‘Bye, Book!

One of the sweetest things overheard in the library: children feeding their books into our self check-in machine and calling out a farewell to each one as it is gathered up by the conveyor belts and propelled down the runways into whatever bin it is destined for. Sometimes they specifically name each book: “‘Bye-bye, Pete the Cat!”, but more often, they are all “Book,” the capital letter not merely implied, but reinforced by emphasis.  In the little voices, I can detect notes of wistfulness (that was such a good read!) and excitement (on to the next one!), as well as the usual curiosity and neato! factor that comes with peering through that little gap in the wall and catching our zippy self check-in machine in action. What they can’t see are the huge, knowing smiles on the faces of the team on the other side of the wall, as we wait for the books to drop.

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Have you recently read a book so wonderful that you would wistfully drop it into the book chute and say “goodbye”?  (Or, on the other hand, gleefully say “goodbye” to, because it was so awful?).

Paper Butterfly Flash Fiction. Wanted: your stories!

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A little side project I’ve been working on for nearly a year now is Paper Butterfly Flash Fiction, which features fantastic really, really short stories by writers from all over the world.  So that I avoid the holiday crunch and my head doesn’t actually explode as I feared it might when I opened up the reading period for a single month (December!???!) last year, I’m going to take submissions of flash fiction from October 1 to November 30.  I’m looking for short fiction (1,000 words or less), and pretty much any genre (or mashup thereof) is welcome: mystery, thriller, horror, science fiction, fantasy, romance, humour, western, literary…you name it, I’d love to see it.  Take a gander at the Submission Guidelines and read some of the stories from this year while you’re at it!

Don’t be shy – send me your work!  And please pass this call along to any other writers you know….

Fun with search terms, Flowery Prose edition.

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I love the WordPress feature that keeps track of the search engine terms that have led readers to our blogs. Some of them are obvious and you can definitely pinpoint the exact entries you’ve written that came up in the search (and hopefully assisted someone with their query)…but others are just plain entertaining!  I have a habit of plugging in as many words as possible into search engines to narrow down the possible hits, so I can only imagine what someone on the receiving end might think of the weird stuff I come up with.

Here are a few of the search terms that have been logged on Flowery Prose within the past year, the ones that got me giggling the most. I really hope something I’ve posted helped these folks out, as well, but I’m not entirely convinced of that….

saskatoon berry alcohol shot

Yes, please.

hula hooping sitting on bed

I’m not that flexible…or creative. I might somehow throw out a hip.

what if I eat a spittle bug

No biggie, it’s three percent of your daily recommended intake of protein.  And the spittle gives it a smooth mouthfeel.

prose soup

Is that like Alphagetti noodles?  Do you add veggies?  I might want that recipe.

prose on parenting

*looks to see if anyone has dropped off any kids at my house and left them there without my knowledge*

nose ill

I think this was supposed to be “Nose Hill,” one of my favourite places to walk in Calgary.  I can’t say I’ve ever written a post about “nose ills,” but if there’s a call for it, I can definitely make something up oblige.

covering raised veggie bads (sic) at night

I’m glad I’m not the only one who had veggie bads this year – I can’t believe only three of my carrot seeds germinated out of an ENTIRE package.  Maybe I would have had more success had I covered them at night.  Things to note for next year.

same look like winter cress but not

Occasionally my hair gets this way before I put the anti-frizz cream in.

speak about flower

Ask my hubby; I do, ad nauseum.  This may be a search term I’m actually qualified to write about.  If not qualified, I can certainly babble endlessly about it.  I have also been known to expound at length about flour, as well, but that’s another story….

Check your search terms: do you have any silly or unusual ones you’d like to share?  

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The Door is Ajar: Martians Abroad and Last Day on Mars.

This week, I’m featuring a couple of books about the Red Planet….

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Martians Abroad – Carrie Vaughn (2016, Tor, New York)

Martian teenager Polly Newton desperately wants to become a starship pilot and she is excited and ready to begin her training…until her mother, the high-powered, not-to-be-challenged director of the Martian Colony, derails Polly’s plans and sends her and her twin brother Charles to an exclusive boarding school on Earth.  Headstrong, stubborn, and understandably angry at her mother, Polly struggles to fit into her new surroundings and deal with bullying classmates and stern teachers, until she and Charles uncover a secret about the Galileo Academy that has dangerous ramifications for the students at the school and Polly launches herself into action to save them all.  (Pun intended, of course).

Sounds pretty tantalizing, right?  That’s why I picked this book up.  And I loved, loved, LOVED the whole “fish out of water” scenario – Vaughn’s descriptions of how the foreign students try to adjust to Earth (the gravity, the food, the air, the open spaces, the use of water) are absolutely captivating and realistic.  The details of travelling in space are thrilling, as well – it’s all extremely brilliant stuff and beautifully executed.  But…and here’s the thing. To be fair to Vaughn and her fans, I haven’t read the Robert Heinlein story that this book is apparently inspired/influenced by (Podkayne of Mars), so I should probably do that before making a snap judgment.  It is possible that Martians Abroad is a decent representation of that earlier work – but even so, it doesn’t mean I have to be impressed. It was disappointing to me that despite the juicy depth of its scenery, the book suffers from a pretty much non-existent plotline and the motivations of the characters are vague and unrealized and quite frankly, nonsensical in certain cases.  The surprise resolution is wimpy, undeveloped, and…utterly confusing.  To me.  I did read a review from NPR that suggested that this book hearkens back to the classic, more innocent SF novels, where the stories are heavy on tech and world-building and not so much on gritty plots and action, which seems accurate, and much nicer and way more positive than what I’m saying here.  So…pick up Martians Abroad and let me know what you think after you’ve finished it.  How off-base am I on this one? (Hee hee, another pun).

