My Library – Random Thoughts

One day I would like to live in a library.  Or more correctly, I would like to convert my home into a library. I don’t have room for all my books in my small city apartment. But one day.  And not just some little cozy room with a few built in bookshelves, but something grand. Like the citadel in Game of Thrones. Only no chains on the books. Like below- grand architecture, perfect book preserving climate, that goes on and on.

ancient antique architectural design architecture

 

img_1054For now, I have a few shelves, some over-stuffed with my lovely books. Inside these books are some of the loveliest and nastiest people I have ever met. Some human, some dragons, some of various origins. It is here in these pages where I see possibility, where I find hope when I can’t find any in the “real” world.

img_1059There is a section in the classic, Lord of the Rings, where Frodo Baggins laments that he has thought an attack of dragons would do his fellow hobbits a world of good. Only, when it comes down to it, he only wishes to save them. I suspect we all feel this same conflict at some level about our fellow humans with whom we share this tiny pile of space rubble.

img_1056In Brandon Sanderson’s trilogy, The Stormlight Archives, there is a character, a king by the name of Taravangian. This king appears to all the world as a feeble, old man albeit kindly. And on most days, that is true because Taravangian often wakes up as an idiot. He doesn’t have the strength or intelligence to be duplicitous.  On other days, he is a genius. On those days, he is, well, scary. I won’t give away any spoilers. But I do suspect there have been a few Taravangian type kings to visit their wrathful genius in this world. It’s so much better if the villains can be kept on pages in black and white.

Well, tonight I am an idiot so I am going to do some grammatical edits and read one of my glorious books for a spell before sleep takes me.

 

 

 

Week 12 2016 – The Last Good Bye

HeavenlySkiesI can picture Hell. It’s all too easy these days. Just turn on the news.  A place without love, without compassion, full of selfishness, ignorance, oppression, totalitarianism, and violence. Hell is nothing more than the absence of God, although there are plenty of false gods and theocracies formed to keep the drivel in line.  There are no miracles, no magic, no dragons, demons, or ghosts,  and no happy endings. Everything can be explained. It is all terribly shallow and mundane. Imagine a life occupied by only the most base of human experience. There is no need for fire and brimstone. While humans suck at power to do any good, we are quite adept at making our own little Hell dimensions, especially if we are given any power.

There is pleasure in Hell, fame and riches, envy and lust, but it is all empty, meaningless and always surrounded by horrors.  Hell lacks subtly and is so prevalent in its creeping tendrils in our world, we scarcely notice it. And we certainly do not dare call it by its name.  We live in a fallen world where glimpses of Heaven are fleeting.

Heaven is found only in moments of pure joy, unconditional love, and painfully beautiful visions that take our breath away, a sunset here and a clear blue ocean there. It is quiet, always there just in your grasp, not on the other side of the clouds, but rather on the other side of your life. In my belief, a man of love was nailed to a tree for our crimes so that everyone of us might conquer death and gain Heaven. This man descended into Hell, rose again on the third day so that all of us might one day dwell eternally in a place that is filled with love so bright that even the most glorious of poets could never describe it.

J.R.R. Tolkien gave a wondrous description at the end of Return of the King which comes pretty close to my meager imaginings of what paradise might be like.

“And the ship went out into the High Sea and passed on into the West, until at last on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the gray rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.”

AuntBarbara

I like to think that my Aunt Barbara is there in that far green country reunited with her beloved horse, Annie, both young and whole again.

 

This week we said our last goodbyes, and though I will miss Aunt Barbara from this day until that day, I do believe we will meet again. I might go fishing with my granddad first, my dad (if he beats me there), and my old Springer Spaniel, Winston. That dog loved to jump in the lake, especially when a fat brim began to nibble on my line.

So Aunt Barbara and her horses may have to wait. I am sure she won’t mind as there will time for everything and everyone. For now, I will try my best to fight the good fight, live my life as full as I can until the good Lord calls me home at last.  At least, I will write more whatever comes along.

