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Local Authors: They Wrote Their Books

What about yours?

     Everybody’s got a book in them?
     Maybe so. Certainly we’ve all got stories. But the difference between a story and a book is getting it done.
     Many, many hours at a keyboard stand between most of us and that destination. That’s after (actually, before and during, too) the spinning roulette wheel of all the stories that could be told stops on just one. Then you’ve got to figure out where that story starts. Then keep — and keep, and keep — writing it.
     All the while, of course, you’re worrying about who you can get to publish it. 
     Which all your potential readers dearly hope won’t happen until you’ve hired a professional editor. No, a friend who did well in English class won’t do. A real editor has to have not only specialized knowledge but also the stick-to-it-ness to stay glued to your manuscript despite the siren calls of the rest of life. (She has to know, for example, how the not only … but also conjunction really works.)
     So the fact that any book ever gets published is a minor miracle. 
     In this issue, Bay Weekly looks into that miracle multiplied, in one of our authors’ cases, like the bread and wine of the marriage at Cana.
     That literary engine is Elisavietta Ritchie, celebrating the publication of her 22nd book. 
     Name sound familiar? Could be for lots of reasons as the poet, journalist, novelist and writer of short stories, translator and mentor has her hand in many literary pots.
     One is Bay Weekly, where you’ve seen her stories over many years. Poems now and again, too, for Elisavietta bombards me with poems apropos many a subject and occasion. Just last week, she responded to a Bay Weekly Creature Feature with eight poems on spiders.
     Maybe you know her as your teacher at Calvert Library, where her memoir and creative writing classes have encouraged many a story out of its keeper and into print. Many of those stories, too, have appeared in Bay Weekly, including many from our long-time contributor Sandy Anderson, lost, alas, to all of us this spring. 
     Maybe you know Elisavietta as collaborator, for many of her books of poetry feature the work of local artists, photographers and designers, for instance Megan Richard and Suzanne Shelden.
     Or as the editor — at Washington Independent Writers — who might hold the key to your literary future?
     In this issue you’ll get to know her better and learn some of the secrets of her literary success.
     High among the bodies longing to write books are journalists.
     Elisavietta’s husband Clyde Farnsworth, retired from the New York Times, proves that rule four times over. This week Bay Weekly features Farnsworth and his latest book, Tangled Bylines. It’s the story of Clyde H., our Clyde, and Clyde A., his father, both foreign correspondents who together reported on history in the making during the second half of the 20th century. Read it for history told from a first-person-present human perspective by an erudite journalist who tells not only the story but also the story behind the story. Among the many stories Clyde has packed into his 300-page-book is the tangled personal story of a son and his absent — but oft reappearing — father. 
     Elisavietta and Clyde are the sorts of people you’d expect to write books, aren’t they?
     So we balance the scales with the everyday guy so inspired by a story — this one made up, by the way — that he put in the discipline to make it a book. You may know Thomas Michael from the aisles of Graul’s Market Annapolis, where he’s a manager. You’ll meet another aspect of Michael — the writer angling for a movie contract — in Bob Melamud’s profile of the author and his mystery novel Birdland Murders. Adding to the fun in these World Series days, our own Orioles’ Minor League clubs and ballparks are the bloody settings of Birdland Murders.
     Read, enjoy … and maybe give your own story a nudge toward the book it wants to be.