The Typewriter

In lieu of actually typing this bit of very free form poetry, you can see the actual typed copy in the picture above. I love typing on it, but when I have to hunt and peck for keys, it isn’t always easy, nor is the fact that there is not ‘deleting’ backspace button like my laptop.

My mother mentioned she enjoyed hearing the typewriter the past few days as I was typing up some things. I’ve missed it as well.

Oh, and there is no ‘plus’ (+) key on a typewriter. I don’t even know how to make it! And to make the exclamation point is exactly what I said.

Enjoy.

Signing off

~Kate

Kate's Bookshelf:

I posted this little gem over on Escaping the Inkwell, my ‘writing blog’. For those of you who follow that as well, you’ve already seen it, but I wanted to share my writing space with my other readers. Enjoy.

Originally posted on Escaping the Inkwell:

I decided that I needed to post a picture of my writing space after Mrs. Austen asked me if I was still trying to write at my desk.  I was also inspired by Marvin Allan Williams’ post on his writing space.

So there it is. My great-grandfather’s desk.  He used to pay the bills sitting at it, according to my father. I remember when it used to have a fireman on a pole that would bobble down when you raised the fireman to the top of the pole. I still have that toy. There are little things I remember about the desk.

For years I’ve sort have used it as a catch-all. Not quite what it was intended for. It’s only been recently that I’ve started using it for writing and I’ve become quite attached.  It’s still too cluttered by half across the top, but I have a lot of things…

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Flash Fiction : Stars Are Like Wishes

Mia sifted her fingers through the stars.  Red ones, blue, turquoise, forest green, canary yellow, lavender, magenta, toffee brown.  All the colors she could ever name including coal black and a pure white.  Her thoughts tumbled to Perry Como’s song. 

“Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, never let it fade away,” she quoted softly.

Stars were like wishes.  Hard to reach and impossible to hold onto.  Wishes changed and morphed into new wishes.  Wishes that sounded silly or fantastic became serious and much more grounded the more one thought about them. You reasoned them out so that they would, or could, become possible to achieve.  From ‘I wish there was never any dust, to I wish my dust rage would hold more.’  Definitely more sensible.

But while Mia’s wishes had become more pragmatic over time, she still had moments she wished for the impossible; or the fanciful.  She would wish for the smell of violets in October or waking up to a batch of blueberry muffins hot from the oven.  While one might think those sounded reasonable, she knew that violets never bloomed in October, and since it was just her, the only way there would be muffins in the morning was if she made them.

She’d long given up the juvenile wishes of magic wands, flying carpets, and dashing Prince Charmings riding up on a pure white charger, sweeping her off her feet into wedded bliss.

She hadn’t given up on love, per say, but she had stopped expecting that ‘wow’ moment to come along.  If she was honest with herself, she still wished for Prince Charming.  Oh, not the kind of hero from fairy tales who slew dragons.  The kind of man who was almost too unreal.  No, she wished for the Prince who cared about her, loved her, and had a healthy respect for her life.  Someone who wasn’t out to change her, but would be her companion.  Well, okay, good sex was wanted too, but she hoped that was a given.

Mia is my heroine from my ‘novel’, Bookends, a story that I started years ago.  She owns a bookstore called, Bookends.  I decided to play around with something and this is what came from it.  I’ve started incorporating bits of thoughts into fiction, something I am not very good at. The stars are little origami wishing stars, or lucky stars.  My mother and I make these by the dozens for fun, and we sell them too. There is something therapeutic about sifting your fingers through a bowl of them.  (the link in the picture takes you to where someone else was selling them).

I hope you enjoy this bit of flash fiction.

Signing off

~Kate

The Wedding Dress : A Review

A dress with a history; four women with a connection.  The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck intertwines the lives of four women  living in the south and the one dress that seems to have magic all on its own.  Charlotte, a woman who runs a successful bridal shop has been jilted; Emily, a young woman with dreams and ideas in 1912 becomes engaged to one while hoping for another; Hillary, a war bride of the late 60’s; and Mary Grace is a woman without options for a pretty wedding  in 1939, when a miracle happens.  The dress is special, made for a special bride, and the way it passes down through time, never yellowing or aging, creates a story that is magical and heartwarming. The story of these four women intertwine to create a sweet story.

