Darien Library Staff Members Recommend

Darien Library Staff Members Recommend for the Holidays!

On Wednesday, December 5, Darien Library librarians shared with you their recommendations for gifts that are fun, classic, memorable, and diverse - for any relative and any occasion. They brought you the best books, DVDs, games, and technology to help spread the holiday cheer this year. Below you will find their choices for adults, children, and teens.

Appy Hour - A List of Travel Apps Handpicked by Our Staff

Here's a list of apps we recommend using before you travel, while you travel, or simply for armchair traveling. Bon voyage!

Evening and Weekend Parking

On evenings and weekends, when the parking lot is full at Darien Library, there is plenty of overflow parking behind Nielsen's. Just drive over onto Thorndal Circle and turn left at the 2nd driveway where you'll find a sea of spots!  And here's even better news! There is a lighted, paved walkway that connects directly to the Library parking lot. (A shortcut!) (You do not have to walk all the way around and down to the Post Road.)

So, on evenings and weekends, when our parking lot is full, please go to the land where the parking is plentiful and lit (and legal!).

Resources to Help You Write Your Novel

Logo courtesy of National Novel Writing Month
Logo courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

Last week, you decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month in November. Congratulations! This week we are looking at resources that you can use to help you plot out your novel, develop your characters, and more! Make sure to hit "Read More" for all the resources as well as this week's assigment. 

Library Books

Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing: Looking for a quick, humorous, light read on writing? Would an illustrated book help? Pick up Elmore Leonard's book then to get you on the path of creating believable characters fast!

The Writer's Digest Sourcebook for Building Believable Characters: How do you make your characters live and breathe? What are their realistic traits, ticks, and vices that bring them to life? Marc McCutcheon opens with an introduction to believable characters and then gives you the tools (mainly lists of traits) to help make your character a real person. 

From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction: Robert Olen Butler, a Pulitzer prize winning author, taught a series of workshops about how he writes. He compiled his lectures into an intense how-to-book on the writing process. 
 

Library Magazines

The Writer's Magazine: Each month's issue of this publication has short, information-packed tips and strategies on everything related to writing. 

Writer's Digest: Discover how to work on the craft of writing and after you have finished your novel, how to think about marketing it. 

Writing Tools of the Trade

Logo courtesy of National Novel Writing Month
Logo courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

In the past two weeks you have made a commitment to join National Novel Writing Month in November and looked at resources to help you plan your novel. This week are going to look at a few writing tools that can help you get that novel out of your head. Instead of focusing on more familar writing tools like paper and pencil/pen or Microsoft Word, we'll be looking at software especially geared towards writers. Make sure to hit "Read More" to see the paid writing tools as well as this week's assigment. 

Free and Trial-Based Writing Tools

Scrivener is available for Mac and Windows users. This is one of the most popular writing programs out there. The special feature of this program is that you can get your story back out in multiple formats including Microsoft Word, RTF, PDF, ePub, Mobi, Open Office, and HTML. You can use a trial version of Scrivener especially for NaNoWriMo which will last till December 7th.

Storyist is a Mac and iPad writing tool that "helps you track your plot, characters, and settings, and keeps all of your writing organized and accessible so you can focus on your manuscript." A trial version is available for NaNoWriMo writers. At the end of the month, you can then export to Mobi (which is Kindle friendly) or ePub. 

Yarny is a cloud-based writing tool that automatically saves every word you write so you'll never lose your work. It is free for NaNo writers this November and will then go into subscription-based service along with a "free forever plan." The downside to this tool is that since your novel exists in the cloud, you will only be able to use it as long as you are online.

yWriter works on Linux, Mac, and Windows computers. It is a stand alone program which means that you will need your own back-up methods to keep your story safe. yWriter was developed by a computer programmer who is also a writer, so he developed a customized system which met his author needs.

Have you ever wanted to write a novel?

Logo courtesy of National Novel Writing Month
Logo courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

If you have ever dreamed of getting that idea or moving those characters out of your head and onto paper,  then you are in luck for we are gearing up to celebrate National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this November! 

What is NaNoWriMo?

"National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000 word, (approximately 175 page) novel by 11:59:59, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved."

A number of published books including  The Night CircusWater for Elephants, and other books began as NaNoWriMo projects! To get you started on the right foot, Darien Library will be posting writing tips, Tools of the Trade, and more on the Library's website each Friday throughout October. Then in November we will be hosting a write-in so you can meet with fellow NaNo participants as you work on your novel (details to be announced). 

Assignment for this week

Read the previous links about NaNo and then decide if you want to make the commitment to write a novel. Start planning how you can rearrange each day in November for dedicated writing time.Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo, suggests that you tell others that you plan on writing a book  as a way to pressure yourself into staying committed.
 
Next Friday we will look at books, magazines, and websites that can help you start thinking about your characters and story. Got any questions? Ask below!

Art on View - Marine Art Exhibit

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The Marine Art Exhibit is Open!

The opening reception last Friday night for this new art exhibition was fun and fabulous! The anticipation for this event has been huge, and with good reason...the exhibit is spectacular!  Many art lovers (and Darien Library lovers!) gathered to examine and enjoy this special exhibition, curated by the Darien Library Art Committee and featuring works represented by the Geary Gallery and Quester Gallery. Exibiting artist, Peter Arguimbau gave a brief speech to the assembled crowd.