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Last Day On Mars – Book One of Chronicle of the Dark Star – Kevin Emerson (2017, Walden Pond Press, New York)

After the Earth is destroyed by the sun, which is beginning to go supernova, mankind establishes a colony on Mars to garner the resources and technology so that they can flee once again as the red planet is threatened.  In 2213, the time has finally arrived for the big departure, and young Martian student Liam Saunders-Chang and his friend Phoebe spend their final bittersweet day on the only planet they have ever called home trying to solve a terrifying mystery and desperately struggling to stay alive as everything they know comes crashing down around them.  Emerson’s first novel in the Chronicle of the Dark Star series is aimed at a pre-teen audience, but it transcends its target, with whipsmart humour, solid world-building, and an inventive, yet believable scientific foundation that will appeal to older readers (including adults) as well.  Liam and Phoebe are wonderfully-drawn and relatable, and I particularly loved the focus on the emotional rollercoaster they suffer on the Last Day.

If all that wasn’t enough, there is a positively gripping cliffhanger that has me utterly piqued for the next book.  Nicely done!

The Door is Ajar: Public Library and Other Stories by Ali Smith.

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Public Library and Other Stories – Ali Smith (2015 Penguin Canada)

Smith’s collection of short stories was gathered together to celebrate the role of public libraries in personal and public life, of the value they bring to community, and the wealth of knowledge and the opportunity for engagement, thought, and creativity that they invoke.  Public Library is also a protest against the closure of libraries in the United Kingdom and other parts of the world, the quashing of budgets, collections, and services in libraries that remain, and the overall decline of government and popular support for these previously-revered institutions.  Smith’s stories are framed by quotes from writers, thinkers, and other figures as they explore their personal emotions and connections to libraries, books, reading, and writing.

The stories themselves were a delight for me and I devoured them in a couple of very short sittings. I am not familiar with Smith’s other work and I loved her style and juicy depth of language as she wound her way around several accounts of relationships gone sour, reimaginings of history, and family life.  It’s difficult to pick a favourite out of this collection, but “The Ex-Wife” and “The Poet” are special standouts for me.  Highly recommended.

The Door is Ajar: Invasive by Chuck Wendig.

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Chuck Wendig – Invasive (2016, Harper Voyager)

A strange murder and the discovery of genetically engineered ants lead survivalist and FBI consultant Hannah Stander on a trip to Hawai’i – where things quickly escalate from paradise to apocalypse in Chuck Wendig’s blisteringly good novel Invasive.  Wendig reigns in his signature over-the-top style a smidgeon and produces a tight, brilliantly-characterized, and perfectly-paced thriller. The dustjacket comparisons to Michael Crichton’s work are definitely warranted – I’d say this is Wendig’s finest book to date.  More, please.

Octagons.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may recall that I work in a library (although, as of very recently, I switched branches in the city, transferring from the one that I worked at for nearly eight years).  I’m not a librarian or a library assistant so front line customer service isn’t part of my duties, but I still get a chance to talk to some of our patrons…and sometimes I just can’t help smiling at what they have to say.  Take this morning, for example:  a young mum asked me for books about shapes for her three-year-old girl.  We browsed the board book spinners and came up with some great titles, including a really sweet one featuring Snoopy (I’m a total softy for Snoopy and naturally assume everyone else is as well).  I thought I had the search wrapped up tidily as the mother flipped quickly through the books, but she turned to me with a sheepish grin on her face.  “These are great,” she said, “but my daughter is really interested in octagons right now.  She just loves octagons.”

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Well, I don’t blame her, really – octagons are very attractive shapes and quite satisfying from a mathematical perspective.  And the word is seriously fun to say aloud.  But I have yet to see a board book featuring octagons.  Actually, if anyone out there is writing board books for a living, please throw some octagons into the next “shape” book you pump out, would you? (I found this rather interesting title at work a few weeks ago, and if it exists, octagons shouldn’t be a complete stretch).  I know a certain three-year-old who would be really impressed….

If you have children, what words or concepts most captivated them when they were toddlers?  Do you remember any ideas you were fixated with as a child?  I can’t recall if I had any obsessions with certain words when I was that age (my Mum might remember!) but I know that even as I got older, I was constantly trying to reinvent the English language – it wasn’t that I mispronounced words (although I occasionally did that, and still do), it was that I was always deliberately making up new words, and renaming things around me.  The various cats we had over the years had so many inventive-yet-utterly-ridiculous monikers, it’s no wonder they never came when they were called.

Oh, wait….   😉

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