Apr 012014

I got an e-mail out of the blue, inviting me to join in an April Fool’s Blog Exchange. How could I — why would I — say no? The icing on the cake? The City to my Iron? All the bloggers are in my home town of Pittsburgh, a city I’m not nearly visible enough in.

Enough about me. Today’s blog post is brought to us by a fellow April baby and book lover. Could that matchup have been any more heaven-sent?

birthday wish.

Here’s Tiffany Harkleroad, a woman who has actually laid eyes on me and can vouch to the fact that I’m not an orange S on a red background.

I have been a book reviewer for 4 years now. I have been working at a library for 4 months. I have stacks of books in every room. I papered my living room floor with book pages. I think it is safe to call me a book lover. But how did this love of literature begin? I trace it back to my parents.
My parents are both readers, and even though they had little spare time to read while working full time and raising 3 children, books were always a present in our home. My parents always took the time to read to us, and with us, as our reading skills progressed. As I got older, I would beg my parents to take me to bookstores to spend any allowance or birthday money I had saved up. But the thing that I most strongly remember from childhood was my parents taking me to the library.

Trips to the library were not an easy thing for my parents. We lived in a rural, outlying area, so it was about a 20 minute drive to the library, then we could count on being there for at least an hour, plus the drive back. For busy, working parents, this was a sacrifice, yet my parents never complained a bit. As soon as school was out for the summer, my parents would take me to the library, and help me check out a tower of library books. Two weeks later, we would trek back, return them, and get another stack. I firmly believe that my parents’ support of my library adoration set me up to be a reader for life.

So here we are, 30 years later. I still love books, I still love libraries, and I want to share that love with others, the way my parents shared it with me. Since I have no children of my own, the best way for me to accomplish this is to encourage the children in my community to love books the way I love books. But how?

April is my birthday month, and I like to use that as an opportunity to celebrate the things I love best. Seems like the perfect opportunity to celebrate reading, and encourage reading in my community’s children. So here is what I am doing: I am asking folks to help me build a Children’s Literacy Activity Center for the Ford City Public Library (where I work). I have created an Amazon Wish List of items needed to create the center. I am asking friends, family, and fellow book lovers to purchase items from this list in honor of my birthday. The items will be shipped directly to the library. You can find the wish list here.

It is my birthday wish that I can share my love of reading with the children in my community. I hope you will help make my wish come true.
You can visit my personal blog at talltalesfromasmalltown.blogspot.com, or my book review blog at tiffanysbookshelf.blogspot.com

I think Tiffany might have topped me on this one… I usually release a book on my birthday, figuring I’ll get the gift of royalties and you can keep the goods. But this? Takes it to an entirely new level. Wow.

You go, Tiffany!


You can read my post over at Oh, Honestly, Erin.

Beezus Kiddo

Crank Crank Revolution

D&T In the Burgh

Don’t Forget to Eat

Downtown Living

Emily Levenson

everybody loves you…

jelly jars

‘lil Burgers

Ngewo’s World

Oh Honestly, Erin

Orange Chair Blog

PGH Happy Hour

Radio Chumps

Red Pen Mama

Sean’s Ramblings

Small Town Dad

Sole for the Soul


The Firecracker Blog

The Pittsburgh Mommy Blog

The Steel Trap

West of Mars

Ya Jagoff

Yinz R Readin


Yum Yum PGH

Jan 222014

Even before the last book arrived from PaperBackSwap with water damage, I’d been considering withdrawing from the two online book trading sites I belong to. I’m reading less these days, with the demands of a small business mixed with the demands of being a full-time single mother. Even my book club has suffered; we might be over, after 13 great years.

I’d love to continue to send books out, but even that, I’ve slowed down with. A request from BookMooch has been sitting here for over a week. I’m just not motivated anymore.

So it didn’t really surprise me when I looked up this morning and realized it was time. Time to delist my books and find some other way of getting them out of my house. I probably moved 200 books out of here and into boxes in the front hall and living room.

Now, the question becomes: what to do with them?

Option one: Take them to a library. Maybe not my library, which doesn’t struggle financially (much). There’s a library near-ish me that was closed due to a flood and is finally finding its footing once again. I could donate the books to them. Maybe some would find their way into circulation (some are in really good shape).

Option two: Let my kids sell them on eBay or the neighborhood garage sale and keep a percentage of the earnings. The rest could go either to charity or help seed my dream West of Mars Foundation.

Option three: Take the books to Half-Price Books. Let the kids trade them for credit and get something new to read (now, mind you, I’m already going to let them use up my credits at the book trading sites — over 170 books, right there!). Or take the cash and keep it for a rainy day, give it to charity, or let it seed the West of Mars Foundation.

Lots of options… What’s your suggestion?

