For the Love of Libraries
by Donna Soluri
Library Week was last week but here at Book+Main, we feel librarians and library workers are some serious unsung heroes, so we’ve decided to give them the spotlight for a little longer. They deserve all of the praise, all of the time! I sincerely hope each and every one of you had the opportunity to spend some quality time honing your reading skills with your local librarian in your youth. Having said that, I decided to check in with school librarian by day, romance author by nights and weekends, A.J. Pine.
Before we start, you’ll see below that my fellow Book+Main team member, Beth, loves A.J.’s books, and she recently did a spot of book matchmaking right here on the Book+Main Blog. Click the button below to see her Friday Fix-Up —
What is your earliest library story?
So, I actually remember way back in grade school when the children’s librarian at the local public library would come to our school and do read-alouds and other programming. To me she was always just “the library lady,” but in 6th grade we moved, and I changed grade schools, and I found out “the library lady” was my new friend’s mom! I felt like I was meeting a celebrity. LOL.
What is your favorite experience as a library professional?
Finding a book my students love. For six years I was a high school librarian, and my favorite parts of the day were the times students would come in to gush about a book I suggested they read or to recommend a book they wanted me to read. This year I switched to one of my district’s elementary schools, and the younger kids are always SO excited to tell me what they’re reading. The thrill of connecting with students over a love of reading never gets old.
“THE THRILL OF CONNECTING WITH STUDENTS OVER A LOVE OF READING
NEVER GETS OLD.”
Of all the tools a library has to offer, which one is your favorite? Which one is ridiculously underused?
This is a strange time to answer this because our district has been doing library classes via Zoom all year…so speaking from the angle of teaching remotely, I’m so grateful for all the virtual ways I’m able to share stories with students. There is a great resources called Epic Books that I’ve been using this year that offers ebooks, audiobooks, “read to me books,” and even movie versions of some books that I can easily share over Zoom, and I would not have made it his far without Epic. So I guess what is ridiculously underused right now is my school’s big, beautiful brand new library that was just finished being built over the summer. Can’t wait to get back in the building and use it!
There’s Libby and Overdrive (is that still a thing? My local library uses Libby now) are there any other apps that are library friendly we should be aware of?
Libby actually is Overdrive, I believe. It’s the new interface. And I use Libby all the time! I mentioned Epic in the previous question and can’t say enough good things about it. It’s free for educators and students, and you can learn more about it at getepic.com. I swear this isn’t a paid ad. Haha!
What if you want to read a book but your library doesn’t carry it? How do we request it? Can we also request books that aren’t traditionally published?
I work in a school library, and I always ask my students for requests. But I do give them the caveat that the book has to be sold by our school’s vendor. When it comes to schools (at least where I work), it’s harder to put indie books on the shelf unless they are reviewed in a trade magazine like Booklist or School Library Journal because when you’re catering to kids, you need back-up from review sites like this that reiterate how appropriate a book is for a certain grade level. That way if a book gets challenged, I can cover my butt by saying, “But SLJ says it’s a great book for grades four and up.” I don’t know how collection development at a public library works, but I think there is more wiggle room there as far as what you can put on the shelf. This is not to say I wouldn’t put an indie book on a school shelf. I would just need outside support for its grade level appropriateness.
Are there any hidden secrets we need to know about the library? Like a secret menu at Starbucks? If no secrets, maybe a couple of fun facts?
Well, if you get locked in the library after hours, the books come to life and throw big parties. Okay…I can’t actually confirm or deny this since I haven’t yet spent the night in a library, but I really hope it’s true. If it can happen at the museum, it can happen at the library too, right? And fun fact? Let’s see…Since I’m at a new school this year, I don’t know if any of my new colleagues know I write romance. It’ll be interesting when they find out!
“IF YOU GET LOCKED IN THE LIBRARY AFTER HOURS, THE BOOKS COME TO
LIFE AND THROW BIG PARTIES.”
My teammate Beth is a big fan. She wanted me to ask you a couple of questions about your latest book, Only A Cowboy Will Do (Meadow Valley #3) It only makes sense to ask a librarian about a book, right?
Awww, thanks Beth! I’m so glad you’re enjoying my books! Thank you so much for reading! (Beth’s side note: *flails in fangirl*)
The hero, Cole, is ten years younger than Jenna – a woman just turned 40, who gave up her youth to raise her nephews. How did you approach their age difference, and how did it differ from writing a romance without an age gap?
I was SO excited to write this book. Even though most of my heroines are in their late twenties/early thirties, I’m in my forties, and I was really looking forward to writing a heroine who felt a little closer to home age wise. I knew from the second Jenna showed up in Second Chance Cowboy back in 2018 that I wanted to write a book for her. And I knew I wanted it to be a younger guy because Jenna is so young at heart, especially having given up some of those younger years to be there for her nephews. Honestly, maybe it’s because I’m not in my twenties or thirties anymore that age has become more of a non-issue for me, but for me I didn’t see it as much as an older woman/younger man relationship as I did see it as two people whose hearts—at the end of the day—wanted the same thing (and wanted each other). So it was pretty easy to write since I didn’t view the age as the actual obstacle even if Jenna tried to pretend it was.
Only a Cowboy Will Do crosses over with your Crossroads Ranch series. Was that planned from the outset, or something that happened over the course of writing the series?
I always knew I wanted to write Jenna’s book, but I wasn’t really sure how it would come about. But when I was putting together a new proposal for my publisher after having finished the Crossroads series, Jenna’s story was part of that proposal. So thank you, Forever Romance, for publishing that second series so I could give Jenna her long overdue HEA!
Meadow Valley is a memorable small town with even more memorable characters. Do you have a favorite among the residents and why?
I think it would have to be Lucy, Jenna’s psychic chicken because…psychic chicken!
Forty candles, and one for luck. Jenna Owens wants one thing for her birthday this year: a fairy-tale ending of her own and a little relaxation at a quaint California ranch. What she didn’t want was to get caught in a storm on her way to Meadow Valley. Or to get stuck with a ridiculously hot, too-charming-for-his-own-good cowboy—one who makes Jenna reconsider her “I don’t date younger guys” rule. But a little vacation flirtation might be just what she needs.
Colt Morgan isn’t interested in long-term relationships. Not since his last one crashed and burned after his fiancée found out he wanted a big family. So when he learns that Jenna has a list of items to accomplish on her trip—including having fling—Colt is all too happy to oblige. Yet the more he and Jenna get to know each other, the more Colt starts to wonder if maybe they have a chance at a real future. But when Jenna’s past upends everything Colt thought he wanted, are all bets off? Or will they find a way to make both their dreams come true?
About A.J. Pine
A librarian by day and USA Today bestselling romance writer by night, A.J. Pine can’t seem to escape the world of fiction, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. When she finds that twenty-fifth hour in the day, she might indulge in a tiny bit of TV to nourish her undying love of K-Dramas, superheroes, and everything romance. She hails from the far-off galaxy of the Chicago suburbs.
Learn more about A.J. Pine and her books at ajpine.com.
Donna should be an empty nester, but she’s not, thanks COVID-19. She’s a voracious reader of all books; she can’t pick just one sub-genre. A staunch supporter of seasoned romance and a lover of cupcakes, you’ll often find her with a cup of tea and a mountainous TBR pile close at hand. Follow her @DonnaSoluri on B+M Bites.
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