Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Update on Last Night's Author Open House at Middendorf-Kredell Branch Library

The author open house at the Middendorf-Kredell branch library in O'Fallon last night was fun and rewarding in unexpected ways.

Because of extended carpool duty, I arrived an hour after the official starting time, so all the tables were taken, except for the long table up front that had been used for registration. The other authors had already arrived--most of them more than an hour and a half before I got there. I felt like I was sneaking into church late on Christmas Eve. No empty spots and no chance to blend in with the crowd.

Sara N., who spearheaded the event, offered me the head table and even moved it back a bit so I wouldn't look like a Walmart greeter welcoming patrons as the entered the library. It was kind of cool because I was able to observe a lot.

It appeared there were around 30 or so eager authors sitting behind tables spread out all over the library, mostly talking to other authors, family members, or friends. I was happy to visit with some writing friends and reacquaint with a few writers I hadn't seen in some time.

There were healthy and yummy snacks and tasty lemonade, which came in handy when I got a coughing fit. At the snack table, I stepped aside to make room for some cute kids who cleaned out the chocolate chip cookies. After the cookies were gone, one blond haired, blue eyed toddler walked over to my table to see what I was eating. I offered him a carrot stick. With a  chocolate-smeared face he made an immediate grimace then ran to grab some cheese and crackers.

A little later, an older boy asked if he could have one of my books, just as his mom told him he couldn't buy anything. He asked if I'd be back some other time because he really, really wanted a book. I felt bad but didn't want to come between a mom and a child begging for her to buy him something. Before she could tell him she didn't have any money, I gave him a one-page, double-sided printed copy of a story of mine called "Santa Wore Cowboy Boots" that was published in A Cup of Comfort for Christmas several years ago.

At our parish's Advent Candelight Service on Monday night, copies of my story were given out to attendees, and I grabbed a few extras and brought them with me to the library as giveaways. The middle-grader (I'm guessing) seemed happy to have something--anything of his own--to take home.

After he left I remembered there is a sentence in the story about how my then 12-year-old daughter Julie no longer believed in Santa. Hope the young man is already past the believing in Santa stage. If not, I nominate myself for the Grinch award.

As usual, Sara did a wonderful job planning and organizing the annual event. The only complaints I heard were from a woman who wondered why she got a tiny table when she arrived at 4:30, and a gentleman who complained about traffic. No matter how great things are there always will be someone who will complain.

At the end of the evening Sara told me she was pleased that so many authors donated copies of their books for a silent auction sponsored by the St. Louis Volunteer Lawyers for Artists and Authors next week.  Since most of my stories appeal primarily to women, I wasn't sure what to donate, so I gave Sara a signed copy of A Cup of Comfort for Military Families, with my story "Welcome Home," which would be appropriate for either a man or a woman.

My writing and critique group friend Marcia kept me company for the evening. I also was in shouting distance of Joy, a writing friend I've known for several years but hadn't seen in quite a while. Mary, one of my IVV (in vino veritas) group pals, was there briefly but had to leave for a school event. Before Mary left, Joy asked us for comments on a book cover she is contemplating, and we gave her some suggestions. It was just like old times.

Although these events aren't always profitable from a monetary standpoint, they are fufilling and rewarding in other important ways: supporting the library, sharing stories and snacks, catching up with old friends, meeting library patrons, but most of all being surrounded by books and book lovers.


  1. It sounds like a nice evening of making connections, seeing and being seen. My son has been given the opportunity, as a Dollars for Scholars recipient, to introduce James Patterson at the American Booksellers Assoc. Convention in New Orleans in January. It's a quick, overnight trip but I'm looking into the possibility of going along.

  2. Hi Sally,
    What a wonderful opportunity for your son. You should go!

  3. Sounds like you enjoyed yourself. Glad you made it!!

  4. I remember participating in that event a year or two ago. It was a lot of fun.

    Critter Alley

  5. Hi Claudia,
    Thanks. It was fun.

    Hi Pat,
    It was a good time.


  6. Sounds like a good time was had by all (or most, anyway - you're right, there's always someone who will complain!) :)

  7. I was busy, otherwise I would have come. You're right--there's griping in every group.

  8. Sounds like you were wonderful, and that it was a nice time had by all. How nice.

  9. You summed it up nicely! I enjoyed the evening and was glad to see many of my writer friends, and was able to make some new friends!


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