Thursday, July 19, 2018

2018 Local Authors Expo: Meet Doug Segrest, Author of A Storm Came Up

Dough Segrest, author of A Storm Came Up

About Author Doug Segrest
Books: A Storm Came Up (Author House 2011) and The Sea of Mississippi (in progress)
How to reach the author: E-mail Doug Segrest at dsegrest@gmail.comRead about A Storm Came UpFollow Doug Segrest on Facebook and Twitter.
Quote Segrest uses as a guide in life: "I just follow the Golden Rule."Quote from author about being involved in Local Authors Expo: "This will be my second appearance at the Local Authors Expo. I was blown away the first time by the talent of the other authors from across Birmingham and Alabama, the size of the crowd, and how accessible everyone was that day. If you are an avid reader or an aspiring author, this day is a treasure trove of opportunity."
Doug Segrest built a loyal following over two decades as a sports writer in Birmingham, so it should come as no surprise to many that he has expanded his penmanship into novels. Segrest will be among over 30 authors featured in the Birmingham Public Library's 2018 Local Authors Expo, taking place on Saturday, August 11, 9:00 a.m. -1:00 p.m., at the Central Library downtown.

A veteran journalist, Doug Segrest loves history. And he loves character-driven novels. In his debut novel, A Storm Came Up, he combines both, dropping three innocents into the chaos and confusion of a small Alabama town caught up in the apex of the civil rights movement. The result is a personal, fast-paced Southern novel that's part suspense and part coming-of-age. The book is well written and historically accurate, drawing strong critical praise from newspapers and readers who have taken the time to delve into the world of fictional Takasaw, Alabama.

Segrest is better known for his work outside of fiction. A long-time sports writer for the Birmingham News and Nashville Banner, Segrest remains a weekly regular on The Zone, ABC 33/40's long-running Sunday night sports talk show, with Jeff Speegle and Ryan Brown. He has also contributed stories to Sports Illustrated and newspapers across the country, from the Chicago Tribune to the Dallas Morning-News. He remains a Birmingham resident, working for a company based out of the Magic City.

He is well into his second novel, The Sea of Mississippi, which is a radical departure from his debut. Set in the future, it's a wild ride into the unknown set in the New South. Segrest has written as vocation and hobby since he was a child, inspired by legends such as John Updike, William Faulkner, and Gay Talese. He's comfortable with the everyday technology of the twenty-first century, but knows that only a good, hardcover book offers true freedom.

"The story races and turns against the backdrop of the slow south—never trite nor predictable. I literally could not put it down. Segrest has the gift of painting the time and place and bringing the people to life in such depth that you feel you are watching a movie in your mind. Don't miss this very strong first novel!"
Meet Segrest and over 20 other authors at the Birmingham Public Library 2018 Local Authors Expo on Saturday, August 11, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., in the Central Library Grand Reading Room. 

Auto Renewal for Library Books, CDs, and DVDs Starts August 1

Good news for patrons needing some extra time with library materials! The Jefferson County Library Cooperative (JCLC) is unveiling a new feature that makes manually renewing books, CDs, and DVDs a thing of the past. As of August 1, 2018, any non-digital item checked out at a JCLC location will be renewed automatically at the end of its lending period. You still can renew items manually by using My Account or by calling the library.

There are a few exceptions. Items won't be renewed if:

  • Another patron places a reserve on that item
  • The item has reached its maximum number of renewals (2 for most items)
  • Your account has accrued $5.01 or more in fines
  • The item is not renewable
  • Your account activity has been blocked
  • The item is an e-book

You will be notified by the courtesy email notice that your item has been automatically renewed. If you do not receive courtesy email notices, you will not be notified. You will be alerted with the standard notice, however, when the item is overdue.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

BPL 2018 Local Authors Expo To be Held at Central Library on Saturday, August 11

What: 2018 Birmingham Public Library Local Authors Expo
When: Saturday, August 11, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Where: 2100 Park Place, Central Library Grand East Reading Room
Details: Authors, publishers, and literary organizations interested in participating will find a registration form and more information here. Registration deadline is July 27. For more information, email or click here

Want to meet several authors from across Alabama, buy their books, and learn more about the book publishing process? Then make plans to attend the Birmingham Public Library's annual 2018 Local Authors Expo on Saturday, August 11, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., at the Central Library East Grand Reading Room.

The free event will showcase authors, including many from the Birmingham area, selling and signing their books and sharing their writing process. Drop by and visit your favorite author, learn more about local authors, buy an autographed book from participating authors and meet one-on-one with them to get tips on publishing your own works.

