Hail, Librarians! (and Giveaway)

Congratulations to Beth Watson, who was randomly selected as our winner for the $36 gift certificate! I appreciate all of you who turned out to celebrate libraries and librarians.   –Amy

Yesterday, I got lost. Not physically lost, but lost in research. Writers will nod, it’s happened to the best of us. I go looking to verify one fact, and the next thing I know I’ve spent four hours following a rabbit trail that I can only compare to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

The things I see! The places I go!  And half the time, when I finally shake myself loose and return to my manuscript, I realize I never answered the initial question that sent me on the search in the first place.

As one good writing friend would write:  <head desk>

The Internet is an amazing research tool. I have access to so many sources. But I find myself yearning in some ways for that bygone era where doing research meant a trip to the library. The quiet seriousness of people in study, the shelves of books, the big expansive tables where you could spread materials an take notes, the tiny cubicles where you could hide while you toiled over a book report or term paper.

Am I taking you back? The Internet may be faster and easier, but libraries were special.

I could concentrate in a library. I could hear myself think. On the Internet, my email is always dinging me, Tweetdeck is always purring, I’m listening to iTunes, and I might even be online chatting with others.  Hey, multitasking is a talent, right? But all that fragmenting of my brain also means that when my search results pop up a pretty picture in an ad in the sidebar (thank you, Google…), I’m clicking my way to check out vacation results (I cannot afford), or looking up recipes, or window-shopping for shoes, or….

Well, you get the picture.

I also miss the librarians. Oh, sure, there were one or two who were the human equivalent of battle-axes, always shushing me and my friends. But there were also the generous and knowledgeable ones, particularly those who worked in the reference sections or resource centers. These were the women and men who helped me look beyond the encyclopedias and helped me find original sources in books, filmstrips, microfiche and maps.

And so, I’m happy to announce that I’ve established an online resource library for authors. The website is Author E.M.S. (Entrepreneur.Management.Solutions.)

Our goal is to help authors save time, reduce stress and improve focus on the creative work by offering simple structures and systems and developing efficiencies in the areas of basic business, research, promotion, social media and self-publishing.

I’m still busy building it, but the concept is simple: a quiet site on the Internet. No advertising, not a lot of flashbulb graphics, just loads of information divided into sections like Amazon, Book Reviews, Business, Facebook, Promotion, Self-Publishing, Websites & Blogs, and more. The pages are filled with how-tos, links to other sources and the search function on the site is pretty amazing.

There’s also a cool searchable database of online book reviewers. For authors this is a great way to find reviewers who are the best match for your particular book release. The database also shows if the site offers author interviews or advertising opportunities. My talented husband created a short video that shows how it works.

The site has lots of public pages and a Daily Tips blog that are all free, plus guests can register (name and email addy) for limited to access to the library—including a 12-lecture series on building a WordPress website. Access to the full resource library and database is restricted to paid members. Our introductory annual membership is just $36. I hope you’ll come by and check it out!

So, that’s me these days. Librarian by day, author by night (or, in my case, wee hours before dawn, usually). I hope Author EMS can help other writers avoid that overwhelmed feeling of getting lost on the Internet trying to answer a single question. Plus, maybe build a happy community. I leave you with one of my favorite tributes to librarians.  Happy Tuesday!

Do you have a fond memory of libraries or a librarian? Do you ever get “lost” on the Internet? How do you cope with it?? And, by all means, if you have questions about Author E.M.S., feel free to ask!

Today’s giveaway: one randomly-selected lucky commenter will receive a $36 gift certificate to your book retailer of choice in order to add to your personal library. Or, if you prefer, I can credit the $36 toward a membership to Author E.M.S.  To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post by midnight, Wednesday, March 7 (that’s the end of Wed., not the beginning of Wed.). I’ll use the time stamp here on the blog (Eastern Standard Time).  I’ll announce the winner at the top of the post on Thursday, March 8.

