Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — Library Interiors

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
~~Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

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George Peabody Library, John Hopkins University

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 Grand People’s Study House, North Korea

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The State Library of South Australia

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Royal Danish Library

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José Vasconcelos Library, Mexico

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Abbey Library of St. Gallen, Switzerland

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Royal Monastery Library of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain

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Admont Abbey Library, Austria

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Bibliotheque Nationale de France, France

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Salt Lake Public Library, Utah

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2017 Starts With a Whisper

As I sit on my sofa this first day of 2017, smooth jazz in the background, dogs sleeping on their doggie beds (along with Tom the cat), I am surprised at the strange swirl of thoughts that have threaded through my brain the past few days.

Many are glad 2016 is over — a lot of stress and bad juju last year. Others are building on the positive bridge they started last year. A lot of different ways to go for this supposedly first-day-of-the-rest-of-my-life.

I’ve spent the last several days reading the blogs I subscribe to through WordPress. I feel bad I can’t read people’s thoughts and emotions the day they are published, but I make it a point to sometimes just sit and read. Not glaze through the posts, but really read them. And I found myself responding to quite a few of them.

Some pledge to write every day. One blogger just popped up after a six month absence. Some write poetry, some write tragedy. Some talk about cats, some talk about painting. It’s an amazing mix of talent, and I enjoy getting to know all of them.

I’ve learned to reply with questions if I don’t understand something, or comment that I can’t find the right words to comment. It’s all encompassing — there are bloggers that pop up every couple of months, and I find myself so excited to read something new. Others write every day, and I find myself looking forward to their next view of life. I even go back into the “manage” part of the Reader and click on names I haven’t seen in a while to see what I’ve missed.

This type of diligence makes me wonder about my own blogging. Why do I do it? Is it to achieve fame? Popularity? Do I write to test out my own verbal prowess? Do I do it to share my view of middle age and beyond?

I think we all go through identity crises … all the time. Rarely do I meet someone who has been whole from the very beginning and knows the cosmic truth of inner peace. We all look for approval. For validation. For the acknowledgement that we do exist. In all worlds. As an office worker, as a mother, as a friend — we all try to make the other person proud. We all want that “best of” medal to show that all our mistakes and missteps didn’t mean a thing, because we ultimately turned out to be the “best.”

We all may or may not have natural talent. Most of us just go through the daily grind of work and bills and driving through the snow, telling ourselves that tomorrow will be better.

Well, here it is, 2017. A new year. Is it better?

I hope I am hearing a “yes” from all of you. The more we learn, the more we grow. And the easier it is to circle back to our own soul for affirmation.

My daily job has…is…changing. I have been tapped to be a social media writer, which means that my rhetoric and vocabulary needs to be top notch. It’s a lot of work — much more than I thought. But it is also a chance to show that all my hours of writing blogs and novels and poetry and short stories has paid off.

Anybody can have big numbers of followers on their blog. I am still scraping off the notion that more is better. What is really important is how many people stop and say something afterwards. How many really get what you’re saying.

Take the time today to go into your Reader and read something you missed before. Take a minute to step into their world.

It will truly help you in your own creative journey.

A Friend’s Trip Through Alternate Reality

 

in-our-dreams-dreams-1600x1200Reflections of altered states, altered lives, is what writing — and life — is all about. It’s how I feel when I read, how I feel when I write. And there are times when I wish I could stay in those altered states a bit longer…

Enjoy this post from fellow blogger Tom Rains..

 

We long for altered states in life. Is this a bad thing? Is sobriety, the unaltered state, more virtuous? Is it more rational? Is it more real? Or should we aim to exist in altered states as much as possible? It seems like everything we love in life is similar to a drug-induced experience. Sometimes, […]

via Magic in Mundanity — A Blog for Humans

Trying To Keep Up

thanks_for_reading_cat_2This is ridiculous.

Yesterday I purposefully started going through the roll of bloggers I follow, determined to read at least the last thing they blogged.

Like all of you, I have other responsibilities in my life that get in the way of reading and writing all the time. When I come into WordPress, it’s either to blog or reblog, and read about the last 5-10 blogs in my Reader.  I would follow more bloggers, but I feel it’s a disservice to sign up to follow someone you’re never going to have time to read.