There will be books across many genres: motivational books, fictional novels, and nonfiction such as inspirational memoirs and stories of overcoming tragedy.

As of July 18, 15 authors and one publisher have registered, and more are signing up every week. The deadline for participating authors to register is Friday, July 27. Booths are $50 per author. Registration fee includes a table to show, share and sell their books, and snacks from BPL’s complimentary hospitality room. Click here for details.

Since 2007, BPL has sponsored the Local Authors Expo to help raise awareness of the work by talented authors in metro Birmingham and across Alabama. Instead of having keynote speeches this year, BPL is putting the entire focus all day on participating authors.

2018 Local Authors Expo – Meet Rhonda Cowan, Author of Those Raisins of Wrath, Alabama

Rhonda Cowan, author of Those Raisins of Wrath, Alabama

Book: Those Raisins of Wrath, Alabama (March 2018)
How to reach the author: Twitter @cowanbr549
Quote Cowan uses as a guide in life: “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” - Emerson
Quote from Cowan about being involved in Local Authors Expo: “I am looking forward to my first Author's Expo at The Birmingham Library to meet with those who love to read and others who write!”

Rhonda Cowan of Chelsea has wanted to write a book for many years. In March 2018, Cowan finally gave in to the writing bug and self-published her first novel, Those Raisins of Wrath, Alabama.
The book title is a play on the famous work The Grapes of Wrath but deals with a far different subject. Those Raisins of Wrath is a fiction novel about a young woman missing in the small town of Wrath, Alabama.

When newlywed Elizabeth Locke Cannon was discovered missing in her small Alabama home, the people of Wrath were completely dumbfounded. Things like this just didn’t happen in Wrath. The uncertainly soon turns to dread as reports come in to the sheriff to be on the lookout for three escaped convicts from Texas on the loose, possibly in the area.

Word that the violent escaped prisoners could be hiding out in Wrath sends the rumor mill and speculation running wild that this could be tied to the missing newlywed. Cowan’s book examines the impact this has in the town until the truth of Elizabeth Locke Cannon’s disappearance is finally made clear.

“When writing my story, I wanted it to be enjoyed by people of all ages, so I am hopeful it will be passed around to friends and family for years to come," Cowan said.

Cowan finds inspiration for her fiction everywhere. When not busy writing, she can be found cultivating gardens filled with native plants on her Alabama farm where she lives with her dogs Blue Suede, Little Boy, Peaches, and Daisy.

Meet Cowan and over 20 other authors at the Birmingham Public Library 2018 Local Authors Expo on Saturday, August 11, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., in the Central Library Grand Reading Room. Read more about the event at

Monday, July 16, 2018

Steps to Starting a Franchise Business Seminar Continues at Central Library During Summer and Fall

What: Steps to Starting a Franchise Business seminar
Dates and Times: Tuesday, July 24, 2018 (12:00-1:00 p.m.)
Monday, August 27, 2018 (12:00-1:00 p.m. or 6:00-7:00 p.m.)
Monday, September 24, 2018 (12:00-1:00 p.m. or 6:00-7:00 p.m.)
Monday, October 22, 2018 (12:00-1:00 p.m.)
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor
Cost: Free but registration is required

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) and Birmingham SCORE will be offering Steps to Starting a Franchise Business, a monthly how-to seminar on franchising, beginning Tuesday July 24, 12:00 p.m., at the Central Library. The seminar will explore how franchising can take the risk out of starting your own business and becoming self-employed. Greg Foss, a career transition coach with The Entrepreneur’s Source® and SCORE mentor, will facilitate the seminar.

Topics to be covered in the seminar include: common myths and truths about franchising, the importance of knowing your personal goals before taking the plunge, non-standard ownership options, how to finance your business, how to research and select the right franchise, and resources that are available to help you with your research.

The seminar will be offered again on August 27, September 24, and October 22. The August 27 and September 24 seminars will be offered twice daily for your convenience, at 12:00 p.m. and again at 6:00 p.m. The October 22 seminar will be offered once at 12:00 p.m. The seminar is free, but registration is required. Register online through the BPL events calendar or call Greg Foss at 336-501-5695.

For more information about the seminar and other resources for small business development available at BPL, please contact Jim Murray of the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department by email at or by calling 205-226-3690.