About Amy Atwell

Amy Atwell is a storyteller at heart. After fifteen years in professional theater, she turned from the stage to the page to write contemporary capers and historical tales that combine romance and adventure. Her books are available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. When not writing, she runs the online author communities WritingGIAM and Author E.M.S.
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62 Responses to Hail, Librarians! (and Giveaway)

  1. Leesa says:

    What a great idea!! I definitely get lost while looking for something… online and at home, lol. I will share this with the English teachers I work with, and our librarian. Good luck on your latest adventure!

    • Amy Atwell says:

      Glad it struck a chord with you, Leesa. I don’t mind getting lost in a store–that can be kinda fun. But getting lost in Internet research is hard on the brain, the eyes and the body. I come out of the research haze all hunched over my computer, dehydrated and hungry. LOL Thanks for spreading the word!

  2. Edie Ramer says:

    I get lost all the time. Yesterday I ended up watching a Johnny Cash You Tube video for three minutes. I don’t even remember how I got there! What I do know is that it wasn’t anything to do with my book.

    Your EMS is an absolutely wonderful idea! I’ve actually put off going into it too deeply, because I know I’ll get lost there and won’t want to come out.

    • Amy Atwell says:

      Edie, I had to laugh, yes, that’s exactly what happens to me. My research yesterday wasn’t nearly as fun. I was researching the DMCA legislation and how it protects copyright of web content and digital books. One link led to another and another and another….

      At least with AuthorEMS, I’ve tried to make it so you can refind the material again on your next visit!

  3. Mary Ann Woods says:

    I remember getting my first library card. You had to be at least five years old and able to sign your name. Boy, was I proud! The same feeling existed when my daughters got their cards. We were all very proud! Thanks to all the librarians for making reading and books so important in our lives.

    • Amy Atwell says:

      What lovely memories, Mary Ann! Yes, I remember getting my first library card in Lakewood, Ohio. I think I was 6. My mom took my older brother and sister and me. There were so many books! And now you can get movies and CDs and digital books from most libraries. It’s amazing. So glad you’re sharing the tradition with your daughters.

  4. Misty Evans says:

    I love librarians. There are two in particular that have helped me with my super agent research and I’ll always be grateful for their skills at hunting down and getting me print copies of spy books and other specific materials that made a difference in the tone of my stories. When I write, I need to become part of the world I’m writing and reading certain real life stories about past and current spies is a huge part of immersing myself in that world. I couldn’t have done a thorough job without Deb and Sue over the years. There were a few times my requests for information on weapons, explosives and terrorists met with a raised eyebrow, but it was always from curiousity on their parts. They loved helping me research as much as I loved doing it! Sue, who has an interest in the Irish and the IRA dug up books, movies and magazine articles for my reasearch for Proof of Life and I know that made all the difference when I was writing the antagonist who was an IRA member. I was able to understand his motivation and hopefully convey that in my book.

    Amy, your new author site sounds fantastic. I need to get over there and sign up! Congrats on this wonderful undertaking and best of luck with your continuing research!

    • Amy Atwell says:

      What a cool story about your research librarians, Misty. Years ago, I was in coastal North Carolina researching the history of Portsmouth, a ghost town on the Outer Banks. The local librarian was amazing at helping me find the local census records and drilling down to just that town within the county.

      Hope you enjoy checking out the site. I added 2 new pages yesterday, and I’m hoping to add another 4 this week.

  5. CrystalGB says:

    I get lost all the time online. I can spend hours reading on websites. I love libraries. Being surrounded by all the books and the peaceful atmosphere is wonderful.

    • Amy Atwell says:

      CrystalGB, I love your matter-of-fact confession. Yes, I get lost on the Internet all the time, too. ALL the time. Libraries are much less frenzied. Lots less advertising. Lots less privacy concerns. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Beth Watson says:

    I love libraries and still frequent them. In college, I had one remote corner on a top floor where I studied daily. I’m on a budget so I buy some books, but get many others through the library. And I conduct some of my genealogy research at libraries in small towns and at the state historical society’s library. It brings me back to the old days of writing term papers when you had to spend hours searching shelves for just the right books and it’s so exciting when you find it!

