Last week, we took my mother to get a library card, primarily so she could download books to her Kindle. The librarian zipped through the new member process but sent us to the research librarian when we asked about the downloads. We traveled upstairs and asked our question to the the woman behind the big round desk. She pulled up the library's website and within seconds was befuddled, admitting this was a new system to Pinellas County and she wasn't familiar with it. Fortunately, my husband is the family geek. He claimed the nearest computer, figured out the process and taught it to my mother.
At present, Pinellas County has 3000 plus books available to Kindle. My mother's an avid reader with limited income and mobility so borrowing e-books is a huge benefit to her. The download process didn't seem too difficult and the library's website featured a tutorial if my mother needs reminders, although that hadn't seemed to help the librarian. I spotted a flyer announcing an e-book class for Kindle users. No doubt the attendees will be the generations born before internet technology ruled. The younger generation probably already takes e-books for granted and feels impatient with libraries who don't offer their entire collection in a digital format.
With my husband and mother on computers, I headed to the Young Adult section. I browsed the spines; then looked up at the space already cleared for computers and even I, middle-aged printed paper fan, saw the book stacks fading before my eyes.
You can't escape children's writers this time of year. Schultz' A Charlie Brown Christmas and Dr. Suess' How the Grinch Stole Christmas are TV staples and every year, a new child-themed holiday movie appears. This year, DiMarco's War Horse and Hugo (adapted from Brian Selznick's book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret) are also playing on the big screen. Then there's the hot books, print and digital, perfect gifts for young readers. If you haven't found the right picture book, a good place to start is the 2011 Caldecott winner: A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Erin and Philip Stead; for middle graders, the 2011 Newberry winner: Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool; or for young adults, the 2011 Printz winner: Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi.
By Saturday, no matter what holiday you celebrate, I hope the gifts are nestled under the tree or around the menorah and you're sipping a warm drink and laughing with loved ones. We're visiting family and friends through Christmas eve and starting Christmas day in a small town church where we'll seek the spirit of the season.
Here are pics my husband snapped this week.
Julie, my long-lost high school friend, flew in from New Mexico this weekend. Her visit tops any Christmas wish I could have imagined. We bond with childhood friends in ways mysterious and elusive to adults. In adolescence, Julie and I shared tender, sometimes raw moments as well as breath-gasping giddiness. Saturday and Sunday, we toured Tampa and Ybor City, the historic hispanic district. We ate superb Spanish cuisine, spotted herds of eclectic Santas and elves flocking to nightime events and fascinating wildlife at a local preserve, but nothing matched the stroll down memory lane.
At one point, Julie pointed to a group of young women huddling for a group photo and she said, "that was about the age we were when we saw each other last." I had deeply regretted losing touch with her and wondered where life had taken her. When we finally reconnected a few years ago, I discovered her path and mine divurged in many ways, except one: We shared a passion for writing. During her visit, the conversation often drifted to our stories. Julie is studying the craft at Sante Fe Community College and thanks to the internet, we trade work and offer each other feedback. It's incredible that our desire to learn the craft occured at the same time. Then again, our creativity was part of what bonded us in childhood. Julie is a master storyteller and I can't wait to see what she does with her talent.
It was hard to say good-bye to Julie. But I feel certain we treasure the renewed bond enough to stay connected and now that we've talked about our writing in person, we're even more motivated to encourage each other's efforts. Here are a few photos from our trip to Lettuce Lake Park . . . new memories, sure to become fodder for fiction.
Julianna Baggott's new adult/YA crossover, dystopian novel, Pure is due out February 8. On the Pure website, New York Times bestselling author, Danielle Trussoni describes the book as "a dark adventure that is both startling and addictive at once. Pressia Belze is one part manga heroine and one part post-apocalyptic Alice, stranded in a surreal Wonderland where everyone and everything resonates with what has been lost. Breathtaking and frightening. I couldn't stop reading Pure." Julianna's presenting a unique opportunity for astute readers, writers and anyone interested in the creation of books to join Pure's Inner Circle and be involved in the process of Pure's trilogy. You can read about it on her blog, Baggott, Asher and Bode.
And to celebrate the season, here are two photos we snapped this week: My Christmas cactus in full bloom and a peacock strolling through a neighbor's decorations.
I write middle grade and young adult books with a magical twist, and I'm represented by the fabulous Leslie Zampetti at Open Book Literary.
Lorin Oberweger - Freelance Editor