Tag Archives: books

Quietly Creeping

So I managed to make my deadline. My goal was to have this little book of short creepy stories published by September 30th. September 30th is when school starts for me and I knew if I didn’t have it published by then it would fall by the wayside and not get done until I had completed my Master’s program.

I’m proud say it’s done. It’s published. It’s ready and waiting to creep you out! You can buy it here.

Right now it’s just an ebook but I’m looking into making physical copies available as well.

The whole reason this book came about was because of my late husband Jordan. He was a writing enthusiast, but as far as I know, was never able to finish a story. While going through his things I found a metric ton of his writing, which included but was not limited to, poems, songs and the beginning of intricate, winding novels. I think if he’d had the discipline to sit down and write one it would have been picked up quickly and sold like gangbusters. This is not to say he wasn’t a disciplined person. He wanted to write a novel, it just wasn’t a huge priority. He was a talented man and he spread that talent over many mediums. He sometimes referred to himself as a Jack of all trades but a master of none.

One day I was reading through his many written words and I came across three stories that were similar in nature. They were dark, creepy and examined the differences between reality and fantasy. I remembered him talking about these stories. While I remembered the general gist of the stories I, of course, could not remember all their intricate details. I re-read the writing he had. I pulled them out and put them all together in a binder. I got out a notebook, highlighter and post-its and took on the task of combining and adding to the stories.

I anticipated writing a long mystery novel. What I came up with was another short story. At first I was annoyed. I already had a number of short stories I didn’t know what to do with. As I glanced over my folder of short stories I decided to re-read some of them. I realized they all shared a common theme, fear.

But not in the way you would expect. It was something more subtle. The White Room was written as I struggled with my beliefs. The Child and his Beast explores growing up and loosing something in the process. Oliver Waits for Olivia examines relationships and what might happen if what you thought was real was not. The Roommate delves into being alone and going crazy. Wake Up, 
Travis, which is the story that was born of Jordan’s writing is sort of the odd ball out. Although it does examine some fears, like not having control of your life and not being able to tell the difference between reality and fantasy, it does not directly reflect a fear I’ve had to face. But I still put it in because I realized something else as I re-read these stories. All of these stories were written right before or after Jordan entered my life. I decided right then to edit and compile them into a book of short stories.

I knew I could not in good conscience publish this book under my own name. Jordan’s influence was in the very souls of these stories, so I figured a nom de plum was in order. The nom de plume would be a combination of my name and Jordan’s to honor his role in  each of the stories. I know Jordan would love these stories because he had read all but two of them and had told me he loved them.

I hope he’s proud of what I’ve put together and thrilled that one of his stories has been published, even if it’s in a slightly different form than he expected.

I Love the Library

So many things to love about the library.

Lately I have been rediscovering how much I love the library. As the weather turns colder and wetter here in the Great Northwest it gets difficult to find free activities for me and the kiddo to indulge in. The library is perfect. At my local Seattle Public Library branch the children’s section is located further from the library itself, so it’s not a huge deal if Jack talks in a normal voice or acts like a toddler. There’s a great selection of children’s books and DVDs to check out. They also provide puzzles, puppets and great reading areas. Jack and I could easily spend two hours reading, puzzling and playing. The bonus is Jack gets to pick and choose what books he brings home. (I limit it to five or six simply because he wants to read all the books he checks out every night before bed.) Not only does it entertain the kiddo for a couple hours and make the time during a rainy day fly by, but I also feel very at home at the library.

As a bibliophile the library has always been a special place for me; a place where I can browse for books, take them home without paying for them and bring them back again. It’s a place where I can preview a book to see if I do, in fact, want to add it to my ever growing collection of books. Countless times I have checked out a book convinced I was going to love it, only to find that I didn’t really feel the need to own it.

The library also holds some personal memories for me. My first “real” boyfriend and I went to the library down the street from our high school a few times a week to hang out after school. We got scolded by the librarians for cuddling up together in one chair and we shared one of the most memorable kisses (at least for me) right outside in the courtyard. I watched him work on his French homework and filled out my application for Assistant Director of the school play there. It doesn’t matter what library I go to I usually always remember those things, when I walk through the doors.

