Saturday, January 8, 2011

Just a Reader by Patty Andersen

Patty Andersen is Library Director at the Devereaux Library which is located on the campus of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City, South Dakota

Just A Reader
by Patty Andersen

Last year, when Kaye asked me to contribute to her blog, I took on the topic of “not fitting in” with many in my peer group. Now, this year I need to come up with a new topic. And, to add to the pressure she has me posting immediately behind one of my all-time favorite authors, Craig Johnson. Sheesh, talk about making things tough on a non-writer!

Because I am following a favorite author it got me thinking about what it means to be a fan (or author groupie). I’ve been reading since I was four or so and have had “favorite” authors at all the stages of my reading life (okay, getting close to 50 years). Until I started interacting with various authors I would always have referred to myself as “just a reader”, which I now understand boggles the authors mind. JUST a reader they say, no one is more important. I never in my life thought I would be chatting online with my heroes, let alone actually meeting any of them! I’ve not met many in person and the two that stand out both live close to me (by South Dakota and Wyoming standards), the aforementioned Craig Johnson and Kathleen Taylor. I invited Kathi to be a speaker at one of our SD Library Association meetings and she kindly agreed, thus I met her as professional to professional. We now share weather from the middle of the state, where she lives, to the western edge, where I live. My meeting with Craig was different, I entered a contest to try and win a t-shirt.  I won (and still own) a shirt that proclaims me Sheriff, Absaroka County, Wyoming. Not long after that Craig was going to be speaking at a small library about 50 miles from my home and I decided to attend, of course wearing my t-shirt. I forgot about the season in western SD – construction – so was a few minutes late. As I walked in the door he turned and interrupted his talk to say “nice shirt”. The crowd loved it and it put me instantly at ease and made me even more of a fan.

With all that, I still hold authors in high regard. I still consider myself just a reader, and it boggles my mind that they consider people like me so important. The brave new world of the Internet has bridged many gaps but I think the bridges that authors are making with their fans through social networking are the most impressive. I haven’t and probably never will meet Stephen King or Nora Roberts, but the authors who I read the most, those who are newly published, the mid-listers or those just above that have become “real people” to me and I’m loving’ it.

Many thanks, Kaye, for allowing those of us who read to share your playground with those who write. It is a great place to get to know each other.

and now - Patty's Pups!

Browser, miniature Schnauzer, rescue dog 

Kirby, Pembroke Welsh Corgi (our "troll")

Mocha, Havanese (King of the house at 9.3 lbs)

Orbit, standard Schnauzer, rescue dog

Spice, Pembroke Welsh Corgi mix (Spice Girl is busy, busy, busy), rescue dog

Trooper, standard Schnauzer, Cindy's Hearing Dog, (the family "boss" although Spice is trying to challenge him for the title)


Anonymous said...

Patty, from one "just a reader" to another, I totally agree! The internet has bridged that gap and I have been so honored when I would send an author an email and then get a response from them. I had the great pleasure of meeting and having dinner with one of my very favorite authors, Louise Penny. I was starstruck and she was gracious and charming.

When was still working at my local libary, I moderated the book groups and we took advantage of several authors' offer to speak by phone with our book groups. Such a good time!

And...I am would love to hear Craig Johnson speak. His books are awesome! Patty, thanks so much for posting - I hadn't thought about Kathleen Taylor's books for a while, but I must see if I still have my copies.

Kaye, as always, thanks for providing the platform for all these wonderful people to share with us! You're the best!!

Lesa said...

Raising my hand here, Patty, as another "reader" who has been delighted to have the opportunity to meet so many authors. And, when some of them have asked me if I'm going to write, I say I have no interest in writing mysteries. I'm happy to be a reader, and writers need us. Thanks for writing, Patty. It's nice to "meet" another librarian and reader.

Peg Brantley said...

Patty, I'm a writer who doesn't have any readers. Since I'm not published (yet) I only dream about people like you who will one day hold my book in their hands, whether bound or electronic. From readers, I will either be confirmed or rejected.

