Posts Tagged ‘libraries’

I fondly remember the card catalogs in the libraries of my younger days. The sound of the drawers being pulled out, the feel of leafing through the manila-colored cards, and the smell of recently oiled wooden cabinets when I looked for a book I wanted to locate among the aisles of shelves are burned into my memory.

I even knew the Dewey Decimal System somewhat –  due to volunteering hours and hours to help out at the school library of Perry Hall Elementary when I was in the fifth grade. Many of you at this point will exclaim out loud: “Card what? Dewey who?”

It seems in this age of computers and instant answers, the time it takes to search through a drawer of cards each labelled with information about a particular book – is wasted time.

Sigh. I beg to differ.

The quiet of the library, the dust motes floating in the light which entered from windows at the rear of the room, the feeling of anticipation as I gazed at books on shelving units taller than me, and the eagerness with which I flipped through those card catalog cards cannot be replaced by an online experience.

So fellow book-lovers, let us mourn the passing of the card catalog! Read more here.

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Today’s Quotable Wednesday gem:

“A good library will never be too neat, or too dusty, because somebody will always be in it, taking books off the shelves and staying up late reading them.” – Lemony Snicket

This quote doesn’t just work for public libraries, it works for the bookshelves of your home. Picking up and reading or using some of your books for research keeps the dust away. My bookshelves are rarely neat or dusty. How about you – are your bookshelves dusty?

I hope you’re enjoying my blog posts and links. Want to show some love? Visit my Amazon page and consider buying a book. 🙂

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Author Diana Gabaldon “Overall, the library held a hushed exultation, as though the cherished volumes were all singing soundlessly within their covers.” – Diana Gabaldon, Outlander

First, let me say I’m a sucker for all book-positive library quotes. Plus, I’m a fan of Diana Gabaldon and her books. So this quote is naturally one of my favorites. (And I hold librarians in the highest esteem, since they are the custodians of books and steadfast promoters of reading).

I’ve had the privilege of hearing a number of authors speak at libraries (and I have gladly traveled hours to hear these author talks). Here’s a you-tube video of Diana Gabaldon, June 20, 2014, at Toronto Public Library which I hope you’ll enjoy. It does come with a warning – Diana writes for adults, so some of the content is a little racy!

Do you ever go to hear authors talk about their books?


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Years ago, when I was in Junior and Senior High School, I took several years of Latin. Virgil was one of the writers whose work we read. Who knew there were manuscripts by him stored in the Pope’s library? I imagine those manuscripts, and other literary treasures soon to be available, will have academics scrambling to find translators.

Anyone else take Latin in school?

I hope you’re enjoying my blog posts and links. Want to show some love? Visit my Amazon page and consider buying a book. 🙂

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I love books – the look of them, the weight of them in my hands, the smell of them, the sound of their pages turning… Well, you get the idea. Therefore, I love libraries (and librarians are on my top kind of people list).

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the fabulous library in Dublin, where The Book of Kells and other ancient manuscripts are housed, as well as many other wonderful libraries including the local Branch a few miles from my home. Now, I’d like to go on a library tour of the USA to visit the 10 libraries listed in this link.

Do you have a favorite library?

I hope you’re enjoying my blog posts and links. Want to show some love? Visit my Amazon page and consider buying a book. 🙂

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Thanks to author Michele Lynn Seigfried for stopping by and sharing her tips on researching a mystery/crime novel. Enjoy!

Researching the Mystery-Crime Novel By Michele Lynn Seigfried

Author photo “Hello, and welcome to my guest post! I want to start by thanking Vonnie for hosting me today. Today’s topic is how to research a mystery-crime novel.

There are an absurd number of factors to consider when writing a mystery/crime novel, as many of you already know. Assuming your audience may include attorneys, court personnel and people in law enforcement; writers want their books to be as realistic as possible. After all, these people who read your books, write reviews. Good reviews help sell more copies. We definitely don’t like to hear that someone didn’t enjoy our work because it was unrealistic (especially if you are writing a true-crime novel)! That is where doing thorough research makes the difference in quality work.

