Tag Archives: Jenna Elfman

“I Don’t Want to Bother You….”

movie star bookstoreSeveral times this week someone has approached me as I sat at the bookstore laptop, frowning as I pondered just the right words to use. It’s a delicate business, Facebook posting….

“I don’t want to bother you, but…” the gentle inquiry began. The first time it was, “….but I really like Nicholas Sparks–”

I leaped to my feet. “Right over here.” But the lady did not follow, just stood there with hands clasped.

“Um, I meant, I’ve read everything by him. I just wondered, would you know of anybody who maybe writes a little like him, that I might enjoy reading?”

Madam, my day has been made. I led her to LaVyrle Spencer (among others – don’t judge me). We pondered and debated plot lines and writing nuances, and she left smiling.

I sat back down, smiling. Later that day another customer said, “I don’t mean to bother you …”

He had read all the Nevada Barrs we had. I showed him James Doss, Margaret Coel, Dana Stabenow and J.A. Jance. We talked plots and points and cultural sensitivity and he left with a bagful of paperbacks, smiling. I sat down, smiling.

Charlaine Harris. Nora Roberts. Mercedes Lackey. For some reason, this week, people have wanted to talk “similar authors.” Sometimes I call them starter authors, people whose body of work lead people to others who are similar in theme or style, yet different. And they lead to another, to another, and the reading path goes on and on and on, great writers, popular writers, eclectic writers, groupie writers. Who cares, so long as you’re enjoying them?


I love matchmaking in the bookstore. Please don’t ever apologize to a bookseller for wanting to ask about authors, dear ones. We LIVE for these opportunities. They’re not interruptions; they’re fulfillment.

Anybody wanna talk books?


Filed under between books, Big Stone Gap, book reviews, bookstore management, folklore and ethnography, Life reflections, out of things to read, publishing, reading, Sarah Nelson, Uncategorized, VA, what's on your bedside table, writing, YA fiction

Photoblog: A Day in the Life of a Bookstore Staff Animal


It’s not that easy, being a bookstore staff animal.

Assessing trade-ins...

Assessing trade-ins…

..getting purrrsonally involved in inventory management....

..getting purrrsonally involved in inventory management….

Patrolling the shelves requires constant vigilance.

Patrolling the shelves requires constant vigilance.

Writing ads....

Writing ads….

...training interns....

…training interns….

Answering phone inquiries is a duty only senior staff can handle.

Answering phone inquiries is a duty only senior staff can handle.

Dealing with customers calls on deep diplomacy skills.

Dealing with customers calls on deep diplomacy skills.

That's why it's important to take plenty of breaks.

That’s why it’s important to take plenty of breaks.

PLENTY of breaks...

PLENTY of breaks…

Of course, there are perks to working in the Little Bookstore....

Of course, there are perks to working in the Little Bookstore….

Staff enjoy a certain degree of celebrity.

Staff enjoy a certain degree of celebrity.

We offer a full benefits package under Amerifur, including cone coverage and maternity care.

We offer a full benefits package under Amerifur, including cone coverage.

Reguations governing inter-staff relationships tend to be lax.

Regulations governing inter-staff relationships tend to be lax.

The staff dining room is free, and includes a full milk bar.

And finally, the staff dining room is free, and includes a full milk bar.


Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, humor, Uncategorized, VA


destiny finishOK, team, my friend Destiny and I need your help. That’s her on the left, crossing the finish line on the Veteran’s Day 5K charity run, about a month after she donated a kidney to a guy who was dying. Yeah, you read that right. Some of the A-listers from the Big Stone Gap movie filming here ran as well, but I don’t think anyone could have been as brave as Destiny.

Destiny is making me some Christmas ornaments, and later a couple of throw pillows. They are all book-shaped. We got her the pattern off Craftsy (if you wanna go look for it) so she could cover us in these adorable things, and also sell them for herself in the store.christmas books book pillowsThe fabric she’s got for the Christmas ones is on the left, and those are the pillows on the right.

