April 9, 2012

Candles & Champagne Can’t Last Forever

Filed under: Frontstory,Kids and Life — jenny @ 9:12 am

OK, I don’t actually think there were candles on the table at that lunch my new editor took me and my agent to. But there might as well have been, as readers of this blog know. It was pretty spectacular.

But spectacular can’t last forever, otherwise it would become, well, non-spectacular. The bar would keep having to rise to make something else fit the definition, right?

I guess it kept rising for a time. At the lunch, there was in fact champagne, for instance. When the waiter approached, my editor looked at us both and said, “I’d say we should have champagne, yes?”

It reminded me of that Seinfeld episode. Was I champagne-worthy? Was my book? No way.

And the atmosphere was so comfortable and chatty and laugh-y that toward the end, my editor invited us both to a cocktail party she was hosting at Random House for the Romance Writers of America the following month. So there I was, one dress just bought, and another one now needed, because I was going to be walking through the hallowed halls of a lifelong dream. In the RH building lives a copy of every single book they have ever published. That building is my cathedral.

There was another champagne drink at that party–tinted pink for the romance authors. It was lovely. Friendly, non-intimidating people, some of whom had even heard about my book. After toiling with only my husband and family to know what I was doing for so many years–maybe an agent by my side, but basically feeling too lame to talk about it with anybody else (how many times can you say, “No, it was another failed sub,” “No, the editor couldn’t get permission to make an offer” ?)–this was a world out of bounds.

But as I said, the champagne has to end, and end it did. I count myself lucky that I got to go three rounds.

(The third was at ThrillerFest. I didn’t actually drink champagne there since I hadn’t paid to attend and didn’t have eight dollars to buy a drink–see? I told you things would get back to normal–but I’m sure other people drank some.)

After a hurried round of introductions to some of the ITW members, me and my family jumped in an overloaded car, and headed west.

(OK, we didn’t actually jump. With two kids, you don’t even climb into a car. What you do is schlep out, two hours over-schedule, amidst shouts of, “Do we have the snack bag?” “Where’s Molly? And Julie?” “Sweetie, we can’t FIT Molly and Julie!” “Yes, we can! Look she’ll go right underneath me on the booster!” “Sweetie, you can’t sit like that for 3000 miles, it isn’t even safe!” “Yes, I can–” “Molly and Julie are both going in a meat grinder if we don’t leave one of them behind!” [That's my husband. He's kidding.We don't even own a meat grinder. It's not like you can ask the guy at the deli to use his on an American Girl.])

But finally we were off and heading west. Way west. We drove to OR, stopping at bookstores along the way, and dropping off bookmarks for Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day.

It was an amazing trip. It was great to be in Portland again, with my brother and his family, and meeting writers, some for the first time, like mystery author Elizabeth Main, who discovered my blog and reached out to me. Or Johanna Copeland Garth, with whom I’d exchanged enough emails to really feel like I knew, but now was only a bike ride away from sharing lunch. Or Connie Jasperson Johnson, an internet-only friend, whom I was finally able to meet F2F. Others, who will appear on this blog before too long, I hope. And of course, Lauren Sweet, dear friend and former New Jersey-ite whose editing I have long relied on.

Which brings me to what happened next in my book deal journey.

No more champagne.


My editor checked with my agent to make sure I could edit while on vacation. Sure, I said. This wasn’t really vaca anyway–we live in Portland most of the summer. Besides, how much editing could there be? My book had sold, after all.

Ha ha ha ha ha.

Hear that? That’s what the writing gods were doing. They were laughing.

Think your book sold, do ya? Think that means it’s in good shape?

Ha ha ha ha ha. And, ha ha ha ha ha HA!

It wasn’t in good shape. It was a terrible, wretched piece of whatever, suited to wringing out like a dull rag, not to reading.

Even worse, I had no idea how to fix it.

December 3, 2011

Best. TYCBD. Ever.

Filed under: Kids and Life,The Writing Life — jenny @ 11:13 pm

StoryOK, I know it was only the second one. But when I stood at the back of my hometown Watchung booksellers, and saw the children’s room packed wall-to-wall, I felt like I was part of something…magic. The enthusiasm of the storyteller who was reading winter-themed stories was magnetic. “All around the country, kids are going into bookstores today!” she said. “And I’m so happy you all came here to be with us.”

I was, too.