And I have come to the realization that it is the group you keep in contact with that makes your writing worth while, anyhow.

My statistics say I have 943 followers.Or 445, depending on the statistics. In truth, I bet less than half of them read my writings on a regular basis. Which is sad but truthful. How could they? If they follow 30, 50, 70 bloggers, AND if they also have a life, there is no way they can give all the bloggers their full attention. Unless you are a wiz at multitasking or a speed reader, you just can’t read them all. Especially if some people blog more than once a day.

The same is time for Twitter. I suppose I follow 90 or so, and that many may follow me. Do you ever come back a few days later and the little button pops up and says “more tweets” and you click on it and the tweets scroll past you like a roulette wheel?  How can you follow  40 or 4,000 Twitter accounts and read every tweet? Do you think that your followers read your Tweets several times a day?

The importance of social media is an illusion.

Yes, getting your name out there is important, It can be a well-developed strategy for getting readers and writers. In some cases, high numbers may mean your word is getting out to the masses. Like the prophets, thousands of people are taking your words to heart.

More often, though,  numbers are just that. Numbers. Eenie, meenie, miney and moes clicked on your name like chits on a voting card.

Back to going through the blogs I follow.

Some blogs show a sea serpent with the words “No Recent Posts.” I can only hope they have gone off on other writing paths, other ways of self expression. Then there are bloggers who haven’t written in a while, but come back just often enough that the sea serpent doesn’t get them. Next are writers who write once a week or so. it’s easier to follow their journies because they let one message sink in before they start another. Finally are the daily bloggers, ones who have learned the way of images and poetry and short whispers that can be digested in one sweep.

I feel I owe those I follow my attention and my emotions. I would take on more birds and butterflies, but common sense tells me I can never grow if I’m busy doing nothing but following.

The purpose of today’s blog is perfectly clear. I say this all the time. Quality is so much more important than quantity. You can major in philosophy for 20 years and still not understand it if you don’t go out into the world and create your own reality. Don’t be fooled by the numbers. Movie stars and singers and top book writers have thousands of readers following their every breath, their every Tweet. Are they better off having all those followers if their messages don’t resonate in people’s souls?

I’m not saying don’t expand your reading base.  I have often read someone’s comment and gone off to find their blog and read their posts. Sometimes I follow them, sometimes I comment, the least I can do is like. There is so much to learn in the social media of today.

But don’t be fooled by the numbers. I wouldn’t trade the heart-felt comments on my work for all the thousands of glances I catch. Those who like or comment or just come and read and silently disappear mean more than any amount of checkmarks on the wall. If someone likes my stuff, they’ll repost or tell a friend. That’s what I do with the blogs I like. The same is true for Twitter. I should be tweeting 30 times a day, but I only retweet comments that mean something to others like me. Other artists, writers, purveyors of The Arts and the Unknown.

There are a million great blogs out there — a million great writers. A million great photos. A million great emoters. Find the ones that make you feel good and stay with them. But don’t stretch yourself thin. Make the most of your reading time.

Many a truth comes through a whisper as well as a shout.

Do You Cthulhu?

Most writers love reading as much as writing.

Most writers have less and less time to read if they want to more and more write.

But it is in reading that I see what fascinates people. What motivates people. What creativity hides inside of people.

Do you know what a Cthulhu is?

I really didn’t. And it didn’t matter that I didn’t know. There’s a lot of words in the world I don’t know. But I broke down last week and ordered the hardcover version of H.P. Lovecraft’s Greatest Hits. I’d always heard about his being one of the pioneers of horror and bizarre fantasy, but I figured it was time to find out for myself.

Now, for you readers, fantasy lovers, science fiction aficionados, you already know this word. But for those of us who never got around to reading many of the classics, this is a new word for us. For me.

There is a true style of richness in the writing of the beginning of the century — one that flows from the lips and mind onto the pages like melted chocolate. There is a decadence in their words that are lost to today’s publishers. Not that I harbor any negativity for modern literature — on the contrary, ~I~ am a modern writer. Language has changed; cadence, allusion, all fell under a different tree back in the early 1900s.

