Games to Play With Books

An advantage to Facebook and Scribophile is the ability to play weird games that would be much less fun face to face. Imagine getting out lists of silly words, one for each letter of the alphabet and one for each month of the year, and having your friends at a party tell you what their porn star name would be, based on the month they were born and the first letter of their last name. Not enough alcohol in the world to make that funny.

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Continue reading “Games to Play With Books”

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The Lost Volumes

Being an avid reader, I tend to hang out with other avid readers. A series of understandable events occur when A.R.s get together. We talk about books, and we find out the person we are talking to has not read the very best and greatest book of its kind that the other person will simply adore.

That’s how it starts. Then some time later, I go looking for the book, and it’s not there. I lent it to someone, but for the life of me I can’t remember who. Whoever it is, I hope they are enjoying my book. They may have passed it on to another AR. Who knows?

Because the universe likes balance, I have borrowed books and have yet to return them. These are not technically lost volumes. I just haven’t finished reading them, and the owner hasn’t asked for them back. See previous paragraph.

I also have lent out books, and remembered to whom I lent the book. The person has had some drama in their life, and the book was put into storage. And the storage eventually could not be paid for. The book became the property of someone else.

For those of us with short term memory loss, Libraries were places that lent out books for a set period, and would charge you money if you were late returning the books. In the later years, they also lent DVDs and audio books, and there usually was a used book store that raised money for some special programs at the facility. However, their ability to enforce the penalties was limited to charging you the fine when you came back to the same library. So if you were moving away, you could easily go in and check out a dozen books, and never return them.

Libraries evolved into systems, in some cases, where a region had more than one branch and they shared a computer system that sent the same list of people who never returned books to all the libraries and sometimes even the post office. It could be a problem unless you moved to another state.

A nice feature of e-books is that you can share them with friends, as long as the friends has the same e-reader that you do. If you have a Nook and he has a Kindle, there will be trouble. Those mixed reading lists are really difficult to maintain. And if you can disable the DRM on those books, it’s just like not having to return them to a friend or library. http://lifehacker.com/5954466/how-do-i-get-rid-of-the-drm-on-my-ebooks-and-video

My “friend” Roxanna Haley has a book selling on Amazon, and participates in the Kindle Unlimited program. That’s where readers can read the e-book without buying it. It’s a virtual library, and while not as profitable to the author, she will still get a percentage of the price.

In conclusion, while books aren’t as good at dimension travel as socks in a dryer, they do tend to get around. As a reader, it’s all good, I’ll just go buy another copy of whatever book I am missing. As an author, it’s all good, the book will show up on someone’s book shelf, they will read it someday, like it, and go look for more by the same author. Can’t complain about that. I’ll be back on Thursday.

Around the World in 80+ Books, Part 11

Next week will be the final installment of this page-and-globe-trotting trip. I can’t wait to get home, unpack all the books I marked to read, and get to work. Plus I have a blog hop on Wednesday! Lots of good questions coming up, but let’s be off.

201. Antigua and Barbuda. Lovely island settings for books are very appealing, but so many come with histories of slavery, colonization, and suffering. There’s little to document why the native population on the island died off with the coming of Europeans, it could have been from diseases they brought to the island, or the lack of nutrition provided to slaves, There’s an accepted theory that just the psychological effect of slavery caused the high death rate of the natives. What a great setting for a paranormal story of old sorrows and painful disillusionment. Antiguan Redemption by Patricia Harrington hasn’t been reviewed yet, and the story description is exactly the same as above, but that’s enough for me.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12341391.Antiguan_Redemption

202. Armenia. Yes, we’re jumping around the globe but in alphabetical order. Sometimes, you just have to take your chances and go with what seems the best choice. Ervand Kadavakiac by Hayk Khachatryan is a fictional account of a 6th century king, about whom I could find very little information. That alone makes this book a great read. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6666299-ervand-sakavakiac

