Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Birmingham Public Library's Local Authors Expo Will Be Full of Inspiring Writers

Jessie Crawford
This Saturday’s Local Authors Expo at the Birmingham Public Library, which will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., will be full of authors who followed a dream of writing a book.

One of them is Jessie Crawford, a retired civil service worker from Birmingham, AL, who didn’t realize he had material for children’s books until his granddaughter pointed it out to him.

Crawford and his wife had been keeping their granddaughter, Noni Crawford, ever since she was a baby. When she learned to talk, Jessie Crawford recorded the child’s cute sayings about her "Pop Pop'' in a notebook. In Noni Crawford’s eyes, there was nothing that her “Pop Pop’’ couldn’t do,’’ Jessie Crawford said.

“She was always bragging on her grandfather,’’ he said, adding that he recorded her comments for five years.

When Noni Crawford was about seven or eight years old, she found the notebook in one of his folders, liked what she saw and said, “Pop Pop, this would make a great book. You’ve got to write a book.’’ Jessie Crawford followed her suggestion and got to writing.

Today, he’s self-published nine children’s books, including books on bullying, Valentine's Day and breast cancer. Most of his books are about Leroy, an inquisitive 13-year-old boy raised by a single parent.The book on breast cancer is called “Leroy Wears Pink’’ and the book on Valentine's Day is called "Leroy's Valentine.''

The books are illustrated by Miles College graduate Damion Paschal. Jessie Crawford thanks his granddaughter, now 10, for inspiring him. Here, he offers tips on getting started as an author:

  1. Write every day, even if it’s just a little bit. It keeps your thought processes going and keeps the story alive. 
  2. If you feel stuck, just start. Convince yourself you can do it. 
  3. If you don’t know what to write, look at your life. Life stories can be rich in content. Look at stories from friends, family, etc. 
  4. Stay focused. Don't let outside distractions discourage you. 
"I'm a just an old-fashioned, country storyteller,'' he said. "The biggest satisfaction comes to me when someone picks up my books and and says, 'I really enjoyed it.'"

For more information about Crawford’s books, go to www.jessiecrawfordbooks.com. Saturday’s expo will feature nearly 100 authors with books that cover fiction, non-fiction, inspiration, civil rights, cooking, sports and more. For a list of the authors and a publishing company scheduled to appear at the expo, go to http://www.bplonline.org/programs/LocalAuthors/.

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