 
While the premise of this book had me anxious to read it, I found myself getting annoyed at the way some of the women thought throughout the story.  Especially Charlotte, the main heroine, and Emily.  I am not someone who enjoys characters that come across as helpless and naive to a fault.  I don’t want a character that feels it’s too much work to have a bit of a mystery, and doesn’t want to solve it.  While I may have these faults sometimes, I don’t want to read about it.  I started out the story wishing Charlotte would meet her true match, and I felt that how she worked through her engagement, being jilted, then ending up with her wedding, a disappointment.  I didn’t realize when I requested the book that it was a Christian based story.  Usually I turn away from such stories due to how Christ is represented.  There was some amazing aspects of God and Jesus, but like most Christian books I’ve read, I was left wanting.  I would recommend this to my Christian friends, but I myself would only give it 3 stars out of 5.  That’s fairly high, but it was sweet.  Just not my usual favorite style.

Signing off

~Kate

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Practicing My Reviewing

Over the next week I hope to bring you two book reviews. I’m reviewing one book for BookSneeze titled The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck.  So far, I’m enjoying the book.  I didn’t realize that it was a Christian book, but so far it’s not dragging too much religion into the story, and what is there, I approve.

 

 

 

 

The Peach KeeperI’m also planning on reviewing The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen.  I’ve read her other three books, Garden Spells, The Sugar Queen, and The Girl Who Chased the Moon.  I have to say that The Peach Keeper rates as high as Garden Spells.  Her two other books were not my top favorites, though The Girl Who Chased the Moon was not too bad.  The Sugar Queen was my least favorite.

I don’t feel like I am very good at writing reviews, so this is good practice.  Even if I don’t plan to be a reviewer, it seems to be one of the things about writing books, or being an author.  You critique other’s works.

I will say one thing for Sarah Addison Allen, her magical way of writing, and I do mean magic as well, draws me in and I want to be a part of one of her books.

So, keep your emails/eyes peeled for reviews.

Signing off

~Kate

The Making of a Private Eye : Short Story

Sorry for the 'sexy' aspect of this pic. I was trying for lady detectives, but wow, not easy to find. :P

This last week I entered a short story contest my local library is hosting with the prompt of “It was a dark and stormy night…”.  I entered with a short story I have had in the works. It was actually a real novel I was attempting, however, after a year of playing around with it, it has gone nowhere.  I tweaked the ending a bit and the result is a story that I think has potential for something later on. Enjoy below.

 

The Making of a Private Eye by Katie Lyn Branson

It was a dark and stormy night. Lightning flashed and thunder boomed, shaking the old brick building where my offices were housed. I was at my desk reading information about a client whose daughter was missing. Most private investigation consists of reading about people.

I reached for the stale cup of coffee staring at me, ready to drink it, then decided it wasn’t worth the caffeine fix. I hated cold coffee. I was just about to ask Billie Jean, my secretary, to flip on the heat under the leftover pot on the stove in the small kitchenette, when the outer office door slammed open. I heard Billie greet the person. I leaned sideways to look through the open door of my office.

Of all the offices in the city, he had to walk into mine. His fedora dripped water all over my Indian carpet and rivulets streaked down his drenched gray raincoat. Just what I needed. Someone else ruining my rug. I had just had it cleaned, and here was someone else messing it up all over again.

“Can I help you sir?” Billie asked with her Brooklyn twang. She smacked her gum and I winced at the sound. I’d been on her case for months about the gum chewing habit, but still no luck. I figured it was a lost cause with Billie Jean.

“I’d like to see Mr. Swiftfoot, please.” His voice was as smooth as a glass of aged bourbon. Not that I ever drank any.

“Yah mean, Miss Swiftfoot, don’t cha?” Billie smacked her gum again.

“No, I mean Mr. Swiftfoot Private Investigator.” The man’s voice was tinged with annoyance. “Hold on one minute, sir.” Billie buzzed the office connection even though the door was open. “Boss, someone here to see you. You want me to send him in?”

“Yes, Billie, send him in.” I used my gruffest voice for the pure fun of seeing the man’s reaction.

Just as he stepped through the door I closed my lipstick tube and smacked my lips to set the color.

“Pardon me, miss, but I’d like to see your boss, Mr. Swiftfoot.” I looked up slowly, and almost dropped my jaw. He was tall and thin, but I wasn’t able to see his face well due to the shadow his hat created.

“I’m sorry, Mr., …..” I trailed off in question.

“Black. Andrew Black.” He answered and removed his hat. His hair was a glossy black, with a bit of a wave falling over his right eye. His eyes, were a soft gray. Little crinkles nestled in the corners of his eyes. His nose was thin and narrow and his mouth was thin as well, a sardonic quirk to it. He wasn’t handsome in the normal way but the quality of his bearing was appealing.