Book Review: Stranger in a Strange Land

by David Blake, Fiction Department, Central Library

Stranger in a Strange Land
Robert Heinlein

Stranger in a Strange Land has been much re-read by its many fans. Until recently, this fan had not picked up the book in decades, and about a quarter of the way in, it was better than memory recalled. The scenes were the same, but they seemed to have more depth. As it happens, in 1961 Heinlein was asked by his publisher to reduce its length by 25 percent. Since 1991 the book’s publisher has included all of Heinlein’s original writing. Stranger in a Strange Land has always been one of the science fiction books that one might recommend to serious readers. Its fans can do so with even more assurance now.

Valentine Michael Smith is the stranger. Having been raised by Martians, Michael comes to earth and encounters a civilization so completely different from that of Mars, that all our earthly differences are tiny in comparison. Through adventures he comes under the protection and guidance of Heinlein’s great character, Jubal Hershaw, a cranky, old American original. One feels that Mark Twain must have been a model for Hershaw, a doctor, lawyer, and successful writer who welcomes Smith into his rural enclave. Hershaw is a font of Heinlein’s famous epigrams.

Although Stranger, as it is known to millions, is set somewhat in the future—it has world government and flying cars, and the science part of the fiction is anthropological and social, rather than physics and astronomy. Smith sees the human species through eyes that have been trained by an advanced species other than our own. Heinlein questions what we believe, our philosophy, religion, and science. Heinlein mentions the two plus two equals four is not a truism for the Martians. Religion and sex come under special scrutiny by Michael.

Heinlein’s Jubal Hershaw is a cynical old man, but as a writer he believes in giving readers value for money: insight, laughter, drama, pathos, grief, and passion. This reader has always been convinced that Hershaw was a thinly veiled self-portrait of Heinlein. Like his creation, Heinlein always delivers honest value. Stranger in a Strange Land was named one of 88 books that have shaped America by the Library of Congress in 2012.

Check it out (or be left behind)!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Civil Rights Through the Eyes of a Young Poet Summer Camp Held at Central Library

by Roy L. Williams, Public Relations Department

John Paul Taylor of Real Life Poets and participants at civil rights poetry camp

Several area teens gained knowledge about Birmingham’s past and learned how to express their feelings about the city’s role in the civil rights movement through the spoken word, thanks to a weeklong teen poetry camp held at the Central Library July 9-13.

At the conclusion of the camp, participants in the second annual Civil Rights Through the Eyes of a Young Poet summer camp read their own original poems about civil rights then and now out loud before their peers. Their poems will be recorded and archived in the Birmingham Public Library Archives Department for future generations to hear.

The camp is a partnership between the Archives Department, which houses several artifacts documenting Birmingham’s civil rights history, and Real Life Poets, a Birmingham-based nonprofit that uses spoken word and hip-hop to empower young people to be the voice of the next generation.
The camp “is designed around civil rights then and now with spoken word as the tool,” said John Paul Taylor, founder of Real Life Poets. The civil rights movement and BPL Archives served as the foundation for the written pieces the young people created.

Taylor said writing about civil rights enables teens to learn more about Birmingham’s role in the fight for equal rights for all. He hopes their poems being recorded for BPL Archives educates the youth of tomorrow.

“It gives them the awareness that what I say right now has the opportunity to impact future generations,” Taylor said. “This two-minute poem can have such a profound ability to move people in the future. You get to speak for a population who don’t have the voice or platform like this.”

BPL hosts a monthly spoken word program for adults called Bards & Brews.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Liz Reed to Share Publishing Tips at Local Author Workshop July 21 at Central Library

by Roy L. Williams, Public Relations Department

Liz Reed
If you are seeking to get a book published or desire to become an actual author, make plans to be at a Local Author Workshop taking place on Saturday, July 21, 10:00 a.m., at the Central Library, Arrington Auditorium.

Book and magazine editor Liz Reed will speak on the topic “Every Writer Needs an Editor: The Editor’s Role in Honing a Manuscript.” This free workshop will conclude a three-part Local Author Workshops series the Birmingham Public Library began in March to assist area authors in preparation for BPL's  2018 Local Authors Expo taking place on Saturday, August 11, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., in the Central Library's East Grand Reading Room.

Liz Reed and her husband, Jim, have operated Reed Books in downtown Birmingham for 38 years. Liz Reed is art and layout editor at Birmingham Arts Journal, a quarterly publication. Her husband is the magazine’s general editor. In addition to being a book store owner, Liz Reed has built a reputation as a book editor and independent book publisher. Her company, Blue Rooster Press, has assisted several writers in fine-tuning their books and published several manuscripts for local authors.

