assorted books on shelf
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In Praise of Libraries

One of my earliest memories is weekly visits to the local public library with my mother and brothers. I would load up on the maximum number of books they allowed us to take out at once and it would just get me to the next Saturday. It was a sad day for me when I realized I had read everything in the children’s section but was still too young for the adult section! But it set my fate as a lifelong bibliophile.

Libraries have provided a critical service for society and culture for thousands of years. The world’s oldest known library was founded sometime in the 7th century B.C.E. for the use of the Assyrian ruler Ashurbanipal in Nineveh in modern day Iraq. The site included a treasure trove of some 30,000 cuneiform tablets organized according to subject. Cuneiform is a wedge-shaped writing made by using a reed stylus on a clay tablet and then letting it harden.

The oldest library continually operating library is at St Catherine’s Monastery, at the foot of the legendary Mount Sinai. It has the second largest collection of ancient manuscripts and codices, just after Vatican City including several unique and important texts, including the Syriac Sinaiticus and, until 1859, the Codex Sinaiticus, the oldest known complete Bible, dating back to around 345 CE.

Our modern libraries help to build literate, productive and engaged communities. They foster literacy of all kinds – a critical factor in economic and social participation that helps to remove barriers to education and employment. By providing safe community spaces, they create healthy communities, and their programming activities support culture and creativity.

Create your own libraries when you can, but don’t forget the vital services provided by your local library!

What I've been reading, Writing

It’s My Book Birthday!

A Writer’s Journey

Magic! Adventure! Fabulous, mythical animals and wicked witches! These were the story elements that enthralled me as a child and inspired me to create the magical, mystical world of Sericea.

Lucy & Dee, The Silk Road is now available at your bookseller of choice!

It’s been a long journey. I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was eight years old and fashioning little booklets out of folded paper. I’d write and illustrate fantasy – heavily influenced at the time by The Borrowers series.

Then, as so often happens, I was overtaken by events, school, early stages of career and family… Oh, I wrote…some truly dreadful novels that mercifully I let languish in my computer hard drive. But over time, the writing bug strengthened. I wrote more. And as I wrote, my writing improved. Participation in various writing groups helped along the way along with writing buddies and writing coaches.

Finally, perseverance has paid off!

Never give up on a dream. It may take much longer than you expect to achieve it, but that’s okay.

Things I’m Grateful for Today

Spring has truly sprung here on the Island and I’m loving seeing new flowers every day. Some of my favourites are camellias, rhododendrons, and flowering plums. Every day, there’s something new to discover!

A crackling fire while I work on the second book in the Lucy & Dee series

An almost three-hour phone call with a beloved friend this morning. We’re separated by thousands of miles and a substantial time difference, but each call is as if we’re sitting having a cup of tea together.

A heron landed by the pool in my neighbour’s garden yesterday. There is a blue heron colony in a public garden, not too far from our house. In the Celtic traditions, herons represent autonomy, persistence, and longevity.

What I’m Reading Now

When I start a series, I tend to go right through it and there are twenty-four Hugh Corbett medieval mysteries to date. This is only book 11. Paul Doherty has based every novel in the series so far on an actual event happening in the reign of Edward 1 of England. A historian as well as an author, Doherty brings the early 14th century vividly to life.

Bookshelves of Early printed books at the Long Room, TCD.
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History, Then and Now

The most important lesson of my life has been that books matter. My parents were both book lovers and by the age of four, I had learned how to read. I remember going to the public library every week, library card clutched in my hand, anxious to take out more books.

It was a crushing blow when I came to the end of the books the library had in their juvenile section!

However, that was also when I learned the value of what today I call my comfort books. Books I re-read when I need a certain lift or I’m in a particular mood. When I was young, the books I came back to time and time again were books that would take me to other worlds, other places, the Narnia books, the Borrower books, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Diamond in the Window. Other popular series were the Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, and the Hardy Boys. I always loved a good mystery and adventure.

I still love adventure, fantasy, history, mystery, and reinvention stories. I love finding a new series and blowing right through it!

What were your favourite books as a child? Do you still read those types of books as an adult?

Bookish News

In every blog post I’ll include this little section on interesting snippets I’ve found around the web that are helpful to readers and writers. This week, we have a piece on how to write an author bio for a press kit, the 4 best apps for keeping track of the books you own and supply chain issues plaguing the publishing industry.

Impress the Press!

Your author bio is your best opportunity to show that you are the best person to have written the book. The media and reviewers all need to know the excellent credentials behind your non-fiction book or novel. Because of the specific audience, your author bio for a press kit differs from the one you use on your book jacket and sales page. You can read all about it here https://buildbookbuzz.com/how-to-write-an-author-bio/

Your Home Library App

Having a virtual library of the books you own or have read can be a lifesaver at the library or when you’re browsing in the bookstore. Here are four apps (Android and iOS) to help you keep track of what you own, would like to own, and would like to read. https://www.makeuseof.com/apps-to-keep-your-own-virtual-library/

Holiday gift-giving just became more complicated…

Books are a popular gift item, particularly the latest best-sellers. This year, it might be challenging to find the books you want because of the supply chain issues plaguing the publishing industry. The price of lumber has soared and with it the price of paper. Print book shortages are looming. See what the fuss is about here: https://www.modernretail.co/retailers/the-publishing-industry-is-bracing-for-volatile-end-of-the-year/

What I’m Reading Now

The Bombay Prince, by Sujata Massey is Book 3 in the Perveen Mistry series

This is a series that takes me away from the every day and teaches me something new. It’s set in 1920’s India and features Perveen Mistry, the first female solicitor in Bombay. If you like colourful history and compelling characters coupled with a fast-paced mystery, this book is for you.

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