Saturday, January 30, 2010

An Author Reading, (almost) in Second Life

I'm enjoying Facebook much more these days. I was all set to attend a live "reading" of Michael Stackpole's new novel At the Queen's Command in his stylish office in Second Life. Would have been fun, but a sound guy popped in briefly, then another fan, but no author. Maybe we had the time wrong? (Yes, thwarted again by my inability to do the time zone math, oops.

I really never appreciated the controls in Second Life, because I'm so used to WASD, but I was able to transport over from the Starter Island (where some little oddball kept jumping up and down on me) thanks to a link from Facebook and voila. Nice place, as you can see.

And my character still has her boxy little form and that torch sticking out of her back. Very science fictional, I think.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Shadow Project by Herbie Brennan.

Danny, a wild child of the streets, makes his way into an abandoned mansion. Through a bit of odd timing, he discovers an elevator down to a secret government facility just as security for the system is offline.

He knows he will be in trouble if caught but he can't resist exploring. When he comes upon a room with a girl hooked into what looks like a torture device, he is shocked enough that he doesn't notice he is now surrounded by security, and he's captured.

Welcome to the Shadow Project, a secret British operation that uses "remote viewing", a form of astral projection, to spy unseen upon enemies in faraway lands. Teens are the most adept as subjects, and they can gather intelligence without risk to their corporeal forms, so it seems.

The girl in the chair is Opal, daughter of project head Sir Roland. While on a mission to track down the almost legendary figure The Skull, she not only finds the Skull, but she is seen and trapped in a cage by a mystical old man named Farrakhan.

It is up to Danny, a reluctant recruit, and Michael, a prince among his people who is utterly loyal to the Project, to try to find Opal and solve the mystery of Farrakhan and the beasts he soon unleashes upon the Project.

Part spy adventure, part supernatural mystery, The Shadow Project is a fast moving tale that would be enjoyed by readers of The Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz, The Pendragon Adventures by D. J. MacHale and the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer.

In a fascinating Author Note at the end of the book, Herbie Brennan talks about the real life "remote viewing" program run at one time by the CIA.

This is just the first adventure for Danny, Opal and Michael, so keep a sharp eye out for the next volume.

Herbie Brennan is the author of the Fairie Wars Series:

Faerie Wars

The Purple Emperor

Ruler of the Realm

Faerie Lord

For more on Herbie Brennan, Out of Body Experiences, and other aspects of Herbie's work, visit his site.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Star Tribune stunned STUNNED! by Librarian who amassed books and wealth

In a front page article today, the Star Tribune reveals the seedy underbelly of librarianship and the possibility that these "quiet living" folks might amass books and money.

The article is written in the very tone that would be used if a bag lady was found to have had and given away monies after their demise.


Sooooo scary.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

From the Daydreamers Public Library: the Library Little Theater

Pretend public libraries were not crushed budgetarily like everyone else, and we're in a world where you can think of cool things libraries could do if they just imagined it.

Libraries should build on small auditoriums, with a nice stage. The main use for these will be Reader's Theater presentations for all ages. These productions can be done by library staff and/or community volunteers, including groups from local schools. See the Author's Reader's Theater site for an idea of what Reader's Theater can be.

The library can also work cooperatively with local schools to host student monologues, skits and one act plays.

When not in use for theatrical productions, these small auditoriums will be a nice place for storytimes and puppet shows.

I would also suggest that these can be rented out to local community organizations and businesses to provide a steady ongoing income for the library.

Dreamily Yours, Librarian D.O.A.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Winter Jackets Reading Program for Adults January 11-February 28 2010

Tomorrow the fun begins at your local Twin Cities area library. Why should kids and teens have all the reading club fun, we ask?

Winter Jackets, which was renamed last year from the infinitely more fun Hot Reads for Cold Nights gives adults a chance to sign up for a low key reading program wherein they track their reading by recommending books to others, and they're also entered in a weekly prize drawing (in many locations).

