Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Deadliest Men

Kevin Coolidge

“When you have to shoot, shoot!—Don’t talk.”

Loyalty, honor and courage are among the many virtues of the warrior. Heroes fascinate and fill our lives, from the epics of Homer and “The Iliad” to Hollywood’s latest man of action. These men fight for their lives, survive terrible wounds, endure pain, make incredible escapes, and triumph over overwhelming odds. But how many such men have there been, really?

The Deadliest Men: The World’s Deadliest Combatants throughout the Ages by Paul Kirchner profiles forty “battle-glad” men and four “strife-eager” women, ranging from the glory hound Alexander the Great to a backwoods conscientious objector. There are gunfighters, a poetry spouting Viking, and even a professional baseball player.

Ty Cobb led the American League in batting, had a career average of .367, and was the first player voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, but he also intentionally spiked players, brawled with umpires, beat up hecklers, and pistol whipped a mugger so thoroughly that he couldn’t be identified at the morgue…the meanest man who ever played baseball.

Audie Murphy was only 5 foot 5 and 112 pounds when he signed up for WW II, but became the most decorated American combat soldier of the war, winning every award for valor. His portrait on the cover of Life magazine brought him to attention of Hollywood. He played himself in To Hell and Back, but the movie minimized his actual record of kills for reasons of taste…truly an army of one.

Miyamoto Musashi was a famed swordsman. In the absence of war, dueling was the only way for a samurai to gain renown. By controlling the time and circumstances of his duels, and arriving when he chose, Musashi fought over sixty duels and became Japan’s most notorious ronin. In addition to the sword, he practiced calligraphy, sculpture, and painting, and wrote A Book of Five Rings, a book of strategy still read today…a master of the pen and the sword.

James Bowie, born in the bayou of Louisiana, grew up wrestling alligators. He invested in land with money that he made importing smuggled slaves, and he was a Southern gentlemen with a penchant for fighting. The famous American fighting knife that bears his name was conceived when his gun misfired and he swore he’d never be without a reliable weapon again. He died at the Alamo. When his mother heard of his death she said, “I’ll wager no wounds were found in his back” …So, if you’re going to bring a knife to a gunfight….

Why did these individuals fight? Honor? Self-defense? Love of adventure? Some of these characters were born to privilege and wealth, some born in poverty, some were powerful men, and some were small of stature, but the call of battle called them all, and they answered…

The Good? The Bad? Or the Ugly? Shoot me an email at Miss a previous column? Never fear; they’re all stored here at Be sure to look for Hobo’s new book on his neighborhood’s meanest cats like Krazyshanks, Henry, and Velvet...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Thanks To All 2009 Bookfest Authors

Dear Authors:

We wanted to thank you again for participating last October in Wellsboro’s very first BookFest. You all helped make this new event a big success and a great launching point for the years to come. We have big plans for this year’s event, and even bigger dreams for the future, and we hope you will join us along the way.

BookFest 2010 will be held on Saturday, October 16th at the Wellsboro high school. We will have full access to the high school library, cafeteria, and gymnasium, all of which connect together at one end of the building. Both the cafeteria and the gym as individual spaces are bigger than the Wellsboro Fireman’s Annex, where BookFest was last year, so with all three spaces available to us, we will have exponentially more room, facilities, and traffic flow than last year. Since we learned so much from last year, we are excited to be able to be that much more organized in the entire layout and process of this year’s festival.

Wellsboro’s BookFest provides authors with the chance to sell their own books; market to a large, willing crowd who are all interested in books, writing, literacy, and reading; network with other authors and publishers, as well as with teachers, parents, librarians, and store owners. We expect most authors who come to BookFest to be in charge of their own cash boxes for sales: you sell your own book; you collect the money and sales tax; you keep all of your own profits. We will not take a cut of your sales. If you cannot sell your own book as a result of contractual terms, or prefer to make other arrangements with the bookstore regarding the sales of your book(s) for BookFest, please let us know.

This year we will add the chance for authors to do readings of their work or demonstrations/talks about a relevant topic, in 15 to 30 minute sessions, scheduled to take place in a section of the library, which will be away from the general roar of the crowds. Let us know if you are interested in giving one of these sessions.

Other activities and attractions for this event will include lunch foods and baked goods for sale (sponsored by student groups and/or local nonprofits); a large used book sale; a ticket-raffle for a variety of beautiful items donated by local businesses and crafters; story-time for young children; 4 to 5 hours of live radio broadcasts, including interviews with many of you authors. Our offer to you is this: we’ll bring the crowds; you sell your books!

