Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I Hate Writing

Kevin Coolidge

“There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” ~Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith

I hate writing. I love having written, and I’m in good company. Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, Dorothy Parker—all have been credited with this widely quoted line. I happily credit them all because I understand. I stare at the blank screen. I write an opening paragraph, but I change my topic, and now it doesn’t fit. I delete it. I wish I had not. I start over. I hate writing.

I hate writing so much that I thought I should write a regular column. So that I wouldn’t be alone in my misery, I convinced Kasey to suffer along with me, because she hates writing too. We do, however, love books, and Ray Bradbury, a well-known and prolific writer, gives the advice of “Write only what you love, and love what you write” and so the column was to be about books, or rather reading, or maybe it should be writing about reading. Basically, if there’s a topic we wanted to write about, there was sure to be a book about it. “We won’t ever run out of material,” I pointed out. “Why, we could write for years on the books we have already read.”

Now, we only had to get someone to buy the idea. Luckily, the editor of the Wellsboro Gazette hates writing, but loves reading. “Sure, we can give it a shot, but I’m going to need something by this afternoon.” I remember that first column, punched out on the keyboard, making sure to spell every word correctly and not use the word ‘very’ in a sentence. I finished with minutes to spare, and with a satisfied click, thumped my first deadline. It was my best column, because it was my first column.

I couldn’t write a second, or a third, or fourth years’ worth of columns until I wrote that first one. Many authors attempt a “starter” novel, to prove they can create a narrative that will actually be read. Often that first work is safely squirreled away in a dark, inaccessible spot, so that no one will be forced to say that it is merely “good,” or if they are honest, that they didn’t like it, not at all. Only with experience and effort does a writer learn to “leave out the parts that people skip.”

Rereading my past work can be overwhelming. I see lines I wished I had omitted, an awkward phrase. What was I saying here? What was I thinking? There was a better way I could have expressed that, and it will never be exactly what I wanted to say. It will never be perfect. But I also gain much satisfaction. This part almost captured exactly what I was seeking, and here I was able to say the same thing with fewer words. I’ve read that “being a good writer mostly means being a good observer and a good thinker”, and with work, zest, gusto, and a good editor—I still hate writing, but I love having written…

Reading? Writing? Or Arithmetic? Drop me an email at from_my_shelf@yahoo.com Miss a past column? Four years’ worth just crammed with rich, creamy chocolate chips at http://frommyshelf.blogspot.com , grab a cold glass of milk and drink it in before the expiration date. Miss the farm? Catch “Hobo Finds a Home” a children’s book written by a cat, because when someone said mouse, Hobo heard muse…

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Midsummer's Newsletter!

From My Shelf
Newsletter: July 2010

News! : important recaps from June’s newsletter:
*If you haven’t checked out the website recently, check in for 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 www.wellsborobookstore.com

*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.

Upcoming Events at the Bookstore: (see calendar on website for details)

*Moms’ Night Out Book Club: Wednesday, July 14th, 6 to 8pm: 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 at least the first of the two books in Irene Hannon's "Heroes of Quantico" series, Christian romantic thrillers. We have these books 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!

* GAME NIGHT! Friday July 16, 5 to 9pm: Open game play night, featuring the newest release of Magic the Gathering’s 2011 Core Set. Although there will be great sales on the 2011 Core Set, and we anticipate a lot of Magic players attending, this is not a strict tournament, nor is this Game Night only for experienced Magic players. Join us for great specials on games of all kinds, learn how to play something new, or revisit an old favorite. Free & open to the public, no age restrictions, although this particular night is better for ages 10 & up.

*The Mad Hatter Tea Party! Wednesday, July 21st, 6 to 9pm: hosted by the Tween/Teen Book Club at From My Shelf, open to all ages. Come celebrate Lewis Carroll's classic "Alice in Wonderland" and all its permutations. Participants are asked to re-read the original "Alice in Wonderland" or read it for the first time, so that we may discuss it over tea, Wonderland-style. Other books that may be fun to discuss include Frank Beddor's series "The Looking Glass Wars" (including ‘The Looking Glass Wars’, ‘Seeing Redd’, and ‘Archenemy’, as well as 2 graphic novels about ‘Hatter M’; and/or Melanie Benjamin's "Alice I Have Been". There are also several graphic novel adaptations and expansions of the Alice story. Copies of the poems of the "Jabberwocky" and "the Walrus and the Carpenter" would make additional interesting conversation. All of these are available at the bookstore at discounted prices for the Tea Party.