“Well, Mr. Black, I’m afraid there’s been some mistake. I’m Grace Swiftfoot, Private Investigator. I run this business.”

“You! How’s it possible a woman’s running a private investigation? It’s a man’s business.” Mr. Black growled the accusation.

“Well, Mr. Black, I beg to differ, but if you have a problem with a woman investigating something, Cheshire and Burke is just down the street. You can go drip water all over their carpets. However, since you’re here, I’m betting they turned you down, because most of the time, I’m considered a last resort. Fortunately, I have an almost perfect record in finding whatever you need found.” I sat back down in my chair and crossed my arms waiting for him to speak.

It didn’t take long. He sighed, tapped his hat against his thigh and then sat down in the chair across from my desk.

“Well, you’re right, Miss Swiftfoot. Cheshire and Burke did turn me down. I need help finding someone.”

“Of course,” I replied.

***

Jessica stopped reading and looked at her friend, Hank, who sat across from her at Rosie’s Diner drinking a cup of coffee.

“Well?” Hank asked, waving his hand for Jessica to continue reading.

“That’s it. I don’t have any more,” she said. She toyed with the spoon resting on the napkin and made damp marks with the coffee that remained in the spoon.

“You don’t have any more? But you had me hooked. What happens to this Black character? You can’t leave me hanging like that.”

“I’m sorry, Hank, but I haven’t been able to write anymore.” Jessica sighed. She’d been trying to work on this story for several days now. She’d woken on Tuesday morning after an incredible dream about this Andrew Black character. She could still see his gray eyes in her mind.

Marilyn came by with the coffee pot. “Do you need a refill?” she asked Jessica.

“Thanks Mare. Yes.” Jessica pushed her cup over.

“So whatcha working on?” she asked with her Brooklyn accent, smacking her gum in the process. Jessica glanced over at Hank who was attempting to not laugh. Obviously Jessica had used Marilyn as a model for Billie Jean.

“Nothing much. A story I had an idea for.”

“It’s not another private eye novel, is it?” Marilyn asked.

Jessica turned a bright shade of pink. She’d been trying to write detective stories for ages, and apparently news had gotten out.

“Um, yes, I am,” Jessica replied.

“Can I see this one?”

Jessica looked at Marilyn in surprise. Usually no one asked to see her work. She pushed the page over to Marilyn who snatched it up and scanned the page while she smacked her gum. When she finished she looked over the page at Jessica.

“Not bad. I like this Billie Jean character.”

Hank smothered a laugh and Jessica kicked him under the table.

“This Andrew Black guy sounds like a real piece of work. I’m not sure you can trust him.”

“And why is that?” Jessica asked with a brow arched.

“Well, you can’t trust any man who doesn’t care where water is dripping. Plus, it’s obvious he doesn’t like women.” Marilyn tapped the page against her chin for a moment. “Yah know, he sounds real familiar like. I swear he’s just like the guy who comes in every morning for breakfast.”

Jessica stared at Marilyn.

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“Well, every morning there’s this guy that comes in, orders the exact same thing, and he looks just like what you wrote. He isn’t handsome, really, but he has these gray eyes that are really intense. Kinda like they’re looking through you. He gives me the willies, but he tips real well.”

Hank snorted. “What’s with you women and eyes. And so long as he tips well, you’re okay with it?”

Marilyn ignored him. “Hey, maybe you should stop by tomorrow morning around seven. You can see for yourself.” She handed back the paper and sauntered off to clean the counter.

“So are you gonna?” Hank asked.

Jessica thought for a bit, tapping the page on the table. “I don’t know, but it wouldn’t hurt to see. I mean, if anything, it might help me write more of this story.”

Hank shook his head resignedly. “You’re crazy,” he muttered into his coffee.

Jessica swatted at his head but missed when he ducked. “Hey, you wanted to know what happened. Now we can find out.” Jessica smiled to herself. There was no way she’d pass up an opportunity like this. Even if the man wasn’t like the guy in her book, there was a bit of mystery to be had. And a private eye story would starve without mystery.

“Hey, if it helps, the guy came in the other day after it rained and he was dripping water everywhere,” Marilyn hollered from the cash register. “Oh, and Rosie just told me he was looking for somebody.”

Jessica turned to Hank, wide-eyed who was staring at her. Now she had to come in and check this out.

 

So, there you have it. I welcome any comments, but I mostly hope you enjoy.

