Part 2 — Speed Dating with Mass. Authors 2015 @massbook @MassLibAssoc

shot of room with books in foreground, authors in backgroundIn a post earlier this week I wrote about the Speed Dating with Massachusetts Authors event during the Massachusetts Library Association conference last week, but only got to describe part of it. So here’s the second post about this wicked fun event – organized and hosted by the Massachusetts Center for the Book – which is always my favorite part of the library conference.

Tcover imagehe young adult novel Being Henry David by first-time author Cal Armistead is set in Concord, Mass., the site of Walden Pond made famous by Henry David Thoreau. A Boston teen wakes up in Boston not knowing where he comes from or even his own name, and flees to Concord, where he calls himself “Henry David” after the author of Walden, the book he had waken up holding. “Thoreau keeps coming back as a spirit guide for him,” the author explained during her speed date with our table.

holding a copy of Being Henry David
Her book contains many Thoreau quotations, making it “an easy way to introduce students to transcendentalism and Thoreau,” author Cal Armistead said.

cover imageThe Massachusetts co-author of Saving Baby: How One Woman’s Love for a Racehorse Led Her to Redemption, Lawrence “Larry” Lindner, was a dog person not a horse person but was still captivated by the story of Michigan resident Jo Anne Normile who was converted from being a successful and fanatical breeder and owner of racehorses to rescuing injured racehorses and questioning the entire horse racing industry.

author at table
Hingham, Mass. resident Lawrence Lindner said he was dubious about co-authoring a memoir about racehorses, until he heard Jo Anne Normile’s amazing story.


cover imageRandy Susan Meyers is a high-energy personality and a lot of fun. She obviously has a serious side, though, because, as she said, her novels “tend to deal with family dysfunction.” Accidents of Marriage, her third and latest,  is no exception, being about a family in turmoil when Madeline, mother of three, is gravely injured by her husband Ben. Randy Susan Meyers is also the author of two previous novels, The Murderer’s Daughters and The Comfort of Lies.

signing books
“I like looking at a family from all different angles,” said Randy Susan Meyers, author of Accidents of Marriage.


 cover imageAgainst Football by Steve Almond is a contender in the nonfiction category of the Massachusetts Book Awards for books published in 2014. The author of Candyfreak, a lighthearted look at his lifelong candy addiction, gets serious here by laying out his reasons for deciding he can no longer, in good conscience, continue to be the rabid football fan he had been for years, because of the risk of brain injury to the players. “When your brain is gone, you’re gone,” he told us. “There’s no helmet that will fix physics.”

author holding copy of Against Football
“That’s the nature of football. It’s profoundly violent, but we hide from the violence.” — Steve Almond, author of Against Football


cover imageRichard “Rich” Michelson has published several collections of poetry – his latest is More Money Than God – and several children’s picture books – the most recent is S Is for Sea Glass – so he talked a little about both when he visited our table. “My books are not all still in print,” he said. “Thank God for libraries.” (Playing to the audience, but we loved it.) Rich Michelson said he often visits schools to talk with students about race and diversity, poetry, or other topics.

photo of author at table

Thank you to the Massachusetts Center for the Book for bringing Speed Dating with Massachusetts Authors to the conference again this year!

Sadly, the Massachusetts Center for the Book is once again having to struggle for its annual funding, as the state budget works its way through the House and Senate. It’s strange, in a state that prides itself on being so literate and smart, that we can’t stabilize funding for our Center for the Book as so many other states have. (There is a Center for the Book in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.)

How can you help? If you’re a Massachusetts resident, please call your state senator today and ask him/her to sign on to Sen. Jennifer Flanagan’s amendment 137 to fund budget line 7000-9508, Massachusetts Center for the Book:


This amendment matches the allocation in the House budget. If passed it would mean that MCB could hire a program coordinator so that its director was able to focus on developing new projects, securing new collaborations, and raising the funds needed to realize the potential of an organization charged with developing, supporting, and promoting cultural programming to enhance library outreach and to advance the cause of lifelong literacy.

Not sure how to contact your state senator? Check out CapWiz through the Massachusetts Library Association, which makes it really easy!


