"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Three little words

I've got three words for you today, plus a bunch of back-up words to explain. Ready?

Visit the library.

I know, most of the people who read this blog LOVE to read BOOKS, and they OF COURSE know that libraries contain BOOKS. Therefore, by following the "if A=B and B=C, then A=C" theorem, it should be obvious - if readers love books and books are in libraries, then readers should love libraries.

So why are there so few people at library events?

I thought about my own inability to get to them, and decided it's just plain laziness. I look at the library calendar and think something looks interesting - then either I forget about it, or the day comes and I'm too "busy" fixing dinner or grocery shopping or doing some other thing I could have juggled in order to go to the library and hear a good story. I suspect I'm not the only one who does this.

The first library event I attended was at the Placentia Public Library (my hometown, go-to library), where I listened to Gary Phillips and Denise Hamilton speak on their book of anthologies, Los Angeles Noir. As any good talk, it veered from the book to the writing process to the art of the mystery. I remember being impressed with their graciousness and enthusiasm - qualities that some people might not have with an audience of ten. And two of them were volunteers working the event.

My own experience at two libraries - Mt. Zion and Decatur, in Illinois, were much the same. I had 8-10 people at each evening, and several of those were family members. But Gary and Denise taught me well. I was as engaging and enthusiastic and approachable as I could be. Everyone seemed to have a good time, and I did sell a few books, so the evenings turned out well. Between you and me, I enjoyed the Mt. Zion Library the most, only because 1) the library director stayed for the event and 2) there were two reporters for two different newspapers, who asked a lot of fun questions.

I have two library events coming up in Orange County next month. On December 3rd, I'll be at the Buena Park Public Library, on a panel of writers (Teresa Burrell, Jeff Sherratt, and myself) to talk about mysteries. The event starts at 6:00 p.m. and if you want more information, the library has a nice blog about it.

On December 30th, I'll be at the La Habra Public Library, starting at 2:30 p.m. and talking about "Write What You Know, then Change It." I'm really excited about La Habra, because they called me. (I know, it's crazy!)

Both of these libraries are doing as much as they can to advertise to everyone in the community. I'm sure they'd love to have to bring chairs into the room to seat the overflow. Trust me, I'll be as happy seeing one person as fifty, but I'd like to see the events get good attendance, just for the libraries' sakes.

But of course it's hard for me to berate you for not attending, if I also flake out on library programs.

Here's my new plan: the next time my library offers an interesting program, I will mark it on my calendar. And then I will plan to attend, from shopping early to fixing dinner in the crockpot that morning.

I may even branch out and visit neighboring libraries - which is one of the reasons for this blog. Even if you're not a resident of Buena Park, or La Habra, if you're in the vicinity, please stop by for a visit to our author events. I'd love to see you, and the libraries could use the attendance. Do they make money at these events? No, but they make friends. Doesn't a trip to the library make you wonder why you aren't there more often?

So mark your calendars for December 3rd, and December 30th. Don't worry - I'll remind you again as the dates get closer.

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