203.Barbados. Back to the islands, and a story about a youth caught between the colonized world he lives in, and the fresh ideas coming from a teacher about independence and pride in yourself and your culture. We all need more of that. No Man in the House by Cecil Foster is about the Caribbean by a Caribbean writer. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2238326.No_Man_in_the_House?ac=1

204. Bhutan. Quick, go get your globe and point to Bhutan! Time’s up. Did you find it? The happiest kingdom on earth, the little corner of heaven tucked into a jungle and mountain? There it is, northeast of India, and no, it’s not where all the disposable lighters come from. You thought I was going for the easy humor, didn’t you? There’s not a book on the list of novels set in Bhutan that I don’t want to read. But the problem is, the place is so awesome that the books are mostly non-fiction. So as a lover of birds and plants and fine art, I picked A Painter’s Year in the Forests of Bhutan by A. K. Hellum. First off, the title is a lie, this person took two years and tries to act all cool about the title. If he or she just told the truth, there would be an increase in Gross National Happiness. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/388831.A_Painter_s_Year_in_the_Forests_of_Bhutan

205.Bonaire, St, Eustatius, and Saba. These islands make up the colony of the Netherlands Antilles. The best things going there is the impressive sea life and diving tours. And it might all be gone by now if not for one man who saw what had to be done and did it. Captain Don Stewart hated seeing movies come out that created fear in tourists with regard to the sea. And so he wrote a book called Sea Trauma to talk about the real dangers underwater. http://www.infobonaire.com/captdon/publish.html

206. Bosnia and Herzegovina. Back in the war-torn lands of Eastern Europe. One book set here has a great title, When History is a Nightmare. The Turks are occupying the country in The Devil and the Dervish by Meša Selimović, in the 18th century. A Dervish monk is keeping a separate peace in his monastic life when the rest of the world intrudes through family ties. What would you do?
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2577413.Death_and_the_Dervish

207. Botswana. The series of Ladies’ Detective Agency books tempted me, but the title of this true story captured my greater interest. Whatever You Do, Don’t Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide by Peter Allison introduces you to the concept that only food runs. Lots of 4 and 5 star reviews, and on my to-read list. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/891224.Whatever_You_Do_Don_t_Run?ac=1

208. Brunei Darussalam. Oh dear, no novels or even true stories set in this country. But there is a text book called Language, Power, and Ideology in Brunei Darussalam by Geoffrey C. Gunn. Standing out in the region for having a high rate of literacy, still no authors have emerged yet. Perhaps the text book can tell us why. http://www.amazon.com/Language-Power-Ideology-Brunei-Darussalam/dp/0896801926

209. Guernsey and Aldernay. Well, mostly Guernsey. A book with a great title and an awesome premise. A book happens to find the exact person who would most be interested in it, as well as able to connect with the writer of a letter tucked inside. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows has mixed reviews claiming that the book is too sweet. The heroine is just too perky through the whole story, and there’s not enough about the quirky inhabitants of the island. Well, read it and see for yourself. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2728527-the-guernsey-literary-and-potato-peel-pie-society?ac=1

210. Kiribati. Everyone always wants to go to the beautiful tropical islands, but the people stuck there complain that nothing ever happens. So a good choice for a book here is one where Something Happens. And maybe to a person not usually on the island. Food of Ghosts by Marianne Wheelaghan is this story, based on experiences of the author’s mother. The reviews are predominantly positive, including one stating the book is a thrilling, entertaining, and exotic whodunnit. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16143019.Food_of_Ghosts

211. Liechtenstein. This unfortunate country has had a thrilling history as much as any European state. But beyond a very poorly received Danielle Steele book and a few ancient classics, there’s little to read that takes place there. We have a manga, a children’s story about a skinny cow, and a biography of a very expensive piece of furniture. And a trio of kids escaping the Nazis, a so-so Harlequin romance, and porn. So let’s just walk around the country for a while and see if anything inspires us to write. Harry’s Mountain Walks in Liechtenstein by Lloyd P. Clark gets us off to a good start. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6363097.Harry_s_Mountain_Walks_in_Liechtenstein