At last count, over 255 bookstores participated in Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day today. They’re from all 50 states and four Canadian provinces. Plus England and Australia. And 7000 people (!) visited the website. A comment on a blog asked if Malaysia should get involved. Please do! Wow–what if the Day could be a global phenomenon??

Most of you probably know that I am a big-time print book lover. In fact, it wouldn’t be offensive to call me a Luddite, so non-gadget-y am I. I don’t have a cell phone. The other day I actually went into a store and bought floppy disks for the non-internet-enabled machine I write novels on. (That’s right. No USB port either. )

But I certainly don’t begrudge any e reader lover his device. If you love yours, that’s great–variety is the spice of life. And cutting down on printed textbooks, say, which require new editions before the ink is hardly dry on the first, is certainly a great application of the technology. I even hear there are some folks who prefer a Nook to lugging fifty pounds of books on an airplane. Go figure.

But from the groundswell behind TYCBD it seems that we haven’t heard as much from the people who cherish bookstores and want to pass on to kids a place that brings back fond recollections and current pleasures. That as technology continues to surge forward, there’s a hefty slice of people who like tactile, olfactory pages, human interaction, and the variety inherent in every bookstore across this great country of ours. That’s what TYCBD is all about.

And I have another goal for next year’s Day.

Gingerbread BabyI would like to be able to offer small grants to children, or possibly classes, who cannot experience the joy of a bookstore for financial or logistical reasons. The grants would include a gift card from a participating bookstore, transportation to that store, and lunch out. I think that this kind of Day could make a pivotal difference in a child’s life–something that says, You are special, and here’s a special place to find out more about yourself, and put yourself back into.

If anyone is interested in getting involved with this next chapter of Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, please come find me on FB or email me or leave a comment right here. And I do hope your Day today included a treasure or two!

Thank you, everybody, who has made this holiday what it is. Happy Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day!

September 3, 2011

The Best of Times: Bookstores Today in the USA

Filed under: Kids and Life,The Writing Life — jenny @ 11:24 am

One of the best parts of being on the road has been getting a dashboard-view of bookselling today.

On the whole, the news seems good, far better than some reports would have us believe. Every one of the 50+ stores we have toured (um, shopped in–holiday gift giving: done) has been filled with customers; the booksellers appear optimistic about the unique place they hold in the community. One bookstore in St. Louis called Left Bank Books opened a second branch of their flagship store, and the new store was the only business in the neighborhood to survive the recession. I even heard tell that the closing of the beloved I Love a Mystery in Kansas City is to be paired with the opening of a sister store in Los Angeles. (People in the know, please weigh in).

Right now we are in Nashville, TN, a route we planned so we could stop at Mary & Greg Bruss’ gem of a mystery bookstore, Mysteries and More.

The store is filled with both new and used books–the ‘more’ in the store’s name applies to suspense, thrillers, even some horror and paranormals–and Greg and Mary go out of their way to support local authors. I could’ve stood at the shelf of local books alone for hours–wound up buying a signed copy of THE BEST OF EVIL by Eric Wilson–before turning to my holiday list.

Greg told me that Mysteries & More is one of only 40 or 50 bookstores left devoted to mysteries, and there are so many special touches that show why this sort of place is so necessary–essential–to mystery lovers. It’s rare to have a place that entirely revolves around your passion.

From a collection of matchboxes with tiny little noir book covers on them to an assortment of alphabet blocks that spell out M-Y-S-T-E-R-I-E-S A-N-D M-O-R-E, suggesting how the love of mystery extends from the store’s Nancy Drew’s right up to the cozies one customer reads at a rate of two per day. Two a day! This woman is profiled in a newspaper article hanging on the wall.

Greg and Mary have no fewer than 4 author events scheduled for the coming month–I believe Chester Campbell, whom I know from the vibrant listserv DorothyL, will be giving one. Mary tells an inspiring story about how author Carolyn Hart motivated Mary & Greg’s decision to open a mystery bookstore as this-part-of-their-life’s dream.

One of the other best parts of this cross country odyssey has been getting to meet writing folk I’ve known for years face-to-face. From Iowa City to Denver to Portland, OR, I’ve gotten to spend time with some of the most kindred spirits I’ve ever known. And here in Nashville I met an emerging writer I know from the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. This contest has set many writers on their way, and I hope Dana will be one. But even aside from the writing shop talk, Dana and I got to squeeze in, our visit also points to another of the unique pleasures of this trip.