The cost of registering this year is $30, which gets you months of pre-advertising and PR, including ads and articles on, facebook, twitter, our monthly newsletters, local newspapers (including the Wellsboro Gazette, the Potter Leader, the Elmira Star Gazette, and the Williamsport Sun Gazette), the state websites for both the PA teachers’ union and the educational support staff union, at least two local radio stations, and more. Your registration fee also provides you with a large rectangular table just for you (no sharing this year, I promise), folding chairs, bottled water, reserved parking, plastic bags for your customers, access to a “bank”, and a volunteer assistant for the day. If you donate a copy of one of your books (must be a real book, not an ARC) to the ticket-raffle, then your registration fee is $20. Please make checks payable to “From My Shelf” and mail your check (and book, if you choose) to us at: From My Shelf, 87 Main St, Wellsboro, PA 16901.

Authors (plus family or other willing assistants) can arrive Friday, and/or stay Saturday, if they like, to make a nice weekend of the event. We will gladly help authors find appropriate lodging, although in order to accommodate everyone’s needs, the sooner you make these plans, the better, since October is a very popular time of year for tourism in Wellsboro. We can help you find great deals on motel/hotel/camping/B&B’s, who may offer incentives for the authors in this event. We may also be able to find “host families” for a single author or a couple, where you might stay the night with a local family, but again we’d need to know several months in advance if you would like us to make these arrangements for you. These kinds of lodging arrangements are the modus operandi for the Endless Mountain Music Festival in August, and both musicians and locals have really enjoyed this way of meeting people and talking about common interests in the arts.

Meals will not be provided, although we will have volunteers available to you all day on Saturday, who can run to get you the food of your choice. There will also be food for sale at the high school, as a part of BookFest. As for meals for Friday, or for Saturday evening, I may be able to arrange for discounts or “prix fixe” menus for participating authors, once I know how many people would want to participate. We want to make this a wonderful experience for everyone involved, and you authors are a key part of what makes this event so special.

Please let us know if you can join us this fall, to make the second annual Wellsboro BookFest THE regional literary event of the year!

Warmly yours,

Kevin Coolidge & Kasey Cox,
The staff at From My Shelf,
Hobo the cat,
and the educators of the Wellsboro Area School District.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Forgotten Tales of Pennsylvania

Kevin Coolidge

Where are you from? It’s a question I’ve heard no matter where I’ve traveled. What do you answer? Do you tell them where you were born? Where you grew up? Where you went to college? I’ve always known where I’m from: I’m from Pennsylvania, home of Pittsburgh steel, birthplace of a nation filled with hard-working people, and site of some mighty peculiar history.

You already know that the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia. You probably know that portions of Western Pennsylvania were disputed territory between the colonial British and French during the French and Indian War, but do you know about the act of cannibalism that occurred in May of 1872 at the Pennsylvania House Hotel in the city of York? Or that giant skeletons were excavated in some of the state’s ancient burial grounds, and a human skull with horns was discovered in Bradford County?

Historian Thomas White has spent countless hours pouring over books about the big events in Pennsylvania history, and along the way has stumbled across those little tidbits of history that get ignored in school. His book, Forgotten Tales of Pennsylvania, covers the strange stuff--those bizarre anecdotes, legends, and forgotten stories that I like the best.

This book contains over 160 of Pennsylvania’s lesser-known tales. There are stories of the supernatural. I wasn’t aware that Pennsylvania had such a rich history of werewolves, ranging from the werewolf of Clinton County’s recorded by Henry Shoemaker, the werewolf of Shenango valley who could run on both two and four legs, to May Paul’s werewolf admirer. There are also witches, ghosts, monsters, alien big cats and even a leprechaun credited with saving a child’s life.

There are bizarre tales of spontaneous combustion in Coudersport, raining snails in Chester County, and the spooklights of the Lackawanna Valley. I loved the story about the goldfish credited with putting out a fire in Philadelphia, and the tale of the Frenchman’s gold rumored to be buried near Coudersport makes me want to grab my shovel and go for a hike in God’s country.

There are also trivia and news stories that don’t usually make the history books. Did you know that the smallest officially-designated wilderness area in America is in Pennsylvania? Or that the original Jeep was designed and constructed by the American Bantam Car Company in Butler County? There are also accounts of circus accidents, dam disasters, a communist working for the FBI, and an exploding rattlesnake.