From readers, I learn right now what works and what doesn't, what things are appreciated in books and what things stink.

Talk about heroes . . .

jenny milchman said...

I love your 'brave new world' comment, Patty--I have often referred to this crazy, wonderful time in reading (and writing and publishing) as that.

Anyway, I second the responses you've gotten. No such thing. Without readers, there's no writing, no circle completed, to paraphrase one of my favorites, Stephen King. Anyway, I do hope one day you'll "just read" something of mine--and till then, thanks for a lovely post.

PS: South Dakota was one of our favorite states when we drove cross country last summer. The coldest water we'd ever experienced in Spearfish Creek!

Patty said...

Kay - I love Louise Penny's books and would love to meet her, she seems such a gracious lady. And any time you get a chance to hear Craig, go for it, he is as real and down to earth as his Sheriff.

Lesa - aren't all librarians "just" a reader? Except those that go on to be outstanding authors of course.

Peg - get something published and I'll probably read it, I read a lot of things I see recommended online (DorothyL, Kaye Barley, other FB Friends).

Jenny - always open to new authors, I'll hunt you down today and see what is in my local library. As for Spearfish, that water is mountain fed, even if we do call them "Hills'.

jenny milchman said...

Oops, don't look yet, Patty, but thank you very much! My novel is looking for a home, and believe me, Kaye will be one of the very first people I shout the news from the rooftop to! The sound will probably travel all the way to South Dakota ;)

Vicki Lane said...

There are no 'just' readers. You all are the reason we write.

Many thanks for being one!

Bobbi Mumm said...

Great to see you here, Patty! Don't you love finding out that people you admire are just regular folks? Of course, that makes the people who truly lean to the snobbish side seem a little more so. It takes all kinds. Love your dogs!

Patty said...

Okay Jenny, I'll keep an eye on Kaye so she does announce when you get that publisher!

Vicki - see, anytime someone says they are "just a reader" an author chimes in with, "readers are important". It always makes me smile.

Bobbi, thanks, the dogs are a big part of my life, and of course, Cindy would be lost without her service dog Trooper.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Hi, Everyone!

Patty - I LOVED your piece and found myself nodding my head, going, "yes, yes, YES!" AND - I am so smitten with your pups! What sweeties they all are.

Thank you, for helping to make Meanderings and Muses exactly what I had hoped it would be.

And thanks to all of you for dropping by.

Diane said...

Thanks Patty for your wonderful post. I too am amazed at how open today's authors are to their readers. No doubt, some of those from earlier generations would have been also if the technology had been around. I believe it is a two way street between authors and readers (not talking about those readers who love to pounce on a typo etc.)a mutual support system.

I consider you to be more than a reader however, you are a librarian and provide awesome service to others. Kudos to you. Louise

Lois said...

Timely story about the T-shirt. Was cleaning out clothes yesterday and found a never-worn shirt for Michael Crichton's Prey. Think I will offer it to your readers and those on DorothyL before it goes to a local charity.

Christine said...

Pleasure to meet a fellow just-a-reader! Couldn't agree with you more, Patty! I've had to retrain myself not to answer, "No, I'm just a reader." So far the best response I've been able to come up with is, "No, I'm strictly civilian - a reader and fan." ;) I was quite fortunate last year to attend my first L.A. Times Festival of Books and Bouchercon. (HIGHLY recommend both!) I've primarily met mystery/thriller authors who I've got to say are just a wonderful community of people! And I would be remiss not to give props to bloggers such as Kaye, Jen Forbus (, Elyse ( or Lazy Thoughts From a Boomer by le0pard13! They gave me the courage to even contact my favorites online, let alone approach them in person! The best part of going to these book events is seeing a favorite author of mine have a fangirl/boy moment of their own. :D

Btw, I had the great pleasure of meeting Craig Johnson and his wife, Judy, last year at a signing here in Nashville. Craig also had a lovely surprise in that he was able to meet, Darren Welch, the talented artist that for Craig's dustjackets!