Monday, February 20, 2012

Where have all the bookstores gone?

On my recent vacation to Monterey and Carmel, I was dismayed by the lack of good bookstores in the area. I had packed lightly and, as usual, planned to buy a few paperbacks for my vacation. Monterey is the home of a jazz festival and Carmel is an affluent, very artistic city. I'm sure lots of writers and readers live in the area.

Monterey used to have a large bookstore about a block from my hotel. It was gone. There was a small independent religious bookstore in Monterey--not what I wanted. On Cannery Row, there was a used bookstore with not much selection.

Carmel used to have a lovely independent bookstore near or on Ocean Avenue, the main street. (I remember it had a kangaroo in the window with paperback books in her pouch!) It was gone.

I used Google to find an independent bookstore, River House Books, down the highway from Carmel, in a shopping centre. I found two books that interested me, both non-fiction, and M found one. M would have preferred to buy a SFnovel but they didn't carry genre fiction, only literary novels.

Thanks for saving my sanity, River House Books!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Life is a Song Lyric (example #1)

Breakfast table.

Me: Whenever John [renovator] does the slightest thing
here, the whole condo ends up full of dust.

Husband: All we are is dust in the wind.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Something Is Rotten

Something Is Rotten

by Barbara Etlin

life is too short
for flossing three times a day

no, I still haven't given up
my addiction to Diet Pepsi

my lack of fresh cavities
is not an invitation
for you to renovate my mouth

although you say
dentistry is not an exact science
(but if I botch it the first time
I'll give a 10% discount
on the second try)

I still believe
temporary or permanent paralysis
is unacceptable

I leave
with two unanswered questions

what exactly did you learn
in four years of dentistry school
if it wasn't science

and what makes you think
I'd ever come back
for a second try

Copyright 2012 Barbara Etlin, all rights reserved

Wordless Wednesday



California Dreaming


We're back from two weeks in California.

We flew to San Francisco and stayed there two days. Then we drove to Monterey, where we stayed ten days, then back to San Francisco to fly home.
Random observations made on the trip:

1. It is possible for someone on a plane to make a five-and-a half-hour sales pitch, practically without breathing. Possible, but not desirable.

2. San Francisco really is a series of picture postcards come to life. It is probably my second-favourite city in the world. Amsterdam would be first.

3. I would not like to drive there. (M was the driver.) If I could get over my fear of heights and steep hills--Hitchcock was smart to set Vertigo in SF-- walking around would be a great workout!

4. I don't see how the Lone Cypress can be owned as a trademark by a company. Regardless, I consider it *my* tree. Fie on you, trademark owners!
5. The Seventeen Mile Drive is wild and serene at the same time.

6. I checked out Asilomar while we were in the area. I had been very curious about it. (It's in Pacific Grove and has its own private beach. Wonderful location for a writing conference.)

7. With treatment, it takes seven days to get over a cold. Without treatment, it takes a week.

8. We received two emails from Echo while he was at camp. He missed us and sent a couple of photos! :-)

Rare sighting of a great grey owl... a town in southern Ontario. The great grey normally is found much further north.

Here's a link to an article in The Toronto Star about it, complete with photos and a video:

Submitted some non-fiction... a contest.

It feels good.

Quick Book Look: 11/22/63 by Stephen King

11/22/63 by Stephen King. Adult SF/time travel.

For people of my generation, the Boomers, the assassination of JFK was a traumatic, life-changing event. So I was looking forward to reading King's novel on the subject.

When I was looking for it at the bookstore, I had trouble finding it because the front cover--half of which is a newspaper's front page--is so busy. Also the title would have been more effective spelled out instead of using numerals. (When I finally noticed that the back cover was an alternative news story in which JFK survives his close call, I realized why the art department had done the cover that way. I still don't like it.)

I liked Jake, the protagonist, immediately. Jake steps through a time portal to a day in 1958 and lives through the years until 1963, in his attempt to prevent the assassination, probably lessen US involvement in the Vietnam War, and save thousands of lives. Despite our knowledge of history, King somehow maintains the suspense.The past, we learn, is extremely resistant to change. Also, any changes you do make have a ripple effect--sometimes good, but often disastrous.

King's time-travel historical novel is a masterpiece. This is one time you definitely shouldn't judge a book by its cover. :-)

Wordless Wednesday (almost)

When I saw this I couldn't resist taking a photo. That's Santa inside, and the rotors actually turn!

Winter Blues

Winter Blues
by Barbara Etlin

We've only just begun
to freeze
White snow and icicles
A slip--Bad luck!--
and you're on your butt
It's only begun...

And at the solstice sun, we sigh
So many icy roads
We'll start out walking then slip and slide
And winter's just begun...

And when vacation comes, we smile
Hop an airplane, farewell to gloom
We'll find a beach where the snows don't go
An end to winter's doom

Copyright 2011 Barbara Etlin, all rights reserved

Jazz Quartet Playing Stevie--in Amsterdam

This video, titled, An Afternoon In Vondel Park, has nice footage of Amsterdam on a pretty summer day. An unknown jazz quartet is playing Stevie Wonder's "For Once In My Life."

Stevie's music + Amsterdam = perfection

October Leaves


Yesterday afternoon, I had to take a photo of these trees that glow in the sunshine when I see them from my terrace.

Quotes from John Lennon

...on his birthday:

"If someone thinks that love and peace is a cliche that must
have been left behind in the Sixties, that's his problem. Love and peace are

"Will the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands? And the
rest of you, if you'll just rattle your jewelry."

"The thing the sixties did was to show us the possibilities and
the responsibility that we all had. It wasn't the answer. It just gave us a
glimpse of the possibility."

-- from John Lennon Quotes in Brainy Quotes


Kelly Barson, a member of the Feathered Pens, my critique group,


Here are the details on Publisher's Marketplace:

K.A. Barson's 45 POUNDS, about a girl who doesn't fit -- not into her blended family, and certainly not into Snapz! clothes, and who is certain that if she could lose 45 pounds, her life would be perfectly normal, only to find that there is nothing perfect about normal, to Sharyn November at Viking Children's, by Sara Crowe at Harvey Klinger (world).