    I do most of my book research online. It’s handy, yet too convenient to spend way too long on it. Your EMS sounds like a great reseource. Good luck with it!

    • Amy Atwell says:

      Beth, your story reminded me of my college library. It was built in the 1960s and had these five sitting areas, like little secret living rooms. Each one had a different color palette, so you could tell friends to meet you in the blue room or the green room. It was so relaxing to sit on the floor at a coffee table or fall asleep on a sofa. I loved spending hours in that library. (I studied, too, of course!)

  7. Tracey q says:

    I guess I am a throwback. Love the Internet, but I still go to the library. I love libraries and am not willing to give them up yet.

    • Amy Atwell says:

      Tracey, I still love libraries. My local library is within walking distance. Actually, when we lived in Chicago, our apartment overlooked the main branch of the Chicago library–a huge building with 8 floors. Heaven! I need to go more often–and I need to leave my computer at home and just write long-hand or browse the books. Take a few hours a week to free my brain from Internet bombardment.

  8. Amy –

    Even I’m amazed at how much you’ve amassed for Author EMS. Once authors get a real taste of what you’re offering, and how those offerings will continue to expand, they’re going to sculpt an Amy Atwell statue. So you’d better start thinking location now – Times Square perhaps?

    Thanks for letting me be a small part of your great venture!
    Kelsey Browning`s last blog was …My Masochistic Coffee Maker

    • Amy Atwell says:

      First, I’ll fix your comment once I figure out how (ah, another thing to learn in WordPress…). LOL
      And thank YOU for all your help. Kelsey was the primary force behind the AuthorEMS Daily Tips blog. She started blogging 5 days/week last June. We now share the blogging duties between us and with the help of Dale Mayer (smooches, Dale!). The Daily Tips are full of useful info to writers. In fact, now that we have 8 months’ worth of them stored up, we’re starting to tweet links to the ones that are still timely. You can follow the feed on Twitter @AuthorEMS.

  9. Umm…would someone behind the scenes change that “explained” to “expand.” Brain and fingers not dancing together yet this morning…

    Kelsey Browning`s last blog was …My Masochistic Coffee Maker

  10. ClaudiaGC says:

    I get lost on the internet all the time! All these pretty shiny things there. 🙂 I know what you mean with how you could work better in a library. It’s usually your sole purpose going there, so you are actually working there. No distractions. No chatting with friends. And I miss the smell of all the books and going along the rows of shelves while searching for a book.

    • Amy Atwell says:

      Claudia, you’re so right–all the bright, shiny on the Internet. It’s a glittery highway, like a Yellow Brick Road. Just watch out for the flying monkeys, right? And oh, the rows of shelves of books. Hundreds, thousands of books! The Dewey decimal system, how I miss you! Thanks for sharing the memories with me.

  11. Wow, Amy! You’ve always been such a generous source of information and this online library will be fabulous. I’ll be signing up. Thanks!

  12. Amy, I have had a love affair with libraries and librarians since I was five and went to my first Story Book Hour with my older brother. My first job as a teen was a shelving clerk in a local library Fiction A-L; M-Z. I used the main libraries in both Brooklyn and Manhattan; Grand Army Plaza a landmark in Flatbush Brooklyn, the Midtown LIbrary the research and lending arm of the main branch (with the lions) off Fifth Ave.

    Librarians are the original sleuths, and amazing fonts of information, who helped me with research and taught me how to peel layers of categories to find what I needed.

    I still visit local libraries, although I do a great deal of research on line; google live for locations, etc., and yet like you, I miss the old days.