And that is why I read. To experience the same emotions written in the language of the time.

I don’t consider myself well read, although I have danced through quite a number of books in my lifetime. Novels, biographies, poetry, and short stories, from non-rhyming stanzas to staccato sentences to flowery where-is-this-going prose, I have enjoyed quite a bit of history through the eyes of other writers.

And that is why reading is so linked to writing.

When reading the flowing words of H.P. Lovecraft or Edgar Allan Poe, it as if I have time traveled to other worlds, other minds. I am a fantasy/historical/ancient worlds kind of reader, so their prose is right up my alley. I also loved the Lord of the Rings trilogy long before it became a set of movies, and found entertainment in the depth of books such as Shogun by James Mitchell and Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. They all create a world with their words, a world you can get lost in.

We all have our style — we all have our authors styles as well. Those who seem to be able to articulate better than we can. Someone who can describe a world, a situation, in one or two sentences (something I am eternally working on). How much description is too much? Too little? How do we make someone care about what’s going on? How far do we have to go to bring the reader into our world? Should I cut this sentence? This paragraph? This chapter?

There are as many styles as there are days of the week. Or month. Even though we tend to pick our own genres of writers, there are many styles to choose from. To explore. To listen to.

That is why those of us who write write. That is why those of you who tinker with writing tinker. It’s like learning to play the piano. The beginning is full of mistakes and run-on sentences and confused plots. But the more you practice, the better you get. And the better you feel.

According to Wikipedia,Cthulhu is a cosmic entity created by writer H.P. Lovecraft and first introduced in the short story ‘The Call of Cthulhu’ published in 1928. Considered a Great Old One …. Lovecraft depicts Cthulhu as a gigantic entity worshiped by cultists. Cthulhu’s anatomy is described as part octopus, part man, and part dragon.”

Think of what you could write around that!

So write write write. And when time allows (even when it doesn’t), read read read.

H.P. Lovecraft and his fellow writers will thank you for it.

 

Let’s Open Another Door

Well, it’s March 3rd and I’m done.

Any of you who live in the northern half of the U.S. — or any country, for that matter — know what I mean when I say I’m done. Done with the snow, the cloudy days, the slush, the slop, the depression, the driving-like-a-little-old-lady kind of days. I’ve had my snow for Christmas; my grandson has made his annual snowman, I’ve spent a weekend at the ski lodge, and scraped and cleaned the snow off my car more than I care to tell you.

It’s supposed to be 64 degrees next Tuesday, and that’s not soon enough for me. I know it’s a false spring and all that, but go ahead — fool me — I don’t mind.

About this time every year I get tired of writing, too. Tired of sloshing around emails and sites, tired of editing, tired of being witty, nifty, and wise. Since I like to think of ALL of us as multi-artistic, I’m ready to clean out closets and get ready for my move to BoHoChicland.

I’ve got bags of beads to sew on sweaters and tops; I’ve got wire and string to restring my broken bracelets; I’ve got crystals to make more bracelets; I’ve got appointments with Good Will and other second hand places to help me restructure my wardrobe. Clothes never used to make me feel better, but these days, I’m open to discovery. I’m tired of looking like my great-grandmother (like I know what she dressed like..)

Besides the clothing overhaul, I’ve also got books I need to finish reading, hair to color, skirts to shorten. I need to open up the windows and get some fresh air in my stale house.

So let’s get going.

They say when God closes one door He opens another. He’s been really generous with me, because he’s opened about 15 doors. How generous.

So if you get writer’s block, go open another door. Remember — you are an ARTIST — category optional. Don’t worry — your main obsession will always be with you. But sometimes you just need a change.

Like the weather.

And who knows — maybe a closet full of beads will fall out on your head.

Writing On The Tube

thTonight I’m packing to go on our annual ski weekend up north. We have been going on this retreat for years. Each time is a blast, each time is good food, good sleep, good laze.