Among the featured artists are David Bareford, William Bishop, and Anne Jayson, who are represented by Michael Florio of Quester Gallery, Rowayton, and Peter Arguimbau and A.D. Blake, who are represented by Tom Geary of the Geary Gallery, Darien.

For more information, please click here.

The Marine Art Exhibit will run through June 11th. The Art Gallery is located on the Library's Lower Level.

We're just MAD about Lucinda!

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It was an evening of laughter, great food, wine, and friends as we continued our Fall Author Series last night with a visit by acclaimed chef Lucinda Scala Quinn, who offered some tried and true tips from her new cookbook, Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys, on how to tame the "wild beasts" in our lives and share with us how to make a family meal that will attract even the pickiest of eaters and satisfy even the most urgent of hungry situations!

Aside from her expertise as Martha Stewart's "food guru," co-host of the PBS show Everyday Food, and frequent contributor to Today and Martha, Lucinda lives with three sons and a husband who all love to eat - so she really knows her stuff! Here are just some of the brilliant (and hilarious!) tips she gave the audience on how to make boys and men crave those nutritious, home-cooked meals and function on their own around the kitchen:
  • Always have bacon on hand. The stuff lasts forever! And whether you're serving it as a main part of your dish or not, the smell of bacon cooking will surely lure anyone to the kitchen table.
     
  • You will build a vegetable eater if you give vegetables their due credit. Rather than hiding spinach in a brownie dessert, celebrate the taste of the leafy green simply by sauteing it in a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, to the point where it just begins to fall. Don't let it get soggy, and you'll have boys who will begin to adore the traditionally feared side-dish!
     
  • Men are not genetically incapable of washing dishes. They just need a little encouragement! If they leave crusted, dirty pots in the sink or on the stove, put them in a place that will have them horrified and rushing to the sink looking for the SOS. Lucinda’s suggested locations: their car seat or their sock drawers. Hmmm….
Not only did she dole out great strategies, our speaker and her eldest son Calder (remember that name; this boy is going to be a star!) prepared for the entire audience a tasting of the salsa recipe from the book. The secret to awesome salsa? Add radishes and water! It was amazing.... 
 
And we all feasted on the to-die-for desserts that the Library staff baked for refreshments during the book signing reception. (We did not bake the stunning book cake shown in the photos; but thank you so much to our favorite "To Read or Not To Read" gals for including us all in their birthday celebration!) Another tip from Lucinda - bake the coffee cake recipe from the book and then freeze it hot. It seals in all the moisture, so that when you cut a slice in the morning, it will be absolutely incredible. Freeze while still hot? Who knew?!
 
By the way, have I mentioned yet just how fabulous the new cookbook actually is? The recipes are diverse and comforting, the advice is practical and thorough, the photography is gorgeous, and the pages stay open on their own.  Plus, as one patron keenly pointed out last night, the book is complete with stories and explanations, and would make for as compelling a bedside read as the latest fiction best-seller.
 
What more can I say, other than, you'd be mad not to get your hands on this book!
 
Oh, and Lucinda loves Darien Library just as much as we love her! How cool is this?!

The A.J. Effect

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Yesterday evening, we kicked off our Fall Author Series with a visit from A.J. Jacobs, the delightful and hilarious best-selling author of The Know-It-All, The Year of Living Biblically, and his most recent memoir, The Guinea Pig Diaries.

And what an evening it was!

There was certainly no shortage of laughter to be had as A.J. shared personal stories of the experiments he has put himself (and his wife) through over the past 15 years in a quest to explore his curiosities about life. Perhaps one might think that deciding to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica from A to Z, or choosing to follow all (literally all) the tenants of the Bible for an entire year, or spending a month practicing radical honesty, or posing in the nude for a magazine all might be suitable as punishment for committing a major crime. However, thank goodness A.J. sees the potential in these difficult and crazy tasks to add meaning to his life - and through each of his books, a whole lot of laughter and amazement to ours.

(By the way, last night, the audience got to meet his wife, Julie, "the saint." It was a bit of a surreal moment. And yes, she is absolutely wonderful!)

Now, many of us here are still recovering from what Barbara T. has brilliantly coined - The A.J. Effect. You know you're experiencing it when you find yourself spontaneously combusting into laughter at the mere thought of George Washington...or Crest Toothpaste...or Kate Hudson movies. It's true - none of these things are inherently funny. But when you combine A.J. Jacobs and his observations, witty style of writing, and thought-provoking insights with just about any subject, the result is something so hilarious and unforgettable that you are compelled to tell everyone (seriously, everyone) about his books and insist that they read them, too. 

If you happened to miss our event last night, or if you just want to re-live all of the laugh-out-loud goodness, keep your eye on our website. In the coming days, we will have A.J.'s entire talk available to watch as a webcast.

And here is a bit more fantastic news that we learned yesterday. A.J. is currently in the midst of his next major quest - to become the healthiest person in the world. He has a board of advisors (that includes Dr. Oz!), has starting visiting the gym, and he even refrained from snacking on the cheese and crackers at our reception last night (not a healthy food, he admitted). He takes his experiments very seriously - and I seriously cannot wait to read his next book!

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