About Kate's Bookshelf

Kate is a book hoarder, collector, and former 'librarian' at her small town library. She dreams of owning her own bookstore, but will settle with marrying a man who lets her own as many books as she wants and has a library big enough to put them all in, organized by author, non-fiction and juvenile. (Yes, she is still a librarian at heart) When she's not consuming books, she is writing her 'novels' (or plot-less books as she likes to call them), children's picture books, and working with her parents on their organic farm. Someday, when she gets her butt in gear, she will be a famously published author.

How Did I Not Know About The Writer’s Almanac?

English: Mr. Garrison Keillor

English: Mr. Garrison Keillor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you like poetry? Do you enjoy random bits of history about writers? Poets? Things in history?  Do you just adore listening to Garrison Keillor? Do you want a daily audio update about all these things?

Well, you’ve come to the right place to direct you t an even better place. I have discovered The Writer’s Almanac. And what is this, you ask me? Why it’s a marvelous little daily podcast hosted by the most marvelous and talented Garrison Keillor.  Every day Mr. Keillor reads the birthday of one or two famous authors/writers, a bit of history for the date, and lastly a poem. Done in his marvelous voice it can be soothing or just the thing to hear in the morning, taking no more than just five minutes, it’s about the time it takes to get fully dressed, or for you women out there, maybe get half your makeup on.  It’s charming and informative, and well come on. It’s Garrison Keillor and how can you go wrong.the writer's almanacSupported by The Poetry Foundation, it’s a marvelous little thing.

English: Billy Collins at D.G. Wills Books, La...

English: Billy Collins at D.G. Wills Books, La Jolla, San Diego (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How did I find out about this? Surprisingly enough, Wikipedia when was reading about Billy Collins, poet, who has become my favorite modern poet. Within the article about him, it was mentioned that he co-hosted The Writer’s Almanac for the summer of 2013. Well, I just had to find out about it and wow, I’m so excited.

So, I urge you to check it out. It’s quick and fun, and well, we could all use a smidge of literary in our daily lives.

Signing off

Kate

A Brief Taste of Magical Poetry

Cover of "Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna...

Cover via Amazon

Right now I am in a poetry mood. It all started when I began reading Savage Beauty, the biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay about a month ago. Since then, I’ve been reading bits and pieces from The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry, selected poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay, Poemcrazy, Foolsgold, and just about anything else I can get my hands on poetry related. I’m listening to music for it’s prose more than just as music. I want the meaning. And yes, I am even writing poetry. Nothing that has wowed me enough to share here, but it’s practice.

I’ve got this crazy blue eyes poetry thing going on, rambling bits and pieces about blue eyes.  How this relates? Read HERE.  Poetry about Monte Carlo and church bells for Saturday night’s mass.

Cover of "Sailing Alone Around the Room: ...

Cover via Amazon

And today I brought home Sailing Alone Around the Room by Billy Collins. I wasn’t even sure what to expect, partly because I requested this on a whim due to some strange search that didn’t even relate. Don’t ask me, but my library catalog does weird things. (I’ve searched for fountain pens only to get back all books on mountain men.)

So there I am tonight flipping through this thin book and suddenly I am hit by the magic of his poem Tuesday June 4, 1991.

By the time I get myself out of bed, my wife has left

the house to take her botany final and the painter

has arrived i his van and is already painting

the columns of the front porch white and the decking gray.

 

It is early June, a breezy and sun-riddled Tuesday

that would quickly be forgotten were it not for my

writing these few things down as I sit here empty-headed

at the typewriter with a cup of coffee, light and sweet.

 

I feel like the secretary to the morning whose only

responsibility is to take down its bright, airy dictation

until it’s time to go to lunch wit the other girls,

all of us ordering the cottage cheese with half a pear.

 

The poem goes on for another twelve stanzas and all of it is brilliant. Just brilliant. I can feel myself there and I can picture the whole setting as He continues to describe the day. It is open verse but with a definite rhythm that makes me want to read it over and over and write just like that. Or something like that.  Wow.

Poetry is in my soul. I may not be a great poet, nor even mediocre, but I love reading it, writing it, and listening to it.

And I also mean listening to it through music. Music, songs; the pure perfection and poetry in songs is such a part of my life. It’s just something that has shaped my writing and passions.

I urge you to try and read Tuesday June 4, 1991. It is stunning.

Signing off

Kate

 

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Icy Writing Prompt

This has got to be the best prompt I’ve ever heard. Well maybe not iciclebest, but pretty incredible.

