Last week, The Chaos Fairy met a bunch of local authors, including Lois Duncan, at Gulf Gate Library’s “Celebrate Local Authors” event. It was great “book nerd” fun!
Richard Hodder, the master of ceremonies (and Gulf Gate Library staffer) got things started Redfoo style! (Oh, wait, that was at the afterparty. 🙂 My bad.):
Authors who presented at the event (which came off chaos-free, despite the attendance of The Chaos Fairy, amazingly!)
Remind me to hire an actor surrogate the next time I have to do any public speaking. Because it REALLY pays off in keeping the interest of the crowd. Actor (and writer) Gabrielle Lennon gave a powerfully haunting read of her provocative, no-holds-barred short story, which relates the circumstances of a young girl struggling with life and her not-so-ideal home environment. (Have I exhausted all my purple prose adjectives yet? *laugh*) In short, I could feel a palpable emotional and visceral response emanating from the audience in response to the suspenseful arc and chilling ending of her story. To say more would be a spoiler, but check out her short story collection, Touch Me Real and Other Stories, and her poetry collection, After Midnight: A Book of Poetry, via her website: http://gabriellelennon.com/.
Tom J. Hosted–The Naughty Red Fox
What’s the most important tool a writer needs to have in their arsenal? A SENSE OF HUMOUR! And Tom J. Hosted NAILED it with his charmingly funny presentation that detailed his journey in creating his juvenile fiction Christmas story called The Naughty Red Fox. (I apologize for the blurriness/poor quality of the photos–still haven’t been able to upgrade my camera :-(.)
Tom with letters from his fan club in the background!
The laughs continued with Spokes Ableman (aka Ed Hopper) sharing some delightfully snarky antidotes from his book, Don’t Push Me: Walking The Wheelchair Walk. http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Push-Me-Walking-Wheelchair/dp/1507843321
I try not to play favourites, but I really enjoyed longtime animator, filmmaker, and children’s book writer Tanya Weinberger’s presentation. Maybe it’s because she tackles environmental causes, like in the case of her book, The Compost Pile ( http://www.amazon.com/Compost-Pile-tanya-weinberger & YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bR3U5lyJhAM). Or, perhaps, it’s because she collects quirky eggcups! Or maybe it’s because the Chaos Fairy is a big kid at heart! And, as you can see from the pictures, Tanya Weinberger is very animated, herself!
Local Florida history and culture also stole some of the spotlight, thanks to the dedicated efforts of local authors, longtime residents Jane Gill and Gene Jones. Jane Gill’s fiction novel, A Matter of Pride, is set in Florida, and Gene Jones’ historical fiction novel, Suwanee Divide (http://flcivilwarsuwanneedivide.com/suwannee-divide-civil-war-novel/), looks deeper into Florida’s past–all the way back to the Civil War. Of all the books here (I was unable to afford any books–there’s no currency in the Chaos Realm, after all!), I’ve only read Suwannee Divide, because I had a copy from a few years back. It was an excellent read–you gotta check it out, especially if you’re a history nerd like me!
Jane Gill (on the left) sharing information about the Florida Memory project (www.floridamemory.com), an online archive that preserves Florida’s history and artifacts. Visit her website at http://www.amatterofpridebook.com/
Gene Jones (Suwannee Divide) swapping stories with fellow author Eloise Hanner:
There were also quite a few travel authors and such (the above mentioned Eloise Hanner, for example)–another favourite topic for the Chaos Fairy!
Dennis R. Blanchard (www.dennisblanchard.com) spoke on “close encounters of the bear kind”, accidentally blinding himself with his super-deluxe seen-all-the-way-out-to-space headlamp, and many more outrageous adventures he fell prey to (no pun intended) while hiking on the Appalachian Trail.
Let’s hear it for awesome women adventurers Jane V. Blanchard and Eloise Hanner!
In addition to her travel experience books, Jane V. Blanchard (in the middle, in photo) has her own travel blog! We love bloggers! http://womanonherway.com/ (On the right, also in the below photo, is local suspense and fantasy author, Susan Klaus.)
Eloise Hanner is:
1) A vibrant, kick-ass speaker!
2) A kick-ass adventurer, who traded a stockbroker career to join the Peace Corps. She was stationed in Afghanistan. In 1971. Need I say more? Live vicariously through her adventures, here: http://eloisehanner.wordsandwriters.com/.
McClaren Malcolm also takes us on a thoughtful historical journey through an old Georgia church, and the community that surrounds it, in her book “Spirit of the Valley” http://www.amazon.com/McClaren-Malcolm/e/B001K8PJ4S.
I saved Lois Duncan for last, not because she’s probably the most well known of Sarasota’s local authors, but her presentation came with a message that is especially pertinent in light of recent events. It’s difficult for me to write in a way that doesn’t detract from her eye-opening presentation, and somehow cause unintentional offense and upset.
Yes, I’m talking about recent incidents that have put U.S. police departments, and their corrupt practices, directly into the nation’s spotlight. Hopefully, there are very few people who aren’t aware of the high-profile murders certain police officers have been committing against its African American citizens.
Lois Duncan, herself, has dealt with this same level of corruption and dishonesty from the police department of New Mexico, as she explained in her presentation. As she continued to relate, she has once again “picked up her pen” as the primary weapon she wields in her attempt to uncover the truth behind her daughter’s murder and expose the ongoing cover-up the N.M. police have held to, to this day, and their potential underground connections to local crime rings. New details and new information about the case, she tells us, are the premise of her book (a sequel to her earlier book on the same subject) One to the Wolves: On the Trail of a Killer.
As I lived in New Mexico for a few years, and have family there, I was already familiar with the unsolved case of Kaitlyn Arquette, thanks to articles that had been written about it in local papers. Being both a native of Sarasota, and a on-again-off-again resident of New Mexico over the years, and also having read many of Lois Duncan’s books as a kid, Duncan’s presentation about her daughter and her continued quest to find the truth, made me feel a strong personal connection to Duncan, and the things she had/continues to go through. Or maybe that was just due to Duncan’s powerfully intense up-close-and-personal presentation that seemed to move many in the audience, myself included.
For more information about Lois Duncan and her books, past and present:
Real Crimes website resource:
I hope I’ve helped in raising awareness about this, and others, unsolved cases, however small my effort may be…