    Your new site is exciting and will give many of us the edge we need to survive, thrive and compete in these changing times. Thank you so much for sharing 🙂
    florence fois`s last blog was …Read to write … A Celebration

    • Amy Atwell says:

      Florence, I lived in NYC for awhile, and how I remember that library off Fifth Ave. So majestic! There was also one near Lincoln Center I visited a lot. Oh, those were the days. The days before I wrote for a living. I had a lot more pleasure reading time back then. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Yes, librarians are sleuths!

  13. CateS says:

    I grew up in a small town and lived only a block from the Library.. Bliss.. I walked by it everyday on the way home from school until I entered high school. While I love the internet… I am easily distracted and find myself way far away from where I started.. but the journey is always fun… but time consuming..

    • Amy Atwell says:

      Cate, I moved to a small town, when I was in 5th grade. The library was a tiny little building, but then they built a new high school and library right next to it. But I still loved the old library. The children’s collection was in the basement. It was spooky but kinda cool to go down there (with my mom, of course!) to choose a book. Yes, the Internet provides a fun, informative, time-consuming journey, but it will never compare to real libraries.

  14. Aubreylaine says:

    I have wonderful memories of going to the library as a child. The smells of the books, the helpful librarians. It’s such a peaceful place to be 🙂
    family74014 at gmail dot com

    • Amy Atwell says:

      Aubreylaine, yes, I think it’s the combination of peace, organization and everyone keeps mentioning that smell! Paper, leather, dust, something in the binding glue. And book jackets–I love hardback books with book jackets. Glad I could take you back to it all!

  15. What a great idea, Amy! The internet tends to suck me in and refuse to let me go when I start researching. Then again, with a Regency research library of almost 200 books and counting here at home I can get just as lost here.

    I spent all but an hour each school day in the library from the first through the fourth grades. My first grade teacher realized the reason I kept interrupting class was because I was BORED! There were no gifted programs then so she devised one of her own. I spent an hour each day doing my grade level work and the rest of the day in the library reading. By the time we moved to England when I was in the fourth grade I had read everything in the K-12 school library!

    • Amy Atwell says:

      Louisa, sounds like you’ve got an impressive collection of historical materials. Because of my theater work, I have some good books on costuming and historical settings, but nothing like your collection! I will say that Author E.M.S. is focused on the business of being an author, so it’s less research for fiction writing and more researching and understanding all the technology authors use today in their business life.

      And what a great story about your teachers. I would have loved to have spent my school days in the library!

  16. Bonnie H. says:

    ohmygosh! The EMS site sounds awesome from the perspective of an assistant. I can’t wait to join!
    I get lost on the internet every time 😥 Or distracted, I should say. It’s depressing sometimes.
    I love my local library, everyone is super nice and helpful. It’s very hard to get my hands on some of the things I need/want because I live in BFE so the internet is a lifesaver for me. The closest “big” library is in Seattle, which is NOT close LOL
    And not that I want to provide more distraction, but if you’ve never seen the Seattle library – it’s pretty amazing. Here’s a link to an old blog post that has a pic of it: http://goodereader.com/blog/e-book-news/seattle-libraries-testdriving-kindle-library-ebook-system/

    • Amy Atwell says:

      Bonnie, thanks for sharing the photo. Never been to Seattle. I hope to go one day. And yes, Author EMS is helpful to assistants, too. We have an Affiliate membership (same price of $36 right now), which gets the full library and reviewer database. Just within the past week, I’ve had two members email me to tell me what a time-saver it was to use the database to help create a contact list for their review queries. Thanks for stopping by!

  17. Cynthia Eden says:

    Love the idea of author EMS!!! Very, very cool! Congrats.
    Cynthia Eden`s last blog was …HOWL FOR IT

  18. Amy, congrats on the launch of EMS. I can still recall when the concept was still an itty bitty seed. Can’t believe how much you’ve accomplished.

    Smart move to have Madame Kelsey help you out. She’s RU’s Organizer Extraordinaire!

