Tag Archives: Cami Ostman

Wendy, Me, Words and the Road to SIBA

I’ve known Wendy since we were 18 years old (so, in other words, for 10 years… ahem). We met in California, where we both lived for a year. In the intervening years (ok, more than ten, I’ll admit it), I haven’t moved far—just up two states to Washington—while Wendy’s moved all over the world: Tennessee, Canada, Scotland, England, and now, Big Stone Gap, Virginia (where I come to visit her at least once a year at her bookstore/house, shop downstairs, home up).

Each year, one thing I look forward to is seeing how the bookstore has changed. Who are the new creaturely additions to the family? Where has the classic literature section moved to? Is there new porch furniture? But most especially, what new friends will wander in and what will they say? What will they be looking for? What books will they choose?

As a reader and a writer—a lover of words—I’ve spent a lot of time in bookstores throughout my life. And just as much as I love savoring the sound of a well crafted sentence, I love the smell of books, the feel of them in my hands, and the way other people’s eyes light up when they caress covers and flip through pages. New or used, (and yes, paper or electronic) books give me a comfort, a sense of home and community.

When I get to Big Stone Gap, I feel the penultimate sense of home. Wendy oozes words. She facilitates words among the groups that gather in her home/shop (Tuesday night we had “needlework night,” and I can tell you there were far more chatty conversations than needles probing in and out of cloth) but most importantly, she VALUES words. And I mean this literally. She and Jack (her lovely assistant and partner in life) make their living by taking books that are brought to them and placing a monetary value on each one, all the while knowing that the value of a particular book to a particular patron has nothing to do with the penciled in amount on the first page.

It’s precisely because Wendy understands the way a certain book calls forward a different mood or memory in each person who reads it that she is such a keen observer of the way books and the individuals who love them find one another. Her observational skills are the reason she could write her savvy, warm, pithy, soon-to-come-out book about how her little shop changed her life and the lives of those who frequent it.

And it is because of Wendy’s savvy, warm, pithy, soon-to-come-out book that she’s on her way to Florida to attend the Southern Independent Booksellers Association trade show and to sit on a panel there about booksellers who write books.

I’m driving with her through six sticky-warm Southern states to join her at SIBA, and we’re having a blast. With words. We talked for 8 hours yesterday as we drove, chewed the fat with Wendy’s pal Debbie when we arrived at her house to camp out for the night, and we finally drifted off to sleep exhausted, from words—sweet words.

Now we’re on for one more day of driving… and one more day of (you guessed it) WORDS. When I get home to Washington next Monday, I’ll be happily exhausted and ready for a quiet day sitting with my own creatures in my own house with a book and a cup of coffee. And I’ll be planning next year’s trip to Big Stone Gap.

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, book reviews, folklore and ethnography, humor, small town USA

Which came first: the Leibster Award or Megalomania?

I’ve been given The Liebster Award!  Thank you, RandomDorkness

The rules:

  • post 11 things about yourself
  • answer the 11 questions from the person who gave you the award
  • ask 11 questions
  • pass the award to 11 persons (go to their site and inform them, of course)
  • no tag backs

Wendy’s Answers to Questions from  randomdorkness

  1. Do you like hot wings? I think cinnamon is a hot spice. My husband, however, loves madras curries. We should never have married—which is a pity, because we like each other.
  2. Do you like vodka? I’m a red wine girl and my favorite is a Spanish Grenache called “Bitch.” Make of that what you will.
  3. What do you think about moonwalks? The kind that happen in space, or the kind that happen on the dance floor? Never mind; I get vertigo.
  4. What do you think about combining a moonwalk with hot wings and vodka? I think Mitt Romney/Barack Obama could do very well with this as a fundraiser.
  5. Who would clean up the mess? You mean, if Romney/Obama wins? Or the vertigo effluvium? No matter what, the mess will be cleaned up by a school teacher and a mom–or perhaps multiple school teachers and moms working in unison (that’s UNISON with an “s”).
  6. How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? Two cords. I thought everybody knew that by now? And that there’s a rhyme for orange: door hinge. Also the weird math problem involving seven bridges has been solved.
  7. What if the woodchuck wouldn’t chuck wood, but he *would* chuck vodka? Then the mom and school teacher would need paper towels and soda water, plus white vinegar and washing-up liquid.
  8. Or hot wings? Ditto.
  9. Or both vodka and hot wings? Extra paper towels and rabies serum
  10. In a moonwalk? Paper towels, serum, and a lesson plan
  11. Who would clean up *that* mess? Look, we’ve already established that teachers and moms wipe the noses and bums of the whole world. That’s why moms and teachers get so much worldwide respect and appreciation, even more than the politicians who would just use the moonwalk as a photo op for themselves, probably next to a young, leggy teacher cuddling the woodchuck.

