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Today I made three new friends while waiting in line at Panera for my food to be ready. There was Katherine, who is 79 years old, wears bright green and purple every day and celebrates her birthday every single day of her birthday month. There was Barbara, who got fussed at by her church because she didn’t finish folding the bulletins on time because some strangers showed up to the church and she believes that “fellowship is more important than folding”. Then there was Sarah. Barbara met Sarah on a bench at the beach when she was sitting and enjoying the sunset. As she stood up to go, a parrot (this story is true!) flew down and landed on the edge of the bench, and started saying over and over “Sarah! Sarah! Where’s Sarah!” “Well who the heck is Sarah?” Barbara wondered aloud. “Why dear, that would be me.” came a voice from about the height of her elbow. Turning, she found a tiny little woman with a great big smile, the parrot now sitting on her shoulder. She was ninety-two years young with a twinkle in her eye, serene as the sunset and wearing all the colors of the rainbow. They have been friends ever since. I love these three, and want to put them in a book. It will be called “Songs in the Rainbow Choir” and there will be a parrot and three sassy angels on the cover. What a wonderful world.

Jan. 21st, 2016

It is certainly something else, entering this full immersion, all-in writer experience...not that I am complaining! Before it was writing. Now it is writing, cover design, learning to format, online presence, author blogging, websites, deadlines, editing, planning and scheduling.... intimidating and exhausting and exhilarating!
Though I think I may have words with the next person that says "Are you enjoying not working anymore?" to me.
They have no idea.
Today - purchase images and elements for covers and settle on a design for the first two novels.
          - Rework timeline to adjust for three books in series one coming out before addressing series two
          - Begin to design author website(s)
         - drink massive amounts of coffee at the cafe' while wearing writerly spectacles and a noble expression
          - oh... and rehearse for next weeks music festival!
The library where I went to write while visiting in Connecticut was also wonderful. It had that glorious old fashioned feel, as if time was bustling on by outside it's tall glass windows, but inside the library the only journeys that mattered were those that traversed the endless miles between two hardbound covers.
Here is what it looked like ... but with SNOW!!! *grin*

(I sat at that round table, there!)

Here is what it looked like in 1947...

And this, according to the website, is Mary Cheney, after whom the library was named.

She was, according to the history page, "T... A Friend of the distressed and a comforting listener. A public spirited citizen whose interest and help were given whole heartedly to all civic and cultural activities in Manchester particularly to the work of this library."

Next visit to Connecticut I hope to spend more time there. It was beautiful.


Libraries and the smell of literature....

 Taking a page from the lovely and incrdibly prolific seaheart , I have begun to rediscover the joy of writing in libraries. This is not to say that the coffee scented air of a frequenty visited Starbucks doesn't get my creative juices flowing... but there is something inherently delicious about libraries; places built for imagining, journeys and learning, towering shelves of books rising on all sides , stories of the past spine by spine with newborn creations while the whispers of a thousand, thousand authors breathe in the dust of the past and exhale it's dreams into the future. Sunbeams in tall glass windows, the smell of ink and binding, the muted hush of people enamored of words and stories getting lost in books and hoping no one saves them. Magic.  I grew up in a library. Oh, I did not live there, of course, I lived a maybe a mile  up the road, but I visited that lovely little brick edifice as often as possible (every day, in summer!) and used my clearly enchanted, powerful, mystical library card (back then they we made of PAPER! Mine was yellow....) to bring pieces of the library home with me for a  visit. I loved the sound of my feet on the rubber treads of the wooden stairs (the children's department was on the second floor), the thud of that rubber stamp decreeing return dates in the back of each book (Oh how I wanted one of those! Almost as much as I wanted to be a Librarian. Placing books in people's hands for a living, could there be a more glorious and honorable endeavor?) I remember the weight of the heavy door as I pulled it with all my strength to open it, the art classes and story hours, the bright bulletin boards and summer reading contests (I almost always won!), the high ceiling and tiled floor of the foyer as I was granted entry to this magical place that rested ten feet (and a billion light years) from the everyday world outside it's windows. Sorcery.
This was my childhood library...

