Bookstores #4, #5, & #6

     Independent Bookstore Day marches on here in the Seattle area!  I've been spreading out the joy across my week.  On Monday evening, I went with a friend & fellow bibliophile to visit a couple eastside gems.  First, we hit up the BookTree in Kirkland--a lovely, cozy, jumbled shop run by a retired couple & their charming canine companion.  I asked for some ghost stories as comps for my own project, & Christopher (one of the owners) enthusiastically let me to the horror section to perused with me, offering a great scope of knowledge.  He also read us one of his own poems, a fabulous treat!  In the end, I took home two of his suggestions.

Usually I save my spooky stories for October, but this year I'll be starting early!
    Next we moseyed over to Brick & Mortar bookstore in Redmond.  This has been one of my staples throughout the pandemic, as they've been more than happy to order anything they didn't carry in the store.  The staff are knowledgable, nerdy, & the shop has the feel of a sprightly library (if you can imagine such a thing).  At that point, I needed to get a little somethin'-somethin' for my spouse, so I picked up a book from his list & brought it home as a surprise.
If he likes it, I'll add it to my own list...which is about 70 titles long at this point.
    That brought me halfway to my goal.  On Wednesday, I persuaded my fabulous critique group to meet up in person (we're all vaccinated!!!) at Island Books in Mercer Island.  For people who live on Mercer Island, this bookstore is a beloved institution.  It's light on the sci-fi & fantasy, but extensive in the children's section & in their graphic novels.  Hence why I picked up this great piece:
Yes, THAT George Takei!
    For some reason, I really like getting my biographies & social equity literature in graphic novel format.  I think the art pulls my brain in deeper when usually, the painful topics would make me want to retreat, so I focus & empathize on a deeper level.  Anyway, once read this will sit next to "Good Talk" by Mira Jacob, "Persepolis" by Marjane Satrapi, & the "March" trilogy by the late Senator John Lewis, author Andrew Aydin & the artist Nate Powell.  I love that this section of my personal library is growing.
    That leaves me with four stores I need to hit if I want to make my goal!  I have some ideas, but we'll see where the weekend takes me.  I know I'll have fun no matter what!

Bookstores #2 & #3

     The purpose of Independent Bookstore Day isn't just to remind people that Jeff Bezos is evil to support their local businesses, it also shows just how many stores are still out there!  I confess I was surprised when I looked at the list of shops participating just in the greater Seattle area.  So often we hear about a bookstore closing; if you'd asked me to guess how many remained, I would have estimated around five.  Happily, I would have been waaaaay off--a discovery that inspires me to explore in the name of retail & literary expansion!

     Yesterday I ventured out to Edmonds to visit two bookstores with which I was previously unacquainted.  The town is located a couple cities north of Seattle, easily accessible by freeway.  Most Seattlites discover it when they need to take a ferry across Puget Sound into Kingston.  Then when they realize downtown is full of cute shops & one of the awesomest seasonal farmer's markets, they come back.

If its sounds charming, that's because it is.

    So my first stop was the Edmonds Bookshop, nestled right downtown.  Small, tidy, & consistently reminding people to please use the complimentary hand sanitizer before browsing, it had that "we know how to crowd our shelves without being disorganized" feel.  I found one book on my list, & one book that I used to own, purged in a move, & then regretted no longer owning.  Double success.

"Persuasion" has long been on my want-to-read list, as one of Jane Austen's lesser-known works.  And "The Checklist Manifest" is a great book for anyone wanting to cut down on mistakes in their professional life &/or business.

    Next, I left downtown for the tiny neighborhood of Perrinville.  In a quirky little nest of shops I found the Neverending Bookshop--but first I found a bakery called Mel & Mia's, where I fueled up on tea & chocolate pecan pastry.*  THEN into the bookstore!  As anticipated from the name, it focuses on fiction with an emphasis on the speculative genres.  The layout was airy, but felt dense with treasures.  My friend & I were the only visitors when we first arrived, so I chatted with the owner for quite a spell.  Her name is Annie & I do believe we are kindred spirits.  So rather than dig out my list of potential purchases, I described by current writing project & asked her to recommend a comp book.  

"Cemetery Boys" is a YA novel, & mine is definitely a book for adults, but from what Annie told me they definitely share core themes so I'm excited to read this!  I also bought a bunch of home-made stickers--here's one of them.

    I could have stayed longer, but the shop was soon to close & newcomers waited outside (Annie is wisely limiting the number of shoppers as COVID persists), so I left to allow other people the pleasure of visiting.  That was my Sunday, & it was a day well-spent.  I've already got my next outing planned for the 10-10-10 Bookstore Challenge, & I'm already looking forward to going back to Neverending Bookshop!  So I'd say Independent Bookstore Day is definitely serving its purpose.

*They have a full breakfast & lunch menu, & also serve afternoon tea.  Guess where I'm taking my Mum for Mother's Day?

Indie Bookstore #1

     Had to visit a bookstore ON Independent Bookstore Day, so I went to one of my favorites: Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park.  I was there for the midnight release of Harry Potter books 4 & 5.  That was also where I met my friend Michael Munz, doing a book signing for his hilarious Zeus Is Dead.  I've got a lot of fond memories of that place.  So even though I had to wait in line & had to limit my visit to under 30 minutes, I went with my Significant Other &...well...let's just say I bought more than the minimum single purchase.

Today's haul.  

    Nine days and nine more stores to go!

Independent Bookstore Day!

