Friday, June 27, 2008

weekend dead ahead

Friday at last. Not that Fridays hold the same magic for me since I left the 9-5 workforce, but they still contain a bit of sparkle as the hubby will be home and under foot and the kids will be around and we have quite a bit to do on Saturday and Sunday.

Tomorrow the oldest kid and I are hosting a baby shower for her soccer coach. This is Coach Anne's first baby and most likely one of the first 'showers' the team will get to attend. Needless to say, the team manager and I have set out to throw the best shower we can. We have games. We have cake. We have door prizes. It should be fun. We spent a bit of time yesterday in Target buying our gift. Unfortunately for my youngest, he had to tag along. Of course he had question after question as to why we were purchasing all this stuff and what exactly is a shower. I looked at him and said, it is just one of those girl things. He hears this a lot with two sisters and a mom. He understood and set about looking at the variety of baby bottles lining the aisle we were stuck in at that moment.

Which leads me to comment on the new baby stuff on the market. Geez. Amazing. Mostly unneeded.

New mommies should rely on the old mommies expertise in this area. I'm sure a variety of comments will fly tomorrow about baby rearing technology. Which will probably be followed by labor and birthing horror stories. I never contribute to those in the usual way. I just pipe up that I had all three of mine without the epidural and gave birth to whopping 8 and 9 pound kids. See..if I can do it, so can you.

To top off the weekend, my favorite uncle should be arriving from New Mexico at some point. Everyone has an eccentric uncle and he is mine. He's been married multiple times and has just about as many degrees from universities. He is the world's easiest house guest.

Still reading the Plum books. The weekend's activities may slow me down a bit, but that is okay. I should be savoring these babies instead of gulping them down.

Enjoy the weekend.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

hot six

I can be pretty single minded at times. Since Monday I've read numbers 3,4 and 5 in the Stephanie Plum series. Yep, I'm going through these books like they are a package of Oreos and I've got a bad case of PMS.

Needless to say, not a whole heck of a lot else is getting done. I'm just reading. And laughing. And reading some more.

I love to read series. Give me a character with enough quirks and I will faithfully read about him/her until the author stops writing his/her stories. Of course, sometimes you have to wait years in between and that can really suck. But, when you discover a series like the Plum one late in the game, you have a treasure trove to enjoy for at least a couple weeks.

And the best thing is that I'm getting the itch to tackle, yet again, Maddy Blue's WIP. I'm learning things from Evanovich and that is always a great thing.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

two for tuesday

Before the youngest and I hit Lenny's yesterday for lunch, we stopped in the library and I picked up books 2,3,4 of the Stephanie Plum series. Yep, I'm hooked. I powered through Two for the Dough yesterday after we got home from Kung Fu Panda. Loved it. Grandma Mazur rocks. She reminds me of one of my grandmothers. On a visit to her several years back, before she moved into the nursing home, she showed me two outfits in her dresser. She then told me that one was for if she died in the summer (an orchid colored pantsuit) and one for if she died in the winter (a baby blue flannel night gown and robe). She'd already picked out what she wanted to be buried in! She's still going strong at 95 and rules that nursing home like the queen that she is. Of course, we all were well aware of her preference for funeral homes, she'd made that clear years before.

The movie was fun as well. The youngest had a ball and I enjoyed watching him enjoy the heck out of the movie. Although now I've got a hunger for Chinese noodles and dumplings.

We head out mid morning to pick up the oldest at soccer camp. I probably should have stocked up on stain remover to prepare for the loads of wash we will need to tackle this afternoon. We went to watch a scrimmage on Saturday night and the white tee shirt had some major grass and dirt stains on it. Shout to the rescue.

Monday, June 23, 2008

one for the monday

Hah, I'm so witty this morning. I finished Evanovich's One for the Money yesterday afternoon. I can see why everyone loves this series. It is sort of like eating a bowl full of Oreo cookies with a tall glass of cold milk. What is not to love? Beyond that, I'm not going to attempt to give any insightful comments on why the book worked. It just does. Go forth and read it. I may head to the library to get the next three in the series.

Down to just two of us in the house for the next day and a half. The oldest two are having fun away on their adventures. The hubby left for points east on business. The youngest and I watched The Ant Bully on the TV last night and today we are headed out to see Kung Fu Panda.

And that is it. Nothing else to blog about of any interest. I need more coffee.

