So many fledgling writers, whatever the age, long for the day of being published authors. For a group of scribes who regularly hone their craft at Plumb Memorial Library, those dreams have become reality.
Joseph Keeney, head of the Southwest Chapter of the Connecticut Authors & Publishers Association, used his self-taught publishing skills — to the surprise of those who attend the monthly meetings — to put together the SWCAPA Anthology at The Plumb Library, now on sale on Amazon.
“None of them ever thought this was really going to happen,” said Keeney about the poems and prose written by the members being published. “Then at one of our meetings, I showed them the book, and I made a poster that I showed them, too. They could not believe it. It has just taken on a life of its own.”
The SWCAPA chapter, under the guidance of chapter director Keeney, meets the second Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the main meeting room at Plumb Memorial Library. And Keeney, a Monroe resident, said the anthology was dedicated to Plumb Library in gratitude for allowing the would-be writers to use the facility each month.
The Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association was founded two decades ago to help people who aspire to be published authors gain the necessary writing skills to accomplish their goals. To further that mission, CAPA offers members mentoring, workshops and a speaker — with the focus on such skills as writing, publishing and marketing — each month.
Keeney took over the Shelton-based chapter more than a year ago, and in that time he has changed the focus a bit, making the meetings more about improving writing skill rather than just marketing and publishing options. That move, according to Keeney’s wife, Carol, has invigorated those attending.
“Joe focused more on writing whereas before, the meetings were focused more on marketing books,” said Carol, a longtime teacher and author herself. “Many of people here had not written a book, so they could not relate.
“Joe started bringing in speakers to discuss how they got started, and they offered tips on what made them successful,” added Carol. “I think that made the members feel they were learning the skills they need to be successful themselves.”
With the new push on improving writing skills, Keeney said, during his first year as chapter director in 2018, he observed members producing much more material — and that is when the thought of creating an anthology came to life.
Keeney said he asked each member to submit their works to him, who then, with the help of SWCAPA coordinator Rich Colon, began editing the material for inclusion in the anthology. In the end, 10 authors, including Keeney and his wife, submitted a total of 21 works that are featured in the book.
“They have written before, but they do not consider themselves professionals,” said Carol about the regular chapter members. “Having the opportunity to be part of an anthology, I think helped them "visualize themselves as an author. They did not believe it. Now they feel they can do it, too.”
Keeney said readers of this anthology will “see people never published before, with work ranging from love to fear to danger to happiness. The works in this anthology cover a wide range of emotion.”
“It’s slices of life,” said Carol, whose submission, titled License to Drive, is a personal essay she completed during one of the monthly workshops about how her father was “very, very tough and never wanted me to drive. This piece is about that driving lesson he gave me and how terrible it was.
“Being in this anthology gives (the writers) the confidence to share with family and friends, which is what most of them wanted to do, and to continue writing,” added Carol. “This gives them encouragement to write more.”
Plumb Memorial Library is hosting a reception on July 8 at 6:30 p.m. to honor the publication of SWCAPA Anthology at The Plumb Library. Attendees will be treated to author readings from the book, and food and drink will be provided.
CAPA, with some 160 members in total, holds its main meetings at Sycamore Hills Park Community Center in Avon the third Saturday of each month. CAPA also has a bookstore at the Big E, where members sell books at the booth in the Connecticut section. To learn more about CAPA and SWCAPA, visit www.aboutcapa.com.