212. Luxembourg. A good deal larger than Liechtenstein, this country has more books from which to choose. But the first one snagged me in with a great title, and the summary kept my interest. The reviews are pretty good as well. In The Elf of Luxembourg by Tom Weston, teenage sisters visiting Europe from America (California, as we learned in Alex and Jackie Adventures #1. This is #2) get involved in a prophecy and some odd characters, as well as some fabulous shopping. A young adult story that includes some history lessons and great black and while photos. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7801221.The_Elf_of_Luxembourg

213. Malawi. As one reviewer pointed out, so many books that take place in African Nations are sad and depressing, with everyone surrendering to the belief in hopelessness. So while a true story, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba is unique for telling the tale of a person who never gave up hope, and always kept his dream in view. Malawi has wind to spare, and in spite of being called crazy for wanting to use that wind to improve the lives of everyone, William stayed focus and positive. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6419887-the-boy-who-harnessed-the-wind

214. Martinique. This Caribbean island is known for being the birthplace of Josephine, Napoleon’s Empress, and for the eruption of Mt. Pelee in 1902. The land should also be known for author Patrick Chamoiseau, who writes stories from his own life, from the history of the island, and from his charming imagination. In Chronicles of The Seven Sorrows, he creates a marketplace cast and a story which brings folktale characters to life. No reviews yet, but worth a read. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/949068.Chronicle_of_the_Seven_Sorrows

215. Isle of Man. Sometimes it’s hard to track down a book set in a remote location. If GoodReads can’t find it, I look for other sources, but eventually come back to GoodReads for the reviews and book information. Safe House by Chris Ewan is set in the Isle of Man, written there, and had a premier party when it was released. The “hero” is an every-man type, plumber and repair man. A woman disappears, he knows he is being lied to, and a detective comes in from London. One review suggested this story had a “Who Really Cares” feel to it, but as long as it doesn’t go all Wicker Man on us, I would side with the others who enjoyed the suspense and the read. And it’s got a bit with a dog.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13538955-safe-house

216. Macedonia. Thanks to Mary Renault, I went through a stage where I had a serious crush on Alexander the Great. Fire from Heaven is an awesome read, but too easy to suggest here. And so many of the books are about Alexander, like Annabel Lyon’s The Golden Mean. The time of Alexander created lasting animosity between various peoples of the area. In 1966, Tasko Georgievski published the award winning Black Seed, about the civil war making ethnic Macedonians criminals for their heritage. This is the first translation into English. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3479995.Black_Seed__A_Classic_Novel_of_Modern_Macedonian_Literature

217. Maldives. Thor Heyerdahl believed the islands had been inhabited a thousand years earlier than most historians believed. There are several books Goodreads lists, then claims it can’t find. And one that has no clue to what it’s about. A couple of books I have put on my read later list, but the first one doesn’t really take place on Maldives. The second is suggested because people who read the first one liked books about younger men and older women. But no Maldivian books. So let’s look at legends, shall we? Mysticism in the Maldives: Eyewitness Accounts of Supernatural Encounters by Ali Hussain. That ought to make you lose a little sleep. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12122268.Mysticism_in_the_Maldives__eyewitness_accounts_of_supernatural_encounters

218. Moldova. Not a very stellar recognition to be the poorest country in Europe. Most of the books are about children becoming sex slaves and dying of AIDS unless rescued by a mission or such. So I picked two books here. The ones more about the people. The Good Life Elsewhere by Vladimir Lorchenkov has top reviews from people who enjoy dark humor. A talented author who can be very funny and very sad at the same time will weave a special story. Come on, an Orthodox priest’s wife leaves him to elope with an atheist art dealer. What’s not to love? https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18755811.The_Good_Life_Elsewhere The second book is Bessarbian Nights by Stela Brinzeanu, also a well-reviewed story, that follows a close trio of sisters who live with traditions and superstitions while longing for the modern world. As one of them stumbles into a horrific situation, the other two unite to save her. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21424404.Bessarabian_Nights