At my location, we have donated books and prize baskets on reading themes which are also filled mostly with donated books as our prizes. I learned how to arrange my items in the baskets just so by watching my predecessor so that they look really appealing, mostly freebie materials or not.

Don't resist, go to your library tomorrow and sign up. We love readers and this is just another way for us to say so.

Free Tax E-Filing--Yoikes! Another Taxing Post

Because we stock tax forms, many people see us as a sort of All Your Tax Needs Here Outlet. In truth, we just offer the most commonly used Federal and State forms.

We have no tax expertise, and even if we did, it would be against the Librarian Code of Honor to give you such advice.

We can help you find the forms you need on our shelves or on the web sites for the feds and state, but only if you know the forms numbers or can help us look through the available form names and pick out the one that suits you. You really do need to know what you're looking for, and if you don't, you'll want to call the feds or state folks directly and get some help.

Once you're all knowledgeable and are ready to file, you'll be wondering if the library has Turbo-Tax or some other tax filing software. Since these are expensive and very person specific, we can't provide this service.

For Federal Tax filing there is Free File This page directs you to a site where you can fill in your forms and file them online or just fill in the form, print it and send it off by regular mail.

Free File for this year will be available beginning January 15, 2010.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

More Taxing Info From Your Library

Click to Enlarge!

If you are a poor unfortunate and don't live in brutally cold, icy, snowy Minnesota, check the TaxSites page for your own local department of taxation.

Death and Taxes @ the Library

Tax Season has arrived! Customers have been clamoring for 2009 Tax Year forms since at least October, even though you can't file until January. They must have money coming back or something, because otherwise they'd be part of that humongous group that comes in desperately on April 15th looking for forms and tax help (yipes).

Here's the skinny for the uninitiated:

Libraries could order Tax Forms from the Feds in August 2009. The forms did not begin arriving until November, and they did not all arrive at once, they are trickling in. Most federal forms, including those we don't have because they're not available for library distribution are available online at:

For the wildly excited State of Minnesota tax form fans (and they are legion this year) we were not allowed to order forms until December 21st. The state said the forms would be available the "first week of January 2010" but its Thursday and I've seen nada.

Long time State Form fans will know that the state is notoriously late trickling out forms (they don't send them in a single shipment, noooo).

While the Federal government makes a wide variety of forms available to libraries for distribution, the State of Minnesota seems to offer fewer forms this way every year. I think there are only ten or so that they let us request. If you're waiting to do your state taxes, you're far better off going directly to their site, where all forms are available to download:

Libraries can't offer tax assistance, we just stock the forms. In many cases the AARP has tax aide volunteers out in the community. Their site will list tax aide locations in late January.

AARP Taxe Aide Page

For low income Minnesota residents there is a program of volunteer tax aides called VITA from AccountAbility Minnesota:

AccountAbility Minnesota Taxpayer Services

Happy Filing!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Librarian Newswire's 10 Librarian Blogs to Read in 2009

Hot on the trail of live public librarians who write about their librarian-like lives, I came across this list. The blogs from public librarians are:

Closed Stacks "Ruling the world through information" This is a joint blog with two of the librarians working in public libraries.

In the Library With the Lead Pipe This is my favorite library blog name ever, since I'm a huge fan of Clue, and libraries. These folks are also a mix of library types, but they are doing what I hoped to see, thinking in a practical way about public libraries, where they are, and what they can be.

The Alternative Teen Services blog has gone under as of this writing.

A listed blog that falls into the entertaining but not really helpful category of "burnout blogs" on the list is The Society for Librarians who say Mother*&#*@!

They also mention David Lee King's blog but since he isn't working the Big Desk, he's not the droid we're looking for.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Pondering Public Libraries

Since I'm all retrospective here at the beginning of the new year and decade, I thought I would do my homework and read more about what other public librarians think about their posts out there in libraryland.

