Monthly Archives: January 2014

Treasure Hunt!

Look what I found! 

Chapters Vest

It’s my vest from Chapters.   I am fairly certain I was supposed to give that back on my last day but I obviously felt some inexplicable need to keep it.  You’ll notice my Harry Potter button/ribbon combo – which I could probably sell on eBay.  I also have another Harry Potter pin promoting the release of  the DVD.  Now that I think of it, that vest is a goldmine!

Look what else I found. 

Books Books Books!

My little handy dandy notebook.  It was in the pocket of my vest, right where I left it.  I carried that with me all the time and jotted down the name/ISBN of all the books I thought looked interesting and that I might like to add to my library someday.  There are at least 5 pages just like this one and I am sad to say only a fraction of these books came home with me.

Speaking of my library, I recently posted a pile of 12 books that I own but haven’t yet read.  After posting that, I was reminiscing about the book fair and suddenly recalled getting a copy of “Mercy” by Melissa York.  She was at the event and told us of her process, which is really interesting.  She wrote the novel in two parts, then printed a copy and proceeded to literally cut the stories up and pasted them back together in order to combine them.  So there she was on the floor, with strips of her story all about her, slowly putting it together strip by strip.  When you stop and think about it, that’s sort of a treasure hunt as well.

I have had that book in particular for at least 9 years and yet until now I haven’t been “ready” for it.  For a brief moment, I was concerned that “Mercy” had been dispatched along with the pile of other books that I had decided I wouldn’t get to a few years ago and I had lost it forever.  So I took another trip downstairs and searched through the bookcases.  Nothing.  I glanced down and found a large grocery bag filled with the books that I had brought from my office when I renovated it and hadn’t gotten around to putting on the shelves yet.  VOILA!  There it was, along with 4 others that I had forgotten about but can’t wait to dig into.  (note to self : organize your books, stat!)

5 more books

I will post my thoughts on each title as I read them and hope to have the first for you very soon.  Until then, have you ever found a book tucked away that you’d totally forgotten about?

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What to read, what to read

There has been a lot of talk in the blog-o-sphere about “MUST READS” for 2014.  Some people are in the habit of making a reading list every January and I have to admit, that’s not a bad habit to have.  I didn’t think I had a list but after some reflection, I realize it’s a more a mental one that something I consciously put together.

librarian-on-ladder1-223x300

I actually have two lists.  The first is a list of books I want to read for the purpose of researching pending projects or investigating things that I am interested in that may turn into ideas for future projects.  Most of that is non-fiction but not all of it.  At the top of that list for this year is “The Mabinogian”, translated by Lady Charlotte Guest and illustrated by Alan Lee.  I was able to procure a copy of this beautiful book for FREE when I worked at Chapters.  According to Harper Collins, this book (which has Welsh roots and is known to be the origin of the Arthurian legends) is “Widely recognized as the finest arc of Celtic mythology…”.  Because of this, I was inspired to learn Welsh years ago and (after a ton of distractions) I have decided to start up my lessons again so that I can have more than the most basic grasp of this dying language.

The second is a list of books I want to read just because I want to read them.  I will admit, I often add old favourites to that list.  I was rather occupied with the Author Quest all summer so I didn’t do any recreational reading for fear it would distract me from my work.  But I did make a mental note of a few titles I wanted to read once Dec 21st hit.  The first was a re-read (for the third time… or is that the fourth?) of “The Seduction of Water” by Carol Goodman.  I coveted that book for MONTHS while I was working at Chapters but didn’t have the spare money to purchase.  (This was in the years preceding e-Books)  It’s a Selkie story, a love story, a mystery, and now a staple in my “read this at least once a year” pile.  I just finished it, so it was time to choose another for the nightstand.

I stumbled upon the “Books and Quills” YouTube channel via Wonderly.com and watched a few of Sanne’s videos.  I starting thinking about all the books I have in my library that – for one reason or another – I haven’t yet read.  So on my way home from work I swung by Starbucks (all this thinking about books resulted in a craving for steamed milk), and gave some thought to putting a “Must Read in 2014” list together.

