Celebrate National Author’s Day Tomorrow

During the Library of Virginia Literary Awards Oct. 20, guests dined with the nominated authors. Host Adriana Trigiani, a best-selling author beloved by millions of readers around the world for her hilarious and heartwarming novels, asked, “You’re actually eating with writers. How is that working out?”

For most guests, it was a privilege to do so and a great way to celebrate the nominees. Tomorrow is another day for celebrating authors as it is National Author’s Day, which was created by Nellie Verne Burt McPherson, a teacher and avid reader.  She submitted the idea for such a day, and in 1949 the day was recognized by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

After attending the Literary Awards, I’m inspired to celebrate several new authors, including David Wojahn, who won for his collection of poetry, World Tree. In accepting he said of the award, “It looks like the Olympics, but it’s for brain works.”

At the event, I picked up David Huddle’s book Nothing Can Make Me Do This, which won the Emyl Jenkins Sexton Literary Award for Fiction. He grew up listening to his parents read books to him. “The sound of the human reading voice is the presence of love,” he told the audience.

David Baldacci won the People’s Choice Award for Fiction for The Sixth Man. I’m planning to read it on my next flight and asked him if I was going to jump in my seat from the suspense. He chuckled and said, “Don’t be surprised.”

Authors

Adriana Trigiani and David Baldacci are two authors worth celebrating. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

Both David and Adriana are two authors I greatly admire because despite their millions of books sold, they are both approachable and willing to sign books and talk with fans and would-be writers. They are authors to be celebrated.

In celebrating authors by reading their books, we also are achieving another success, according to Jodi Moore, who won the Whitney & Scott Cardozo Award for Children’s Literature. “In order for a book to be happy, it must be read,” Moore said in accepting her award.

Tomorrow, why not make a book and an author happy?

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Authors’ Words Provide Inspiration

Most people have an office in their home. I have a library. It’s a matter of word choice, but for me, it also sends a message. One day I will publish a mystery and my book will grace the library shelves.

In the meantime, I write in my library surrounded by signed copies from some of my favorite authors, whom I have been fortunate to meet.

Books on a shelf

Books signed by favorite authors provide inspiration. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

There is Janet Evanovich, who at her book signing, spent a few moments giving me advice and suggested writing critique groups for me to seek out.

There is Adriana Trigiani, whose advice is simple and direct, “Just write!”

There is Emyl Jenkins, who provided me with fairy dust, to keep my writing inspiration alive.

Another favorite is Michael Connelly, whom I met at a mystery writers’ conference. I passed him in the foyer and said hello as if I knew him. Of course, I didn’t, I just felt like I did because I was familiar with his photograph on the back of his book jacket. It didn’t matter. He found a sitting area and spent a few minutes with me, also giving me solid advice.

David Baldacci is another favorite. He always makes time for his fans, signing books and answering questions. Like the other authors mentioned, it doesn’t matter how many times he makes the best-seller list, he still is approachable and pleased to talk about his craft.

So while I continue to write and re-write, I surround myself with the words – both on paper and in person – of other authors.  And I leave space on the shelf for what I hope will be the first of many books I publish.

What helps you write and where do you write?

Literary Awards Are a Night to Remember

One day my book will be finished and it will be archived at the Library of Virginia. Until that day, I live vicariously through my author friends (author, as in published book; not writer, as in still working on one).

Literary Awards 2011

Adriana Trigiani, Earl Hamner and Richard Thomas celebrate Hamner's Literary LIfetime Achievement Award. (photo by Cynthia Price)

The best way for me to do that is at the annual Library of Virginia Literary Awards. As in years past, Adriana Trigiani hosted the evening. Herself a gifted and prolific writer, she always provides plenty of laughter and nuggets throughout the evening. This year was no exception. She related a story about writers.

“You’re a very dangerous person,” she said of writers. “Nothing is sacred.”

She talked about eavesdropping on some women on her flight to Richmond. All of us writers, scribbled the story down thinking, “This could work in my book.”

What did they say? They were talking about attending a wedding, and one of the women, in her best Southern drawl said, “First we’re going to socialize, then we’re going to scrutinize.”

Seriously, I couldn’t write it better than that.

While I try to be professional – after all, it is a black tie evening – I couldn’t help but introduce myself to Jan Karon, whose books I devoured during a few weeks after discovering them. Her Mitford Series, Adriana said, changed lives. And as Jan told me, “I try to give you a bit of peace from today’s crazy world.”

I can’t wait to read In the Company of Others, which won the People Choice Award for Fiction this year. She said of her win,” I am shaken, thrilled and delighted.” And she shared what almost everyone in the audience thinks about libraries, “It makes my heart beat faster to be in a library.”

And the evening is about being seen. Even Adriana admits to falling prey to it, describing David Baldacci, who presented the Emyl Jenkins Sexton Fiction Award, as “eye candy.” In talking with him about it later, he just laughed and rolled his eyes. I’ve always enjoyed his books, but as an aspiring author, I appreciate the time he has always given to writers.

The award he presented is always bittersweet as I remember my dear friend Emyl Jenkins. She continues to sprinkle fairy dust on me from afar, and for that I always will be grateful.

The highlight this year for me was watching my friend Julie Campbell win the People’s Choice Award for Nonfiction for her book The Horse in Virginia.

For many in the audience, the highlight was watching Earl Hamner receive the Literary Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented by John-Boy Walton himself, Richard Thomas. As Hamner spoke, I was taken back to my childhood days, watching The Waltons with my family. At the beginning and ending of each episode, we heard Hamner speak and wrap up the episode, usually with a philosophical thought.

Thomas described each episode as “an American short story” and said of Hamner, “He wrote these wonderful words for us to say.”

Hamner told the audience, “Virginia has given me fine gifts,” including “the wellspring of everything I have written.”

Until next year’s Library of Virginia event, good night John-Boy.