Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Mona Kerby and Owney

Mona Kerby, who is known for her book Owney, The Mail-Pouch Pooch, spoke during National Library Week at McDaniel College.

Mona was a kindergarten teacher and later a librarian. She wanted to write but said she was intimidated until she realized, with so many books in the library, some of those writers had to be ordinary people. She decided to give it a try. At first, she wrote non-fiction books about bees, health and science of the 50s.

She said it took her years to write and rewrite Owney, The Mail-Pouch Pooch. She contacted the U. S. Postal Service and Post Office Museum and researched newspapers from that era.  The book is a interesting story about a dog that adopted the postal service in Albany, NY. Staying with mailbags, the mutt travelled on trains throughout the country and even around the world. He became the mascot of the Railway Mail Service. 

After he died, postal workers raised funds to have him preserved. He is on display, along with his numerous tags, at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Postal Museum’s atrium. In 1911 the post office issued an Owney stamp.  More information about Owney is available at 

Mona’s book won the Parents’ Silver Choice Award, Vermont’s Red Clover Award and the California Young Reader Medal. Recently the book was published in Korean.

Some of her other books for children are:
38 Weeks Till Summer Vacation
America Earhart: Courage in the Sky;
Beverly Sills: America’s Own Opera Star;
Frederick Douglass
Robert E. Lee: Southern Hero of the Civil War
Samuel Morse

She also wrote Reading Fun: Quick and Easy Activities for the School Library Media Center.

 Some hints she shared with the overflow audience included:
Cite your sources. humor helps, have a blog, read newspapers and other publications for ideas (She emails ideas to herself from newspapers) and research books at the library, on your topic, similar to your story (What is different about your book?)

Mona is a professor of Library Science and coordinator of the graduate school Library Media Program at McDaniel College. For more information and fun projects for children, check out She also has a blog,

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Quijano's Words

Baltimore author Fernando Quijano III, who calls himself a word nerd,  spoke about using social media to build a platform and prepare for the publication of your book  at a recent meeting of the Carroll County, Maryland Writers’ Association.

Quijano, who knows how to make words work for him, is president of the Baltimore Chapter of the MWA. His work has been featured in “Welter,” “Smile Hon, You’re in Baltimore” and the poetry anthology, “Life in Me Like Grass on Fire.” He is a columnist for and uses twitter, Facebook and his blog,

Awarded a B grant for his writing by the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund in 2011, Quijano also discussed, the Hampstead Maryland housewife, Sharon Lopatka, who's death was the motivation for his forthcoming novel, Killing Lilith.

Quijano recommends writing short. Writing and publication is in transition, he said. The internet is important to writers, for recognition, building a platform and to be taken seriously. He spoke about hash tags, klout perks, blogging and linking accounts. He discussed advertising and other details about using social media.

There are many writing sites out there and they can be very helpful, he said. As far as checking out lots of other writing sites, you must think about cost and benefit. You should ask “What can I get out of it.”

A number of area writers have spoken at the Carroll County writers’ organization during its first two years of existence including B. Morrison, L M Preston, Lois Szymanski, Ally Peltier Machate, Stephanie Dray (Draven),  Laura Shoven, Lynne Shapiro and LeRoy Lad Panek.

This year will end with a humorous presentation by Michele "Wojo" Wojciechowski on Saturday June 8. Wojciechowski writes the humor column WoJo’s World. Her book, Next Time I Move, They'll Carry Me Out in a Box, won an Outstanding Book Award (Lifestyle/Memoir category), from the American Society of Journalists and Authors.

For more information about future Carroll County meetings check out