This post was previously published on June 24th, 2016.
Hi, welcome to the “Finding Ms. Write” blog tour. Maybe you came via Cori Kane’s post, if not visit her great blog here.
May 2016, my partner and I visited Iceland, which had been in the top five of my travel list for years. We traveled in a VW camper and drove along the ring road with plenty of detours through a scenery of deceptively bleak landscape. In Germany, spring had just started; grass and flowers were multiplying daily, and the trees showed all shades of green you can imagine. In comparison, Iceland looked like the black volcanic ash plain Mordor from The Lord of the Rings, just without the orcs and the giant spiders. The tiny shrubs we later identified as birches showed only miniature specks of green.
After a few days, we learned to appreciate the surprising variety of vegetation on a different scale. The landscape was more beautiful than I had imagined and full of geological wonders. We saw impressive rivers, waterfalls, mountains, and valleys. Whatever can be sculpted by fire, ice, and tectonic movements, Iceland has it all.
The plan was to drive to a new location every day, then hike for a few hours and spend the evening either drawing (my partner) or writing (me). I even had secret hopes of finishing my novel. Was it realistic to aim for 30,000 words in three weeks when writing the previous 50,000 had taken me nearly two years? Probably not. But I’d heard a lot about the inspiration the Icelandic landscape provided for writers. Icelanders seem to read, write, and publish more books than most other countries, and their love of storytelling and books is prevalent in their culture. One in ten Icelanders publishes a book in their lifetime, and even though their total population is only 330,000, they can boast of several international bestsellers and a Nobel prize winner. One Icelander even decorated his house with large bookends.
For me, the famed creativity boost didn’t happen. Maybe it was the cold; maybe it was the vast amount of beautiful landscape I had to process every day, but my brain seemed incapable of producing something new. So I fell back on my favorite pastime and read eighteen books in nineteen days. Iceland is perfect for reading. During the day, it’s too cold to spend longer periods outside, at least for a soft Middle-European tourist like me. So what better way to pass the time than to snuggle up to your partner beneath a blanket, drink hot tea, and read? Or visit a (rare) café or bookstore? In the evening, you don’t even have to waste electricity, as it never really gets dark during the summer. I managed to read until three a.m. in bed in our camper without artificial light.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been reading. Constantly. Everything. Friends accused me of reading the label on the water bottle on the dinner table instead of joining in on the conversation. (They might be right.) I always wished for books on my birthday and all major (and minor) holidays. I finished reading all the books in the children’s section of our small town library before I was ten. On my weekly visits, I used to check out as many books as I could carry. University slowed down my fiction reading because of the overwhelming amount of scientific non-fiction I had to memorize, but it never stopped me. In my free time, I raided used-book stores and hoarded my treasures for the summer.
Why am I telling you this? When I read the submission call for Finding Ms. Write, I immediately thought of a character who shares my love of books. What would her job be if she made this love her profession and not her hobby? Librarian? Teacher? Writer? Then I found the perfect life for her: she is a finder of rare books. In my vision, she spends all her time surrounded by ceiling-high stacks of books, gets a kick out of that particular smell of old paper and print, and knows all the best places to acquire new
drugsbooks. That might not be a realistic job description, but a writer is allowed to dream, right?
In my short story, “Romance on a Side Note,” Liz teams up with a librarian, Jane, in her quest to “find Ms. Write”–the woman who left notes in the margins of a book. The love of reading is the main thread that connects all the characters in this story.
I hope you enjoy my story along with the others that cover a large variety of book lovers. You can win a copy by leaving a comment here or on one of the other stops on the blog tour.
If you don’t win, you can always buy it at Ylva’s online store or amazon as well as the usual book sellers. Or order it at your local bookstore and meet other readers there.
The blog tour ends tomorrow on Jae’s blog. Just in case you’ve missed one of the other authors, you can find them here:
The Blog Tour Schedule 2016
- June 15 – Jove Belle
- June 16 – Anastasia Vitsky
- June 17 – A.L. Brooks (blogging at Jae’s site)
- June 18 – Elaine Burnes
- June 19 – Lea Daley (blogging at Jove’s site)
- June 20 – Melissa Grace
- June 21 – Hazel Yeats (blogging at Jae’s site)
- June 22 – Kathy Brodland (blogging at Jove’s site)
- June 23 – Cori Kane
- June 24 – here
- June 25 – Jae
ROMANCE ON A SIDE NOTE
BY CHRIS ZETT
Liz offered the book for inspection. “Do you want it?”
Beth hesitated. “May I have a look inside?”
“Sure.” Liz shrugged and gave it to her.
Beth swiftly leafed through the book, not pausing to study the illustrations or the condition of the binding as Liz would have done. Finally, she shook her head and gave it back; she sighed and grasped her walker with an unsteady hand. “You can keep it, dear. It’s not what I’m looking for.”
Liz took a quick look at the book and put it in the shopping basket she had brought. “I saw another edition somewhere over here. Maybe that’s the one you’re looking for.”
Beth looked down and blushed. “No, no. The edition is right, I’m sure of it. But I need a different copy.” She seemed to shrink behind her walker as she slowly turned toward the next table. “Maybe I’ll get lucky over there. Thank you.”
Liz watched her go and debated whether she should follow her. The blush and the forlorn expression intrigued her. There was a story behind Beth’s search. Stop helping old ladies and concentrate on customers that pay the bills! Liz closed her eyes and mentally reviewed her long list of books she needed.
A few hours later, she found what Beth was looking for.