Friday, June 20, 2008

reading update among other things

I kept my book sale copy of Whiskey Sour in the van in hopes that while I waited for various kids to finish their various activities I could finish the book. Yesterday while the oldest was at her music lesson, I tried yet again to read this book. Unfortunately, I started in on a chapter told from the serial killer's point of view. That rather gruesome chapter along with a pounding headache induced from hunger caused me to flip to the end of the book and peruse the last chapter. Stick a fork in it and call it done. The pages in between won't be read. I've already returned it to the donation pile at the library.

Last night I opened up Janet Evanovich's One for the Money. I'm probably the only female reader in all of North America who hasn't read Evanovich. That will be corrected. I was immediately engaged and look forward to spending some quality time with Stephanie Plum over the next few days.

Beyond that, the oldest heads out to soccer camp at a nearby college today. The middle kid heads out for points further south on vacation with a friend's family tomorrow. The ranks are thinning for a few days. Look for a review on Kung Fu Panda early next week as that is on my agenda in the next 72 hours.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

the dress lodger

While I was sorting books last week I came across a trade sized novel that caught my eye among the stacks and stacks of donations. I quickly set it aside and after I finished my work, I flipped through it and decided to take it home. It had already been in the store once, as evident by the small orange sticker on the spine.

The book was The Dress Lodger by Sheri Holman. The story is set during the cholera epidemic of 1831 in Sunderland, England and features a young woman who earns part of her living as a dress lodger. She 'rents' a fancy dress from her 'landlord' and then uses this more polished look to entice male customers. In all of my historical reading, I'd never come across this way of plying the world's oldest profession.

This isn't a typical historical fiction read, or at least what passes for historical fiction these days. The writing style elevates this story to the realms of literary fiction. The unique narration alone indicates that this book will demand a bit more from the reader.

Holman covers such topics as class warfare, medical morality, and the grinding nature of the start of the industrial revolution. She features a large cast of characters and infuses them with symbolism.

As with most literary fiction, this is a more difficult read for me. I get too embroiled in analyzing the characters, the metaphors, the symbols and forget to enjoy the story. But, in spite of my base nature to dissect what is on the page, (no pun intended and if you read the book you'll get that comment) I enjoyed The Dress Lodger.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

weird random thoughts about my childhood

Writers are miners. Yep, we often dig into our own past to extract tidbits for use in stories. I actually have coal miners in my family tree, and my paternal grandfather died while on the job. He had congestive heart failure complicated by black lung. That's what happens when you've been mining since you were 13.

I took the oldest kid with me today as I ran my morning errands. She commented on how her eyebrows were finally growing back in. She over plucked in an almost comical way, so much so that when we visited my folks a month back, my mom even noticed and grabbed her chin and peered into her face and did the 'tut-tut' thing before asking "What in the hell did you do to your eyebrows." Ever seen a teenager melt? Too funny!

But, her comment made me remember a kid I knew back in the day who used to pluck out her eyelashes. She had none. All lost to whatever childhood angst she suffered. She also had green hair from swimming too much. I wonder if Leann's eyelashes ever grew back in or had she damaged herself for life.

She of course made me think of the kid who I went to school with who brought a hot dog for lunch every day. Every single day he'd unscrew the lid to his thermos and pull a hot dog out of the steaming water. His mom had a bun wrapped up in plastic wrap 'buttered' up with catsup and mustard. When we had hot dog day once a month ( I went to Catholic school and we didn't have hot lunch but once a month when the moms made us hot dogs) he was in his glory. I wondered if he also had a specific dinner item that he ate every day. I think his name was Gary, but I can't remember when he left our grade school. I know he didn't complete 8th grade with us. His family must have moved.

I also remembered Shannon who wore "Jaws" socks with her school uniform. Yep, decked out in a plaid jumper complete with a white peter pan colored blouse she sported the scary shark on her shins on his way to devouring that skinny dipper. Or at least she sported them until Sister Catherine Delores advised her not to wear them again.

Not sure why all these memories are popping into my head today. But, they were just quirky enough that I wanted to write them down. To capture them before I forgot about Leann, Gary and Shannon. Never know when they will inspire something more.

Monday, June 16, 2008

used bookstore observations

For the last two weeks I have been helping to restock our used bookstore at the library. This is beyond what I normally do as the 'manager.' I have some very capable gals who normally take care of this on an almost daily basis. One of them, however, has taken a long summer vacation and I volunteered to help the other gal get this very important work completed.

The first thing we do is sort through all of the donations that have come in since last Thursday. You see, Thursday is when the BIG sort happens. I'm talking 10 folks come in each week and sort, box and haul an entire week's worth of donations. On Monday, the store stockers do a presort. They go through and separate all the nonfiction, the hardback fiction, the standard size paperback fiction and trade sized fiction. Any remarkable nonfiction is taken to the storage closet and the store if filled from there. Same thing for all the fiction.