Part 1 — Speed Dating with Mass. Authors 2015 @massbook @MassLibAssoc

If you haven’t done speed dating with authors yet, you’ve been missing out on a fun time! This year’s event at the Massachusetts Library Association’s annual conference last week featured eight authors who paired up and went from table to table to converse with us about their books and their writing – sharing stories and giving us a glimpse of the person behind the book – before the timer went off and they had to move on to the next table of readers.

group of people around table with table of books in foreground

Organized and hosted by the Massachusetts Center for the Book, the Speed Dating with Mass. Authors event was a chance to meet and talk with some of the local authors whose books are in the running for a Massachusetts Book Award and are likely to be named Massachusetts Must-Read titles this year in June. The authors and their books were briefly introduced by Sharon Shaloo, executive director of the Massachusetts Center for the Book, which administers the Massachusetts Book Awards, Letters About Literature (State House ceremony coming up on May 18th with speaker Jane Yolen!) and other literary programs throughout the year.

Driving_BackwardsDriving Backward, first-time author Jessica Lander‘s narrative nonfiction book about the people and their stories from the small town of Gilmanton, New Hampshire. Growing up, she spent her summers there in the home that inspired the author of the scandalous novel Peyton Place.

photo of Jessica langer signing books
In Driving Backwards (Tidepool, 2014), Jessica Lander reveals the “incredible, rich stories of ordinary people.”

cover imageCharles Coe is a Boston poet, but Spin Cycles is a short work of fiction intended especially for adult ESOL or reluctant teen readers. This story of a young homeless man in Boston is told in the voice of the unnamed protagonist, revealing “the repetitive simple nature of his days,” the author explained when he arrived at our table.

photo at table
Author Charles Coe said he hopes anyone who likes good storytelling will enjoy Spin Cycles, a work of short fiction written in basic English.

 cover imageThe Orphans of Race Point was my favorite book of 2014, so I was happy to see author Patry Francis at the speed dating event. She said the novel developed out of an image that came to her of a boy hiding in a closet from a traumatic event. Set mainly in Provincetown and New Bedford, Massachusetts, this is a story of love, family, tragedy, faith, and betrayal that will tear your heart out.

author at table with her book
Author Patry Francis signing copies of The Orphans of Race Point



Conference Time with the Massachusetts Library Association

When we’re getting ready to go on a trip, my husband is the one to make the reservations, prepare checklists, get out the suitcases, remind me to pack the night before, fill up the car with gas, go over the checklists, see that all the windows are closed before we leave, etc. I’m the one who slides into the passenger seat at the last minute and says, “What’s that funny smell?”

I was going overnight to Worcester by myself yesterday for the Massachusetts Library Association Conference (Through the Library Lens) and so I did the prep work myself. Which is why, when it was time to leave the conference and check in at the hotel before coming back for dinner, I had to look in my email to see whether I was at the Hilton Garden Inn or the Holiday Inn Express, which are both right near the DCU Conference Center. (It’s possible that I rely on my smartphone too much.) And, yes, I was a teensy bit late getting to Worcester in the morning because I didn’t allow time for traffic.

After a long day, I was happy to see the coffee station at the hotel's front desk.
After a long day, I was happy to see the coffee station at the hotel’s front desk.

I attended a morning presentation on library advocacy, which I will write more about later. A fun reader’s advisory session in the afternoon offered tips for helping readers find their next book and for not being afraid because you don’t know all the books. (“Embrace the fear!”) For the last session of the day,  I participated in a panel discussion myself on the topic of continuing education in reader’s advisory.  Talk about embracing the fear!

photo of four librarians
Reader’s advisory is fun! (That’s me on the far right. Yikes! I’m sitting up front with the experts!)

But the audience was great – even staying till 5:30 because it was the very last session of the day. It was fun to see how passionate so many people are about matching books with readers.

I took a walk this morning. It’s springtime in Worcester!

Today I’ll be going to Speed Dating with the Massachusetts Authors hosted by the Massachusetts Center for the Book and having lunch with some of the authors, including (I hope) Patry Francis, the author of my favorite book of 2014, The Orphans of Race Point.

Suggestions from a Massachusetts Librarian


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