Anything that has been around as long as storybooks is bound to have a few skeletons in its closet. These are just a few I managed to ferret out.
1. Hugh Lofting, author of Dr. Doolittle, thought books should have a "Senile" category to complement the "Juvenile" section.
Me neither, Steve!
2. The first recorded person to use the word "book" was Alfred the Great.
Not bad, Alexander! And for those who are curious, this puts the first use of the word sometime between 871 AD to 899 AD.
3. The Japanese word tsundoku means: buying a load of books and then not getting round to reading them.
Shorthand for that: TBR pile.
4. The first novel written on a typewriter is said to be Mark Twain's Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
5. People in India are the world's biggest readers, spending on an average of 10.7 hours a week reading.
6. The smallest book in the Welsh National Library is Old King Cole. It measures 1mm x 1mm and the pages can only be turned with a needle.
Can you imagine?
7. Author James Frazer had to move out of his room at Great Court, London because the floor was threatening to give way under the weight of his books.
I'm feeling his pain!
8. In 2007, Stephen King was mistaken for a vandal when he started signing books during an unannounced visit to a bookshop in Australia.
9. A bibliophagist is a devourer of books.
That gives "burying your nose in a book" a whole new meaning!
10. Bibliosmia is the enjoyment of the smell of old books.
That word even has my last name "Gist" in it. So busted!
Even 55 years later, these timeless quotes from Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird can still teach us about ...
Reading in the bathtub. The best thing ever. I’ve ruined so many books, though, right? But now—drumroll please—a couple of folks have started a company, Bibliobath, that makes waterproof books!
So far, Bibliobath has made waterproof versions of four classic books with polypropylene (a type of plastic) pages that feel just like paper pages. And if it happens to be a tear jerker, no worries because the books are resistant to tears (and tears, too—as in rips). A really romantic hero? Again, Bibliobath has you covered—the books are actually drool proof. LOL.
So far they have Mark Twain's Short Stories; W. B. Yeats' Cloths of Heaven and Other Poems; William Shakespeare's Macbeth; and—totally random here—Sun Zi's The Art of War. Okay. Not your average beach-reads, but once they discover us girls who LOVE to read in the tub and on the beach? Look out!
Their books are, at the moment, still in the embryonic stage. Currently, Bibliobath has a Kickstarter open until this Wednesday morning (July 15) and as of this morning they’ve raised their $10K goal!
We've all felt it. We get to the end of a book or a series and, well, we can't believe it's over. Surely there's another sequel, we think, or another page. And then ... the process begins ...
"I absolutely refuse to believe it's over! After six books, it can't be over! It was just getting good!"
"No! You can't leave it here! It's not right! It's not fair to me, to the characters, or even the other fans! You MUST write another book!"
"Okay, I can be reasonable. I'll buy three of your other novels if you just write one more book for this series. That's all I ask. Come on, all I want is closure."
"It's because I borrowed those last three books from my friend instead of buying them for myself, isn't it? Your publisher wasn't making enough of a profit so they made you wrap up your story as quickly as possible. It was all my fault."
"It's over. I'll never get to see what they do next. All I can do is speculate and that's ... it's just not the same. I want to know how YOU see them after the last chapter ... but I'll never get to, will I?"
"I guess I can see how it'll all be okay for them ... in the end ... if I squint a little. And tilt my head. I'll never forget them, of course, but ... have you seen that new series? Maybe I'll buy it when I get my next paycheck."
7. New Book
I am constantly spouting off malapropisms. Just a few days ago, one of you caught me saying I was going to "button down the hatches" instead of "batten down the hatches." So embarrassing. *sigh* For fun, my son, his wife and I tried to come up with a bunch on our own. Here are eight from the list we made.
Note: a proper definition of malapropism is waiting for you at the bottom of the list, but chances are you'll have guessed the definition by then.
1) Barry the Hatchet
Malapropism: Barry the hatchet
Correct Phrase: Bury the hatchet
2) Mock My Words
Malapropism: Mock my words
Correct Phrase: Mark my words
3) Don't Take Me For Granite
Malapropism: Don't take me for granite
Correct Phrase: Don't take me for granted
4) A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moths
Malapropism: A rolling stone gathers no moths
Correct Phrase: A rolling stone gathers no moss
5) Self of Steam
Malapropism: Self of steam
Correct Phrase: Self esteem
6) Check Your Knee-flexes
Malapropism: Check your knee-flexes
Correct Phrase: Check your reflexes
7) Bowl in a China Shop
Malapropism: Bowl in a china shop
Correct Phrase: Bull in a china shop
8) Bump Beds
Malapropism: Bump Beds
Correct Phrase: Bunk Beds
Yep, you guessed it. Malapropisms are the mistaken use of a word in place of a similar sounding one, often with an unintentional amusing effect. What funny malapropisms have you said or heard? Let me know here, on my Facebook page, or tweet me @DeeanneGist!
