The bookish barristas at Church Street Coffee & Books have organized something cool next week. They call it ‘Bookstravaganza’ and it kicks off on April 22nd, with a books-themed scavenger hunt, ending April 26th. Starting on the 22nd, the indie bookstore will start posting cryptic clues for their Facebook and Twitter followers. Once decoded, the answer will points to another local Birmingham business where a free book is waiting on the first successful code cracker. So that’s four days of following for freebies. Sounds fun!
They are also running a neat promo inside the store, which I’m anxious to go by and try out. Basically, they’re inviting you to scan the books, on the shelves, with your smartphone to get the super-secret discount (10%-50% off) price. Some of the books will also score you a free cookie or coffee.
Other events planned during the week that is Bookstravaganza 2013:
April 23rd (all day) – World Book Night giveaways, with hundreds of books to be given away free to help encourage reading. Many of which volunteers will hide in places around the city. This is a global event and very cool that they are participating.
So grab your decoder ring, smartphone barcode reader and follow Church Street Coffee & Books on Facebook and Twitter to play along next week. Bookstravaganza sounds like four days of fun promoting local businesses, reading and books, books, books!
There is a Used Book Sale at the Hoover Library this Saturday (March 16, 10a-5p) and Sunday (2p-5p). Looks like hardbacks and paperbacks will be priced at 50 cents a piece. This sale is being organized by the Friends of the Hoover Library group. Certainly worth swinging by this weekend to see what they have!
The sale is being held downstairs. Here is a quick photo tour of the library bookstore with photos and directions (about half-way down the post) of where this weekend’s book sale is being held.
Hope you find something good!
On Tuesday, November 20th, Pat Hall & Jane Newton Henry will be at Reed Books signing their new book Leeds. The 128-page book traces the beginning of the St. Clair county town from the beginning of the 1800′s offering up lots of historical stories and photographs along the way. The book was released in October 2012.
The authors will be at Reed Books from 11:30am until 1:00pm to talk about Leeds and sign copies.
On November 29th, at 4:00 p.m., the Alabama Booksmith will host the launch event for Fading Ads of Birmingham, authored by Charles Buchanan. Buchanan is a magazine editor at UAB, overseeing publications like UAB Medicine, as well as contributing to the flagship read UAB Magazine. Buchanan is also a well respected (and collected) print artist. That’s how I first met him years ago, by buying some of his prints. And it is why I was excited to learn that he was the pen behind this new book about Birmingham and some of its curious and historical artwork decorating the city. Spend five minutes visiting with Buchanan, at one of his shows, and he’ll guide you in a budding appreciation and wonder of all of the cool architectural artifacts in Birmingham’s past. No doubt that sense of story, history and place will come through his 168 page book (sporting 88+ photos).
Buchanan was kind enough to take a few minutes and answer do a quick Q & A, via email.
Q: How did the idea for this book come about?
A: The “ghost signs”–the old faded painted ads seen all around town–have inspired my printmaking for a while. I like the look and feel of the ads, particularly when several are layered on top of one another, and you see bits of all of them at once. In 2010, Birmingham Magazine asked me to write an article about the city’s ghost signs. Less than a year after it was published, The History Press contacted me, asking if I had ever thought about writing a book on the topic. I had thought about it, but I never expected I would be doing it so soon.
Q: How long did it take you to put it together?
A: It took about a year. The research was the most time-consuming part because there’s no direct way to research the ads. The companies–and in most cases, the people–that painted them are long gone, with no records. The ads weren’t intended to be permanent, anyway. I had to dig through lots of city directories, newspapers, maps, and photographs to piece together the stories of the advertised products and services and the buildings and neighborhoods where the ads hang. I ended up finding far more information than I had expected.
Writing the book presented a few challenges as well. I had better luck writing the first draft using pen and paper rather than a computer. That helped me to avoid editing myself too much in the beginning.
Q: Why is it important to chronicle the types of things your book does?
A: In much the same way that archaeologists can tell how people lived centuries ago from shards of pottery, the ghost signs reveal the history of everyday life in Birmingham from the 1880s through the 1980s. The ads tell us what people spent their money on–what they ate, drank, and smoked; where they worked and played; what products and services they thought would improve their lives; and so forth.
Also, these signs have made a good effort at sticking around, but they won’t be here forever. At least one ad featured in the book has already been painted over, and some others will eventually fade in the sun. In a way, the book (which features photos by local photographer Jonathan Purvis) helps us to hold on to the signs.
Q: When someone puts down the book, what is something you are hoping they take away with them?
A: I hope that the book encourages people in Birmingham to explore their own city. There are so many great details, stories, and opportunities to discover when we really pay attention to the buildings, people, and landscapes around us–and much of our history is so visible and accessible. I’ve listed locations for every ad in the book so that readers can go see the signs for themselves, and hopefully that will inspire them to look for other fading ads around town.
I’d also like the book to bring attention to the work of the sign painters who created these ads. Many of them were very talented artists who worked hard in tough conditions and never received much recognition for what they did. And they did everything by hand. Hopefully readers will think about those guys when they walk or drive by a fading ad in the future.