I was talking to an older woman who’s a semi friend today and she was mentioning she and her late husband used to winter at their cabin in the mountains. Every evening they would have their cocktail hour and he would mix up drinks. He loved to go outside and break off an icicle to stir the drinks with to chill them.

Isn’t that great? And icicle cocktail stirrer and chiller.  I love it and I had to share.  Now, people, run with it!  I want to see Flash Fiction, short stories, or a blurb or something with this.  Please, pretty please.  :)  I know you all can come up with something great.

Link back to me so I can read them all. I might come up with something myself too!

Signing off

Kate

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My Sister Get’s Austen

My sister, whom I may have mentioned from time to time here, was born with Down Syndrome. She’s a year older than I am, but about 10 inches shorter and a much more simple mind. We fight, we don’t get along, we are best friends, she’s kept me young, I’ve made her old, we didn’t pick each other, we want each other’s space, we want each other to move out, it’s complicated, we are sisters. Oh and she’s a year older than I am, but about fifteen years younger in mental capacity. So sometimes I don’t always give her credit.

Cover of "Sense & Sensibility (Special Ed...

Cover of Sense & Sensibility (Special Edition)

Yesterday, she delighted the heck out of me.  Wednesday is Her movie day. We do not miss it, and if we do, it ends up on Thursday. Well, this week she decided she was going to watch Sense and Sensibility for the first time.  The really good one with Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman…… (pardon while I drool)  The reason she chose this was because of the Jane Austen set of books I brought home last week. See here. She saw the covers and loved them, and said she had to read one. She picked Sense and Sensibility to read first. (I’m thinking to myself, okay, right, she is going to read a book I can’t understand half the time, but fine, whatever.)

Then she decided she needed to see the movie first. Personally I thought this wise, because hey, then you have a basis and well, I’m sorry but Jane did not describe her characters quite like we see them in the movie. Thank god for Alan Rickman… and Hugh Grant….

So she’s watching the movie and I ask her how it’s going.

“I love Willoughby,” she gushes. “He’s so cute!”

I just nod my head and inwardly laugh, hoping she will get what’s going to come.

Greg Wise as Willoughby

Then I come in and ask her again, about two thirds of the way through.

“Do you still like Willoughby?” I ask

“NO!” she says, emphatically. “I don’t like him at all! He’s not nice. I like Colonel Brandon.”

“So do I,” I grin. How does this girl, who doesn’t get the plot of a lot of things, read through all the mess of Jane Austen and figure this out? But clearly, she has it down. Especially when the film ends she comes to me and says, ” I love Colonel Brandon. He’s so handsome. If I could pick any man, I would want him.”

Sigh. Oh she is so right. (this might because she love’s Alan Rickman in general [she loves Prof. Snape] but still) Though she hasn’t seen Persuasion. (Wentworth) Or Emma. (Knightley) And I don’t think she’s paid that much attention to Mr. Darcy. Just wait till I show her those.

So, tell me then. Why don’t men get Jane Austen? If my sister can get why we all love Jane Austen, why can’t a man get it?

Men! I ask you this. What don’t you get about women loving Jane Austen? Or have you read something of hers? Or do you disagree and actually like Jane Austen? I want to know what you think.

Signing off

Kate

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Walter Mitty is My Soulmate

Yeah, this pretty much sums up what's going on in my brain. I can be in one place physically, but mentally on a mountain.

Yeah, this pretty much sums up what’s going on in my brain. I can be in one place physically, but mentally on a mountain.

Okay, the title might be a smidge misleading since I can’t say as I would want to be married to Walter Mitty.  More like we are simpatico, or twins, or could be really good friends.

I, like Walter, am a dreamer. I have been forever accused of daydreaming my life away, much to my mother’s disgust, dismay, and all around annoyance. Trust me, the years of home schooling were not either one of our friends. (So glad that’s over with.) I daydream so much I have my Pinterest and Tumblr accounts with the word daydream in them. I am a very active daydreamer.

Give me a tedious project and I will be fantasizing the time away. Mulching the yard is really good for this form of what I like to call ‘writing in my mind’. I plot, organize and ‘write’ little things in my head as I’m working. I have plotted out whole scenarios of my characters, then promptly forget them when I go to write them down. Mind writing isn’t quite conducive to actually writing. Not that that will ever stop me. I must daydream.

I blame just being a writer. Give me a picture, a song, a phrase, a weather pattern, a movie, a dance routine, a smell, (I could keep going) and I can write something about it. It might not be good, but I can write away.