I'm a self-diagnosed bibliomaniac--a person who has an excessive fondness for acquiring and possessing books. I not only acquire them, though, I actually read them! As such, I face unique struggles specific to my affliction. What? You, too? Find out the severity of your bibliomaniac malady by seeing how many of the below apply to you, then let's compare war wounds.
1) Finding a man like the hero in your books takes patience.
2) You never seem to get enough sleep.
3) Avoiding spoilers makes you look crazy.
4) You can't bring yourself to get rid of old books.
5) Because of that fact, moving day looks like this:
6) Book hangovers are totally real.
7) And character deaths are brutal.
8) All books. No money.
9) "Dog-earing" a page always garner this reaction:
10) You have no bookshelf space left, and are in complete denial.
In the end, the struggles of being a bibliomaniac are totally worth the rewards of reading. Even if getting a new book makes you do this:
1 to 3 - SEASONAL READER:
You typically only read during a particular season. Maybe you’re the summer reader who enjoys reading by the pool. Or maybe you’re a wintertime reader who loves to snuggle up next to the fire with a novel.
4 to 6 - REGULAR READER:
You love to read and would do so more more often if you could. You have a few favorite authors and try to stay current with their new books.
7 to 9 - BIBLIOMANIAC:
You love books. You read books. You collect books. You devour books. You decorate your home with books. The worst part? Your friends never understand your literary references.
10 - YOU SHOULD PROBABLY OPEN YOUR OWN LIBRARY.
Need More Books?
Deeanne's TIFFANY GIRL was rated as a *MUST READ* by USA Today!
Okay, so there's this new hair color trending, and at first I didn’t know what to think. Have y’all seen these young gals dying their hair gray?! The phenomenon is known as #grannyhair.
Now, before I saw a photo I was sure I would hate it. What were these young girls thinking? We dye our hair so it’s not gray. What in the world?
A few minutes of perusing Pinterest, though, and my opinion was starting to change. The color range was so, so pretty. Why did I never stop to consider how pretty gray could be?
I wonder if the #grannyhair movement has inspired anyone to let their hair go naturally gray. What about you, what do you think of #grannyhair? Would you ever dye your hair gray?
The instructions are in Portuguese, but the pictures are so clear you won’t have any trouble following the instructions.
Inexpensive, easy to make and so festive!
Love this. So cute!
Look how clever this is! Spines from old books that have fallen apart. You could pick these up at library sales or garage sales.
How cute is this? Just print it out, do a bit of cut and pasting and you’re ready to go.
This would be a great gift for grandma and one your kids could do!
This example used some die cuts, but really all you’d need is some scrapbook paper, some ribbon, some magnets and a pair of scissors.
10) Victorian Undergarments Bookmark
This is a bookmark one of my readers handmade for me! Isn’t it so cute? Thank you, Lisa J. from Oklahoma!
Researching historical backdrops are a good thing and a bad thing. The good thing is my readers will, hopefully, feel like they’ve traveled back in time when they read one of my books. The bad thing is, I find so many fun facts that I want to incorporate them all. Unfortunately, I can’t. So how do I pick and choose? Here are my three secrets:
1) Avoid Information Dumps
Throwing too many facts at your readers at one time can end up reading more like a history textbook instead of a compelling story. If you have a feeling that your writing is getting kind of heavy, it probably is. Remember, less is more!
2) Ask Yourself: “Is This Helping Move the Plot Along?”
A great way to make sure you’re following the “less is more” rule is to ask yourself what the purpose of your scene is. If the scene is simply an interesting incident that occurred in history but it doesn’t cause the plot of your story to progress, then you should consider cutting that scene.
3) Consider the Pacing
Writing historical fiction can be a delicate balance because you want to give readers enough context to immerse them in the time period, but not so much that it slows the pace of your story. If you’ve written quite a few paragraphs but you haven’t seen much dialogue or action, it may be time to go back and make some edits.
For a more in-depth discussion of this, watch this 2-Minute Tip for Aspiring Authors:
“How do you pick your characters names?” My readers ask me this question ALL the time. And with uniquely named characters like Billy Jack, Flossie, Cullen and Essie, I guess there is a good reason for their curiosity.
