Tag Archives: Nancy Drew

The peace found in a Library…

Author Holly Robinson  recently wrote a great blog piece about her love of public libraries. I, too, have had a life -long love affair with those wonderful buildings housing the billions of words and bits of writers’ imaginations and souls within their walls. Here’s why….

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As an only child raised in a family of elderly great aunts and grandmothers, I didn’t have an opportunity to play much with kids my age because, well, there weren’t any! It’s probably why I’m not such a great game player even at this age. While my peers were with one another enjoying a game of Mousetrap or Soul Survivor or any Milton-Bradley or Hasbro game you can remember, I was usually in the company of older people who didn’t want to play a board game, but who preferred to sit and drink and talk and fight with one another.

Yeah, I know: not a great childhood, but it was all I knew.

I was also a latchkey kid — a term I don’t think is used too widely these days. My parents both worked full time and from the age of 8 I no longer had an after school babysitter who’d watch me until my parents came home from work, usually around 7 each night. I was on my own from the time school let out at 3 until the evening, five days a week. Now, I could tell you that the temptations to be naughty and to veer toward the dark side and get into mischief were strong. But I had something that helped me fight those demons calling my name to act up and be bad: my local Library.

I would be dismissed every day from school and then walk the ten city blocks-alone-to the beautiful, brick faced, three story building overlooking New York harbor. First, I’d find  an empty table in the kid’s section and do my homework. That usually took about 10 minutes! Then, I’d explore the book racks. I was an expert at the Dewey decimal system categories by the age of 9 and to this day, still order my own books in my home library using the same clarification system.

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In that first year I read all the books in the kid’s section that were in my age group and most of the teen category as well. Nowadays this is called YA( for young adult), but back then they were all labeled as “Teen” reading. I learned all I needed to know about love, sex, hate, and teenage angst before the age of  1o. I devoured the complete works of Agatha Christie, Trixie Beldon, Nancy Drew. I consumed the books in the biography section, learning everything I could about women leaders like Eleanor Roosevelt and Amelia Earhart and Queen Victoria. Even back then I realized I could be whatever my imagination told me I could, despite being a girl.

You may have read that last sentence and said, WHAT??!! but remember, I was raised in the sixities when girl power was still in its infancy. It would be another 10 years before Gloria Steinem came along and preached female empowerment. And  Title IX hadn’t been established yet.

Anyway…

Since I was most comfortable with older folks and not my peers, I had no trouble connecting with the librarians on a personal level, and I can tell you truthfully and without hubris, they loved me. Knowing how much I adored reading,  and the categories I loved most, the librarians would routinely pull new arrivals for me to check out first. Loved that!  Who else can boast they were spoiled by librarians?

The library became my second home, and in some ways, it was my  refuge, a steady foundation against a home life that wasn’t exactly the American Dream. Within the walls of the library, I could get lost- safely- and go exploring. Again, back before there was Internet and Google, we did research the old-fashioned way: by combing through encyclopedias and trolling through microfiche. I think part of the problem I’m so tech-NO-savvy is because I still long for those little cellophane negative film strips covered with oodles of information that were sosososo much more easy to use than a computer. But that’s just me….

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As I matured, my reading material did as well. By the time I reached my teens, the librarians were helping me find my calling in life. They knew I wanted to be a nurse or a doctor, so they introduced me to medical books and manuals routinely reserved for the medical community. Before I started Nursing school and College I was already proficient in medico-terminology, policies, and procedures. One librarian in particular guessed I like to write – how I will never know – but she would often pull books for me about craft and editing. She was the one who introduced me to the Publisher’s Weekly news magazine ( which I believe is all digital now) and would save them when they arrived each week for me to view.

These lovely, educated, warm and maternal women became my mentors, my friends, my surrogates. Most of them have probably passed on by now, but the wonderful memories I have of how they treated me, how special they made me feel, and how much they taught me, will  be with me for the rest of my life. Maya Angelou said once,

“… people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

Can I just get an “AMEN” for that? It’s true.

There are as many pundits these days who state “Print is Dead” as there are those who  espouse that print books will always be popular, especially if we have places to house them-namely, libraries. To this day I support my local library. In fact, tomorrow is the first day of the bi-annual book fundraising sale, of which I attend every session. All the proceeds raised go toward the library’s operating budget, since the city has had to economize and cut funding every place it can.  There will never be a danger of the library closing its doors due to lack of funds while I have breath in my body!! That is fact and I know KNOW I am not alone in my thinking.

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Show the love to your local  libraries. Donate the books you have read and don’t want to keep. Support local authors ( very subtle hint, here!). Encourage your children and the kids you know to read. Reading is the single best gift you can give your child to help her/him explore their imaginations, develop critical thinking skills, and go into the world armed with the knowledge and expertise necessary to improve the world, their lives, and those of future generations.