219. Monaco. Grace Kelly will never die. A dozen books on her life, her marriage, her children, and the lifestyle in Monaco keep her alive. There is also a helping of porn written about Monte Carlo. While Ian Fleming Casino Royale would be good, it’s a bit dated. I like the sound of an end-of-career football hero reunited with his first crush, and the secret she has kept from him. Which is really easy to figure out if you read these kind of Romances. Manacled in Monaco is a catchy name, and the first of Jianne Carlo’s Mediterranean Mambo series. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5630946.Manacled_in_Monaco

220. Montenegro. The name says it all. The Land of the Black Mountain. Lots of histories of the country, and lots of picture books of the rarely seen Montenegro. If I spoke Montenegrin, I would recommend the poetry book by native Petar II Petrović Njegoš . Instead, there’s this tramp across the beautiful land guide called Montenegro or Bust by Paul Richard Scott. He obviously loved the experience, and shares it vividly.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13541326.Montenegro_or_Bust

When we wrap up next week, I’d love to hear your favorite books from the list. And I’ll see you on Wednesday for something really fun.

Around the World in 80 Books Part 1

One of the great pleasures of books to my mind is all the wonderful places and times I can visit. But can I make a trip around the world by book? Let’s find out!

1. To start, we’ll find a book that takes place in San Diego, CA. To my great surprise, Somewhere in Time was written by Richard Matheson, and he placed the action in San Diego. I haven’t read the book, but I’m taking a gimme since I have both the movie and the sound track CD. I didn’t know there were conventions just for this film! Have they figured out where the watch came from yet? https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/581126.Somewhere_in_Time

2. Moving up the coast to Los Angeles, lots more Richard Matheson books as well as Raymond Chandler take place in the City of Angles, but I’m going with Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/548739.Confessions_of_a_Jane_Austen_Addict I listened to this recently, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope I made that clear last time I mentioned it here.

3. San Francisco is easy, as a Christopher Moore fan, so I’m going to start with Bloodsucking Fiends, A Love Story. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33454.Bloodsucking_Fiends

4. Finding books set in Northern California is not easy. So I am going with Marin County and a book I have not read, Just Breath by Susan Wiggs. Sounds delightful! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3134684-just-breathe

5. To move things along, I’m jumping to Oregon via Backwards to Oregon by Jae. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6080751-backwards-to-oregon?from_search=true A very interesting romance premise centered on a long trip.

6. Kristen Proby writes a series of contemporary romances set in Seattle, Washington. The first one, Come Away With Me, has a drool-worthy cover and a plot that would be a dream come true for many of us. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16070521-come-away-with-me?from_search=true

7. Check your passport, we’re off to the Pacific Northwest wilderness, British Columbia style. I Heard The Owl Call My Name by Margaret Craven is a classic coming of age tale with a side order of culture shock. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/106931.I_Heard_the_Owl_Call_My_Name

8. Now to an island off the coast of Canada, to enjoy a bit of dark humor in Let’s Kill Uncle by Rohan O’Grady (not her real name). https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8729105-let-s-kill-uncle

9. We stop in the Yukon to read Kat Martin’s Midnight Sun, one of the original stories of a tough Alpha male who is NOT a werewolf attempting to help an independent woman in the wilderness. http://www.bookssetin.com/b1/1899/Midnight-Sun/Martin/b2/ViewBook.aspx

10. I could easily list 80 books about Alaska, even given the criteria of fiction only. Recently, I formed an interest in Werewolf Romances. I blame a specific friend on Scribophile (You know who you are, ED!). So this particular book is now on my Goodreads list. How to Flirt With a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper is the first in a series, so the fun won’t stop at the end of the book. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8182682-how-to-flirt-with-a-naked-werewolf

11. Russia is a bit tricky. I wanted to hop through a number of geographical areas, but guess what? Russia is vast, hugely unpopulated in some areas, and perhaps a bit paranoid about letting Google Earth take pictures from space. So here’s a book that hooked me in the brief description, The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall, again the first in a series. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1212868.The_Russian_Concubine

12. Impossible to cover Russia in even two books, nonetheless here is one more offering before we move on. Anna by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, number one of a series. Governesses rule! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1738050.Anna

13. Has it dawned on you yet that I won’t get all 80 books listed in one blog post? I had thought to do 40 at a time, but 20 is taking up lots of space. And Mongolia could take up the rest of the list. Goodreads to the rescue! The Blades of the Rose starts with Zoe Archer’s Warrior. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7199027-warrior I love a good western Mongolian magic fantasy, don’t you?