The library where I write now is beautiful. Upscale and modern, sleek and graceful, with spectacular views and brass and glass and graceful architechtural symmetry. But though it is beautiful, though it is modern, state of the art, well stocked and well attended, there will always be something missing... the thud, perhaps, of that rubber stamp, the creak of old wooden floorboards, the dusty smell of forgotten literature waiting to be rediscovered by another generation of eager, wide eyed readers...
It is not that I am not I  grateful. Grateful for Google and landscaping and bountiful parking and elevators and air conditioning and complimentary high speed internet... but some days, most days, today, right this moment, I would trade it all for that little red brick library I remember, a magical, vintage, larger than life steamer trunk filled with paper bound miracles, there to borrow for the asking. It wouldn't be hard to find it; it still sits on Main street in small town USA, right around the corner from Oz and Avonlea and Narnia.
Over new years I went to Connecticut to visit elfinecstasy and had a wonderful time! It was actually cold, and I (fresh from an eighty-five degree Christmas in Florida...ugh!) spent the week getting excited every time the temperature dropped, and crunching through every pile of snow I came across, no matter how small. I got brave by the end of the week and drove the car that had been kindly loaned to me, and spent a delicious evening in the local library editing the current manuscript while elfinecstasy was working. I wandered up and down "main street" Manchester (literally) and bought a vintage bowler hat in an eccentric and eclectic shop where I spent a full thrity minutes just chatting with the woman who worked there. So much of my time in Connecticut was spent doing just exactly that; talking, sharing, listening, connecting... not only with templeof12study and elfinecstasy and her wonderful family, but with people I met in shops and on walks, in libraries and on sidewalks, everyone on their own journey. One of the great pleasures I am beginning to appreciate since leaving my (stressful) job is taking the time to just talk to people. Cashiers, waitresses, people on the street. I've had so many fascinating conversations with interesting people just by slowing down long enough to smile, to talk, to listen. People are filled with stories; walking, living,breathing stories, just wandering around out there waiting to be told, to be articulated, to be heard. It amazes me, truly, realizing what we miss as we hurry through our busy lives... and I was more guilty than most. I scarcely managed to find time to listen to my own stories. I feel as if I have been reborn. Peoploe are so extraordinary.
I don't have many pictures from the visit of wonderful... but here are a few.
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I suppose it is the inherent dichotomy of the creative vs. practical spirit.... but there are days I am scarcely on speaking terms with myself. I have come to the realization, with actual release dates in the planning stages and two manuscripts all but ready for publishing, that all of the covers I designed and adored when I was only pretending I would one day be a published author, I now despise with the fire of a thousand suns, Sigh. So it is back to the drawing board I go.
My new motto in the face of challenges stems from an Austin Plaine song of the same name... "The hell if I go home!"
I am in the college library (making use of their printers) and feeling strangely at home here, if the oldest person in a five mile radius. Due to the chaos that was 2015, it has been quite some time since I actually took classes (I've only five left!) and  I am looking surprisingly forward to getting back into classes next semester. This afternoon/evening, I have rehearsal for the Pinellas Folk Festival, which is on January 30th. Michaele and I (who have been singing together for years upon years) have added a third member to our group, and I am so excited about what Randi is bringing to the table. Besides brilliant harmonic instincts, she has a great sense of humor and an exquisite voice, perfect for the Irish and Scottish songs we will be performing. Having been out of touch with Randi for literally more than ten years, it has been so exciting to reconnect with her and renew our friendship. This new life of mine has proven strange and wonderful - traveling in new directions and spreading my wings and at the same time reconnecting (there's that word again!) with the real and true and intrinsic parts of who I used to be. It's like being reborn as myself...but into a new landscape of infinite possibility. Glorious.
This is where I remind myself that I was going to do better about posting on livejournal! *sigh*

Spent the morning at a four hour training event during which I was (for the first time in a long time) not teaching. It was...weird. I guess I'm used to standing up at the front of the classroom now ("All your power point are belong to me!") The first session, though, was supposed to be on self expression through art, and got cancelled because the instructor got sick. As soon as it was announced, Undria (a gal I'd worked with seven or so years ago at the Saint Petersburg YMCA) yelled out "Where's Ruth? C'mon girl, let's get up and teach this thing!" to which of course I yelled back "I'M ON IT! GET ME SOME CRAYONS!" (I am nothing if not good on the fly!) Sadly, though, the sick instructor had stayed home with all the art supplies, so we had nothing to work with.  Instead I attended a workshop on utilizing local farmers markets as resources for healthy cooking projects for children sugarmaplelife and razzle, I thought of you!) After that it was music and storytelling for Pre-schoolers , wherein I objected loudly to the instructors offhanded remark that it wasn't that important to talk about storytelling (What? Oh NO she didn't!) followed by the inevitable and obligatory state rules and regs/laws and legislation portion of the training. Now I am home and thinking about a nap. And storytelling. Because it IS important. So there.
For three days now I have belligerently refused to acknowledge that the April Camp NaNoWriMo session (wherein crazy idiots like myself attempt to write fifty thousand word novels in thirty days) was not out to get me. I ignored the idea that since I am not in school this semester it might be a perfect time to commit to the challenge. I pretended I do not already have a brand new project already percolating and half started, waiting for me to admit I am writing it. I even went so far as to paste an innocent look on my face when I visited the NaNoWriMo forums, and had the temerity to look surprised when the same password I’ve had for five years appeared to log me in. I wasn’t fooling anybody. My capitulation to the lure of April’s “Camp NaNoWriMo” session  looms on the horizon... I can feel it crouching there, salivating.  I have no defense, really, because I WANT to do it. All the signs are apparent.  I am organizing my incense. I am sorting my candles. I am color coordinating the candle holders on my desk and matching notepads and pencils. I am already drinking forbidden liquids (at my house Mountain Dew is a controlled substance; one 16 oz. bottle and I'm on the ceiling for a fortnight.... but Oh!  do I write a lot of chapters!!!!)  I might as well give up pretending my literary surrender isn't going to happen and just give in to the seduction (in rather the same manner that I finally labeled my secret word stash file  "New Manuscript" and stopped pretending I wasn't writing it. I mean, I wasn't fooling anybody!!!) Still, I vacillated.
Then today, I get an E-mail that says...

Dearest Campers,
As of today, over 16,000 writers have committed themselves to their writing projects for Camp NaNoWriMo's April session: you included….


Which means one of two things. Either my not-so-clandestine lurking on the NaNoWriMo forums got me caught on their virtual security cameras and busted as an interloper, or… sometime between midnight and oh-God-thirty, I signed up  for Camp NaNoWriMo in my sleep. Which… come to think of it… is not impossible. That or the universe is trying to tell me something. So my next question is…. Anyone else taking the Camp NaNoWriMo challenge?

C’mon. Give in to the dark side. All the other kids are doing it.

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