     I like to celebrate nontraditional holidays.  Natural events like the first day of spring are favorites, & it brings me joy to observe events promoting equity, like the International Day of Transgender Visibility & Juneteenth.  Random food holidays are a great excuse to cook.  National Enchilada Day falls on Cinco de Mayo.  National Surf & Turf Day only happens once every four years, on February 29th.  This year I even bought a National Holidays Calendar to broaden my options.

Here's May 1st, just to give you an example.

    But there's a biggie coming up this weekend that I've been really looking forward to: Independent Bookstore Day!  It always falls on the last Saturday of April.  Participating bookstores mark the occasion by throwing parties, or sales, or other kinds of events to raise awareness & draw in new customers.  In the past there have been challenges for book lovers, such as visiting every participating bookstore within so many miles.  Given the challenges of COVID-19, however, this year they're doing things a little differently in my neck of the woods.

    The challenge: ten bookstores in ten days, & a purchase at each store.*  Go alone.  Take your friends. Go on Tuesday, which is usually the slowest day for any business.  Or go virtually.  And blog & tag & read & chat & read & tweet & read & read & READ!

    If you live in the U.S., here's a hand-dandy map to help you find participating bookstores near you.  I already know where I'll be starting, I have a couple favorites I've been missing for awhile.**  But I'm also looking forward to discovering new stores--places I've wanted to visit, but somehow never found the time.  Kind of like making chicken cordon delicious, yet I never make the time...unless it's National Chicken Cordon Bleu Day, which happened on April 4th.  Guess I'll have something else to look forward to next year.

*Yeah, that last part is going to be dangerously easy!  Don't tell my wallet!

**Ahh, Third Place Books...surely you didn't think I'd forgotten you?  And Brick & Mortar, we've only hung out online since the pandemic started, but you know I've just been waiting for an opportunity to get together!  And BookTree, it was so nice to run into you that one time!  I'm quite looking forward to getting to know you better.  

First Quarter Goal Update

     I know, I know, you're all wondering.  "Z.D., did you do it?  Did you meet your self-imposed deadline of completing your first draft by the first of April???"

    And the answer is: No.  Alas, I did not.  But I came damn close.

    How close?  On the last day of March, I had precisely three chapters left to write--the climax of the story & the immediate aftermath.  On the 31st, I knew there was no way I'd have the time to write all of that, so I used that day to write a detailed outline.  One good, long afternoon in a coffee shop* & the draft will be complete.  So I'm feeling Ok about the whole thing.  Had this been a hard deadline for an editor or agent, I would have taken the last week off of work to focus on writing & had time to spare.  Self-imposed deadlines can have a bit of flexibility, so long as the spirit of the venture is met.  Right?

    So on April 1st, the draft stood at 103k words, 40 chapters--but that's a rough draft.  There's nothing like spilling out a raw story to help one understand just how badly it needs refinement.  I've got tightening to do, some scenes to scrap entirely (don't be afraid to kill your darlings, my friends), & some theme clarification to polish throughout.  Ultimately I don't want this to be more than 90k words in length, preferably closer to 80k.  As a debut author, I can't risk an over-long manuscript.

Here are the goals for the second quarter of 2021:

    Today I still have the last two chapters to write, but that's been a deliberate choice.  Writing a climactic finale is something I do best when I have an uninterrupted chunk of time to focus; lucky me, I have a four day weekend, starting tomorrow.  The idea is to finish my rough draft by Friday night, then use Saturday to review, complete my chapter summary, & sketch out my current outline to help with revision later.  I already have a couple comp books waiting on my bedside table.  So keep cheering for me across the universe, folks!  New quarter means new set of goals, & a building wave of excitement!

*Not an option at this point in my pandemic life, but when you've done it often enough, "long afternoon in a coffee shop" becomes a measurement of time in the writing world.  Michael Munz would back me up on this. 

A Farewell to Beverly Cleary

     I really should be writing (with only five days left to my deadline, I REALLY should be writing), but I had to take pause & compose a brief tribute to the late, great Beverly Cleary, one of my favorite childhood authors.  She passed away today, at the age of 104.  A living legend gone to rest.

I should have known she was a cat person.

    Beverly Cleary books were staples on my bookshelf until I went to college & had to clean out my old room.  Cleary captured such perfect, universally relatable childhood experiences in her stories.  Of course Ramona was my favorite character.  I still remember relating to how Ramona cherished her new school supplies, her creative approach to book reports, & the balance of love & annoyance she felt towards her older sister. 

    Spinning such ordinary events into such memorable tales is nothing short of art, and Beverly Cleary made it look easy!

    I watched TV as a child, & I played video games.  But there's a feeling that I got (& still get) from connecting to a character in a book that can't be replicated in any other media.  So far as I can tell, Beverly Cleary spent a lifetime steeped in books, both as a writer & a librarian.  In my mind, that is a quiet, simple, & truly beautiful way to make the world a better place.

    Thanks, Beverly!  Rest in peace.

UPDATE: First Quarter Deadline

     You may recall from a couple posts back that I set myself a series of goals for this year around my writing.  The first goal?  Complete the first draft of my novel before the first of April.  I've been working on it literally every day, & I'm definitely in the final stretch.  

Here's my official update:

                Word Count: 90,562

                Chapters: 36

                Estimated Percent Complete: 84%

    To put that in context, the word count of my final draft will probably be quite close, or possibly even less, because when I revise there's a lot I will tighten or trim.  Final number of chapters is kind of irrelevant, but at the moment?  Based on what remains of my story outline, I'd say I have about 7 more chapters to write.  Hence the estimation of being 84% complete.

    Seven chapters in nine days.  That'  I just hope I don't have any other plans this weekend.

Good thing I'm only aiming for a first, rough draft!

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