14. China brought tea to the world. Before that, we just drank hot water with sugar and cream. (Anyone read/watch Asterix the Gaul?) So I think a modern story about porcelain art items will be the perfect summation of Centuries of vast intelligence and culture. A Cup of Light by Nicole Mones caught my attention for that reason. http://www.bookssetin.com/b1/633/A-Cup-of-Light/Mones/b2/ViewBook.aspx

15 & 16. North Korea opens up to us in a pair of books by James Church, the first one is A Corpse in the Koryo, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15307.A_Corpse_in_the_Koryo and the sequel, Blood and Bamboo. http://www.bookssetin.com/b1/5384/Bamboo-and-Blood/Church/b2/ViewBook.aspx

17. South Korea is the country of origin for many children adopted by citizens of the United States. My family has adopted but not across borders and oceans. I know my niece worked through her urge to find her birth mother, and had instead found happiness in just being who she is. The Lucky Gourd Shop by Joanna Catherine Scott explores adoption of three siblings, the eldest able to remember their life in the shop. http://www.bookssetin.com/b1/1776/The-Lucky-Gourd-Shop/Scott/b2/ViewBook.aspx

18. Japan is another country that spans many centuries with amazing culture and knowledge. So many books have been written about Nippon that I could, easily, do 80 books here. Instead, I will indulge my fondness for Ninjas and look at a Young Adult book. Young Adult, by the way, only indicates the approximate age of the main characters. The story is still well crafted and engaging. Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn is certainly such a story, and Book One in a series! http://www.bookssetin.com/b1/60/Across-the-Nightingale-Floor/Hearn/b2/ViewBook.aspx

19. I’m not usually interested enough in Christian fiction to read much of it, but in looking for books set in Taiwan, that is the first type of book to come up. I should not be surprised, I am acquainted with a minister who teaches English in Taiwan. Maybe that helped spark my interest in Heaven Lake by John Dalton. http://www.bookssetin.com/b1/1271/Heaven-Lake/Dalton/b2/ViewBook.aspx A test of faith due to romantic inclinations? I want to read it!

20. Last stop on the first leg of the journey, The Village by T. F. Rhoden is listed in the genre of Other. Yep. Reading the description or blurb, it sounds a bit like a modern parable. Set in the pinpoint location of Southeast Asia, it’s a tale of man’s inhumanity to man. Oh, wait. It says the immutability of the human condition. So close. http://www.bookssetin.com/b1/8745/The-Village/Rhoden/b2/ViewBook.aspx

Have a good rest stop. I’ll put up something else on Wednesday and then hit the road once more on Sunday.

Games to Play With Books

An advantage to Facebook and Scribophile is the ability to play weird games that would be much less fun face to face. Imagine getting out lists of silly words, one for each letter of the alphabet and one for each month of the year, and having your friends at a party tell you what their porn star name would be, based on the month they were born and the first letter of their last name. Not enough alcohol in the world to make that funny.

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Continue reading “Games to Play With Books”

Libraries of the World

I have so many distractions at my day job. First being that I would rather be home writing than reviewing the work of those poor souls whom I supervise. Second being how much fun my co-workers are and how much I am learning about them. Writers love to learn about people. Third might be the wonderful names that come up in our files and in our staff. I can’t use a name that is too individualized, but one that is fairly common and right for a character, then I add it to the list.

But no lower than tenth on the list is the set of images on my desktop of beautiful libraries of the world. I wish more of the images had some indication of where the library exists, but that would cost extra. So I have gone digging for the information, and maybe for a few more lovely book palaces.

