My love of the library

Growing up in an urban area (Queens, NY), I was able to walk to many different stores that were within a few blocks of my house. There were no bookstores, but there was a library. Sadly, most of my family members were not very into reading, so I was not taken to the library until I noticed it one day on the way to the grocery store, and specifically requested of my grandmother that we go there.

I still remember the feeling of amazement when I realized I was able to not only read any book I wanted, but I could also borrow them and take them home. After that, I visited the library at least once a week. Today, I am fortunately enough to live within three blocks of my local library. Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, it’s not open on the weekends, but I do take my sons to visit whenever I’m home with them during the week.

Last week, we stopped in and my older son immediately picked out two books for me to read them. He’s only four, and thus has very limited reading ability as of yet. But I do love reading to them, and hope they grow up to love books at least in part due to my efforts. Anyway, we got through the first one okay, but then I realized the second one was quite long, and my ten-month-old had already fallen asleep in his stroller, and my older one’s lids were fluttering.
read
Of course, it’s also very important to read to your cats.

Suddenly, the idea came to me that we could borrow these books! I usually don’t borrow books because I’m afraid I’ll loose them and never return them, but due to my recent experiments into mimimalism, my house is (slightly) less cluttered, so I decided it was worth the risk. My son was so excited at getting to borrow a book, and it brought me back to my childhood library experience. I realize I’m very lucky to live where I do, and hopefully the library will be around for my sons to enjoy as they grow up.

My list of strong dislike

Recently, my husband asked me to write a list of things I hate. (Why we give each other seemingly arbitrary and meaningless tasks is a story for another day.) My list, of course, is still in progress, as I expect to continue and maybe even grow my hatred as I get older. Anyway, here is the first draft of the list:

1) All puppets with the exception of sock. Do I really need to explain? All are so creepy, especially ventriloquist dummies. Sock puppets, however, are on my love list. All my sons’ school projects will hopefully be able to be done in sock puppet.

2) When, on a television show or movie, or in a book, someone throws away the results of a paternity test without opening it. I will stop watching. Seriously, it’s why I stopped watching Veronica Mars. (That and I couldn’t tell any of the male characters apart for some reason; they looked like identical clones to me.) If you are going through the trouble of ordering the test, at least look at the results!

3) Cooking. There are few things in the world that I hate as much as a hate cooking. Even though I am half Italian, I get little to no joy out of watching my kids eat something I’ve cooked. One of the reasons I still bother release paper copies of my books is I love seeing the tangible results of my endeavors. When you cook something, the most you can hope for is that it will all be gone in an hour or two. No matter how yummy it is, I think, “Why did I even bother?” I also had to stop bringing sandwiches to work for lunch because the act of putting something between two slices of bread and wrapping it up was enough to infuriate me. Now I just bring frozen dinners that everyone yells at me for eating because of the salt, but at least microwaving them doesn’t make me want to rage at the world.

I think it’s also the time sink of cooking that bothers me. When we get home from work and school, we have very little time together as a family before the kids go to bed, and I would really rather spend that time with them than in the kitchen. Nothing puts me in a better mood than going to the park after work, and then getting a slice of pizza. I get to have fun outside with the kids, and then no cooking and no clean up. But even though we live in New York City, and yes, we have some of the best pizza available, sometimes I am forced to cook nevertheless. But nothing makes you appreciate the days of swings and mozzarella like those days with the oven and dishes.

As I’m writing this, I remember my son reprimanding me this morning for using the word “hate,” so I am downgrading this to the list of strong dislike. But I want it noted that “dislike” doesn’t seem like a powerful enough word to adequately describe the loathing and horror I feel when I see a ventriloquist dummy.

Antique-ventriloquist-dummies-02

And here is the actual call for submissions!

I am pleased to announce a call for submissions. Urban Harvest: Tales of the Paranormal in NYC will be a short story e-book anthology showcasing urban fantasy stories that take place in New York City. This will be a charity anthology; all proceeds will be donated to NYC-based City Harvest (http://www.cityharvest.org).

This is an open call and may be reposted anywhere and everywhere. This anthology is expected to be published in September 2013. The requirements: 1. All stories must be between 1500-5000 words.

2. Stories may take place in the past, present, or future. NYC should be directly mentioned or implied in the story.

3. Stories should lean more towards urban fantasy than the science fiction side. 4. Submissions must be in DOC or RTF format.

5. We will not be publishing the stories individually. Only the anthology will be available on-line from Amazon KDP.

6. Authors will not receive a royalty. All royalties will go to City Harvest.

7. Previously published works are fine, providing that electronic rights have reverted to the author.

8. Stories currently published through a self-publishing venue (Smashwords, Amazon KDP, etc) will not be accepted.

9. Deadline for submission is June 30, 2013. This is a firm date; no submissions after this date will be considered. 10. All submissions should be sent to Donna Ansari at vampireinthecityseries@gmail.com with the words “Urban Fantasy Anthology” in the subject line.

never take a day off from writing

Two weeks ago, I went on a family vacation to Cape Cod. It was as relaxing as a trip with a toddler gets, which is to say, not at all!

Before I left, I had hoped to be finished with the first draft of Witch Blood, book three in my Vampire in the City series. But my day job, which is usually really quiet in the summer, got extremely busy. So much so that I was much too tired in the evenings to put my mind to writing. But eventually time passed, and with it, so did my self-imposed deadline.

But never mind–I was off on vacation…or so I thought. The stupid guilt of not making my deadline kept popping up in my head. Plus, driving to Cape Cod from New York City involves four to five hours of sitting in the car doing nothing, so I had plenty of time to think about how I had failed.

The husband and son playing while I mentally yell at myself.

The first few days I was there, I didn’t do any work. After all, I hadn’t intended to, right? On the third day, the sun got to me, and I ended up taking an afternoon nap with my son. That night, I couldn’t fall asleep, and thoughts of my book kept coming back to me. Finally, sick of beating myself up about it, I dragged out my laptop and started writing. Instantly, I felt much better. I’m not saying I made a huge dent in the remainder of the book, but I wrote about 1,000 words, felt better about myself, ate some fresh cherries from a farm stand, and promptly passed out.

The next day I didn’t have a nap, but still managed to write a little, as I did every other day for the remainder of my trip. On the car ride home (which was an agonizing eight hours), I did a pretty complete job planning out the rest of the series.

As a result of this, I came to the conclusion that I can never take a day off from writing. Now, this doesn’t mean that I need to sit down and write for five hours straight every night. But in order to keep my novel top-of-mind, I need to work on it a little bit each and every day, even if I only write a couple hundred words. After my first day back at work, I was so exhausted that I wrote about a hundred words and felt near collapse. Instead of beating myself up about it, I worked on some cover concepts for the next four books. Did I get my daily quota done? No. But I managed to do something productive, felt great at having accomplished something afterward, and got one small step closer to finishing!