Two of the perks of living across the street from a marvelous bookstore are: 1) the limitless opportunities to feed my book addiction, and 2) the chance to see and hear from a variety of authors. Although I’m a regular customer for books and coffee, some of the most enjoyable times I have spent there were for their special events and author visits. Sometimes I go because the signing was by someone I always wanted to meet. Sometimes I go because the description in the monthly newsletter was just too good to pass up. And sometimes because the presentations are fun, useful, or even both.
The bookstore itself is a modern wonder. Its architecture reminds me almost of a train station, with its high ceilings, vast open and echo-filled spaces, and the hustle and bustle of people on the move. The space includes a coffee bar (which as of today is evidently being remodeled into a frozen yogurt place — which had better still serve coffee!), two floors of books, magazines, toys, cards, ereaders, and a whole host of other items. It also has a marvelous space for author readings and signings, with lots of comfortable seats, large tables, and a beautiful backdrop of a Dayton map, framing the author during his or her reading. It’s simply lovely, and I adore spending time reading and writing amid the books and people who occupy its space.
Today was a double-header. Early in the afternoon, best-selling author Chris Bohjalian gave a lively and spirited reading as he stopped on his “February Secrets of Eden, rock-and-roll, get your t-shirts” book tour, promoting the softcover edition of his now year-old book, Secrets of Eden. Entertaining would be too calm a description of his engaging reading. But even more fun for me were his explanations of how/where he finds his stories. How elements come together haphazardly until that proverbial light-bulb explodes with a story idea. And he is a devoted “pantser,” confessing that he has only known the ending of one of his books before he started it. He also walked through how his characters lead him, revision by revision, into places he had no intention or clue of going — to the improvement of the final story, he quickly added. He was well-prepared and relaxed, making it a pleasurable way to spend an hour on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Moreover, he could not have been more gracious to the host bookstore, repeatedly encouraging support of the store and its services (even if that meant buying your Nook there…..) as well as expressing his obviously sincere thanks to the store and staff for hosting his visit. Last but not least, he offered a humorous glimpse into his October release, Night Strangers, including his three tips to survive in an airplane crash. For more information about Chris, be sure to wander over to his website and blog, Idyll Banter.
The second event of the afternoon was equally as fun. Beginning last month, the Antioch Writers’ Workshop (AWW) offers “Second Sunday” workshops at Books and Co. at the Greene. It’s a free workshop (though they do request that you RSVP to the bookstore) geared towards a variety of informative topics. Today, author Heather Webber provided participants her take on working romance (or a love story) into any genre of writing. Again, a charming hour well-spent, as she provided exercises on developing goals, motivation, and conflict not only for your main characters but for each of the characters in your work. She answered each and every question with grace and good humor! Mark your calendars for the March Second Sunday workshop, March 13 at 2 p.m., when AWW director Sharon Short will present on developing your query and synopsis, those necessary elements writers love to hate!
Here are a couple more shots of the lovely space at Books & Co., located at The Greene shopping center in Dayton, Ohio:
So there you have it – my double-header day of motivation, goals, and conflict. It was so nice to have a 50+ degree day, which inspires me as no snow- or cold-filled one can do. What an enjoyable way to spend a sunny, Sunday afternoon.
How did you spend this springlike day? And if you feel like sharing a bit — what things motivate your writing?