Aug20ThuAugust 20, 2009
ARUN SIVASANKARAN Forum Publishing Group
Joyce Sweeney, novelist, poet and a mentor for many aspiring writers in South Florida, has lived in Coral Springs for more than 20 years. Her books are widely read, but the writer is still largely unrecognized in her hometown.
Coral Springs' decision to honor published authors living within the city could help tilt the spotlight toward Sweeney and other writers in the city. The gesture may not help sell more books, but it sure has warmed the hearts of many in the community.
"I don't think anything like this has ever happened before," said Sweeney, who recently finished "The Guardian," her latest novel for young adults. "This is really very touching. Writers don't make a lot of money, they don't become famous. It is nice to know what you have contributed is valued."
The idea of recognizing writers grew from a meeting William Brower, author of "The Chronicles of the Dragon's Bane," had with Coral Springs Mayor Scott Brook.
"I met the mayor in March to discuss a program to help motivate students in the community to read more," Brower said. "He wanted to know what I felt about a program to honor authors living in the city. I did research and found out that Coral Springs is the first city in the nation to do something like this."
"For some reason, students in the 15-to-18 age group are not very interested in reading or writing," Brower said. "This will hopefully inspire them. For a writer, a book is the ultimate labor of love. Writers pour their hearts into their works. It matters a lot to have the support of your hometown."
Every author hopes to get public exposure, said Andrea MacVicar, author of "Tales of Zoftic," a book about the adventures of a black Labrador that is written fully in rhyme. "My book is for charity. The more people know about me and my book, the more they will be inspired to buy the book. I am glad the city thought of such a thing."
"This is a time when writers need as much encouragement as they can get," MacVicar said. "People are not reading printed matter as much as they used to. Publications and publishers are going out of business. It is much more challenging to be published today."
Publishers these days don't promote books as much as they used to, said Joe Moore, who has four published books to his credit. "It's a changing industry; a writer has to do much more than just writing a book. Public exposure surely helps in promotion of a work."
Moore also has words of encouragement for budding writers. "Being a writer is a great job; I do it full time," he said. "Publishers are always looking for good books. The really good books always rise to the top. The best way to get published is to write a really good book."
Sweeney, MacVicar, Brower, Moore, John Dennison, Jim Flood, Dan Zachofsky, Stephanie Krulik and Helen Marie Daly were among the writers recognized by the City Commission on Tuesday.
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