CAUTION: Blue Book Funk Ahead

Kimber the Magnificent here. Holding down the fort while Her Momness is holding down a blue book funk. Frankly, I don’t get it. How can anyone be in a blue funk when they’ve got me? But I guess somethin’s goin’ down at The Book Place. Where Her Momness spends half her life.

I mean, we just wrapped up a whole summer reading program. Yeah, 156 books in three months. We practically lived at The Book Place. But it’s going to be inaccessible for awhile. Hence the blue book funk. It goes like this:

Our book place was built in 1911. What’s that in dog years?  Not sure. But the place is lookin’ a little long in the tooth. So our local library (aka: The Book Place) is getting lots of fixes to its masonry, floor, drywall and plaster, and insulation work. New lighting fixtures and windows. Also new paint and carpeting. That kind of stuff.

Why they’re not putting in a doggie door with auto-treats, I don’t know. But this renov thing? They’re talking a closure of about six weeks. Starting October 1.

Mom? Hello, Mom? No fair fainting. Can you get off the floor now? We can always skip over to The Book Place ahead of the closure and stock up, right? I’ll help. You know I’m a helper. It’s what I do.

You can help, too. What access to books do you recommend as an alternative to libraries? I’m hearing about this critter named “Audible.” Is that a thing? Askin’ for a friend.

Meanwhile, don’t worry about Her Momness. I got this.

Advertisements

Who’s Up for a Party?

Someone say “party”? Like with cake? Lots of noise? Celebratin? Ice cream? (My favorite is French vanilla. Just sayin’.)

Mom says we just achieved a ‘milestone.’ I’m not exactly sure what that is. But she seems pretty pumped about it. So it must be party-worthy. Here it is:

Okay, okay. I’m finding this “11 thing” a bit hard to swallow, seeing as how I just turned two. I mean, creepy crawly cat whiskers! I only took over this gig about a year ago. But I love anything Mom loves. Reading. Writing. Books. My favorite is, ‘rural life with a border collie.’ For obvious reasons.

So we just wanna say a big ole THANK YOU to you, our loyal readers. You make it all worthwhile. Well, that and beef jerky.

Meanwhile, what would you like see on the blog? Topics? Ideas? Suggestions?

I got this. Soon as I score some of that frozen vanilla stuff…

The Big Summer Stretch: 150+ in 90

It was a stretch. A BIG one. But summer reading programs have been a seasonal staple since before I could walk. (Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, according to my kids.) So when it came to summer reading 2018, I decided to aim high. My goal was to exceed last summer’s achievement: 136 books in about 90 days.

Frankly, I wasn’t sure I could do it. Neither did anyone else. Except my good dog Kimber. She thinks I can do anything. Everyone else just sort of smiled and shook their heads.

But once the school year winds down, I love how one long, sun-gilded day can glide into another, peppered with good reads. Grand adventures in books. (I’ve also slogged through more than one imbecelic political shill thinly disguised as a YA “novel.” Gag me.)

Anyway, this summer’s reading program ended August 31. My final tally: 156 books in about 90 days. Whew. In the past three months-ish I’ve read:

Biogs on: Rosa Parks, Jean Laffite, and Mark Twain. John Merrick and Harriet Tubman. Queen Victoria. Nelson Mandela. Laura Ingalls Wilder. Marco Polo. Ted Geisel. Lewis and Clark. A bunch more.

I’ve traveled by book to: China, Bolivia, Ecuador, Africa, Alaska, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Great Britain. Germany. Colombia. Russia. A motorcycle race across Europe. A deep-sea oceanographic research station. Many more.

I’ve chugged through a kaleidoscopic collection of genres, all colorful, creative, and remarkable in their own right: Dystopian. Magical realism. Creative non-fiction. Humor. Drama. Historical narrative.

Pressing toward my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 365 books in one year, I read or listened to many memorable books this summer. Short. Medium. Long.

Here are some of my favorites, in no particular order:

The Girl of Fire and Thorns Trilogy – Rae Carson

Time for Andrew – Mary Downing Hahn

The Jimmy Vega Detective series – Suzanne Chazin. Here’s my review of Chazin’s A Blossom of Bright Light.