Discussion groups and games may be divided up into age-appropriate groups, depending on the books discussed and the range of ages of those who come for Tea. This Tea Party, however, has NOTHING to do with President Obama, Sarah Palin, Boston, the American Revolution, or taxes.

Wear your best Victorian garb, or go for the more sartorially-splendid Mad Hatter approach. Tea, biscuits and finger-sandwiches to be served. To buy a lovely, new, but inexpensive copy of the original "Alice" before the party, the bookstore will be selling them for $3. If you buy your book with us, admission to the tea party is free; without an "Alice"-related book purchased at From My Shelf, admission is $3.

*Author Event! Friday, July 23rd, 11am to 2pm: local author, Norman Davis, of Galeton, PA, presents his collection of nature essays, entitled “Nature Ramblings”. This anthology includes many of Norm’s previously published columns from the Potter Leader. The book, which Norm self-published through Infinity Press, has been a special labor of love for Norm, his wife, and the staff of From My Shelf, who helped Norm edit and format his paper files to the appropriate computer data necessary for the publication. The finished project is a beautiful book, full of reminders to LOOK around us in this lovely area in which we live, throughout every season. The photo gracing the front cover, as well as the pen & ink drawings beginning every season’s reflections, are Norm’s handiwork. This is the perfect book for every summer cabin, hunting camp, beach house, naturalist’s bookshelf, and hiker’s backpack.

*Author Event! Saturday, August 7th, 12 to 3pm: Terry Drake, family therapist, licensed social worker, life coach, author of “Live Happily Ever After…Now!”. Based on his professional experiences and age-old techniques such as those used in positive psychology, Ericksonian hypnosis, and the Law of Attraction, Terry has penned this book to help people learn how much control they actually have over your life, discover their beliefs and attitudes about themselves, others and the world in which we live. Terry outlines how to understand what you can control, then how to use the 9 simple steps to make changes and begin living the life you want.

August Plans:
Help with summer required reading: an evening in early August for kids & teens who would like help understanding and finishing their required reading this summer….

Two writers’ seminars: one repeat of our highly-praised seminar, introducing authors to the pros & cons of self-publishing; the other, a more in-depth look at PR & marketing strategies for authors, both self-published and more “traditionally” published writers ….

An evening to brainstorm and start gathering resources & volunteers for October’s Bookfest…

Stay tuned for more details!

Michelle’s corner:

She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb
The title caught my eye, ‘She’s Come Undone’. Yep, I thought to myself…I’ve felt that way before. Little did I know that this book would take me on an emotional rollercoaster and leave me sitting in a moment of silence after I read the last words. It is the story of Delores Price, who comes from a dysfunctional family, is raped at age 13 then spends the next few years insulating herself from people & feelings, by watching TV and eating. She soon finds that she is 257 pounds, cynical, angry, suicidal and feels unlovable. This is her journey to understand her life, to forgive, to let go and to love. This book touches your heart and may make you see things in your life in a whole new light. Expect to be moved!!
*Interesting note* I had a whole other article wrote up for this month, but this book would not let go of me. I know that this is not my usual kind of read. It is intensely emotional and deeply moving, but it needs to be read!So step away from your usual and give it a try!

Michelle’s picks for new releases not to miss
(These series need to be read in order)**
**June 29th – Pray For the Dawn: The Dark Days Series, book 4 by Jocelynn Drake (OOPS! Missed this last month)
**July 6th – Undead & Unfinished: Queen Betsey, book 9 by Mary Janice Davidson
**July 20th – Troublemaker: Alexander Barnaby Series, book 3 by Janet Evanovich (This is her debut graphic novel)
**July 27th - Eternal Kiss of Darkness: Night Huntress World, book 2 by Jeaniene Frost
**July 27th - Waking the Witch: Women of the Otherworld, book 11 by Kelley Armstrong
**July 27th – Wait for the Dusk: The Dark Days Series, book 5 by Jocelynn Drake
July 27th – Kiss Me If You Can: Most Eligible Bachelor, book 1 by Carly Phillips

July 27th – A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James

For those addicted to the Stephanie Bond “Body Movers” Series – On the author’s website it says that Sony pictures is interested in developing her series into a TV pilot, but until they decide, she cannot release books 7 & 8. Please hurry and make up your mind , SONY!