Once I changed into my comfys and fed the Hooligans, I headed downstairs to take a look at the bookcases and pull a few titles out.  Within 10 minutes, I had a pile of 10 books that I was carrying back upstairs with me.  I added two more that I had already planned on reading this year.

Must Read 2014

“The Monk” by Matthew Lewis

“Greyfriars Bobby” by Eleanor Atkinson

“The Complete Short Stories of Oscar Wilde”

“Harry Potter” by JK Rowling ( I know, I know )

“Writing as a Sacred Path” by Jill Jepson

“From a Buick 8” by Stephen King

“A Kiss of Shadows” by Laurell K Hamilton

“The Golden Book of Faerie” by O.R. Melling

“Women Who Run With the Wolves” by CP Estes, PhD

“The Mabinogian”

“The Historian” by Elizabeth Kostova

“Selected Poems and Tales” by Edgar Allan Poe

Let’s chat for just a moment about “The Historian”, shall we?

I have become convinced that this novel will be my undoing.  I found it in the bargain section at Chapters years ago, took it with me to Ontario when I went to visit my Grandmother, and STILL haven’t finished it.  This Goliath has been haunting me.  It’s a great story and I found it really enjoyable.  I WANT to finish it.  But it requires a commitment from the reader that I haven’t been able to make as of yet.

It’s a massive 720 pages, to start.  That in and of itself is daunting when you know that you have several projects pending and a stack of research material calling out to you from your desk.  But from what I read so far it’s well worth the effort.  This story takes you on an exciting journey across continents, as well as back and forth between two generations.  It begs the question, “What does the legend of Vlad the Impaler have to do with the modern world?”

The list will certainly grow as time goes on, but for now these are the 12 books that I MUST read this year.  So, how about you?  What’s on your list of “must read in 2014”?

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When Bibliophiles Attack

Once upon a time, in an era that predates YouTube and streaming video and the endless amount of ways to waste time online…

I was working at a fairly large bookstore.  The pay wasn’t great but the perks were pretty awesome.  First of all, I got to spend all ding dang day with books and people who loved them.  Even some of the customers loved them, which made my job even more enjoyable.  I have a ton of stories about customers that seem to have wandered in there by accident, who asked for “that blue book on Oprah”, or were looking for a gift but didn’t seem to know anything at all for the person they were buying it for.  But that’s for another day.

I had the internet but it was nothing like it is today and I didn’t have cable or satellite.  For those outside of Canada, “cable” means more than 3 channels and you need a pair of rabbit ears, some tinfoil, and a steady hand to get two of them.  So needless to say, I spent a considerable amount of my free time reading.  I read an average of three books a week, some in one sitting.

One of the perks of the job was going to an annual book fair, where we were treated to a day of learning about all the new books that were coming out, talks from a few authors, and… (squeal!)  an armload of FREE BOOKS to take home with us.  I think I made off with about 20 titles.  That’s a magical phrase, isn’t it?  Say it with me.  Free Books.

One of the books they gave me was “Bitten” by Kelley Armstrong.  As soon as I saw the cover, I decided I wasn’t leaving that room without a copy.  I sat there through the chitty chats and silently BEGGED them not to draw attention to the frighteningly small number of copies sitting on the table.

Bitten

I started buying copies for people rather then loaning them mine, because it was… well… MINE.

It worked and when my turn came to pick out my first three books, I sauntered over to the table as casually as I could and tried not to allow the tears to overtake me as I clutched my copy of “Bitten” to my chest.  To say I loved this book would be an understatement.  The morning after I finished it, I talked to everyone and anyone about how amazing it was and how they simply HAD to read it.  I sold 10 copies by the end of the day and convinced my manager to order 20 more.  The paperback version was due out soon, so the hardcover was in the bargain section and that made it an easier sell.  Before long, I had the manager ship every available copy from every store that would let us have them.  I wrote a review and sent it to Random House, who forwarded it to Kelley Armstrong.  She sent me a thank you e-mail, which thrilled me to no end.  I wish I still had it.  But I DID attend a book signing in a nearby city a few years back and had her sign my copy.  I completely geeked out over her and don’t care who knows it.  So needless to say, if you haven’t read it you should.  They are actually filming a TV series based on the book, which premiered recently.