Signing off

~Kate

© Katie Lyn Branson and Kate’s Bookshelf, 2009-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katie Lyn Branson and Kate’s Bookshelf with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

What I’m Currently Reading

Zephyr over on Presents of Mind posted her current reading list and other interesting tidbits about her reading life in her post What Books Sit By Your Beside Right Now?  I was impressed and I am going to borrow her layout for my own “currently reading” list.   I’m afraid I don’t have a wooden wine box to store my books, they tend to be piled or stacked, but I do have a four-poster bed (lacking the posts on one end, and only a headboard at the other…., but it affords a nice place to stack books. Way too many books, but books none-the-less. Oh, and the nightstand has space between the legs, along with space between the nightstand and the bed. See a pattern?

Below is a snapshot of first, what’s by my bed, and second, the stack from the library that happens to have a cubby, right now.

Pardon the cluttered look, there are a couple extra books that I have for backup reading if I perchance get bored.

Um, you can't see the titles, but these are the library books. Including the Sylvia Plath, a biography, another Emilie Loring, a picture book, and some health books. See, eclectic.

My Current Crazy List of What I Am Browsing/Reading

  • Franny and Zooey – J.D. Salinger
  • To The Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf
  • A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Woolf
  • The Making of a Marchioness – Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Bed of Roses – Nora Roberts  [own]
  • Vision in White – Nora Roberts
  • A Certain Crossroad – Emilie Loring
  • Surrender – Amanda Quick  [own]
  • Mine Till Midnight – Lisa Kleypas  [own]
  • Persuasion – Jane Austen  [own]
  • Death Comes to Pemberly – P.D. James
  • The Lover’s Tongue : A Merry Romp Through the Language of Love and Sex – Mark Morton
… this also includes my journal, various composition books that I write in, my notepad I write in, and I want to include my laptop as most of the time it is right there since I write late into the night, and I do read a lot of my own work there…

What are your reading habits?

  • Do you read anywhere except in bed?

Most of the time I read in my chair at the table after a meal.  I like to have a cup of tea or something and read if I have a chance. Then if I am walking, I like to read, along with any spare moment I get the opportunity. Most of the time I end up reading instead of writing, so right now I am reading as much as I can while I have time with the cold winter weather.

  • Do you write in the bath?

Since I don’t actually have a bath and it’s a shower, reading in there would be quite hazardous to my books.  I did see a waterproof notepad (as in write with a pen notepad) for the shower, and I think it would be great, but until they make waterproof books, I won’t be doing this anytime soon.

If you do read in bed what books you keep there?

Usually all the books I’m currently reading, unless one has happened to stay downstairs.  I also keep a selection of research type books: thesaurus, rhyming dictionary, pocket dictionary, an architecture dictionary, and various other books I generally don’t read.  Sometimes when I’m in a cleaning spree, I reorganize, but it’s been a while since doing so.

Do you savor books with tea, coffee, wine, a lover, a cat, etc.?

Yes, definitely with the tea, coffee, wine, and dog.  I can’t have a cat, nor do I really want one anymore. My dachshund is enough.  I would love to share books with a lover, but since my tastes are fairly eclectic, I don’t expect to really ‘share’ them with anyone. I’m actually okay with that.  I am also a firm believer in certain music for certain books. For instance, it doesn’t matter what book I’m reading that happens to be British, I can and want to listen to the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack.  The music fits with everything British.

When do you usually read? Before you get up? As you go to sleep? During those dreadful nights you can’t sleep?

Lately my reading is after lunch while I’m drinking a cup of tea or coffee, but I like reading at night, and in the morning on days when I don’t have to get right up.  I’ve never been one to read in the middle of the night because I can’t sleep. Usually it’s more of a “oh, this is such a good book, I don’t think I can put it down, and oh look it’s three in the morning and I need to be up in five hours” kind of thing.

Do you like to eat while you read? And in bed do you share your sheets with the crumbs?

Sometimes, but most of the time I forget that I have something to eat when I’m reading.  Also another reason why tea and coffee get cold quite frequently for me and are forever being heated in the microwave.

  • Are there perennial books you keep by your bed as well as those you switch out after reading?

Usually an Emilie Loring of some sort, Persuasion, my Bible, plus, like I said, there are the books that were once favorites but are now just there. If it’s a library book, obviously it get’s switched out.  And all the books listed that I’m currently reading, if they don’t have ‘own’ after them, are library books.  Most of the time if I’m done with a book and I don’t plan on reading it anytime soon, it gets switched out for what I am currently reading.

