Take Me to a Library . . .

I’ve often said if I had to be stranded somewhere, I’d choose a library. They are warm, well-lit, and clean. There’s usually a staff room with the makings of coffee and tea, and often a fridge filled with snacks. Best of all, there are books. Stacks and stacks, row upon row, of books.

I love to visit libraries around the world.

Did you know that the Tikkurila Library in Vantaa, Finland has a karaoke room with thousands of songs that patrons can perform? (Don’t worry; the room is soundproof.) Or that the New York Public Library loans accessories like neckties or briefcases for people who need to polish off their look for a job interview? How about this piece of trivia: the Joanina Library at the University of Coimbra in Portugal has a number of bats in residence. No one minds because the bats prey on insects that could damage books. Staff drape the tables overnight and clean up the guano in the morning. Now that’s dedication!

And librarians are dedicated. As a kid, it was a librarian who helped me learn to write so I could get a much-coveted library card. As an adult, librarians helped me with research for a number of my books. And now, as a writer, libraries also contribute to my income.

The end of February is when PLR (Public Lending Right) cheques are issued to authors. This year, more than 17,000 Canadian authors will receive money as compensation for free public access to our books through Canada’s public libraries. I’m always grateful to receive that cheque. I’m also grateful for what it represents – our incredible library system and the acknowledgement of the role Canadian authors play in contributing to it. Thanks is also due to the Canada Council for the Arts which spearheads this important program.

And if you’re a reader but you haven’t visited the library in a while, I hope you check out your local branch soon.

Reading Canadian

Tomorrow is the inaugural I Read Canadian Day, an event designed to bring attention to and celebrate Canadian books for young people. Let’s broaden out and support ALL Canadian books and authors, even those written for adults.

For information on the I Read Canadian program for children and teens, go here:

If you’re looking for a good read by a Canadian author, check out this list from Booknet Canada. You’ll find fiction and non-fiction, and some juvenile titles too. 

https://www.booknetcanada.ca/blog/2017/6/13/150-bestselling-books-by-canadian-authors

Happy Reading!

My February Reads

For those who note these things, it’s been a while since I’ve blogged. Life inevitably has its messy, difficult times and that’s been true around here since mid-December. I’d managed for a while by scheduling everything in advance but lately even that’s proven challenging. So while this blog and my social media presence is on something of a hiatus, I’m hoping I won’t be away too much longer. My reading has taken a hit lately too, though I’m managing to squeeze in a few books here and there. And I’m gravitating to upbeat escapism whenever possible. Here’s what I’m reading this month:

 

At the gym: Best of My Love by Susan Mallery

Beside the fire: A Glorious Freedom by Lisa Congdon

Before bed: Starlight on Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs

Books read to date in 2018: 14

Library Love Affair

publiclendingrightAnyone who reads my blog on a regular basis probably knows how much I love libraries. When I was a child, I learned to read and write because I wanted a library card. Back then, going to the library and wandering the stacks of books was one of my favorite things to do. When I became a writer, libraries (and the invaluable librarians who work there) took on added importance. As well as being a place of escape, I began to rely on the library for much of my research. I still do to some extent today.

Libraries nourished me as a child. They informed me as an adult. As a writer, they contribute to my income.

The end of February is when PLR (Public Lending Right) cheques are issued to authors. This year, more than 17,000 Canadian authors will receive money as compensation for free public access to our books through Canada’s public libraries. I’m always grateful when that cheque hits the mailbox. I’m also grateful for what it represents – our incredible library system and the acknowledgement of the role Canadian authors play in contributing to it. Thanks is also due to the Canada Council for the Arts which spearheads this important program.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the PLR. And for the first time since the program began, electronic books may be registered. If you’re an author and you’d like more information, go here: http://plr-dpp.ca/PLR/

And if you’re a reader but you haven’t visited the library in a while, I hope you check out your local branch soon!