I’m not a skiier, but I’m really into laze. You know — have breakfast, let the cleaners clean, lay around, nap, talk, drink, eat, lay around, nap, go to the ski hill, watch the skiers, come back, lay around, eat, sleep.

Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it?

Of course, I will be taking my computer with me. I also need a good book to read. I’ve been slogging through the last “Game of Thrones” book…love it, but I need something new and spicy and faster reading to accompany me on the king-sized sofa. A lot of my books are temporarily packed away. So I started picking through the leftovers.

I can’t reach half the books because they are either stacked two deep or too high up or bags are stacked in the way. Lots of DragonLance books. Dozens of Tom Clancy’s. Who bought all these books? Lots of SciFi. Some philosophy books — I enjoy those, but hot chocolate and amaretto isn’t a good partner with esoteric ideas. Shogun. Angels and Demons. Gone With the Wind. Big books. I don’t think I can concentrate that long. I know I have some Stephen King around here — probably packed out of reach somewhere. Those are big books, too.

After digging and thinking and wondering what I should read, I start to think — man, I’ve got a lotta great books here!

They say in order to be a good writer, you need to be a good reader. I so agree with that. I’ve read a lot through the years…maybe not what everyone else was reading, but I kept busy.

Then I started to write.

I don’t know about all you writers out there, but I barely have enough time to write, less time to read. Before I fall asleep — okay. In the car — maybe. But every other free time I find I’m pulling out the computer. A blog here, a synopsis there, tightening up this story, writing an outline for a new novel, final touches on a query letter — when do I make time time for James Clavell and Margaret Mitchell?

All of this cha-cha-cha in my head makes getting away for four days stressful instead of relaxful. What I really should do is leave all the books and computers at home, and concentrate on walking around in the snow and playing games with friends and cooking and napping.

Yet I am a writer. A writer with a little attention deficit. A writer who can’t stay still for long, who starts one thing and moves to the next and to the next and sooner or later comes back to the first thing. I can’t imagine this person sitting still, gazing out the window, chatting softly with friends and family, sipping wine, gnoshing a bit of cheese, and lounging for 4 days. My restless leg would be bouncing so hard I’d knock myself out.

So I do need to bring my computer. I do need to write — or at least pretend to write. After all, isn’t vacation supposed to be doing what you want (and what you don’t want) when you want?

I just wonder if I can type while I’m swirling out of control down the snow hill in a tube…

Know Any Spooky Books to Keep Me Awake At Night?

thIn the cold, crappy days of winter, I find myself wanting to be entertained while I’m stuck indoors.

TV gets old fast. I’ve limited favorite shows to all the Chicago’s (Fire, PD, Med), Face Off, and, if I can stomach it, Hell’s Kitchen. I’m also a fan of Grimm, which always opens doors to my other cold weather passion — reading.

I’m in the mood to read something spooky. Something heart-pounding. Something that keeps me up until midnight (like I need that). I have read a few of Stephen King’s earlier works (The Stand, The Shining, Carrie), and a couple of Dean Koontz. (I can not get through his Intensity; family and friends have all read it and praised it but it gives me the creeps.)

I always wonder why milquetoasts like me want to read something that nightmares are made of. I know I’m not alone — good scary movies and good scary books are talked about long after the mediocrity of other books has passed. And, like movies, not just blood and guts. Anyone can talk Dissection 101 and make is painful.

I look for books that creep me out without scarring me for life. Ones with twists and surprises and a satisfactory, if not super positive, ending. For being a writer, I know it is one’s imagination that needs to be taken care of first. If your scope is narrow, so is your experience of the world. If your imagination is fertile, your imagination takes wing. You can imagine things before you see them. Which is the basis of any good book. Things don’t have to be spelled out in black and white to be understood.

So the purpose of this little Tuesday night gathering is — do you have any books that fit the above criteria? Creepy, scary, adventurous, fun? Books that keep you awake at night?

Also — has anyone read H.P. Lovecraft’s works? I’ve been thinking of ordering them, as he was ahead of his time in his ideas and writing.

Like blogs, Twitter, and movies, I think recommendations from friends are far more enjoyable than those from an advertiser.

And maybe, through your suggestions, NONE of us will get much sleep.

