Archive for January, 2014

Author Brian Fence discussed his book in Toms River

Author Brian Fence discussed his book in Toms RiverAuthor Brain Fence of Whiting, speaks to an audience about his new science-fiction/fantasty book “Librarian.”Fence also talked about the process of self-publishing and the changing role of women in novels and other media during his presentation on Jan. 28 at the Toms River branch of the Ocean County Library.

Whiting resident Brian Fence spent more than a year writing his first novel and along the way learned a lot about how to navigate through the publishing industry. He learned enough to make sure his science-fiction/fantasy book “Librarian” was printed and reached its audience.

He spoke to readers on Jan. 28, at the Toms River branch of the Ocean County Library, who wanted to learn more about the writing process, self-publishing and what inspired him to create a world that is part science fiction, part fantasy and part steampunk.

“I’ve lived in Japan and went to Oxford University. I’m a bit of an Anglophile. I’d like to think of myself as a global person. I am a sociologist and I love to study other cultures,’’ Fence said.

That love of different cultures and places along with his appreciation diverse people led him to write his first novel and to create a world of altered technology and magic.

The writer spoke of his admiration of author Diana Wynne Jones who was one of Britain’s top fantasy and science fiction writers. She produced over 30 books for children and adults, winning awards around the world. She died in March 2011.

“She influenced my style. I was very sad to learn she had died,’’ Fence said. Prior to this, Fence had written poetry and also wrote some fan stories based on his interest of TV shows like “Xena”, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “Doctor Who” and “Star Trek.”

Fence said he enjoys creating strong believable female characters such as Lena who is the lead character in “Librarian.’’

“She is a librarian and she is a reluctant hero. This book definitely features magic and it is set in a world that is a bit steampunk.’’ He explained that steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery, especially in a setting inspired by the Victorian era of the late 1800s.

“More aspects of science fiction will come out in the next book but I’m not going to talk about that as it is a spoiler,’’ Fence said with a grin.

He noted that many writers put a bit of themselves into their lead characters. He is currently taking ballroom dancing, enjoys baths and wine which are traits that have been passed along to some of his characters.

“I wanted her (Lena) to have some emotional baggage,’’ Fence said. “I wanted her to be a real person.’’

Fence noted some of the strong yet vulnerable characters that he watched growing up such as Xena, Buffy and Captain Kathryn Janeway the lead character on Star Trek: Voyager.

He began his quest to be published through the normal route. “That route involves submitting your manuscript to one of the major publishing houses and waiting for at least six months, if you are lucky, to hear back from them,’’ Fence said.

The other route was to have a literary agent pitch his trilogy plan to a publisher.

He later decided to abandon that approach and publish it himself. While he is pleased to have full control over his intellectual property, a benefit of self-publishing, a lot of work was involved.

“It was a nightmare. There are a lot of things that the publishing house does that now you have to do. I was fortunate to have a friend who is a graphic artist at Disney do my cover and I got her to do my second cover,’’ Fence said.

Fence said that with advent of the Internet, “self-publishing doesn’t have that same vanity stigma where you could publish your own work as long as you had the money to do it. People looked down on it at the time.’’

“Now a lot of fan fiction that was once done through fanzines (amateur publications) is done online. Anyone can be a writer and content is cheaper to get,’’ Fence said.

Fence noted that the popular book “Fifty Shades of Gray” began as fan fiction for the “Twilight” series concerning a woman who falls in love with a vampire. “They removed anything that would smack of Twilight and made it a separate story changing the names. That is how it got started,’’ he said.

“Librarian” received a number of good reviews and several ratings on Goodreads, a social reading website that put his novel above four stars. Kirkus Reviews called it “a promising first chapter.”

Those reviews plus a high profile online and twitter presence have benefited him in the post-creative process. His first public appearance after publishing “Librarian” was a book signing last year at the Barnes & Noble in Brick.

Fence who is in his early 30s said he enjoys speaking to people about writing and the process involved in self-publishing. He and several friends and fellow writers have launched an online literary magazine.

His parents were in the audience during his visit to OCL. They are proud of his accomplishments and support his efforts to build a career in writing.

