In which local authors matter

When I was 20, I had the 

opportunity to edit a book my grandfather wrote.

Both of my grandfathers were writers. They were men who believed in writing things down, in recording memories and spiritual truths and humorous anecdotes, in passing stories down through the generations. 

My grandfathers took their writing seriously. Sure, some of it remained on yellow legal pads or in family vacation newsletters, but as they became older, they decided to do something with this passion they possessed. They self-published their books, and they sit on my shelves, just as important as the Tolstoy and the Lamott, the Sedaris and the Alcott. 

A few weeks ago, I pulled down my grandfather's memoir, a book he'd titled Back Roads to a Better Life: Believe It or Not. That "believe it or not" portion of the title is important. During the months I spent reading and editing my grandfather's book, I'd come across passages that just didn't make sense. My five feet, six inch tall grandfather, a star on his high school basketball team? Capable of dunking the ball into a basket at a moment's notice? Unless height averages have changed -- and hey, maybe they have -- that just didn't ring true. When I brought that particular passage to my grandfather's attention, he winked at me: "That's why it's called 'believe it or not.' I want the reader to decide what's real or what's not." 

Jordan and I have taken to watching The Wonder Years each night before bed. I take a little bit of pride in the fact that I introduced Jordan to little Kevin Arnold and the truths he learns in 20 minutes of memory recall each episode. In an episode we watched recently, Kevin remembers trying out -- accidentally, really -- for the junior high baseball team. Aside from one "lucky hit," Kevin's really not very good. But at the close of the episode, in his final moment at bat, he hits another one out of the park, and the crowd goes wild.

He's hoisted on the shoulders of his friends and teammates, and you can hear adult Kevin narrating over the hooplah: "Maybe that's not exactly the way it happened, but that's the way it should've happened, and that's the way I like to remember it. If dreams and memories sometimes get confused, well, that's as it should be."

Even though it didn't make much sense to me at the time, didn't make much sense as I slaved away over commas and misspellings and technical glitches, I'm glad my grandpa was creative with his memories, glad he hid a few dreams throughout his life's narratives. 

Enter our annual authors' fair, Reader Meet Writer. Each year, we partner with the Thomas County Public Library to put on a fair for local, independently-published writers. Reader Meet Writer gives these authors the chance to tell about their books; authors can mingle with audience members, and they get designated time to chat about what makes their book unique.

Reader Meet Writer is this Saturday at the library from 10 a.m. until noon; this year, we're featuring 12 authors from Thomasville, Tallahassee, Panama City, Ocilla, and more. Every author will get three minutes to present their book, and they'll have their own tables with information about their works. Our emcee is local favorite Julie Bettinger, whose own independtly-published book, Encounters with Rikki, is a Bookshelf customer favorite. 

It's not fair that sometimes self-published writers get lost in the shuffle. Reader Meet Writer aims to correct that, and I'd like to think my granddad would be proud. 


Local author fair at the Thomas County Public Library
Saturday, March 25
10 a.m. to noon
Free and open to the public

Remember last week when I waxed philosophical about the art of the well-written paragraph? Join us TOMORROW NIGHT for our first-ever Parapalooza event, featuring some of our region's best writers: Diane Roberts, Chip Bragg, Bob Shacochis, Michelle Moore, and Ravi Howard. Each author will be presenting just one paragraph of their latest work, followed by a brief Q&A. (And rumor has it we may or may not be serving sangria from Farmer's Daughter Vineyards, so... there are many reasons to come see us tomorrow.)

I hope you'll join us for this grand experiment! We're planning to kick things off at
6 p.m.
, giving you time to check out Thomasville dinner spots after the readings.

Come celebrate Friday -- and our region's most talented authors -- with us.