This just in! New releases/new inventory to celebrate!
The Fiddler in the Subway by Gene Weingarten
The Good Men Project: Real Stories from the Front Lines of Modern Manhood
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
The Merry Misogynist by Colin Cotterill.
Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm-Girl by Susan McCorkindale
Separation of Church & State by David Barton
Mixed Skills in Math, Grades 7-8 by Marge Lindskog
Physics for Future Presidents by Richard Muller
Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter
The Passage by Justin Cronin
Sizzlin’ Sixteen by Janet Evanovich
Sheep in a Shop by Nancy Shaw
Take Four (Above the Line series #4) by Karen Kingsbury
Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner

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

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

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

When I'm Gone

Kevin Coolidge

"Death is not the end. There remains the litigation over the estate." Ambrose Bierce.

Never saw Joe in a tie before – or a suit, now that I think of it. Hair combed, shoes polished, pants ironed: he’s looking pretty good for a dead guy. There’s a large turnout here at the funeral home. Joe knew just about everyone, and everyone knew Joe. Give Joe a chance and he’d talk your ear off. Telling a joke to get a laugh, or telling his favorite fishing story—Joe loved fishing so much that his wife used to joke that he’d die fishing. She was right, but there’s worse ways to go. I’m sure going to miss Joe, but I wonder if I’m ever going to get back my fly-tying vice?

I knew Joe didn’t want to be buried in the cold, dark ground, but rather cremated and his ashes scattered at his favorite fishing hole. I knew it, because he told me over a cold beer on a hot summer day, but he never actually wrote it down anywhere. Death, funerals, burials, wills—these are things that you never talk about, but someday you’ll have to plan for them, for yourself, or for a loved one. It’s not an easy thing to plan for, but Death for Beginners by Karen Jones, and When I’m Gone by Kathleen Fraser, can make it a little easier.

Why think about death? Sure, deep down we know that none of us are getting out of here alive, but why dwell on it? Your mother raised you to be considerate of others, and this is really what’s it all about. Your loved ones are going to be grieving. In order to keep wrong decisions being made, money wasted, or feelings hurt, shouldn’t there be an instruction manual?

Death for Beginners is broken down into useful chapters—such as “what to do with the body”, or “So who wants or needs to know”. You don’t have to have an expensive, traditional service. It was once common to hold the viewing in the deceased’s home, and if you’d rather not buy a cemetery plot, you can leave your body to science.

How many times have you read the obituaries or read in the paper that the funeral was yesterday? There’s a chapter that will help you decide whom to tell and when. As well as advice for your obituary, how to do it—such as focusing on the life lived rather than a notice of death. Also in our digital age, don’t forget notification on Facebook and other social media website pages.

Where is your password? Your PIN numbers? The key to the back door? How is your wife going to be able to access your Paypal account? When I’m Gone is a practical fill-in record book and resource manual to give instructions to those who are left behind, not only on will, funeral arrangements, or insurance, but on the day-to-day details of your life and household—such as your landlord’s phone number, or what your post office box number is.

Death can be a long-awaited trip, or an unexpected stop, but we all have to make the journey. Shouldn’t you leave your family a practical road map? So, pack your bags, update your passport, and get one of these books for your travel guide. Now that wasn’t so bad, was it? You are only going to get one chance to plan your funeral, and you know what happened the last time you let your aunt navigate...

Rage against the dying of the light? Or go gentle into that good night? Email me at from_my_shelf@yahoo.com Miss a past column? Access the archive at http://frommyshelf.blogspot.com and catch up. Hobo is going to work on his obituary after his seventh life, and a brief nap. In the meantime, check out “Hobo Finds A Home” a story about a cat full of life…