This past Saturday, my all-majors creative writing club Chattanooga Writer's Society, organized middle grade fiction panel with the amazing authors Brooks Benjamin and Andrew Maraniss. These two men have written fantastic books both dealing with social stigmas and barriers, though they are quite different styles.
My Seventh Grade Life in Tights by Brooks Benjamin is a fun fiction story about Dillon, a football playing, wanna-be dancer with some sick ninja moves. Where some characters in M7GLiT are confident in who they are, Dillon is always questioning, always wondering what other people thing, and always judging himself. I'm not going to tell you the rest. Go read it :)
Strong Inside by Andrew Maraniss is a biography of Perry Wallace, the first African American basketball player in the South Eastern Conference. This biography explores all of the racism and hate that Perry experienced as he made this life-changing decision. Maraniss condensed is biography down to a 40,000 word young reader edition so that children can be inspired by this amazing man's courage, faith, and dedication.
Unfortunately, our turnout for this awesome event was minimal, and I just can't understand this. We have an amazing jewel at Star Line books. She brings in authors at least once a week for discussions and signings. She has a wide variety of book selections, yet people still don't come. I cannot stress enough how beneficial it is to go to literary events in your town. If you are a writer, this is called literary citizenship--supporting people in your community. If your a reader, coming out and supporting these authors keeps them going, keeps them writing books for you!
Plus, this is an amazing opportunity for all of us. If we go to conferences or book festivals, one on one time with authors is highly unlikely. Stand in line, sign a book, and move on. But signings at bookstores gives you time to ask questions, talk to the authors about your passions and aspirations, and just being around people that you admire. This is also a great way to discover new authors to read. If I hadn't decided to go to Brooks's book visit to Star Line last fall, I never would've met this awesome teacher/author who I wish I'd had as a teacher and he wouldn't have come back to do this panel for my organization.
You might show up expecting to get your book signed and walk out with a new friend. Authors are normal people. For the most part, we really like other people. That's who we write about (yes, I do pay attention to what you say to me *insert evil grin here*). PLUS, you're supporting your local bookstore. I know not all towns have local bookstores, but most have some within driving distance. Let me tell you, bookstore owners love their patrons. And I love bookstores. What kind of world would it be if we didn't have indie bookstores? Not a world I want to be in.
So go out, support your favorite authors, meet new ones, and keep our indie bookstores going! Thanks to Brooks, Andrew, Chattanooga Writer's Society, and Star Line Books for another amazing, fun panel! Can't wait for next semester's.
Until I tell you about the books I read this month,