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Yes, a guy. But not just any guy, my friend Roy who is the president of the Authors Guild. Here’s his message to members. Pass it on!

Roy Blount Jr wants you to buy books. Good plan.

Roy Blount Jr wants you to buy books. Good plan.

“I’ve been talking to booksellers lately who report that times are hard. And local booksellers aren’t known for vast reserves of capital, so a serious dip in sales can be devastating. Booksellers don’t lose enough money, however, to receive congressional attention. A government bailout isn’t in the cards.

“We don’t want bookstores to die. Authors need them, and so do neighborhoods. So let’s mount a book-buying splurge. Get your friends together, go to your local bookstore and have a book-buying party. Buy the rest of your Christmas presents, but that’s just for starters. Clear out the mysteries, wrap up the histories, beam up the science fiction! Round up the westerns, go crazy for self-help, say yes to the university press books! Get a load of those coffee-table books, fatten up on slim volumes of verse, and take a chance on romance!

“There will be birthdays in the next twelve months; books keep well; they’re easy to wrap: buy those books now. Buy replacements for any books looking raggedy on your shelves.  Stockpile children’s books as gifts for friends who look like they may eventually give birth. Hold off on the flat-screen TV and the GPS (they’ll be cheaper after Christmas) and buy many, many books. Then tell the grateful booksellers, who by this time will be hanging onto your legs begging you to stay and live with their cat in the stockroom: “Got to move on, folks. Got some books to write now. You see…we’re the Authors Guild.”

“Enjoy the holidays.”

Roy Blount Jr.
President
Authors Guild

Today’s guest blog is by my friend and fellow writer/editor, Lori. You can meet her, Aubrey and Pam, and many other literary luminaries at the upcoming conference.

Aubrey, Lori, PamThe last weekend in April used to signify my daughter’s birthday was approaching. Now it means the annual Field’s End Writers’ Conference. Aubrey’s birthday is still at the tail end of April; we just have a new way of celebrating it. Last year was our first Field’s End experience. We stayed the night at the Clearwater Casino Resort – a treat for us. Not only did we get meaningful girl time, but Aubrey was especially delighted with the hotel’s accoutrements. We still have the fun cell phone video clips of Aubrey showing off the hotel room. The spinning chair in front of the vanity was particularly exciting.

At the actual conference, Aubrey was initially cowed at being the only young person in a roomful of adults. But the Field’s End participants are a very friendly lot, so Aubrey soon relaxed. We were lucky enough to land at tables with speakers Garth Stein and Robert Dugoni. They helped draw out Aubrey – and everyone else. Bob Dugoni “escorted” Aubrey to the first break-out session. Her workshop tastes ran differently than mine, and she evidently didn’t feel the need to cling to my side the entire day. When we did get together, I was impressed with how well she sat still. An entire day is a long time – thank goodness for Malachy McCourt! Even though she couldn’t remember how to pronounce his name, she asked me recently if he would be there again. Aubrey took away ideas from each speaker, but it was Mr. McCourt’s presentation she found most enthralling. No surprise! Later we had a grand time purchasing books and getting authors’ autographs and personalized messages. What a delight to see Aubrey bloom into a young woman and a creative presence. There are many, many things we learned that day and which remain part of who we are a year later. This year Aubrey told me that she would like to go back to Field’s End for her birthday (and she gets that this means not much else in the way of birthday presents!). So register, we did.

