One book leads to another...

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

October 2021 - The Words I Wear Out

 


Welcome readers, writers, authors, and bloggers!

Happy October! It's the First Wednesday of the month, the day we celebrate IWSG Day, in the form of a blog hop featuring all of the members of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Founded by Alex Cavanaugh and fostered by like-minded associates, IWSG is a place to share the fabulous views and exciting news that occurs along our fascinating writing journeys. So pull up a chair and join us!

Our awesome co-hosts for this month's posting of the IWSG are: 

Jemima Pett, J Lenni Dorner, Cathrina Constantine, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, and Mary Aalgaard!

In observance of American Libraries Day, I didn't have to look very far for one with a sizeable distinction:

McAllen, Texas, is the home of the largest single-story library in the United States! Since 2011 a former Walmart Big Box store has served as headquarters for McAllen's (3-branch) Library System. It features a computer lab, a café, a spacious auditorium –and even a used book store - in addition to 376,310 system-wide items and books for use or sale.

If on your way to an interview you suddenly feel unprepared, you can always duck into the New York Public Library and borrow just the right necktie or briefcase to complement your professional ensemble.

There are roughly 116,867 public and academic libraries across America today. There are more public libraries than Starbucks (can you believe it?) in the country, nearly 100% of which offer free computer access and WiFi.

"The only thing you absolutely have to know is the location of the library" ~ Albert Einstein

One of my personal favorite offerings for Random Acts of Poetry Day:

"Only lovers
see the fall
a signal end to endings
a gruffish gesture alerting
those who will not be alarmed
that we begin to stop
in order to begin
again."  ~ Maya Angelou

As to this month's IWSG optional question: In your writing, where do you draw the line, with either topics or language?

You may recall I was once a Swing Singer before I learned to write. Through trials and many errors (grin), I learned from a young age the power of words, the reactions they could elicit. What I realized in writing is an opportunity to influence those reactions with carefully chosen words. That being said, I don't draw lines, but I do make decisions, much like choosing an outfit for a special occasion. Do I want to entertain or compel? Regale or repel? Desired reactions determine which words I choose to wear out in public (or on paper). I don't always hit the mark ;-)

Does anyone else feel this way? Have you ever been surprised by reactions to something you've written?

Happy Writing!





Wednesday, September 1, 2021

IWSG Sept. Defining Passion


 Welcome readers, writers, authors, and bloggers!

Happy September! It's the First Wednesday of the month when we celebrate IWSG Day, in the form of a blog hop featuring all of the members of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Founded by Alex Cavanaugh and fostered by like-minded associates, IWSG is a place to share the fabulous views and exciting news that occurs along our fascinating writing journeys. So pull up a chair and join us!

Our awesome co-hosts for this month's posting of the IWSG are: 

Rebecca Douglass, T. Powell Coltrin @Journaling Woman, Natalie Aguirre, Karen Lynn, and C. Lee McKenzie!

This month’s optional question is:

How do you define success as a writer? Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?

I have to admit, having that first short story (Tortilla Bandits) published was an undeniable thrill! But I also love the unmistakable sense of achievement you feel when you write the last sentence—the ending line of the story you needed to tell.

Here’s another writer’s view of the craft:

"It is my rather subversive opinion that a writer's feelings of anonymity-obscurity are the second most valuable property on loan to him during his working years." ~ J. D. Salinger

It may have been his father (a Kosher cheese trader) insisting that he enter or at least acquaint himself with the meat-processing industry that prompted Jerry, the name he called himself since age 13, to become a vegetarian.

An average student with above-average intelligence, Jerry continued school with a flair for writing and an aptitude for acting. But, with the exception of a few short stories published in Story magazine, neither seemed a viable option.

After upwards of sixty rejections, a story called “A Slight Rebellion off Madison” was accepted and slated for publication by The New Yorker in late 1941, which unfortunately coincided with the attack on Pearl Harbor. The story was subsequently shelved indefinitely. Jerry was understandably devastated and consequently drafted.

He kept his journals on his person at all times, and while his intelligence earned him prestige in the war, it made little difference to his girl back home as she ran off with Charlie Chaplin. However, his position afforded the unexpected pleasure of meeting renowned war correspondent Ernest Hemingway, an influential writer for whom Jerry held the highest regard.

By all accounts, the war had changed him. But fate had even bigger changes in store as “Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger was published in 1951. Reviews were mixed and sensational. People either loved or hated the book. Nonetheless, within two months after publication, the book had been reprinted eight times and remained on the New York Times Bestseller list for 30 weeks. Yet, paradoxically, as the book’s notability grew, Salinger himself was gradually withdrawing from public view.

