On the Shelf . . .

Andrea here. Oh, fluttery sigh! Is there anything that makes an author and book nerd’s heart go pitty-pat more than NEW BOOKSHELVES? At the moment, my answer is a resounding NO!

The trouble had been building for quite some time. It began with the overflowing closets, which to forced boxes of author copies to begin lurking beneath the large pine table in my workroom. (I don’t know what hanky-panky they got up to at night, but I swear they began to multiply.)

As the shelves above my work counter had reached their capacity, I began putting single books on the tabletop, vowing I would get moving on new shelves. Yes, you can see where this is going . . .

The stacks were soon of lethal proportions—ie, if they fell on me, I was toast. Finally, after uttering some very bad words for the umpteenth time because I couldn’t find a reference book that I knew was buried somewhere in the chaos, I decided enough was enough. I had spotted an ad featured a special sale on custom bookshelves from Closets By Design, and picked up the phone . . .

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Inside a book

Anne here, and I’m following on from Andrea’s lovely post about ornamental bookplates and talking about what else you might find inside the covers of a book. I’m fascinated by all kinds of ways in which people make a mass-produced book, something personal. Sometimes it’s by making a new cover for a book — I did that once for the hardback version of one of my books because I disliked the cover the publisher gave me. And I know some people use cloth covers to disguise the fact they they’re reading a romance — in case some nasty person shames them for their reading taste.

It can be by simply writing your name in a book. It’s a sign of ownership — or at least a claim of ownership. As the youngest of four, most of the books I read were very clearly labeled as Not Mine — in other words my older sisters and brother had put their names inside the front covers.

I was amused to find this written in one of my old childhood books. I’m not sure whether you can make it out, by the first name to be written in it was that of my middle sister. Her name and even the address was later very firmly written over by my oldest sister, stating her ownership in no uncertain terms. And of course, who owns the book now? Yes, the baby sister, but shh, don’t tell.

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Boxing Day Books

Nicola here with the Wenches’ second blog of the festive season. Every year, for as long as I can remember, one of the special treats of Christmas has been the Book Present. It’s generally understood in this house that if all my Christmas presents are books, that would be an ideal situation. Whilst I heartily endorse the Icelandic tradition of Jolabokaflod – the giving and receiving of new books, and reading them together on Christmas Eve – there is a problem with this happening before Christmas. Once I get my head in a book, it may not come out for several days, with the possibility that I might miss Christmas Day altogether. Which is where the Boxing Day read comes in. Once I’ve been out for a walk, I can dive into the pile that’s waiting for me. The Boxing Day jigsaw is also waiting in the wings. This year I have a great mix of books, as you can see: fiction, a guide to a magnificent 18th century house, and a book of word and phrase definitions, which is the sort of thing I find fascinating. Did you know that the “inexpressibles” referred to by Regency authors when describing gentlemen’s trousers could also be called ineffables, inexplicables and “round-me-houses,” which is less elegant but quite fun.

Did you receive Christmas book gifts? And how do you spend Boxing Day? Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, have a very good day!

Saturday Jobs and Childhood Dreams

Nicola here. My very first Saturday job, when I was sixteen years old, was in The Grove Bookshop in Ilkley, a town in Yorkshire where I grew up. (In the old photo, the shop is on the corner on the right.) In my youth the shop was owned by an impossibly glamorous lady called Audrey who was a friend of my mother. I was so excited to be allowed to work there and to spend entire days surrounded by books, selling them, talking about them. The memory is so happy and vivid for me that I can even remember what I wore as my shop “uniform”, a kilt and my best cream and blue jumper. I’m sure I looked very professional!

Over the following years I never lost my love of books and bookshops. I even worked as a volunteer in an antiquarian bookseller’s for a couple of years before the shop closed down, much to my disappointment. It was from there that some of the most prized obscure titles on my bookshelves came including “A Book of Naval Architecture,” “Minstrels from 1250” and “The History of Beards.”

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A Scene can be a Seed

Anne here, and today I’m musing about the process of writing. Several readers have indicated that they’re curious about how we wenches go about writing our books, and while I can’t speak for any of the others — all writers’ processes are unique — this is mine.  (Photo by Rhett Wesley on Unsplash)

A wall is made of bricks and mortar;  a novel is made of scenes and the mortar is causality.

I once attended a talk by Queensland writer Kate Morton — read her, she’s fabulous — and in the question session at the end, someone in the audience asked how she decided what book to write next. I love knowing what sparks a story idea and why, out of the many story ideas you might have buzzing in your brain, one stands out.

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