Tag Archives: kittens

Kitten Cover Theory

silasPeople in the publishing industry work hard to get book covers right. They consider content, style, tone, theme. Twenty theories about what works exist; if you want to see them all, read the Guardian article that detailed them by googling “Scent of a Kitten.”

For it is theory #20 to which we turn our attention today: “Nothing draws a reader to a book like a picture of a fluffy kitten.”

Indeed. Nothing draws customers, either.

kittens 5Meet Clyde Edgerton (that’s him with his nose in the air on the left) Amy Clark (below) and Silas House (getting a cuddle above). We were going to name the girl Anne River Siddons, but a friend is drafting an Appalachian memoir, and what the hey, the kitten looks like her.

We started naming our foster kittens after books because it was cute and funny–and then we found out that people adopted the li’l darlins faster with literary names. Something to do with them being born in a bookstore–the kittens, not the customers.

And that kitten cover theory thing works; these tiny fluffballs cast the glamor over everyone who sees them, including Jack and me. After a hard day of shelving and basement renovation and customer service, we sit upstairs for fifteen minutes while the fur babies climb all over our legs and stare into our faces and make little “mip” sounds that we think will be mews when they’re older.kittens 6

We were away the weekend the kittens turned two (weeks) which is when they began to leave their soft cave of blankets draped over furniture to explore. Kittens handled for the first time will  exhibit stress and fear, so we told our local shopsitter Wes, and Heather our cleaning lady who lives up the street, not to worry, just please feed mommy Tallulah and we’d take care of socializing the kittens when we got home.

IMG_3520Worry, ha! When we went upstairs to greet them on our return, the kids leaped from their cushioned basket (basket? we didn’t leave a basket and we certainly didn’t weave a satin ribbon ’round one) to clamber into our palms. “Start the elevator!” they all but shouted. “Finger ride; finger ride!”

Jack looked at me over the rim of his glasses as Clyde, the adventurer, attempted to climb into his ear. “I guess we know what went on here over the weekend,” he said. Turns out, between Heather and Wes, a steady stream of guests visited the cathouse. Tsk tsk. We’ll be shut down!

But we understand. Nothing soothes the soul quite like three cherubic kittens romping and frolicing. Lowers the blood pressure.

Clyde, Silas, Amy and their mama will be ready to go to their forever homes in about four weeks…..



Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, humor, shopsitting, small town USA, Uncategorized

Critic on the run after trashy Review

photo (2)Fur is flying after numerous catty responses to the handling of a recent book. (For the full review from Lucy, pictured at left, please visit yesterday’s blog post.)

“I trusted my instincts and did what came naturally,” insisted Lucy, the literary agent in the doghouse. “Yes, I trashed the book, but that’s part of my job.”

Not so, said well-known publicist ValKyttie (shown here with the book in question). “What would a bitch like that know about good writing? Crap. That’s all she produces, is crap.”valkyttie with her cover

Speculation has arisen that ValKyttie, who is CEO of the book’s subject (a second-hand book store in a small town somewhere in SW VA), may be personally motivated in her criticism. However, several other voices have joined the caterwaul of protest.

Tallulah, a Southern Literature expert, dismissed Lucy’s comments with a sniff. “This is nothing more than a dogged determination to leave her mark. But I tell you one thing, that pup has ruined her career. This review will dog her every step from this day forward. Her boss will shriek protests if she so much as approaches another book this year.”tallulah

Tallulah is currently visiting The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap with her children: (from top) Clyde Edgerton, Amy Clark, and Silas House.

clydeAmy Housesilas house

Of the trio, House was most sanguine. “Meh,” he was overheard to say.

When she heard of House’s dismissive remark, Lucy suggested they meet face to face to settle their differences. House has not yet responded.

Perhaps the final words on this dog-eat-dog saga belong to Starbuck, a veteran newshound from Richmond, VA. Those who follow the literary world’s movers and shakers may remember when Starbuck made news herself by becoming the first dog under the age of six months to learn to read. starbuck

The Buckster howled with delight when told the story, then sobered to growl, “Lucy better be careful. Biting off more than one can chew is dangerous. These young pups,” she said, shaking her head and returning to her drink. “You try to train ’em, but…”

Editor’s Note: Louise Malpas, normally all ears regarding reviews of Welch’s book, is vacationing in the Hamptons and could not be reached for comment. Friends suggest she would have bounced with enthusiasm at the publicity.