I love libraries so much, I have a Pinterest board just for great libraries around the world. Check it out, here.

And when I’m not at my local library, you can find me here:

Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me// Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

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So, who was your first FICTIONAL crush?

With the advent of boy bands, teen heart throbs, and movie bigger than life superheros, do any young girls-commonly called TWEENS- read nowadays? Other than the Twilight series, I mean? I remember vividly, long summer days spent on my bed or on a blanket at the beach, reading book after book. Summer was my favorite time as a tween because it meant no reading list from school. I could read what I wanted, when I wanted. I binged read Nancy Drew Mysteries like people binge watch on-demand television shows these days.

My first ever fictional school girl crush was Brian Beldon from the Trixie Beldon books. Trixie, a pre teen  like me, had two brothers, the oldest of who was Brian. Jet black hair and a winning grin, Brian wanted to be a **sigh** doctor. He was frequently the voice of almost-grown-up reason when Trixie got caught in her hair-brained snooping mysteries and I just thought he was “it” for me. I had no real-life boyfriends until I graduated from college, ( I know: late bloomer!) so I had to live vicariously through my fictional one.

And of course, this got me to thinking: Who are some of the most popular and beloved boyfriends in fiction. This could potentially be a hot button issue because true fans are devoted to the boys they feel are the absolute best, so here goes. In no best-to-least-best order

All these  boyfriends are good guys, do-gooders, love their girls, and treat them well. They love their girls so much they put up with mood shifts, dangerous jobs, evil warlocks and vampires, societal restrictions, financial setbacks, and even terminal cancer.

But through all the foibles and follies of dating, the end result is they simply love, support, and respect their girls.

What more could you ask for from a boyfriend?

So. Who was your first fictional crush?

 

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Let’s have dinner…Who should we invite?

I saw this question on a blog recently:  what Literary character(s) would you like to have dinner with and why?

This is a great question to actually ask at a dinner party. Responses can be all over the board depending on how well-read your guests are and what age. I can see people in their very early twenties wanting to break bread with Katniss Everdeen or Ron Weasley. My literary tastes are somewhat more dated.

First and foremost, I’d like to sit next to Elizabeth Bennet, because I’d like to ask her to truthfully tell me, once and for all, did she fall in love with Darcy for Darcy, or for Pemberley? I’ve always been a little suspicious she really did love Darcy and that her opinions of him could change so abruptly just because he helped Lydia and the Bennet family. What, exactly, made her see him in such a different light, from the first time they were introduced, Pemberley aside?

I’d like to sit down next to Scarlett O’Hara and smack her in the head. What was she thinking? Here she’s got the original bad boy himself, Rhett Butler, all but drooling after he and she wants nothing to do with him. She pines for Ashley Wilkes, one of the most boring characters ever penned, and doesn’t see the hunkadoodle right in front of her pixie little face. What gives, Scarlett?

Breaking bread with Atticus Finch would be memorable. I’d really like to know how he came to be such a liberal thinker in a surrounding chock full of uber-moralistic and conservative viewpoints on race, color, and gender. I’d like to discuss his upbringing and ask about his parents. Did their opinions and beliefs help form him to be the man he was, or was there some internal moral compass driving him?

Sherlock Holmes is such a fascinating character that there are no fewer than three television shows devoted to him at the present time. In an age where police work was in its infancy, his brain and desire for truth at any cost can be viewed either in a positive light, or as the most simplistic narcissism imaginable. He truly believed he was the smartest man in any room, hands down. Humility didn’t exist in his vocabulary. I would love to discuss his toilet training, to discern where his total control evolved from.

Nancy Drew was the coolest character I ever read when I was 10. I wanted to be beautiful and smart like her, drive a Corvair, and just have everyone love me. She had the neatest dad, the handsomest boyfriend and the most loyal friends – in truth, she had everything I didn’t. I’d like to ask her how it felt to be so perfect. And I’d really like to hear her tell me she was far from it!

Jane Eyre. The original drama queen. Tragedy and misery follows poor, plain Jane everywhere she goes. A lousy childhood morphs into an oppressive adolescence that ends in a pitiable adulthood. Even the guy she pines for is a pain in the neck. I’d like to talk to her and ascertain if she’s one of those people who simply thrive on the drama. A day can’t pass without some sort of emotional deluge. 

Holly Golightly seems to be the girl you’d love to sit next to at dinner. Witty, bright and light conversation would abound from her and I’m sure if you were a man she’d make you feel as if you were the only one in her sphere. She is named so perfectly – go-lightly – which is how she flits through life, moving without stopping or settling down, flitting from person to person, relationship to relationship. I’d probably ask her about her toilet training as well. That fear of not holding on to anything or anyone had to come from somewhere!