“It is something I have wanted to do since I was a little boy,’’ Fence said. “I may have ulcers now and I get no sleep but I’m happy the book got out.’’

“I think writers write because they feel they have something to say,’’ Fence said.

In that case, Fence certainly has more to say. He is currently working on “Apprentice,” the sequel to “Librarian’’ which is due to be released this summer.

“Librarian” is available at the Ocean County Library and online via Barnes and Noble and Amazon, in paperback, hardback and e-book. HUZZAH! The audiobook version of Librarian is live. Narrated by Anisha Dadia, it can be purchased via Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.

Library commissioners recognize OCL’s best of 2013

(Left to right) Library Director Susan Quinn, Toni Smirniw, Caroll Murray and library commission vice-chairperson Bonnie Peterson.

(Left to right) Library Director Susan Quinn, Toni Smirniw, Caroll Murray and library commission vice-chairperson Bonnie Peterson.

Ocean County Library’s commissioners recognized the best of the best during their January 28th meeting.

During OCL’s Staff Development Breakfast in December, Library Director Susan Quinn announced Toni Smirniw, Tuckerton branch, was selected as OCL’s Librarian of the Year and Caroll Murray, Toms River, was selected its Support Person of the Year.

The Library Commission acknowledged Toni and Caroll’s achievements during the meeting.

English conversation groups begin @ Manchester March 4

MANCHESTER–  Adults learning English as a second language will be able to practice speaking their skills in a small group setting at the Manchester branch, Tuesday evenings from 7  to 8 p.m.

The English Conversation Group will discuss current events and other topics of popular interest beginning March 4.

This program is open to adults, free of charge. For more information or to register telephone 732-657-7600. Ask to speak with Maria Colon or Maryann Lennon.

The Manchester branch is located at 21 Colonial Drive in Manchester Township. For directions, go online to

Pt. Pleasant Boro presents, “I Am Sea Glass: A Night of Poetry and Art”

Richard Morgan has been writing poetry for 50 years. After 40 years in education as a teacher and administrator, he retired with his wife, artist Pat Morgan, to New Jersey’s Long Beach Island where the wind and waves fight for their attention. Together, they have published three books, “I am Sea Glass – A Collection of Poetic Pieces,” ” Sea Glass People – Portraits in Words and Watercolors,” and “Sea Glass Soul – Invisible Colors.” Richard shares a PowerPoint of Pat’s paintings to go along with his poetry and the stories behind the poems

The program will be held on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 7 pm at the Point Pleasant Borough branch of the Ocean County Library, 834 Beaver Dam Rd.

 Register for this program by telephoning the branch at 732-295-1555 or online at

Join us for a tribute to Mel Torme

MANCHESTER – Warren Schein will perform a concert of Mel Tormé’s popular songs 2 p.m. Saturday, February 15 .

Warren Schein has performed across the NY metropolitan area for over twenty years. His tone, range and persona are remarkably similar to those of Mel Tormé, his favorite singer of all time. Mel Tormé’s career spanned six decades during which he demonstrated his vocal talents in the genres of jazz, big band, blues, and pop music.

This free program is open to all ages, free of charge. There is no registration. For more information go online to or call 732.657.7600.


The Manchester Branch of the Ocean County Library is located at 21 Colonial Drive in Manchester Township.

Join in the fun! Teen Valentine craft

MANCHESTER – Teens are invited to drop by the Manchester branch Friday, February 14 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. to make heart themed crafts out of paper- 3D hearts and heart collages. All art supplies will be provided by the library.

There is no registration for this this free program which is open to ages 11 through 16. For more information call (732) 657-7600 or go online to

The Manchester branch is located at 21 Colonial Drive in Manchester Township.

Manchester branch to host “The Big Wedding”

MANCHESTER – The Manchester branch will screen the film, “The Big Wedding” on Wednesday, February 12, at noon, 3 p.m. and again at 6 p.m. See this popular comedy on a large screen without paying the admission fee of a movie theater!  

A long-divorced couple fakes being married as their family unites for the wedding of their Colombian-born adopted son because his biological mother will be attending. The woman is extremely traditional and will not be accepting of a divorced family. The cast includes Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton and Katherine Heigl.