Jul 072011

It wasn’t quite a month ago that I sat down to catch up on that bane of my existence, the feed reader. In it was a post from the Fat Cyclist himself.

That’s not unusual. I subscribe to his feed. I expect to see posts from him. I like to sit and dream about being able to have a life like his, where he can ride his bike on rollers and go out in the gorgeous country where he lives. I’ve followed him through the loss of his wife, Susan, to breast cancer, and to a new love with a woman he first nicknamed The Runner and now calls The Hammer.

I’ve also followed his many ways of raising money for the LiveStrong foundation. I haven’t jumped in most of his exploits (although I almost jumped at this year’s 100 Miles of Nowhere; look for me to give in and do it next year), but the one I ran into those few weeks ago was one I couldn’t stay away from.

Fatty — his real name’s Elden, but really, why call him Elden when Fatty is so much more… Fatty-esque? — has teamed up with this place I’d never heard of — the +3 Network. Over there, SRAM has sponsored a challenge. For every activity you log in, they’ll donate money to bikes for kids in Africa through an organization called World Bicycle Relief.

That’s the jist of the whole +3 Network. Sign up, join challenges. Log your activity. The sponsors will take care of the rest.

So… I’ve joined Team Fatty. I’d like you, if you’re the active type, to join me. I mean, hello? We’re working out, exercising, bike riding, walking, what have you anyway, right? There are all sorts of activities for you to log, from the mundane (walking, mountain biking) to the more esoteric (table tennis! Rowing! Roller Derby!) — and even credit for for physical therapy/rehab and stretching. In a sense, you could challenge yourself to trying all the different activities at least once. You can also get credit for chores, folks, and volunteer time.

It’s an easy way to make a difference. Come join me, will ya?

Dec 252010

How is a Merry Christmas post considered a promo tale?

Well… I’m the one bearing gifts. For you, for your friends, for your family, for anyone who woke up this Christmas morning (even in a metaphorical sense) and found a new e-book reader under your Christmas tree.

From now until January 1, all three of my books are 50% off at Smashwords. And yes, at least 50% of my royalties will be donated to the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation.

Here’s the link: Susan’s Page at Smashwords

And here are the codes:
Demo Tapes: Year 1 — UN55K
Demo Tapes: Year 2 — UC87W
Trevor’s Song — zk52R

And yes, the coupon codes are NOT case sensitive. Why do you ask?

Merry Christmas, gang. If you got anything good, talk about it in the comments. And stay tuned for YOUR chance to Meet and Greet, coming in January.

Dec 022010

Have you been following along with this year’s Musical Hanukkah fiction? There’s been a lot so far. Not as much as I’d originally planned, but enough that you may have missed some. Here’s the start of a two-parter. And Happy Hanukkah, as the holiday began at sundown last night.

“Why’d we say we’d do this again?” Fozzy squinted up at Scott.

Scott looked up from his DS. “Because you don’t say no when ShapeShifter asks you to do something for them. What’s wrong?”

“The Hatchet. How can the Hatchet do its thing? Remember what happened the last time the Hatchet attacked a kid?”

Scott did. The shirt had sold like gangbusters — until they’d had to pull it or get sued by some mom who didn’t have a sense of humor. They’d been warned not to go near anything controversial with this shirt. This was a benefit. It was doing a good deed, it was giving back. It wasn’t supposed to piss anyone off. Fucking up could mean the demise of Deadly Metal Hatchet. The band and the Hatchet itself.

Fozzy had tried arguing that controversy got better news coverage, but no one wanted to listen. Scott told him to drop it and put some effort into making the Hatchet behave for the benefit shirt. It was the first year of the expanded party thing, part of the revival of the event after last year’s cancellation. Not a lot of bands had been asked to join in. That made Deadly Metal Hatchet special.

Scott put the DS down and came to stand behind Fozzy. He reached over the guy’s shoulder and picked up the papers that had been faxed over. “All about Chanukiah,” he read out loud.

Fozzy made a loud, keening noise.

Scott looked over the pages and put one down in front of Fozzy. “Stop it. Here’s your solution.” He waited while Fozzy quieted down and looked over the page he’d chosen.

The guy was quiet a long time. Then, slowly, his head started to bob as he caught on to Scott’s idea. He didn’t say a word or even make a sound as he began drawing.

Scott went back to his DS. Fozzy would take however long he needed to get this done. It’d be worth the wait.

Yep, some Three Word Wednesday woven in here, and I’ll be posting (and promoting) this as my Friday Flash. Be sure to leave comments, stop back for the conclusion, and to either buy more of my books for holiday gifts (I have print copies here if you need some autographs) or make a donation directly to the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation via the contests page. There will be a raffle for some awesome books for the folk who choose this latter option!