The trick comes in when you are trying to fill the shelves and keep coming across titles that we already have on the shelf. We try to not have duplicates in the store. So, when it seems that all you have is Brown, Baldacci, Grisham, Roberts etc in the store, most likely we have 2-3 additional copies of that title in the storage closet.

Yep, we are heavy on the bestsellers. Coming across a midlist author is like finding a diamond whether it be in hardback or paperback. We look for unknown or lesser known names. We give a shout of glee when we find them. Often I will turn them face out to encourage a customer to at least pick the darn book up and give it a test drive.

For a while our inventory of romance paperbacks was slim. Now we've had a run on trade sized paperbacks. Oh, I have enough Anita Shreve and Ya Ya's to choke a horse, but beyond them, not much to choose from in the storage closet. Still plenty of non-romance paperbacks to stock.

The other thing, our sales are exploding. Not sure if it is summer. Maybe the price of gas is keeping people home more and on the couch reading.

Just a few observations from the trenches.

Friday, June 13, 2008

the journalist I wasn't

Back in the late 80's when I was at IU, I switched my emphasis from broadcast journalism to magazine writing. A number of factors influenced that decision including the trend for TV news to veer towards more entertainment than hard news. When the space shuttle blew up and I sat in a lecture hall and listened to several journalists gloat or bemoan the quality of photo they had of that tragedy, I knew I didn't have the stomach for what I saw as journalism's future. My faculty advisor tried to convince me otherwise, encouraged me to stay with it, journalism needed good people with objectivity who wouldn't be sucked into the 'celebrity' crap oozing into the business. I didn't listen to her. I finished my degree and promptly went into banking. But, I'm a news junkie to this day and my network of choice is NBC/MSNBC.

Today Tim Russert died. Yep, he started his career in politics, but he successfully transitioned into a journalistic watchdog. So much so, that he became an institution. Who can forget that dry erase board during the presidential election? He steered Meet the Press in a new direction. He brought political journalism back to life in this new journalistic world. He straddled the gap between celebrity and hard news. He was an amazing interviewer.

Sad day for NBC news, but it is a sadder day for people who give a damn and try to stay informed via various sources. I always looked forward to hearing what questions he had for politicians. He illuminated without having any agenda other than to lay it out on the table.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

it's not you it's me

So, I've started to read Joe Konrath's book "Whiskey Sour." This is a good book with solid writing, characters, plot, dialogue. I'm going to finish it, but I doubt I will read another. It just isn't my cup of tea. I like mysteries, but not this brand. I don't mind books having sadistic killers, hey I read Lee Child and love those. For some reason, Konrath's story is just too darn real for me. The boogey man is just too vivid. This sort of stuff happens in the real world and I read to escape from reality not have it haunt my thoughts as I'm folding clothes or looking in the closet.

My hubby has tried to get me to watch horror movies over the years. If it doesn't have some supernatural creature in it, forget me copping a squat on the sofa next to him with the bowl of popcorn in my lap. I don't like slasher movies, never have and never will.

I guess I have found a book that also hits that note with me and my psyche.

On another front, I had another flash of scenery today as I was driving along to the oldest's French Horn lesson. Okay, Kim, what do you do when these moments of inspiration come and you are minutes away from being able to stop and jot them down? Do I need to carry a flippin tape recorder now??

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

odds and ends

I'm in a sort of rambling mood this morning. When that happens, I usually make lists to help focus on what I should be doing during the day. Figured, here was as good a place as any to start my list.

Talked with one of my volunteers yesterday. She wants me to write an article for submission to Southern Living or some similar magazine about the success of our bookstore. We have a shot at making over $30K this year. Unreal. We brainstormed about it, and I may work on that today.

The oldest kid made the soccer team of her choice for the competitive season and got the feedback that in the coach thinks, she is one of the top three goalies in her age group in the area. Woot!

I need to email my volunteer coordinator and let him know I want to split the Tuesday morning shift starting in August with our current worker. She needs a break and I need more of a routine so I'm not running over there more than I should.

The B&N issue has developed in regards to one of our mayoral candidates. Could the whole thing have been staged? Rumor has it, YES. Oh, and "bibliographic science" isn't a recognizable term when writing about every 'bell and whistle' in the library. Good grief. We wouldn't want an up to date and technologically current library because that would mean a better chance of having an educated electorate. Harder to fear monger folks who can read and research.