This R-rated movie is part of the library’s Feature Film Series. It is 89 minutes long. Although registration is not required, early arrival is recommended.

The Manchester branch is located at 21 Colonial Drive in Manchester Township. Call 732-657-7600 for more information or go online to

Tweens, Teens Pokemon @ Manchester

MANCHESTER – Pokémon fans ages 11 to 16 are invited to the monthly meeting of the Manchester branch’s Teen/Tween Pokémon Club on Tuesday, February 11 taking place from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm. We will do battle in video games, trade cards, and talk about all things Pokémon! With your parents’ permission, of course, bring your DS and other games and make new friends who share your passion for Pokémon.   

Please take note of the changed age range that is invited to participate in this free activity! Please register by call (732) 657-7600 or go online to

The Manchester branch is located at 21 Colonial Drive in Manchester Township.

Stafford: Learn Belly Dancing with Tesserita

MANAHAWKIN –   The Friends of the Stafford Library will sponsor “Belly Dancing with Tesserita” at Ocean County Library’s  Stafford branch 3 p.m. Friday February 7th.

Belly dancing, originating in North Africa, Asia and the Middle East, is based on one of the oldest social dances in the world. It is a beautiful form of dance and a great way to exercise. It will tone your entire body, help you stay in shape, and allow you to express your personal creativity.  

Join us to try out this exciting dance/art form.

The Stafford branch is located at 129 N. Main St. in Manahawkin. This program is free, and open to the public. Please register in person, by calling the branch at (609) 597-3381, or online at  If you have any questions, telephone the branch for specific information.

Human trafficking awareness program in Toms River

Senior Assistant Prosecutor Roberta DiBiase prepares to speak on human trafficking Jan. 23 in OCL's Toms River branch.

Senior Assistant Prosecutor Roberta DiBiase prepares to speak on human trafficking Jan. 23 in OCL’s Toms River branch.

More than 70 people attended last night’s human trafficking awareness program led by Ocean County Senior Assistant Prosecutor Roberta DiBiase in the Toms River branch.

The program, one of two sponsored by the Barnegat Light Area branch and the Northern Ocean County branch of the American Association of University Women, discussed how people can recognize and report this modern form of slavery.

Human trafficking victims include men, women and children of all ages and ethnicity. There are two types of human trafficking: labor trafficking where people are forced to work for no pay, and sex trafficking.

New Jersey is a highly trafficked state, said DiBiase, because of the many interstate roads and entry points, such as airports, bus terminals, and shipping ports. It is also close to New York City, Philadelphia and Washington D.C.

Human trafficking in New Jersey is now a first degree crime with penalties that include jail time of 20 years to life. Anyone who aids in trafficking, including cab drivers and hotel workers, is guilty of a 2nd degree crime.

New Jersey has mandated that each county prosecutor’s office establish a human trafficking office. DiBaise is in charge of that responsibility and has met with all police chiefs in Ocean County.

Ocean County has already uncovered human trafficking incidents and the traffickers are being prosecuted.

DiBiase’s program included two video clips: a segment from the movie “Taken,” and an interview of a young teen who was abducted with her cousin and forced to prostitute themselves at different truck stops. They were rescued when one upstanding trucker notified police.

DiBiase said there are red flags that could identify a person who is a victim of human trafficking.

  • Limited to common work and living conditions.
  • Poor mental health or abnormal behavior
  • Poor physical health or signs of abuse
  • Lack of control over their physical possessions or identification
  • “Branded” by a trafficker , for example a tattoo of the trafficker’s name
  • Inability to identify where he or she is staying or to provide an address.

If a person suspects someone is a victim the NJ Office of the Attorney General urges he or she notify them at their special trafficking hotline: 855.END.NJ.HT (855-363-6548) or telephone their local police.

For more information visit the State’s website .

(left to right) Patricia Baroska, past president of the Barnegat Light Area branch of the American Association of University Women, and Jane Meimayer, president of the Northern Ocean County branch, introduce Senior Assistant Prosecutor Roberta DiBiase.

(left to right) Patricia Baroska, past president of the Barnegat Light Area branch of the American Association of University Women, and Jane Meimayer, president of the Northern Ocean County branch, introduce Senior Assistant Prosecutor Roberta DiBiase.

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