Tennessee author brings nightly writings into a book

CLEVELAND, Tenn. (AP) — Each night Leslie Bennett picks up her cell phone and jots down her thoughts — about the day, about life in general, about her relationship with God, and about her family. With a few prompts from friends, she took up these thoughts and recorded them in a book.

From Blog to Blessing is Bennett’s first attempt at publishing a book. The 134-page book was created from writings Bennett began after her mother’s death in 2018.

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

It would have been natural for Bennett to write a book about or for children, having served as a Kindergarten Assistant at Bradley County Schools for more than 30 years.

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

“I found that writing helped me through the grieving process after my mother died,” Bennett said, “and I’d always heard that if you think you’re going to write a book, you should write a little bit every day.

“So I started a blog and wrote something every day. And I would post them on my Facebook page. And people called me and said you had to write that in a devotional book. I would just put a little smiley face (in my answer) and 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 out of her blog posts.

“I had worked as a proofreader and editor, but I had no idea what it takes to get a book published,” Bennett recalls. “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 it could be a really big book.”

Rhea, who was actually doing the wedding ceremony for Bennett and her husband Steve, reviewed the material and then sent it to Puckett to be printed. Although Bennett said she had no idea what the book was going to be about or what it was going to look like, she had one request – that there be a Redbird on the cover.

“The day my mother died, my father called me and she was already dead. She was at Signature (Healthcare) so I went there. When the Companion (funeral home) man went to my father’s, I looked out the window where there was a shepherd’s hook where the birdseed could be placed and where my mother could watch the birds.

“I was standing there with tears streaming down my face and I was looking out the window and this red bird just flew as pretty as you want and landed on top of this shepherd’s hook and looked straight at me. I knew it was there for me, to let me know everything would be okay. I’ve always heard people say that seeing a redbird means a loved one is nearby, so I knew I had to have a redbird on the front cover of my book.”

There are 105 chapters in From Blog to Blessing, but each is no longer than two pages, and most are only one page. Many of the passages contain either a scripture or a prayer from Bennett.

But while they contain spiritual 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” punctuated by “I Trust Him with my Future”, “Pray Diligently” and “His Plans Never Fail”.

“Sometimes something happens during the day and it’s like this, that’s what I write. Sometimes when I’m out and about I take pictures with my phone and then I look at these pictures and I think of something and I write about it.”

First, she had 100 books printed, which sold out almost immediately as more and more readers queued. The second printing of 100 was also quick and now the book is available in a third printing.

In fact, she will be having a special book signing on Saturday, July 16 from 1pm to 3pm with books available for purchase at Lasater on Ocoee Street just across from the Bradley County Courthouse.

“Who knows, I’ll probably be writing about the book signing on my phone tonight,” Bennett said with a smile.

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