Q: What’s the coolest thing you ran across while writing the book?
A: The ads opened the door to some fascinating pockets of local history that surprised me. For instance, Birmingham was once full of homegrown soft drink companies making all kinds of crazy colas that got regional, national, and even international distribution–things like Celery Cola, Rye-Ola, and Wiseola, which is my favorite because one of its wall ads remains in town. Another sign, for a piano company, helped to reveal Birmingham’s important role in introducing Southern jazz, blues, and gospel music to the nation. I had no idea about these particular aspects of our history before I began researching the ads, and it felt like I was exploring a whole new Birmingham that I never knew existed.
Q: What’s your day job? On twitter? got a site for people to check in on?
A: On Twitter, I’m @cbprints, and my new web site will be up in the next few days at www.cbuchanan.net. The new site includes plenty of book info, including events and places to buy it, as well as a Google map to help people locate the fading ads in the book. My new blog on the site also will have book and art updates–and eventually it will highlight some other local ghost signs that aren’t in the book.
Q: Any parting shots/something you’d like to mention?
A: If anyone has questions about the fading ads once they’ve read the book, I hope they will e-mail me. I’m happy to share what I know about the signs and what they reveal about Birmingham’s history.
If you miss the launch event on November 29th, don’t despair. He will also be doing a book talk and signing at Homewood Public Library on December 6th at 6:30 p.m. As well as a signing at What’s on Second on the evening of December 7.
This weekend Birmingham-based Desert Island Supply Company is celebrating the Grand opening of their Woodlawn writing and tutoring center. Festivities kick off at 9 a.m. on Saturday, November 17th at their new center located at 5500 First Avenue North in the Woodlawn neighborhood.
They have even organized a Hobbit-Read-a-Thon, where you can be a part of a crew of readers scheduled to read through the whole Hobbit book aloud. The Hobbit-Read-a-Thon is part “celebrate reading” and part fundraiser for D.I.S.C.O. which is a creative writing program that offers free writing workshops and tutoring for kids in the Birmingham area. So everything collected goes right back into helping local kids realize the importance and joy of developing a life or reading and writing (which is pretty cool).
Other events are planned as well, such as live music and storytelling, balloon mapping, a writing booth, and other crafts and games. So mark your calendars, sign up to read and check it out this weekend.
This month all around Birmingham you can find pockets of over-caffienated crazy-eyed folks hacking away at their keyboards, bouncing from typewriter ding to typewriter ding and dueling with pens, all in pursuit of writing a novel. . . in a single month. NaNoWriMo is shorthand for National Novel Writing Month. It is a 14-year-old event that has spread around the world helping spur the lazy, the perfectionists and day dreamers to commit words to page.
The goal is a simple one: write 50,000 words in 30 days. That breaks down to a 1600+ word daily habit.
Needless to say someone local needs to be on deck to organize all of this creativity and keep people on track. Birmingham’s writer wrangler is Jared Millet, local librarian by day and NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison by night and weekends (and days, too). He was kind enough to take a break from his own word count to answer a few questions about all things NaNoWriMo.
Q: How long have you been involved with NaNoWriMo?
A: The first year I participated was 2007. I don’t remember how I found out about it, but it was a transformational experience. Before, I’d always been what I call “a prolific writer of first chapters.” In 2007 I exceeded the 50K Nano goal and went on to complete a 75,000 word novel in 40 days – my first ever novel-length draft. I was working at the Hoover Public Library at the time, and the experience inspired me to start the library’s Write Club that still meets once a month. Last year the previous Birmingham ML departed for grad school in the Great Frozen North, and she asked me if I’d be interested in stepping up to bat.
Q: Isn’t it insane to write an entire 50,000 word novel in one month? Is that really doable?
A: Insane? Not at all. Challenging? Yes. It breaks down to a daily objective of 1,667 words. The typical working writer will produce 1,000 – 2,000 words per day, with a few outliers doing way more or way less. Walter B. Gibson, principal author of The Shadow pulp novels, wrote 24 novel length stories a year – on a manual typewriter. He would laugh at our measly word counts and cast us out of Writers’ Valhalla.
Q: Why would someone want to write their book under these constraints? Any benefits?
A: The 50,000 word goal does several things. It provides deadline pressure, it makes you stretch yourself, and it forces you to bury your self-doubt. It also disabuses you of any illusions as to what writing is. Writing is work, it’s time consuming, it’s exhausting, and if you’re serious about writing you have to make it a priority in your life and not just squeeze it into the cracks.
Along with the deadline and the quota, however, participating in NaNoWriMo gives you a community and support structure to help see you through to the end. Writing is a lonely business, but not so much when 300,000 of your best friends are doing it with you.
Q: So you are Municipal Liaison for the area, what does that mean? How is it going?
A: Basically the Municipal Liaison is the party organizer and moderator of our regional forum on the NaNoWriMo website. I set up the annual Kick-Off (which was hosted once again by the lovely folks at the Patton Creek Barnes & Noble) and arrange for weekly get-togethers at various places around town. I’m also here to answer questions, promote National Novel Writing Month to the community at large, and to encourage participants to donate to the Office of Letters and Light, the non-profit organizers of all this madness.
