Archive for the ‘Books and Reading’ Category

The Very Best Part of A Book Talk

Sunday, July 18th, 2021

Sydney talks about Madam X at the Senior Center

Yesterday I gave a Book Talk about Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula at the Senior Center in Klipsan.  It was the third event in as many weekends and I didn’t have high expectations for attendance or sales.  However, what I didn’t factor in was how much fun I would have talking with the people who were there!

I met several women who read my blog every single day!  They asked after the chickens, were pleased to meet Farmer Nyel (who was helping Vicki sell books for me) and one expressed a desire to meet Tucker.  “I want to find out if he is related to the Glass family.  They were best friends to my husband and me.”  I know that Tucker is related to the Glass family but I don’t know if it’s the right Glass family.  Even so, I found myself saying, “Why don’t you come by the house sometime and we’ll walk over and I’ll introduce you.”  I hope she does.  She and I were “of an age” as they say, and had it not been for people waiting in line for my autograph, we probably could have spent the rest of the afternoon becoming best friends!

A Small but Mighty Interesting Audience

Actually, there were several encounters like that and I did think to myself, “Well, after all… it’s the Senior Center and I’m bound to meet a few soulmates here.  I should come more often…”  But, it wasn’t just ‘Senior Serendipity’.  Along came a good looking “young” (50s?) man named Paul who said that we are “sort of related.”  And, indeed we are!  My first cousins were brought up by his mother’s inlaws (got that?) in Minnesota in the 1930s.  Paul was visiting the Peninsula and had just happened upon the book signing and… here he was!

Sydney with Wallace and Charles, Ft. Canby, WA, 1938

As it turned out,  when  Nyel and I returned home a half hour or so later,  we saw Paul taking pictures up the street.  I hailed him, invited him in, and we spent a pleasant half hour looking at family pictures and sharing information about my cousins Wallace and Charles Pearson whose mother Suzita was my mother’s older sister.  As Sue was dying of pneumonia on December 27, 1932, she asked her mother (my grandmother) to send the boys to Lake City, Minnesota to the Pearsons, her husband’s people.  At that time her father (my grandfather)  was in a sanitorium recovering from a horrendous automobile accident and my grandmother, always frail and losing her sight, could not have coped with two young boys.  Even by pooling our information, there is much that Paul and I don’t know.  Time to get Cuzzin Ralph looking on ancestry.com once again!

And… even so, I sold a fair number of books.  But the best part of all (as usual) was meeting and talking with everyone!  Even my Facebook friend, Terry Eager. came all the way from Chinook to meet me in person and say “hello.”  Wow!  What a fun afternoon!

 

See you Saturday-the-17th in Klipsan Beach!

Monday, July 12th, 2021

Yesterday at BOLD

I do believe I was born to party and that’s what my book signing at BOLD felt like yesterday!  So many friends came to hear me talk and to buy books!  Friends from long ago.  Friends from afar.  Friends from the neighborhood.  Friends from FaceBook. Even “friends” who only know me through my books!  So so so fun!

And when I got home I saw a few laments on FaceBook — people who couldn’t get there yesterday or who hadn’t made it to Adelaide’s the week before.  If you were among those who missed the “party” I just want you to know you’ll soon have another opportunity.  I’ll be talking and signing at the Senior Center in Klipsan Beach from 1:00 to 3:00 on Saturday, July 17th.  And, no, you don’t need to be a “senior” to come!  It’s open to all and they have plenty of chairs and I’m told I’ll be provided with a mic… just in case my old “teacher’s voice” isn’t up to the challenge.

H

So mark your calendar and come on over!  It will probably be the last signing I do until the ghostly month of October.  Meanwhile, of course, the book will remain on sale at these local outlets:  the gift shops at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center and at the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse; Time Enough Books, Ilwaco; Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum, Ilwaco; The Cranberry Museum, Long Beach; BOLD, Long Beach; and Adelaide’s in Ocean Park.

If you live elsewhere and can’t get to the beach, I urge you to check with your local bookstores. (If you tell them it’s a hot item and that they can order from History Press, they may begin stocking it themselves. They probably should also stock my first ghost book, too — Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula.  Several stories in the first are continued in the second and it helps to know the backstory!) Amazon also carries them and has plenty in stock I am told, although I’ve seen several of their websites that say they are “temporarily out” of Historic Haunts — which apparently is not true.  Go figure!

“Me? At an art gallery?” I asked BOLDly!

