Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from Iron Man and Black Widow! They are taking time out from saving the world from Thanos' freaky armies to trick-or-treat at the zoo! Even though Stark could buy all the candy in the world if he wanted.

And my newest issue of The Fortean Times came today, so I get to read it (by flashlight) while freezing my ass off in the driveway waiting for kids to come get free sugar.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tales From the (Former) Day Job

These days I'm a stay-at-home mom, but I used to be a full-time bookseller (I still cover shifts at my old store. It's so much easier to be nice to customers when you only work a couple days a month!). This post on Publisher's Weekly made me recall the crazy questions I got.

Most customers were fine, but some were one of two extremes: either they thought the booksellers were subhuman because we worked retail, or they thought that because we worked at a popular independent bookstore, we were gods with all the knowledge in the world. There were so many "I need a book, I heard about it on NPR three weeks ago and I think it was about a war but I can't remember which one"-type requests that they're not even worth mentioning here. But we got some doozies.

There was the kid who wanted The Anarchist's Cookbook. We didn't have it, but could order it. He didn't want to give me his name and address for the order. "I'll just go to Amazon," he smirked. Yes, because when you order things online they don't require your name and address. >rolls eyes< At least I am reasonably sure he never got it and didn't pipe-bomb his school.

There was the man who marched up to the information desk and barked, "The World is Flat!" (a popular title at the time). Since he couldn't be bothered to act like a civilized person, I grinned and said, "That's not what I learned in school!" The other customers nearby laughed. He did not.

Another woman asked, "Do you have the Holy Grail?" (I knew she wanted Holy Blood, Holy Grail, which was popular after The Da Vinci Code came out). She wasn't being rude, she was just flustered, so I didn't reply, "If I did, would I be working here?".

Once a woman called and said, "What's the name of that song they play on >radio station< all the time? It's like, "Craaaaaazy...". I had no clue. I found the number of the station for her, but she couldn't believe I didn't know what song she wanted. Later a co-worker heard the story and identified the song as being by Gnarls Barkley.

There are hundreds more that I could never remember, but the above are my favorites. Are there any other booksellers out there with awesomely weird customer questions to share?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Bear in Love and Painting the Basement- a 2 for 1 post!

The other day I took my son to our regular story time at a local bookstore. That day they happened to have Will Hillenbrand- a popular local kids' book illustrator- there to read his newest book, Bear in Love. It's a sweet little story and the illustrations are gorgeous, so I bought a copy for my friend's daughter, who has a birthday coming up. This is how Mr. Hillenbrand signed it when he found out it was a birthday gift:

Very cute. I love it when authors do something extra when signing. Of course, if you're Stephen King, you probably don't have time to personally sign all 4,000 copies of your latest novel for all the fans in line, but if it can be accomplished, it's something most people will never forget.

In other news, I have been painting our basement. After an unfortunate sewage drain backup (guess who got to clean the initial grossness up?) that soaked into the basement carpet, the insurance company decided to pay to recarpet the entire basement plus stairs- because our original carpet was SO OLD they couldn't find a match anywhere. Works for us! I'd been wanting to paint the basement for a while (it was industrial gray) so this was the perfect opportunity- and I don't have to use a drop cloth since the carpet is done for anyway.

It's been almost a week and I am nearly finished (I am doing every step of this solo, and the basement is about the same size as the entire upper floor, so...yeah). While I was working the other night I thought that painting is kind of like writing. You get it finished, realize there's a bunch of missed spots and places where the old pain shows through and where you got new paint on the ceiling, and have to go back and cover them up. And then you notice more after that and do it again. Which is great, you don't want to do a sloppy job. But at some point you have to say 'good enough' and put a bookcase in front of that chipped spot. Otherwise you'd be working on this paint job forever and never move to another. At some point you have to stop worrying your story like a terrier with a rat and say, "Good enough."

Of course, in writing more than likely an editor will come back at you with more changes and things you STILL missed after 14 read-throughs. And that's their job and you should take them seriously. But initially, when the project is all yours, at some point you have to let go.

Personally, I'm glad we have a lot of bookcases in the basement.