Ode to Libraries

It’s National Library Week.

My first recollections of a library were of that glorious smell of old books from the branch at the school in my hometown. I long for that aroma of vanilla and mustiness all rolled into one. I remember curling up on a metal staircase in the library, finding a perch by a window and taking in my primers.

I learned to ride a bike at an early age, the incentive being the bookmobile that magically arrived a mile up the road from our home in the country. I’d hop on my little banana seat bike, basket laden with the previous week’s selection of Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, past the pump house that provided the water to irrigate the surrounding corn fields, and onto the road that dead-ended into what was my grandparents’ farm.

There I’d find the library on wheels, waiting patiently for me.

I’d stand up my tippy-toes, reaching high up on to the shelves for a new Bobbsey Twins adventure, or to see if Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret, or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory were available to read. Again.

My high school library fed my fascination with all things Edgar Allan Poe and helped me embrace Shakespeare. On to college, and the quiet spaces got me through exams and research papers.

Then my love affair took a break, as I entered the workplace. Not much time to read, as I made my mark in sales and management.

I got married and had three children faster than you could turn a page.

And the library took a whole new role in my life.

In its collections and story time programs at first, and then, in a way I never would have imagined.

When our ten-year old daughter died suddenly and unexpectedly, the library provided sanctuary.

First within the endless bereavement books I read, trying to find answers where there were none, and then as the site of the children’s book festival we established in Claire’s name.

These days I’ve been blessed to be in sections of libraries that many people never have reason to visit. Places that require special permission to enter and have names like Archives and Manuscripts Division and Rare Books Room.

These places, with their old book smell, take me back to that metal staircase, getting lost in letters and hoping to learn to string them together to form a word, a sentence. And they take me forward to places that allow me to create story.

For libraries have seen me grow from that little girl learning to read, to a woman honoring her daughter gone too soon, to the writer creating books now found on their shelves.

So thank you dear libraries, and all the incredible librarians and staff who have fed my passion, supported my mission, and helped with my writer’s journey.

I think we should celebrate you EVERY week.

Fifty words before breakfast

I found a writing challenge while scrolling through Facebook as I enjoyed my coffee this morning.

“50 Precious Words” is the theme.

The contest is inspired by Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham, which has over 700 words, but only 50 unique words.

So, children’s book author Vivian Kirkfield is encouraging us to put our thinking caps on and to keep the ink limited.

Even though my poem has 50 words in it (for those who know me both as writer and friend know that I would push it to the limit), it has a lot of back story.

It’s a reflection of my awareness that as I’ve segued into my role as Claire’s Day Founder versus Claire’s Day organizer, it’s time to keep working on my dream.

It is my goal to write something significant every day. It might be 50 words, or 1000, but I’m writing every day.

And, that at some point, should I be blessed with grandchildren, that I will have many books that “Nana” has written to share with them.

It is my hope to complete a manuscript a year, in the hopes that I’m published once a year.

Lofty? Perhaps. Impossible, absolutely not.

As the Queen in Alice in Wonderland so famously offered, “Why sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

In my case, fifty words before breakfast.

Enjoy my entry!

Nana’s Story

by Julie K. Rubini

We cuddle together, book opened wide.

It’s my favorite, because of what is inside.

Dragons,

Castles,

A beautiful queen.

Knights,

Bad guys,

and everything in-between.

But, the best part is at the end,

on the book flap,

where there is a picture

of Nana, with me,

sitting in her lap.

 

Holding Point

Don’t you love reading a book that leaves you hanging at the end of a chapter? You can’t help but read on to the next chapter, and before you know it, you’ve read the entire book. Mystery writers are famous for finishing with cliffhangers.

While writing my biography of Millie Benson, I learned that another term for this practice was called a “holding point.” This is a more accurate reflection of my memories of nearly holding my breath in anticipation of whatever was going to happen next in the Nancy Drew Mystery Story I was reading at the time.

Recently I met an up-and-coming mystery writer at one of my book signings. Her name is Abby, and she is pictured here with her sister Madeline. Abby shared that the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories were her favorite books. She was thrilled to be buying my biography of the original ghostwriter of the series, and getting it personally signed. Abby, if you’re reading this, I was just as thrilled.

Abby sent me a note after our meeting, asking permission to use the character names of Nancy Drew and Ned Nickerson in a new mystery series she was creating. It almost broke my heart to tell her that I did not have the right to do so. Just as my book reflects all the massive permissions I had to obtain for images and text, so too would she. Simon & Schuster holds the keys to the Nancy Drew kingdom.

That was okay, Abby responded. She had a different character’s name in mind anyways.

I love that.

Life is full of holding points. We don’t know where it will take us, but we can’t wait to find out. Sometimes it doesn’t quite work out the way we hoped for. But that’s okay. We come up with a new ending to our chapters. We hold our breath, turn the page, and carry on.

Thanks Abby for the inspiration.

Julie with Nancy Drew fans

Lessons learned

http://www.13abc.com/home/headlines/2016-YWCA-Milestones-Honorees–365059741.html?device=phone&c=y

“At my very core I’m just a Mom who wanted to lead by example and show my two children what it means to live, to truly live…”

What you didn’t see of this interview on WTVG for the incredible and humbling honor of receiving a YWCA Milestones award was what I said prior.

When asked what it meant to me to be recognized in the Education category, I replied that I was very humbled.

For although I’m not by title an educator (and have the utmost respect for those who are, including my daughter Kyle!), I feel as though I’ve been able to teach others through all that I am blessed to do. In my role as Claire’s Day Founder, Maumee City Councilwoman, and children’s book author, I’ve been able to share my wisdom.

The wisdom that came from reading books by bereaved parents, by listening to my peers on Council, becoming involved in the world of children’s literature, and learning what it takes to get published.

Most of all, the lessons I learned from all of you along the way.

Thank you for your guidance, your knowledge, your support.

You’ve helped me truly live.

 

 

New year, new space

I’ve said in the past that I’ve never suffered from writer’s block. Seriously.

For me, it’s more a case of blocking the time to write.

You know what they say though. Never say never.

I’ve found myself the last few weeks luxuriating in the presence of my two children being home on break. They’ve offered a great excuse not to sit at my computer and work on my manuscript.

Reality sunk in this morning when I realized my deadline is just over a month. And I’ve got four more chapters to write. Yikes.

Yet, what did I do today? I began a project that is long overdue. I started to make progress toward moving my home office into a bigger room.

Yep, the “little room where big things happen” (according to a fourth grader during a school visit), is just about to get bigger. Way bigger.

I write, plot, dream and chair dance in what was a sewing closet when we moved in 22 years ago. It measures 9’ x 6. My new creative space is 12 x 13, or so.

It was the guest room, and before that, Claire’s room for just six months before she left us.

It is my hope that this larger room with its purple energy and spirit will lend itself to even bigger things happening.

Even better yet, I’ll not be restricted to dancing in my chair.

Get ready room, here I come.