Posts tagged with: libraries

Books & Tea Reader Event

Hello everyone! I just love libraries. The hushed peace, the smell of so many books packed together, just
 waiting to be opened. And I love tea. The warm, calming sensation that comes with sipping (silently) the subtle flavors of suntanned leaves steeped with honey, or sugar and cream, or just plain. Books and tea, a perfect pair.


I was recently invited to participate in a Romance Writers Tea Party at my local library. All the libraries in my county were part of the program. Three romance authors were invited to each party to rotate between tables where attendees drank tea/lemonade, ate cookies and strawberries, and asked us questions. It was a marvelous event!




The library had copies of our books on the table, and we could bring others for purchase as well as our free swag for attendees. Keeping with the tea theme, I made paper tea bag/chocolate holders with my web site and book covers on the outsides. I set one at each attendee spot, along with my book marks, notepads and pens. Inside one of the paper tea holders, I stamped a shamrock. Whoever sat at that table spot won a free copy of my book, CAPTURED HEART.

The tea party was held in the library conference/children’s program room and started out with everyone mingling, getting refreshments and choosing a seat. One spot, for the author, was left open at the three tables. The librarian introduced each of us with a brief bio, which we provided to her.

Collage for CAPTURED HEART – Scottish Historical Romance

I started off at each table showing some of my collages, which I use to help me write, and discussed my process. It was very casual and attendees asked questions throughout, although the very on-top-of-it librarian had a list of potential questions on each table. At twenty minutes, she encouraged us to switch to another table, although we all ran over.

At the end, attendees were able to fill up on refreshments, take a look at the books, sign up for newsletters and talk with each author if they had individual questions. And a couple people bought my books. It was a unique, fun way to meet new readers (even if you don’t like tea). If you are a librarian or have a local library, you could suggest a Romance Writers Tea as an outreach event.

Here are a few details about my particular experience:

  • Three authors were invited to attend each event. Each author received a $100 honorarium.
  • Between 15 and 20 readers attended each tea party.
  • The library made up fliers and a poster for each entrance into the library. They asked for reservations so they would know how much food to have.
  • A beverage station was set up with hot water, various tea bags, sugars, creamer/milk, lemonade and ice water.
  • Attendees were asked to bring their own tea cups but could use the paper ones provided.
  • Cookies and strawberries were set out with napkins and little plates.
  • Tables had table cloths and simple center pieces (I brought my own tea pots for the center pieces).
  • I’m the only one who wore a hat, but a library could suggest hats as part of the fun.
  • The event took about one and a half hours.

Have you ever attended a similar author event in your area? Were there interesting features/details that made it even more fun?

For more information about Heather McCollum, including her homemade Chai Tea Latte recipe (link below), please check out her web site and sign up for her newsletter

Chai Tea Latte Recipe

Thank a Librarian

This week is National Library Week, and in its honor, I think every reader everywhere should thank a librarian. Where did so many readers get their start? In a library. Where did so many of our favorite writers get their start? As a reader in a library.

I grew up in Arlington, Virginia, then a small suburb across the river from sleepy Washington D.C. The tallest building in an area now full of towering buildings was then two stories tall. Our local library was a bungalow cottage outfitted with bookshelves along every available space. There was no room to read, no room to have any programs or readings. Children’s books were squeezed into one of the bedrooms in the back. Everything, chairs, shelves, the floor, was made of wood.

Since Arlington was built on a series of hills, room was found to build a new library on a steep slope. In the back were two levels for books with the parking lot behind on the upper level. Seating was on the lower, street level, with a great sloping roof down from the second level balcony. Matching what we all had in our yards, the outside was stone and to my young eyes looked like a castle.

I spent many happy hours there and devoured the children’s section. I suppose to shut me up, someone introduced me to reading plays. This was where I was first read “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder, a work so full of despair I have never been able to read it, then or now, without shedding buckets of tears. I was eleven or twelve, and the memory of first reading something so powerful is burnt into my brain. That may be when my desire to write stories with a happy ending was born.

When “Our Town” was assigned for a college course, I read it in the university library and sobbed uncontrollably, which earned me stares. No one asked what was wrong. Perhaps tears are normal in the university library.

I’ve been in plenty of libraries since then, but if you say the word “library” I’m taken back to my childhood. I wasn’t involved in sports, but I got plenty of exercise walking to and from my favorite place until sometime during high school when I’d read every work of fiction stored there.

Thank goodness for libraries and librarians. Without them, my childhood would have been bleak. And as an adult, I might never have discovered my life’s passion: writing stories with a happily ever after.

Kate Parker is the author of the Victorian Bookshop Mysteries, starting with The Vanishing Thief. The next one, The Counterfeit Lady, comes out in August.

What’s Your Favorite Library Memory?

The library in my hometown is closed for major renovations.  Really major, as in, they’ll take two or three years.  Each time I drive by the chained-off driveway and boarded-up windows, it feels strange and sad and desolate.

Don’t get me wrong, we need a new library.  The old one was built several decades ago, and the town that it served has probably quadrupled in size since then. But still.

It was more than a dated building or a local landmark.

During high school, it was the spot where I researched papers (pre-Internet!) and scribbled drama-laden, rambling notes to my friends.  It was where I read Jane Austen and thought I can’t believe this counts as homework.

Somewhere around my 20’s, when I began my love affair with romance novels, the library fed my addiction. I’d check out a dozen each week, re-reading old favorites and discovering new authors. Nothing—nothing!—beat the thrill of finding a brand new romance on the library shelf.

Years later, it was the place where I took my kids for story time.  The little cinderblock room in the back would be packed with preschoolers mesmerized by a felt board and a fairy tale.  (Meanwhile, I could sneak away for a few peaceful moments in the romance section.)

More recently, it was the place to donate much-loved books, to consult a thoughtful librarian to suggest just the right resource for a school project, and to catch up with friends.

And then I started thinking not just about this library, but all the libraries where I have memories.  There was the one at my elementary school, where I read my first Judy Blume book, and which had the coolest card catalog drawers (Dewey Decimal, anyone?) There were the stacks at my college library—the damp, cold, and blessedly quiet spots where I spent hours looking for obscure texts on witchcraft (it was a phase) when I should have been studying statistics.

There are so many great memories made in libraries, and I’ll bet you have some too.

On this free-for-all Friday, I’d love to hear your favorite library memories.  Maybe you got asked to homecoming, served detention (like Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club!), or pulled an all-nighter cramming for exams.  Better yet, maybe you’ve been in a haunted library.  Please share!  One commenter, selected at random, will win a $10 Barnes & Noble e-gift card.  (The winner will be announced here on Sat. 10/1/11.)

What are YOUR favorite library memories?

Sat. 10/1 Update:  Thanks to everyone for sharing!  Your stories were so touching and fun.  The winner of the Barnes & Noble e-gift card is Carla–congrats!  Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!  –Anne

The Latest Comments

  • Autumn Jordon: You got to love the man for inspiring you. Love this.
  • Addison Fox: Oh D, it is SO true! The real world is always there waiting 🙂 Addison
  • Darynda Jones: That’s so awesome, June!
  • Darynda Jones: LOVE!!!! While I do love writing on that inspirational high, sadly it is usually quite short-lived and...
  • Addison Fox: Thanks, June!!! Though, I must say, the image you just painted of sparkles of light dancing over the...