Most of the tales are short, to the point, and fun to read. If you enjoyed Flatlanders and Ridgerunners by Jim Glimm or The Monsters of Pennsylvania by Patty Wilson, or if you just enjoy quirky stories, then pick up a copy of Forgotten Tales of Pennsylvania, because it doesn’t really matter where you are from; it’s where you are going…

Ruled and schooled? Or satisfy your own thirst? Email me at Miss a past column? Explore the archives at and catch up on past columns, comments, and more. Pennsylvania has at least one tawny cat, and that’s Hobo, author of Hobo Finds A Home, a children’s book about Hobo’s favorite subject, Hobo…

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Rental textbooks: let us help you save money at Chegg!!

Everyone knows how expensive their college textbooks were at the start of the term. Here we are, it’s the end of the term and the bookstore wants to give you pennies on the dollar for your books. I say forget the bookstore! You can make some real dough by going to . They’ll pay you top dollar for your books, like $40 each – and no lines because it’s online. What could you do with double the money the bookstore would give you? Chegg even pays the shipping!

How about the fact I have a promo code CC128580 that gets you an extra $5 with your order?

GET lots of cash + GET more cash = A green way to sell your books

Go to, you can get your used textbooks sold now. After all, you read your books cover to cover, or at least that’s what your professor believes, so you should be smart enough to know where to sell them for the extra buck, smarty pants.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

June 2010 newsletter

From My Shelf Newsletter: June 2010

News! *If you haven’t checked out the website recently, check in at some of the new things we’ve added! Of course, there’s always something new at the “Events” calendar link, but we’ve also added new photos, links to our youtube videos, and more! Don’t forget to visit the website every once in a while, since we’re always adding new & different content for you! In fact, go bookmark us now, at

*Punch cards: once again, we’ll be putting the “punch card” on summer hiatus – we won’t be punching any cards this summer, but, if you have a full punch card, you can still redeem it for $10 off a purchase at the store any time.

*We have added/changed our Wednesday special members’ sale! Wednesdays are now 25% off ALL children’s books, new or used, all summer long! Keep the kids reading: keep their minds sharp and your nerves intact by bringing them to the bookstore each week for high quality, great selection, reasonably-priced summer entertainment! And be sure to watch our calendar of events for a TON of great activities all summer long.

*In order to accommodate everyone who wants to trade books in this summer, we’re asking all of our members to (1)PLEASE schedule an appointment to bring your books in; during the summer we really can’t deal with drop-ins. If you are coming to Wellsboro from out of town, you still need to give us a call before you come. (2)Please bring only 10 books for your trade-in. If you have more than 10 books, you can schedule another appointment for later, or you could bring us the books you feel will earn you the most credit and donate the others on elsewhere.

Thanks for your understanding! If everyone sticks to the “10 books” and definitely scheduled program, then we can do have 2 people trade-in each day and have plenty of appointments to offer. When we get swamped, we get behind, and then the program gets too bogged down to accommodate all our members!

*Hobo will soon be making regular visits to the bookstore again!! We’ll be scheduling his “appearances” from 1 to 3pm most Saturday afternoons, beginning in June! Check the store events calendar to confirm.

*New merchandise at the store! We are now carrying beverages from the Pepsi Co. company, including cold Ocean Spray juices, Lipton iced teas, regular & diet sodas, Aquafina bottled water, and Starbucks cold coffee drinks in cans. We’re also proud to announce that we are co-op’ing with our fabulous local sweets-and-snacks company, Highland Chocolates! We have the famous chocolate barks in a huge variety of flavors, as well as small molded chocolates (especially cats) and their little snack mix packages. Highland Chocolates is a nonprofit company providing employment opportunity for area folks with developmental disabilities, and their pretzel bark is regionally famous!

Upcoming Events at the Bookstore: (see calendar on website for details)
*Friday, June 4th, 6 to 9pm: Game Night! “Open” game night, meaning we’ll play whatever you want to! Bring games you like, or show up and see what some of our regulars like to play. Free and open to the public.

*Friday, June 11th, 6 to 9pm: Game Night! This game night will focus on Heroclix, a miniatures strategy game featuring heroes and villains from DC and Marvel comics. If you’ve played before, bring a couple of your favorite teams; if not, here’s your chance to learn! This game is not difficult to learn, nor is it too expensive to begin playing. Plus, on Game Nights, Woolverine Games offers many extra discounts on starter sets and booster packets. ‘Clix not your style? Bring your own game to share, and we’ll play a board or card game with you. Free and open to the public.

*Sunday, June 13th: We’re open 11am to 3pm on Sundays now …. Stop in and see us, grab a cold drink, and watch Wellsboro’s famous Pet Parade meander down Main Street about 1:30pm. (Last year, Kasey couldn’t stop laughing at the “fainting goats”. Really. They exist. And they were right here on Main St.)