My first step in choosing names is to do a little research. Luckily, I have the perfect way to get started. Awhile back, I got my hands on some old yearbooks from the early 1900s. Whenever I’m needing some inspiration, I comb through them to find names that were actually used when my characters were alive. When it comes time to pick out the name, I always go for a first and last name combination that has a nice ring to it, paints a picture of the type of personality I’m working to create, and is memorable for my readers. (I never choose both the first and last name of a real person, though, no matter how much I might like it. It would be just my luck that a descendant recognizes the name and emails me!)
Once I have my character names picked out, I write them down in my big writing journals (remember those?) to keep for future reference. This is incredibly helpful when I think I’ve picked out my new character’s name, but need to make sure it’s not too similar to a previous one. For example, if I had a character named Essie, I wouldn’t add a different character named Ellie.
And that’s my recipe for creating character names. It takes just a little bit of research, some creativity and a pinch of recordkeeping. Which character’s name is your favorite so far? I know I’ve got mine, but I’d love to hear yours! Leave me a comment on my Facebook page or tweet me at @DeeanneGist!
When I was a young girl, I fell head over heels in love with the Nancy Drew books my mother gave me to read. Since they were the original 1930s versions, they read like historicals to me. Nancy drove a roadster and she wore skirts and high heels while she investigated. I found it totally fascinating to learn about years gone by as I read. And before I realized it, I was hooked on historicals.
As I started to explore writing, it seemed natural to focus on telling stories of the past. Like most authors, I wanted to write the kind of book I loved to read. When I began researching and discovered all the nuances of historical fashion from different eras, it wasn’t too long before I began to play dress up as part of my job. Yeah … Best. Job. Ever.
When I start a book, I have one big idea. (In the case of Tiffany Girl, it was to fictionalize turn-of-the-century women who in spite of the odds against them, did a man’s job in a man’s world and completed Tiffany windows in time for the World’s Fair exhibit). But when I began to flesh out that idea, I suddenly had historical research, character descriptions, setting details and plot points to keep up with. I’d learned early in my career that organization is KEY to getting those ideas out of my head and into my manuscript. So I’ve developed a super organized writing journal to keep me on track. Without it, who knows where I’d be!
Now every author is different. Some keep their notes organized in applications specifically for writers. Some on spreadsheets. Some on flow charts pasted to their wall. There is no right or wrong way, it’s just what works for you. But if you’re an aspiring author and are in dire need of better organization, I thought I’d give you 3 easy steps for building a writing journal of your own just in case the method you’re currently using isn’t working for you.
1. Get your hands on a big binder. Personally, I like to use the Circa Notebooks made by Levenger. They’re heavy-duty and have plenty of space to hold all of my notes. The best part is that the pages can be taken out and moved around quickly and easily.
2. Print out a calendar of the year your story takes place and paste it to the inside front cover of your binder. When you’re plotting your story, this will help you keep track of how much time has passed, so you don’t confuse yourself or your readers.
3. Divide your binder into sections. I have tabs for characters, plotting, research and setting in my own writing journal. All of my information—including images and diagrams—stays safely in those sections so when I’m writing and need to refer back to something, it’s right at my fingertips.
That’s it! You’ve got your very own writing journal now and can keep adding to it as your notes and research come together. If you want more specifics about how I piece my own writing journal together, you can watch this video on my YouTube Channel for All the Juicy DeeTales. If you have any questions, post them on my Facebook page or tweet me at @DeeanneGist! I’ll do my best to answer them!
It’s no secret that every aspect of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair fascinates me. I loved camping there for the last three books I’ve written. I’ve learned SO much from all the research that I can picture it in my mind almost as if I’d actually been there. If only, right?
One of the many, many reasons the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair is interesting to me is because so many products that are still popular today had their public debut at the fair. Things like...
Juicy Fruit Gum
Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix
The World's FIRST Ferris Wheel
The Zipper (invented by a Woman, of course!)
I absolutely love writing, but I have to confess: releasing a book is hard work! Somewhere in the middle of my 11 book releases, I finally learned that post book-launch I need some serious TLC. So, in order to make sure I’m fully rested and recharged, I’ve developed my own relaxation routine that I always follow after the first rush of book launch activities. As of May 5th, Tiffany Girl was released into the book stores. Before and after that date I’ve been doing book tours, online events, live events, social media parties and all kinds of things. But now I’m back home and have officially started my post-release routine.
1. Have A "Read-Fest"
First thing on my agenda: Get some alone time and recharge. I do this by gathering up my to-be-read pile of books, order out for pizza with extra tomato sauce, a chocolate molten dessert, and a real Coke. Then I curl up in a quiet corner of the house with our sweet border collie and read, read, read. Everyone knows that Mom is refueling and they are so sweet to honor this quiet time for me. This time around, the first book in my pile is The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle..