So now we need some cool, made-up titles for her to use on the ornaments. Think “GREAT CHRISTMAS TITLES THAT SHOULD BE.”

So far we have two titles we like: Rudolph the Well-Read Reindeer, and Hat Trick: the unauthorized biography of Frosty the Snowman. But we need more. So comment here with some great titles for Destiny’s little puffy books? Thanks! We know we can count on the collective wisdom of the bibliophilic community and we look forward to reading them.

destinyThis is Destiny with her mom, who passed away a year ago. She was one of our most fun customers. Destiny donating the kidney was part of her doing 50 random acts of kindness (big and small) in honor of her mom’s life. I think I’m going to talk Destiny into writing a book.


Filed under Big Stone Gap, book reviews, bookstore management, crafting, humor, Life reflections, publishing, Uncategorized, writing

Bollards of Big Stone

Note: Jack and Wendy are headed to NYC today, so the blog may be a little off timing the next couple of days as the two country mice adjust. Meanwhile, here’s the fun doings in Big Stone Gap!

The movie being filmed in town right now is causing all sorts of reactions among the locals–mostly enthusiastic FB posts showing them hugging long-suffering Hollywood A-listers. (A big shout of thanks to Ms. Elfman for helping us adopt out 3 PAWS cats within a week by photo-cuddling them.)max and jenna

The movie buzz is good for the town – economically and intellectually. Someone asked me the other day if the movie had made locals proud, and before I could open my mouth a bookstore customer said, “We’ve always been proud of our town. We know who we are. Now we’re proud that other people are hearing about us.”

Jack and I are happy to watch the hoopla and enjoy the buzz, but it got side-splitting silly over the weekend. The movie company set up on Wood Ave (the main street through town) on Friday night. Trust us; we know from experience how hard it is to get a 15-minute parade permit for closing that street, let alone 2 whole days, so we watched with enthusiasm. 

Saturday morning bright and early some police arrived and set up cones across the road that comes off Wood toward our shop. The only one way left to thread through town went right past our bookstore, so we got a front row seat for the high jinks. (And we locked up our indoor/outdoor cats for the day, plying them with kitty candy whenever they yowled to go outside. I think they gained 10 pounds on Saturday alone.)

The  closed block-long section of Fourth Avenue holds the liquor store and post office, so when they put up the bollards (those orange cones) they blocked in some people who’d made an early start to acquisitions (of post office box mail, of course). These folk came out, glanced at the cones, and drove around them–over curbs, through a parking lot, no matter. They waved at the cops and the cops waved back.

But then people watching them drive out started using the same technique to drive in; the cops had gone by now, leaving one little “ROAD CLOSED” sign to do the dirty work. Someone knocked it down, going around it.

The cops came back about an hour later, and put up more roadblock signs, stretched across where the ineffectual bollards had been. That lasted about ten minutes.

The cops returned. They left one of their own, a young woman (she might have been twenty) who was promptly ignored by those driving around her–waving–to reach the liquor store and post office. We have often sat out on our front veranda watching locals breaking every traffic law possible as they turn at that intersection right smack in front of our bookstore, but Saturday and Sunday brought a whole new level. That poor young officer spent the next two hours shouting with increasing frustration and decreasing effect at motorists who just didn’t see why they should care that she was there. We quickly broke them down into three categories:

1) “We wanna see the stars” These were innocent groups of thrill seekers trying to see the action. Road block? Don’t think so.

2) Oblivious folk who failed to see anything different; “Hmm, who put that annoying sign there?” Both drivers and walkers fell into this category, and it was hysterical to watch them head blithely for the center of action, one block away, and be tackled by people leaping in front of them just short of the post office steps. Apparently the cameras were rolling right at the corner of the post office, and I don’t know how many shots were ruined that day by people who just didn’t notice anything unusual.

