… from Riskies guest blogger Tessa McDermid
Thank you, Riskies, for having me as a guest! I love visiting the Risky Regencies and keeping up with the history, fashion, intrigues, and books of the Regency period. This time period is still my first love and one of these days, I plan to revise/complete a couple ideas I have for a Regency book. For now, I’m going to read as many as I can for pleasure.
I first started reading Regencies in high school when I found Georgette Heyer books in the Plantation, Florida Public Library. Her books had such lovely covers and even lovelier stories. I could hardly wait to check out my next batch of books each week and see what adventures awaited her heroines, sometimes while they were visiting a lending library.
I love libraries and can’t imagine my life without them. Two years ago, I was asked to speak at a small area library during their February “Love a Library Month” celebration. The librarian thought it would be fun to have a romance author share about her writing and books. As I was putting my ideas together, I realized how much libraries have meant to me over the years. That day, I led the listeners on a tour of the libraries in my life and how those magical buildings, filled with books and possibilities, led to me writing my own books.
Since then, I’ve been researching the libraries I remembered, putting facts to my memories. I’ve had so much fun and talked with so many helpful, friendly librarians. My first memory is a big white house in Des Moines, Iowa. My mom would take my siblings and I to the library, pulling the youngest ones in our red wagon. We would climb to the top of the stairs and listen to Story Time before checking out our own books.
We moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming, while I was in elementary school. Our local library was a stone Carnegie Library. Every time we went to the library, we walked up the tall steps, which I discovered was to symbolize a person’s elevation by learning. I know I learned so much going into that building. That’s where I first found out that writers were simply people who put stories together and sent them out to magazines. (And I don’t mean the process is simple – only that writers weren’t magical people who lived in magical writing places. I could someday be a writer!).
Independence, Missouri. Plantation, Florida. Chicago, Illinois. All of these cities provided me with hours of reading pleasure through their public libraries. There’s just something about the smell of the books, the shelves and shelves of adventure and romance and excitement. I never knew what might be found in the pages of a book and once I started to write my own stories, I found ideas and details in the nonfiction sections.
I discovered writing magazines in the stacks at Kansas University while I waited for my husband to finish his classes. I also found books on fashion through the ages, foods, home decorations. All giving me details for the lives of my heroines and heroes. The Lawrence Kansas Public Library had an author, Sara Paretsky, share about her writing process one evening and I found a writer’s group. I’m so excited that this April, I get to be the speaker at the same library for the beginning of National Library Week!
Our next stop in our married life was the library in Atchison, Kansas. This is where I really started to write toward publication. My first manuscript – and one I hope to revise sometime in the future – began during the Civil War time period in Kansas. My love of England came into play here, with the second generation daughter being married off to a lord in England. She was wealthy, he needed the money to save his ancestral home. Sadly, sagas weren’t doing well then and I tucked it away after several positive rejections (and, yes, that may seem like an oxymoron but the comments about my writing kept me going).
Right now, I’m writing what would be considered contemporaries, at least by Risky Regencies standards. My last book, FAMILY STORIES, started during the 1920s in the United States, the love story of a couple who were together for 75 years. Again I brought in my love of England, this time by having one of the daughters travel there. And I bring in libraries, too – her first romantic interest is the young man who works in the library near their summer cottage. The descriptions of the place were based on the small library in Lamoni, Iowa, where I worked for a few memorable nights – I imagined too many things happening while I was alone in the building and I had to clean the pet gerbil cage!
My new Harlequin, WEDDINGS IN THE FAMILY, is about a couple struggling with their relationship after their daughter gets married. I just realized I don’t think I have any England connection in this one! I do have a writer as one of the main characters, so she would have to visit a library. And no matter what I write or where I live, libraries will always be a major part of my life!
What stories do you have about libraries? I’ll choose one lucky person from those who share to receive a copy of my new book.