Pictures are awesome. But when you look at these, many of them of places older than my entire country’s oldest library, imagine what it smells like to be surrounded by those old books. Leather and paper and ink, dust and scholars, and curiosity. Imagine the sounds, muted and gentle, as reverent as a cathedral.

Sadly, this site took the very intelligent step of protection from possible legal action and removed almost all the photos posted there. I believe by only posting links to various sites, I am not violating any copyright rules. (Have your lawyer call my lawyer if you have other information) But she did leave up some incredibly valuable information pages, like designing your own library, and links to books about libraries. (http://www.beautiful-libraries.com/)

One of my favorite photos on my desktop collection turns out to be Trinity College Library in Ireland. Here’s a site with many photos of such delights, with Trinity at the top. Numbers 5 and 10 also look familiar. Interesting to note that Canada has several entries in the list, the USA start after those, with the Library of Congress at number 29. (http://mentalfloss.com/article/51788/62-worlds-most-beautiful-libraries)

The BBC includes a few more modern libraries in their list, but look! There’s Trinity College again! (http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20131113-the-most-spectacular-libraries) The Buddhist Scriptures carved on wood slabs take my breath away. The written word contains so much power that we have recorded it by any means available.

One might think Architectural Digest would have a different look at libraries than a bookophile, but not so much. There’s that same picture of Trinity College’s Long Room. (http://www.architecturaldigest.com/architecture/2013-11/most-beautiful-libraries-trinity-college-mushashino-bodleian-sainte-genevieve-article) They do wonder if it’s the beautiful Library that brings more tourists to the Long Room, or the priceless Book of Kells preserved there.

Flavorwire narrows its collection to college libraries, so yes, there’s Trinity College’s Long Room, same photo. Hope the photographer is getting some money from this shot! (http://flavorwire.com/240819/the-25-most-beautiful-college-libraries-in-the-world/)

That same entity also has a collection of beautiful personal and private libraries, without Trinity, I’m afraid. (http://flavorwire.com/261320/20-beautiful-private-and-personal-libraries) But does include George Lucas’s and Neil Gaiman’s. And also not including Trinity, a collection of the most beautiful public libraries. (http://flavorwire.com/280318/the-25-most-beautiful-public-libraries-in-the-world/) This answers that age-old question, what’s pink on the outside, gold on the inside, and has books?

New on my Bucket List is a visit to the George Peabody Library in Baltimore! Thanks to the Daily Telegraph for putting this list together and bringing it to my attention. But they didn’t include Trinity. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/10382588/The-most-spectacular-libraries-in-the-world.html?frame=2705752)

CNN’s list is labeled exquisite, and you will notice repetitions from the other lists. However, I really like the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, New Haven, U.S. where all the light comes in through golden translucent rock. (http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/27/world/gallery/most-beautiful-libraries-in-the-world/)

San Diego, my home town of sorts, just built a new library. I had been in the old one a few times, but have yet to make it down to see the new structure. Everything I hear about it is positive. There are 9 stories, including two dedicated to a Charter High School. (https://www.sandiego.gov/public-library/about-the-library/projects/newcentral.shtml) (video from opening day http://www.cbs8.com/story/23565204/new-central-library-opens-to-public-monday-morning)

Let’s face it, what brings people in to libraries are the books and available services. My home town in San Diego’s East county had a great library, if small. I looked it up and I am happy to report it has been remodeled. That made me curious about other city libraries. A German review named Chicago’s Public Library as the best urban book repository in the U.S. And third in the world. Pretty cool, huh? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Public_Library) Wikipedia has a great history of the library, which started just after the Great Chicago Fire with donations from a project called The English Book Donation. (What is up with making libraries PINK?)

Like most would-be authors, I would love on a future day to walk in to any of the libraries presented here and see my own work on the shelf. Or in the catalogue of e-books. If the Friends of the Library want to stage a book signing, I’ll be there! Have a great week.