Librarian wins romance award

September 1, 2009

By Laura Geggel

Deborah Schneider

Deborah Schneider

Deborah Schneider just got swept off her feet with a romance award from the Romance Writers of America.

The budding romance author’s day job as the public programming coordinator in Issaquah for the King County Library System allows her to schedule free literary events for the public. Her fellow writers in the Romance Writers of America’s Greater Seattle chapter recognized her contributions and nominated her for the award. After the board of directors at the Romance Writers of America sifted through nominations from across the country, they selected Schneider as the recipient.At the Romance Writers of America national conference in Washington, D.C. in July, Schneider received the 2009 Librarian of the Year award.

She recalled learning about the award, even though she was half asleep when the president of the Romance Writers of America called her at 7 a.m. to congratulate her.

“I said, ‘No way,’ and she said, ‘Way,’” Schneider said.

The novelist started reading romance books as a teenager in upstate New York. She married her husband after graduating from the State University of New York College at Oswego and taught high school before embarking on a six-week trip driving west to North Bend with her mother and husband in 1979.

“I drove the covered wagon, which was our van,” Schneider said.

The untamed West held an allure for her and it provided the scene for her first published romance novel, “Beneath a Silver Moon.”

Based in Montana, the book is about Victorian heroine Sinclair Readford who moves to Montana to find her long lost aunt. The plot thickens when Readford discovers her aunt is not running a hotel for young ladies but is a madam, and she’s missing.

“Sinclair is an authority on lots of things, but she has no idea how to survive in the West,” Schneider said.

Burying herself in research, Schneider often found herself at the library reading about the 19th century.

“It was actually very fun to research. I went to Montana a couple of times,” she said. “You do a tremendous amount of research and then you put very little of it in the book because you have to be right.”

She said she researched everything “from the clothing to the carriage.” One woman in North Bend even challenged her about the train her heroine rode; luckily, Schneider had already memorized the details and knew there was a spur line that ran to small Montana towns in the 1800s.

Schneider cautioned that her material might not be appropriate for readers under age 18, but she also dismissed critics who label romantic literature as subpar literature. In today’s romance novels, women fight domestic abuse, solve mysteries and more, all while falling in love.

“It’s so diverse that it appeals to a variety of readers, from young adult to suspense,” said Stephanie Fry, bookseller and librarian liaison for Romance Writers of America.

Writing romance has its payoffs. At a time when most businesses are flailing, romance novel sales are through the roof.

One of the members of the Greater Seattle chapter, Julie Revell Benjamin, of Duvall, praised Schneider for offering free writing and meet-the-author workshops within the King County Library System.

“She is tireless in her advocacy, not only for readers but writers,” Revell Benjamin said.

Next, Schneider is working on a trilogy with the titles “Promise Me,” “Honor Me” and “Cherish Me.” For now, she’s basking in her award and encouraging readers to follow her blog at www.debschneider.com.

What to know

Local romance writers can join either the Greater Seattle or Eastside chapter of the Romance Writers of America, a national organization with more than 10,000 members. Annual dues are $85 for American residents, with a one-time $25 registration fee.

Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 221, or lgeggel@snovalleystar.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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