Tessa McDermid will speak about her love of libraries at the Lawrence KS Public Library on Monday, April 13, at 7 p.m. Check their website for more details. Future visits at other libraries will be listed on her website – www.tessamcdermid.com
I have so many dear memories about libraries, that it is hard to tell just one story about my experiences in libraries. This may sound really cheesy, but I can say, that I fell in love with the most gorgeous guy in the world when I was in library.
It was my second day at my new school at Virginia. I was so nervous, because it was totally new school and totally new coutry for me (I am from Finland). I was not sure about my english language skill, so I did not want to talk to anyone. I had heard, that the school has a big library, so I thought I would just go there so I could feel little better. Library has always been a place of comfort for me, because I feel like I am in the airport and I have this magic credit card and I can just pick a trip where ever I want to go; maybe to 19th century england, which has became my favorite place to “visit”. So I was there, at the library when this gorgeous looking guy came to talk to me. I was so nervous, because I didn’t want to look like a fool in his eyes. He told me, that he had heard about me, the new exchange student from Finland. I just smiled at him, trying to figure out something to say. He said me, that he understands that I am nervous about the whole thing, but asked me to have a lunch with him. I was so happy, because I actually made one new friend. We became really good friends and after two months he found me again from the same library and told that he thinks he is falling in love with me. 🙂
My hometown library in Greensburg, IN was a gorgeous Carnegie. I recall the upstairs adult section and craning my neck to see the domed ceiling and the paintings of “great classic authors” up there. Going down the stairs to the youth section, there was a mural on the wall with alice in wonderland and captain Hook and other characters. I was saddened when a new library was built outside of town.
Suzanne Arruda (author of the Jade del Cameron mysteries) http://www.suzannearruda.com http://suzannearruda.blogspot.com/
Hello, Tessa — Like you, I learned to love reading in the library. Mine was the Pittsburg, KS, public library, a lovely Carnegie building that always seemed magic to me. I was a fast reader, and I read all the time. The library had a limit on the number of books children could check out, but when I kept returning stacks of books daily, they agreed to waive the limit for me. I still remember the excitement of climbing the stairs and entering the echoing lobby, and the fear I felt when I graduated to the adult stacks, which were up a flight of rickety iron stairs. The balcony looked out over the lobby floor below. I was (am!) terrified of heights, and it was an ordeal to go up there, but the lure of all those books was stronger than my terror — barely.
Years later, I took my own children to the Denver Public Library’s University Hills branch for storytime. It was a much-needed respite for me — I could go indulge my love of reading in quiet, secure in the knowledge that my children were being well entertained. On our walks to the library, we met a woman who is still one of my best friends. Even though she still lives in Denver and I live in Pittsburg, we keep in touch, and we talk about books. As a writer, I rely on the library for all sorts of things, and I have to give highest praise to interlibrary loan, which makes it possible to live in a small town in the Midwest and yet have access to the whole world.
Traveler: I currently live in Pittsburg, KS. It’s still a lovely Carnegie and when they added on to the library, they kept the same style so it all looks beautiful.
Ha, Jokes on me. It seems I know you, traveler. How fun.
Tessa, during my elementary school years, the schools I attended had no libraries. We had to wait for the rolling library to visit once a month. And then only the sixth graders were allowed to check out books. Oh, how I used to envy those kids and couldn’t wait to be a 6th grader. Since the rolling library came once per month, we students were allowed to check out four books. That year, I read every book by Walter Farley and Maugeritte Henry, as well as the Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew. The high school I attended had a library. The first day of school, I marched myself inside and signed up as a library aide. From 7th to 12th grade, I looked forward to working in the library. To this day, I cherish books. . .and now I write them.
Thanks for this wonderful article. It brought back some special memories. (author of: The Twisted Trail (Avalon), Isabelle and the Outlaw (The Wild Rose Press)www.lorettacrogersbooks.com
Terry, I’m so excited you’re our guest today.
Libraries have always been very important to me. I’m one of those weird people who was more excited to see their book in the local library than in a store! It always makes me sad that budget cuts invariably zoom in on libraries, too, and I urge everyone to join their local “friends-of” or whatever their local library support organization is.