Madeline. Ah, sweet Madeline. Never having attended one, I’d really like the low down dirt on what it’s like to live in a boarding school. You hear so many unseemly things about them, such as the abuse, the sexual escapades, the bullying. Did our poor, little Parisian girl go through any of these things? Or was life really how it was written for her – all unicorns, butterflies, and sunbeams? And what about Miss Clavel? There’s a hidden understory there and I’m just dying to know it!

Truly, if I sat next to any of the folks at a dinner, I don’t think I’d touch a bit of food. They’re all fascinating in totally individual and diverse ways.

How about you? Who would you like to break bead with if you could?

 

 

 

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Reading is fundamental and…everything else!

When my daughter was doing the college search several years ago, she was required to write short essays on topics of her choosing, many related to her current lifestyle and family life. My husband and I let her have freedom on this, knowing she was an excellent writer and had a stockpile of stories she could tell. We figured that one or two of them might mention us – after all, we were funding the school she’d eventually get into – and we were prepared to be slightly embarrassed or roll our eyes at how we were depicted from her 17 year old perspective.

To say we were floored when we read the first essay is a totally inadequate statement. We were blow away.

And in the best sense of the word.

The gist of the piece was on reading. She stated that she could never remember a time in her life where she wasn’t (a) surrounded by books, (b) reading books or being read to, and (c) when her parents didn’t have a book in their hands or handy. She wrote the first memories she could conjure were when I would read to her before bed, during the day, anytime she asked, really. She stated unequivocally that her love of reading, writing, the spoken and the written word fell directly from the exposure we afforded her. Since she was planning to major in English in college, this made cosmic sense to me.

From the moment I knew I was pregnant, I read aloud to my daughter. I’m sure people thought I was strange when they would see me, sitting on a park bench, or in a waiting room reading aloud to seemingly no one. But the truth is, she was neonatally conditioned to be a lover of books.

It’s easy to explain where I got my love of reading. I was a latch-key kid from the time I was in second grade. My mother worked full time and she couldn’t afford an after school baby sitter. The safest place for me to go right from school was the local library. And I did. Everyday from second grade until middle school, I spent, on average, 2-3 hours, five days a week for over 7 years. In middle school, when I didn’t really need watching over anymore but could stay home alone after school by myself, I still went to the library most days. I finished every book in the kid’s section and then preceded onto the teen section was I was only 8. Nancy Drew, Trixie Beldon, Jane Austin, and a slew of other characters and authors were my friends, companions, family. I learned most of what I know about social skills and social norms from reading books like “I’m Okay, You’re Okay,” and the like.

Books were everything to me.

And as I got older, their friendship and love grew, as I did, maturing, into new authors, new genres, new escapes.

When I first got married, my husband was not a reader-for-pleasure. He could usually be found, sitting in his chair, devouring a medical journal. I fixed that pretty quickly. I found a book that actually appealed to the both of us and every night, when we got into bed, one of us would read a chapter aloud to the other until the book was completed. I can’t for the life of me tell you what that book was about now – it was a very loooooong time ago – but I do remember the feeling I got every time we started a new chapter.

And hubby felt the same way.

When the book was done, my husband was hooked on pleasure reading. That started his reading journey and now he is never without a book when we travel, at home, or even on long car rides. We now go to local book sales and library fundraisers, searching for new authors and genres. The medical journals still occupy some of his reading time, but not to the extent they did in the beginning of our marriage.

We both passed this love onto our daughter. She is never without something to read, and she is a purist: she likes the actual book, not the Kindle version. She will read on an e-reader, but she, like my hubby, prefers the paper and page.

I am an equal opportunity reader: any form, and time, any day.

It’s no wonder I love to write, since I love to read. Creating my own characters, settings, plots and situations, falls seamlessly from this love of books.

The next time you have to give a child – or even an adult – a birthday gift, thank you gift, or even just a little something to tell them you were thinking of them, consider a book as the present. You’ll never know how just the simple gift of words/plot/characters can change that person’s life forever.

Reading: it’s a good thing.

*** horrible self plug: if you’ve got a few moments, check out Harlequin’s SOYOUTHINKYOUCANWRITE 2014 contest. Here’s the link to my entry. Drop by and give me some love. Thanks. http://www.soyouthinkyoucanwrite.com/manuscripts-sytycw-2014/cooking-with-kandy/

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The 10 character challenge

A few days  ago I posted a challenge, asking you for the 10 books that changed, or impacted your lives. It’s the character’s time.