The fast friends my daughter made with Dana’s six year old. The inside tour of ‘cue my husband and I got to have at her expert hands. Time spent, rather late of an evening, in a hotel room, just connecting about the things that had brought us all together.

I hope Mysteries & More is around for decades to come–I can’t wait to get back here again myself, to browse for books and see new friends.

Happy Labor Day, Suspense Your Disbelief readers!

August 30, 2011

We’re not in Kansas anymore, oh wait, yes, we are

Filed under: Kids and Life,The Writing Life — jenny @ 12:03 pm

What with my husband’s computer being flaky (read: meeting a slow, ungainly end) and the hours we lose going this way instead of that, east rather than west, my time on the web has been way too limited.

But I did want to say hello from the road, and sum up a few adventures we’ve been having.

But first, no blog post written during this pre-pre-book tour we’re doing would be complete without a quick update from the American bookstore scene circa 2011. I’m not sure whom to quote first–or how to capture the ebullient nature of the booksellers we’re meeting. On the way out, I stopped in at Calico Books in Broomfield, CO to meet Becky F2F. Becky is a longtime Facebook friend, and original supporter of Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day.

On this trip back, I got to see Becky’s mom’s bookstore in Fort Collins, CO. Becky’s mom wasn’t there, but another bookseller named Pam was, and she said the store had had its best season yet. “The economy is helping us,” she said. “What’s cheaper entertainment than a book?” Since Book Lovers accepts books in trade, you can rid your house of some clutter-to-you that will become entertainment-fodder for someone else and garner brand new reads–all in one fell swoop.

But back to our travels.

Things are different on the road. *We’re* different on the road. The behaviors we must contend with in our kids are different–lesser than things we face when they’re running free, crossing streets, and other elements of ever encroaching freedom are at play–but perhaps more intense given that we’re all contained in a capsule moving at 70 mph together for six or more hours a day.

Even things like the sky are different on the road. It’s really true that it’s big out here. You have to turn your head 90 degrees in each direction to take the whole thing in.

You meet friends you’d never otherwise have on the road. We crossed from Colorado into Kansas late yesterday–into a town both cleverly and obviously named Kanorado–and did something we had yet to have done by this, our fourth trip across the whole vast country. We almost ran out of gas.

The dash said we had 25 miles left (which I didn’t entirely trust anyway; I mean, how does the car *know*) and we had gotten off at an exit that clearly stated ‘gas’ as in ‘gas here, not to worry,’ but when we arrived at what looked to be a station, there were no pumps, no sign, and no people. Whatever gas had once been there had gone the way of climate change and apocalyptic crash.

At least so it felt to me, toward the end of a long day, in a state we’d never been in before, with unending miles of dusty road stretching in either direction, not a soul on it.

Then a pickup truck pulled out from across another, even smaller, road, and I flagged the driver down. This might be something I’d be wary of doing back in NJ, but as I say, things are different on the road.

The man pulled into the gritty, gas-lacking lot our car sat in. He had a kind face, folds worn in deeply by wind and sun. I told him the problem, feeling dumb and discomfited and like I never fit in anywhere.

“How much you got?” the man asked. “There’s a station 17 miles down the road.”

I told him I should have 25 miles’ worth.

“I’ll follow you,” the man said. “Make sure you’re okay.”

I watched the miles tick down on the dash–we had 20 left, then 15, then 10–and on that blank stretch of road. The gauge claimed we had just the slightest bit more gas than we had miles to go.

We made it to a gas station and the man in the pickup pulled in behind us, to make sure we were okay.

And even though the gas station was strange–not one of the global corporations that may soon go the way of the dinosaur–and we didn’t know where we were sleeping that night and my car was so thirsty it cost us fifty bucks to fill up–there was a sense of being exactly where we were meant to be.

On the road.

August 13, 2011

Learning Your A, B, Reads

Filed under: Kids and Life,The Writing Life — jenny @ 8:27 pm

This summer my kids have made a lot of friends–at stops along the way with old friends in Lincoln, NE; at the hotel pools of places we stayed at; and of course, here in Portland, where my brother’s neighborhood is an old-time scene of kids biking on the dead end street, running from house to house to see who can play, and trading scooters.

But that isn’t all they’re trading.

When they’re not outside, what are these kids doing? What’s the first thing my daughter did when she met the Lincoln, NE child, with whom she immediately clicked? What did they have to watch out not to get wet at the pool?