Managed to get in and out of the hospital yesterday in a half hour. Wow. Nothing serious, just the annual check the ta-tas appointment. On a positive note, middle daughter had to go with me as I wasn't wasting the gas to drive her home. She sat in the waiting room and had barely opened her book when I was done. Good to show them that taking care of yourself is important.

Speaking of wasting gas, has anyone besides me started to drive less and do without instead of making a mad dash to Schnucks or Target?

Next week is the big stock up at Aldi trip. I can't wait until they build one in our fair town. Will save me a 15 minute drive on the bypass. The drive is worth it as I buy enough pantry stuff to last a month, but I will relish a 5 minute trip when the new store opens.

Started Joe Konrath's "Whiskey Sour" yesterday. I love it already. Hey, a female police detective named Jack Daniels. How cool is that. I also love the idea of naming all the books after drinks. What a clever hook.

The paper is here. The dog is whining to go and retrieve. That is it for now.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

wicked game

I wrote yesterday about purchasing this book in lieu of the new Laurell Hamilton book, "Blood Noir." Not one of my better decisions. I read a review of "Wicked Game"by Jeri Smith Ready on one of my favorite author's websites. Sounded like a good bet. Take con artist Ciara Griffin who is trying to reform, toss in a pack of vampires who work as genre specific radio deejays, add an imminent corporate takeover and stir. Then whip in hunky grunge musician vampire Shane for a love interest and a pissed off old vampire who doesn't like the attention the deejays are getting. With all of that plus a secret undercover government agency who monitors vamps, you have the foundation for the book.
I really wanted to like this book more than I did. Bummed me out a bit. The writing isn't bad, heck the story isn't bad. It just never grabbed me by the throat and said, let's go for a ride. Something just didn't click for me. Jeri Smith Ready is to be lauded by bringing some new twists to the vampire genre...I loved her description of what happens after a vamp is staked. I also enjoyed the idea of a vamp being tied to the time frame when they actually lived and fading as they become more removed from that era.
Perhaps the problem is too many new twists in the world building and not enough exploration into them. The final twist at the end comes when we learn that our heroine's blood heals the grunge boy's holy water burned arm. What about the other vamp she just fed? How will her blood impact him? His creator just got waxed, will he be healed in some way too? The pat answer of her religious unbelief serving as the antidote for a holy water burn just didn't work for me.
Can't give it a major thumbs up, but I wish I could. It was just alright for me.
Over the next few days I'm going to be reading and commenting on Kim's second Shannon Wallace mystery. Yeah! I'm also digging out "Whiskey Sour" by J. Konrath. Picked it up at our last big book sale. Kim raves about Konrath, so I'm going to see what all the fuss is about.

Monday, June 9, 2008

B&N and Podunk Public Library

I enjoyed a wonderful lunch and visit with my buddy Kim yesterday. After we split a burger at Red Robin, we headed for B&N to have a look see and then shared a cookie. I walked away with a new urban fantasy by Jeri Smith Ready. Charlaine Harris blogged about Ready's book, Wicked Game. Charlaine rarely steers you wrong, so I picked it up with my extra 15% off coupon. I almost bought the latest Laurell K. Hamilton book instead, but decided to put that one on hold at the library and support the midlist author. Tough call for me as I do have all Hamilton's Anita books.

While Kim and I were chatting she mentioned she wanted to interview me for one of her blogs. The goal is to provide info on how books get into libraries, the back scene stuff from how the decision is made to purchase to when the book arrives on the shelf.

I really don't live in Podunk, USA. My town is on the outskirts of a metropolitan area and our population is over 40K at last count. Over 80% of residents have college degrees and the average household income is over 90K. I don't live in Stepford, but at times it does feel that way. This is not reality, folks.

So, the library tends to reflect our community. Heavy focus on kids, little and big. Not that the library doesn't have a great adult collection, but getting midlist authors on the shelves is not a major goal. Collection development is more quick and dirty than that. Lots of standing orders. Lots of preselected vendor lists used to encumber those development dollars.

If you want a midlist author's book, you have to buy it from B&N. Or talk really sweet to the adult librarian and get her to order the title for you. And that means work and time on her part.

The director has toyed with the library going to a bookstore model. Guess it is a new concept in library world. This doesn't mean the library will have more of the less known authors on the shelf, it is all about how the place is organized. A little focus on what is on the shelves in addition to how those shelves are laid out would be a positive thing.

Lots of random thoughts this morning, I may tweak this later, but you get the drift. Libraries are focused on serving up the "vanilla" if you want "bear tracks" best go to B&N.