I am looking to find writers about the public library life, and so far, I'm seeing that most bloggers and writers who write about public libraries either write anonymous "burn out blogs" which complain about customers and anything else that bugs them about their jobs, or, the writers are doing book blogs, recommending good reading.

After over three decades working in public libraries, I know we do everything imaginable in the course of our work. We are asked questions and are assumed to be experts on every conceivable topic. People either fear us as intellectual snobs or love us for the kind patient work we do everyday. There is more variety, constant change, endless variation, and the opportunity to do Real Good, both one on one as we help people, and as disseminators of information and advice in the complex world we live in, as institutions.


Monday, January 4, 2010

Book View Cafe "because you can never have too many books"

Taking advantage of the ease of direct access to readers offered by the Internet and making good use of current eReader technology (for example the Kindle and the Nook--why do I want to write Kook?) Book View Cafe offers a vast variety of science fiction, fantasy and a few other genres for download.

From the site:

BOOK VIEW CAFE came together in March of 2008 around a group of authors with a simple aim: to use the Internet to bring their work directly to their readers. It was already clear that a revolution was coming to the publishing industry and these authors wanted to help shape its course.

Working with a shoe-string budget and volunteer labor, but drawing on a collective century’s worth of experience in the publishing industry, they created the Book View Cafe Website. Rather than just another clearing house for books online, they created a space where readers could browse and discover new authors and titles alongside current favorites. Aware that the Internet demands variety, the authors made sure that fresh fiction appeared on their front page every day, a feat made possible by the extensive list of material available to over twenty professional authors.

The Book View Cafe site officially launched in November of 2008. Since then the site has experienced a steady growth in readers and in author-members. The Cafe now receives over 700,000 hits every month. The author blog has also seen increasing popularity since its launch, drawing a further seven to eight thousand hits per month.

Not content to make their previously published work available, in 2009 the Cafe authors opened Book View Press to publish original work. Their first title, Rocket Boy and the Geek Girls, is an original anthology of new work and classic reprints. In December, 2009, Book View Press will release its first all-original anthology, a steampunk collection titled The Shadow Conspiracy. Further scheduled projects include a fantasy anthology, a second steampunk collection, and a pair of writer’s manuals.

Registration is required. Books are available in a variety of formats: PDF, EPUB, Mobi, .prc, .lrf, .lit

Once registered, read exclusive interviews with authors and download a wide variety of fiction you can't get anywhere else, in many cases.

There is also a popular blog the Book View Cafe Blog updated daily by many contributors.

Visit often with your cup of coffee or tea and find something great to read on your Kindle, Nook, or other Reader. Since these are available in pdf format, you can buy and read them on your snuggly pc as well.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Nathaniel Fludd: Beastologist, Book One: Flight of the Phoenix by R.L. LaFevers, illustrated by Kelly Murphy

This slim novel is a treat. R.L. LaFevers is the author of the Theodosia (and the serpents of chaos, etc) novels. Here she presents little Nathaniel Fludd, whose parents are adventurers. He is left at home with his governess Miss Lumpton while they explore the world. To his heartbreak, his parents disappear over the Arctic and he is packed up and sent off to live with Phil A. Fludd.

There is no time to absorb that Phil is his aunt, or that she has a resident dodo. Despite the protests of the smug, superior dodo that Nathaniel is not a proper Fludd and he is not ready for adventure, Phil and Nate board a rickety plane the very next morning. Headed to Arabia, they are to do what Beastologists do, observe and care for seemingly mythical beasts. In this case, they will watch over the nest of a Phoenix who will be reborn from ash very soon.

Their work is complicated by gremlins and Bedoins. Gentle and kind hearted Nathaniel Fludd, who illustrates his adventures with his beloved drawing pad and pencil, does everything he can to fight his fear and live up to the Fludd name.