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

Just an Update

Jack and I have talked it over, and we figure this blog should run Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Jack will be handling Wednesdays. I enjoy writing the blogs, and it’s so nice to hear from people who like reading them. But the shop is getting messy while we putter at the computer…..

Today, just for fun, I’m rerunning a post that elicited the most comments (and likes) to date. It’s also really snarky, so it’s good for Christmas. Teehee.


Dear Mr. Patterson,

I’m sure your mom loves you; probably you’re a nice man who is good to dogs and small children, and you try not to run over any manatee in your private pontoon boat near your inlet coastal home.

But frankly, dude, I am so over you.

My husband and I run a used bookstore, and not a week passes that one of three things doesn’t happen:

(Sorry, did you follow that okay? I’ve read a couple of your books, so understand that you prefer simple syntax.)

1)      The door opens and someone staggers in bearing a box full of battered mystery and thriller paperbacks; about 1/3 of them are yours. The others will be Mary Higgins Clark, Danielle Steel, or Patricia Cornwall. (Not that your private life is any of our business, mind.) The person trading these in will dump them on the table and head straight for classics, waving a dismissive hand behind him- or herself. “These aren’t mine; a friend was moving and said I could take them. Never read trash like that. Have you got any Hemingway First Editions?”

2)      The door opens and a customer comes in asking for you (your books, I mean; we all know you don’t get to Southwest Virginia very often.) I point out the shelf you share with John Grisham (again, your private life is your own) where we now stash you for $4 a paperback, $6 a hardback; it just saves time, not having to price you every day. The person scans quickly, then frowns. “These are old. I want the newest one. Why don’t you have it if you have all these?”

3)      The phone rings and someone offers to sell us “a really valuable set of books.” Three times in five, sir, they are talking about an entire hardback collection of you. We explain that we don’t buy books for cash, and they become irate. “This is a really popular author! Everybody reads him!” Yes, we know. We have a growing stack of this popular author’s older hardbacks creeping up the wall in one corner, because they outgrew that Grisham/Patterson shelf. One day some of our foster kittens were playing nearby, and the pile collapsed. You just missed committing multiple felinicides, James me lad. Wouldn’t that have made you feel terrible?

So, Mr. Patterson, we just want you to know–and no hard feelings–that we kind of hate you. Nothing personal, but you make us feel like book pimps instead of erudite scholars. Plus, your customers are so … loyal. We suggest a Kava, plead with them to try a Jance, lead them to Scottoline, even beg them to consider Hillerman or Stabenow. We extol variety as the spice of life.

Nothing works. It’s your spiciness they crave, Mr. P, you who have filled used bookstores everywhere with your 1,2,3, nursery rhyme titles, with your “same-plot-different-characters” smoke, mirrors, and adverbs routine. You are giving the readers exactly what they want.

{Sigh}. And that’s why we hate you.  So now you know, and I hope you can still sleep at night, riddled with all that guilt.

Sincerely, Wendy and Jack, proprietors, Tales of the Lonesome Pine Used Books

P.S. Please do not send any of those men who read your novels professionally for ideas, to rub us out. We are small town people and would have no defense. Thank you.



Filed under Big Stone Gap, book reviews, humor, publishing, small town USA

Accordion Roll, Please: Caption IV Winners, Caption V Starts

….and the winner of Caption Contest IV is: Erin Dalton, for her hilarious entry: Pay me and I will put the instrument down slowly. Otherwise, I will try and play. Judges reported smiling, laughing and guffawing.

St. Martin’s Press will send Erin a free copy of The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap.

In second place were Kathye Fetsko Petrie with “Accordion Crimes” and David Volk (father of the accordion-wielding child) with “Best pop-up book ever!” I tried to organize free accordion lessons for them both, but as they live several hundred miles apart, well, David and Kathye, you’ll have to make do with the warm glow of accomplishment, I’m afraid.

Now, on to Caption Contest V: this one closes in just one week, so get your entries in early!


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


If you haven’t entered already, Caption Contest II closes July 3rd at 11:55 pm. The three judges are standing by, laughing until their sides ache at the captions entered so far. Winner gets a pawtographed and signed copy of The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap. If you want to check existing entries before submitting yours, just to avoid something too similar, they are under the comments on June 27th.



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