Thursday, May 5, 2016

When Writers and Readers Get Together

by Sparkle Abbey

We just got back from Malice Domestic, the annual conference for the traditional mystery. Though we're not sure just how many people were in attendance suffice to say we numbered in the hundreds. Readers, librarians, book bloggers, and authors all in one place. And between the great panels, fun events, and premier Agatha Awards banquet, what do you suppose writers talk about? Books, that's what. We can't help ourselves. It's so much a part of who we are. So over lunch, or over drinks, or during breaks in the sessions, we talk about the books we're reading, the books we wish we had time to read, and the books that have stayed with us through the years.

The week before leaving for Malice we got to together with a much smaller group of authors, our local PAL (Published Author Liaison) friends, which is a group of traditionally published Iowa authors. We had a wonderful tour of the Perry Carnegie Library, which was built in 1904 with a grant from Andrew Carnegie. The building has been restored to its 1910 appearance and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It serves as both a museum and working library and the current collection includes many of the library’s original 1,000 titles, as well as special collections of Midwest literature, women’s fiction, children’s books, and books on literacy and libraries.

"For centuries, cultures have been measured by their libraries."
- A. Arthur Davis

As we finished the tour and began catching up, what do you suppose talk turned to? If you guessed books, you'd be exactly right. Books and, in particular, the books we checked out from our public libraries when we were growing up. Interestingly enough, though we all grew up in different places, we had similar stories  of checking out as many books as we were allowed. Mary Kay Shanley, who is not only a talented author, but also teaches writing classes at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, shared that her librarian always checked the weight of her stack of books to make sure she could carry them the six blocks to her home.

What about you? Have you always been a reader and what part did your local public library play in your early reading experiences?

Our author picture is a shot of us with the real Sparkle and the real Abbey. Don't you love the stare down? Our real names are Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter. We write the Pampered Pets mystery series together. We're also friends and neighbors so you'll often find us writing at ML's dining room table or at our local Starbucks.

We chose to use Sparkle Abbey as our pen name on this series because we liked the idea of combining the names of our two rescue pets - Sparkle (ML's cat) and Abbey (Anita's dog). We live in the Midwest, but if we could write anywhere, you would find us on the beach with our laptops and depending on the time of day either an iced tea or a margarita.

Our latest installment in the series is RAIDERS OF THE LOST BARK. Like the rest of the books, it's set in southern California and this book involves "glamping" a term coined to describe glamorous camping. Let's just say, there are no pop-up tents or sleeping bags to unfurl, the s'mores are gourmet, and the campers' diamonds sparkle as bright as the stars.

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