Kelly Murphy’s pencil drawings are perfect for 10 year old Nathaniel. Some are detailed pen and ink sketches and some are simple line drawings that illuminate the tale and charm the reader.

Visit R.L. LaFever's web site for more about Nathaniel and Theodosia.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

FlashForward by Robert J. Sawyer

This is the novel that the current television show is based upon. I think some people who are buying FlashForward, especially those who get the paperback with the cover that looks like it must be a novelization, are going to find the novel similar in basic story elements yet a very different and perhaps more thoughtful tale.

The novel was written in 1999 and features the science team at CERN, Switzerland, attempting to create a specific particle called the Higgs boson. Instead, they create a blackout of all humanity for over two minutes during which most people see themselves and the world twenty years in the future.

Once the world recovers from the shock of the FlashForward, they become obsessed with the event and the visions they had. Everyone wonders if the futures they saw were inevitable or could they be changed?

Researcher Theodosios Procopides who saw nothing at all, soon finds that he was murdered and he begins a two decades long effort to find out who killed him. He definitely is on the side of those who want to think they can change what they “know” will happen.

Lloyd Simcoe, who sees himself as an old man, and married to a woman he has never seen, is ready to accept the inevitability of a scientifically unchangeable future. Through Lloyd, we learn the many theories of time travel and we become unsure whether time is set or malleable.

Despite the destruction and loss of life that came with the first FlashForward, the world decides that it would like another peek at the future. If everyone is prepared and not flying, driving, or doing anything at all that could result in harm if they blacked out, they can safely see just a little more of that tantalizing future. The results of the second experiment are not what anyone expected, least of all Lloyd Simcoe.

I loved this book. It had intriguing science, and mystery/suspense elements that moved the plot right along. There is much to think about regarding fate and predestination. Although I always think we can change ourselves, I don’t think I would like a glimpse twenty years down the road. I prefer to be surprised by what happens next, in books and in life.

Visit Robert J. Sawyer's website for more information.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy 2010 and welcome to a new decade!


Anyone who is a fan of re-inventing themselves has got to be quite excited by the opportunity to begin a new year and a new decade. So, here we go, instead of making those same old New Year's Resolutions you make EVERY YEAR...doh, let's take a hint and figure we aren't going to make wholesale and immediate changes that will discourage us by January 15th at the latest.

Let's think more broadly about what we'd like to do that will be fun or interesting and will make us happier people and make us less something or other to the people around us who adore us but they wish we weren't such grumpy dogs! Some days. We're just glorious on some other days. Right.

To begin, I don't even care what I proposed for myself last year at this time. I either did it or I didn't. Meh. Onward. That was THE OLD ME.

This year I think I'd like to write more on my blogs. I have alot of interests and why shouldn't I share them with my faithful and not so faithful readers? Blah blah blah, I say.

I've already started reading more science fiction which I think was vaguely a goal last year. I really like the forward thinking general optimism of science fiction writers. I'll still read mysteries but that genre has taken a temporary turn towards a darker less optimistic view of humanity and it isn't what I'm looking for. I will be sticking with my favorite mystery authors and looking for more, but the good guys need to triumph. The bad guys have got to go down, they just do.

I have let my bad knees keep me from being the fine amateur gardener I'd like to be, so I'm going to find a clever way around that and make things beautiful. I'd like to learn to preserve foods again...long ago I knew how to do canning. I have also wanted to work with dried and pressed flowers. I have the flowers, I just need to use them a bit more creatively.

Although I still can't draw a nice stick-man, I really like cartooning. They can be so fun since they capture an idea in a succinct and hopefully charming manner. Watch for at least one cartoon a week, not drawn, but using some of the great web based cartooning tools. I use Witty Comics at for the "On the Desk" series.

Click to Enlarge

Since I am an actual librarian I will try to write about more library topics. As I go into my last decade as a librarian, I might as well talk about the profession I love and which was secretly created just for me, lol, as they say.

Happy New Year! Librarian D.O.A.