*Wednesday, June 16th: Moms! Join the women from our local MOPS (Mothers of Pre-schoolers) for a fun evening of light book discussion & light refreshments. Participants should try to read the first half of Irene Hannon's "Against All Odds", a Christian romantic thriller. We have this for sale at the bookstore on big discount for those participating. You need not be an official member of MOPS, just a woman, preferably a mom, who needs a night out to socialize a little with some other women! The second and final meeting for this book club event is Wed, July 14th.

*Wednesday, June 30th: the kick-off event for our ‘tween and teen book activities for this summer! Participants should be between the ages of 11 and 18. If necessary, we can divide into two smaller groups for any given activity. Please bring $3 to cover cost of pizza or snacks. For this first event, you’re asked to read a book on the theme of survival. Possible books include Hatchet (by Gary Paulsen); Julie of the Wolves (by Jean Craighead George); Island of the Blue Dolphins (by Scott O’Dell); Shipwreck: Island, Book 1 (by Gordon Korman); Alive: the Story of the Andes Survivors (by Piers Paul Read); Crazy for the Storm (by Norman Ollestad); Adrift (by Steven Callahan); Touching the Void (Joe Simpson); Life As We Knew It (Susan Beth Pfeffer). We have all of these books available at the bookstore, specially discounted if you are planning on joining us.

Michelle’s corner:
Author Katie MacAlister

The Aisling Grey, Guardian Series
The Dark Ones Series (vampires)
The Steampunk Series
The Dragon Series (people who change into dragons)
Plus many, many mysteries, AND romance – contemporary, paranormal, and/or historical

This month was difficult for me. I knew that I wanted to write about Katie MacAlister, but I couldn't decide what series to write about, so I'm just going to say, read them all! Katie is a fun, zany, quirky, crazy author. As you can see from the above list, whatever your cup of tea is, I guarantee you great laughs & a fun ride.

Okay, I would be remiss if I did not also tell the readers out there thatI also love the women in her books. Many of them are just average-looking and some have a little extra padding around the middle. Well that just excites me, doesn't it you? To know that some sexy, dark, brooding vampire might want to suck my blood and make me his Queen of the Night or a dragonman might throw me over his shoulder and make me his love slave even with my excess pounds... well that just gives a girl hope. Now I know what you’re going to say. Vampires and dragonmen are not real, but a girl can have her dreams, right? (picture me lifting my eyebrows up and down rapidly). Thanks Katie!

Michelle's picks for new releases not to miss

May 25th - Chronicles of Nick by Sherrilyn Kenyon
(Sorry I missed this last month, but this is the first book in a new series based on the life of Nick, a character from her Dark hunters Series)
June 29th - One Season of Sunshine by Julia London

(These series need to be read in order)

June 1st - Bullet:The Anita Blake Series by Laurell K. Hamilton
(This is the first time ever that she has released two books in one year. Her other book, 'Flirt', was just a fun story that she came up with, but this promises to get back to her main characters)

June 22nd - Sizzlin Sixteen: The Stephanie Plum Series by Janet Evanovich
June 29th - The Darkest Lie: Lords of the Underworld (Gideon's story) by Gena Showalter
June 29th - Love in the Afternoon: A Hathaways Novel by Lisa Kleypas

Books just in! New releases/new inventory to celebrate!
* “The Second Short Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella”
by Stephenie Meyer
RELEASE DATE: Saturday, June 5th
For all you “Twilight” fans, this little novella is a spin-off story about the “illegally”-created newborn vampires ravaging the city of Seattle. Perfect reading before the movie version of “Eclipse” hits theaters June 30th.

*USA Today Logic Puzzles – remember the cool ones with the grids? Finally found some! Ordered by popular request!
*Sudoku for Kids – finally found some! Ordered by popular request!
*Sh*t My Dad Says, by Justin Halpern – snort-milk-through-your-nose funny!
*Physics for Future Presidents, by Richard A. Muller
*Fiddle Tunes for the Violinist
*The Tractor in the Haystack, by Scott Garvey
*a TON of gently used, hardcover Hardy Boys mysteries!
*A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future, by Michael J. Fox
*The Night Before Summer Vacation, by Natasha Wing
*Rattler Tales from Northcentral Pennsylvania, by C.E. Brennan
*Forgotten Tales of Pennsylvania, by Thomas White
*Brisingr, by Christopher Paolini -- now in paperback!
*Food Not Lawns! By H. C. Flores

From My Shelf bookstore
87 Main Street
Wellsboro PA 16901
(570) 724-5793

Together, we’re building community one book at a time …..