Growing ever more reclusive, Salinger bought an expansive yet secluded plot of land in Cornish, New Hampshire. His closest neighbor and perhaps last close friend was semi-retired Federal Judge Learned Hand who freely offered inspirational insight.

“The spirit of liberty remembers that not even a sparrow falls to earth unheeded,” ~ Learned Hand 1944

 



Happy Writing, and take care, everyone.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

IWSG August - Motivation


 Welcome readers, writers, authors, and bloggers!

For the eighth time this year, it's the First Wednesday of the month when we celebrate IWSG Day, in the form of a blog hop featuring all of the members of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Founded by Alex Cavanaugh and fostered by like-minded associates, IWSG is a place to share the fabulous views and exciting news that occurs along our fascinating writing journeys. So pull up a chair and join us!

Our awesome co-hosts for this month's posting of the IWSG are: 

PK Hrezo, Cathrina Constantine, PJ Colando, Kim Lajevardi, and Sandra Cox!

How was your July?

We recently completed a few long over-due renovations in our Great room, which (naturally) includes the kitchen, the water and ice dispenser, and everyone's favorite – the pantry. As a result, we were temporarily banished, each from our own comfort zones, as workers diligently strived for expedience while still providing expertise. At the same time, we suffered mild cases of separation anxiety.

Basically exiled, as I was in my office, I expected to get a lot done. For the most part, I did. But when it came to writing, distractions were plentiful. What was going on in the Great room? Would they ever be finished? Have we ever had a monsoon such as this? In fact, we've actually surpassed the all-time record for rainfall during July - in only a few short weeks! Storms can be so thrilling.

At last, I found myself with ample time to write, only one story to finish, and no motivation to do so. How could this happen? When all else fails, I read.

Because I've often wondered if anyone besides me ever has trouble finding time to write, I read with great interest about O. Henry (pseudonym). He was an American short story writer whose troubles eventually earned him time in prison, where he had nothing else to do but write.

While I wouldn't want, much less need, that kind of incentive, it worked out well for William Sydney Porter (real name), whose career took flight behind bars and successfully soared well beyond those confines.

Porter used several pen names, and not only during his incarceration. He felt it was prudent in case no one liked his work. Or perhaps living among the willows for nearly a year had made him cautious. Interestingly, it was Porter who coined the term banana republic in a story he wrote after hiding out in Honduras during the infamous banana wars in 1896.

Not unlike his eventful life, Porter's witty stories typically have surprise endings. But, the biggest surprise was yet to come: While four administrations (since Porter died in 1910) have considered a posthumous pardon for the prolific writer of everyman stories, it has never been granted.

But that's not to say he hasn't been or isn't to this day acknowledged.

The prestigious "O Henry Award" is an annual prize given to outstanding short stories. There's even an annual spoken word competition that takes place in Porter's hometown called the O. Henry Pun-off in tribute to his love of language. In addition, a museum, schools, a street, and even a postage stamp are named in his honor.

"O Henry's Full House" is a 1952 film highlighting five of his most popular vignettes. I have to agree with fans (SPOILER ALERT!), "The Cop and the Anthem" has one of the most ironic endings!

Porter's last words are said to have been, "Turn up the lights. I don't want to go home in the dark."

The optional IWSG question this month is: What is your favorite writing craft book?

I own a total of thirteen books on the craft of writing. I've read them all at least twice and will likely reread one or all one day, depending on my needs or insecurities. But, because you asked and I simply can't choose a favorite, I plucked from my collection one that seems the most dog-eared: "Bird By Bird" by Anne Lamott. 

Now, I have a question. Does a pardon even matter once you've served your time?

Happy writing!



Wednesday, July 7, 2021

IWSG July 2021 Suncatchers and Fireballs

 


Welcome readers, writers, authors, and bloggers!

We’re glad you’re here. For the seventh time this year, it's the First Wednesday of the month when we celebrate IWSG Day, in the form of a blog hop featuring all of the members of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Founded by Alex Cavanaugh and fostered by like-minded associates, IWSG is a place to share the fabulous views and exciting news that occurs along our fascinating writing journeys. Pull up a chair and join us!

Our awesome co-hosts for this month's posting of the IWSG are: 

  Pat Garcia, Victoria Marie Lees, and Louise – Fundy Blue!