11 Things About Myself

  1. I am inordinately, socially unacceptably proud of publishing my first book with a big publishing house full of nice people (St. Martin’s Press). I’m no fun at parties anymore; it takes me ten seconds to finagle the conversation ‘round to bookstores and writers, and from there everyone edges away toward the vodka.
  1. My book is about me, my husband, and our starting a bookstore just as the economy tanked and e-readers appeared on the market. (Note how I put ME first even though that’s poor grammar? Symptom of megalomania. Because I’m really a much better writer than that. Oh, wait….)
  1. *Sob* I didn’t used to be a megalomaniac. Sure, I was the youngest child, so kinda got spoiled, but I let other people have attention sometimes. Really. The thing that happened at my cousin’s wedding, that was a long time ago. And the flower girl dress ITCHED.
  1. Of course, now that I am a full-blown megalomaniac, I fear this will turn people off to the lovely charm of my book, with its natural humor and graceful prose about small town foibles and follies.
  1. Does anyone know of pills, biofeedback, something to suppress megalomania? At least when I’m at public appearances?
  1. Did I mention my article in the Huffington Post last week about the importance of independent bookstores? I’m not posting the link because that would be self-aggrandizing. (But if you were to google Huffington Post, Wendy Welch, and independent bookstore, you could probably find it. Or visit my facebook author page. If you’re interested.)
  1. But I KNOW you’ll want to see the really cute videos about our bookshop! One is a spoof on 50 Shades of Grey, the other Jack-my-husband reading to the Needlework Night babes who come every Tuesday. They still like me, even though I’m a megalomaniac. Just search “Wendy Welch little bookstore” on youtube and they’ll pop right up! The “Shades of Grey” one will have at least a dozen hits by now. I’m very proud.
  1. Pride isn’t the same thing as megalomania, is it?
  1. Ummm…. It should be easy for a megalomaniac to post 11 things about herself …. Ummmm….. We foster kittens in our bookstore and have a great rate of getting them adopted to good homes and if there IS a cure for megalomania, it’s the hourly clean-up of kitten diarrhea since most fosters arrive sick. There’s something very grounding about kitty poo.
  1. Did I mention that I wrote a book?
  1. Or that I’m a terrible dancer?

Questions for you

  1.  So, do you like kittens?
  2. Do you like authors?
  3.  Have you ever wanted to deck an author with a swift stomach-punch?
  4. Have you ever decked an author with a swift stomach-punch or other method?
  5.   Will you be attending any of my readings?
  6. If you were going to make the world a better place, which would you hire as global leader: a teacher or a mom? (no fair combining!)
  7. Did you know that a woodchuck who chucks wood can chuck two cords? (I thought everybody knew that. I like Eleanor of Random Dorkness. I like the way she writes and her sense of humor and the way she talks about her family, so I don’t want to, you know, do her down in public for not knowing the two cords thing….)
  8. Do you think teachers and moms should be given free vodka and hot wings at an annual global appreciation day, or just cash?
  9. Have you ever moonwalked? Or read the Huffington Post?
  10. Are you going to look at the adorably charming youtube videos my husband and I made of our independent bookshop? (Oooooh, so close. Just shoot me.)
  11. Um, so, how do you feel about megalomaniacs?

Passing this award to:

http://www.7marathons7continents.com/ (Cami Ostman); www.readerscorneronline.com (Larry); http://www.ladolcevitagirl.com/ (Teri); http://nerkasalmon.wordpress.com/ (Tele); http://danielabram.wordpress.com (Daniel); http://www.jennsbookshelves.com/ (Jenn Lawrence); http://chicklitcentraltheblog.blogspot.com/ (Amy Bromberg); http://lostartsfound.wordpress.com/ (Jenny); http://thebookstorejunkie.com/; http://courtingmadness.wordpress.com/ (Coco); http://hikingphoto.com/ (Patrick)


Filed under Big Stone Gap, book reviews, folklore and ethnography, humor, small town USA, Uncategorized