The Ozark Regional Library in Fredericktown is “the” place to be this summer with offerings from local authors to games and prizes for youth readers.
Summer activities have included a book signing, story time, youth and adult reading programs, games, crafts, songs, and prizes. All of this was culminated by an animal show at the library over the past week.
Area author Pam Prier stopped by the Fredericktown branch Saturday for a signing session for her latest book, “The One That Almost Got Away,” a collection of regional fishing stories.
Prier, of Ironton and born in Bonne Terre, explained her inspiration for the book as coming from frequent family fishing trips where she collected fishing stories from men and women she met.
“The stories about fishing are true but funny,” Prier said. “It includes stories from a lot of local people.”
By the time she decided to begin work on the fishing stories book, Prier was already a published author. Her book entitled, “Ozark Memories” was published in 2003 and is also a collection of stories. Prier included stories of growing up in southeast Missouri, namely the counties of Iron, Madison, St. Francois, and Washington, from the personal perspectives of those willing to share them.
“My inspiration came from frequent opportunities to fish and I talked with other fishermen and women,” Prier said. “Then, I began collecting their stories the same as I did with ‘Ozark Memories’.”
Although the fishing book includes stories from a lot of Southeastern Missouri fishermen, a few are from other towns and states. It does include stories from two people from Madison County, Dan Hanner and Jennifer Ballew.
Ballew remembered sharing her story with Prier five or six years ago and enjoyed the opportunity. Prier offered a free copy of the fishing stories book in exchange for Ballew’s sharing of her story. Ballew expressed her gratitude and satisfaction of her story’s inclusion in “The One That Almost Got Away,” Friday.
Prier said fishing has been a part of the lives of her family. Her children were part of the experience from a young age. She displayed a copy of a photo of her son Sean with his large fish in The Florida Keys.
“By the names in my family you could learn that our entire family likes the outdoors,” Prier said. “The names of my children are daughter, Autumn, and sons, Forrest and Hunter.”
The photo on the cover was taken of two of her children, Forrest and Autumn Prier, with a family friend while fishing at Sheppard Mountain Lake. The photo of Prier on the back cover was taken at Bismarck Lake.
Prier outlines the content in this way, “The book is separated by fish species, and there is a technical information section for each species of fish.”
“There are few stories that are informative,” Prier said. “There is a chapter on fly fishing for women who are breast cancer survivors.”
She discussed some reading of her own which supports the idea that this sport can help women in their post-surgery recovery.
“… After that there are few recipes thrown in for fun,” Prier said.
As a result of her writings, Prier had a response from readers who wanted information from her about writing their own life stories. So, she began teaching a class called “Writing Your Memoirs.” Her free class is a given on a one time basis and spans two hours. The Fredericktown library staff has been generous enough to allow writers to come together in their facility to further their craft.
“It is hands-on,” Prier said. “I don’t like going to boring lectures, so I try to make it fun.”
She enjoys inspiring others to expand their writing skills. Even non-writers are able to leave with some success at starting a memoir and she has received many thanks from past students.
“I firmly believe that everyone has a unique story to tell,” Prier said. “By the time you leave the class you will have written the majority of your life story. It helps empower and encourage writers and potential writers.”
Once she decided to start her writing classes she received a book from her neighbor on loan. The book was written by his aunt with just a few copies printed and distributed within the family only. The neighbor felt that the book had messages to which Pam could relate. Since she believed that inspiring messages can come from within various and unexpected writings, Prier devoured it immediately.
Afterward, Prier was so moved that she requested the contact information of the author. The two spoke and had a wonderful exchange of thoughts and feelings by telephone. The end result was that Prier got permission to use a quote from the small book in her own. This quote from the Elaine Perkins book, “Man with a Scar” appears in the introduction of Prier’s “Ozark Memories”: “… History will record the famous and infamous, but we, the descendants of the so-called average people, will record and preserve their history and stories for their future generations.”
“It shows you how far the ripples of your writings can spread,” Pam said.
Prier is also planning a one-hour class for anyone interested in knowing more about writing as a career. She has taught this as a free course before and includes hand-outs to help participants continue their writing after they leave. There are no class dates and times because she is awaiting some final arrangements.
Prier said her desire to reach out and teach more writing came from people asking her about republishing “Ozark Memories.” She was also hired in Jefferson County to teach the class to its writers.
In addition to the two books mentioned already, Prier has written a children’s book called “Werecats.” It was published in 2005 by a small desktop publishing company in De Soto. All three of Prier’s books are available to check out at the library.
In 2004, four of her poems were published by The Writer’s Society of Jefferson County in its poetry anthology, Prier said.
The author talked about giving away a copy to anyone whose story is included in her books. So, she will offer to sign each of these copies as well. Prier has a sequel to the fishing stories book nearing completion. She is also gathering stories for a few more books that are still in the planning stages.
Stories are being sought for inclusion in her three upcoming books; volume two of the fishing stories, true hunting adventures, and stories from long haul truckers. There is no cost or obligation to persons sharing their stories.
“If you have stories that you think would fit into any of these books please contact me,” Prier said.
Prier can be reached at Blue Feather Productions by phone at 573-854-4708 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reading about fishing is very interesting but some prefer the hands on approach. So, the Fredericktown Branch which is part of the Ozark Regional Library System is embarking on a partnership with the Missouri Department of Conservation to offer a fishing pole loan program later this summer.
The program is in the initial stages and will be based on the interest level of the patrons at each of the seven libraries in the system, according to System Director Holly Martin-Huffman.
“It will be just like checking out a book,” Huffman explained about the procedure for borrowing a fishing pole at the library.
The program will be available July 1 at the branch in Ironton. There are plans to expand the program to the branches in Fredericktown and Crawford County as well. It will take time, because MDC doesn’t have enough fishing poles right now. However, the staff are currently working to get more.
The focus of the program will be on those adults who haven’t fished in a while. It will assist adults and children who are learning the sport, also.
“We will try to have programs on how to fish for adults and children,” Huffman said. “Any programs will be family oriented, not just for children.”
Participants will get a pole and a small equipped tackle box. The tackle will include some artificial lures, but no live bait. Therefore, live bait will be the responsibility of the individual fisherman. MDC will take care of servicing the poles and handling tackle needs as part of the program. Unfortunately, they can’t bait the hooks for you, like your grandpa did.
Librarians will be available to refer patrons to fishing related books at each participating branch. There are also plans for the libraries to get additional fishing publications. Huffman hopes the joint effort between her agency and the Missouri Department of Conservation will grow and result in more benefits to library goers. Hopefully this will mean more conservation programs and publication offerings in the future.
The following links provide insight for similar programs in the Ozark and Central Missouri regions: http://mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-and-local-mid-missouri-libraries-offer-fishing-rod-and-reel-loaner-program and http://mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-public-libraries-provide-loaner-fishing-equipment.
Library summer fun has also included the arrival of the Wild Heart Music Show featuring live animals at the Fredericktown branch, Monday.
The show helped to round up youth in the summer reading program with its animal themed sing-a-longs and activities. A large group of kids were laughing while learning about the life cycle of the Earth. They were able to dance, “turn into” amphibians, and more during the father-daughter production.
Reviews from past performances can be viewed on the following link: http://www.wildheartmusic.com/wildreviews.html.
More information about classes, programs, and other events at the library may be obtained by visiting them during regular hours at 115 S. Main St., or on the web at www.ozarkregionallibrary.lib.mo.us.
Traci M. Black is a reporter for the Democrat News and can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at email@example.com.