One thing I find fascinating is that although we have Google and a whole ton of internet resources, reference librarians are even busier these days.
I remember the summer reading program as a kid back in Bloomington, Il. The children’s department was in the basement, but once you got there, it was full of colorful posters and great books. I loved the biographies.
I still love biographies; especially of successful business owners. They have great tips to share about running a business today.
I call all these authors and subjects my ‘friends of the mind’ and I love knowing I can call on them for consult whenever I venture over to my local library.
Oh, what lovely stories about libraries. I’ve been to both the Denver and Pittsburg KS libraries, Traveler! Something about walking into that building full of books.
And, Milka, a real-life love story in a library! Wow. Not cheesy at all. Why shouldn’t some of those stories come to life!
I too love libraries–stopped at my branch this morning. I didn’t know about libraries until in the 8th grade when our teacher would bring 30 books to our rural 4 classroom school for a month and then get another set the next month. At last I could stop snatching quick reads of my dad’s Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour’s books. At the Wichita (KS) Public library I soon discovered the world was a feast of books–especially regencies. This library’s copy of Writer’s Market led to the sale of my first regency years ago. I still devour books there on a regular basis.
I’m lucky enough to be the library clerk in an 800+ student high school. I cajole and bully reluctant readers to check books and magazines out all day long, and run a monthly teen girls’ reading group. I had a student come into the library last year and say “Books are obsolete.” Needless to say, I tried to change his mind!
I remember participating in summer reading programs at my childhood public library (Hempstead, NY) to win free books. I picked up my first volume of Shakespeare then when I was about nine (and didn’t understand a word, LOL). I still occasionally dream of walking to that library.
Libraries are absolute treasures. I stopped at my public library (Farmington, Maine—gorgeous building) just this afternoon and checked out Lauren Willig’s Temptation of the Night Jasmine!
Great post. I can’t even imagine how many hours I’ve spent in libraries. One thing I love about wandering through the non-fiction section is the sense of discovery. You never know what kind of interesting book on either a favorite topic or a new topic you might find.
Libraries! What a great topic, Tessa! Thank you for guest blogging here.
Loretta, how shocking to have no library in your elementary school!
I’m pretty angry that Fairfax County, a pretty wealthy county overall, is thinking of saving money by closing the libraries on Sundays. Surely the weekends are the busiest days. And in these economic times, more people must depend upon the libraries than ever before.
My husband works for the Library of Congress and in years past employees had passes to get in the stacks. I was working on my Masters in Social Work and he used to take me in the stacks to find research books. You just can’t imagine it. Long dimly lit rooms with movable stacks and NOBODY around. Maybe you’d hear the shelves move a distance away, but mostly it was eerily silent. The people who worked in the stacks were never seen and it must have been a very solitary job….
One weekend my husband was going to take me into the stacks to look for a book, but we had dinner first and it was dark by the time we finished. We both decided it was way too spooky to go in the stacks at night!
Oh, Loretta, I loved the Marguerite Henry books! I still have my copy of Misty of Chinconteague and used to introduce my students to her stories. Check out Cara King’s blog from the other day here about favorite childhood books.
Janet, thanks again for the invitation! Libraries have been such a part of my life, I thought I’d like to give something back to them. And I have to admit, when I go in, I always walk down the aisle that has my books and see if they are there. I prefer to have them checked out but I do like to see my name among such wonderful book friends.
Ann, my mom was a history major so we read a lot of biographies at our house. My son inherited her love and we found new people as he started to check out books.
Joan, When I was in college, I worked as a fill-in secretary to pay tuition. I covered a maternity leave in the business office and the guy who did billings found out I liked to read. He brought me grocery bags of Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey books to read so we could discuss them. I do think I learned about mass market appeal from those stories!
Maggie, I can’t wait to read Lauren Willig’s new book! My name is next on the list at our library. Did you see her interview a few weeks ago here at Risky Regency? Very fun to hear what’s going.