Friday, June 6, 2008

this just in

I'm nuts.

Yep, I deliver the oldest kid to her volunteer job at the library. She is the one librarian's girl Friday this summer. I saunter back to the work area and there sits the new train table and pieces the Friends bought to spruce up the children's area. I kick off my sandals and start assembling. One of the staff went and found a Phillips head screwdriver for me and I was as happy as a clam for 45 minutes. See, those days of toy assembling are long gone from my life. Not much to assemble in Wii/iPod world. Bliss aplenty in those boxes from China containing a pretty spiffy Thomas the Tank Engine knock off set.

Other highlights of the day were watching kids 2 and 3 at their swimming lessons. Ah, the smell of chlorine and Coppertone. It really is summer in a bottle.

Earlier in the day I coerced the kids into helping me clean house. Yippee, that hateful chore can be knocked out in two short hours now with my able bodied assistants.

Oldest kicked some booty last night at soccer try outs. This was the spring league tryout...she came home sporting some new scrapes, but her squad won 2 and tied 1. No go girl. Protect that goal.

No bookstore drama to report. Thank God. Did have an interesting conversation with my cousin who is a HR gal at a major manufacturing facility for an international corporation. Gave me some great 'HR speak' to use just in case things get really psycho.

On the psycho front, one of our mayoral candidates is trying to stir up a hornet's nest at our local B&N. Guess the bozo found some 'sexually explicit' material in the children's section. Good grief. Can't wait to find out what title curled his toes.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


I keep my laptop in the kitchen. I can sit at the table and look out the double windows to my right and into the flower bed that sits outside. Today the coneflowers are blooming along with the rose campion, the alliums and the salvia. My liatris has the flowering spikes on it, but is a week or so away from starting to bloom. One of my favorite things is to drink that first cup of coffee, read the paper and glance out the window into the flower bed. In the front beds, the astilbe is in full color and some of the hostas have their flowering spikes ready to go.

Inspiration comes in weird ways. Like the other day when the ice cream truck meandered down our street. I'm old enough to remember when orange pushups were sold off a cooler strapped to the front of a bike. To a kid in Aurora, Ill. those bits of frozen goodness were heaven. Memories flooded through me and then came the scene. A kid sitting on the curb of some suburban street watching an overweight woman get run over by the ice cream truck. Don't know what I'll do with it, if anything, but there it is.

Every so often, okay, probably daily, odd scenes like this pop into my head. For me it often revolves around some memory, some real connection which then morphs or evolves into some fictional event.

Back to the flower beds. I just now had a flash of an old woman sitting on a bucket holding a trowel in a worn gardening gloved hand.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

and I get paid what for this?

Imagine a really loud scream...that would be me as of about five hours ago. This wasn't a good scream, this was a let me beat my head against the wall sort of thing. Have you ever met someone who consistently tries to do what I call pseudo-intellectual talk to everyone they meet? Let's just say, such people often rub other people the wrong way. Then, because of my insane devotion to the library, I get to deal with the fall out of the interactions between these people in the bookstore.

Customer complaints, aren't they grand. I'm from the management school that subscribes to the belief that what most customers want is for the system to be jiggled for them. They want the system to bend. More often than not, there is a way to do this and still stay in the gray area. Common ground is just a smile and head nod away.

I'm also of the belief that it isn't what you tell people, it is often how you say it. Ever meet someone who can correct you and make you feel like a million bucks? It is a knack, to be sure. In many ways it is a very Southern thing...the whole "bless his/her heart" mode of communication.

Yep, this is a total vent on my part. The sad thing is, even after several lengthy conversations, I don't think it is over. I think I've just hit the tip of the ice berg.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


No, I'm not talking about some hunk of man. I'm talking about the weather. You know it is going to be hot when you let the dog out at 5:30 to retrieve the paper ( yes, our dog does that) and your glasses fog up.

Plan for the day, stay cool. Of course that is after the oldest goes for her soccer tryout conditioning run. I pedal along next to her muttering encouraging words.

Middle kid needs to mow the back yard. She is working off a debt and has yard duty the rest of the summer. The stuff is growing like kudzu and she will most likely end up mowing at least twice a week for a bit.

Youngest kid started his online math program yesterday. The grin when he signed on yesterday was blinding. How in the heck did I manage to birth a child who enjoys numbers? I won't even touch a soduko puzzle for fear of hives.

I've fallen victim to Mahjong Titans. Which is what I will be moving to as soon as I close this lame post. Video games are not my thing. Computer games until I discovered Mahjong weren't my thing either. Maybe the heat has addled my brain.