Category: Adult Literacy

Book Women—The Depression’s Book Mobile

As a contemporary romance author, my research is different from historical authors. For the third book in my Wishing, Texas Series, To Tame A Texas Cowboy, my research topics included seizure treatment/causes, service dogs and veterinarian office software. As a result, I don’t often come across cool historical tidbits to share with you the way Petticoats and Pistols historical authors often do. But recently, I came across a Facebook post about librarians on horseback. Considering my love of books and horses, I couldn’t resist learning more.

The Pack Horse Library program was part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration during The Depression. In 1930’s Kentucky, the unemployment rate was almost forty percent and around thirty percent of the state’s population was illiterate. The hope was The Pack Horse Library program would decrease both these statistics. In addition to these issues, the ten thousand square foot area of eastern Kentucky this program served lagged behind other areas in the state in terms of electricity and highways. Scarcity of food, education and few economic options compounded the problems.

Getting the program’s employees to these rugged, rural areas of The Appalachian Mountains where people with the greatest need lived proved challenging, too. Because of the terrain, horses were chosen as the mode of transportation. However, the most astounding aspect of the program was that most of the employees of The Pack Horse Library were women! Folks simply referred to them as “Book Women.”

After loading donated books, magazines and newspapers, these librarians set out on their own mules or horses and headed into the mountains. Not an easy task, even when the weather cooperated. But imagine how difficult and treacherous the trip had to be in snowy or rainy conditions. Often the terrain became so rugged or remote, even horses couldn’t travel, forcing the librarians to continue on foot, carrying the books! No matter how cold or bad the weather, these librarians persisted, covering one hundred to one hundred twenty miles a week. One librarian had to complete her eighteen-mile route on foot after her mule died. Now that’s dedication!

By 1936, these devoted librarians serviced over fifty-thousand families and one-hundred-fifty-five schools. But these women did more than provide books. They acted as a connection between these rural Kentucky communities and world. They tried to fill book requests, read to people who couldn’t read themselves, and fostered a sense of local pride. And all for a salary of twenty-eight dollars a month.

All photos from atlasobsura.com

The Pack Horse Library program ended in 1943 along with the WPA. War had pulled the country out of The Depression, but these strong, determined librarians had left their mark. They made a difference.

To be entered for the drawing to win a copy of Colorado Rescue, a looking sharp wine glass and the bracelet pictured, tell me what you love about libraries or share your favorite memory involving a library.

Updated: April 30, 2019 — 7:40 pm

Buns & Roses – And a Double Giveaway!!!

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Participating authors with the signed quilt in the background.

Participating authors with the signed quilt in the background. As you can see, there were many hats involved.

Last month, I was honored to participate in the annual Romance Literacy Tea benefiting the Literacy Center in Richardson, Texas. Romance authors from around Texas and around the country, join together for a weekend full of events all set to raise money for the cause of literacy. And since it is in Texas, I had the chance to meet several Western Romance authors who were new to me.

Each author hosts a table and visits with readers who purchase tickets for the event. There are a ton of fabulous giveaways in the silent auction, books are sold, and a gorgeous handmade quilt is raffled. When the numbers were totaled, this year saw a record-breaking donation of over $20,000. YeeHaw!!!

Jill is in the green sweater, my spot is to the left next to another fun author, J.D. Tyler who writes contemporary romance and paranormal romance.

Jill is in the green sweater talking to none other than Lorraine Heath. My spot is to the left, next to another fun author, J.D. Tyler, who writes contemporary and paranormal romance.

The weekend got started with a book signing at a local Barnes & Noble. Thanks to my name being at the end of the alphabet, I was seated next to our keynote speaker, Jill Shalvis. Cool! Such a sweet lady. I enjoyed chatting with her and her husband.

After the book signing, we had dinner at the home of one of the volunteers. We ate yummy lasagne cups, signed our quilt blocks for the raffle, and mingled with the handful of readers who paid extra to join us for this private dinner.

Me and Melody - My surprise Lompoc Buddy.

Me and Melody – My surprise Lompoc buddy.

Now, mingling is not my forte, but when I sat at the table, across from me was an avid reader who was an air force wife. When she started talking about California, I asked her where she met her husband. As it turns out, she grew up in Lompoc, my tiny California hometown where her husband was stationed at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Not only that, we both played in the Lompoc HS marching band (flute) and her friend’s sister (who I actually remembered!) graduated in the same class as I did. Talk about a small world! That was so fun!

The big event was on Sunday with the Literacy Tea. Each author brought favors to have on the tables. I gave away books, ladies handkerchiefs, and a variety of pocket watches to match the cover of my latest release, No Other Will Do. I shared a table with the lovely Amy Lillard, so all of our table mates got the bonus of two gifts. Being far more crafty than me, Amy made these fun masks for us to use in our pictures. If you check out the back row, you’ll see Melanie and Brittney, two P&P regulars.

