The Librarian Who Writes: A Guest Post from Sherrie Palmer

Welcome, Tomato Pie Fans! I’m taking a hiatus from blogging to finish the sequel to DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME. Meanwhile, I have a series of guest bloggers taking care of the place. Let’s meet today’s guest, Sherrie Palmer of Sherrie’s Scriptorium.

How Does Being a Librarian Inform My Writing?

Sherrie at the library putting DYFAM in its library suit.

Sherrie at the library putting DYFAM in its library suit.

I’ve been giving it some thought and I’ve come up with a few things.

First I have to disclose that I am not a certified librarian; I’m a library assistant. Working in a library influences me the same way working as a bookseller did. It can be good and bad.

I’ll start with the cons which aren’t many.

The main one is looking at all those books and wondering why the world would ever need another one. Also, while reading great writing by amazing authors I can lose confidence about ever coming close to the talent that is already in print. I mean who do I think I am? Battling paralyzing fear and lack of confidence are probably the biggest negatives.

Then there are the pros.

Having access to unlimited writing in every possible style and genre is awesome. As they say, knowledge is power, and what better place to become informed than the material available through libraries? I’m pretty sure that I can learn about anything by using a library. No matter what I’m writing, I know how to find the answers to the many questions that may come up, and if I can’t, I know there is a reference librarian who can.

Another benefit to working in a library is reading. A lot. Reading everything and anything. We never stop learning, and that helps our writing.

Reading something that isn’t very well written is a great ego booster and motivates my writing like crazy! We’ve all read something and thought we can do better, right? Few things make me feel better than realizing that if something that bad got published so can I! (I know it’s a little catty and I’m not proud of feeling that way, but I do. I’m being honest.)

I love being surrounded by all those books, words and writing. It makes me feel like I’m absorbing knowledge just by spending so much time in a library. That is motivating.

If I’m having a dry spell all I have to do is find an interesting topic and start reading. The next thing I know I’m filling a page with notes for a story and I’m off and running.

I think the best thing that influences my writing is the people. Each of the patrons that use my little library are entire stories themselves. It would be easy to judge people but instead I am absolutely fascinated by them.

I’m basically a curious creature, so each person I meet pings my interest. Everything from the books, movies and music they check out to the stories about their lives that they share with me are gold to store away in my imagination vault. And just when I think I’ve seen and heard it all, something new comes up.

I don’t think I will ever run out of things to write about while working in a library. Many days I stop, take a deep breath, look around at all the books and people and think how lucky I am. Then I say ‘What if’ and I write.

I’m Sherrie Palmer and I love to write and share ideas. I facilitated the Wordwrights Writing Group for ten years. Check out theWordwright’s Blog for more information about the group and writing.  I have been a member of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and worked as a bookseller for nine years. Now I work as a library assistant. I write mostly fiction, leaning towards fantasy and science fiction but I dabble with essays and very bad poetry. I have written a YA fantasy novel called Two Worlds, a middle grade chapter book called The Vegetarian Vulture.I’ve been focusing on short stories and hoped to be published soon. When I’m not writing I love reading and discussing books. I love RVing, playing Wii, gardening and going to Renaissance Faires. I have a lot of interests, so you never know what will show up here!

7 Steps to a Library Author Event

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I got your quick takes RIGHT HERE!  And so does Kelly over at This Ain’t the Lyceum. 

Last Saturday I took part in an event for local authors at the happiest place on earth.happiestplaceonearth_thumb

No, not there. Our local library!  How did we make this happen?

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Get to know your local librarian!

Sherrie at the library putting DYFAM in its library suit.

Sherrie at the library putting DYFAM in its library suit.

This is Sherrie, who blogs over at Sherrie’s Scriptorium.  She’s also the welcoming face we see at one of our local libraries.  She loves books and more than tolerates people, which makes her the best possible person to have behind that desk.  I had a relationship with Sherrie before my book came out, so that once it was available, I already had an ally in the fight to get my book in the hands of readers.

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Network with other authors.  I joined the Catholic Writers Guild ages ago and more recently joined my local branch of Sisters in Crime.  Both organizations gave me a connection to other authors for times like this.

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Come up with some cockamamie theme, ideally having something to do with a holiday.  Holidays mean shopping for gifts.  Books make great gifts.  An author event themed to a holiday sounds like a winning idea to me.  And thus…

FALLinLoveAtglen

Design holiday-themed activities to include in your event that get people to mingle and not just stand around feeling shy and awkward.  Bookworms and the people who write for them are not exactly known for their extraversion, after all.  Valentine’s Day means dating.  Speed dating with books (3 minutes with one book, then you have to move on to the next) and blind dates with books (wrapped in brown paper and purchased unwrapped for a donation to the library) were the order of the day.  We’re already talking about a possible summer reading event, “Beach Book Bingo.”