Bitten Autograph

I totally geeked out.

I miss being on the front lines and discovering amazing books before anyone else is even aware of their existence.  I miss chatting about books for hours on end with other crazed bibliophiles.  I also miss reading.  Oh, I read more than the average Jane but not nearly as much as I used to.  I was watching a video about top picks for 2013 and a girl mentioned she read 93 books last year.  93!

So, I have decided to go through all of the books on my “definitely want to read those just as soon as I have time” list and make a new list of books I am “definitely going to read in 2014”.  Then I will share it here with you and perhaps we can start a conversation.

Pictures from work computer 323

Kelley Armstrong – author of the “Women of the Otherworld” series (among others) and me – Geeked Out Superfan 

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7 words that changed my life

A few years back, I was going through a really hard time. So one Saturday afternoon, I made the familiar drive out to the country to visit a very wise friend of mine. After talking for a while, she offered me this advice.

“Sometimes you have to be an island.”

I don’t think she realized the impact those 7 words had on me. That conversation meant so much that I had to find a way to carry it with me, to remind me. So I had “Inis” – the Irish word for island – tattooed on my wrist.

Inis Tattoo 001

You were a beacon of hope amidst the storm and one of the most amazing people I could have ever hoped to meet. Why you had to leave so soon is something I will never understand. But I do know that I will miss you. It was truly an honor to call you “friend”.

Sending love and light to Melanie Anderson as she makes her final journey and to her family, friends, and the community during this time.

Angel Lady

RIP “Purdy Laydee”!

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Hello, old friend

I have met people on my travels who have told me they will read a book once and then donate it to a library or the thrift shop.  I actually met someone a long time ago who (gasp) bought paperbacks and tossed them in the trash when they were done.  ACK!  ACK!  ACK!

Needless to say, that’s outside my scope of understanding.  Oh, I’ve read a book and decided it wasn’t my cup of tea.  I’ve purged my library a few times of books that I was given and didn’t connect with or that I felt I’d outgrown.  Out with the old to make way for the new.

I no longer loan my books out because it seems I never get them back, or if I do they are not in the same condition they were when I saw them last.  One time, I found one of my books in another person’s library.  It was given to them by a mutual friend.  How did I know it was mine?  I told them to open the front cover and read what they saw.

“Liberated from the library of K.S. Thompson.”, they sheepishly replied.

I wish I had had the guts to ask for it back.  It was a good book.  Instead, I decided right then and there that I would rather buy you a copy of my favorite book than take a chance with mine.

That same library holds stacks of books that I’ve read more than a few times and stacks of others I can’t wait to dive into.  I have a list of books that I typically read every summer, some dating back as far as Jr. High.

I wondered why it is that some of us re-read our favourites.  We already know the story inside out, including the ending.  We know exactly what’s coming for our characters.  So what is it that keeps us returning to them over and over again?

In times of stress, there is comfort in familiarity.  When life seems to be throwing you a curveball, it’s good to know you can retreat to a world that you love and escape for a while.  A place where the characters are very clearly outlined and you are privy to their innermost thoughts.  In short, there are no surprises.

There are characters you love and those who grow on you in spite of themselves.

she's come undone

Classic tales where the good guy gets the glory and the unsavory foe is dealt his come-uppance.

prince-ombra

 

Or maybe the author keeps you guessing until the last few pages, then… POW!  They hit you with a plot twist so mind-blowing that even though you know it’s coming, you still find yourself holding your breath.

dwelling-susie-moloney-paperback-cover-art

An amazing story told well is like an old friend that never lets you down.

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I QUIT !

I’m a quitter.  There.  I said it.  Whew!