Besides triggering happy memories from high school, one of my favorite things about the library is checking out an almost new book. One that you can tell has been read by only a few people. I got one of those books the other day. It had the “Received On” stamp in the front and it was received at the library this year, so I knew it would be a good one. I flipped through it quickly, that’s when I noticed something I hate. Someone had crossed out the word “fucking” with a pencil. I’ve seen this before. In elementary school I was reading a chapter book in the school library and noticed someone had crossed out the word “ass.” I took it to the librarian to show her. I don’t remember her reaction at all, but I know what mine was, how disrespectful!

I felt this feeling again as I stared at the line carefully drawn through the swear of all swears. When I took the book home I sat down to read it with an eraser. I noticed right away that only two swears at the beginning of the book were crossed out. It seems whoever was reading the book could only abide two swears before giving up. I used my eraser to get rid of the marks, but I still was annoyed, they’d pressed so hard with their pencil that a gouge was left in the paper. I couldn’t get rid of that, but at least it was less noticeable with the pencil mark gone.

I really wonder why people feel it’s ok to do that. Making notes in the margins or crossing out words that offend your tender eyes is really rude and what’s more is it’s distracting. You know someone else might want to check out the book so why not keep it as nice as you can, out of respect for the next person? Would you ever mark up a library book? Am I being unreasonable here?

Finding Yourself in the Quiet

A few weeks ago I was on Facebook and saw someone’s status update. The update was from a mom. It  said something about a relaxing activity and then asked how other moms relaxed.

I thought about that for a long time. I thought about my usual routine for the day. Jack takes a nap in the middle of the day so that seems like the opportune moment for relaxing. Usually I would use that time to work on my writing, clean the house or more likely cruise stupid Facebook for two hours until Jack wakes up. Those activities are not so relaxing. What’s more is I would usually have music on in the background or a podcast if I was working on something crafty.

I don’t mind noise normally, but I haven’t been feeling myself lately. I’ve been going overboard on the negativity and complaining. Part of that might have something to do with me being stupid lonely all the time. I don’t get enough time with adult people since my sister moved away. I know that’s somewhat on me. I could join a MOPS group or start going to those single parent meetups again. It’s just a matter of me getting out of this funk. It’s hard enough trying to make new friends without having a dark cloud hanging over your head.

So I’m taking small steps to feeling better. I’m trying to reach out  more to the friends I already have, making an effort to reconnect with them. I’m also trying to take better care of myself. There are two things I’ve been trying to do each day to accomplish that.

The first thing I’m trying to do is get up before Jack wakes up. If I do that I can workout, have a shower and a cup of coffee and feel more ready to take on a toddler each day. This has only been mildly successful. To get up early I have to go to bed early and I don’t like to do that. Because I’m stubborn and the night is my time. I don’t have to watch Alice in Wonderland (for the millionth time), I can watch Battlestar Galactica or Russell Peters. I can read a book, I can have a bubble bath, hell I could dance around naked if I wanted to, cause my kid is asleep!

I don’t have to play “crawl under the bed to explore a cave” or “trapping mama and tying her up.” As much as I love playing with my child, my adult mind can only take so much before I start to think, really you’re chasing me around the house with a rope again? So it’s hard for me to get to bed early enough to get up before Jack, because I like being able to do what I want for a change.

With that said, I have had a little success this week. I’ve only worked out once, but I think I’ve been up before the kiddo every day so that’s a step in the right direction.

The second thing I’m doing in an attempt to make myself better is having a quiet naptime. That’s not to say I’m taking naps. I hate naps. My house is quiet at naptimes though.

I’ve started giving myself one chore a day during nap, clean the bathroom, clean the kitchen, make an important call; then after the chore is done and things are in relatively good order I pick up a book, sit in my reading corner and read until I hear the stirrings of an awakening toddler. So far this has been working out really well.

I love books and adore reading, so this has been really healing for my mind and soul. That sounds ridiculously cheesy, but it’s true. My house may be a little less tidy, but at least I’m getting an hour or more of something I love everyday.

There is something so rewarding to me about reading a book, finishing a book. I’m a big nerd and keep a journal of the books I’ve read. Yes, a paper journal where I write down every single book I’ve read.

This is my book journal. I love it!

I started it in 2006, but I don’t remember why. I even used to write mini-reviews of each book, but stopped that, too much work. I love to look through it and remember how each story impacted my life. How it made me feel, what I was doing when I read said book, how long it took me to finally finish one, seeing those months where there’s nothing makes me so sad, thinking I had no time to read.

