One Writer’s Journey

May 29, 2019

3 Ways Writers and Libraries Can Stay Relevant in the Modern World

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:14 am
Tags: ,

Libraries like writers sometimes feel like they are facing an uphill battle.  How do you stay relevant in the modern world when there are so many things that people can be doing besides reading?  If you are anything like the St. Louis County Library, you meet people where they are.  Here are three things my library system is doing that can serve as examples for writers and other creative types.

The whole world of books. More than just print novels, the St. Louis County Library has worked to build its collection to meet people where they are reading.  Graphic novels? Got ’em.  E-books?  You can find both e-books to read and e-audiobooks.  Our headquarters branch also has a collection in Chinese.  Writers shouldn’t just follow trends but they should be paying attention to what is in demand now vs trying to sell what was popular 12 years ago.

Hands on experiences.  In addition to hands-on library programs like crafts and exercise classes, our library system also checks out a variety of objects including musical instruments, telescopes and puzzles.  Check out any of these items and get busy.  The library is also hosting a contest for a book mark design. Writers can take advantage of this by writing how-tos or working activities into their other work.  Think of the number of cozy myteries that include recipes.  Not interested in writing a how-to?  You can still give your readers information that they can use in their daily life.

Stay on top of social issues.  Our library system goes beyond books about hunger and Pride month.  There is also a summer lunch program for school aged children and a month of activities and lectures for Pride Month.  Abdo’s Special Reports are about hot button topics. I’ve written about race and the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Publishers are looking for fiction and nonfiction alike that cover headline topics.

It doesn’t do any good to bemoan a changing world if you want to be a selling writer.



May 2, 2019

Children’s Nonfiction: How to Get Ready for Jeopardy

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 3:50 am
Tags: , ,

Today, I stumbled on a Publisher’s Weekly interview with James Holzhauer. Holzhauer is only the second person to ever win more than a million dollars in regular season play on the game show Jeopardy.  And how did he prepare to answer questions on a wide variety of topics?  He read children’s nonfiction.

I did laugh at how much effort he puts into not looking like a library “creeper.” Why did I find this so funny?  Because I’ve gone through this myself.  Like Holzhauer, I request a lot of books so that I’m not coming the shelves amid young readers.

But I’m also lucky because my librarians know me.  Fortunately, our local branch which had undergone remodeling, is once again open.  This is the branch that we started visiting at least periodically when my son was in grade school – we live between two branches.  So these librarian s have been seeing me for over a decade.  When I check out a bag of books on a single topic, they ask about my latest project.

As a nonfiction author, I was tickled by Holzhauer’s description of the children’s section. He called it the “place to go for books ‘tailored to make things interesting for uninterested readers.'” My editors don’t pull any punches.  I can’t assume that just because I find something interesting my readers will too.  I have to look for the most interesting slant.  I have to build a bridge from the world of the reader to the world of my topic.  And I have to keep things moving.

Long, eloquent quotes?  No place for them.  Direct and to the point is much better.  What does this type of editing mean?  Children’s nonfiction – the reading material of champions.


July 30, 2018

No More Library Fines for Young Readers

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:07 am
Tags: ,

If you are a reader today, and most writers are, you were probably a reader when you were a kid.  I’m sure my mother took me to the library but what I actually remember is going on my own.  I would ride my bike up the busy four lane (sidewalk riding).  Then I would cruise among the shelves visiting old favorites and looking for something new.  Then I’d check out an arm load of books that I would carefully wedge into my basket for the ride home.

Although there is still a bike rack in front of the library, I don’t see kids riding up there on their own.  They come instead with parents and grandparents.  But what happens when young readers can’t catch a ride?  They end up with late fees and fines.

I hate anything that discourages reading so when I saw this post on Facebook, I got excited.  Then, me being me, I thought – what if it isn’t true?  Could it be fake?  A quick Google search revealed that it is not (see article). It isn’t quite accurate, but it isn’t fake.

The LA Country library system has done away with fines on children’s material.  That didn’t exactly help kids who already had fines so another program was implemented.  Kids can check in to read away part of their fine.  The rate is $5.00/hour and young readers are given credit for fractions of hours.  What a great idea!

Not sure how you feel about this?  In a random survey of library patrons, 80% said that with this new policy they would be more willing to let their children check things out.  Apparently economically disadvantaged families limit their library use, especially use by young readers, because unpaid fines can go to a collection agency.

How much better to encourage and educate?  Way to go, LA!



April 10, 2018

National Library Week

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 2:03 am
Tags: ,

Did you know that National Library Week started Sunday?  The theme this year is Libraries Lead.

This is most definitely true.  It is no longer the library I loved as a kid but that’s okay because it has so much to offer.

Our branch has been remodeled. It is bright and so well lit. There is an activity area with pneumatic tubes, blocks, and a light bright wall. It isn’t technically light bright but discs turn different colors when rotated. I just don’t know what else to call it.  Children can build with blocks and put on plays.  

The best part?  They have their own floor so no one is shushing them.  It is glorious and amazing.

Fortunately, not everything has changed.  When I was a kid, I would ride to the library and carry out an armload of books, stacking them carefully in my bike basket.

They still have a wealth of books but they also have audiobooks, ebooks, music, movies, electronic games, board games, book group discussion kits and wifi hot spots.  

Not too long ago, I was walking behind a teen and we had almost made it to the parking lot when I realized what he had checked out – a telescope!  The problem was that he was dropping things along the way.  We made a deal.  He held on to the telescope and I followed him to his car picking up various school supplies as we went.