I had a lot of time to think over the holiday season this year and decided it was time to get serious about my career.  All I seem to talk about is writing and how great it’s going to be to write full time at home.  But what am I DOING to make that happen?  More importantly, what am I doing to ensure it’s NOT going to happen?

Statement of Intent

I cancelled my satellite service a year ago and guess what?  I still get three channels – for FREE!  One distraction and expense gone.  Guess what else!  I don’t miss it.  I only turn my TV on three times a week, sometimes less and only for 6-9 hours a week, max.  Compared to the 30-50 hours a week I was wasting staring at the magic box in my living room, I have almost entirely quit TV and it’s fabulous!  Now, if I can quit watching online, I’ll be set.  I don’t want to cut it out of my life forever (I get a lot of great ideas and a much needed break from reality), but it’s time to put a limit on how much online shenanigans I get up to in the average evening.

Next, going through the FB account and deleting any “friends”, groups, and pages that I have “liked” that I need to quit.   (note to self : FB makes it frustratingly difficult to “unlike” pages so be a bit more discerning about which pages you add moving forward)  I am amazed at how much junk I have accumulated because I thought it might prove interesting at some point.  That, my friends, is cyber-hoarding.

I have three e-mail accounts, which may seem like much but each serves a very specific purpose.  But I am going to go through them again and clean them out.  I need to quit e-mail lists that are cyber junk-mail.  Getting 60 e-mails a day doesn’t make you important.  It makes you distracted and disorganized.  But we all do it.  Some of it is well-meaning – e-mail for certain charities that you intend to support or want to learn more about.  Or perhaps it’s for a friend’s home-based business.  But do you REALLY need to be distracted/bombarded by updates and appeals for business?  You know they sell Tupperware.  You have their contact info.  If you get a sudden urge to add another salad spinner or juice jug to your life, you know who to call.  No disrespect to Tupperware, because I love it to bits n pieces.  But unless one of your characters is a Tupperware sales rep, get off their mailing list and back to writing!

Interestingly enough, Kristen Lamb just wrote a blog post about this very thing (not Tupperware, but quitting anything and everything that’s a distraction from your writing).  It further cemented my convictions and was a sign from the Literary Gods that I am indeed on the right track.  Swing by and take a look!  Be sure and tell her I sent you.

http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2014/01/07/want-more-writing-success-learn-to-be-a-quitter/#comment-89956

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When The Song Dies

Scotland is a country rich in history.  Kings were born and died there.  Battles were declared over territory – fought on the shores and in the fields.  Families were brought together and torn apart.  But that history is slowly disappearing with the passing of time and the passing of those who remember.  Whether it is because there is no one to forward the tales or simply because the younger generation has lost interest is not known.  Perhaps it is a combination of the two, but one thing is certain.  We will not truly feel the loss until it is far too late.

Standing Stones Scotland

Storytelling, folklore, superstition and song all come together in this short film by Jamie Chambers.  Imagine having a song that was specific to your family, passed down from generation to generation.  An integral part of your culture and your history.  Now imagine that you are the very last to remember it.  Once you are gone, the song will die with you.

Tales of family members who possessed “the gift that no one wanted”.  Second sight.  Being able to fortell death (even your own) seemed commonplace.  Everyone knew at least one person with this ability.  To see the unseen.  To know the seemingly unknowable.  Was it because of their strong connection to their own history?  Or was it simply being more open to such things?

the-highlands-of-scotland

We have reached an age where the technology exists that enables me to write a story and publish it on the same day.  To reach literally millions of people at the click of a mouse.  To talk to someone on the other end of the world day or night and often on the go.  Yet, these stories and songs continue to slowly vanish into the mists.

Oh, you can pick up a book filled with tales from days of old.  But nothing compares to sitting and listening to someone tell them.  Their voice painting pictures and bringing you back in time.  The dialect, specific to not only to their homeland but to their village, remaining virtually unchanged.  In addition to the story, you get to enjoy the little stops along the way.  Little details that may be overlooked or lost in translation by outsiders who – try as they might – will never get it exactly right.

http://aeon.co/film/scottish-folklore-and-superstitions/

 

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