I make it a point to read now. Because reading and books is part of who I am. Loving the written word is so deeply ingrained in my heart that I just feel crappy when I don’t read something. So I sit, in the quiet of my house, while the wild thing slumbers, I lose myself in a good book. And I really am starting to feel better.

Collections

I never thought I was collector of anything. I tried to start collections but always lost interest or found the collections sort of stupid; like Bert collecting bottle caps on Sesame Street. Why would you collect bottle caps, what’s the use of those?

I tried collecting stamps for awhile. I bought one of those “starter” books that had a plastic window with five or six stamps in it. I stuck with it for bit, carefully peeling stamps off letters and sticking them in a notebook. But I never really understood stamp collecting. Once they were used, you couldn’t use them again. Postage rates were always changing and what’s the point of collecting and keeping a bunch of stamps? No one ever got rich off collecting stamps.

I tried rocks too. Again, I bought a starter book that came with a box of small rocks and a card stock organizer to keep them in. I was in the middle of the desert, how hard could rock collecting be? The problem was there weren’t any cool rocks close by and rocks didn’t really do anything. You could classify them and look at them, and then what?

So then, much to my parent’s horror, I thought key chains would be the way to go. I seriously had a zillion key chains, anything that resembled something that could hold a key went on my “key chain chain.” Of course ten key chains to hold the one house key you have in junior high is truly fantastic, so I quickly lost interest in that. I started collecting buttons.

I pinned them to this thin vintage sash my mom let us have to play dress up with and hung them from my stuffed animal hammock. Did I mention I collected stuffed animals as well? And of course in elementary school was the obligatory sticker collection. Needless to say I had a lot of collections. Once my room was bursting at the seams with useless crap, I decided it was time to stop collecting anything. And for awhile I stuck with it. I didn’t collect anything for the entirety of my senior year in high school. I thought I was free of the collecting bug I didn’t need to collect anything. I didn’t want to collect.

That is until I came to Seattle. When I moved here I left almost all my books at home. I figured I’d be reading books for classes and partying it up so much I wouldn’t have any time for leisure reading. It all started innocently enough. I got ahead on my school reading, there weren’t many parties to attend at SPU (at least none I knew of) and suddenly I found I had time to read. I read the few books I had brought with me to school and suddenly I was out of things to read. I talked with a few people on my dorm floor and they suggested nearby Fremont that had a great used book store called Twice Sold Tales (now called Ophelia’s Books in honor of their late kitty). I headed over with a few friends, stayed for hours and left with a couple books. As I grew more comfortable with venturing out into the big city I discovered the astonishing amount of bookstores. Suddenly I couldn’t control myself, I had to go to these bookstores, and browse. And I had to buy!

I haven’t been able to kick this habit. I used to think of it as just some sort of hobby…or obsession. Put a bookstore in front of me and I’ll go in and most likely buy something. I never really thought of it as a collection before, I didn’t think anyone really collected books. I finally started referring to all the books I owned as a book collection this past Christmas when my husband gave me Book Collector, which is software that keeps track of all your books; what you have, what you want, who’s borrowing them, when they should bring them back.

So I collect books and now that I know that I embrace it. I have over 461 books, plus the three I bought last night at Fred Meyer, cause they were on sale, buy two get one free with the coupon! I also rationalize my collecting. I love books because they can scare you, make you cry, make you angry, give you hope, inspire you and be a friend.

If I’m struggling with a bit of writer’s block I feel no guilt just closing my computer after two sentences and opening a book. Doesn’t matter which book, as long as I’m reading I feel good. If I were to turn on the TV or watch a movie I would sit there disappointed in myself for being so lazy all the time. But a book can inspire me, a book can give me ideas, a book can even help me find reasons why a certain character of mine is acting a certain way. Like I said it doesn’t matter what I read. I love so many authors it’s impossible to pick a favorite. Put almost anything in front of me and I’ll read it and probably like something about it. Even smutty romance novels have their place on my shelf. After reading Germinal, no way am I going to pick up War & Peace, I’m going to pick up a Danielle Steele. Of course I could read a million Stephen King’s in a row and not complain. I’d be jumpy, but I wouldn’t complain.

All this to say I love my collection of books. I love to see them on the shelves, I love the smell of ink and glue and I love that each one is different.