Tag Archives: library

Magic in the Library.

For me libraries have always been magical places filled with stories about people that  I could  imagine meeting. In elementary school, not only did I read through entire chunks of the school’s library but I would spend time helping the school librarian. Shelve some books, straighten up a display, or best of all type up some cards for the card catalog – on an electric typewriter no less (Mother wouldn’t let me touch her good one). Yes, I’m dating myself here. But even those cards were magical. One book with so many different ways to organize it – title, author, category. And then to be able to put those cards in the catalog drawers was an event. Very few people were allowed to touch the metal rods that held the stacks of cards in those drawers. I knew I was special. The school librarian encouraged me to earn my library sciences degree in college so I could come back to help her.  It was an intriguing thought but wafted away in time.

As a budding writer I enjoyed creative writing club. Which was of course run in the library. Just another reason to be in one of my favorite places. And then there was the magic day when we had a real live author come to visit! He was a local poet and we each were to write a poem ahead of time that our teach sent off to him and then we were critiqued.  Pure magic! He said mine reminded him of e.e. cummings.  Being only eleven or twelve I had to look up e.e. cummings. Really, I was that cool?

Those times in the school library are some of my favorite childhood memories.  As homeschoolers my children were introduced to our local public library very early on. We’ve participated in summer reading program , my youngest has volunteered in the children’s department for the last two years, and we’ve held NaNoWriMo Young Writer’s write-ins at the library. But best of all is the Creative Writing program. Tuesday afternoons are for all community teens and once a month there’s a special homeschooling group that also functions as a book club.

And last week what happened? They got to meet a real, live author. Terri Clark  writes YA fiction and came for a visit. She talked about the business side of being an author, discussed writing, and brought copies of her books to give away. One of the girls received  Ms. Clark’s newest book Hollyweird two weeks before its release date. Our home library gained Sleepless and The Girl Who Was on Fire.  Even more special for my kids was that Ms. Clark signed the books.

The library magic has now been passed on to another generation and I can only hope that this will become one of my children’s favorite memories.

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Where did summer go?

My summer companions

I had such grand plans for summer. My reading list was picked out and I started with the W1S1 group. I was going to get so much reading and writing done!

So now it’s Labor Day and well, yep, summer’s over. So moving on to autumn!

On the writing side my StoryA Day piece received an Honorable Mention in the  competition Julie put together for us all at the end of May. Thank you Julie! I’ve since gutted and tightened up the piece. Amazing how different the story looked after being away from it for a few months.

I loved the idea of CampNaNo and valiantly tried to do it but found I was more in a short story mode. So we’ll put that in the semi-failure category. In July I really was getting words down – just not in a novel.

My girls took up most of my non-writing time.  Between 4-H, beach days, pool time, dance, and volunteering at the library life was never dull. Did you see the pelicans at the top of this post?  I took that at the local lake, in Colorado, where we also have a swim beach. Very fun!

Must go make a daily schedule. School work to do, places to take the girls, Nutcracker rehearsals starting next weekend (yes –  in September), bunch of shorts to finish, and NaNo to plan for…

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David Farland and the Runelords

It’s been an interesting week since the last post. I’ve been out of country to bury my father, cleaned out the garage (blech!), and read David Farland’s the Runelords: The Sum of All Men.

This was my first David Farland/Dave Wolverton book and I’ll admit to picking the book because it seemed a good length for the trip (practical), and the library had several in the series (inference of good read).

The magic system is multi-layered and complex. First is the concept that a person can give/sell a portion of themselves such as wit or hearing to someone else. This is all very practical and even a bit political.

There are also the magicians who specialize within the basic elements such as earth, water, or fire. Add to this the usual nation building and some shadowy external threats and you’ve got the makings of a grand and epic fantasy realm.

I think I’ll enjoy catching up on the rest of the series – now up to eight books. Hopefully the library has them all!

Unfortunately I also found my inner editor coming out. How many pages were there before dialogue began, how far in before the mysterious “reavers” were first seen rather than just talked about, did time frames match between different character’s scenes.

I used to be able to just fall into the created world and ignore reality. There was one time I even had to ask my mother if we’d had dinner because of a well written discussion of a banquet. It’s a bit disconcerting to find myself yanked out of the story and into critical thinking mode.

Does anyone else ever find themselves doing this?

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To the Stacks!

I’ve been thinking lately about how I go about my writing and wondering how others approach theirs. Not so much what anyone writes with or on, but rather how we all gather  information.

As my degree is in Economics rather than English or Literature, most of my college writing involved much library research using dusty volumes buried on the highest floor or farthest reaches of the basement. I used to love just trolling the stacks and randomly picking some esoteric text on econometrics or radical economic theories. Yes, my name is Sam and I am an economics geek.

These days my writing is mostly fiction and focused in the speculative fiction arena. But I still find myself hunting for information, such as the history of witch hunting, or Lagrange points.  I do have the benefit of 2 State Universities and 3 Library districts in a 20 mile radius from my home so getting my hands on books is easy. I can still spend hours in the stacks.

At home I’m Google hunting and parsing Wickipedia articles for their source material. There is an incredible amount of material out there.

Would I love to just travel places to get the real nitty gritty? Of course. But while I can go see a 5,000 year old buffalo jump fairly easily, the canals of Venice or the Great Wall of China remain a bit more elusive. But I know even then I would do a good chunk of reading.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m delving too much into facts and reality instead of just writing my stories and trusting future readers to suspend judgement if I miss a little detail here or there. After all, it is fiction.  Right?

So I guess my question is how much research does everyone else do – and how?

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