Thank you to everyone who submitted their poetry! It was a difficult decision to choose just three! The top three poets will receive a gift certificate and will have their poetry entries published in our May newsletter. The winners of our national poetry month contest are:
"When Johnny Comes Marching Home" by Elliot Finn, "The River Bank" by Gordon Dubois and "Books" by Kaitlyn Gable. Congratulations!
See all of the entries below!
On July 13th, author Toby Ball visited the Meredith Library and shared some of his writing experiences with the audience. Toby Ball has written a trilogy of books, The Vaults, Scorch City and Invisible Streets. His family has had a home on Bear Island since 1938, and he has been a frequent visitor to the Meredith Library in the past. He spoke primarily about the process of writing and ultimately publishing his series.
The Vaults is the second manuscript Toby has completed. Most authors tend to not publish their first novel, though some will revisit them once they have had a major blockbuster. He began work on his first manuscript, a thriller with two main characters, having just moved to New Hampshire from Washington D.C., working on his graduate degree, with a six-week-old child. At this time, he viewed it mostly as a hobby. In spite of this, he had mostly followed the formula for what was generally considered a successful means of being published. However, after sending the manuscript to sixty agents, there were no offers. Several agents did express a positive opinion of his writing, but were not interested in the particular work. Agents tend to be very selective and particularly at this time, self-publishing was not as prominent as it is now.
Toby’s second effort was more about a story that he wanted to write and less what was generally successfully received. The genesis of the book was as a couple of short story ideas that were merged and expanded upon. The first built on the idea of an archivist similar to the one ultimately used in The Vaults, and the second on the Navajo Project (a key feature of the finished book).
Again, however, he was unable to secure an agent with his initial offering, but was given enough positive encouragement that he did not wholly abandon the effort. He sent the work to Amazon’s Breakthrough Author Contest and was one of several thousand entries. His work made it to the final fifty. After another set of revisions, he again submitted it to about fifty agents. He noted how agents tend to wait until the last minute of their six week deadline before getting back to people they might represent. His experience was no different, but in the end, Rob McQuillen offered to represent him. McQuillen had just started a new firm and had a background in editing. While there was interest in The Vaults, it was determined that the ending was not dramatic enough and that a central character should probably die at the end. This change was made, and the manuscript was sent out to various publishers, and was eventually picked up by St Martin’s Press along with a second title to be written. Scorch City followed, while Overlook Press published the third of the City trilogy, Invisible Streets. When asked if he intended to continue this series, he said that he felt the trilogy had a fairly successful arch.
Toby viewed the editing process as a learning experience and felt the book was far smoother as it went to press. In general, he thinks that about 95% of the suggestions he received from editors and publishers were worthwhile and never felt that these individuals were making demands of him, though he admits some suggestions were made more strongly than others. The forms edits would take varied from both the editor and the publisher and later, from one publication to the next. Some would be very brief suggestions while others would be full-length memos, and some edits would consists of in-text edits throughout the entire manuscript. Good copy editors also do a great deal of fact checking.
A question was raised about cover art in books. Toby noted that in the case of his work and with the exception of a few very well known, best-selling authors who might select their own artists, the publisher generally determines the cover art. The author is allowed to give feedback, and in the case of Toby’s second novel, Scorch City, the initial artwork was deemed to be attractive, but not particularly true to the story, so two other options were provided and one ultimately chosen to be on the cover.
An attendee also asked when in the process, Toby came up with a title, or if one was assigned by the publisher after the completed work. In each case Toby determined his own title, though when in the writing process this was determined varied. Only in the case of The Vaults was the title considered at the beginning. The others came to him part way through the writing process. He never had an experience where the publishers asked for him to change the title to make it more marketable, as other authors have noted.
Toby generally wrote from 8-10 at night after his children had gone to bed. He is not particularly good at outlining and for many of his works, he has only come to the first chapter after completing a good deal of the first draft. Toby’s writing process involved first establishing a theme he wanted to write about, then forming a plot and finally populating the work with believable characters. One challenge in writing good characters, is trying to create sympathetic characters that have values that are not shared by the author.
In writing historic fiction, he noted there being two primary schools of thought. Some authors focus heavily on research and have a tendency to want to show off this research by accurately establishing details including some things that the general reader might view as minutia. The second school, which Toby adhered to in his novels, seeks to grasp the tone of the time without dwelling on specific facts, but also not getting any key historic aspects wrong.