Aubrey’s writing interests are strong and deep, although she’s still not sure she wants to be a writer. But as some of the Field’s End participants reminded us, a writer is not something you become, it’s something you are. Thus, Aubrey is a writer, and a good one. She’s taking honors classes this year (sixth grade) and scored 100 percent on her most recent Reading WASL. Her Writing WASL score was close behind. She counts attending the Young Authors Conference at Skagit Valley College nearly every year during elementary school as one of her writing-related accomplishments. Children’s book author George Shannon is a frequent presenter, so she was excited to “know somebody” at Field’s End last year!My mom, Pam, has never thought of herself as a writer, but she is certainly skilled. She chose (was there much of a choice in those days?!) to be a mom, wife and homemaker. While I was at the UW, she earned her A.A. from Everett Community College. I always knew she was an excellent proofreader and organizer, if you will, of written materials, but I recently realized that she’s also a talented writer. She can deftly describe her own and other people’s feelings and motivations. Mom would disagree (LOL). Once she decides to believe in her skill and channel it to a specific project of her own, look out! For now, she is helping to research and write a book with her brother.

I’m actually writing the children’s chapter-book version of the same story. Although I’m an on-again, off-again kind of fiction writer, I’m still very committed to this story. My preference is to fix and organize words rather than to originate them. That’s the editor in me. My mom recently showed me a progress report from my first-grade teacher. I wanted to be a nurse, teacher, hairstylist and editor. How crazy is that? What six-year-old kid knows what an editor is? I evidently figured it out, and it has stuck with me. My mom plans to join us this year. Aubrey’s okay with sharing a bed with me, although I offered to have her and Grandma bunk together because Grandma’s skinnier than I am and will take up less room. We’ll see what happens.

It’s not long now until we return to the garden of the gods at Kiana Lodge, host to the Field’s End Writers’ Conference. I should ask Aubrey how many days until our adventure begins. She’ll know. Aubrey & Lori at the Field’s End conference

Lit Up at the Library

Roy Blount, Jr. is one of the country’s most distinguished men of letters. Add –ist to almost any form of writing, and he’s been there, done that–journalist, novelist, humorist, panelist…And he’s also written plays, biographies, memoirs and screenplays. He starred a PBS documentary (“The Main Stream“), is a regular on NPR’s game show, “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me,” and occasionally performs in the literary-themed band, the Rock Bottom Remainders with Stephen King, Dave Barry, Amy Tan and other writers.

But like all writers, his journey began at the public library. “My childhood library, in Decatur, Georgia, was a large grey-stone building, which is still there but greatly expanded and better lit inside,” Roy says. “The old one was lit well enough for me, the books lit it up, and I wanted to read all of them. Lots of orange biographies of pioneers, Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett and Kit Carson. I can’t remember reading any biographies of anybody who didn’t wear buckskin. I read all the Oz books, and the Dr. Doolittle books. It was a family joke that when I was a little boy in the library I would get so excited I would have to go to the bathroom real bad and be dancing around not wanting to leave the books. I guess that is not a very delicate story, but there it is.”

With memories like that, how could he not grow up to be president of the Authors Guild and a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers? And with a writer’s voice like that, how could we not invite him to be the keynote speaker at our spring conference, “Writing in the Garden of the Gods“?Roy Blount Jr [

Photo credit Valerie Shaff]

Another library memory can be found in Roy’s latest book, Long Time Leaving: Dispatches From Up South:

One afternoon I was in the library of a small town in Mississippi, in need of some information, so I went up to the lady behind the desk there. Ahead of me were an elderly white man and a young black woman. The white man was saying:

“….just hit me suddenly, you know, that I wanted somethin’, and then….it hit me what it was. That I wanted. It was pie.”

“Well,” said the lady behind the desk.

“A piece a pie. It’s funny cause u-sually I don’t want pie, this time a day. But I did, that’s exactly what it was, that I wanted. But I couldn’t think who would have pie…this time a day.”

“Uh-hmmm,” said the librarian.

“Miz Boyd a course serves extremely fine pie. But a course Miz Boyd wouldn’t be open…”

“I was goin’ to say,” said the librarian.

“…this time a day. So I said to myself, I said, ‘Now Wawltuh, where in town would they be liable to know…where a body could get a piece a pie.'”

“Mm-hm,” said the librarian, looking thoughtful. “This time a day.”