Masks On

Masks On

Masks Off

Masks Off

What a fun event!

Meeting with other inspie authors - Leann Harris and Kellie Coates Gilbert.

Meeting with other inspie authors – Leann Harris and Kellie Coates Gilbert.

One of the lovely Literacy Center volunteers.

One of the lovely Literacy Center volunteers.

Me and Leslie - A book reviewer and avid reader.

Me and Leslie – A book reviewer and avid reader.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And since I was surrounded by great western romance authors, I couldn’t pass up the chance to support the cause of both literacy and western romance by buying a few books and getting them autographed. And that’s where the giveaway comes in! Jill Shalvis’s book isn’t exactly western but it is small town, so I threw it into the bunch as well.

I have two prize packages that I’ll be giving away. All books included are autographed editions. For a chance to win enter a comment about what the gift of reading has meant to you.

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Authors & Readers for Literacy

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As I write this blog, I’m sitting in the morning sun in Richardson, Texas, where I’ve traveled for the 10th Annual Buns & Roses Romance Tea for Literacy.

Ten years ago, a partnership was formed between the Richardson Library and romance authors in the Dallas area. Every year, a gathering would be hosted and funds raised to help the Richardson Adult Literacy Center provide English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for adults living in the Richardson area so they can gain better employment, help their children in school and become more involved community members.

Eleven Facts about Literacy in America
1) 16% of the world’s population is non-literate. Of those with low literacy skills, two-thirds are women.
2) Legal immigrants who are English proficient earn between tea13-24% more than immigrants who are not English proficient.
3) The effects of low literacy cost the U.S. more than $225 billion each year in non-productivity in the workforce and loss of tax revenue due to unemployment.
4) When immigrants have access to language and literacy instruction, they assimilate more quickly and effectively into communities and become more engaged in the economy.
5) Individuals at the lowest level of literacy have a higher rate of unemployment than the national average – 14.5 in 2011.
6) Among those with the lowest literacy rates, 43% live in poverty.
7) 75% of state prison inmates and 59% of federal prison inmates did not complete high school or can be classified as low literate.
8) 35% of immigrants make less than $25,000 a year. Most believe they cannot better their lives or get a better job until they improve their English.
9) Low literacy adds an estimated $230 billion to the country’s annual health care costs.
10) 19,050 of adults who live in the RALC service area don’t speak English well or at all.
11) 17,918 of residents who live in the RALC service area speak a language other than English at home and live below the poverty level.

Linda & TracyThis year I had the pleasure of sitting with fellow P&P Author Linda Broday!

I took part in the first couple of Buns & Roses events before I moved to Missouri. What has always struck me — and it’s no different this time, though I’m attending as a reader instead of an author table hostess — is the amazing energy and joy to be found in a room full of women talking about what they love. In this case, books and romance. And, over it all, is a fierce dedication to Adult Literacy, helping others learn to read so they can enjoy what we take for granted.

As I moved around the room, greeting friends I haven’t seen in years and making new ones, everyone smiles, laughs and talks about books. What do you write? What’s your new favorite book? What are you reading now? It’s amazing.

As a writer, I love that people enjoy reading all those words I struggled over, getting them just right before sending my book into the world. As a reader, getting to hear of authors I’ve not yet discovered and books that left a lasting impression with someone is just as fun.

So– What’s your new favorite book?

A River's Bend Duo
A RIVER’S BEND DUO

Wanted: The Sheriff

Martha Bittner may be considered a spinster at twenty-seven, but she’s not planning to stay that way. For four years, she’s wanted the sheriff of River’s Bend, Missouri, to notice her as more than a friend and a really good cook. With the first annual spring dance only weeks away, Martha decides to announce her intentions — and declares the sheriff a wanted man.

Sheriff Matthew Tate always thought he was better off a bachelor. Growing up in Boston society, where marriage is a business transaction and wealth his greatest asset, he’s learned to distrust all women’s intentions. None of them even catch his eye anymore — until pretty Martha Bittner tells him exactly what she wants… and he wonders why he ever resisted capture.

No Less Than Forever

Doctor Franz Bittner is satisfied with his life as it is. He has a good practice in a place where he is respected, in spite of his German birth. He has good friends and enough income to provide him with a few comforts. A wife would only complicate things. Then a tiny blond stranger is pulled from the river and everything changes. With one smile she captures his attention—and steals his heart.

Rebekah Snow Redmann barely survived her abusive husband’s attack. Though she was given to him to pay her father’s debts, she’d rather die than go back. Then she ends up in the care of the handsome local doctor and he stitches up more than her wounds—he mends her soul. With him, she discovers everything that she believes she can never have…a love that will last forever.

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