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The event provides an outlet for authors, many of them self-published, to sell their books and to network. But it also gives library patrons an opportunity to discover new talent and talk to authors about their writing style and writing journey. Book topics include Birmingham and Alabama history, civil rights, poetry, memoirs, devotionals, relationships, inspiration and motivation, self-help, children’s fiction, Christian fiction, teen fiction, fantasy, romance, thrillers, science fiction, and historical fiction.
“One of the main missions of the library is to connect authors and readers,’’ says Expo coordinator Jared Millett. “The Local Authors Expo lets us shine a spotlight on Birmingham’s own writing community, and it gives the authors an opportunity to promote their works directly to the public.’’
Interest in the expo continues to grow. Foot traffic in the Birmingham Public Library the weekend of the 2013 Expo was 1,800—double what it was for a normal February weekend and triple what it was for the 2011 Expo.
“I’m excited to do the Expo because I’m going to be among numerous writers who have produced rich and significant works on Birmingham’s history,’’ says Karen R. Utz, who co-wrote Iron & Steel: A Guide to Birmingham Area Industrial Heritage Sites with James R. Bennett. “Also I’m a huge supporter of the Birmingham Library and all of the wonderful branches. Anytime I can help the library system, I’m there.’’
The Expo will have two writing sessions in the Arrington Auditorium. The sessions are free and don’t require advance registration.
At 10:00 a.m., young adult author and full-time Spanish teacher Anne Riley from Birmingham will lead a session called "How to Write While Having a Life.'' She will explain how to make writing a book a manageable task when you also have a job and family. Her first novel, Shadows of the Hidden, was released in 2012 and published through Compass Press. Recently, she secured a book deal with Spencer Hill Press to publish her book Pull.
People often ask Riley, a 30-year-old mother of a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old, when she finds time to write. She says she makes the time, which can come during her school lunch break, right after school or during a weekend break from home when her husband can watch their children for a few hours.
“You just pick a time that works for you and you do your best to protect it,’’ she says.
At 1:00 p.m., seejanewritebham.com will offer practical tips on how to use blogging and social media to reach readers and promote one’s work. Featured speakers will be Alabama authors Stephanie Naman and Kathryn C. Lang, and seejanewritebham.com founder and blogger Javacia Harris Bowser.
“In our workshop, we will discuss ways authors can use Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and a number of other social networking sites to promote their work,’’ says Bowser. “We'll also discuss the importance of blogging and how to build a platform.”
Also, Books-A-Million will be on hand to talk about a new book publishing service they offer. The company now has the Espresso Book Machine, the only one of its kind in Alabama, which allows authors to submit their works to be published. Customers may also browse the company’s database of over 7 million titles and request that a book be printed and bound in minutes just by using the Espresso Book Machine.
The machine is designed to make self-publishing easy by turning someone’s words and/or images into a book. A person can publish anything from their own poetry or grandmother's recipes to childhood photos or a novel. Books-A-Million offers a variety of packages and services to meet an author's needs. Three Espresso Book Machine packages give authors the opportunity to sell their book at the Colonial Brookwood Village store. (Note: The machine will not be at the library on February 1. But store representatives will be at the Expo to take questions and explain the process and services.)
"We are committed to assisting local authors as they work to get their written masterpieces off the ground,'' said Mary Gallagher, senior vice president of merchandising at Books-A-Million. "It is our hope that many of the new books found on the shelves at Books-A-Million will be printed and bound by this cutting edge printing equipment.''
Here’s additional information about the speakers:
- Birmingham author Anne Riley has written four books and has had two published. She’s already making plans for her next book, which will be a young teen novel set in Alabama.Her website is www.annerileybooks.com. Follow her on Twitter at @anneriley.
- Guntersville-based writer Kathryn Lang is the author of 10 books including her latest nonfiction work Place in Purpose. Lang describes herself as a "hopesmith," crafting hope for those she encounters through her books, columns, teachings, and presentations because she knows that hope makes everything possible. Her website is www.kathrynlang.com. Follow her on Twitter at @kathrynclang .
- Billie Thomas is the pseudonym of Birmingham-based author Stephanie Naman, whose day job is in the advertising industry. Her clever and comical murder mystery Murder on the First Day of Christmas follows the adventures of amateur sleuth Chloe Carstairs. She blogs as Chloe at chloegetsaclue.com. Follow her on Twitter: @ChloeGetsAClue.
- Javacia Harris Bowser is a blogger, freelance journalist, and the founder of See Jane Write, which is a networking organization for women writers. She is also founder of seejanewritemagazine.com.Her websites include: www.seejanewritebham.com and www.seejanewritemagazine.com.Follow her on Twitter: @seejanewritemag, @seejanewritebhm, and @writeousbabe.
The Local Authors Expo is presented by the Friends of the Birmingham Public Library, a nonprofit association that supports Birmingham Public Library special needs by providing volunteer and financial resources.
For more information and to see a list of the 2014 authors, visit http://www.bplonline.org/programs/LocalAuthors/.
Photos from the 2013 Authors Expo can be found on the library’s Flickr account: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bpl/8439043562/in/set-72157632669709859.