Saturday, December 7, 2013

Independent Bookstores

Borrowed from The Velveteen Rabbit website
If you're lucky, you have a nearby independent bookstore, but sadly, few us are that lucky.

A friend invited me to join her in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin this morning. It's a place I never go, even had to Google it to find how to get there, but I was intrigued. Our destination: The Velveteen Rabbit. A cozy, little bookstore, just a block off Main, and sheltered in a classic Victorian house. "Come on over, you'll love this place," she said.

I rose early, found my way into my character's heads and poured 3 chapters onto virtual paper. The pull to write is strong right now, but it was time to leave. I showered, smeared some war-paint on my face, and went out into the 4 degree F temperatures. The drive over was an adventure of its own. My little red car took me across farm country marked by the last visit of the glaciers. I hope to return again, with the camera next time to document the serene beauty of that part of Wisconsin, but I had other places to be.

I pulled into the city parking lot across from The Velveteen Rabbit and rushed inside ,although the crush of people lined up at the register nearly prevented my egress, but readers are happy people. They let me inside with a broad smile. I snagged a cookie from the festive table, and went looking for my friend.

There she was. Signing up for some drawings. She handed me two forms and a pen. "Gee, I didn't know there was going to be test," I joked. She laughed and started browsing. I finished my entries and joined her at the shelves. Now, this bookstore is special. It felt like I had stepped back into a childhood memory full of colorful picture books. The back room, complete with a wooden train, set was stocked with adorable bedtime stories, stickers, and puzzles. I moved on to the next room. A little more advanced, books perfect for young readers ready to tackle the pages on their own, or even better share with an adult all while creating a permanent bond. I spent a lot of time browsing here, admiring the work of my fellow authors, and soaking in the worlds they worked hard to create.

One more room, the front room calls out to grownups, or at least the older reader, and there it was: That Tree by Mark Hirsch. A photographer just like me except he has a professional pedigree, but what we have in a common is a year-long photography challenge. His: a photo a day of the same subject, That Tree. I can't wait to dig in to his work. I know what kind of commitment that took. My copy is special, signed by the photographer/author, and it already looks great on my coffee table. I've forced myself to stop, savor the first 20 pages. It feels profane to rush through a years work in a single sitting.

I'll share a little secret. I have a shelf at The Velveteen Rabbit in mind that would be perfect for Blue on the Horizon. My friend introduced me to the owner, and we exchanged a few words about my work. I promised to be in touch later, when it slows down. It's like a dream, a place of childhood fantasy, a treasure so nearby. Please visit if you can, they'll make room for you, too.
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