 

 

 

Breezy Books Make Reading a Breeze!

I love a good book; I love good blogs and good company.51d0NQj9swL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_

I seemed to have found all three at Breezy Books.

I also love free books, and that’s what Maddie Cochere is offering. And, from the sound of things, that’s just what I’m in need of.

In Maddie’s own words:

I’ve always loved the name Susan, so I chose to use it for my main character. I decided to write about some of my life experiences from working in a weight loss center by day and playing racquetball at night, but I would have everything play out in a much more interesting way in Susan’s life.

… I completed the fourth book in the series. I know! Isn’t that crazy? But I was having fun – sailing along, writing, laughing, and self-publishing. My books are a fun, easy read. There is mystery, a little humor (sometimes madcap), and a little romance. They are pretty squeaky clean with nothing to make you blush.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of blushing and shifting in my seat every other page. Sometimes I just want to read something fun, something real, something that feels more like me than the color grey.

I’ve downloaded my free books — and can’t wait to start reading. And the great thing is that there’s more to come.

Come check out the Susan Hunter Mysteries!

https://breezybooksblog.wordpress.com/

the beginning is the most important part of the work…

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…Plato

I don’t often get many responses to my blogs, as most of my readers are very busy and read on the run. For those of you who do like to drop a word or six (for which I am eternally grateful), I have a question for you.

Would the following prologue make you want to read more?

 

       “You cannot live in both worlds.”

      The words echoed in the back of Anna’s mind like waves hitting the breakwater. Soft, rhythmic. They made no sense, at least not in their current context. She tried to hold onto the silver threads, but they slowly faded into meaningless whispers. All her mind could focus on was the slow, continuous beeping that radiated from some distant point.

      Beeping. Then silence. More beeping. More silence.

      God, she wished her mind would clear. That her eyes would open. That the throbbing in her head would stop. A lot of demands for a brain floating in a pool of thick, cold porridge. Anna thought about sitting up, getting up, but her body wouldn’t respond. More pain, more porridge. More voices, more beeping. Red flags were popping up throughout her consciousness — something was wrong. Too many mumblings, too many voices at the edge of her hearing. Voices that had no business being in her bedroom.

      “Anna, can you hear me?”

      Hear you? You are right here in bed next to me, Adam. Of course I can hear you.

      But her husband’s voice had a disquieting tenor she’d never quite heard before. His muffled words echoed in her ears, softly insulating her against the harsh beeping that tried to distort her every thought.

      A different voice followed. A deep, dark, musical voice — a voice rich with temptation.

      Do not close this door we have opened.

      Suddenly a swell of emotions overwhelmed her senses. It was as if the dam had burst; the dam that held back her energy, her very soul, releasing a flood of wordless images that pulsed to the beat of her heart. Anna felt a smile spread across her lips, even though the rest of her body refused to respond. How she wanted to linger in the warmth the memories promised. But the voice, the melody, disappeared as the scent of antiseptics whiffed across her nose. Bleach, perhaps. Or ammonia. What happened to the cinnamon potpourri in the crystal bowl on her nightstand?

      Anna’s head hurt just putting sentences together, and she still couldn’t open her eyes. So willful her thoughts, so unwilling her body. She could feel her pulse rise, her heart beating faster, her automatic fright/flight instinct taking over.

      “She is coming around, Mr. Powers.”

      Whose voice is that? In my bedroom? Who in the world would be calling Adam “Mr. Powers” anyway?

      More voices now. Closer. Louder. A squeaky high-pitched one and another with a sweet southern drawl. A shadow blurred the indirect light that fell upon her unopened eyes as she heard Adam’s voice echo from a tunnel off to her left somewhere.

      Damn, Adam. Speak up! Quit mumbling. And what are all these people doing in our bedroom?

      A moment of silence, an eternal moment, until suddenly a soothing sensation danced across her mind, melting her thoughts into puddles of warm milk. Anna thought she heard Adam say something about dying, but perhaps the word was “crying”.

      Either way, she decided she would try and open her eyes later. Yes, later. She was so sleepy, so content, that she’d rather follow the whispers that called her name.