    Please don’t include me in your giveaway. I’ll be grabbing my membership before the end of the day!
    Tracey Devlyn`s last blog was …My ARCs Arrived for A Lady’s Revenge!

    • Amy Atwell says:

      Tracey, yes, you heard about it way back when. Thanks for not thinking I was nuts. (Although, we did refer to it as “The Squirrel” I was chasing…) Kelsey was definitely a lifesaver for me.

      Hey, congrats on your ARCs arriving! And, we look forward to you joining us here at Magical Musings later this month. Take care!

  19. Amy, I remember thinking, “Libraries are my favorite place in the WORLD!” when I was in 2nd grade…and that’s still true 🙂 . BTW, I *loved* “The Music Man” and so enjoyed getting to watch that scene again — thank you! CONGRATS on Author E.M.S., too! What a wonderful resource!!
    Marilyn Brant`s last blog was …Leap of Faith

    • Amy Atwell says:

      LOL, Marilyn , I had you in mind when I chose The Music Man. One of my favorite musicals EVER. Yes, libraries are special places–even if there usually isn’t as much dancing involved.

  20. Na S. says:

    One of my favorite things to do in the world is getting lost in a story. I forgo my own reality for another and it adds so much more meaning to my life. Though most of the books I read are fiction stories I do find myself getting lost in information. I’m pretty curious and love being able to satsify my curiousity with a few clicks of my mouse. I do remember when my family had whole sets of encyclopedias on our bookcases and I would regularly take one and flip to a random page and just…learn. Sometimes I would search out info but other times I didn’t have a purpose but read for fun. Learning can be pretty fun.

    I regularly visit my local library and it’s a great place pick up books but also ask for help. The staff is very friendly and I can always count on them 😀

    • Amy Atwell says:

      Na, your family had a set of encyclopedias? You’re so lucky!! I remember as a kid thinking that, one day, when I was all grown up, I would BUY my own set of encyclopedias. My, how the times have changed. Thanks for sharing how you get lost in stories and information. You’re obviously a problem-solver!

  21. Liz says:

    A nice tribute to libraries in the following: http://www.poisonedpenpress.com/8-2-million-dollars/

  22. Liz Kreger says:

    Brilliant idea, Amy. I can totally see this site being helpful to other authors … particularly those whose genre involves extensive research. I’ll have to do some exploring when I get a sec and see if it would meet my needs. There are several times that I’ve had to research certain things in the UF that I’m currently working on. Having the resources at one location would be very efficient.

    • Amy Atwell says:

      Thanks, Liz! While AuthorEMS is for all authors, I don’t have a lot of specific research that will help in writing the actual book. We’re less about craft and more about business at this point. However, our forums area would be a great place for members to share links and book titles of great resources. Hmmm, I better think on how to set that up! I do want the place to be efficient.

  23. Jane says:

    I love the library. We used to go to the library every week at our after school program and we would be there for the children’s story hour. The librarian or our teacher would read a book to us and then we would go around searching the shelves for books to borrow.

    • Amy Atwell says:

      Jane, what great memories! I can still picture the library at my elementary, middle and high school. And I loved it in fifth grade when our teacher, Mrs. Hayden, would read to us on Friday afternoons. Hmm, I really should download a few audio books. Listening to a book is really great. Thanks for stopping by!

  24. Barbara Elness says:

    I was so thrilled when I was a child and I began visiting the library. It was my favorite place to go. I felt so grown up when my mom started letting me ride my bike every week to pick up more books. As a young mother without a lot of money, I got my reading fix at the library, and introduced my son to a lifelong love of books as well.

    • Amy Atwell says:

      Barbara, it’s wonderful that you’ve taken something so important to your childhood and passed it on to your son. Books really are an amazing and special gift. Librarians deserve to be celebrated!

  25. jeanette8042 says:

    I really loved my high school librarians who always suggested new reads to me since I checked so many books out that they knew me by name. They helped to introduce me to many authors and series’ that I wouldn’t have picked up.