Tuesday, July 6th, 2021

Mrs. Crouch and I will see you here — Sunday, July 11, 2:00-4:00

I don’t think I’m a groupie exactly.  Certainly not in the musical sense.  Not really.  I cheer and clap for musician friends and, of course, we host House Concerts.  I used to hang out at the Purple Onion and the hungry i  in the City and the Blind Lemon in Berkeley — but only when friends or friends of friends were playing.  And, would you believe I’ve never been to a “concert”  — not a real one with thousands of people in attendance.  Not ever.

On the other hand, maybe I am a groupie when it comes to the visual arts.   Not only have I always had friends among “those arty fellas” as old Bob Meadows called the artists who occasionally set up their easels in front of the church or up near the Monterey Cypress trees here in town.   I usually remember cities I’ve visited by their art museums or galleries or special exhibitions.  I’m not sure why.

Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula

So, when I was contacted by BOLD in July of 2020 and asked if I’d be willing to have them sell my books, I was thrilled.  Not that my books are “art,” mind you, but there they are, rubbing elbows with the best of the best visual art on the Peninsula!  Wow!  And, they seem to be holding their own.

So when my second ghost book came out — Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula — and we decided on a Book Talk and Signing for Sunday, July 11th, from 2:00 to 4:00 — I knew for sure that I had arrived!  I felt exactly like I was having a one-woman show at a gallery (and, in a way, I am.)

I hope you come!  It’s not every day that an art gallery hosts a book writer!!!  Come and enjoy this stellar occasion with me.  Have a cup of coffee.  Ooooh and aaaah over the artwork.  And hold hands with a ghost or two!

My One Track Mind

Saturday, July 3rd, 2021

Sydney After Adelaide’s Signing Event, 7-3-21

From noon-thirty until two-thirty today I was scheduled to give a book talk at Adelaides — my first for this second ghost book, Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula.  So, I scurried around with my morning chores — feed and water the chickens, refurbish the hummingbird feeder, spray Deer Fence on roses, hydrangeas, primroses, and camellias.  (Oh… and on nasturtiums!  Who knew?  But someone has been eating them and it doesn’t look like slug work.)

We ate an early lunch (read mid-morning snack) and I was on my way, hoping against hope that Adelaide’s still had enough books!  Every book seller on the Peninsula has replenished once and has called again…  More books on their way but North Carolina’s a far piece and there’s a holiday and will they get here in time for the next signing and and and?  Me worry?  YES!

It was crowded at Adelaide’s.  SRO!  Some people I knew — even from afar! — and many others whose faces were familiar and still others who were completely unknown.  I talked for a while.  I answered questions.  And then I signed.  And signed!  50 books in all — 41 of the new ones and 9 old ones.  Plus, a few that had been purchased elsewhere…

Adelaide’s at the
Taylor Hotel, by Jean Stamper

I finished about 2:45 and then PJ (husband of Jill, both of whom volunteered to “take care of my every need” — and they did!) asked to take my picture.  It wasn’t until that moment that I realized that, despite my best intentions, I had forgotten pictures entirely!  I had intended to photograph the crowd.  And the line of folks waiting for my signature.  And maybe even the parking lot.  Damn!

Thanks, PJ, for sending me a copy of the one you took!  It’s a great one, doncha think???

The Tip of The Iceberg

Thursday, July 1st, 2021

I don’t know about you, but when I receive just a little bit of information about something — especially if it’s not in the Good News Department — I wonder.  Sometimes I even stew about it.  Today was one of those days because of one of those things.

Actually, it began yesterday when my friend Marion wrote from Olympia that she had ordered Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula from Amazon and: there was some kind of glitch so they refunded my money. I decided to go through Time Enough Books in Ilwaco as they could ship it out right away. 

My first thought:  Bless you, Marion.  My second:  What went wrong at Amazon?

Then, today, I received a Facebook message from my friend Isabelle in France:  I’m looking forward to get my copy. The delivery is being delayed. Have a great date, Sydney. Wish I were in the area and could attend the presentation and signing of your New Book.  I wrote:  Amazon?  Yes, she told me, but she is choosing to give it a few days before ordering anew from a local bookstore.

For me, those bits of information were the tip of an iceberg.  Where was the problem — with Amazon or with History Press?  Would the books I’ve ordered for my book signings arrive in time?  What’s the rest of the story as Paul Harvey used to say?  I got in touch with marvelous Elysia who handles all my book orders. She was wonderfully reassuring:  It must be an Amazon problem. Did they specify what the issue was? We have plenty of inventory and are shipping without issue.  

Whew!  The iceberg seems much less ominous — in fact, melting as we speak.  Take note, dear readers.  Buy locally!!!

Any Charles Todd fans out there?