Georgie Lee, it is fun to wander the nonfiction aisles. I’ve found some intriguing titles doing that.
Diane, I remember when I went to Washington DC after my first book came out and realized I was now recognized as an author by the Library of Congress! Heady stuff.
And spooky stacks took me back to Lawrence and the KU library. The floors were like half-floors, made of some thick, cloudy glass. You could see the people on the floor below as shadowy figures. I used to sit at a desk at the end of one row and then my imagination would get going. If I couldn’t see one of the library employees, I stayed out in the open lol.
Great topic, Tessa!
And Milka — what a great story! 🙂
I’ve loved libraries as long as I can remember. Even before I could read, one parent or another would take us to the public library every two weeks… So many great memories!
Yes, libraries are wonderful and I, too, have lots of fond memories! Thanks for sharing, Tessa. Loved reading your post!!!
What wonderful stories of libraries! Like most readers/writers, I have enormous affection for libraries. When I was a kid, my mom took me there every weekend and I checked out huge stacks of books. Couldn’t live without interlibrary loan now, either. 🙂
Tessa, I have my original copies of the Misty books too. I LOVE those books. I also have the copy of Black Beauty my folks bought me in 1967.
I entered the first grade at a K-12 school in Selma, Alabama in 1964. There were no programs for gifted kids and NOBODY had even heard of ADD or anything like that. My Mom taught me to read by the time I was four and we used to go to the base library every week to check out books. So, I was to put it mildly A PAIN in my first grade class. The other kids couldn’t get the flash cards and it made me nuts. I WAS BORED! I was also extremely fortunate to have Mrs. Chance as my first grade teacher. While others wanted to skip me ahead to the fourth grade she said no. I spent the first two hours of the day in her class and the rest of the day in the LIBRARY! For a kid like me it was heaven on earth. The librarian was Mrs. Cooke. She would pick books for me to read and ask me questions about them. This was the pattern of my education from the first through part of the fourth grade. By that time I was helping the high school kids find books and do papers. I was a lemon of a kid and those ladies made lemonade. I owe them everything. I was never made to feel odd. My love of reading was nurtured and praised. It made all the difference in my life.
And I had a great time recently when I spoke at our little local library here in Wetumpka. I told them I was the family eccentric because I write romance novels. And my family blames it all on …. LIBRARIANS!!
Diane, your husband works for the Library of Congress? How cool is that!
I am not ashamed to say that I cried when I entered the new library at my alma mater. Like a tourist off the bus, I stared, open mouthed at the comfortable seating, floor to ceiling windows overlooking the Hudson, the stacks and rows of computers. It was the polar opposite of the library that existed in that very spot when I went to college there. Really!
The same thing happened to me when I first walked into the Brooklyn Library at Grand Army Plaza. It’s an amazing building and collection of information.
The next step in my library tour will have to be the New York Public Library on Bryant Park. I can’t wait.
That’s the effect libraries have on me. They literally take my breath away.
Great blog, Tessa.
Wow! What fun to hear all the different stories! One thing I didn’t mention in my blog is that my husband enticed me to move to our current location with the idea that I could get my library science degree and be a librarian. However, the program wasn’t offered in the school closest to us and I decided instead to focus on getting my books into the library instead of me!
Thanks so much for sharing! I’ll pick a winner and the Riskies will announce her on tomorrow. And if your local library is considering cutting back on hours, refer them to this location – they can find lots of reason why libraries are a vital part of any community.
The next step in my library tour will have to be the New York Public Library on Bryant Park. I can’t wait.
Ooo ooo, Santa! Amanda, Deb Marlowe and I are going to be at Book Expo America end of May. I’d LOVE to see the NYPL when we are there.
Diane, let’s make it a date!
My dad would give me a special dollar each year on my birthday. I used it to buy my library card at the Brookfield, MO Carnegie Library. I don’t think I could have stretched that dollar any better. Doris S.