Sunday, June 27, 2010

Oh Jackie! - Writer Jacquelyn Mitchard Tackles TV

Years ago, before there was an AViD Author Series, I remember reading columns by Jacquelyn Mitchard in the Des Moines Register and thinking to myself that she seemed like a woman I would love to have as a friend. Reading her column was sort of like reading a letter from a good friend, always interesting, usually from a view-point to which I could relate. I almost always agreed with her politics, and always admired her ethics and her positive outlook on life.

When Oprah selected Mitchard's book, The Deep End of the Ocean, for the Oprah Book Club, I knew Mitchard was destined for more (well-deserved) fame. So when we started targeting authors to bring to Des Moines for our AViD series, Jacquelyn Mitchard was on my short-list. But in the early days, it wasn't so easy to just call up a publisher and ask for a certain author. In fact, I remember calling up a few publishers and after learning that I was calling from Des Moines, they would reply, "And why would we want to send an author to Des Moines?"

But after a few years of successful events with large, enthusiastic audiences and happy authors who reported back to their publicists how much they enjoyed coming to Des Moines, it got easier to request authors. And eventually we brought Jackie Mitchard to Des Moines! Just as I imagined, it was instantly like meeting an old friend. As you might expect if you read her books, she is bright, kind, and just as warm as her writing.

I got an email from her this week about a new project she is proposing for her own talk show! It's going to be all about re-inventing yourself and believe me, Jackie knows a little something about that. Remember, she wrote her first book right after her husband died of cancer. This past year has been a challenge for her too.

Here's a paragraph from her email:
I've always said, when the going gets tough, take more risks. And this year has been the kind of year I've needed to listen to my own advice. The week after we were approved to adopt two beautiful daughters from Ethiopia, we learned we'd lost everything in a crippling theft by a hometown boy posing as an investment counselor. The guy promised to help some of his thousand victims recover their hard-earned life savings, but he lied to the federal judges. Still, not long after we found that out, our first college graduate put on his cap and gown.
Lots of pearls among the pebbles.

If you are a fan of Jackie's writing, you are sure to enjoy Jacquelyn's Audition: Oh, Jackie! (Reinvent Yourself. Reinvent Your World) - OWN TV .

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Fifty Years Later--Mockingbird Message Still Sings

Our rainy weather provides a great excuse to sit back and enjoy an old movie, so that's exactly what I did last weekend. I had been assigned to read To Kill a Mockingbird way back in high school and found it charming and haunting and memorable. When the movie came out in 1962, I was still a child. I'm sure my mother would not have taken me to see such an "adult" movie. By the time I was old enough to watch it, I leaned toward less literary movies and was more likely to watch The Graduate or Blazing Saddles.

But since this year is the fiftieth anniversary of the book, I decided to watch the movie and realized that I HAD NEVER SEEN it. What a magnificent movie it is! Gregory Peck at his finest. Black and white film at its best. The most remarkable child actors! And of course, the genius of Harper Lee's story.

There's a new book out called, Scout, Atticus, and Boo: A Celebration of Fifty Years of To Kill a Mockingbird that is a collection of essays by celebrites who describe the impact that To Kill A Mockingbird had on them. The folks at HarperCollins are helping us plan a celebration for the book's anniversary with several events at the library this fall. I really hope we can show the movie and introduce a whole new generation to the story. We're considering a To Kill A Mockingbird contest too, asking people to tell us what the book has meant to them. We're also planning book discussions and perhaps a panel discussion about the book's relevance fifty years later.

If you love To Kill A Mockingbird, we'd love to hear ideas on other ways that we could celebrate this monumental book. Whether the stormy weekend forecast holds true or not, do yourself a favor and check out the book or movie to re-discover Harper Lee's amazing, timeless tale.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Rainy Day Readin'

It's a rainy Saturday morning--the perfect excuse for crawling back in bed for an extra hour of reading time! The past week, I read an advance copy of Sara Gruen's Ape House--a good story that has propelled me to continue in the "primate genre" that seems to be evident in the current publishing environment. Next up, The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore by a recent U. of I. Writer's Workshop grad named Benjamin Hale. It's an interesting premise of a love affair between a primate and his caretaker! And another book just showed up in my inbox this week, called Lucy by Laurence Gonzales. It's about a girl sho is part ape. The author describes it as a coming-of-age novel about a wonderful young girl discovering herself and the world in which she finds herself. Lucy says it herself: All teenagers have feelings like hers. The message is: Lucy is a novel. It’s a story, and as such, it’s meant to make people turn the pages and laugh and cry. If they happen to have deep thoughts along the way, that’s good, too. But if all Lucy does is to make you stay up late reading, then that’s enough for me.

Fortunately the forecast is for a lot more rain, so I have a good excuse for why my garden is NOT going to get weeded this weekend!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Librarians Go Ga Ga

If you still think all librarians wear buns and spend their days shushing people, check out this cool You Tube video produced by library science students at Washington State.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Authors You Would Like to Meet?

It won't be long before we begin planning for AViD 2011, so I'd like to send a shout out to all AViD fans--what authors are you just dying to meet? And yes, I know that you would love to have John Grisham or Stephen King--but please remember, we do have a limited budget.

With that in mind, I would encourage you to make suggestions and begin an exchange of ideas. We have a wonderful selection committee who considers authors all year long. We also collect suggestions at each of our events, and encourage members of the audience to list their favorite authors.

So, if there is a certain author that you'd like to suggest, feel free to let us know. You can find a complete list of our past AViD authors on our web site.

More Info from Book Expo

Okay avid readers, here's a link to some great inside scoops from the Book Expo that I just attended. Enjoy! BS060310BEA10BookPanels