Tennessee Author Puts Nighttime Writings Into Book

By ALLEN MINCEY, Cleveland Daily Banner

CLEVELAND, Tenn. (AP) — Every night, Leslie Bennett takes her cellphone and writes down her thoughts — about the day, about life in general, about her relationship with God, and about her family. With some prodding by friends, she has taken those thoughts and put them in a book.

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

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

It would have seemed natural for Bennett to write a book either about children or for children, as she has been a kindergarten assistant 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 to her putting her thoughts to paper … actually, to her phone, each day. That turned into a blog, and now a book.

“I found that writing helped me through the grieving process after my mom passed away,” Bennett said, “and I had always heard that if you think you want to write a book that you should write a little bit every 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 need to put this in a devotional book. I would just put a little smiley face (in my reply) and say, maybe someday.”

It was two men at the Church of God Publishing House — Homer Rhea and Jerry Puckett — who ended up persuading Bennett to make a book of her blog entries.

“I had worked as a proofreader and a copy editor, but I had no idea what it took to have a book published,” Bennetted. “So, Homer said, ‘well, just send me some of your stuff, and I started sending it to him, but didn’t know how much to send. I had written so much, this could be a really thick book.”

Rhea, who actually performed the wedding ceremony for Bennett and her husband, Steve, proofed the material, then sent it to Puckett for printing. Though Bennett said she didn’t have any knowledge of what the book should entail, or look like, she did have one request — that a redbird be on the cover.

“The day my mother died, my dad called me and she had already passed. She was at Signature (Healthcare), so I went up there. As the man from Companion (Funeral Home) was taking to my dad, I looked out the window where there was a shepherd’s hook where the birdseed could be placed, and where my mom could enjoy watching the birds.

“I was standing there, and I had tears streaming down my face, and I looked out the window and this redbird just flew, as pretty as you please, and landed on top of that shepherd’s hook and was looking right at me. I knew it was there for me, to let me know everything was going to be OK. I’ve always heard that people say when you see a redbird, that means a loved one is near, so I knew that I had to have a redbird on the front of my book.”

There are 105 chapters in “From Blog to Blessing,” but each of them is no more than two pages, and most are only one page. Many of the passages include either a piece of Scripture from the Bible, or a prayer by Bennett.

Yet, even though they contain spiritual connections, the titles of the chapters 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, that’s what I’m writing. Sometimes when I’m out and about I’ll make pictures with my phone and then look at those pictures and something will come to me and I will write about that.”

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

In fact, she will have a special book signing with books available at Lasater’s on Ocoee Street, right across from the Bradley County Courthouse, from 1-3 pm Saturday, July 16.

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

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