I’m Leaving on Jet Plane

Don’t know when I’ll be ba… wait a second. I do know that! I’ll be returning to the lovely state of Colorado on Tuesday. Unfortunately, I don’t have anything much to say today as my week has been consumed with packing for my trip and moving to and reorganizing stuff in my new place.

Until next week, enjoy a few pictures of the lovely town I’ll be visiting courtesy of the Ketchikan Vistors Bureau!

Creek Street Camping Tongass National Forest

I kind of wish I had had the forethought to scan a few of my own pictures.

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More from Victoria Hanley

To be quite frank, I really, really enjoyed listening and talking with Victoria Hanley. If I ever get a chance to attend another event with her, I’d do it in a heart beat. Even if it may not have seemed like I was paying attention, because I have a doodling issue, I was clinging to every word she said.

One of the other things she talked about that has really stuck with me, is a writing exercise. In the class she had us all write down our deepest secret. And then we shredded it. Then she asked us if we had told the complete truth, which to be honest, most of us hadn’t and for a variety of reasons. I know, my own reasoning being that I wanted to make it sound nicer than it was, because lets be honest, its a secret because its something I want to pretend isn’t real and if I had written out the whole truth, it would mean for that moment in time I would have to accept that reality and embrace it, even if grudgingly. And boy did I drag my feet with that first draft. But fear not! She made us write down our secret again and this time she said to write the whole truth and I did and as soon as I had placed the last period, I dashed to the shredder and disposed of that beastly thing.

But that wasn’t the end! Afterward she encouraged each of us to spend thirty days free-writing (one of my favorite writing exercises!). Whatever came to mind, our feelings, thoughts, anything, just write it all down on a piece of paper and then shred it. Write it completely and truthfully, because afterward it would be gone and no one else would need to ever see it. And though, the thought of throwing away something I had written, that might be good in a story later made me cringe, she said something to ease my mind. Because whatever we wrote down, if it was good, it would be even better when we rewrote it later.

And yesterday, I begin my first of thirty days of free-writing. Something which will probably be the only writing I will get done for at least the next two weeks as I continue to move into a new apartment and then fly off to the last frontier for my reunion. But it is an exercise I am already enjoying immensely.

What is your favorite writing exercise?

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I’m blessed to live in a state with several local authors that come to the library and do events or go to bookstores and do book talks and signings.

This week I got to listen to Victoria Hanley, a local Colorado author who writes YA fantasy. She talked about writing novels and how to get started and a few key things that you should do and towards the end of the talk there is one thing she said that really stuck with me. And though I don’t know if other writers have said this same thing, I wanted to share it with you here.

Victoria Hanley said, “The great thing about writing is that you are on an exploratory journey.” And that is something I can definitely identify with. Reading is also the same way for me, especially when I go back and read things that I wrote years ago. Stories I’ve forgotten, even if in need of dire editing, will still bring me into a different world I experienced as I wrote them and it makes me want to spend time with that old story, fixing it up and making it into something that other people will be able to read and enjoy too.

Since finding my flash drive that I thought I had lost I’ve gotten to spend a fair amount of time going over things that I’ve written since I was in high school and I can’t wait to sit down with the stories that excited me the most as I wrote them and fix them up so that I can share them with others. And I hope that within the coming months that I can do just that.

Do you feel like writing and reading is an exploratory journey?

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I hate it, loathe it. I don’t like boxing up my life and having it unavailable to me for the days and even weeks that it can take to move into a new place, even if it is just across town.

It also means I need to go through everything I own and downsize. Even if I end up in place the same size or bigger, the thought of moving all that stuff makes me cringe. And while I don’t think I’ve gained a huge amount of things in the nearly six years I’ve been in my current abode, I’m pretty sure that I’ll be moving into a much smaller space, which means stuff I probably should have gotten rid of in the last move, definitely have to go this time around.

What I dislike the most is having to go through my books. While I don’t buy as many as I used to since I started working in a library, they still have a tendency to gather on my shelves and in boxes.

I have to be honest, I’m not one for rereading books, except in the case of research material. I have only reread two books in my life, the first being Ender’s Game which I reread so I could write a paper on it for a college class on literary criticism and Across Five Aprils which I read in seventh and then again in eighth grade. It was the first repeated book report I did, but I had to reread the book because both teachers had different ways they wanted book reports done. Not to mention that at that age I was reading a good three or four books a week, so, a book I had read a year before wasn’t exactly fresh in my mind.

Another thing that I hate having to go through is stuff from my childhood. A lot of it has sentimental value, but the reality is that I don’t use it anymore and with no plans for having children (because that would generally require having at least a boyfriend and then hopefully getting married first), a lot of that stuff may never get used again. Admittedly, I’m also a bit of a pack-rat, so I have a lot of things with neither sentimental value or usefulness in my life.

All this means I’m going to have to sit down and really look at the things I’ve collected in my life with a critical eye. Much the same way I need to look at my writing when I edit. Do I really need this item/scene? Does it serve a purpose? Will I use this later? What can be removed without being missed?

These are just a few of the questions I have to ask myself. And more will come as I get deeper into my packing and sorting and as I learn more about editing.

What things do you ask yourself when you are getting ready to move or edit your writing?

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Summer Reading Program

Summer is almost here and most libraries around the country have started their sign-ups for summer reading programs. I love that my library not only has a program specifically designed for the various children’s age groups, but teens and adults as well.

Last year we got some super cool eco-friendly water bottles for signing up and though we aren’t getting anything special this year, I am glad that they changed the adult prizes so that people are more likely to win something now. Whereas the teens and kids always get something for reading, the adults only get a chance.