Wolf by Wolf – Ryan Graudin

Thunder Rolling in the Mountains – Scott O’Dell

The Journey Back – Priscilla Cummings. Read my review.

My Family for the War – Anne Voorhoeve. See my review.

Unwind – Neal Shusterman

Time for Andrew: A Ghost Story – Mary Downing Hahn. Read my review.

The Wood – Chelsea Bobluski. Here’s my review.

Streams to the River, River to the Sea – Scott O’Dell

‘NEW’ AUTHORS OF NOTE (In no particular order. List not exhaustive.)

Suzanne Chazin

Khaled Hosseini

Toni Morrison – Here’s my review of her novel, A Mercy.

Erin Hunter

Andrew Fukuda – here’s my review of his first novel, The Hunt.

Rae Carson

Chelsea Bobulski

‘OLD FAITHFUL FAVES’:

Max Lucado, Scott O’Dell, Gary Paulsen and Sarah Sund. Also Ingrid Paulson and Richard Paul Evans. Karen Kingsbury. Debbie Macomber. And I don’t think I’ve ever met a book I didn’t like by C.W. Anderson, Walt Morey, or Maurice Sendak.

As you may know, I’ve long maintained that some of the finest stories and most gifted authors in all bookdom can be found in Children’s Literature. So I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention some favorites along these lines from this summer.

Like:

The Pilot and the Prince: The Life of Antoine de Saint-Exupery. The Boy from Fairfield Street: How Ted Geisel Grew up to Become Dr. Seuss. Also Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White.

Noteable ‘Sleepers’

These are books that took me by surprise. I usually scooped them up on a lark, looking for a quick, light read. These titles turned out to be engrossing and intriguing:

Cynthia Rylant’s Missing May. A touching story of how a young girl deals with the loss of her eldery aunt and foster mom, May. A Newbery Award Winner.

Captive of the Mountains, by Arthur D. Stapp. Hiking, mountaineering and a survival story. Young Chris must use his wits to survive following a hiking injury in the remote Olympic Mountains. Lots of recognizable sites for those familiar with Washington state and the Olympic Mountains. First published in 1952. Grabbed it off the free table at the library.

Run Far, Run Fast, by Walt Morey. A recently orphaned 16 y.o. from the wrong side of Chicago decides to ride the rails to California rather than get stuck in foster care or an orphanage. Nick Lyons meets up with “Knight of the road” “Idaho” Jamieson inside a west bound train. Trouble intervenes and Nick winds up stranded in the Pacific Northwest. Beautifully written by a master storyteller.

And…

If you keep a sharp lookout, every once in awhile you dig up an uber gem. Like a copy of a book published in 1974, signed by the author. Woo hoo!

Long story short (pun intended), I’m now at over 300 books read since January 1. (Yes, I read fast. ☺) So I’m within spitting distance of my 2018 Goodreads Reading Challenge: 365 books in one year. Still aiming high, I’m aiming to get there by Thanksgiving. With a little room to spare. I’ll keep you posted.

How’d your summer reading go?

Screen shot – Summer Reading Log, 31 August 2018

They Done Him Wrong: ‘Christopher Robin’ Falls Flat

Have I mentioned that Her Mom-ness is sometimes a bit of a mutterer? Especially when it comes to making a movie out of a well-loved book?

Her Mom-ness and The Kid went to see a movie last week. It had the unmitigated gall to pretend it was based on an A.A. Milne classic. (“Unmitigated gall.” Isn’t that a great mutter? Learned it from Mom.)

Anyway, this Disney release pretends to be about Christopher Robin and his boyhood buds from the Hundred Acre Wood. Or something. Except that now Christopher is all grown up. Living in London. He gets a surprise visit from his old buddy Winnie-the-Pooh. There’s a train. Lots of trees. Fog. A return to London.

The rest of the meandering, strained storyline has to do with Christopher’s return to the Hundred Acre Wood, fighting Heffalumps and Woozles and a sneering, shifty boss. Also Christopher’s guilt over reneging on a promise to spend a weekend at the cottage with his wife and daughter due to a work deadline.

“Moves with the alacrity of a three-toed sloth” Mom opined. She literally fell asleep during the first hour of this “snooze-fest.” Nodded off right there in the theater for a couple minutes. Woke up. Hadn’t missed a bloomin’ thing.