List 10 – I don’t care about the male/female split – of your most memorable characters from fiction. They can be villians,  heroes, heroines, secondary characters. I don’t care. Which ones made an impact on you and, briefly, why.

Here are mine in no order.

1. Rhett Bulter.   Gone with the Wind. The original fictional alpha male . When he carries Scarlett up that staircase, oh, Mama!

2. Roarke. the JD Robb In Death Series. Owns the galaxy. Loves Eve Dallas. Survived Every bad thing that ever happened to him. Plus, he’s Irish.

3. Eve Dallas.  the JD Robb In Death Series. The most kick-ass heroine with a tender heart you will ever meet.

4. Laura Ingalls before she was Wilder. The Little House On the Prairie Series. I always wanted to live on the prairie.

5  Elizabeth Bennet. Pride and Prejudice.  It’s so tough being the second, not so attractive sister, but Lizzy did well for herself.

6. Atticus Finch. To Kill a Mockingbird. When I was little, he was the embodiment  of what I  wanted in a father.

7.Madeline. The Madeline books by Ludwig Bemelman because really, she lived in Paris! In a convent! And had such cool adventures.

8. Nancy Drew.  The Nancy Drew Mystery Books. She drove a Corvair. Enough said.

9. Jake Brigance. A Time To Kill. Second best lawyer portrayal after Atticus Finch. Plus, he’s hunky, a southern boy, and loves his wife and dog.

10. Elinor Dashwood. Sense and Sensibility. The oldest, not as beautiful daughter with a heart of gold, a steel core and a hopeless romantic.

Those are my 10.  If you don’t recognize a name, click on it and it will take you to a link, describing the character.

Now, what are your 10 most influential fictional characters??

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On Diaries, Journals, and writing…

When I was a little younger – okay, waaaaaaaaay-the-hell younger – I kept a diary. I think every girl my age back then did. It was a 3×5 sized, hardbound book, complete with it’s own lock and key, hundreds of sheets of lined paper, and Barbie pink, my signature color. I kept the key on a ribbon that perpetually hung from neck. I wasn’t going to let anyone get a hold of that key and find out all my deepest, darkest, secrets, my newest boy crush, or my thoughts about myself.

I got my first diary when I was eight and I remember I got to the last page by my tenth birthday. At that birthday, I received a new one – a little bigger at 4×6, but still pink, keyed, and the paper was lined.

I filled that one up by before birthday # 12.

I was a very diligent writer back then. I sat down on my bed most nights and just wrote. Anything. Stuff about how my day had gone, what teacher had reamed me for talking in class – this was a common occurrence and all my report cards back then had one common theme “Margaret-Mary needs to learn to sit quietly when she is done with her work, and not visit with the other children. She tends to be done faster than everyone else and has a tendency to disrupt the others who are still working.”

I would write about tv shows and the latest plotlines for my favs like Hawaii 5-0 ( the original one), The Brady Bunch ( hated Marcia AND Jan), Love American Style ( I learned everything I ever needed to know about sex with that show!).

I’d write about new books I’d read. Nancy Drew, Trixie Beldon and Agatha Christie were my absolute favorites.

I wrote a lot about what I was feeling at the time. My preteen, then Tween, then full teen angst was real, bold, and vibrantly displayed in the pages of my Barbie pink journal. Inadequacies about my body, my personality, my basic worth, were all tortuously categorized and detailed in vivid, descriptive words.

By the time I was in college, I was still writing down my thoughts and using a journal for an emotional outlet, a friend, and a confidant. The fact that the pages never offered advice, censure, or any kind of validation to my thoughts, didn’t seem to matter at the time.

Fast forward a few years and I got married, then pregnant. While I was waiting for my daughter to be cooked, I started a new journal just for her. It detailed all her vitals and personal stuff, how she was doing in utero – how I was, too. We didn’t know the sex and kept it unknown until she popped out. From day one of her actual life on earth, I started a new journal for her, again detailing all the events in her life, the milestones, my hopes and dreams for her.

I stopped keeping a diary for her when she started doing her own journaling at 7 years old.

What’s that dopey expression about apples and trees? Black pots and kettles?

Nowadays, I no longer have an actual hardbound book that I journal in. I tend to type all my thoughts and keep them stored on my laptop. Just like that key kept my diaries locked all those years ago against prying eyes, my password keeps my thoughts hidden now. Oh, and “skin” is – you got it – Barbie Pink!

But every now and then I write an entry that seems blog worthy. Like this one.

If you’re a writer, do you keep a diary/journal about “stuff?” I’d be interested in knowing. What kinds of things do you include? Life stuff? Writing stuff? Stuff stuff?

Let me know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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