Friday, June 25th, 2021

The most recent Charles Todd book in the Ian Rutledge SeriesIt’s been a while since I’ve belonged to a book club and I can’t rightly remember if we ever read any of Charles Todd’s books.  Ours was a no-name mystery book club so Charles Todd’s stories would have fit right in.  Plus, I think we would have been quite fascinated with the author — a mother/son duo, Caroline and Charles Todd, who live in North Carolina and Delaware, respectively.

They are best known for a series of novels, set in post World War I England. The books deal with the cases of Inspector Ian Rutledge, a veteran of the European campaigns who is attempting to pick up the pieces of his Scotland Yard career. However, he must keep his greatest burden a secret: suffering from shell shock, he lives with the constant, cynical, taunting voice of Hamish MacLeod, a young Scots  soldier he was forced to execute on the battlefield for refusing an order.

Thus far there are 23 in the Ian Rutledge series — all published by Harper Collins.  I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed the first 22.  I love the authentic feel of Great Britain in the twenties — from the distinctive British language that is used (surely one of the duo has spent much time with elderly Brits to get the nuances so perfectly) right down to the descriptions of villages, the “motor cars,” the interactions between people.   It all rings true in each and every book.

Even with number 23, A Fatal Lie, which I’ve just completed, I can find no fault with the setting, the characters, or the plot — except that there were too many.  Too many characters.  Too many towns.  Too many roads.  Too many possibilities.  Halfway through I wished I had kept, at a very minimum, a list of characters and, perhaps a rough map and the trips and return trips Rutledge was making.  But, by then it already seemed too late.

The latest in the Bess Crawford series — also by Charles Todd

By the end of the book, I really didn’t care whodunnit and, in any event, I certainly couldn’t have told you why.  I wish I knew if it was my aging, drifty mind, or if this book really was different.  If only our Mystery Book Club was still meeting (or maybe it is, but it’s a mystery to me), perhaps I could find out if anyone else felt the same way.

Barring that, I looked up a few reviews.  Most seemed pretty boiler-plate-straight-from-the-publisher, but one by L.J. Roberts said:  One does need to keep track of who is where. Between the character names and Ian traveling from place to place, and back again, it can become confusing. Pulling up a map proves helpful. It is also a challenge to follow the timeline. There is a lack of clarity as to when things happened as there can be the impression of something happening in the past only to realize it is in the recent past. Follow the trail of bodies which are always one step in front of Ian. Yet it seems to take a while before any real progress is made and then, after all the to-ing and fro-ing, there is the great and complete confession. Good grief.

 

 

It’s out! Get your copy while they last!

Monday, June 21st, 2021

Cover: Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula

It’s June 21st at last — the official publication date of Historic Hauts of the Long Beach Peninsula!  The books are on the shelves of your nearest booksellers!  On the Peninsula, those outlets include Time Enough Books, the gift shops at the Cape D Interpretive Center and the North Head Lighthouse and the Heritage Museum in Ilwaco; BOLD and the Cranberry Museum in Long Beach; Adelaide’s in Ocean Park.

Also, of course, through Amazon, but I urge you to support our local booksellers — and, besides, I do better financially when you buy from the places I supply.  (Is this called full disclosure?)  I make close to a dollar a book if you buy from the stores I’ve listed, but only a few cents per book from other outlets.  Just sayin’…

But… more importantly, I’m hoping for feedback — especially from local readers.  The very first story in the book, for instance, is about the cadre (Yes! Cadre!) of ghosts at the erstwhile Lamplighter Restaurant.  My question:  After you have read the information about each of these persistent spirits, where do you think they’ve gone (or have they?) now that the restaurant is closed?

Another question is one I, myself, posed in the continuing saga of Mrs. Crouch — the ghost Nyel and I have lived with for twenty-plus years.  The question is the title of the story, itself:  “Closure for Mrs. Crouch?”  I’m interested in knowing what readers think about the additional information concerning the suspect in her murder — if, indeed, it was a murder.  And does that information provide answers for Sarah Crouch that will satisfy her after all these years?

Or… does the book pose still more unknowns?  Should I be starting yet a third book about the ghosts here at the beach?  I’m eager for your input after you’ve read Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula.  (But please don’t give anything away to those who have not yet read it!  Message me or email me privately with any revealing thoughts!  But “book reviews” and encouragement to other potential readers would be great!)

Treasure In Plain Brown Wrapping

Monday, June 7th, 2021

A Package for The Author

It sat on the bench by our front door — a small, unprpossessing package addressed to me.  It had apparently been left by FedEx during our Friday Night Gathering and no one had noticed it as they left.  There it was, waiting patiently, on Saturday morning.