When Toby was writing The Vaults self-publishing did not hold the position it now does in the market, and was generally considered vanity publishing. His major concern with publishing one of his own works would be the lack of editorial oversight that he has experienced with a publishing house. In one novel, an editor felt the pacing was all wrong, and the work greatly benefited from a rewrite.
While most of the conversation was about the writing process, a few questions were asked specifically about the book. One person asked if the City was meant to be representative of Washington D.C. where he had recently moved from (at the time of its writing). Toby said that he decided to create a completely fictional city rather than use an existing city where the reader would constantly be coming up against their suspension of disbelief if something in the fictional account did not fit with the real city. This choice also allowed for more freedom. He did mention in some ways it was built off the model of Syracuse, New York, if it were expanded to the size of Chicago. For the atmosphere of the City, Toby drew upon the works of Raymond Chandler and film noir.
Toby was asked if he would have any interest in having his works turned into a film or series. He said he would absolutely be interested, but many factors of his book would make it challenging to put on the screen. He noted that period pieces can often be very expensive. Also, the two lead characters are not together in the same scene until the very end of the novel, which would make it difficult to bring in any major actors. Also, the sheer number of characters makes it expensive to produce.
Toby is currently working on a book set two years in the future. He estimates he is at about the midway point of the first draft. He also contributes to two podcasts. Crime Writers On has between 60,000 and 100,000 followers. He has also recently started a new podcast, Radio Free Dystopia. He mentioned how it took some time to adopt the best pacing for podcasts and author talks.
The Meredith Library is grateful for Toby’s visit and wish him continued success in his writing and other endeavors.
On Thursday April 20th, authors Connie Johnson Hambley and Jessica Estevao visited the Meredith Public Library. They discussed their works, their writing process and how their membership in Sisters in Crime had helped them as writers. One of the great things about having authors for these events is the personal stories they share about their individual journey towards becoming an author. Also, it is interesting to learn how each author approaches their craft.
Sister’s in Crime is an international organization of authors and writing enthusiasts. All experience levels are welcome, and it provides great networking opportunities as well as assistance from experienced authors on all stages of the writing process. The organization is nurturing and supportive, but also realistic about how the publishing industry and writing process work. Jessica Estevao mentioned one activity promoted by the organization, Shameless Self-Promotion for Hussies, to help authors gain the confidence they need to market their materials. One section known as the Guppies is for great unpublished authors. New England’s Sisters in Crime chapter is the second largest in the nation.
Connie Johnson Hambley had many careers before she published her first novel. Some of her previous jobs included being a lawyer, banker, instructor, and journalist. She has been a member of Sisters in Crime for four years and this is her first year on the Board of Directors.
Connie is completing a trilogy of books that consists of the published works of The Charity and The Troubles. Many series, particularly in the mystery genre tend to have the same investigator or sleuth with each book consisting of a different mystery. Characters will often develop over time, but the world remains relatively compact. This is not the case in this trilogy with each book expanding the world and scope of one overarching story. In her first book, the protagonist witnesses a gang murder and is framed for the crime.
She wrote the book seventeen years before it was published, and discussed the idea of publishing it while on a long flight to China while still working in marketing. She was sitting next to a co-owner of a small publishing company and the idea of actually publishing it began to take form. Ultimately, she decided to publish the first novel on her own, because she knew what would be required to successfully market a product even though she was new to writing. Yet, this serendipitous event helped to spur along the process. She has had books both traditionally published and self-published since then.
Jessica Estevao joined Sisters in Crime a short while before her first novel was published. She was at a talk by Lorna Barrett, and the author suggested Jessica join the organization. She does not believe she would be a published if not for the support of Sisters in Crime. She started to truly work on her first novel when her youngest son began kindergarten. She noted that she finally had 2 hours and 20 minutes every day when all of her children were at school. A friend mentioned to Jessica that there was a publishing opportunity that did not require an agent, just a manuscript of 70,000 words. Unfortunately, hers was originally closer to 85,000 words. She noted that she became very grateful for contractions in the critiquing process.
Jessica Estevao writes under several names, and she shared with the group her reasons for doing this and why it is a fairly common practice for authors. One reason is reader expectations. While readers are often omnivorous in their tastes, it can be shocking to pick up a book anticipating a cozy read and finding something far grittier.