The movie can’t decide whether it’s a nostalgic look back or a “silly explanation” of present time. With honey. In the end, it just doesn’t work. And what’s up with that creepy neighbor dude and Gin Rummy?

“Virtually incoherent” Mom muttered. Is there a point here? Cuz now would be good.”

“Stick with the books,” Mom concluded, shaking her head. “You can’t go wrong with The Real Deal.” We both like Pooh better on the printed page. Way better.

The good news: I got a long walk and a game of frisbee in, post theatrical dud. With ‘nary a Mom Mutter along the way.

Is this place great, or what?

Have you ever been turned off by the movie adaptation or extension of a favorite story or book? Why?

 

 

 

Image credit

Book Bridges: When Moms Get Dewy-Eyed & Sparkly

It looked like this here yesterday. And like:

So Mom and I decided a soggy Saturday’s a good day to clean out the attic. (It seemed like a good idea at the time.)

Now, you may not know this about me. But I’m a Great Attic Clean-Up Supervisor. I found a comfy rug. Laid down. Watched Mom cart stuff up and down the stairs. Dust. Categorize. Box. Un-box. Re-box.

Supervisin’s a tough job. But somebody’s gotta do it.

Anyway, Mom opened this one box. And sat down. “Oh my!” says she. “Kimmi, look at this!”

What? Did you unearth new doggie treats? A secret stash of gourmet dog food? The neighbor’s cat?

Lemme tell ya. I rolled over and I listened up right quick! Especially since she had The Look. The one Moms get when they’re remembering. All dewy-eyed and nostalgic. Looking all sparkly.

What kind of buried treasure did we just unearth?

Mom starts pulling books out of the box. Title after title. From when my brothers were little. Like:

And:

Some more:

“Does this ever take me back,” murmurs Mom. Twenty years of homeschooling. Preschool storytime at the library every Friday. Summer reading programs. Weekly trips to the library. Reading forts.

Mom was doing that sparkly, shimmery thing again. Maybe because my bros are all grown up now. But Mom says they used to spend hours reading aloud together every day. When my four bros were little. I don’t know why. But if remembering makes her do that dewy-sparkly-shimmery thing, it must be good.

Later, my 19 y.o big bro was looking at some of the books. He pulled one out. “I remember this!” he crows. “I got this for my birthday!” (A milk bone? Naw. Some other treasure.) Here it is:

 

Josiah was four years old. My bro is one amazing dude, eh?

Then Mom said something about good books. How they never get old.

“You never outgrow a good story” says she. “A good book lives forever. Is always waiting for you to come back. Pick up where you left off. A good book can create a lifetime of shared memories. Build bridges linking the past, present, and future. Diving into a book that’s an old favorite? It feels like coming home.”

Who’d a hunk one soggy Saturday could turn out to be so sparkly?

Ya gonna eat that? (Askin’ for a friend.)

‘Beyond Bob’: Why I’m Doing Christmas Music in August

Ever been ripped off by someone you trusted? Remember how it felt? How do you respond? What’s next?

I ran into that recently when working on a Friend-Of-A-Friend project. It’s a long story. I’ll spare you the gory details. Nutshell version: the project/client came highly recommended from long-time mutual friends. Let’s call him “Bob.”

FOAF Bob heard I was a freelance writer via mutual friends. “Would you be interested in writing my memoirs?” asked Bob.  “Depends,” I said. “What do you have in mind?” He outlined some ideas, possibilities. I said I’d take a look.

Bob has, shall we say, quite a story. I agreed to take on the project, noting that I might consider offering Bob the FOAF discount off my writing services. But “I don’t work for free” I wrote. As in, I expect to get paid. Kinda like most people who work.

Thought we had that settled. In writing.

Bob lives in another state. So conversations were by email or phone. Following some requisite preliminaries, I dove into the project with both feet. Interviewing. Researching. Basic legwork. Writing. Editing. A few months later, Draft I was born. I emailed the new arrival to Bob. After some corrections and updates, Draft II was en route via cyberspace stork shortly thereafter.

At this point I’d spent about six months on the project. Hadn’t yet seen a dime for my time and effort. So I contacted Bob by email, saying that X amount was due before proceeding to Draft III.