I can’t say as I’ve ever been accused of zoning out like Walter Mitty, but I can fantasize right there with him. And just like Walter, I haven’t done a ton of exciting things. I lead a very ordinary life, in my opinion. Granted, my interests would fill out an Eharmony page much walter-mittybetter than his…. And I’ve actually done almost every dating website out there. Not that they have actually worked in my favor. But that’s neither here nor there.

I should also mention that I’m thinking mostly in terms of Ben Stiller as the new Walter Mitty, though I happen to be an absolute fan of Danny Kaye as the original. Both stories are entirely different and both quite wonderful. If you haven’t seen either film, you must. Both of them. Right now. Go. I’ll wait.

For some reason, Ben Stiller riding the skateboard down the mountain in Iceland has become a new inner inspiration to write. (I just saw the film a couple days ago, so the inspiration is really, really new).walter-mitty-3But I think the two of us could be great friends.

Have you ever watched a film, read a book, or seen something fictional that you feel the character could be your best friend? Your soulmate?  Tell me who they were and why. I’d love to know.

Signing off

Kate

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Book Excitement

It’s not often I come home from a jaunt into town super excited about a book or books. Yeah, I go to the library every week, and by every, I mean EVERY week, and sometimes even more.  The last time I think I got excited was several months ago when I found The Tale of Gengi and The Tale of Murasaki by Liza Dalby, author of East Wind Melts the Ice. I love Liza Dalby’s East Wind book and in it she mentioned both of the aforementioned books.  That was a really exciting day because I have been wanting to read both of those books quite a lot.

Well, I think today topped the list of exciting days. (gifts of books don’t count)

I walked into my second hand store for cardstock and a pair of jeans, and instead, I walked out with a set of Jane Austen books sans P&P.  (I can handle the lack of P&P because my father has a super fancy copy that is now ‘mine’)  And here they are.Jane AustenJane StackPretty, pretty books.  Now which one to read first!  I think I’ll start with Emma because that’s been one I’ve wanted to read for ages.

So, one of the best book shopping days ever!

Signing off

Katie

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Hold Thy Tongue

Michael Connelly at Bouchercon 2010 in San Fra...

Michael Connelly at Bouchercon 2010 in San Francisco. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have this thing. It’s called wanting to be right. I always want to be right. In an argument, I want mine to be the one that ‘wins’. I just have this need to be right.  It’s not a very good  personal trait to have. Not that being right is wrong, but feeling the need to be right all the time. It’s kind of hard to explain. And I want to go on a rant when I feel I am right. Hence the title of this post. Do I say something or hold my tongue? Since this is my blog, I’m going to say what I want.

Why am I bringing this up?  Well, I’ve been following this blog of a young author/writer. By young, I mean he just graduated from college last year, I think. So for me, when you are ten years younger than I am, you are still a baby in my eyes. Partly because I swear, anyone under 25 seems to act like a child half the time. So this young writer doesn’t believe you need to read older books to learn style, yet he is a reader of James Patterson, Robert B. Parker, Michael Connelly, etc. Where do you think those author’s got their inspirations? From new books? By disregarding older books, you are disregarding the newer author’s inspirations, and by default, the new authors.

Darkly sparkling Chandler dialogue inspired 4 ...

Darkly sparkling Chandler dialogue inspired 4 radio plays and a TV-film remake (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For instance James Patterson was inspired by The Day of the Jackal , a thriller novel by English writer Frederick Forsyth. Michael Connelly was inspired by Raymond Chandler as well as Robert B. Parker. You can read each of the interviews/articles where I found this information, below.

James Patterson – His Story

Crime Master’s Career has Chandleresque Origins (Michael Connelly)  

Robert B. Parker Author Interview On Writing Mysteries

And in the process of researching these author’s inspiration, I read a brief bit on Raymond Chandler cited by Wikipedia as “Chandler had an immense stylistic influence on American popular literature, and is considered by many to be a founder, along with Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain and other Black Mask writers, of the hard-boiled school of detective fiction.”

Whoa. So, without Raymond Chandler, two very well known authors might never have been. So, clearly it’s not necessary to read anything of his.  He couldn’t possibly know anything.  Can you sense the serious sarcasm here?

I’ve noticed a trend with younger writers. They think they know everything. Especially if they have written something or self published. Did you know that Albert Einstein knew everything about relativity? (again sarcasm) Einstein could just disregard Sir Isaac Newton because he was sooooooo old. Newton couldn’t have possibly known anything about anything. Einstein had it all figured out by those scientists that had just figured out things recently…………………………………………………………..

Great argument.