2. Spend Quality Time with Family
Between writing next year’s book and all the promotion involved in releasing this year’s book, the six months leading to launch is really intense and requires a lot of attention and energy. I think it’s safe to say that by the time the book comes out, my family feels a little neglected and I crave some quality time with them, as well. Catching up with them is such a joy-filled time. It can be as simple as dinner or as elaborate as a full-on vacation. This time, I went with my daughters and son-in-law to a concert where the youngest daughter’s young man was performing. So, so special! As an additional treat, my husband has arranged it so that in a few weeks we’ll get to see not only the girls, but our sons too as we take them all to Hawaii. I CANNOT wait!
3. Girl Time
My friends get just as neglected as my family during my book releases. Lunch dates and girls nights are very few and far between. So we’ve a lot of catching up to do right about now.
How do you relax after a busy few months? You can share your suggestions with me by posting on my Facebook page or tweeting me @DeeanneGist. I just might incorporate your ideas into my routine next time!
Some of you may have read my article on Maria Schriver’s website about how I struggled to turn my passions into a real career. It’s been a tough journey, but it’s been worth it!
Well, entrepreneurship must run in the family, because my wonderful niece, Hannah, is starting on the same adventure herself! She has an amazing idea for a fun new children's’ toy called Snapdragons, stuffed animals that have mix-and-matchable parts. I thought I’d find out more and share her story with you.
Deeanne: How did you come up with the idea for Snapdragons?
Hannah: The idea for Snapdragons came from a book I used to read with my grandma when I was a kid. It was called Croc-Gu-Phant, and it was a spiral-bound picture book. Each page had a picture of a different animal standing on its hind legs. The pages were cut into thirds, and they all flipped independently, so you could have a crocodile head on a jaguar body with elephant legs. There were so many different combinations you could make, and my grandma and I never got tired of playing with it!
Well, I took that idea and thought, "Why couldn't we make that 3-dimensional?"
Deeanne: Starting a business, even as a side project, is usually considered a risky move. What motivated you to start your own business?
Hannah: I'd been dreaming up the idea for Snapdragons for a few years, but for some reason, I had just never gotten up the nerve to go out and make it happen. Last fall, though, it hit me: if I don't get going now, I may never do it. I have this idea, and the only thing stopping me is my own doubts. I thought it would be so sad if one day I woke up and realized I never even tried to make my dream come to life. So I got to work!
Deeanne: Did you have a favorite stuffed animal as a child that inspired Snapdragons?
Hannah: I loved stuffed animals so much as a kid... and I still do! I was an only child, so my stuffed animals were some of my best friends! I had plush rabbits and dogs and tigers and every animal you could think of. But I could never pick a favorite, which is part of the idea with Snapdragons. Kids don't have to stick with one favorite; they can keep mixing them up and rearranging them whenever they want.
Deeanne: Mix-and-match stuffed animals are such an interesting idea! You have to tell us, which creative creature combination do you like best?
Hannah: I've been having a ton of fun playing with the Snapdragons prototypes at home, and I thought I had made some pretty cute combinations, but I didn't even realize how fun they could be until I actually watched kids playing with them. They're way more creative than us grownups! One of the little girls who playtested the prototypes made a lion with six legs, a tail on its head, and horns on the side like spikes. I had never thought of that combination, so that's got to be my favorite!
I love this! Such a neat idea! If you want to learn more about Snapdragons, or see them in action -- CLICK HERE!
I’ve been having the best time with our “What Would They Wear in 2015” blogs. It’s just so much fun to imagine what my characters might be like if they were around today. I’ve done this before with a few of my leading ladies, Flossie Jayne and Constance Morrow, but never with one of my leading men. So today, to change things up a bit, I’m going to tell you a bit about Reeve Wilder—Tiffany Girl’s leading man—and show you what I think he might wear if he were around in 2015. Then, you can head over to my group Pinterest board and show me how YOU think he would dress. Ok, let’s get started!
Men’s clothing was very formal in the 1890s. Sometimes, I wish today’s guys appreciated dressing up as much as men did back at the turn of the century. I totally get that comfort is key, but baggy jeans and an old sweatshirt just don’t have it goin’ on the way a double-breasted suit does!
Since Reeve was quite the ambitious, career-minded young fellow, he would want to dress nicely, but not to appear overdressed. His job as a reporter sent him all over the city, so he would want to be able to move around easily while still looking professional. On most days, he would wear a frock coat, with one row of buttons over a vest, a pair of trousers and of course, a hat.
For Reeve, my celebrity inspiration was a young Jude Law. I love that he’s so totally, classically handsome, but also looks like he would be a warm-hearted man when you get to know him -- just like Reeve!