Long story short:

Continue reading

Libraries and The ‘Dog Days’ of Summer

What do humans mean when they say ‘dog days of summer’? That I can better hang my nose out the car window on warmish days? That it’s too hot to do anything except lie in the shade and dream about kibble and surfing? Something related to Sirius, the ‘dog star’?

‘Dog star,’ huh? I kinda like the sound of that.

Wait. Kid on a bicycle going by.

Now. Where was I? Oh, yeah ‘Dog days.’ We’ve had several this summer. Temperatures ticked up to the mid and upper nineties. That may not sound like much to you Phoenix or Las Vegas types. But in  western Washington, that’s as rare as a smart cat. It’s so rare in fact, that most houses don’t have air conditioning. Pontoons, maybe. But not A/C.

Thankfully, the library does. Have A/C, that is.  So Mom went there a lot, especially during the ‘dog days of summer.’ I’m not crazy about the place. Only service animals are allowed inside. So whenever we walked there – the book place is about 10 minutes away by paw – I’d have to sit outside with one of my brothers or…

Is that the neighbor’s cat?

… or they’d take me for a walk while Mom scooped up some new books. I don’t know why she has to take so long.

Anyway, here’s what I learned about libraries during the ‘dog days of summer’:

  •  The front lawn has lots of nice shade.
  • People say ‘hi’ to me when they go in or out. I cannot jump on them. Cannot, cannot, canno… ugh!
  • The library manager, Mary, has a Cairn Terrier. His name is Max.
  • Libraries have ‘computers’ inside that my humans can use for free.
  • It’s okay to talk in the library. Just don’t bark.
  • Writers are readers.
  • ‘Stacks’ mean ‘books.’ Books are things some humans love. They say they can’t live without them. That reading is like breathing. Like eating. I don’t quite understand this.
  • Some people don’t do this reading thing enough. If they did, they would be better people, says Mom. Smarter. More well-rounded. Creative and thoughtful. They’d probably throw a Frisbee better, too.

I may like libraries after all. Even during the ‘dog days of summer.’

How I Was Struck By a Random Act of Kindness

Her Mom-ness says kindness can be hard to find these days. Elusive. Rare. So when you find it – or it finds you – be thankful. And reciprocate.

I’m not sure what that means. But it makes Mom smile. So it must be good. Like the other day.

We were out for a looong walk. Miles from home, her Mom-ness and I met up with another dog in a school playground. We played chase the ball for a while. Then the other dog went home with her Mom.

After the last ball toss, I came back limping. Mom noticed. We were a long way from my nice, soft doggie bed. Our water was almost gone. I could barely walk. How were we going to get home?

Mom tried to carry me.  She managed about 12 steps before buckling under my 65 pounds.

We were tired. We were thirsty. I was hurt.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

“We could sure use a random act of kindness right now,” Mom said, nursing sore arms.

I’m not sure what that means either. Something about being friendly. Generous. Considerate. And nice. Just because you can. With no strings attached.

Kind of like the way I am every day.

Anyway, Mom gets out her phone thingy. Starts dialing. Every person she called trying to get us a ride home was either at work or across the state line.

Phooey.

Mom finally managed to get ahold of my big bro, Sam. He’s 22. He “just happened” to be off work that day. He was out at the beach with his girlfriend. Over an hour away.

Know what? They dropped everything. Raced to the car. Whizzed over to the school. Brought water. Picked us up. Drove us home.

Just because we asked.

How cool is that?

Turns out my peds were a bit sunburnt from the heat radiating off the school yard blacktop. I’m fine now. Back to my  adorable self. Whizzing around the place at my usual 90 mph. Trying to be kind to everyone. Like my big bro Sam. I’m also trying to get the hang of kind-ing the mail carrier. (That takes extra practice. Nobody’s perfect.)

Speaking of kindness, here are some of Her Mom-ness’s favorite books or stories on the subject.

If you’re looking for the word “kindness” in the title, keep looking. These books are more subtle than that. They feature stories and/or characters who demonstrate generosity. Courage. Compassion. Grace. Kindness. If you know any of these, you’ll understand:

What would you add?

Meanwhile, I’m liking this random act of kindness thing. It’s kind of contagious. Unless it hits a cat. Then all bets are off.

