died in 2018.

“I always wanted to write a book, but I never knew how,” she said. “I guess I thought I would write a book about kids, what kids say. People often said I bet you could write a book.

It would have seemed natural for Bennett to write a book about or for children, as she served as a childminder for more than 30 years in Bradley County schools.

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But it was her mother’s death in March 2018 that led her to put her thoughts on paper…in fact, on her phone, every day. It turned into a blog, and now a book.

“I’ve found writing has helped me through the grieving process after my mother passed away,” Bennett said, “and I’ve always heard that if you think you want to write a book, you should write a little each day.

“So I started a blog, and I would write something every day. And I would post them on my Facebook page. And people would call me and say you should put this in a devotional book. I would just put a little smiley face (in my answer) and I would say, maybe someday.

It was two men from the Church of God publishing house – Homer Rhea and Jerry Puckett – who eventually persuaded Bennett to make a book of his blog entries.

“I had worked as a proofreader and copy editor, but I had no idea what it took to get a book published,” Bennett recalled. “So Homer said, ‘Well, just send me some of your stuff, and I started sending it to him, but I didn’t know how much to send. I had written so much that it might be a very thick book.

Rhea, who actually performed the wedding ceremony for Bennett and her husband, Steve, checked the material and then sent it to Puckett for printing. Although Bennett said she had no knowledge of what the book should entail or look like, she had one request – that a red bird be on the cover.

“The day my mother died, my father called me and she was already dead. She was at Signature (Health), so I went there. As the man from Companion (Funeral Home) was taking my dad away, I looked out the window where there was a shepherd’s hook where birdseed could be placed and where my mom could watch the birds.

“I was standing there, and I had tears running down my face, and I looked out the window and that red bird just flew, pretty as you want it, and landed on that shepherd’s hook and looked at me straight. I knew he was there for me, to let me know that everything would be okay. I’ve always heard that when you see a red bird, it means a loved one is near, so I knew that I had to have a red bird on the front of my book.

There are 105 chapters in Blog to Blessing, but each one is no more than two pages, and most are only one page long. Many passages include either an excerpt from the Bible or a prayer by Bennett.

Yet, even though they contain witty connections, the chapter titles also aim to make readers smile ⏤ “Jeep Hair: Don’t Care”, “Adulting Can Be Difficult”, “Monday Morning Mulligrubs” and “A Pat of Butter and a drizzle of honey,” interspersed with “I trust him with my future,” Pray diligently,” and “His plans never fail.”

“Sometimes something will happen during the day and it’ll be like, this is what I write. Sometimes when I’m outside I take pictures with my phone and then I look at those pictures and something comes to my mind. mind and I will write about it.

At first she had 100 books printed, and they sold out almost immediately with more readers lining up. The second printing of 100 was also quick and now the book is available through a third printing.

In fact, she’ll have a special signing with books available at Lasater’s on Ocoee Street, directly across from the Bradley County Courthouse, from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday, July 16.

“Who knows, I’ll probably write about the book signing that night, on my phone,” Bennett said with a smile.

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Lola R. McClure