The minute I saw the return address, I knew the contents of that little package!  The first five hot-off-the-press copies of Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula!  Nestled in bubble wrap and with a packing slip tucked inside, there they were at long last!  As I always do when those first books arrive, I wondered how Arcadia Publishing arrived at “five” as the magic number for the free copies that the author gets before the books are sent out to retail outlets for presentation on the publication date — in this case, June 21st.

The Ten Stories in Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula

Twelve would be a better number — at least for this book.  One for Ralph whose research about Reverend Crouch prompted me to write the book; one for Cate who wrote the Foreword; one for Paul who drew the map; one for Vicki who took a specific photo for me (and did a drawing, besides); and one each for Colleen, Charlotte, Tiffany, Johanna, Michelle, Shelly and Doug, and Stephanie and Dave — all of whom were generous in telling me their stories and in sharing their experiences.  And maybe one for me.

But, eventually, those I’ve ordered will come and my thank-yous can be given!  Oh boy!  Oh boy!  Oh boy!  I hope everyone likes this one as much as I do!  (Especially Mrs. Crouch!)

 

Ta dah! The cover is perfect… book to follow!

Monday, May 17th, 2021

Cover: Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula

A proof of the cover for my up-coming ghost book has arrived and it couldn’t be more perfect!  I love it!  The parsonage (Mrs. Crouch’s place) is in the foreground with the Oysterville Church (where you-know-who used to preach) peeping from behind.  It says it all — especially if you already know the basic outlines of Mrs. Crouch’s story!

The new book, Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula, is not exactly a sequel to Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula (2024).  But sort of.  First of all, The History Press doesn’t do sequels — they told me so, themselves.  Nevertheless, this is the second book they’ve published by me about the ghosts of our area and it does contain a follow-up story (just one) about the only ghost I’m sure actually lived here. In this very house (where Nyel and I now live) from November 1, 1892 – July 22, 1893 — the final nine months of her short,   20-year-old life.

In the new story, “Closure for Mrs. Crouch,” readers will learn more about her preacher husband and what happened to him after he left Oysterville some months following his young wife’s death.  You will remember that he left “under a cloud” — a warrant was out for his arrest — and, until recently, there was little information about what happened next.  But, thanks to Cuzzin Ralph and his penchant for following the constant updates in digitized information, I was able to tell a great deal more of Josiah Columbus Crouch’s horrifying story.

My own experiences with Mrs. Crouch began with this ancient typewriter.

If you haven’t read the first story, “Mrs. Crouch, The Preacher’s Wife” in the 2014 book, I suggest that now is the time.  The “sequel” will be available on June 21st — just a few weeks hence.  Stay tuned for where it will be available and for possible Fourth of July book-signings — depending upon Governor Inslee’s soon-to-be released decisions about “re-opening” the State.

That damned walrus!

Sunday, April 25th, 2021

Farmers’ Bulletin No. 2130
U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1959

For some time now in this household, a periodic topic of discussion has been “downsizing.”  Not for traditional reasons as in we are considering a move to smaller quarters.  No.   And not even for reasons of kindness as in whoever comes next shouldn’t have to deal with all this — although that is part of it.  No.  The real “reason” has something to do with Lewis Carroll and Alice Through The Looking Glass and that pesky walrus of “The Walrus and the Carpenter” fame.  In a nutshell (or in this case, perhaps, an oyster shell):  “The time has come…”

We are beginning ever-so-slowly to purge the back storage area where several shelves of vases and partial sets of dishes and extra waffle irons that might-be-useful-someday reside.  And then there are boxes of my folks’ photographs — so many people we wouldn’t know even if names were on the back.  Which, of course, they aren’t.  And all those boxes labeled “Sydney’s School Stuff” that I sure was going to go through for book-writing fodder.  And on and on.  There are also a lot of books — mostly paperbacks or thrift store finds belonging to Nyel — that there wasn’t room for in the house.  He hasn’t looked at them in twenty years which, of course, is neither here nor there when it comes to getting rid of them.

Edited by the Staff of Yanke Magazine, Dublin New Hampshire, 1971

Even I am having trouble relegating some of those titles to the Friends of the Library box.  So many of them conjure up memories of something incredible Nyel has been able to jerry rig or build or repair — a tool he’s made for singular purpose or a formula he’s applied to solve a particular problem.  The time he found a way to repair my grandmother’s old Oriental carpet.  Or the deer hide he tanned using cow brains he ordered from the butcher at Jack’s…  The memories are endless and just seeing the book titles conjures up a story or two.

It’s not so much that he’ll never need to build that stone wall.  Or even want to.  And it’s certainly not that we couldn’t find most of the information on line.  No.  It’s just that the walrus was right.  It’s time.  I wonder if either Nyel or I will ever be totally convinced.