Where do authors typically go to find their research? The internet? Can you believe everything you read on the internet? There are some websites that are more accurate than others. Among those that tend to be reliable resources are websites of government agencies. Most local governments compile their laws into a “code book,” which is posted on their websites. Inside a local code book, you can locate information about types of violations and penalties associated with a particular violation. Sometimes, the exact penalties are not set forth or there is a range of penalties listed, and it’s up to the judge to determine the exact penalty. Repeat offenders typically get increased fines, community service or jail time. Code books can vary greatly from town to town and state to state. It’s a good idea to find the correct information for your book’s location.

More severe criminal activity is not usually listed in a local code book. For these crimes, you may need to look to the legislature or the federal government websites. In my recent novel, Red Tape, I relied heavily on the New Jersey Legislature’s website, which contains all the statutes of the state. I learned that the crime I would have thought was embezzlement isn’t called embezzlement in New Jersey. I also discovered what the penalties were, whether or not there would be jail time, and that the court case would not involve a jury. I also found out that the crime Chelsey was charged with would be tried at a municipal court, and not in Federal nor County court.

Besides government agencies, websites for newspapers are particularly helpful. I have an internet subscription to the New York Times so that I can research their archives. I also subscribe to genealogybank.com which is extremely helpful in finding newspaper articles through a key-word search of their databases. Genealogybank.com has hundreds of newspapers from every state, which includes both recent articles and historical ones. While I haven’t written a historical crime novel yet, I have toyed with the idea after finding articles about my ancestors who were less-than-stellar citizens!

Not interested in doing internet research? There are other ways to track down the information you need to make your facts as real as possible. Consider a visit to the municipal or government buildings in the town where your mystery or crime is taking place. These buildings are open to the public during regular business hours. If you call ahead, you may be able to arrange for a tour with the possibility of seeing the inside of the jail. Take note of your surroundings and decide if any information is important to contain in your work. What do the uniforms of the officers look like? What color, make and model are the emergency vehicles? Do they have K-9 units, etc.?

Are you writing about a location that is too far to visit? Don’t be afraid to make phone calls. See if the police have a press person who is willing to assist you. Contact a local historical society for unique information about a particular location. Call your state division of archives and find out what records they maintain (extremely useful for a historical death certificates and finding causes of deaths). See if there is a state office of legislative services that can direct you to particular laws that are on the books.

Red Tape Try contacting the town/city clerk. They are a wealth of information. They are the keeper of the records, maintainer of historical town information, and if they don’t know something, they typically know where to send you. While there are exceptions to the rule, the majority of town clerks pride themselves on being helpful and will go out of their way to assist you with your research. They can direct you to where their code book can be found and can help you locate anything within the code books, such as penalties for violations. They can provide you with unique information about their town, which is helpful if you are writing about a town you are not from. If you are writing a historical crime novel, the clerk may be able to provide you with copies of old maps. You wouldn’t want to say a crime took place on a certain street, if the street did not exist back when it occurred. They can let you know about regulations for open public records and whether or not you (or the sleuth in your novel) would be privy to certain information about a crime.

Don’t rule out going to a library for assistance. Libraries contain criminal code books, law journals, historical newspapers and other valuable research tools. Librarians are a wealth of information and are generally very helpful.

Lastly, I would highly recommend using social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter to aid you in your research efforts. There are bound to be professionals such as lawyers and police officers who would be willing to give you tips and hints on these sites. You might be able to meet a resident from your novel’s locale who can provide insightful information about the world in which they live. Such unique information would make your book stand out, make the reader feel like they are there, and ultimately, make your book an enjoyable read.”

For more information about Michele Lynn Seigfriedvisit her at: http://michelelynnseigfried.wordpress.com ,

www.facebook.com/MicheleLynnSeigfried and www.goodreads.com/Micheleseig

and follow her on twitter @ Micheleseig

And to purchase Red Tape: Amazon (Kindle & Paperback): amzn.to/12LAJgY

Barnes & Noble (Nook & paperback): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/red-tape-michele-seigfried/1115098453?ean=9781482012880

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/305074

Plus, Red Tape is also available on iTunes.

Thanks again to Michele Lynn Seigfried for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, blogs from me, and Readers & Writers Recipes. Have a great day! – Vonnie

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