Tag Archives: books

The Golden Thread

The King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, Utah

What’s the brightest thread running through the tapestry of your life?

I do love a good metaphor, and this one is apt for expressing an important insight that has helped me focus my efforts and make peace with some difficult choices. Because one of the lessons I’ve learned the hard way is that I can’t fully pursue every passion that comes along. Interesting people are interested in a lot of interesting stuff.  There aren’t enough hours in a day to dance, sing, play guitar, learn new languages, cook gourmet meals, invite friends over to share them, meet new friends, go hear some live music, travel, sew artistic clothing, paint, draw…

Recently, Hubs and I hosted a Christmas party. The menu was simple, three homemade soups, bread, salad, cheese, cake. As always, our friends rounded out the menu with delicious nibbles. After dinner and guitars, our wine-soaked conversation turned to childhood memories. My sister-in-law, an actress, theater teacher, and director, told us that she’d been shaped by her family to be a performer. She tap-danced and sang on a local TV show at age five and, except for a brief pause when her kids were small, she’s been on stage in some capacity ever since. Performing is her joy, her golden thread.

This got me to thinking. What’s my golden thread? The answer is as easy as saying yes to another Christmas cookie: books! Like my SIL, I can trace this thread to earliest childhood. My fondest early memories center around libraries, bookshops, and the shelves of books that lined our family room. When life got too hard, too scary, too boring, I’d retreat into a book. When I had to wait, and kids are always having to wait, book time. Can’t sleep late at night? Book. Long car ride? Book. Creepy guy staring at you on the bus? Book as magic shield.

My sharpest travel memories often center around books: Shakespeare and Company in Paris, the Bouquinistes on the banks of the Seine, the Bodleian Library in Oxford, Green Apple Books and City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, Powell’s Books in Portland, our own King’s Books in Tacoma, and all the gorgeous, charming independent bookshops I’ve visited, including The King’s English in Salt Lake City, which you must visit if you ever find yourself in that fair city.

Bookshops and libraries are my favorite places to be—I get positively giddy when surrounded by such riches. Is it any wonder I’ve chosen to enter that world as a writer of fiction? Duh!

This blog is entitled Late Blooming Rose for a reason: it’s only now, late in life, that I’m figuring out some of these important epiphanies. I can’t do everything I’d like to do, but I can keep following that golden thread.

What’s your golden thread? And what’s your favorite bookstore or library?


G is for Genre Fiction


Genre Fiction, AKA commercial fiction, is what most fiction-readers reach for in bookstores (real or virtual) and libraries. Spy thrillers, police procedural mysteries, cozy mysteries, romance, new adult erotic romance, young adult fantasy, science fiction, post-apoctolyptic dystopian stories, westerns, steampunk, paranormal romance, historical fiction, military fiction, horror…Your favorite type of story is up there somewhere on the fiction shelves.

Literary fiction is the other main type of fiction; in lit fic the focus is more on the beautiful writing and less on the plot. Some literary fiction stories read like extended poems, and they often have ambiguous endings. Of course, there’s cross-pollinations between literary and genre fiction.

What does this have to do with retirement, the supposed topic of this blog? Now that I’ve retired from teaching, I devote most of my time to writing genre fiction—specifically, cozy mysteries, horror stories, and women’s fiction. The latter is often referred to as “chick lit,” actually a sub-genre of women’s fiction. So is romance, though some would place that in a separate category.

My novel Lola Dares has a lot in common with chick lit: a feisty female protagonist, a plot that revolves around human relationships and personal growth, a bit of romance, a light, humorous tone. But my protagonist is in her fifties, so perhaps Lola Dares is “hen lit.” I’d certainly rather read about the adventures and struggles of a mature woman, now that I am one, and I hope other readers will enjoy her stories as well.

A member of my wonderful critique group called my current work-in-progress “niche fiction,” because it would appeal mainly to female readers. Huh. 51% of the population is a niche? (Which I pronounce “nitch,” even though I speak French quite well, because “neesh” sounds so pretentious when speaking English.) In any case, I love genre fiction because there I can find what I’m looking for: adventure, fun, entertainment, thrills, vengeance, justice, romance, fascinating people, beautiful settings, and delightfully despicable villains–always vanquished in the end, of course. I prefer genre fiction to literary fiction most of the time because, by the end of the book, the puzzle is solved, the relationship forged, or perhaps dissolved, the heroine triumphant, and order restored.  Alas, life seldom works out so neatly.

What’s your favorite genre of fiction?