I can’t wait to get to the library this week.  I missed getting to go last week. My husband when for me when I was in rehearsal.  There is always something new to see and I can hardly wait to see what it is. Why not head to your library this week?


August 12, 2015


Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:21 am
Tags: , ,


ZinioI’m not sure how widespread this e-zine service is but if you have a library card check to see if your library includes Zinio.  Through Zinio you can check out current and back issues of a wide variety of magazines.  My estimate is that there are something like 200 different publications.  Of special interest to writers in general are The Writer and Publisher’s Weekly.  For children’s writers, there are also Highlights, High Five, Highlights Hello, and Seventeen.  No, it isn’t a huge number but it is a handful of magazines that you don’t have to actually buy.

For each magazine, there is the current issue, back issues (for some magezines there are 3, for other 20) and the publication is available in a variety of formats including PC, Mac, Mobile and a variety of readers.  To access a magazine you check it out which places it in your collection.  You click on the magazine you want to read and it opens it into the Zinio viewer.  Yeah, I’m not thrilled about that but I’ll have these to read while I’m using the treadmill.

I’m not sure about all of the features available in the reader but you can print pages which means that I can save them as PDFs.  This could come in very handy when studying a market.

Fingers crossed that at least a few of your libraries offer Zinio.



April 13, 2012

Libraries of the rich and famous

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:32 am

As I’ve been cleaning up in my office and contemplating a new arrangement for the family room, a lot of thought has gone into books and how to shelve them.

No surprise then that “Libraries of the Rich and Famous” on Book Riot caught my eye.  My personal favorites?

  • I love the well-used disorder of Keith Richard’s library although I’d need a real couch.
  • William Randolph Hearst’s library totally intrigues me but what I really want is to test out the acoustics — not me personally but my friend Tracy.

The ones that are wall to wall books and nothing else just don’t draw me in.  Sure, I have enough books to do that on a smaller scale but they don’t look as restful as the other arrangements.  Not as conducive to creativity.

Here’s one that didn’t make it — Thomas Jefferson (see the video below).  Obviously, he hadn’t glassed the shelves in but I’m wondering if the shelves were truly open on both sides.

I’ll have to put some photos up when I get things cleaned out in here and we get the new set up done in the family room.  Unfortunately, we are still debating how to get sufficient seating, a bit of over flow seating (bench/coffee table), and whether or not to move in a shelf from another room or build a new shelf.  So many book related decisions!



August 12, 2011

Little Libraries

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 2:21 am
Tags: , ,

Their goal is threefold:

  • To promote literacy and the love of reading  by building free book exchanges worldwide. 
  • Specifically, they want to build more than 2,510 libraries around the world.  Why that number?  Because that would put them ahead of the great Andrew Carnegie!
  • To build a sense of community as they share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations.
Who are we talking about?  Little Free Library.   This organization is the brainchild of two entrepreneurs who want to share the love or reading by installing pint-sized libraries here, there and everywhere.
One Little Library looks like a one-room school house.  Another looks like a glass fronted legal bookcase on a pedestal table base.  Installed on street corners, in parks and in other convenient places, their goal is to get books in the hands of readers, young and old.
How cool is that?  And what a good way to get your books, and the books of other writers, out into the world.

June 14, 2011

Libraries Are . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 2:58 am
Tags: ,

“[A library] isn’t just a library. It is a space ship that will take you to the farthest reaches of the Universe, a time machine that will take you to the far past and the far future, a teacher that knows more than any human being, a friend that will amuse you and console you–and most of all, a gateway, to a better and happier and more useful life.”

–Isaac Asimov in a March 16, 1971, letter to children at the newly opened Troy, Mich., public library.  Posted on

Remember this quote when someone challenges a book or when a storm rolls through and a library is destroyed.  Whether the destruction is book by book or in one sweeping moment, it means placing limits on young minds.  Limiting their knowledge.  Limiting their reach.

This has been much in my mind as the Missouri Writer’s Guild works to restock damaged libraries in Joplin, Missouri.  Wherever you live, please make sure that young travelers in your area are equipped for the journey!


January 19, 2011

Cruise your Library with Wowbrary

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 3:12 am
Tags: ,

Just in case you don't have enough books.

I love my local library.  I love the stacks, the children’s section, the magazines, the teen section, the audiobooks and the movies.  I even adore the new books area.

The problem is that our library system has 20 branches.  I can browse new books at my library, seeing what is not yet checked out.  I can even see what is new throughout the system if I visit the web site but I have to check by category.

Fortunately, there is a new service that regularly sends out newsletters to let you know what is new in your particular library system. Wowbrary covers something like 4 library systems in my own area.  I signed up for just my own library but might sign up for the others as there is a lending program between the various systems.

Visit the site and enter your zipcode to see if your own system is included.

Special thanks to INK for bringing this service to my attention.


May 26, 2010

Library Fun

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 3:06 am
Tags: ,

Today is my son’s last day of school for the summer.

“Hurray!” says he.

“Writing time has just gotten a little wonkier,” says Mom.

But I don’t entirely mind because it is also the time of year where we can spend major amounts of time in the library together.  We go to various family and children’s programs but he also picks out a lot of books and audiobooks.  His theme for the summer — banned books.  He was appalled when he heard me reading this article to my husband and thus discovered that two of his favorite authors, Peg Kehret and Bruce Coville, are frequently banned.

Whether you are checking out banned books or just looking for something fun to do with your young reader, support your local library.  There’s no telling what fun you’ll discover there. Watch this video to see what I mean.


Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: