What Have You Been Doing?

Whether it’s an entry into a journal, a note about a book I’m reading, or revision, revision, revision, writing is my passion, hobby, profession, and most important these days, a distraction.

With that in mind I want to share some writerly news.

I’ve recently completed two eBooks, well eBooklets really, and they are available for free through links in Internet Archive. Architectural Studies is my undergraduate work on building surveys for Montgomery Hill Baptist Church and the Bayside Academy Administration Building. Those projects are combined in one book.

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The second book, The Cape Cod House, An Architectural Study, traces the origins of the Cape Cod style house dating back to the late 1600s to it’s proliferation in the 1950s. CapeCodCover

I’m proud of my scholarship. The books are for fans of local history, architectural history, and historic preservation. You can read them online and download them for free through Internet Archive. Yes, FREE. They will also be available to borrow soon from the Fairhope Public Library. If you prefer your own print copy, I’m selling them myself for the low, low, direct-from-the-author’s hatchback price of $5. For distant fans, or if you prefer the speed of Print-on-Demand, the books are available for purchase on Amazon for $9.99. Readers, not sales, make me rich! So write a review to let me know how your heart raced a little when you skipped down the page toward those tantalizing…footnotes.

Another Book (not free, but very reasonable)

Have you ever wondered about the orange block structures and houses around Fairhope? Or perhaps you know about them but want to learn more. Well, soon you will wonder no more.

My book Clay City Tile: Frank Brown and the Company that Built Fairhope will be out in July! People have called me the “Clay City Tile guy” for a while, so I’m finally getting around to publishing it. It’s local history, which I enjoy. I’ve posted a few photographs (not in the book) on the book’s website Clay City Tile.

Stay tuned for updates about the Clay City Tile book on the above website and right here at Stump the Librarian!

Research

Of course, I’m always doing research. Lately, I’ve gone down the letterhead rabbit hole. I’ve found all kinds of great Fairhope letterhead at the Fairhope Single Tax Online Archive. Of course, anything can be used as letterhead these days. I’ve been using the Bank of Fairhope. It’s kind of cool, and it surprises me that with all the banks in Fairhope (26?), no one thought to resurrect one, the best one in fact, from Fairhope’s past.

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Incidentally, The Bank of Fairhope’s second location, which became the Press-Register building and is currently Christmas Around the Corner, was built in 1927. It is scored stucco over…you guessed it, Clay City Tile.

Odds and ends

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New Typewriter, it’s a sickness really, but at least I’ve got the ten fingers for it. Er, well, that’s five per typewriter now.

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People have been taking photos of themselves in book covers. How could I resist!

Oh, I almost forgot Summer Camp. I’m leading a Creative Writing workshop for writers ages 10 and up at the Eastern Shore Art Center. My Creative Writing Summer Bash takes place July 13-17! Join me if you can. It’s going to be super fun!

 

Stump Gets Reviewed in Amplitude

So excited to see a review of Stump the Librarian: A Writer’s Book of Legs!

Check out the review at Amplitude, an online and print magazine with the tagline “Powerful, Practical, and Positive Living with Limb Loss.”

Click on the cover below to see Amplitude magazine’s home page, which includes a PDF of the current January/February 2019 issue. The review is on page 7.

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I sent out advanced copies of my book to several amputee related publications for reviews. Whatever your subject, find publications on that subject. Submit your book. Also, if you’ve read my book, please post a review on Amazon or Goodreads. A few honest words would be appreciated. Just click on the respective logo on the right. If you have already reviewed it, thank you.

In other book news, I found the children’s picture book Rescue and Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship, by Jessica Kensky Patrick Downes, and illustrated by Scott Magoon, in Amplitude magazine. It just won the Schneider Family Book Award, the American Library Association’s best book for young children with a disability experience. It was included in my Best of 2018 list.

 

On Sale Now!

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Click on the photo or here to buy the print book from Amazon.

Also available as a Kindle Book.

What are People Saying?

Alan Samry’s kaleidoscopic book, Stump the Librarian is at once a glorious compendium of quick biographies of one-legged individuals, a moving memoir, a fascinating history of amputations and prostheses, and a medical investigation of the congenital anomaly that left the author with a disability at birth.  Samry, a librarian in Fairhope, Alabama, takes joy in the quest for answers and pursues information with the sublime sense of mission that the best librarians possess.  With clarity, candor, and a down-to-earth directness, he takes us with him:  fascinated, outraged, horrified, thrilled, and ever curious about a world populated—and profoundly changed—by those who not only get by on a single leg but stand far more firmly than many people with two. Samry weaves poignant personal recollection through his tapestry of information, making Stump the Librarian a must read.

Molly Peacock, author of The Analyst and The Paper Garden 

Alan Samry takes readers on his personal journey of curiosity, humor and exploration. In an unlikely narrative readers learn about Alan’s life as a congenital below-knee amputee.  In a very delightful and provocative manner, Alan relates his personal memoirs and shares historical and imagined characters who are like-amputees. Alan’s writing style is fascinatingly varied, and insightful into his own self-discovery.  He shares intimate details that enable readers to appreciate his story and perspective. This book is a celebration of Alan – his person, determination, and his insatiable desire for truth.

—Tamara Dean, Director, Fairhope Public Library

You Have a Book?

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Why Yes, I do, and I’m very excited and humbled to finally share my writing with readers.

What’s it about? (from the back cover)

Stump the Librarian: A Writer’s Book of Legs is a diverse collection of creative writing that explores Alan Samry’s life as a congenital below-knee amputee and a public librarian. Alan’s cross-genre writing in creative nonfiction, poetry, essays, satire, and experimental writing weaves fascinating mythical, historical, and literary figures into his own absorbing story of being a “born amputee.” In the book, with chapters organized as though the reader were exploring a public library, Alan writes about his experiences in an open, insightful, and humorous way. In his search for other leg amputees, Alan finds a new way of seeing himself, and the world around him.

When is it coming out and where can I buy it?

The book, published by Intellect Publishing, will be available for purchase locally, on Amazon, and for libraries through Ingram in mid-October in print and as an e-book.

Stump the Librarian Book Launch Party

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Fairhope Public Library-Giddens Auditorium

501 Fairhope Avenue, Fairhope, Alabama 36532

6:00 PM

More details on the launch party and other author events coming soon.

 

 

Need Some April Reading?

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I’m hoping the March showers will bring April flowers here in Lower Alabama. In the meantime, here’s some links to an article on relationships, the great global nonfiction versus fiction debate, and links for amputees, poets, and librarians.

For Amputees

This month is Limb Loss Awareness Month. (#LLAM) The Amputee Coalition of America’s National Limb Loss Resource Center is a great place to find information for anyone with limb loss, from born amputees like me, to those recovering from amputation surgery.

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Relationships

My wife Susan and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary last month. In a Facebook post, my cousin Gayle asked, “What’s the most important thing to share about your time together?”

“Friendship, empathy, forgiveness, funniness, and affection are a few important things,” I posted. About a week later, I read the article below. No matter the relationship, I think understanding one another is profoundly difficult and infinitely more challenging to sustain.

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For Readers and Writers

The next storm that crossed my path is the relationship readers and writers navigate between fiction and nonfiction. This global multilingual discussion will have you wondering about the origins of the word nonfiction and questioning the meaning of story.

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Student Librarians and Poets

Since it’s also National Poetry Month, I’ve included a link to an article that I netted for a library school assignment about Charles Bukowski. It’s not his poetry at the other side of the link below. A well-written (if a bit raunchy) profile from a 1976 Rolling Stone magazine interview has motivated me to go and read some Bukowski this April.

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Don’t forget, next week (April 10-16) is National Library Week, so visit your library, online (Fairhope Public Library) or in-person, to learn how Libraries Transform.

 

 

Do you know Annie Easley?

 

On Saturday, I had a high school student come up to the reference desk with her mom.

Her mom said, “Go ahead, ask him.”

“Good morning, can I help?”

“I’m looking for information on Annie Easley.”

Do you know Annie Easley? If you do, I’m impressed. I have never heard of her.

So we went to the OPAC, or Online Public Access Catalog and typed in the name.

0 results

“I found some things on the internet, but I need a book source,” she told me.

So I asked the student, who I will call J, what she had already found out about her. Easley was a scientist, and a mathematician.

“Follow me,” I said, confident that I could find a reference book with her name in it.

I pulled some subject encyclopedias on science, and women in science. Nothing.

Bound and determined to find J. some print on paper, I conducted my reference interview, then grabbed some sources. J and I scanned and skimmed alphabetical entries and indexes. Still nothing.

I learned more about Easley along the way, interviewing J about how she learned about Easley. J was African American, and so was Easley, and it’s February (African American History month), but she was not on a teacher’s list of people to research. Easley was also born in Birmingham, Alabama.

Earlier in the day, I had messaged a fellow student about what librarians without a master’s degree are called.

“Feral Librarians,” Ginny remembered.

I was a feral librarian rabidly interested in finding a book source for this shy, yet curious young student.

“They called her the Human Calculator,” J said, and added that Easley worked for NASA.

Doesn’t she sound like a woman who should be in book about mathematicians and scientists?

J also called her a “programmer.”

I told J, her mom, and now her younger brother, who had joined our tour of reference, that I just learned about this new documentary called, Code: Debugging the Gender Gap.

This documentary shows the large gender and minority gap in the world of science, specifically, computer science. Sadly, our collection was helping prove their argument and this student had done her homework. She knew Easley’s middle initial, “J.” I learned later that Easley actually developed code for NASA.

Walking back to the catalog I asked J to check the general encyclopedias. She confirmed my initial doubt and there was no mention of her in Worldbook, or Encyclopedia Britannica.

“Who is this lady?” J’s little brother now wanted to know, as we grabbed two more books from the stacks. From then on, he joined us in our search.

J’s dad came by, and seeing the stack of books, suggested to his daughter that maybe she needed to find another person.

She was thumbing through a book, and looked over at him. I could tell she was ready to give up.

“No way,” I told the whole family, then looking at J I said, “You need to champion Easley.” I’d gone feral, and decided book sources be damned. “No book sources from the public library, well, use that in your paper,” I said. I smiled, she smiled. Not a Cheshire smile, but the kind of smile that said, “I’m not sure if this librarian is crazy or just more curious than a cat.”

 Some books without Annie Easley

“I’m sorry,” I said, frustrated and angry that I could not find a print source for her. This young woman had found a person, an African American like herself and a mathematician, programmer, and NASA employee and my resources failed. The whole family and I went back to the computer and found Easley’s Wikipedia page.

“You stumped the librarian today,” I told them, and was disappointed I did not have a book sources.

J knew about Alabama Virtual Library, but she hadn’t looked at Wikipedia’s sources.

Easley’s Wikipedia page linked to a 55 page PDF from NASA’s “Herstory” Oral history project. The document was the transcript of an interview with Easley about her life.

“That’s better than a book,” I said pointing at the screen, That’s a primary document. This is her own words.” J, and everyone in her family, thanked me. Her dad shook my hand. As they headed to circulation to check out some items, I realized that Wikipedia, libraries, and librarians do not compete. They compliment.

My name in a Textbook

It happened February 13, 2016 at 6:23 Eastern Standard Time. In my second semester of online library school at the University of Alabama.

I was reading Reference and Information Services: An Introduction by Kay Ann Cassell and Uma Hiremath (2013).

On Page 115 it states:

In the past, the stouthearted librarians of the New York Public Library

would prove this time and time again as they ventured into schools to

play the game, “Stump the Librarian.”

 

 

 

 

2015 Recommendations

Books

Nonfiction

In the Sanctuary of Outcasts, Neil White

Scorsese: A Retrospective, Tom Shone

Steal like an Artist, Austin Kleon

Travels with Charley, John Steinbeck

What we See When we Read, Peter Mendelsund

Picture Books

The Book with No Pictures, B. J. Novak

The Day the Crayons Came Back, Drew Daywalt

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear, Lindsay Mattick, Illustrated by Sophie Blackall

USS Alabama: Hoorah for the Mighty A! Karyn W. Tunks

Graphic Novel

Demise of the Spirit’s Guiding Lady, Megan Redlich

The Odyssey, Gareth Hinds

Fiction

The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

Poetry

Next Door to the Dead, Kathleen Driskell

Movies

Big Eyes

Big Hero 6

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

Boyhood

Cinderella

The Cobbler

Dolphin Tale 2

Gone Girl

The Help

Ida

The Imitation Game

Inherent Vice

Night Crawler

A Night to Remember

Noah

Pixels

Rushmore

St. Vincent

Selma

Star Wars *In Theaters

The Theory of Everything

Wild

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Documentaries/Nonfiction

Evel Knievel’s Spectacular Jumps

Fed Up

Ivory Towers

Open Sesame

Television/Streaming

American Crime   

Boardwalk Empire Season 5

House of Cards

Nashville

Red Oaks *Amazon Prime

Survivor : Cambodia-Second Chance

Happy New Year!