Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Book Give-away on Goodreads.com

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Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Ninja Librarian by Rebecca Douglass

The Ninja Librarian

by Rebecca Douglass

Giveaway ends March 08, 2012.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Seeing is. . .

We drove up to my in-laws for the weekend, up through the Central Valley late at night.  Nearing Chico, we were startled to see what appeared to be a large flock of moths fluttering in the headlights.  This being after 11 p.m., it took us an amazingly long time to process through the options.  Not moths.  Leaves, they must be leaves blowing in the wind.

No, not leaves.  In the end, we remembered that it is February and that the almond trees are in bloom.  We were driving through a shower of flower petals.

On Sunday I took my bike and rode through the orchards, admiring the trees.  I could have wished for a sunny blue-sky day, but the blossoms were beautiful in any case.

Pedaling through miles of orchards on tiny roads, sometimes the scent of the blossoms was striking.

Individual flowers are waiting for bees--I hope that the reason I didn't see any is that it was too cold, not that there aren't enough bees.

A quintessential California scene: a giant Valley Oak standing protectively over the almond orchard.  There are no leaves on the trees yet, just the see of slightly pink white flowers.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Read any good books lately?

Along with just about everyone else, I just finished reading (listening to, actually), the Hunger Games trilogy.  What a great read, in a distopian-future-with-lots-of-death kind of way!  I listen to books when doing housework and working out, and these books were gripping enough to result in a clean house and a fit body, because I really didn't want to stop until I reached the end.

Although at times I felt that Katness's inability to understand what was going on (or to move out of herself and deal with it) was annoying, it was probably pretty realistic.  She's not an amazing heroine; she's a fairly ordinary teen girl who's abruptly thrust into something a lot bigger than she is.  I give the series 5 stars.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Filling the tank

I had to put gas in the car yesterday.  I know that for many of you, that's a pretty common event, but I hadn't done it for a month.  Imagine my shock when I realized that gas prices had gone up by 40 cents a gallon.  I guess there's a downside to everything.  On the plus side, we get 40 mpg and hardly drive anyway.  On the down side, I can sure get sticker shock when it's that long between fill-ups.  I'll take the trade-off.

Ironically, while we drive so little because we commute and largely run errands on our bikes, I filled the tank yesterday so I could drive somewhere. . . to ride my bike.  That was worth some contemplation while I ground my way up and over the coastal mountains (and back again) in compound low.  On the bike, that is.  Sometimes it's worth being a little inconsistent for the sake of enjoying life. (Yes, riding to the hairy edge of exhaustion is a way of enjoying life!)

Which brings us to chocolate.  How, you say?  Well, aside from the obvious connection to enjoying life, I generally try to eat a healthy diet and almost never touch candy.  But I am a sucker for high-quality dark chocolate.  Yeah, I know that there are some possible healthy compounds in chocolate.  But we all know that there's not enough to offset the negatives of sugar and fat.  Again, a little inconsistency is sometimes worth it.  I have a friend who eats essentially nothing sweetened, everything organic and vegan and healthy.  But she eats chocolate, because, well, there are limits.

So kick back and enjoy some chocolate.  And really good coffee.  That's another one that pushes me out of the "everything I eat should be healthy" mindset.

Chocolate, coffee, and a good book.  I'm ready for another evening.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Just Dreaming

We've reached that point in the middle of winter. . . the point when I start looking at photos from summers past and dreaming about taking up my pack and hitting the trails.  It's great at this point--no solid plans, so I can fantasize about hiking whatever mountains I want.  Later, we'll get to reality and pick one or two main trips, find ourselves in this state or that one, and narrow it down.  For now, every article I read, every photo I see, generates a new plan.

The Sierra Nevada:

Weminuche Wilderness:

Maybe Glacier.  I have some unfinished business with Glacier N.P.  We spent our vacation there two years ago.  I spent the whole time getting, having, and recovering from pneumonia.  Spouse and companions saw bighorns, griz, and some incredible scenery.  I did get to have some close encounters with a mountain goat:

Or the Wind River Range.  Can't believe how long ago that was.  My boys were little then:

Then there are the Cascades, Sawtooths, and who knows where. 