Their books.

That’s right, these kids are reading. For fun and play and sport.

Right now, as I type, my son and daughter and their nine year old friend have a hundred Rainbow Magic books spread out across the floor and are discussing whether a Special Edition is worth two or three…regular editions?

I don’t know the lingo, but the point is, they do.

When they’ve finished trading, the oldest child is going to read to the others. I asked them to keep an eye on their sixteen month old cousin, and boy were they bummed to find out the attention span of a toddler doesn’t always allow for chapter books.

Why am I hearing that kids no longer like to spend time reading? That they’re always hooked up to some device or other and this will render the next generation insensate to the pleasures of a book?

The ever growing number of Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day members don’t seem to agree. Just this summer, the Day has spread to the Gold Coast of Australia.

The children’s sections of bookstores across the country all seemed to be filled–often to the point of waiting to get in line, or polite nudges aside–when we got there.

Maybe the apocalyptic vision I’ve heard from time to time is true. Maybe it is.

But the children seem to disagree.

August 10, 2011

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Filed under: Kids and Life,The Writing Life — jenny @ 1:37 am

I’ve always believed that kids were natural born storytellers.

When I was 19, and a counselor at a summer day camp, with a fierce crush on someone that infused all my days, I taught a writing unit to kids who spent the rest of their day tearing around fields and diving in the lake.

And these little moppets and gremlins would shuck off their damp towels, push the brims back on their caps, and hunker down over notebooks.

They’d come up with lines like, In the blackberry brambles, hid a puffy rabbit.

Not a ‘fluffy’ rabbit. That’d be a cliche. A puffy one.

And, My feet were as sticky as day old lollies.

Or, There is nowhere that’s really over the rainbow.

(This from a child we later found out had it kind of rough).

They effortlessly wrote lines that a grown up writer might toil over, slavishly polishing and re-polishing to get the sheen that comes so naturally to children.

I’ve taught writing to emotionally disturbed kids, to ones in the juvenile justice system, and used writing in therapy sessions with child patients, and the result is always the same.

Now I see it with my own children.

My daughter seems like she might have a gift for writing, one that, if I can (please, somebody) do what I should, might fuel all her days. She feels an internal pressure when she’s not making up stories that is the hallmark, or so I’ve read, of something special.

My son is more a scientist, observer (and questioner) of the world. But like his sister, he’s been read to and dragged around to bookstores and heard me muttering lines out loud as I revise. And so even though he’s probably not destined for life as a writer, just today in his game, I caught this gem: The car slammed into a wall as hard as a cloud.

As hard as a cloud?

See? Not going to be a writer probably. But the point is he was thinking in similes, as all children do.

If we can kindle that flame, some of these children will become writers.

Today on our ventures, I found a gem of a used bookstore, called Jupiters. And I met the proprietor, Watt Childress, who went to the trouble of leafing through three old volumes to help my son decide whether he wanted a book on air craft, trains, or sports cars.

Watt also is a keen political writer–with a new/old online paper coming soon–and something of a scribe for the community.

And he’s done something with this shop that is the essence of Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day (whose word we are still spreading).

On his business card, his two daughters are listed as apprentices.

That’s what TYCBD is all about. Not introducing kids to a love of reading–better minds and organizational bodies than I have already addressed that.

But introducing them to a love of bookstores. Of being in a store filled with magic and knowing what to do with it.

Some of these kids may fulfill their potential as storytellers. Some may become booksellers. Some may just narrate their car games, well or not so well.

But they’ll all find that over the rainbow lies some place just for them.

July 26, 2011

Nature & Nurture

Filed under: Kids and Life,The Writing Life — jenny @ 3:30 pm

Books and bookstores were some of the finest treasures on the westward leg of our journey, but there were a few other things worth mentioning, too.

Colorado RiverFirst of all, traveling with kids–even with ones who consider a trip to a bookstore a high point of the day–necessitates scheduling in some stretch time, or time to get their sillies out as my daughter’s first grade teacher puts it.

We learned our lesson on this front last year on the drive. It’s not that the kids wouldn’t be perfectly happy by hour six, it’s that me and my husband would be pounding on glass to get out of the car.

The back seat was at that point turned into a combination funplex/football field/comedy club–comedy being a generous term for jokes pitched at the five-seven year old set.