As Jessica Estevao she writes historic mysteries set in Old Orchard, they also tend to have some supernatural elements, for instance the first book involves a pyschic. As Jessie Crockett, she tends to write contemporary, cozy mysteries. She is about to start a new series set in 1920s England under a new pseudonym, Jessica Ellicott. All of her novels have an amateur sleuth as the protagonist.
Some publishers also require authors previously published by a different publisher to use a different nom de plume. It is also a way for authors to bypass certain publishing contract limitations. She compared the experience to that of a custody battle for one’s own name.
Both authors were drawn to the mystery genre because of its structure. Jessica spoke about the desire to have the reader be one or two steps behind the sleuth in solving the case. Not so far behind that they cannot relate, but definitely not a dozen steps ahead of the protagonist. Connie said that she used her background as a lawyer when designing her story. She considers how it translates to the audience and how best to transport them into the world she has created. Pacing and usage of the reader’s bias can also be incredibly helpful in the crafting process. One example of this, is in trying to understand the antagonist’s motivation. She sometimes tries to make her reader a little uncomfortable, a technique that makes the reader want to keep reading.
Connie also volunteers at a therapeutic riding stable and this work provided a great deal of insight into a short story she wrote and is now developing into a longer work. At one time, she worked with victims of human trafficking and learned a great deal about what they had gone through, and how their backgrounds were often far different than most would imagine.
The authors both discussed how realism and real events play into their fiction. Jessica owns a coffee mug saying “ignore my browser history I am a mystery writer.” Connie noted that her first novel was included in a counter-terrorism organization’s collection, Security Info Net, because its depiction was so realistic. She also said that realism in her novels was similar to having the reader walk across a plank, eventually they do not realize that there is nothing beneath them and they are totally immersed in the fiction. All of the pieces are real, it is how they are cobbled together that is the fiction. One reader wrote to Connie informing her she knew she was actually talking about a real gang, the Clover Club, in her novel The Charity. In this case, she had not intended to have this connection, but in other instances, both authors have used real historic events as building blocks for their fiction. Jessica noted there was an actual instance of the pier on Old Orchard having sufficient weight on it that it started to sway. This caused a panic and Jessica thought that this provided an excellent backdrop for a fictional event to occur in.
Both authors noted that real murders tended to be domestic and did not provide them with much in the way of ideas, but local police logs could be treasure troves of interesting tidbits through which fiction could be weaved. They also both do research for their books, though this can vary significantly from book to book. Jessica noted that even just holding an object she might use as a potential bludgeon in a novel is a form of research. Every trip to the grocery store or post office can give a glimpse into a new character. Other times the author needs to physically travel to the location their story is set in, to get an authentic sense of the sights, smells and sounds of a location. If the setting is in the past the setting may only be accessible through reading. Jessica noted she learned a great deal about the social implications of pigeon racing in the research for her newest novel set in 1920s England.
What truly made this event special was the interplay of the two authors and the great anecdotes they had to share. As well as being successful authors they are both very capable presenters and we are grateful they shared their time with us on Thursday. We wish them and the Sisters in Crime organization continued success and hope to host another similar event in the future.
We have recently begun a new web series celebrating the library and the patrons that make it so great. We sat down with some of them and asked them what they loved about the Meredith Public Library. Check out what they had to say!
If you would be interested in participating in our web series, please contact us at (603) 279-4303 or email Linda Hough at email@example.com
On June 16 at 2pm, the Friends of the Library opened their new used book store in Meredith! The Friends put lots of care and love into the store and it's a beautiful little retreat for book lovers. Stop in and visit!
Once Read Books is a non-profit bookstore run by the Friends of the Meredith Library and is a member of the New Hampshire Antiquarian Booksellers Association. All proceeds from the store are used to support the Friends of the Meredith Library. Our books are all donated, and donations are gratefully received at the Meredith Library. Members of the Friends receive a 10% discount on purchases, and membership is $ 15.00 per year for individuals, $25.00 per year for family and $50.00 per year for businesses.
