Tuesday, March 26, 2013

New YA Book Set To Launch

The Complete Tales from the Edge of the Woods
Launches Soon
At the Canastota Public Library

By Author and Guest Blogger, Rachael Z. Ikins

From the chapter entitled "The Messenger" from the upcoming book to be released, " The Complete Tales from the Edge of the Woods" (Icarus Aloft: SLM Bookworks, Selkirk, NY) by Rachael Ikins:

".....Next to their cottage stood a weather-beaten barn. It sheltered Merthwyn’s workshop, a dozen hens led by a majestic striped rooster who went by the name of Papi and a black pot bellied pig named Pucky. His nose disc sported a pink dot and his hooves, four white socks....."

The oil painting illustration is by RoseMarie S. Langley. She happens to be 88, previously unpublished though she majored in art at Syracuse University in the 1940s. She is my mother. With her, I combed the woods and fields of my childhood at our summer camp in Skaneateles.  The camp encompassed  60 acres of pristine forest, field and lake shore and I was always in search of faeries, witches and other magical creatures when visiting there. The barn in Mother's college painting stood next to our driveway. Once we drove past that barn, station wagon crammed full of pets, kids, food, suitcases and dreams for a summer of 8 weeks in the wild, we knew we'd almost arrived.

Many of the protagonists in The Complete Tales are elder members of a society. The above quote is from the chapter, also published by Aurora Wolf Literary Journal in 2010 and a winner of a third place award in that year's Rebecca Eddy Memorial Writing Contest, held by the Canastota Public Library.  I selected the quote as it introduces us to one of the book's most entertaining individuals, Gabriella. Gabriella is a retired messenger dragon troubled with myopia or nearsightedness. She lives a depressed and lonely life on the far side of Fire Mountains in her cold, messy cave.  Gabriella constantly removes her goggles, which were made to help her see better, and sets them down on piles of stuff.  Later,  she realizes that she is bleary eyed and desperately searches for the very goggles she cannot see to find.

Against all odds, as can happen to any of us on any given day, Gabriella awakens one morning to a surprise: the desperate ultrasonic and magical broadcast "SAVE THE BABIES! SAVE THEM NOW!" She imagines some young dragon rocketing off a cliff to rescue whoever these babies might be. Still the message blares on.  Her head aches with the noise. She wonders will nobody respond? Is there no dragon out there to answer it? And then, she realizes something she had long ago forgotten. The dragon who hears the message is the one who is to answer the call.

Stiff and clumsy, wings floppy from disuse, Gabriella musters herself to fly. She stuffs her mail pouch, which is on the front of her belly like a kangaroo's, with sweet Timothy grass to keep the babies warm, once she has them safely inside it. Goggles jump into her paws for once, and heart pounding as she teeters on the lip of her cave in the sunset, ready to vault into the clouds and stars, she marvels at the beauty detailed beneath her. She harbors a tiny bit of doubt and anxiety that she will get lost and confused among once familiar constellations and skyways, because it has truly been a very long time.

But then, on faith, she unfurls her great gorgeous wings and thinks to herself, "I may fail, but at least I will go out trying if I do."

On April 30, Tuesday evening at 7:00 p.m. come to Canastota Public Library to hear Rachael read from The Complete Tales, to meet both author and publisher. To share tasty treats, fine literature and maybe to find out what happens next, to learn how the barn enters Gabriella's story...            

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Do You Have The Card?

There's an important card I have that helps to save me money...it isn't a credit card or a debit card or a "get out of jail free" card...It's my library card!  And, I didn't realize what a savings it would be to me until I started making other cost-cutting efforts around the house. 

In an effort to save money, one of the first things we did was pull the plug on our cable television. We did this about six months ago. It has been a savings to us but we've also found that we are no longer held captive to the television set! I suppose, like most Americans, we didn't realize how captive we were until, well, we weren't.
I can tell you that I do not miss game shows, soap operas or movies depicting violence, profanity and horrific acts. I do not miss the news. I do not miss re-runs of shows that I never watched when they were on the tube for the first time. I do not miss commercials. I do not miss the ads for the newest in prescriptions to prevent depression, heart disease or any prescription where the side effects are worse than the original disease. I do not miss commercials for cleaning products, dog food, cat food, or any other type of food, especially snack food that only makes me hungry. I do not miss commercials for car insurance, house insurance and life insurance. I do not miss reality television that illustrates life as a pregnant teen, life in a rich, large or bigamist family. I do not miss shows about hoarders, addicts, drug dealers, gun runners, apocolyptic endings or what I should or shouldn't wear.
I am spending more time at the library. I know. I work there. But, I am finding that I am saving money by using library resources that are available to anyone in the community.
I am reading more. I've been able to read several newly released books since we've turned off the television. To purchase these books, I would have spent close to $25 - $30 per book.  I have also been able to go back and read some books that I wanted to read again! Again, the savings were significant.  And, my favorite magazines are available for me to borrow from the library.   The magazine I read regularly  is Writer's Digest which costs $5.95 per edition.  I read about six each month so the savings would be about $30 - $40 per month.  The garden is a project that we are planning for the spring and the library has been a wealth of resources with books on planting vegetables, landscaping, and helping us to learn how to compost.
Next on my library list to borrow are books on crafting. My dear mother, before her passing, was a huge crafter. She left me with several quilts to finish and skeins and skeins of yarn. Not being a quilter, the library was my obvious source for information on quilting. As well, the library has two knitting groups...as soon as I'm finished reading, I'll be there learning how to knit on Thursday nights.
As well, I'm borrowing movies that I'd like to see--both newly released videos and some of my old favorites. All of this is free--with my library card.
Do you have a library card? They are very easy to procure. Just stop in to your local library with some form of Identification and fill out a form. Within minutes, you will have access to all of the resources of your local library!   And, I have to tell you...it's the most important card in my wallet!