Red Cliffs Of UtahThis year the kids could do even more hours in the car, so long as we planned in some playground stops. And swims. And even an all out hike.

It’s funny, our youngest learned to ride a bike this year and we are about one tight turn and getting-the-thing-started away from being able to ride as a family. Both kids are getting more comfortable in the water, although I wouldn’t call them swimmers yet. But I can imagine being able to do some of the more rugged stuff we had to put on hold during the baby years. It’s not here yet, but it’s coming.

Wasatch Mountains
Which is an identity shift of sorts. I still need to assist with shampooing after swim lessons–but I won’t for long. Not for always anyway. Once it was impossible to picture *not* needing to do these things; now it’s impossible to pretend that I always will.

I’ve nurtured them, and now we’re reaching a point where they’ll soon bike faster than I do. They’ll be pushing to take the longer hike.

Taylor Swift, Speak Now
Across the country we listened to Taylor Swift. I like her–and was glad to read Stevie Nicks’ view that she’s really much more than a creation of the pop music machine–but my kids *love* her. One activity that kept them occupied on the road was learning the lyrics to the songs on her latest album.

Album. A word for something my kids have never even played. Another sign that one day what I know will be outdated–and the next generation will come in. Hike in.

Here’s one that pretty much sums up our voyage out–and maybe even sums up all of our voyages.

if we’re lucky, we got nurtured along the way, or we nurture our little ones, or maybe somebody else.

But only for a time.

July 22, 2011

An Ode to Borders

Filed under: Kids and Life,The Writing Life — jenny @ 3:03 pm

Each night, once we’d unloaded the car of its many, many bags (we haven’t mastered the art of traveling light, especially given the bags of books we accumulated along the way), and got the kids into their pullout sofa or rollaway bed or sleeping bags, I would write notes about the bookstores we’d seen that day.

I was just looking them over and found a scribbled line–written in a moment of jubilation after a day of visiting a total of six chains and independents–that almost made me cry.

The line said, Long live Borders!

At the Borders in Champaign, IL, I met a manager named Amanda. Amanda was so enthusiastic about Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day that she began making plans for how her store could celebrate it later this year while i was still talking to her. And she went to the trouble of finding this blog and leaving a comment after we’d left.

Later in the trip, I went to the Borders in Provo, UT, and met Kirsten. Kirsten took the bookmark for my forthcoming novel and said with an expression that I can still see, a look of earnestness and worry and plaint, “I really hope I’ll be ordering this 18 months from now.”

What is going to happen to all these people who don’t just sell books like they might sell tires, or groceries, but who have a genuine affinity for their product? (Some people might love to sell tires, or groceries. Kirsten and Amanda love to sell books). Will they find jobs at other bookstores? Will they feel disillusioned by an industry that can wipe out 11,000 employees in a single stroke?

A student wrote me the other day to ask about the impact of the loss of Borders on his publication dreams. I mentioned that once there was a Waldenbooks in virtually every mall, and now there isn’t, but other bookstores abound. I said that this industry is constantly in flux, but the one perpetual seems to be that books keep getting sold and everyone is always looking for the next big thing, which should give all authors hope and sustenance.

It’s not that the loss of Borders makes me worried for books, or even bookstores, let alone publishing. It’s that it makes me worried for a slice of our…humanity.

Books more than other products–tires, to my mind, not that there’s anything wrong with them–seem truly connected to people. The people who write and read and sell them. When a massive branch in this industry is cut, the trunk bleeds a little, too.

Maybe the one constant isn’t books or bookstores, but storytelling, as human a need as our need to eat.

This is a sad chapter in our story.

July 11, 2011

A Tribute to Loretta Lynn

Filed under: Kids and Life,The Writing Life — jenny @ 12:48 pm

When I was unpublished–I mean, I still am unpublished, since my novel won’t be out for about 18 months–but before I knew I had a prayer of being published, I used to dream of Loretta Lynn.

I remember one day driving home from my parents’ house, in one of the bleakest moments, when I was banging my head against a brick wall that had no intention of breaking, and thinking, why? why? when plenty of wonderful writers are publishing independently and going great guns. Anyway, Coal Miner’s Daughter came on the radio–and I don’t listen to country, not when I’m in the crowded northeast anyway; it’s indie college radio for me there–and so of course, I took it as a sign.