  • Do you write in bed?

This is kind of a no duh moment.  If I didn’t write in bed, half of my stuff would have never been written.  Bed is my place to tap out things, especially emails, but I enjoy leaning back and being warm. Being warm is crucial to writing.

Signing off

~Kate

Why Doesn’t My Library Court Me?

Interior view, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh,...

Image via Wikipedia

I love my library. I’ve loved every library that I’ve used on a regular basis, including the Carnegie Library I browsed during my six week stay in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Libraries are my way to get a ‘book fix’ without spending a fortune in books. I don’t have the luxury of a close bookstore, nor even a used bookstore. I will purchase books online, but only when I really, really want or need a certain book. So the library is my only option, and like I said, I love my library.

However, there is a problem with how my library is run. I’m sure this is the same with all libraries. They are run like a government organization, which it is, and not like a private business. They don’t have to show a profit. They don’t have to increase usage. They still get funding even if the patronage drops.

Most flourishing businesses are constantly catering to their customers. They introduce new items to entice people to buy, and to return. They run a helpful operation that cares about their customers. They want your business.

Why doesn’t the library do that? When you go into a library, there are usually books displayed to entice, yet most of the time, the books are on a specific issue, or something the librarian has deemed important. For instance, this week was Dr. Seuss’ birthday, so several of his books wer displayed. I’m perfectly fine with that, but most of the time, I couldn’t care a wit for what is usually displayed. Also, most of the time, the books are not changed often enough to attract my attention.

Part of this rant stems from the fact that my librarian and the volunteers, who now run the library most of the time, don’t really care what I check out. They don’t take the time to know their patrons. Because they don’t have to show a profit, they don’t care if I take out one book or five.

Now, I have been teased as being the one who keeps the library running since I am forever ordering in new books that tickle my fancy. While I have to admit that I have brought in a fair amount of different books, I am not the one who keeps the library running. I just, uh, help.

I used to be the substitute librarian at my library. For two years I ran my one day a week, and for a brief time, I was in charge of all the functions of the library for a month. (At 21, this was somewhat scary to me.) I loved my job and one of the best parts was getting to know my patrons, learning what they liked, and being able to recommend books to them.

Even if I hadn’t read the book, I learned what genres certain people liked, and accordingly, recommended along those lines. For the record, I didn’t have much time to read during the years of working in the library. I checked out plenty, but just didn’t read that much. Go figure.

I liked a post this Christmas that posted on last minute gifts. Read it herePeg-o-Leg’s Ramblings  had it right.   What a great idea for an ad campaign for the library systems. You encourage people to ‘give’ a library book as a gift. Just picture this. You see a woman browsing the shelves, looking and looking. Finally, she finds one she likes. Her eyes are excited. She takes it to the counter and checks it out, then just before she leaves the library, she takes it to the gift wrapping station, just like Barnes and Noble has every holiday season, to be wrapped up. Of course inside is a due date, but she has the perfect gift for someone. If they don’t like it, they can return it!

Well, that was my silliness escaping. However, why don’t libraries try to court their patrons? Display a wide variety of books that are available, so it catches people’s eyes. Instead of just the new titles, how about some old ones? I mean, just the other day, I found a book that has been in my library for six years and has never been checked out. Go figure why since it is a field guide to west coast lighthouses. It’s cool! But I’ve never seen it displayed.

If libraries want people to use them for books instead of just an internet source, which my library does, then they need to have incentives for patrons to keep returning. How about a running tally of the top readers. You know, where a user name, or even the patron’s name is displayed with the amount of books they have read. Or maybe a list of patron recommendations. I don’t know.

Well, this is my own rant. And I have plenty more about my library. Hey, I may love it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have problems.

What say you?

Signing off

~Kate

An Autumn Sort of Morning

Autumn

Image via Wikipedia

It’s a cold autumn morning, but it’s not

as crackling grasses shudder in the cold north wind

deer hunt for succulent greens

their backs turned to the biting force

only the calendar says it’s March

those grids of numbers and lines

words to trick us into believing

that warmth is just around the corner

but I’m not fooled

I know that it’s still autumn

As the cold wind blows.

Okay, well I looked out the window this morning to see deer grazing in the open pasture behind the house.  The wind was blowing a very cold draft from the north, biting and with the brown grasses blowing, it felt and looked just like autumn.  Three days ago it was a balmy early spring day, but not so much today.  It’s frigid, and cold, and I do not want to be outside. 

Enjoy!

Signing off

~Kate