Image via My Soul Doth Delight

I know next to nothing about writing. But I don’t act like I know everything and if someone a decade older than me were to tell me something regarding writing, I’d listen. I find it counterintuitive for a young writer to tell someone, in their own way,  that what the older writer is saying is, say, wrong. By saying you disagree with the thought that it might be a good idea to read older books is not a really wise statement or frame of thought, in my opinion. I think this goes in line with my post the other day about reading the classics. See HERE

Now, again, how does all of this apply to being right or wrong?  I know I’m right. I know that you need to read older books to know how to find a style and to, GASP, learn a thing or two about writing.  What would this young writer say if  Michael Connelly told him to read a Raymond Chanlder book? “Oh, I don’t need to. It’s old and I don’t read old books?”  That seems foolish and immature in my opinion.

And my opinion is right. As you can see —>

For those interested the blogger I’m discussing is Write me a book, John! and you can read his blog at this address http://johnguillen.wordpress.com

I’m not hyperlinking because I don’t want to connect directly to the blog through this post. Just copy and paste.  The current post in discussion is ‘Genre, Which Genre?’ and I have commented a few times on the post. This is all if you are interested.

Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy his posts, but this is a follow up to my post about the classics the other day. And it just leads me to wonder how you can be a really good writer if you are not willing to read , and read, and read, and that includes old books. Pardon for the long post and semi rant. If this becomes a regular occurrence, I may have to stop reading this blog. Whew!

I would love some feedback and opinions on whether you agree or disagree.

Signing off

Kate

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Monte Carlo, The Grand-Prix, and Me

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Monte Carlo Grand Prix at Night

No. I wish. I was not in Monte Carlo watching the Grand-Prix over the weekend. The title of this post is misleading, isn’t it? I can honestly say, however, that I would love to be in Monaco.  Monaco and the Grand-Prix is on my bucket list (I really hate that term) of things to do. I actually probably could have been there two years in a row if I had actually said yes to Boris‘s semi proposal a couple of years ago. I was freaking at turning 30, he wrote me a very convincing email, and I panicked.  But that is neither here nor there.

Ah, Monaco.  Home to Cary Grant and Grace Kelly.  For those of you who do not know, the film, To Catch a Thief. Probably the first film where I fell in love with Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, and Monaco.  In one fell swoop I was hooked.

Monaco…. Home to Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester, and Katie Cassidy…… Okay, sorry, I’m a girl and I honestly LOVE the film Monte Carlo.  Besides the fact that it is so uber girly, it’s just a fun film.  A girl is allowed pink, pearls, and fun dresses.  Romance makes it just that much better.

The Grand-Prix. I can honestly say that it was because of Boris that I even pay any attention to Formula 1 racing. Granted, it is a very high end type of racing and much more fascinating than a horse race or, lord help us, NASCAR, but on the whole, it’s not the top of my things to watch. However, because it is quite classy, and the guys who race are rather gorgeous, I can’t help but be quite taken with it. I’m slowly learning names…. Thank you Top Gear for having Lewis Hamilton on so I would know who he is…. and while I can’t watch the whole race , it’s rather exciting.  I know that I could thoroughly enjoy the race if I were there. With Boris…..  Moving on as I laugh.  Sorry, people. It’s almost two in the morning as I type this.  I had a much more clear post in my head at six in the evening. I should have written this then.

So let’s just end with: Bucket list of going to Monaco to see the Grand-Prix.  Yep, that pretty much sums it up. Oh and if I just have to go to France while I’m there….. I’ll visit Nice, Marseilles, and the Riviera.  Oh wait, isn’t Monaco on the Riviera?

Happy Memorial day everyone!

Signing off

~Kate

 

 

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Reading Classics to Learn About Character Development, and Please Don’t Say We Don’t Need Them

Disclaimer: This may irritate or annoy younger writers. Proceed only if you want to hear my honest opinion.

I started this morning off reading a reaction post to The Ten Most Haunting Male Literary Characters.  See the original article for this story HERE  I was actually quite fascinated with the list and could understand why many were put on this list, specifically, and I stress this, because it was done by the British.  They have their own tastes and ideas and it was a decidedly British list.

What struck me was the reactionary post.  It was written by a blog I follow, from a young author  and I won’t name names because I’m not out to irritate people, but this thought came to me.  How can you give honest criticism about why certain characters are not on the list, if you have not read most of what is on the list? How can you judge whether or not a character from a book you like should be on the list just because you think the character is haunting?

First off, let’s take the word Haunting.