Anyway, how ’bout you? Have you been struck by a random act of kindness this week? Or have you been the giver of a random act of kindness? Tell us about it. We love hearing from our peeps!

 

 

 

No, You Don’t Need to Blog EVERY Day – Here’s Why

Six words that strike terror into the heart of bloggers:

Please share your latest blog post.

This according to Her Mom-ness. Me? I’m cool with a daily walk and “dinner” twel… I mean twice a day. But you know how moms are. For as long as I can remember – both minutes – Her Mom-ness has insisted that:

  • Serious writers need a blog like peanut butter needs jelly; and
  • Daily blog posts are the one and only way to build your audience and create a platform.

Not Anymore

Now Mom says that “daily blogging thing” fits like a rhino in leotards. I’m not sure why. But you know how moms are.

She showed me Ali Luke’s post, “How Often Should You Blog? (Hint: The Answer Might Surprise You)” by Ali Luke. She says:

“Over the past couple of years, there’s been a shift in the blogging world. More and more prominent bloggers-on-blogging are moving away from daily posting—and reassuring their readers that you don’t have to post every day in order to be successful. “

Luke continues, quoting Darren Rowse of Problogger:

“I once surveyed readers here on ProBlogger about the reasons they unsubscribed from RSS feeds, and the number one answer was ‘posting too much.’ Respondents expressed that they developed ‘burnout’ and would unsubscribe if a blog became too ‘noisy.’”

Mom and I recently re-evaluated the writing blogs we follow. She dumped several. We simply don’t have time to read lots of posts on a daily basis, “particularly if they’re the blog equivalent of War and Peace.” (I say “we” because who do you think is sitting on the floor next to her, tail wagging a mile a minute while she plows through this stuff? Sometimes she even reads out loud. I like that especially.)

A Crackly Crisp and Criteria

Trying to read and crank out quality posts every day had us both fried to a crackly crisp. Been there, done that? If so, it’s okay to scale back. (More time for walks!)

Thinking about this, we decided to throttle blog posts back to a more realistic schedule of once a week or twice a month. Maybe less. There’s no sense cranking out noise just to fill the screen. Besides. When it comes to “building a platform,” it’s okay to not be in a hurry.

A Matter of Priorities

So daily blog posts may be over-rated. If your first passion is blogging, says Her Mom-ness, then get at it and go to it. But if it’s working on your next novel, short story or creative non-fiction piece, concentrate on that first. Blog when you can.

I find that having a treat close at hand always helps. My favorite is Alpo Little Bites. Beef. Just sayin’.

“Besides,” says Mom, “I’m pretty sure neither you nor I will turn into a pumpkin if we’re not blogging every day. Blogging is supposed to be fun. A creative outlet. Not a tedious, tiresome chore. So relax and enjoy the ride.”

Someone say, “dinner”?

How often do you blog? What do you look for in a blog post?

Celebrating ~200 Books in 6 Months!

“We did it, Kimmi!” Mom crowed this morning. “Time to par-tay!!

Mom’s so pumped today.  She’s flitting around the house, practically dancing. So embarrassing.

Wait. Someone say “another dog biscuit?” Okay. Any time I get extra treats must be a good time. And you know I’m always up for a good time.

So, what’s the occasion? Mom says, “We just about reached our 2018 Goodreads Reading Challenge today! Almost 200 books from January 1 to June 30. That’s nearly our entire goal for the year in just six months! Woo-hoo!”

Anything for a party.

The exact number of books we’ve read in six months is 198. (That’s what the ~ means in the title. It means “almost.”) Short. Medium. Long. And I’m not talking fur coats, if ya know what I mean.

You can read more here. Also:

Judging from the extra treats, that must mean something. Something really good.

You know I like to help. I’m a Helper Extraordinaire, according to Her Mom-ness. Not sure what means. All I did was curl up in her lap and keep her company through like, eight zillion pages. (That counts, even though I spent most of the time snoozing, right?) I walked to the library with her so many times, I thought we were changing addresses. And listened to like, seven zillion audio books. Helped her figure out Overdrive.

Hmmm. Now that I think about it, I did a lot to help Mom reach this part of her Reading Challenge. There’s no telling what she’s going to do the rest of the year. Got any ideas?

Me? I just hope she doesn’t ask me to Cha-Cha. Oh dear…