Our Libraries

This is a love letter from me to the libraries HH and I use and love. HH is a fast reader and flies through books much faster than I can. He often comes home with a stack of five or six books he’s chosen from the Waynedale Library, not far from our house. He starts each book, but if they don’t hold his attention, they’re quickly dismissed. Sometimes, all of them are returned, unread. A reminder to me. There are a lot more readers like my HH out there. A writer has to hook them fast, or they move on.

Before the head Waynedale librarian, Don, retired, every time HH went to find books, he and Don would open the HUGE dictionary sitting on a stand near the checkout counter to find one or two new words HH found in the previous books he’d read that he didn’t know. He reads a lot of nonfiction and historical novels, and most of those use a larger vocabulary than cozies and thrillers. HH and Don would read the definition and pronunciation together, then HH kept them in a notebook, hoping to increase his vocabulary.

(My younger daughter and a stocker at our nearby grocery store used to play the vocabular game, too, when Robyn was in grade school. They took turns. One week when I went to buy groceries, the woman stocker would have a word for Robyn to see if she knew it. The next week, Robyn would have a word for her. That lasted until Robyn got bored spending an hour with me in the store and stayed home).

My writers’ club meets at a more central library for all of us to drive to. Little Turtle has been kind to us, letting us use the big meeting room every second and fourth Wednesday of each month, except during the summers–when they pass out free lunches to school children and offer programs for them. Then we go to the main library, downtown, and it offers us a room. The main library used to showcase local authors once a year with tables set up for us to display our books, and many of us were invited to speak on panels about the craft of writing during the program. Covid ended that. I don’t know if or when it will start up again, but it was a nice way to meet fellow local authors.

Libraries, like so many other things, have taken a beating during the pandemic, but ours have done everything possible to keep providing books to readers. And of course, they have a strong e-book and audio book program, too. I have to admit, I rarely check out books at the library, because I’m a Kindle junkie and buy most of the books I read, usually when they’re on sale, but even if they’re not for favorite authors.

What about you? Are you a strong library user? Or is your TBR pile jammed on your Kindle? Are you lucky enough to get a lot of visiting authors at your local book stores or libraries? Do you go to hear them? And these days, do you like listening to authors on podcasts or Facebook? There are a lot of different options anymore. What are your favorites? Or would you rather just read and ignore the rest?

Writing: writers’ groups

I’ve been lucky enough to be in a few different writers’ groups over the years. When our city had an active, vibrant, independent book store, two friends and I worked together to invite writers we’d met at writing conferences to do book signings and lectures there. Back then, authors were encouraged to travel to different cities for signings. Fort Wayne’s between Chicago and Indianapolis, so often we could get authors to stop at the book store as they passed through town. When we couldn’t find anyone, Dawn, Carl, and I would do panels once a month for the store. We met a lot of different, area writers that way. The experience was fun, and we learned a lot until the crowds got too big, and the store finally hired a publicist to coordinate its events.

My longest membership in a group, though, has to be Summit City Scribes. Each time we meet, three people (who’ve volunteered ahead of time) read, then we go around the table and critique their work. Our focus is on strong writing–hook, pacing, plotting, word choice, etc., but we also talk about marketing and share news with each other. I’ve read and heard almost all of the information before. We all have, but that doesn’t mean we always apply it. And it doesn’t hurt to be reminded. Scribes pushes me to write my best.

There’s a second writers’ group in town that meets once a month in the evening, from 7:00 to 8:30. This group invites a speaker each time who gives a program or a workshop. They’ve discussed Show, Don’t Tell; How To Develop Characters; Different Ways to Build Strong Plots; How To Find Agents and Sell, etc. I’ve attended some of their programs and enjoyed all of them. Plus, it’s nice to mingle with writers I don’t see very often.

Once a year, our main library offers a Fall Author’s Fair, and usually several of us volunteer to do panels with question and answer sessions. It always encourages me to get together with fellow writers and talk craft. Our approaches are different, but our goals are the same–to grow as writers and encourage each other.