Our theme this year is Novel Destinations. And though I generally don’t read travel related books, I think I might just have to pick out one to try, even if its not a requirement of the program. It’s programs like this that make me step outside of my usual reading habits to try something new and I think its generally a good thing.

Do you have any favorite travel related books?

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The Good Ol’ Days

In just a little over a month I’ll be heading home to Alaska for my ten year reunion. I’m really excited to be heading back, but I’m honestly not really looking forward to hanging out with my former classmates. While I had a lot of fun my senior year of high school, I can’t say that I had fond memories of much else. Probably something typical for most introverts.

The idea of seeing where people are, who they married, how many kids they have and everything else that could have happened in the last ten years is definitely interesting. And I’m sure my mind will be running at a million miles an hour as character and story ideas pop in my mind as I look at how much people have or haven’t changed over the years.

But what I’m really looking forward to is hanging out with old family friends and hitting up some of my favorite spots. I’ll definitely be bringing a camera with me so I can take photos of everything. And I hope that we have some good weather so I can get a few sunset and sunrise shots out on the beach. And, of course, so I can do some hiking.

Anyone else making plans to head to reunions this summer?

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Shifting into Overdrive.

I’m not talking about the e-book distributor or cars, I’m talking about myself.

Over the next two weeks I’m going into overdrive on my edits. I’ve got two complete novels (though not my only two “complete” novels) that I really want to finish editing and I’m hoping that I can finish this round of edits by the end of May. Which means I’ll be spending a week on each one.

Whether or not I’m successful in that venture, I’ll be extremely happy if I can at least get through one of them in the next two weeks. This is because I really want to get to the point in the next couple of months where I’m ready to start querying agents.

I’m sure that I’ll go through each of the novels at least a few times before I even start drafting query letters, but it means that I need to buckle down and spend less time working on new material and more time focusing on getting the old material up to snuff.

Do you have any projects you are really excited about finishing?

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Rainy Days and Library Book Drops

I know a fair number of libraries employ book drops around the towns they service, so that if a person can’t make it over to the library they can still drop off their books. There are a couple downsides, though.

The one we get complaints about the most tends to have to do with how often the book drops are picked up. Depending on the library and how much the book drop is used, it may only get picked up once a day, which means that your items could end up being a day late. And even though our fines are pretty small and your item actually has to be two days late before you actually start accruing fines, people can get pretty upset about having to pay 10 cents or 25 cents on some of the items.

The other downside has to do with rainy days. For the last two days here it has been pouring rain and that means that our book drops around town have a tendency to get puddles in the bottom. Books can end up sitting in the book drops for 24 hours (or more if it happens to be dropped off on Friday afternoon), which means we get really soggy books coming back to us. Now the plus side here for the patron is that we don’t charge them for these books, after all, its not really their fault that that particular book drop has a puddle at the bottom. But it does mean that on rainy days, we do end up having to withdraw and discard dozens of soggy books because they are just too wet. These are books that probably would have continued circulating for at least another year or more.

And while the rain is definitely a blessing when we’ve had such dry weather, it always makes us cringe when the book drops are picked up and brought to us.

What I ask of you, is that if you use your library’s book drops around your town, try and make the extra effort to stop by your library to drop off your book on rainy days, especially if you really enjoyed it.

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It’s that time of year when allergies make their big debut. Over the years I have gradually started to accept the fact that I do have them, and that hay fever will just be a part of my life each spring.

But what is harder to accept is that I’m allergic to cats, no matter how mild the allergy. I suppose the good news is, that I can never be the crazy cat lady down the street, because that many cats would simply kill me. Or at the very least turn me into a red-eyed, bloody-nosed snot factory.

What I need to learn now, is whether I’m allergic to dogs too. When I recently went to visit a friend, I found myself turning into a snot factory. The only difference between her place and mine, besides location in town, is that she has a dog. Of course, the fact that she has a lot more trees and shrubs and other plants around her apartment could pose an issue as well.

If am indeed allergic to dogs as well as cats, I’m going to be one sad girl. Cats are my ultimate favorite animal, and while I cloud probably keep an single outdoor cat without much in the way of consequences, as I did most of my childhood, if one little dog can turn me into a snot factory, it may mean that I’ll never be able to get that dog I’ve been planning on.

I just hope that I don’t develop a peanut allergy, because I’m not sure I could live without peanut butter.

Do you have an allergies that really cramp your style?

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I love my job!

I got the opportunity this week to play with an iPad from work. Right now I’m even typing up this entry on it. I do have to say that this has been a great learning experience. Within just a few hours of playing around with it I knew that I wasn’t going to be buying an iPad, at least not first a gen one.

While the iPad has a lot of things I thought I would really like, I’m finding that the keyboard is just too hard for me to get used to, so I would probably really only use the iPad for reading ebooks and with Kindle coming to libraries in the near future, my options are really starting to open up as far as ereaders go. Also, my netbook can do a lot of the other things I would use an iPad for like writing or surfing on the Internet.

I also found that a lot of the games you can get are a real distraction to the point that one of the main things I wanted to do this week was to read a book on the iPad. And I have yet to read more than a few lines and that is what I did while I was on break at work. And while I enjoy games as much as anyone, I dont have them installed on my netbook for a reason. It means that I won’t get any of the work I’m planning on doing done.

So while I’m having a lot of fun playing with this iPad, I’m glad that I’ve gotten this week to play with it. And I’m really looking forward to playing with the Nook and Kindle we also have. Maybe someday patrons will even be able to check them out at the library as well, but until then I’ll have fun exploring these devices so that I can help patrons when they are having trouble downloading and using our ebooks on their own devices.

Have you gotten a chance to explore any of the ereaders out there?

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