Week 7 2016 – The Slush Pile Cafe

SlushPileSo I am opening a café. It’s virtual because my funding for it at this time is virtual (non-existent). It is a café for writers at all stages of their career, and those who help us, delight us, improve us all the while tormenting us (beta-readers, editors, agents, cover artists, marketers, publicists, book critics, and fans.).

After a writer completes a book, most of us would like there to be readers. Lots of them.  This involves a great deal of waiting, and usually that waiting is done at the bottom of a slush pile. This idea came to me when reading this post by Janet Reid about an agented author waiting to hear about her second novel placed with that agent. I just want to hear about my first novel,and realized I am way on the bottom of several slush piles. Hence, I give you the Slush Pile Café.

The Slush Pile Café

SlushCafeFloorPlanImagine a 4-story circular building that opens into a lovely outdoor café and garden at its center. Think miniature pentagon. There is free WiFi (naturally), and it is pet friendly. Writers get awfully attached to their animals.

IMG_0299Note: If you have a horse or a dragon, please call ahead. We can only stable so many horses, and we can only provide so many treasure hordes for dragons. And some people become unglued when they see a dragon outside the pages of books.  Most writers are totally fine with them. The café is divided into several distinct areas to accommodate the entire writing process (from start to fans).

The Query Trenches

SlushMenuThis part of the Slush Pile Café is for writer’s who are deep in the Query trenches or trying to finish their book. The Query Trenches is located next to the coffee and bakery station. If you wish, there is an app available inside the trenches that will hit refresh on your email every two seconds and alert you when an agent or editor has made some reply to your query or request. After 90 days, it will send a gentle follow-up to non-responding agents. If the agent is one of those Normans (No Response Means No), it will pipe sappy love songs from the 70’s elevator music into their office.

The Plot Thickens Craft Bar

IMG_0152In the basement of the café is a craft beer and whiskey bar. This is primarily for writer’s with works in progress. This area seeks to satisfy the writer’s needs so they can keep editing and writing. The beer, various bar classics, and generous offering of typical pub fare should keep them calm or at least inspired until they pass out and dream up that next plot twist. *NOTE: Magic mushrooms are available at additional cost.

The Critique Corner

Both the café and the bar cater to this little corner where beta readers and critique groups gather, discuss, and offer feedback to all those works in progress. Agents and editors are welcome here as well.

The Slush Pile Itself

IMG_0160This room is covered with unread pages and manuscripts waiting for review. There are printers and e-readers, and of course, ample numbers of cushy chairs to allow agents and editors to work their way through their individual slush pile. 

A relaxing atmosphere is provided to keep those gatekeepers at peace as they read their way through. For each manuscript reviewed, the café offers one free beverage of the reader’s choice. Each week, The Slush Pile Café will sponsor one agent or editor to answer writer questions for two hours.

This week’s special: Zombie Killer Ale

The Dream Shelf

UnattendedChildrenCurious as to where your book will live on bookstore shelf?  This is the place where anyone can go and do some reading while sipping on Fantasy Mochacinno or Mystery Espresso. There will be displays devoted to writers who have successfully navigated the query trenches and found their way to print. Three times a week, authors will be invited to do book signings and readings of their work. A Slush Pile Café app will be available to mock up a cover for an aspiring author and put it around a standard size debut novel. The author can then put the book where it will one day live on the real world bookshelves just to see what it will look like.

The Board Game Loft

IMG_0452A second bar area will be located upstairs in a two story loft area where writers and readers, agents and editors can unwind with some friendly board game competition. All those hostilities that build up in the glacial process that takes a writer from idea to print, an agent from newly discovered talent to six figure book deal, the editor from the slush pile to the best-seller and movie deal, the reader to the discovery of a new magic in the universe in book form can be distilled in friendly and often humorous competition. Once a year, I will capture (invite) two to three established authors to join us at the Loft for a game of Cards Against Humanity. That will be lots of fun, and we can all learn something from those who have already survived the query trenches and found writer nirvana.