“I said, ‘Well I tell you where somebody is liable to know. At the li-berry.’ So I told myself that what I would do would be to just come on over here and….”

“I declare, Mr. Owsley, I don’t believe I know…where….” She raised her voice: “IOTA?”

A faint voice came from back in the stacks: “Uh-huhhhhh?”

“DO YOU KNOW WHERE MR. OWSLEY COULD GET A PIECE OF PIE?”

“You mean…this time a day?”

At that point the young black woman stepped forward and said, “’Scuse me, do you have anything about the Army? ’Cause I got to get out of this damn town.”

Roy will be joined by Pulitzer-prize and National Book Award winner Timothy Egan, bestselling novelist Stephanie Kallos and other distinguished guests at Kiana Lodge on April 26. Registration for the event opens on February 1, so get out that calendar you got for Christmas and write it down now. Better yet, subscribe to the free e-newsletter at www.fieldsend.org. For further information about the conference, please see http://fieldsend.org/conference08.html.

*** CALENDAR ALERT ***SAVE THE DATE

WRITING IN THE GARDEN OF THE GODS
Field’s End Writers’ Conference 2008Photo by s.j. luke, onsetimagery

WHO: This year’s line-up of authors and speakers includes: Roy Blount, Jr. (keynote speaker), Stephanie Kallos (opening speaker), Knute Berger, Alice Acheson, Lyall Bush, Laura Kalpakian, Thomas Kohnstamm, Rosina Lippi aka Sara Donati, Jennifer Louden, Nancy Pagh, George Shannon, Charley Pavlosky, Sheila Rabe aka Sheila Roberts, Suzanne Selfors, David Wagoner, and Timothy Egan (closing speaker). Professional actor Ron Milton will be on hand for the Page One sessions.

WHAT: Third annual Field’s End Writers’ Conference, “Writing in the Garden of the Gods.”

WHEN: Saturday, April 26, 2008
9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

WHERE: Kiana Lodge
14976 Sandy Hook Rd. NE
Poulsbo, WA 98370

DETAILS: This one-day conference, held at the spectacularly beautiful Kiana Lodge near Bainbridge Island, is a combination of lectures and breakout sessions presented by an eclectic group of people in the literary world.

The day offers three groupings of breakout sessions. Guests will select three workshops to attend according to their interest (literary fiction, poetry, nonfiction, screen writing, dialogue, genre, travel writing, editing, journalism, historical fiction, and commercial fiction). Each breakout session will also offer a Page One workshop, where conference guests can anonymously submit the first page of something they’ve written for possible live reading and critique by the guest authors.

Lunch is provided and there will be an early evening wine and cheese reception and book signing providing conference guests, authors, and speakers a chance to mingle. Shuttle buses will be available to carry walk-on ferry passengers to and from Kiana Lodge.

Registration begins February 1, 2008. Early registration is recommended as the conference is limited to 250 guests and has sold out in the past. Cost to attend is $135 if you register before February 28, 2008 and $150 after March 1, 2008. Groups of 5 or more can register for $130/person. To register for the 2008 Field’s End Writers’ Conference, visit http://www.fieldsend.org.

Founded in 2002, Field’s End is a writers’ community whose mission is to inspire writers and nurture the written word through lectures, workshops, and instruction in the art and craft of writing. Located across the Puget Sound from Seattle on beautiful Bainbridge Island, Field’s End is an affiliate of the nonprofit Bainbridge Public Library, which is located at 1270 Madison Avenue on Bainbridge Island. For more information, call (206) 842-4162 or visit http://www.fieldsend.org.

###

MEDIA CONTACT:
Kirsten Graham
Concept 2 Launch
(206) 890-3435
kirsten@concept2launch.net

kirsten graham
c o n c e p t 2 l a u n c h, LLC
creative consultants
innovation
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t.206.890.3435
e:kirsten@concept2launch.net
http://www.concept2launch.net

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