Her July 21 Local Author Workshop will share tips for writers who need help getting their manuscripts suitable for publishing. She said the publishing industry has changed dramatically today, with few big publishing firms taking risks on first-time authors. That has led to an explosion of self-published books, which are often filled with mistakes, Reed said.

Reed said the most common mistakes would-be authors make are:

  • Poor cover design: “A good design determines whether people will buy the book or not,” Reed said.
  • Bad content, which Reed calls “speed bumps” that confuse readers. “When a reader has to stop and try to figure out what the writer was trying to say, that is a speed bump,” Reed said. “A good book editor can take out the speed bumps.”
  • Bringing in a manuscript that is not print-ready. Reed shared the story of one prospective author who took a CD to a printer that she thought was ready for publication. “The book was not suitable for printing until seven proofreads later,” Reed said.

Reed is looking forward to sharing advice to help local writers in Birmingham area make their publishing dreams a reality. I’m hopeful that people who attend this workshop will leave with an even stronger desire to publish their own book,”

Summer Beach Reads

by Gus Jones, Fiction Department, Central Library

Summer is officially here and the melting interior of my car is proof. People walk by with plaintive looks on their faces that cry, “Why is it so hot!” My empathetic face responds with, “It’s time for a trip to the beach.” The crystal clear water, sugar white sand, and cool Gulf breeze are the cure for everything that ails you. So go home and grab your swimsuit, the sunscreen, the beach towels, the cooler, and your chair, but you can’t leave until you pack something great to read on the beach. There are a number of lists of best beach reads for summer 2018. Here are a few titles that appear on several lists along with links to the lists themselves. Have a great summer.

Clock Dance by Anne Tyler
In this new novel from Anne Tyler, central character Willa Drake’s life takes an unexpected turn. After playing many roles defined by the choices of others, she agrees to take care of her son’s injured ex-girlfriend and, in the process, becomes part of a new community and begins to re-write her future. (Southern Living)

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
Welcome to the novel of the #MeToo moment—and my favorite book of the summer. Greer Kadetsky falls under the sway of a feminist icon in college and turns her back on everyone—boyfriend, friends, family—to fight for equality, or so she thinks. The activism is inspiring, but most touching is Wolitzer’s brainiac love story between Greer and her hometown boyfriend whose life becomes struck by unexpected tragedy. (Glamour)

The High Season by Judy Blundell
Ruthie Beamish is our hero here—she’s a museum director in the North Folk (that’s Long Island) village of our dreams. Every summer she, along with her family, vacates their inherited beach house to make way for high-paying summer renters (it’s how they afford it in the first place), and this year her temporary tenant brings along a whole lot of drama. Ruthie is forced to navigate a straying husband, a struggling teenage daughter, and a museum board full of socialites drunk on power. (Entertainment Weekly)

Tangerine by Christine Mangan
If you're still thinking about the dark twists of Gone Girl, look no further than this gripping drama about friendship and marriage. Alice Shipley and her husband have moved to Morocco, where Alice is struggling to adjust. An old friend unexpectedly visits Alice, and soon after, Alice's husband mysteriously disappears—leaving Alice to wonder if her old friend is to blame. Trust us, you'll want to read this ASAP, especially since it's already been optioned for a movie starring Scarlett Johansson. (Good Housekeeping)

When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger
Instead of re-reading The Devil Wears Prada for the hundredth time this summer, try Weisberger's newest offering, which catches up with our favorite frosty assistant, Emily Charlton. She's left Miranda behind to build a career as a publicist to Hollywood's elite. But when she finds herself dealing with a fallen supermodel in Connecticut, she'll realize that Miranda isn't just part of her past, but in fact could become a valuable ally. (Good Housekeeping)

Summer 2018 Book Preview: Best Beach Reads for Vegging Out
25 Must-Read Books That Will Make July Fly By
The 25 Best New Books for Summer 2018 
The 39 Books We're Talking about This Summer
The Best New Books Coming Out Summer 2018
The 40 Best Books to Read This Summer
The 17 Best Books to Read This Summer

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Childhood Fondness for Rodgers and Hammerstein and Libraries Inspired BPL Storyteller

by Lynn Carpenter, Five Points West Regional Branch Library

Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway Revolution
Todd S. Purdum

It seems as if I’ve always known that Rodgers and Hammerstein were great Broadway musical showmen—I’m not sure how I knew. I learned their songs “Do-Re-Me,” “O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A!,” “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” “Edelweiss,” “Climb Every Mountain,” and “It Might as Well Be Spring” in third grade. I saw The Sound of Music on my eighth birthday but I didn’t know it was by Rodgers and Hammerstein. My love of music and musicals was rivaled only by my love of books and I quickly found the play collections in my school library.