:  that haunts: such as

a :  lingering in the consciousness :  not readily forgotten <the cathedral organ and the distant voices have a beauty — Claudia Cassidy>

b :  having a disquieting effect :  disturbing <from two handsome and talented young men to two horrors of disintegration — Charles Lee>

Let’s take the second definition.  We are not talking villains exactly. Because while Mr. Rochester could be described as the antagonist in the story of Jane Eyre, he is not exactly that.  Nor is Caliban the villain in The Tempest. These characters have a more in depth point to the story. It’s not merely good or bad, but technically grey.  They are not Good vs. Evil.
That being said, some of the characters on the list are evil, but not necessarily so. The word definition is crucial here.
So where am I going with all of this?
I’m finding that younger writers who have not read a lot of classics, nor have they lived unique lives, don’t have a grasp of what makes a character evil, haunting, disturbed, manipulative, psychotic, complicated or whatever adjective you want to address a character. If you have lived within the sheltered pages of life going from high school to college and that is it for your age, really, you have not lived.  And if you haven’t read the classics, or at least a couple of them, I don’t think you have a grasp on some really good character development.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have not read a ton of classics, but at age 13 I read The Three Musketeers and from there on, I’ve attempted to tackle more in depth books.  Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Scaramouche, Jane Eyre (though I have not finished it yet, but saw the film), The Great Gatsby… I’m blanking on others.  But in the past 10 years, I have learned a lot, and I stress LOT, by reading those types of books. You learn that characters are complicated. Sometimes there is no right or wrong, but there is something about a character that is thought provoking. Heck, even Mr. Darcy could have been considered haunting. (not really, but guys need to read P&P to understand why women adore Darcy….though there is Mr. Knightley…)

I don’t see how anyone can really write without reading some of the more famous works. I never thought I would say that you need to read the classics.  My father would kind of shoot me, but I honestly think you need to read some to get even the slightest grasp on character development and depth.  And if you haven’t read most of the classics, don’t even try to complain about why Voldomort is not on a list but Heathcliff is.  Don’t even go there.

And Haunting doesn’t mean evil.  People, remember that!

Side Disclaimer: I have not nor will not ever read A Clockwork Orange, anything Stephen King or anything really disturbing.

 

Whew! Now that I’m done ranting, I want your input. Are you someone who thinks you need the classics?  Do you think I’m off my rocker?  How do you get your character development? And what do you think of the list of Haunting Male Characters?

Signing off

Kate

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Should I or Not? — Flash Fiction

Have you ever wanted to kiss someone that you really didn’t want to date? Someone that who is not in your league or inappropriate? Someone that you’ve watched for years and just sort of wondered what it would be like to kiss them? I have. For years I’ve watched Jace as he’s flirted with me despite my less than enthusiastic response; watched him as he worked; watched him as he dated woman after woman, slightly jealous of those women, but not really wanting to date Jace himself. But, oh! There is part of me that really want’s to know what his kisses taste like.

I’ve kissed several men in my life. Boyfriends, whom all I could say did not know how to kiss, and a couple spur of the moment times where the kiss was good, I liked the guy, but it never went anywhere. But there are a couple men I’ve fantasized about just sampling a kiss.

Jace has probably been the one that sticks in my mind, and it’s there right now as I watch him walk across the street to get into his truck. He’s been logging so he’s covered in dust and dirt and probably sawdust. I’m sure he smells like chainsaw oil or gas and that all guy smell of work.  You know: sweat.  But here I sit wondering like I have for quite a while, what it would be like to have him wrap his long arms around me, tip me back and kiss me.  One of those romance fantasies, you know?

The wishing has gotten out of hand. I’ve been dreaming about him as well.  Long vivid dreams where it’s just us. Where I finally relent and decide we should be a couple. Where he wears me down with flirting and teasing and kissing.  Because, oh yes, there is always kissing involved. Clearly I have an over active imagination because those dreams are vivid. I wake up befuddled and practically giddy, reveling in really good kissing. I flush when I think about how unashamedly bold I am and half the time I remember I initiate the kisses.

What is wrong with me? Should I just walk up to Jace one day and grab him around the back of the neck and pull him down for a kiss? I know it would surprise the heck out of him. I mean, I have turned him down every single time. And I don’t want to date him. I don’t. You believe me, right? Consequences. There are always consequences for impulsively jumping in to something so intimate as a kiss.

My coffee’s cold, and Jace has driven off. Well, there’s always tonight for another dream……

 

 

Isn’t it funny how real life is what makes fiction come alive? Or it is what makes stories to write about. Or it makes you wake up wondering about a dream you had.

Semi autobiographical, I hope you enjoy this nameless girl’s musing about a guy named Jace….. who is very similar to someone I know, and well, let’s leave it at that.

Writing on

~Kate

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