But it's February.  So I'll keep looking at pictures. . . and go and tend my garden.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Thinking about themes

No big surprise, but I've been spending a lot of time over at Amazon making my book's page look better.  One of the things I found was a spot to enter "themes and motifs."  My original reaction was that, heck, I'd just written some fun stories, no serious matter here. 

Naturally, I thought about it some more, and realized that, of course, I'd actually had a pretty obvious theme going.  In each chapter, the Ninja Librarian, or the narrator (Big Al), is faced with some problem, and has to solve it with a combination of brains and Ninja skills.  That was pretty obvious.  What I hadn't really thought about (the truth comes out about writers--a lot of the time, stuff in books just happens, and we get to think about it later), was that the whole arch of the book has to do with changing the stereotypes that define you. 

I mean, you live in a place called Skunk Corners, a place with a reputation for sending librarians packing because who needs 'em?  So you're nobody and going nowhere.  But along comes someone who says you can be someone, and is prepared to kick you into the middle of next week if you don't do what needs doing.  (Come to think of it, maybe I need that motivator!)  So you do what needs doing, and discover that maybe you're not such a loser. 

Nothing terribly original there.  I'm pretty sure that's the underlying theme of 90% of kids' books. 

But it's nice to know that maybe I wrote a little more than I thought I did.

Monday, February 13, 2012

It's here!

Sort of like having a baby, only a longer period of gestation and a much easier delivery.

My book is out at last!  The Ninja Librarian is available from my Createspace store (https://www.createspace.com/3762567), and will be up on Amazon within days.  It felt like it took forever.  Not the writing--that took a couple of years, but was fun all the way.  But fussing over the details, designing a cover, and then proofing over and over until I have some realistic hope that there aren't any embarrassing typos there.  Then the longest wait of all, though it really only took three days: waiting for a proof to arrive.

Finally, I held it in my hand, a real book.  Just a collection of fun stories for kids from 10 to 100, but it means a lot to me.

So while I was riding today it occurred to me that if making a book is like having a baby, there's a real key difference.  No diapers.  The NL is out there and ready to face the world on his own.  Then it hit me that that's not really true.  Want to sell the book?  Blog about it.  Hold a launch event.  Send email to everyone you know.

Having this book might not be so different from another baby after all.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Welcome to Skunk Corners

This is my first ever blog post, so some introductions seem in order.  Why Skunk Corners?  And who is the Ninja Librarian? 

Skunk Corners is the home of the Ninja Librarian, hero of my Young Adult novel of that name.  So I'm just the author, but I like to think that he'd approve.  Skunk Corners is a highly fictional town in a mythic past in a place that might look a fair bit like the California foothills around 1900.  Just don't look too close, because the stories are tall tales, and sticking to the history isn't the point.

But this is a blog, so I get to write about whatever I want, right?  Today, what I want to write about is my book.  This week, I submitted the final text for approval and am awaiting my final proof.  To celebrate, I went for a swim, then went to work on the sequel.  Because that's the funny thing about writing: the more you do, the more you want to do.  And after a lifetime of writing, I am finally sharing my work.

But going for that swim was important, too.  I've been pretty absorbed in putting the finishing touches on the book.  That's been fun, but it's stressful, too.  I needed that break, time to think about nothing (if you are experiencing productive thoughts, you probably aren't working out hard enough).

 When I'm not writing or working or being a Mom, I like to swim, bike, or run every day.  Last year, I tried something new: I bicycled two "Centuries," 100-mile bike rides.  Here I am on the road about 3/4 of the way through the second one.  I'm the rider in neon yellow green.  I really want to be seen when I'm on the road! 

And when the summer rolls around and everyone's out of school and we're free to travel, you'll find the whole family in the mountains somewhere, enjoying the scenery.  There really is nothing like a morning in the mountains.