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Give yourself enough time.  Please, people, never do something like this (forgive the language) half-assed and last minute and then complain that nobody showed up.  Your audience for this event needs time to hear from you repeatedly, find out which of their friends are going, and then commit to attending themselves in order for your live event marketing to have a hope of working.  You could still have a flop, but at least it won’t be for lack of trying.

Sherrie & I threw this together in about six weeks from idea to event.  This was as tight a time frame as I’d ever want.  I’d prefer to start 8-12 weeks from idea to event.  Why so much time?  You need to…

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Get your librarian and her library on board.  You may need time to get the library’s board of directors to approve your event, and that can be tricky, especially during seasons when weather is likely to cancel board meetings.

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Organize, mobilize and publicize.  Recruit authors from your network to take part in the event, because many hands make light work, and variety has a bigger draw.  Organize who’s doing what when (we used SignupGenius.com).  Send out press releases 4-6 weeks before your event.  Create a Facebook event (if you’re as lucky as I am, your Sherrie will do this for you).  Tweet. Instagram, if that’s your thing.  Encourage your fellow participating authors to do the same.  Together we had a longer reach, and by including other authors in this stage of the game, I got several new media contacts to whom I was able to send the PR, which is always a good thing.

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Enjoy your event!  The weather was not great, but we still had some readers come join us.  Most of us sold books.  I showed up with two boxes of items for my display table and left with just one!

Here’s the speed dating table…

AtglenSpeedDating

Copyright 2015 Sherrie Palmer. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

I also suggested people bring a food to share with readers that connects to your book.  Top left corner has your tomato pie, fo sho, but also take a look at the little “A Good Book” sandwiches another librarian on staff that day made with tortillas.  Deliciously cute! Carolyn Astfalk, whose book isn’t even out yet, brought “Rebecca’s Fantasy Fudge,” which is part of her forthcoming novel, and bookmarks with the recipe on them, fantastic ways to get potential readers to hang on to your info and keep you in mind when your book release date gets closer.

Copyright 2015 Sherrie Palmer.  All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Copyright 2015 Sherrie Palmer. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

So, even though we did not have a HUGE crowd, we had some crowd.  Best of all, though, we writers had an opportunity to share our writing lives with others.

Copyright 2015 Sherrie Palmer, All Rights Reserved.  Used with Permission.

Copyright 2015 Sherrie Palmer, All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.

Many thanks to Sherrie and the Atglen Public Library for hosting us! Let’s do it again some time. Also, do check out Sherrie’s blog, where she’ll have a list of links to all the “Fall in Love With a Good Book” participating authors.    Have you ever put together an author event like this one?  Do you have any tips to add?  Do you need some additional ideas on how to organize your own event?  Comment below and let’s share brains!  

{SQT} The Better-Than-I-Expected Edition

It’s Friday, and Kelly is our lovely hostess for Seven Quick Takes!

seven quick takes friday 2

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It was the first week back to proper, regular homeschooling days… and we’ve only had a total of 3 meltdowns.  Two were from the preschooler who is getting over bronchitis and a double ear infection.

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One thing we started this week is an addition to our “Morning Meeting.”  Each kid has her own sketchbook.  After we read the Mass readings and such, they draw something having to do with the day’s readings. This not only introduces them to both history and fine pieces of art…

… but it also teaches them that the artist of this John the Baptist is pronounced Ti-shun.  You’re welcome.

This week we added looking at a piece of sacred art depicting the gospel reading.  A lovely resource I found this morning was the blog Ad Imaginem Dei, which does this old art history student’s heart good.

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Oh, don’t forget the talk and signing on January 24 at JMJ Catholic Books & Articles in Virginia Beach.  JPII.  Don’t You Forget About Me.  Jane_E.  Together, as was intended by the original artist.

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And because that’s not enough, I’m working with a local library to hold a “Fall in Love with a Good Book” event for the afternoon of Valentine’s Day.  I’m trying to talk them into a “Speed Dating” event, where we’d have a copy of each book around their biggest table, then have visitors sit in front of the books, and they have 5 minutes to flip through it before the timer goes off and they have to move on to the next book.  What do you think?

Do you want me to answer that, or shall I just glare?  Rupert Giles.  Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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I’ve made more headway on Never Let Me Down Again.  I had a horrible chapter ending to write, and I don’t think I could’ve made it through were it not for the mutual support and the word-count-sprinting competition that I received from the Catholic Writers Guild.  Go join.  It’ll be worth your time.

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We have survived our first two months of puppy ownership.

The potty training is… progressing.

She still doesn’t like the rain.

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Lastly, thank you all for the continued support of the “Working Mother” release celebration interviews.  I have learned so much from all of you, and I hope the readers are as well.

I feel like I’m forgetting something that will hurt someone’s feelings for my forgetting it… if that’s you, speak up so I can make amends.