An old master dies

winterpeople.jpgThe dowager queen of suspense, prolific author Phyllis Whitney died earlier this month (February 8, 2008) from pneumonia. She was 104 years old. In 80 years she wrote more than 100 short stories and 70 novels in four genres — adult, children’s mystery, young adult and nonfiction guides to writing. She published her last book when she was 94. She also received many prestigious awards, served as president of Mystery Writers of America (MWA) and in 1988 earned MWA’s Grand Master Award, a lifetime achievement award for mystery writers.

Whitney said she stayed young by writing fast-paced, cliff-hanger tales of suspense. Maybe in high school you read The Winter People, and swooned in terror with Dina, or maybe years later you discovered Amethyst Dreams, a riveting tale of Hallie’s frantic search for her closest friend Susan.

According to her Website, Whitney did exhaustive research for her novels, always writing from the viewpoint of an American visiting the country for the first time. She ascribed her success to persistence and an abiding faith in her abilities. “Never mind the rejections, the discouragement, the voices of ridicule (there can be those too),” she wrote in Guide to Fiction Writing. “Work and wait and learn, and that train will come by. If you give up, you’ll never have a chance to climb aboard.”

Let’s honor the mystery queen, climb her train and rediscover her voluminous work.

~ Susan

Fields of Blood and Sacrifice – Christian Fleetwood and his brothers in the Black Regiments of the Civil War

 uncommon-valor.jpgUncommon Valor: a story of race, patriotism and glory in   the final battles of the Civil War, by Melvin Claxton.   Christian Fleetwood was a 23 year old free-born black man living Baltimore when the recruiters of the 4th US Colored Infantry began assembling their forces.  He joined the ranks on August 17th 1863 and was promoted to the rank of Sergeant Major (the highest noncomissioned ranking) just 4 days later.  He became one of the earliest black Medal of Honor recipients in 1864.  By all accounts Fleetwood was a gifted officer and inspired leader of men. 

Continue reading “Fields of Blood and Sacrifice – Christian Fleetwood and his brothers in the Black Regiments of the Civil War”

Using Your Databases

Many of the databases that SPL subscribes to for you offer information found nowhere on the Web, and most can be accessed from any computer with Internet access. Here’s how:

  1. Go to the SPL homepage at  www.spl.org
  2. Click on the Databases and Websites link in the middle of the page under the word “Browse”  (or click here).  You will see several categories of databases and websites which you can browse.
  3. For an alphabetical  list of the the databases, click on the link in the green sidebar that says  “Databases A-Z.” Click on that link or click here.
  4. You will see a list of databases with a small blue or gold logo beside the name. The blue logo means that you can access that database from anywhere with  your SPL card number and PIN. The gold logo with the little roof over the card image means those databases can only be accessed from inside the library. Companies providing databases set their licensing rules; we  comply in order to provide the resource to you.
  5.  When you click on the name of a database, you’ll be given a screen that asks you to type in your SPL library card number and PIN.  Once you do, you’ll be taken to the database you chose.

That’s it! The world is your oyster and Bob’s your uncle!

 

TV Terror: Feb. 17, 2009?

TVI was part of the TV panic.  I heard the warnings that my TV would not work in 2009.  Patrons called and asked the same question.  Do we have to throw our televisions in the trash and buy a new one?  Don’t panic! The truth is that you will be able to use your analog TV in 2009 with a digital-to-analog converter box available from electronics stores and major retailers.   What is more, the U.S. Government is currently subsidizing the cost of converter boxes by issuing coupons to applicants. (All households are eligible at this time.)  

To make TV transmissions more efficient and free up frequencies for services such as emergency services and new digital data services, Congress ordered the elimination of analog TV channels.  In 2009, television stations will broadcast in digital from a different part of the spectrum.  The spectrum occupied by analog TV signals will be auctioned off. 

At this time, the converter boxes are necessary for the 16 million Americans who watch free TV with an antenna and are not needed for satellite and cable subscribers because those services convert the signals. 

For a more thorough explanation and information on the voucher program, check out this article

Books that inspire the best book group discussions

danish-girl.jpgMy book group recently had a discussion of the books that led to our best –- and most memorable –- discussions ever. It was nice not only to reflect on the many books we’ve read and discussed together, but also look at what makes a “good book club book.” About five or six titles stood out, most notably The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff, a novel that would be a nice companion with Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (another one of our favorites). Two other all-time favorites happen to be part of Seattle Reads: The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri and Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. (My book club friends will be quick to point out that we read these before they were selected by Seattle Reads. And we read Middlesex before Oprah discovered it. We like to point out things like that.) A Very Long Engagement by Sebastien Japrisot and The Awakening by Kate Chopin are two we keep going back to. Memorable evenings together Continue reading “Books that inspire the best book group discussions”