Thursdays & Fridays: 11AM-5PM
The rear of 44 Main Street (by the Mill's upper entrance)
Can't make it to our event tonight? (World War II in New Hampshire). Don't worry, we have some great films in our catalog for you to check out and watch (all summaries are from our catalog)
The Rape of Europa (dir. Richard Berge):
"Adolf Hitler spent years struggling to establish himself as an artist before his political ambitions rose to the surface and he brought the Nazi Party to power in Germany, and documentary filmmakers Richard Berge, Nicole Newnham, and Bonni Cohen offer a unique perspective on how Hitler's aesthetic viewpoint may have affected his nation's actions during World War II. The Rape of Europa examines the artistic tastes of Hitler and his leading advisors, and how they looted many of the great museums and private art collections of Europe during the course of World War II in order to stock museums built during the Third Reich (and benefit the collections of Germany's leaders). In addition, Axis forces actively participated in raids to destroy artwork and artifacts from nations and cultures Hitler regarded as "degenerate," serving as a curious parallel to "the Final Solution" that left six million dead. The film features rare newsreel footage and photographs documenting the Nazis' obsession with art; Joan Allen narrates."
More movies, documentaries, and series under the 'read more.'
This year the Meredith Public Library is pleased to present our Summer of Local Authors, part of our adult summer reading program. Each month (June, July and August) the library will welcome in a different mystery author. Each visit will begin at 10:30 AM and is scheduled until 12:00 PM. Some of each of their books are available in print and digitally on the library’s two Kindles.
On Thursday June 2nd, we greet Dr. Jack Polidoro, who writes under the pseudonym J.P. Polidoro. He has written eight books, seven of which are novels. He also has a number of other accomplishments, including being a singer and songwriter. He has been a performer for fifty years and has seven albums of original acoustic music. His stage name is Dr. Jack. He has also earned a PhD in the Veterinary and Animal Science from the University of Massachusetts, and has worked in the biopharmaceutical industry for thirty-five years.
Several of his books are set in New Hampshire and the Lakes Region including The Dog in the Outhouse, The John Stark Marauders, Tattoo: Incident at the Weirs, and Return to Raby. He currently lives in Belmont and performs throughout the Lakes Region. To learn more about J.P. Polidoro visit www.longtailpublishing.com
On Thursday July 14th the library welcomes Philip Soletsky. Philip Soletsky holds a PhD in physics and is a decorated fourteen-year veteran of the Brookline, New Hampshire Volunteer Fire Department. He has previously published several short stories including the short Sweet Stash in “Live Free or Die, Die, Die” a New Hampshire themed mystery anthology from Plaidswede Publishing, as well as four books in a mystery series about a volunteer firefighter, Jack Fallon, who becomes embroiled in mysteries. The first of the series is Embers. His most recent book is a crime thriller set in Los Angeles.
On Thursday August 4th Killarney Traynor will be visiting the library. Her debut novel, Summer Shadows, came out in November of 2014. It received Bestseller ranking on Amazon’s Cozy Mystery category within a month. Her second novel, Necessary Evil was published in September of 2015. As well as being an author, she is an actor/stuntwoman, singer, martial artist, and historian.
We are grateful to all of our great local authors, and the Friends of the Meredith Library for supporting these events. Look for more details about each author as their visit approaches. We hope you will be able to join us.
Today we were featured in an article speaking about the new popular way for adults to unwind: coloring books. The article is entitled Color Me In.
To read the complete article, please pick up today's edition of the Laconia Daily Sun or use their e-reader on their website.
If you would like to participate in our next Adult Coloring Session event, the information is on our facebook page here.
The New Hampshire Humane Society was kind enough to offer a five week course teaching children about animal care here at the Meredith Public Library. Throughout the program, the little students learned about the Humane Society's 5 pillars of animal care – Food, Shelter, Exercise, Medical Care, and (of course) Love. For instance, they learned about the types of foods that dogs and cats can eat, and those that they shouldn't, and discussed why different types of pets make sense for your family based on your living situations (apartment, house, young children, allergies, etc).
Dr. Siobhan Bach discussed her life as veterinarian and examined Pemi the Leonberger, one of our animal visitors. Our friendly pet visitors were one of the most popular aspect of the program, which helped put a friendly face on the importance of animal care. We met Pemi the Leonberger, Crackers the Parrot, Pom Pom the Guinea Pig, Molly the Lab, and many other friendly animals!
Thanks to the New Hampshire Humane Society, many children will be on the forefront of taken very good care of their pets with a new awareness.
The Librarians and Library Aides of the Meredith Public library: Erin, Chris, Matthew, Karen, John, Cherie, Joyce, Jessica, and Linda. Please check out our Staff page for more information.