 

I hope to see lots of you at the Slush Pile Café.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 5 2016 -Frankie’s Bookshelf

FrankieBookshelfIt’s not been what you would call an organized week. Or life. It’s mostly been like Frankie’s bookshelf. This is the shelf next to the back door with the basket with all of Frankie’s junk; her leash, her collar, her treats, spare toys, and what have you. It’s also one of several bookshelves in the house.

Aside from Frankie’s basket which has earned its place due to convenience, nothing else on my bookshelves are guaranteed their spots. I have never organized books or knick knacks, not by genre, author, or anything else. Not even by series. Books wander about the house freely so they are able to explore various positions on shelves, in the pile next to the bed, in boxes, in bags, in closets, and other dimensions that transect with my living quarters. I really should get more bookshelves.

IMG_0398 I like the chaos. It suits me. Except when I am looking for that one special book and have no idea where it is. That about describes my life. I have all the stuff I need, but it’s never in a place I can find it when I want it. I am pretty sure this is what happened to the pet Scotsman I have always wanted. He ended up on some shelf and I have no idea which one.

I get the feeling my pug knows where any book (or Scotsman) is at any given time, but she’s not going to tell me. In fact, I suspect she takes books out in the night and moves them. She is a very well-read pug. And she definitely does not want to be usurped by a Scotsman so I fear the poor fellow has been sentenced to some parallel universe where we will never meet.

That’s about the story of my week and my life. I seldom get what I want, but I almost always get what I need. Isn’t that the way the song goes?

“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.”  – The Rolling Stones

 

Week 4 2016 – Lost in the Labyrinth

TheRoadNotTaken-Poem

That Robert Frost knew his business. That is one pretty poem, and it’s hard to forget. I am a lifetime out of high school, and I still remember it chapter and verse. Of course, I am older and wiser now, and embarrassed at how badly I misinterpreted Frost’s words. I quoted this thing in my high school year book (and I bet a good many of you did too).

ForestRoadsI was determined to take that road less taken, ignoring those pivotal words “Though as for that the passing there had worn them about the same“.

A “different” drummer pounded in my head. I was going to stand out, be different, and there I was a rebel without a clue.  I saw myself a best-selling writer by 21, the first girl to play football in the English Premiere League, and a good many other fantastical musings. My life went a different way despite that imaginary fork in the road. I imagine most end up in bear’s belly taking a road not taken in a forest.

As this 4th week of 2016, the end’s very beginning, reminded me, there was never that neat, peaceful little fork in the road in that somber forest. It’s a bloody labyrinth and here there be monsters and possibly a worm. If you are very lucky that is.

LabyrinthWormThe little benign worm in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth means no harm. He helpfully tries to guide you away from the goblin’s castle which is precisely where you must go if you are to retrieve that most precious to you. I suppose I listened to the worm when I first became entangled in the labyrinth that is my life. I never made it to the goblin’s castle.

Instead, I found myself in something that more resembles  Pan’s Labyrinth than it did the lovely, Jim Henson, Muppet maze.  NOTE: If you have never seen Guillermo del Toro’s film, Pan’s Labyrinth, do yourself a favor. It is frightening, beautiful, sad, glorious, and a true piece of art in film.

PansLabyrinthI fought against the labyrinth of my life for years, never stopping to gape at the wondrous beauty nor recoil from the horror of it, just wandered trying to get back to that lovely fork in the road. Those crossroads that never offered any choice at all because it was never this or that. Life is a million decisions and encounters, and twists and turns, words and deeds, nuances too subtle for the naked senses of man to perceive. It is truly a labyrinth.  Now, I embrace the unsolvable maze that is life, curious as to what lay around each bend and turn. I turn back at the dead ends, and sometimes sit entrenched in the beauty despite the horror.  This week there was a dead end, overgrown, uncared for, and so I turned around. There was another way to go.