To get into the school building on a cold morning, you could go to the library. With my new love of books in fourth grade, I would check out a book in the morning, read it during the day, check it in at the end of the day, and check one out to read at home that night. Pretty soon I was checking out books to fellow students, shelving books, and reading shelves.

By the time I hit junior high, the custodian would open the library when I arrived and I would begin the morning operations for the library. This continued through the first half of my sophomore year in high school. We moved, and the new school did not want my help in the library, so I went back to my first love: music and theatre.

In college, I received my bachelor of fine arts degree in theatre and went to New York where I worked at an acting school for children. At last, I had the opportunity to direct some of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s wonderful shows—Oklahoma!, The Sound of Music, and The King and I. The school didn’t have a costumer, and soon I assumed those duties.

With the intent to save some money to go back to school and pursue a master’s degree in costume design, I returned to Alabama. After several jobs, I began working as a storyteller for the Birmingham Public Library. Storytelling satisfied my yearning to perform. My library skills learned as a child came back to me and I felt at home. With the encouragement from the associate director, my coordinator, and my supervisor, I applied to graduate school and became a professional librarian.

National Public Radio had an interview with Todd S. Purdum, author of Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway Revolution. I had to read it. The way these two men changed the face of Broadway forever is just as amazing as the impact of Hamilton today. I had read With a Song in My Heart, Richard Rodgers’ autobiography years ago, but it did not go into the health problems (battles with cancer and alcoholism) that these gifted men fought to bring the world such beautiful and moving stories that deal with subjects that are still relevant today.

The library staff is participating in Summer Learning on Beanstack in our own category to not compete with the public. Last week, I was the staff winner! I have the Beanstack app on my phone and I use the Beanstack link on the website. I like the phone app because I can set it when I start reading and stop it when I’m done and my time is automatically uploaded to the website app. That way, I don’t have to keep track of the time I spend reading. I can also scan the book’s ISBN to enter the titles I have read.

Pratt City, Titusville Library Adult Patrons Paint on Canvas at Palette Party with Cherie Hunt

by Roy L. Williams, Public Relations Department

Cherie Hunt instructing artists at Powderly Library

All summer long, Birmingham artist Cherie Hunt is teaching Birmingham Public Library patrons—even novices—how to paint. Recently, Hunt has brought her Palette Party program to adults at Titusville and Pratt City Branch Libraries. Hunt’s class provides participants step-by-step instructions that take them within an hour from a blank white canvas to their very own canvas masterpieces.

Hunt is offering a few more Palette Party workshops at BPL locations between now and the end of Summer Learning in early August. The dates and locations are listed below:

Palette Party artists show their masterpieces at Titusville Library

Palette Party is among over 400 Summer Learning programs for kids, teens and adults taking place at BPL’s 19 library locations in June and July. Summer Learning is made possible by a generous donation from the Alabama Power Foundation. For more information, click on the calendar at You can also print out a calendar of programs for children, teens and adults.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Job Hunting Is the Worst—But BPL Wants to Help!

by Jenn Seiler-Patrick, Five Points West Regional Branch Library

Books on job searching and careers picked by the staff at the Five Points West Library

First of all, looking for a job is hard.

Second, not receiving an interview or not getting the job hurts. As a new librarian with Birmingham Public Library, I just finished a years-long job hunt and am excited to be here, talking to you. So, I know some of that pain you might be feeling and my goal is to let you know you’re not alone; and to tell you about some of the options you have for help.

Our libraries have many books and e-books to help you with your job search, building a new career, or marketing yourself. Our staff can also recommend online resources to help with resumes, cover letters, how to interview, and improving your job skills. Some of your questions may be answered through BPL's Job Searching, Resume Writing, and Career Development page. As always, ask a BPL staff member if you need help finding any book or online resources.

Finally, the library has programs such as the employment readiness bootcamp New Age Online Application Drill/Interview Performance Training on July 23 and the Steps to Starting Your Business workshop on July 17 (this workshop is also scheduled August-October) taking place at the Central Library, which provides an awesome opportunity to learn what employers are looking for.

You can also check out the free classes offered by many of our library locations to help increase your skills with computers. Just visit the BPL events calendar and search the Career & Employment and Computers & Technology categories for upcoming classes.

I wish you strength to continue and hope for success! Thanks for reading!

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