Spinning Tales

Spinning Tales

Spinning TalesRecently I’ve been gathering information for a class on the Art of Sub-Saharan Africa for an adult education course I’ll be teaching in April. This, combined with the extra reading I’ve been doing while the ground whitens around me, started me thinking about the importance of storytelling.

 When I lived on the African continent many decades ago, I became familiar with the way social mores and cultural history traditionally have been passed on to future generations through stories.  The books I’m now reading do somewhat the same thing for me. They also entertain me. But what does this have to do with Wilton?

The tie-in is books and writing them.  Words About Wilton’s focus this week is on a group of writers who’ve been meeting twice a month since their Talespinners group formed at the Wilton Library twenty years ago.  Members have come and gone, but the current four members, Nikki Andrews, Linda Kepner, Stasia Millett and Jessie Salisbury, have been a constant for the past two decades, with an impressive total among them of more than 42 published books.

You may be surprised to learn that these women, whose names may seem familiar, have lives other than the ways they’re known around Wilton. Let me fill you in.

The first of our fiction writers is Wilton resident Nikki Andrews. You may know Nikki through her role as a trustee of the Wilton Public and Gregg Free Library which is also the headquarters for the Boots and Books hiking group she leads. Professionally she’s edited other people’s books for several publishing companies. Now she has four of her own and is currently working on a fifth. Her themes vary from Framed, one of the art-related titles in her cozy mystery series, to auto racing to the new mystery she’s writing, centered on maple sugaring.

Wilton’s Stasia Millett, whose pen name is Lyrion ApTower, is best known for her dedication to Wilton through her service at the Wilton Community Center and as the board secretary.  She also was the editor of Wilton’s Blinking Light newsletter - referencing the town’s directional traffic dummy. As Lyrion ApTower, she reveals another part of herself: that of a respected Elder in the Wiccan community. Lyrion uses short stories, essays and poems to tell her tales. Her book, Passwords and Passages, details the Wiccan experience.  A few years ago she received a major award from the National Organization for Women for one of her pieces.  

Jessie Salisbury needs little introduction to Wilton readers.  She’s been a town fixture as our go-to journalist for many decades, even though she still claims Lyndeborough as home. There she’s served on just about every town committee that exists.   Her career has taken her from and to several newspapers including the Milford Cabinet, Monadnock Ledger/Transcript and Nashua Telegraph.  Behind the scenes she’s a prolific writer of romantic fiction with sixteen books to her credit.  She’s also a treasured member of several towns due to her knowledge and interest in their history. She wrote the Lyndeborough section of the book Wilton, Temple and Lyndeborough in the “Images of America: New Hampshire” series.

Linda Kepner, of Bennington, is the only member of Talespinners who may be unfamiliar to you.  But if you read science fiction, fantasy, romance or paranormal fiction, or stopped at the Peterborough Library in need of technical help, you may have come across her or some of her 17 published books. Besides being a long-term member of Talespinners, she also belongs to the Monadnock Writers Group.  Look for her recent publication of Out Far Enough in her Planting Walnuts series. It’s turned even me into a science fiction fan.  

A few weeks ago, I stopped by the Lyndeborough Library during one of Talespinners’ bi-weekly meetings. There members each critique what the others have written since they last met. This is not an exclusive club. They welcome any budding or established author who’d like to join them.  It’s a non-threatening experience in an inclusive environment. Unless, that is, you’d be upset by such comments as “Did he stand or did he stand up?” “That word stopped the flow of the story for me.”  “Maybe you can combine those two thoughts?” “I have the same problem adding too many adjectives…”  

 Jessie offered, “We all help each other become better writers.”She then confessed she started a novel many years ago, but had put it aside until she joined Talespinners. With their encouragement, she completed it. Now she credits her sixteen published novels to her involvement with Talespinners.

Stasia added that, “Unlike my sprinter style, Jessie and the others are all long-distant runners.”  Meaning her style is short stories and poetry while the others write novels. But style doesn’t’ matter. The process helps everyone. But does it sell books?

 Nikki tells of wearing a sweatshirt that read “I’m a famous author. Ask me about my book,“ while at a gas station.  A man walked up and asked her to tell him and she sold him one of her books. 

That was when Linda reached into her bag and proudly showed off her most recent royalty check. But don’t think she was about to do a happy dance.  Fifteen cents doesn’t go very far.  I believe it was Nikki who commented “Those royalties just keep rolling in. At one time we suggested that we all save our royalty money and treat ourselves to a meal out, as long as it’s one hamburger … to share.”  

The moral?  Don’t spin tales for profit. Spin them for the love of telling tales.

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