Since Reeve was an ambitious young working professional, I think if he were living in 2015, he would have the business casual style down pat. He would shop at stores like J.Crew and Banana Republic and pair dress pants with crisp shirts, sweaters and vests. Don’t these young men look so dapper?
Now it's your turn! Find an outfit you think Reeve would wear today, and add it to my Group Pinterest Board. Just comment here or send me a message with your email address and I’ll add you to the group board so you can pin away! Or, you can simply leave your outfit ideas here or on my Facebook page and I’ll make sure they get pinned!
Visiting New York City as a novelist verses a tourist changes the entire experience. The first time I ever went to the city, I was a tourist in every sense of the word and hit all the not-to-be-missed places (Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Times Square, Central Park, Broadway, etc.). But when I visited to research Tiffany Girl, I looked at the city through a whole different lens. One of the things I fell in love with was the beautiful brownstone homes on the city’s Upper West Side.
As soon as I walked past a row of those charming buildings, I knew I would have to make one of them the fictional childhood home of my heroine Flossie Jayne. The Upper West Side was quite the swanky neighborhood and too expensive for her family, so I put them on the very fringes of it and made it so her father was living beyond his means. The beautiful artistry and design that goes into these buildings makes them feel like the perfect place for a budding young artist to grow up. See what I mean?
New York City brownstone homes were (and still are) usually quite long and narrow, with the biggest rooms in the very front and very back of the house. Because they were built upward, not outward, these homes usually had 2-4 levels, with bedrooms, parlors and sitting rooms spread across several different floors. Could you imagine walking up and down those flights stairs all day long? Yikes!
Since Flossie was an only child, the Jayne family didn’t need to have quite as much space as their friends with big families, so a home with two levels provided more than enough room for all of them.
Flossie would have spent the majority of her childhood in the sitting room, where she and her mother sewed fancy dresses for the upper class ladies of New York City. While she was hard at work, Flossie could look out the window and watch the people strolling through the north end of Stuyvesant Park. Not a bad view, right?
I like to imagine that Flossie’s childhood bedroom would have been tasteful and elegant, just like her. She would have had a four poster bed with white lace detailing on her bedding and a big, colorful rug on the floor. Remember how she decorated her room at the boardinghouse with her paintings? They would have been all over the walls in her childhood room too, along with prints of other artists she admired. I think Flossie would have had a dressing room table with a mirror where she would sit when she got ready in the mornings, and a rocking chair in the corner perfect for painting and reading.
What kind of picture of Flossie’s childhood home do you get in your head while reading the first scenes of Tiffany Girl? Have you ever been in a brownstone? Share your thoughts with me on my Facebook page, or on Twitter!
Before the Thanksgiving turkey is even off the table, my Christmas wish list is in the works, but I’ve never really made one for Mother’s Day. Yet I have to tell you, I’ve found the COOLEST thing: tin plates—the same tin you see in decorative cans people put cookies in, but these plates have replicas of museum-quality designs on them. Think outdoor BBQ meets English high tea. They come in all different designs based on patterns the royals chose and are perfect for when you want things to look pretty, but you don’t want to worry about anything breaking. Anyway, I told the kids that for the next several years, this is what I’d like every Christmas, Mother’s Day, and birthday until I have a complete collection (or two).
Do you make a Mother’s Day wish list? What would you put on it?
After months and months of waiting, Tiffany Girl is finally hitting the shelves TODAY! My eleventh book. Whodathunk? Especially since I have dyslexia. Yep. Up until my junior year in high school, my dad and I would sit on the couch as he read my textbooks to me. Then, my senior year, something magical happened. Whatever needed to fuse in my brain, fused (which sometimes happens with dyslexic adolescents). All of a sudden, I could read by myself. I was very slow at reading (still am), but I could definitely do it without help.
It opened up a whole new world for me—including reading for pleasure (because before, reading had been a torturous process). It is for that reason that I am particularly thrilled and honored that Givington’s is doing a 30% off sale on Tiffany Girl and with every purchase, a portion of the sales will be donated to Dore—a nonprofit whose mission is to help children with learning disabilities become better students and athletes.
To sweeten the pot even more, we’re doing a Bubbles, Baths & Books giveaway ($100 value) for any who order Tiffany Girl during the first week of this promotion.
I’ve had the best time going on this journey with you--from coming up with the idea for Tiffany Girl to my research process, to writing and developing the characters. Once you’ve started reading it, I’d LOVE to hear from you! You can send all of your questions and comments my way by writing on my Facebook wall, or tweeting me at @DeeanneGist. I’m so excited to hear what you think!