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Writing Prompt: Create a Story About a Famous Author

27 Mar

A great story has well developed characters; even a hero has flaws and even the worst bad guy has sympathetic qualities. Many authors write about historic characters and must extrapolate from details about how that person lived their life and documents like letters that they left behind, what their motivations and beliefs were. Some of my favorite characters out there are based on authors.   Joyce Carole Oates has a whole short story collection, Wild Nights!, featuring stories about significant moments in the lives of Poe, Dickinson, Twain, James, and Hemingway.

For today’s exercise think about an author and positive and negatives qualities they would have. Think what types of language they would use when speaking to others and how they would interact with the world around them. What would they choose to eat, what music would you have them listen to, how would they dress in private and public?

You can do some research online. For New Jersey residents, I recommend checking out The Literary Reference Center, which you can access with your Hoboken or other New Jersey Library Card thanks to the New Jersey State Library and the Institute for Museum and Library Services. I did some research on Poe and learned from the Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition, that “Poe’s literary executor, R. W. Griswold, overemphasized Poe’s personal faults and distorted his letters. Poe was a complex person, tormented and alcoholic yet also considerate and humorous, a good friend, and an affectionate husband” (p1-2). That’s given me an idea for a darkly funny short story featuring him.  I’m not the only one that thinks Poe is great inspiration; you can check out The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard and The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl to see how authors have incorporated him into their fiction.

Once you have spent some time creating your character portrait, you may already have some story ideas, but if not think of what situations you could put your historic author in that would highlight some of the traits and behaviors you have learned about. Your story could involve them being a writer or instead focus on something completely outside their writing life.

What author would you chose to write about? Share them in our comments. Also let us know if you would be interested in connecting with other writers in an online writing group. You can also reach me at

This is the second in our new blog post series of writing prompts. We will continue to share our favorite books and media with you earlier in the week, but now each Friday we are sharing writing prompts to get you creating your own great work! The stay at home order that is in effect for NJ (and similarly in many other states and countries) is the perfect time to start working on that novel or other piece of writing you usually do not have time for.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

Ebooks, Streaming Movies and more for Adults!

18 Mar

Monday, I wrote about some of our online resources for children, but Hoboken has plenty of great ebooks and streaming media resources for Hoboken adult residents as well.

eLibraryNJ and eBCCLS
eLibraryNJ and eBCCLS, Overdrive Services, allow you to download popular audiobook and ebook titles to your computers, tablets, and ereaders (including Kindles).  You can switch between the two borrowing consortiums in one easy to use App.  Click here for instructions on getting started: Libby_Overdrive Tip Sheet  My current read is Kim WilkinsSisters of the Fire, the incendiary sequel to her Daughters of the Storm, which should appeal to Game of Thrones fans.

RB Digital Magazines
RB Digital Magazines, the world’s largest newsstand, offers full-color, interactive digital magazines. Browse from our library’s collection of popular titles with no holds, no checkout periods, and no limit to the number of magazines you can download.  Some of my personal favorites are Bon Appetit, Wired, and Conde Nast Traveler but you can find everything from Vogue to National Geographic.  Click here for instructions on getting started: RB Digital Tip Sheet

Hoboken Public Library resident card holders, have access to Hoopla, which provides online access to thousands of movies, TV shows, ebooks (including graphic novels), audiobooks, and music albums.  There are never any holds!  Currently I have been binging the tropical island set mystery series, Death in Paradise.  We are currently allowing an additional 10 checkouts for 20 total in the month of March.  Click here for instructions on getting started: Hoopla Tip Sheet

Freegal Music allows Hoboken Public Library resident card holders access to hundreds of thousands of songs.  Library card holders can download up to five music tracks in the MP3 format each week. Plus our Hoboken Library Resident Library Cardholders have access to three hours of streaming music per day.  I was excited to see they had a playlist up in honor of April being Poetry Month. Click here for instructions on getting started: Freegal Tip Sheet

Hoboken Public Library Resident Library Card Holders have access to more than 30,000 Films from Kanopy.  You usually have 10 choices per month, but in March you will have 20; each of these checkouts is good for a 72 hour period.  From award-winning documentaries, rare and hard-to-find titles, film festival favorites, indie and classic films, and world cinema there is sure to be something you will love. I’m looking forward to checking out the follow up to Super Size Me, Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken.  And don’t forget kids have unlimited free streaming with Kanopy Kids.  Click here for instructions on getting started: Kanopy Tip Sheet

Our newest streaming resource.  The world’s leading classical music channel, features over 1,800 programs including: concerts, operas, ballets, documentaries, artist portraits and educational programs.  Missed a concert at Carnegie Hall?  Check it out on Medici.TV.

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