3) Our personal favorites, the drivers who considered it their God-given right to park outside the post office or ABC store, just as they always did, and complete their weekend errands. “Movie? Stuff and nonsense. Let me by, sonny.” We loved watching these people literally walk past police and film crew with outstretched arms. In one case an older woman swatted at a young man in a ball cap; we could almost hear the conversation “I don’t know you, young man, but get out of my way or I’ll call the police!” (who were about four feet away, also trying to stop her).

bollards of big stoneThe crew filmed two days, and on day two, perhaps realizing less was more, they reduced the street closure to just the Wood Avenue junction, leaving unfettered access to the ABC (which opens at 1 pm on Sundays) and limited access to the post office lobby with its rows of PO boxes.

Some people fear that this movie will encourage people to make fun of “hicks and hillbillies,” and display us, the residents of Big Stone Gap, as the same. But I think the residents of Southwest Virginia have been, are, and always will be resilient people who ignore bollards and stereotypes as we go about our business. We know who we are, and when the hoopla is over, that’s who we’ll still be.

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Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, humor, Life reflections, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, writing

If Birds Could Fly, Then Jenna Elfman would Cuddle Max the Foster Cat

movie star bookstoreRunning a bookstore can be a surreal experience, but last night might have set a new standard. About 6:30, as we were preparing for a quiet evening with the Needlework Night gang, the door opened and a tall young man walked in. “Vould you mind iff ve shot a music fideo here?” he asked.

Uh, no, we said, and his German accent deepened with his smile. “That iss vunderful! Dank you!”if birds could fly Out he went. Ten minutes later two people we’d never met before introduced themselves as “If Birds Could Fly.” Her name was Brittany. I didn’t hear his name, but we’d heard of the band; they had a good reputation among our music-loving friends, so we just said “our house is your house and please don’t let the dogs out” and let it roll.

With Brittany and her mystery musician husband were Meghan-the-photographer and Sebastian-the-producer, he of the lovely accent. They set up some lighting equipment, did some furniture moving, and sat back and waited.

For what, we weren’t quite sure, but Sebastian had said something about a woman called Jenna Elfman….movie star book

Now please keep in mind that Jack and I don’t have a television. We lived in Scotland for the first seven years of our marriage. So we only knew that this was an actress in town to film the Big Stone Gap movie, and that Sebastian said she’d agreed to do a video for If Birds Could Fly. Yeah, okay, let it roll; they all seemed like nice people, and Meghan was showing us her beautiful portraits of children and moms, so time flew by as we waited. She does fantastic photography.

Ms. E showed up about 8 pm and suddenly the bookstore was full of people, laughter, cats, and cameras. The band filmed and pronounced it good, and we passed around celebratory libations. Yeah, we didn’t know them, but they seemed like nice people, and fun artistic types. Any excuse for a party, right? “Cuppa? Glass of?” All was mirth and merriment.

pumpkin barsHere’s where it started to get surreal……

Down from the kitchen came Kelley, our master chef at Second Story Cafe, with fresh-made pumpkin bars. Those got passed around amid enthusiastic delight at their flavor and abundance. Max the foster cat wandered in, and next thing I know he and Jenna were cuddled in the armchair, carrying on like old friends. I think she fed him a pumpkin bar. People were swapping stories and having fun: just another night in the bookstore, with a movie star, two band members, a batch of fresh baked goods, a bunch of tripods, and a foster cat, all held together by a bottle of Scotch.max and jenna

Yeah, bookslinging is a crazy business, but we love our life here. If Brittany ever brings back that nice musician that is her husband, I’m gonna get his name. We like people who make good music. Jenna Elfman was sweet, and we are glad artists who run around filling the world with happy things exist. Max and his sister Chloe were adopted the day after he got the tummy rub shown here. Life is good.

You can check If Birds Could Fly out on Facebook. And they seemed like really nice people, so I think we’ll get their CD. And someday, Brittany, please introduce me to your husband!


Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, book reviews, bookstore management, humor, Life reflections, publishing, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, writing