    • Amy Atwell says:

      Jeanette, I’m always more willing to accept suggestions from a librarian than from a bookstore employee. Maybe because the books are free. And yes, discovering new authors is the perfect reason to go to the library. I loved those little stamp cards when you checked a book out. Remember those? Everything is bar-coded these days. Thanks for sharing your memories!

  26. Tiffany Drew says:

    I remember going to a reading program when I was very young at the library during the summer and loved it. Every week was a new activity. I could spend hours at the library. I haven’t been in years, unfortunately. Even sadder: we live within a five minute walk to it! I really need to get myself together and start making a weekly trip with the kids.

    On the internet subject, I get lost on the internet daily. I always sign on to do one thing and then five hours later I’m still sitting here lol 🙂

    • Amy Atwell says:

      Tiffany– yes, by all means, let this be a reminder to hie thee to a library! Even though they’ve evolved with the times, they’re still havens of sanity in a techno-crazy world. And I’m glad I’m not the only person who gets entirely lost on the internet. Honestly, some days I would count only losing 5 hours as a triumph. LOL

  27. Pamk says:

    i love libraries. My grandmother property backed up to the libraries parking lot. Needless to say when I spent summers with her i was in and out of the library all the time. And we always did their summer reading programs. I have such fond memories of doing that. Wish we had a library in our small town.

    • Amy Atwell says:

      Pam, how cool that your grandmother lived so close to a library! I don’t remember doing any summer programs at our library, but it sounds like you had a ball with all the activities.

  28. Elaine Charton says:

    The day my mom told me i could cross the main street where I grew up meant I could take myself to the Library! I went on tp marry a fellow booklover just happwned to be a librarian.

    • Amy Atwell says:

      Elaine, Yay, a rite of passage, crossing the street to get to the library on your own. And how cool is it that you married a librarian–congratulations to you both!

  29. kim h says:

    lov e the library like getting new books and reading magazines
    they are now cutting library hours and workser very sad about that
    now they are getting ebooks so its easier
    thanks for hte great giveway gl all 😀

    • Amy Atwell says:

      Kim, it is sad that libraries are cutting hours and staff. I get the efficiency of digital media, but I love the physical presence of libraries. Wow, someday libraries may be a form of museum where you go to look at ancient (more than ten years old) physical books!

  30. Libraries were my favorite places as a child, and are still one of my favorite places now. And my children love them, too!

    I love the way the libraries where we live make themselves so inviting to children (my daughter loves settling onto the chair shaped like a high heeled shoe and reading away).
    Michelle Diener`s last blog was …Dangerous Sanctuary release date is here!

    • Amy Atwell says:

      Michelle, your local library sounds very cool! Yes, at some point during my school years, I started to associate libraries with homework and serious study. But I remember as a child the joy I would feel at going to the library. Like going to my favorite store, except everything was free!

  31. I love my town’s library – it’s a beautiful building in a beautiful setting. When I was a kid, we lived too far from the library, but they had a bookmobile. I looked forward to that every week!

    Congratulations on your new site. I was just looking at it – is there such a thing as an author/affiliate account or deal? I’m an author, but also do a lot of graphic design for writers and publishers. Can’t decide which one to use to register! 🙂
    Kate Sterling`s last blog was …Keeping Track

    • Amy Atwell says:

      Kate, a bookmobile–how fun! I wish my town had had one of those.

      If you’re an author and a graphic designer, you’re welcome to join the AuthorEMS site as an author. That will give you access to the forums so you can discuss things with your author peers. We do ask that you not market your personal services on those forums. We’re trying to keep AuthorEMS advertising and self-promotion free. But, if you have freelance services and I don’t have your site listed on the Freelancers pages, by all means email me! I’m working on transitioning the Freelancers information to a searchable database, so I’m busy collecting contact names, emails and websites like mad right now.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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