Well, here we are driving across the country, and that sign has come to fruition, but better than any way I ever expected it. But doing what Loretta did so stupendously–trying to get yourself known–is incredibly hard, whether Ballantine is backing you, or whether you’ve launched the coolest new press in town. We’re inundated with content in this country, overwhelmed by it on a daily basis. It’s hard if not impossible to know what’s worth valuing.

So when I go into bookstores, Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day bookmarks in hand, and try to describe what we’re up to–how it started last year, over eighty bookstores involved, I was a mom of young children, taking them to story hours on an inordinate basis, and all of a sudden thought, Some kids don’t do this–I always wonder if I will be seen as just another purveyor of unwelcome content.

Take Your Child to a Bookstore

It’s not really my personality to do this. I love meeting new people, but it’s hard for me to try to sell, even if what I’m selling is something like getting kids into bookstores. And of course during this trip in addition to Take Your Child Day, I’m mentioning that I have a novel coming out one of these days. I even have these clever little candy tins–designed by my tech guru husband (without whom this blog would probably not be)–to hand out. Is that selling or giving? Is there any difference these days when content is given away for free?

Only one thing has saved me from struggling with how Loretta did it–asking to be on radio stations when no one had ever heard of her and didn’t know if she’d ever make them one penny in return–and that’s the warmth and welcome of the booksellers I’ve met. How enthusiastic they are about getting kids into bookstores, not because it’s good business, but because it’s good life. When I push myself to move onto mentioning my book, and get to see the light in the eyes that’s unique to all book lovers, my doubts melt away.

Borders, Champaign, IL
I’m here, I think. It’s okay. I’m home.

This post is in tribute to the great Loretta Lynn, and to the booksellers I met yesterday, Amanda at Borders in Champaign, IL, whose enthusiastic reception and obvious love for the game gave me visions of fun nights to come, and Jeff at Barnes & Noble.

July 10, 2011

Hello from the road!

Filed under: Kids and Life,The Writing Life — jenny @ 10:41 am

Here we are in Richmond, IN, having only gotten one hour and seventy miles behind in the Plan (you know…that great plan of travel, the most fun of which happens when it gets a little bit lost). Having done this once before now, there are already familiarities to it. The land opening up in Ohio. Road food. The sun setting and my children, who are normally asleep long before, gasping at what the sky can do.

We’ve stopped at four bookstores so far and it’s been wonderful on three counts.

  • Bookstores are alive, well, and filled with customers.
  • Our reception has been warm and welcoming at each one. One proprietor complimented us on how “alert the kids were”. I thought this was code for running around the store asking to buy everything in sight, from a book listing the names of every single passenger who had boarded the Titanic to no fewer than eight Rainbow Magic books, but when I thought of the 11 year old girls I had just seen, waiting for a movie to begin, each individually absorbed in their own electronic devices instead of interacting with each other, I sort of got what he meant.
  • Although the focus of each visit has been telling booksellers about Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, I’ve also had the inordinate, eleven-years-in-the-making gift of getting to murmur that I have a novel coming out, and dropping off a little early, early swag. It’s not every day you get to tell a complete stranger your dream has come true.

Here are the bookstores we’ve been to in case you’re nearby and looking for a great place to stock up or wile away a few hours. Tell Greg, Jeff, Dana, and Glen (respectively) that I was raving about ‘em.

The Midtown Scholar in Harrisburg, PA–where you can get a delicious snack or cup of coffee while you’re poring over the mixed up jumble of used books

The Whistlestop Bookshop in Carlisle, PA–whose owner has seen an astonishing parade of literary lights, including Edward Albee, Mario Vargos Llosa, and this November, Margaret Atwood, into his gorgeous event space. If you come to see Margaret, look for me–I will be there!

Books-a-Million in Triadelphia, WV–which represents the best a chain bookstore can be: bright, shiny, enormous, and stocked with every book you’ve ever heard of and about a zillion you have not.

The Book Loft of German Village in Columbus, OH–this might be the most stupendous sight we’ve seen yet on this trip. You enter down a path of uneven brick, with roses overflowing fences, and fountains burbling to the side. Once you get there, you find that ‘there’ is a warren of thirty-two–yes, that’s 32–rooms of books divided roughly by readership and genre. You could get lost in here–and what fun that would be.

Enjoy your travels this summer, everybody, and please keep your emails coming! Already we’ve got new stops to make and new friends to meet.

But no pithy nomenclature for readers of this blog yet.


Hmm, that doesn’t sound good. I’ll stop now.

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