Million Dollar Blues

money bundle_1Here’s an interesting bit of trivia. On this date back in 1690, the first piece of paper money was issued by the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the United States.

 

Life would never be the same again.

I’m thinking about money quite a bit these days because I’m working on Million Dollar Blues. It’s a women’s fiction novel about a contested lottery win and the impact it has on the lives and loves of three different women. I’ll be self-publishing it under my Laura Tobias name but first I have to get it in some kind of shape for the editor. There’ll probably be revisions to tackle after she’s finished with it too. And then there’s the cover to commission and the formatting to take care of and all the other details that go into self-publishing a book.

It’s been a real learning curve since I uploaded What Lainey Sees a little over a year ago. Changes are afoot with that title too. It started life as an ebook available only on Amazon, but in the coming months I’ll be making it available on more platforms and getting print copies made as well.

Stay tuned for details.

Meanwhile, happy February!

The Kindle Has Brought Out My Dark Side . . .

kindleI wasn’t desperate for an ebook reader. I wanted the perfect tablet instead. A tablet featuring E Ink and color, one that was easy to hold and reasonably priced. There’s no such thing. At least not yet. But there are plenty of books coming out in electronic form only, and I couldn’t read them easily. So I bought a Kindle Paperwhite.

It does the job. The lighting is terrific; it’s easy to hold. I never run out of reading material, and I don’t have to remember to take a book when I know I’ll be waiting somewhere. It’ll be great the next time I travel.

Friends said owning an e reader would change my reading habits, that I’d never buy physical books again. I don’t think so. A hardcover sits perfectly on the elliptical at the gym and I prefer a paperback in the tub. Plus, what would a cookbook be without those luscious, glossy pictures?

But the Kindle has done something. It’s brought out my dark side (And I’m not talking about how much I’ve spent in the Amazon store, though that certainly has its dark side). No, the Kindle has made me an impatient, stingy reader.

When it comes to physical books, I’m generous about giving a writer time to draw me in. I’ll read quite a long way before giving up on a story. I figure even a poorly crafted book teaches me something. With rare exceptions – that exception being a book that sucks so totally my eyes cross as I read – I pretty much finish everything I start.

Not on the Kindle.  That screen is small. I read fast. If I’m not drawn in with a few swipes of my finger, I get cranky. My mind starts to wander. And if I’m not completely hooked in those first five or six pages (probably the equivalent of one or two pages in a physical book), then I’m hitting delete.

At first I felt guilty. Then I got worried. Maybe I had an arrested case of ADD. Or something worse. Maybe I needed to see my doctor  (I don’t; the Kindle Paperwhite lets you google Web MD).

What I have instead is a new relationship. My Kindle and I need to get used to each other. Maybe my dark side will recede. Maybe I’ll become more generous and patient and revert to my old reading patterns. Maybe. Maybe not.

Either way, this dark, guilty business has reminded me of the importance of craft. The critical need for smooth, clear, and irresistible story openings. Openings so compelling the reader can’t stop reading. I’m not the only Kindle user out there. And I may not be the only impatient one.

What I’m reading this month:

On the Kindle – Angelfall by Susan Ee

At the Gym – Stay by Allie Larkin

Beside the Tub – Help, Thanks, Wow by Anne Lamott

Being Present, Take Two . . .

P1000911My January vow to live in the present has taken a beating this last while. I’m planning a new novel, expecting a revision letter soon on another and fielding enquiries about possible spring author talks, so I’m very much looking forward. Besides that, February isn’t the easiest month to endure. It’s cold and rainy here on the Island. Today, the wind is so bitter that people are bundled up in hats and scarves and furtively whispering about the possibility of snow. The birds have deserted the pond. Even the dogs don’t want to linger outside.

But being outside inevitably brings me back to the present. And with the snowdrops blooming around the neighbor’s tree, and a field of crocuses putting on a show just down the block, the present is a good place to be. Because, yes, even February has its charms. P1000918