Take a Library Tour

columbusMetroLibraryI love libraries with a passion that some say borders on the abnormal. When I visit a new city, there are two things I must do:

  1. Visit whatever water exhibit available (fountains, lakes, etc).
  2. Visit the local library.

The first is something my father instilled in me. He grew up in a water area and feels at home where water is prominent. The second again is something my father began, back when wifi wasn’t prevalent and he needed email access.

Enter the local library. The amazing thing about local libraries is that they say more about a town than you would imagine. Is the library in an historic house? Then books are seen as something to be treasured, but perhaps only to be seen, not used. Is the library in a modern building, with a lot of light and computers? The city perhaps feels that knowledge is power.

These are, of course, my biased opinions based on what little I know about budgets, architecture, and book culture. But the fact remains that you can learn a lot about a city by going to the local library. Better yet, chat with the librarian and get some interesting facts about the town.

Columbus, Ohio, where I am located, has over 30 libraries. Many belong to the Columbus Metropolitan system, and others are specific to the suburbs in the area. When preparing for my book launch party back in 2010, I hit six of the libraries and was stunned by how different they were. It was fascinating to see how the interior layout of the building changed the mood; how the configuration of the books brought certain people together and kept others apart.

Take a library tour of your city, if you’re blessed to be in a city that has more than one library. It was a blast for me to spend a day driving around town, popping into a library to leave some fliers and wander around the building. It lifted my spirits and made me feel good about where I’m living, as a reader and an author.

Try it sometime. You just might like it. But you don’t have to take my word for it.

Best,
Belinda

Fun Times at the Ohioana Book Festival

Dear Reader,

This past Saturday was all kinds of awesome. Not only was it Free Comic Day, but it was the Ohioana Book Festival here in Columbus. If there is one thing you get out of this post, it is this: Belinda got to spend an entire day being a nerd about local books and book shops.

I won’t go into much detail about Free Comic Day because I can’t tie it to historical fiction or romance very well. Suffice it to say I got six free comic books from The Laughing Ogre in the Clintonville area of Columbus, and bought a compilation Sinfest book because, damn, I got six free comic books.

Anyone who tells you free doesn’t work is a liar. Get enough free things quickly enough, and you might feel guilty enough to spring for something more expensive than you would have otherwise bought.

It was my first time at the Ohioana Book Festival, and I was appalled until I realized that the festival was only in its third year. I was in grad school in another state the last two years, so no wonder I hadn’t heard of the festival. It was located on the lovely campus of Fort Hayes, and the history of that campus would be worth a blog post by itself.

In brief, Fort Hayes was the first federal arsenal in Columbus, commissioned during the first year of the Civil War in order to provide arms for the men called to duty. The first building was completed in 1864 and was called the “shot” building because that’s where they made shot for the guns. This is totally fitting, right, because I’m working on a Civil War book, and it’s the 150th anniversary of the war. Believe me, I was geeking out.

Today, the buildings that are not boarded up or falling apart on the campus are used for an alternative high school which emphasizes the arts and preparing for professional life. And events like the Ohioana Book Festival (OBF).

The OBF caters to Ohio authors and authors who write about Ohio. An author is considered an Ohioan if they have lived in the state for five years at some point in their life, which I find a little sketchy. One author hadn’t lived in Ohio for thirty-seven years! But who am I to judge. The festival didn’t accept self-published authors, so even if I had known about the festival in time, they wouldn’t have accepted me. Oh well. One can hope. I own my publishing company, have an editor, etc. One of these days, I will be at that festival. So say I.

Anyway, I got to meet Sean McCartney in person, who you might remember I spotlighted this past winter. He was doing a great job! There were ninety-nine other authors he competed against, and he had sold eleven books by the time I got there in the early afternoon. He writes adventure fiction along the lines of Indiana Jones, so if you have a kid in your life who thinks they don’t like to read, try giving them one of his books.

I got to meet three historical fiction authors, two of which were on a guest panel about writing the genre. I was happy to meet Carrie Bebris, who writes the Mr and Mrs Darcy mysteries. Yes, you are guessing correctly: she writes Regency mysteries using the hero and heroine from Pride and Prejudice as her protagonists. Sounds like an absolute blast, right?? The author herself was soft-spoken and had a kind face, and was appreciative when I said I’d like to highlight her in my blog. You should check her out.

Lisa Klein and Karen Harper were the guests on the historical fiction panel, and it was fascinating to watch them interact with each other.

Klein writes young adult historical fiction, something along the lines of Ann Rinaldi, I imagine. Which means I will most likely be picking up one of her books to review because I devoured every Rinaldi book I could when I was younger. In fact, Rinaldi’s method of providing author notes and bibliographies at the back of her books is what inspired me to believe I could write historical fiction in the first place. Klein just released a Civil War book about two young women living in the Gettysburg area during the Civil War.

Harper writes historical fiction for adults; she likened it to women’s fiction but set in the past. Unlike Klein, who stays true to the historical record but whose protagonists are creations of her imagination, Harper only writes about people who actually existed. Think Susan Holloway Scott.

Both authors seem fascinated by the Tudor era, but also branch into other eras. Harper is currently writing an Amish series and released a book last year called Mistress Shakespeare, a tale about the woman Shakespeare was engaged to before he was forced to wed pregnant Anne Hathaway.

The really interesting thing about these authors is that they are both teachers. Harper taught Elizabethan history and Klein was a literature professor. In fact, Klein said she didn’t like history in school! It wasn’t until a history teacher in college had the class read a novel that represented each era they studied that she saw how fascinating the past is. Harper mentioned that because she writes about real people, she often gets letters from readers who point out her mistakes… something Klein hadn’t experienced. I suspect this might be because Klein writes for young adults, and they probably just don’t know enough to question her.

This post is getting super long, so I’ll stop here, but I urge you to check out the authors and books I highlighted from the festival. It was a great event that left me supercharged to write a thousand words that night. Definitely see if you have a local or state book festival. You’ll get to meet authors, check out their latest books, and basically nerd out for free.

And if you’re lucky, you might get to meet Amelia Bedelia, like me. Cross your fingers.

Best,

Belinda

 

 

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This is part of the ROW80 bloghop. I’m keeping up with my goals. Are you?