This week begins “Air-Conditioning Appreciation Days” There may be a few more participants than normal this year. For the time being, I envy those who live near water ;-)


It’s “World Watercolor Month” Do you have a favorite artist? Besides Van Gogh, John Singer Sargent is a favorite of mine. Especially The Loggia, Vizcaya 1917. I can imagine a cool breeze wafting across the terrace as waning rays of daylight are captured in a suncatcher.

A couple of weeks ago, I counted over thirty ongoing wildfires in my state as daily temperatures inched ever closer to record highs with no rain in sight. I couldn’t help but wonder how all those tent-city dwellers across town were keeping cool. Not a good time to invite so many visitors, if you ask me.

Since it’s Tell the Truth Day, I will. We were anxious to make good on plans to get out of the sweltering heat for a while. Monsoon, years overdue, refreshing, and typically thrilling, arrived three days before we left. Wouldn’t you just know it?   It seemed a bit of it followed us, as it rained or remained overcast, here in the woods, clear through the 4th of July. Just when I think nature has fully astonished me, it tosses something new my way. For example, that fireball that zipped along a utility line and hit a house down the way - without setting the forest on fire.  That was yesterday. Today, cable and internet are intermittent so I hope I can get this post out on time tomorrow.

Of late I’ve been doing my best to curb excessive usage of the word “just” as in simply, merely, or barely. Can you tell? I had no idea how often I use the word.

This month, the IWSG optional question asks what would make a writer stop writing. The very thought of such a thing makes my heart stop long enough to ponder the possibility of writing from the great beyond. Now that could be fun :-)

As time is of the essence this morning, I’ll leave you with one (more) burning question: How would you describe a radish to someone who’s never heard of such a thing?

Happy Writing!



Wednesday, June 2, 2021

A Dog And The Rooster's Missing Page


 

Welcome readers, writers, authors, and bloggers!

We’re glad you’re here. For the sixth time this year, it's the First Wednesday of the month when we celebrate IWSG Day, in the form of a blog hop featuring all of the members of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Founded by Alex Cavanaugh and fostered by like-minded associates, IWSG is a place to share the fabulous views and exciting news that occurs along our fascinating writing journeys. Pull up a chair and join us!

Our awesome co-hosts for this month's posting of the IWSG are: 

 J Lenni Dorner, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, Lee Lowery, and Rachna Chhabria!

Most adages come from something experienced; “Out of the pan and into the fire”, “Birds of a feather…” For John Steinbeck “The dog ate it” was all too true when his faithful Irish setter became upset at being left alone too long and ate the entire first draft half of “Of Mice and Men” Steinbeck, who reportedly thought his dog may have been “acting critically” then spent the next two months amicably rewriting his work.

Would it matter if any or all of your work was published posthumously? It matters a great deal to some, it seems, when it comes to Steinbeck’s long-buried werewolf novel “Murder at Full Moon” Written under a pseudonym and originally rejected in 1930, the novel was all but forgotten until recently when a couple of literary academics petitioned Steinbeck’s estate for its release and were met with opposition from literary agents close to the family. The, uh, “Jury is still out” on the issue.

I can’t imagine too many scenarios more frustrating than a missing page, can you? Thankfully, my only experience has been realizing the exact page I needed had been torn out of a public phonebook. Just last week I actually groaned with dismay when an old rerun of M.A.S.H. showed the entire unit sharing one copy of an engrossing book called “The Rooster Crowed at Midnight” only to discover the last page, the one where the culprit is finally revealed, is missing! I easily understood the anguished consternation that ensued. One outraged member of the camp was even promised a trip to Fatlip, Arizona. Fatlip, Arizona?  Whoa. No need to get personal.

I mean, I gasped. I sat straighter in my chair. Was there really a town called Fatlip in Arizona? I had to know. That, my friends, is what I did for over an hour instead of working on my manuscript. Shameful, isn’t it? Except, I realized something. In all the time I’ve spent on this manuscript which revolves around activity going on nine miles up a mountain, I’ve never named the town below. Now I wonder if I even need to. Your thoughts?

Happy Writing!

Friday, May 7, 2021

Blogging A to Z - Reflection

 


Congratulations, Blogging A to Z survivors!

By mid-March, I had a complete alphabetical list of “Common (Communal) Places” you might find readers, all of which I planned to visit (virtually) for this 2021 Blogging A to Z Challenge. This was going to be easy – and so much fun, I thought. During the last week of March, I was already writing posts – well ahead of the game. Until the letter G. 

Upon returning to a website I’d checked out weeks earlier, I discovered that in this perfectly turbulent era, the bookshop was (now) “CLOSED INDEFINITELY” Uh oh. In order to recommend these places, they ought to be accessible, open to the public, or still in business at the very least. I had some further investigating to do. 

I made a ton of phone calls, many of them delightfully memorable. One such call was me saying, “Hi! You’re open!” to which came the sleepy reply, “Let me get my pants on, and we will be,” Aren’t those Mom and Pop shops the best?  I paid more attention to time zones after that ;-)

All in all, I had a blast! The Scavenger Hunt (a fabulous idea!) was also fun. I hope this is offered next year – no, how about from here on out! That way, I can concentrate on finding more than eight items ;-)  Less Beaten Paths, Crackerberries, The Other Side, Weekends in Maine, and What a Journey had the items I found. Often, the blogs I read were so good I forgot to notice if they contained a hidden treasure.  I can’t wait to read where all the rest were hidden.

Big hugs and many thanks to Arlee Bird, founder of this sensational challenge, and J Lenni, Captain of the challenge, for checking in on me!  This was by far the least expensive shopping spree I’ve ever been on, but I did pick up a t-shirt ;-)

Happy blogging, everyone!

 


Wednesday, May 5, 2021

IWSG May - Switching Gears for Flat Tires

 


Welcome readers, writers, authors, and bloggers!

For the fifth time this year, it's the First Wednesday of the month when we celebrate IWSG Day, in the form of a blog hop featuring all of the members of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Founded by Alex Cavanaugh and fostered by like-minded associates, IWSG is a place to share the fabulous views and exciting news that occurs along our fascinating writing journeys. Pull up a chair and join us!

Our awesome co-hosts for this month's posting of the IWSG are: 

 Erika Beebe, PJ Colando, Tonja Drecker, Sadira Stone, and Cathrina Constantine! 

I know I say this every year, but that's because it bears repeating – It's National Get Caught Reading Month! I'm reading my 14th book (so far) this year.  What are you reading?

Before long, I'll get back to writing again. Unlike my previous work, I'm writing as a Planner rather than a Panster. But here's the thing; I wrote the first seven or eight chapters as a panster. But that was before life (never to be outdone) lobbed tiny hardballs of hardships and sudden halleluiahs.  Oh yes, and COVID. It's relatively easy to get back to reading after a distraction or two. Distractions while writing had the effect of letting the air out of my tires.

Now that kids are, for the most part, back in school, distractions are fewer. Switching to planning as part of my Plan B was just what I needed to get rolling again ;-)  By the way, May is Homeschool awareness Month, though I'm fairly certain few are unaware.

Have you ever switched gears?

On this day in 1816, a poem by an as yet unknown writer was published in a local weekly paper. The sonnet and those that followed fueled deep admiration for the young romantic lyric poet whose reputation continued to grow long after his early demise. His first publication could easily be my favorite:

"To Solitude" by John Keats

This month's IWSG optional question is:  
Has any of your readers ever responded to your writing in a way that you didn't expect? If so, did it surprise you?

Since I write with no expectations, I'm pretty much always surprised ;-)

 

 

Happy Mother's Day!

"Usually, the triumph of my day is, you know, everyone making it to the potty." ~ Julia Roberts

 


Friday, April 30, 2021

Common Places - Z

 


Communal Places for Literary Enthusiasts


Z   In the late 80s, two brothers decided to create a store they’d want to shop in. The two purchased a turn-of-the-century building in downtown Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and spent a year renovating what would become the first home of Zandbroz Variety.  It opened as a bookstore featuring a coffee bar, a soda fountain, and a delightful assortment of all things writerly and creative. The Sioux Falls store was so well received, a second Zandbroz location opened in Fargo, North Dakota just a couple of years later. In addition to new, used, and classic books, both locations offer homemade caramel, stationery, pens, reading glasses, cookbooks, coloring books, candles, cards, jewelry, Story Hours for children, and author book-signings. *The Sioux Falls location offers amazing window displays. Both stores offer a wide variety of highly unique gifts, antiques, and collectibles.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota


Fargo, North Dakota

 


“We read to know we are not alone.” ~ C.S. Lewis

 



Thursday, April 29, 2021

Common Places - Y

 


Communal Places for Literary Enthusiasts


Y   The architecture alone is enough to invoke a gasp of awe. Perched on four corner piers, the six-story windowless building appears to hover just above ground level. Walls of translucent marble provide subdued yet sufficient light for viewing while assuring the preservation of the precious documents contained within. And that’s only the beginning.

As the second-largest academic library in North America, Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscripts Library goes to unimaginable lengths to protect its treasured books. It is not only under constant video surveillance; in the case of a fire, you have 30 seconds to evacuate before a lethal fire-suppressing gas floods the area. Any other threat to the priceless collection will cause the glass and metal cube structure they are encased in to drop into an underground vault which sucks all the oxygen from the air as it descends.  I’m not sure I could bring myself to touch anything, but what a magical place!

 




   “Walking the stacks in a library, running your fingers across the spines, it’s hard not to feel the presence of sleeping spirits.” ~ Robin Sloan                       


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Common Places - X

 


Communal Places for Literary Enthusiasts


X   Xenia Carnegie Library, Ohio  - Attended by everyone who was anyone, the public opening in 1906 was a grand affair brought about by a small group of literary enthusiasts who asked for and obtained a grant from the Andrew Carnegie Library program. As electricity was not yet widely available, construction of the Xenia library included usage of cut-glass material for the second floor so that light from the roof dome would illuminate both floors.  By 1920, additional library branches were added across the county, and a bookmobile was purchased to transport books between them.  A tornado in 1974 caused significant damage to the original building and destroyed thousands of books. Repairs were made on the roof and stained glass dome, but in 1978 the (original) Xenia Carnegie Library was deemed “too small for the growing community” and shuttered as a new and more modern library building was completed downtown. With the honorable persistence of volunteers from the Carnegie Historic district, the original building was entered into the National Registry of Historic Places in 2015.


“A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert.” ~ Andrew Carnegie

 


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Common Places - W

 


Communal Places for Literary Enthusiasts


W  The oldest library (1885) in Indiana is still quenching literary thirsts in Evansville while attracting the attention of paranormal enthusiasts nationwide. In fact, ghost cams are set up throughout the Victorian Gothic-style building so that at-home ghost hunters might catch a glimpse of what goes on inside the historic Willard Library.   Considered to be one of the most haunted libraries in the United States, it was “The Grey Lady” who made the Willard library famous. Believed to be the daughter of the library founder, the Grey Lady seems reluctant to leave the building, though it wasn’t left to her in her father’s will. After being featured on “Ghost Hunters,” the library began offering annual tours around Halloween (of course!). On Halloween night of 1999 so many people tried to access the library ghost cams that all internet service to and from Evansville crashed.



“Believe nothing you hear, and only one half that you see,” ~ Edgar Allen Poe


Monday, April 26, 2021

Common Places - V

 


Communal Places for Literary Enthusiasts


V   Located right on the square in downtown Baraboo, WI. The Village Booksmith is a booklover’s delight! Pleasantly tucked in a quaint and cozy setting is a veritable cache of new, used, rare, and hard-to-find titles, collectible postcards, board books for kids – and antiques! Comfortable chairs and coffee or tea further enhance the experience as any one of many events take place. Events (check ahead for schedules) include poetry readings, Doomsday, Toast of the Town, Surrealist Night, and music. They do not offer internet sales, but welcome in-person purchases. Contact-less pick-up and local bicycle delivery is available. They are officially closed on Sundays – unless the door is unlocked ;-)


 




“If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.” ~ J.K. Rowling


Saturday, April 24, 2021

Common Places - U

 


Communal Places for Literary Enthusiasts


Highly acclaimed and declared the oldest independent bookstore in Dublin, Books Upstairs (I couldn’t resist!) is just as described; upstairs, in a vintage Georgian building that “feels like a house” as you wander the well-stocked rooms. With an emphasis on humanities, especially Irish literature, poetry, culture, and history, Books Upstairs proudly offers the best in Irish and international literature. There are bargains to be found in the basement. Friendly, dedicated staff members are eager to assist in any way  - even if it’s only to steer you to the narrow staircase that leads to a lovely literary café that serves banana bread and so much more in an authentic tea-time atmosphere. Be advised there is no Wi-Fi or phones allowed because they encourage engaging conversation or tranquil reading.  However, (groan) do check ahead for current hours of operation as they’ve been under strict pandemic restrictions.





“Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house” ~ Henry Ward Beecher




Friday, April 23, 2021

Common Places - T

 


Communal Places for Literary Enthusiasts


T   Title Wave Books in Anchorage, Alaska, is the largest bookstore in Alaska and one of the biggest used bookstores in the country! Inventory changes daily as they buy, sell and trade gently-used books, movies, vinyl LPs, audiobooks, and music CDs. Free events include weekly Writer’s Critique Club meetings, Go Club meetings, Chess and Scrabble game nights, and bi-weekly Children’s Storytime. * Event schedules may vary during the pandemic.




“You’re never alone when you’re reading a book.” Susan Wiggs