Friday, January 12, 2018

Rediscovering My Local Library

When my daughter was young, we spent long hours in our local library paging the picture books, collecting tall piles to carry home, our library visit a weekly highlight throughout her earliest years.

Primary school brought a change, a limitation to the long leisurely library days, but we still borrowed books on a regular basis. Later, as my daughter began swim team and dance classes, I branched out from my local library and sought the nearest location available while I waited. I wrote much of The Thirty-Ninth Victim in public libraries in Burien, Queen Anne and Green Lake.

I live in an area privileged with two superb library systems: Seattle Public Library and King County Library. Still, I lost my library habit as my daughter became a teenager. When renovations closed my neighborhood branch for a year and a half, I began shopping used bookstores and buying titles on Amazon to support writer/friends. I bought rather than borrowed until our bookshelves overflowed.

Recently an NPR review of a new title intrigued my husband, but he didn’t want to pay full price for a hefty hardcover. He also didn't want to bring more books into the house until the two large bags in the trunk of the car have been donated. So, we took a walk to our local library. 

It’s a beautiful red brick building with antique light fixtures and heavy wood furniture. The library website states: "The library, which opened in 1910, is a Carnegie-funded branch designed by W. Marbury Somervell and Joseph S. Coté. It is listed on The National Register of Historic Places."
At the library, my husband and I both needed to reactivate our accounts due to inactivity. Then, as he wandered the stacks, I created a long list of holds I want to read. It felt a bit like making a wish list for Santa. How had I forgotten this amazing treasure? 

Now I sit with three books on the desk beside me. Sometimes the Wolf by local author, Urban Waite. Lab Girl, a memoir by Hope Jahren recommended by a friend. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, the Seattle Reads title for 2018. It’s a constantly changing collection always at hand to distract me from shopping, cooking, writing, teaching, cleaning, laundry, exercise. 

So many wonderful library books to fill the dark days of winter. What are you reading? What do you recommend I add to my list? Have you visited your local library lately?

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Boxing Day Special for You!

There are a few competing stories for the origin of the name [Boxing Day], but none are definitive. The first is that the day after Christmas was when servants of the wealthy were given time off to visit their family, as they were needed to work on Christmas Day. Each servant would be given a box to take home with food, a bonus and gifts. Another theory is that in the Victorian era, churches often displayed a box for parishioners to donate money. Also, it was customary for tradespeople to collect 'Christmas boxes' of money or gifts on the first weekday after Christmas as a thank you for good service over the year. (Source)

Are you ready to load that new Kindle with hours of reading pleasure? Or perhaps you’re adding new titles to a much-loved e-reader in preparation for the long winter months ahead. Do you have friends and family who need reading suggestions?  

With a slight nod to my humble Irish ancestry, I’d like to suggest a little something for your metaphorical Christmas box this Boxing Day. My third novel, Walking Home, is available today and tomorrow for only $0.99!

In Walking Home, Kidane flees violence in the Horn of Africa only to find the nightmares and despair of his past follow him to Seattle. A new country, a new hope, and a new love may not be enough to save him. Walking Home explores the challenges immigrants face in their search for belonging and a place to call home. This stirring journey into the world of African refugees offers readers a powerful coming of age tale that is both heartwarming and haunting.

Click HERE (link) to buy Walking Home today for only $0.99

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Morning Musings of Mexico City

Wind and rain lash my front window on this cold Seattle morning. I longed for days like this when I lived in Mexico City. Now I long for the dry warm air I once knew. I sit at my dining table in the dim light with coffee, pen and notebook, the large window framing the gray morning, watching a hummingbird land on the swinging feeder.

I scribble my morning musings of Mexico City. I left in 1984 and returned only once the following year. If not for the sore joints, gray hair and wrinkles, it would feel like yesterday. It was only five and a half years – a lifetime for a young woman seeking self.

I did not put up a Christmas tree this year, did not carefully unwrap each Mexican ornament – tiny painted gourds and straw miniatures of baskets, animals and stars, each with a length of bright red yarn. I miss that annual ritual of unwrapping and finding just the right spot on the tree, of carefully tying the red yarn, of remembering the markets of Mexico City where I selected each ornament.
I remember the poinsettia-filled roundabouts and medians of the major downtown streets and the neighborhood posadas, street re-enactments of the biblical Christmas story. I remember the scent of cinnamon and coffee, tortillas and tamales, spicy mole, steaming pozole and sweet atole. I stare at the Seattle rain remembering the sights and smells of Mexico City and know I will return.

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Gift

The day after Thanksgiving, the house is quiet. Last night the energy and chatter of fourteen sisters, nieces, nephews, and significant others bounced off these walls, a large furry family member curled at our feet under this large table where I now write. I’m dawdling. I have lost the habit of daily writing, of beginning each day scribbling words on the page – sometimes meaningless babble, other times scenes that find their way into a project at hand or inspire a new one. A routine ignored in the chaos of a busy life.
The evidence? I begin a rewrite of one plot line in my current memoir project. Frustration gets the better of me as I struggle with facts and chronologies. I dig out my notebooks – two large white plastic laundry baskets full – and search for those pertaining to the story at hand. The baskets hold a jumbled mess of notebooks dated 1974 to 2017. Following the advice I often give my students – get organized! – I sort and stack the notebooks chronologically by year. Once finished, the evidence is glaring: some years display hefty piles ranging from seven to twelve notebooks, 2017 has two.
I spend three and a half days in Mesa, Arizona. One cousin, the flight attendant, flies me down; the other cousin puts me up in her hillside home. A secret mission to surprise my aunt, their mother, on her 90th birthday. My aunt shows no sign of the dementia that cursed my mother, her sister. She’s bright and spry, attending yoga classes, driving her own car, and remembering anecdotes from the past better than either of her daughters or me.
My aunt inspires and encourages me. She asks about my writing, about when The Thirty-Ninth Victim will be re-released, about why the unpublished memoir I’ve written about my mother has not been published, about what I am working on now. She wants to read more of my work. That alone is enough to bring me back to my notebook.