As for how it goes, I’ve been amazed at the enthusiasm and turnout I’ve seen in the local Nano community. This year could possibly be our biggest yet.
Q: I see the Birmingham group is taking on the state of Delaware!? What is that about?
A: To be fair, it was they who declared Word War on us. (Well, they sent a polite email asking if we’d be interested in a friendly competition.) Delaware and Birmingham are about the same size in terms of Nano participants, and the Word War has been neck-and-neck so far. They’ve been ahead by a percentage point for most of the first week, but we did pull ahead for a little while yesterday. Southampton, England has also joined our little fray, and I’m sorry to report that the Brits are whipping us both.
Q: What’s on the calendar for the NaNoWriMo group this month?
A: On the weekends, we’re having Write-Ins (where writers gather en masse to chit-chat, encourage each other, then shut up and write) at Church Street Coffee, Little Professor Book Center, the Hoover Public Library, and Blackwell’s Pub. NaNo participants are invited to attend the Write Club meeting on Saturday the 17th to report on their progress, and there will be a wrap party on December 1st or 2nd at a location still to be determined.
Q: What are you working on? How’s it going? What’s your blog? Twitter?
A: This year I’m writing the final 50,000 words of a dark, bloody fantasy novel called The Ghost Cauldron that I began in 2010 and continued in 2011. I’m about a day behind in my overall word goal, but I’m catching up and I plan to put the holidays this month to good use.
On twitter I’m @JaredMillet and I blog, where you can find links to free stories, some anthologies I’ve been included in, and Summer Gothic, a collection of Southern ghost stories by Alabama authors that I edited earlier this year. Also, there’s a link to the most recent issue of Kaleidotrope, available free online, that includes my latest published story, The Unwinding House.
Q: Any parting words for your local NaNoWriMo’s or wannabe novelists?
A: Do it. Stick with it. Have fun. Have faith in yourself, and use this experience to learn about yourself as a writer. You’re not going to produce a novel that you can mail off right away to a publisher and get rich and famous, but you are going to discover that you have it in you to create art, and that enriches your own life and the lives of those around you.
The fact that the Vestavia Hills Cokesbury store will close its doors early next year has been confirmed via phone. Yesterday, the United Methodist Publishing House announced that they were closing all 38 of their full-line stores and 19 of their school campus/seminary bookstores.
The statement says that the United Methodist Publishing House and Cokesbury are bowing to their customers’ trending to buying online, which makes the overhead of keeping stores open too high.
They tried to spin a little positive angle by announcing a new online selling system called CokesburyNEXT, but it just won’t be the same as being able to go into a bookstore and thumb through the weighty texts that make up many religious books. It’s really too bad. The local Cokesbury staff has always been great and helpful. So sad to see another bookstore close.
Here are three bookish-type events going on this week in the Birmingham-area. If you know of any upcoming author signings, book sales or library events around the Birmingham area, please share via email or in the comments.
Sunday, October 28th, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – the Emmet O’Neal library has set up a walk through graveyard featuring the lives and deaths of some of the world’s greatest authors.
Sunday, October 28th, 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. – Nabeel’s owner and now author John Krontiras will give a talk and will be signing his new cookbook Beloved Family Recipes at the Homewood Library. (tip: you can also sign up to win a free copy of the book over at Grasping For Objectivity.)
Wednesday, October 31st at noon – Haunted North Alabama author Jessica Penot will give a talk about Southern ghost stories and will be signing books at the Birmingham Library.
One of my favorite things about Birmingham is the book culture. Looking online I know the local book scene is not “in your face” like the football fans or as scary as all of the “weather geek” updates, but man we have some cool people in Birmingham doing cool things to promote books, authors and reading. I have to admit to being a fanboy of some of them. There are some that you know you’d enjoy chatting with if you ever just bumped into them at the grocery store or bar. Here are three local Birmingham bookish bloggers that I always look forward to seeing updates from. Even if they are talking about books that I’ll never read, their passion for books is addictive and fun to follow.
So if you enjoy discussions with fellow book-folk, be sure to check these out:
Church Street Coffee & Books – the bookstore crew over in Mt. Brook keep the Postscript updates coming regularly with guest posts, book reviews and insights into the world of “running a bookstore”.
Medusa’s Library – this blogger works over at another great local bookstore the Little Professor in Homewood. If you like book-related conversation the posts here are fun. If you’re into paranormal books and sci-fi fiction you are going to be very very happy.
Oh My Godwin! – this local tumblr is dripping with bookish goodness. Some posts are humorous and some elevate books. My favorite updates are the photos. All of which will have you smiling wondering “can I have a room like this in my house”?
So those are three of my favorites. Who am I missing?
There is a used-book sale this Saturday, September 29th at the Whistle Stop Festival in Irondale. The book sale runs 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is being held by the Friends of the Irondale Library group. They plan on having a booth set up in front of the library (which is about a block from the railroad tracks). They also will have more tables with books for sale set up inside the library.
I think this might be a great quick little stop this weekend. Especially if you can get there early enough before the tables are picked through. I have not heard any information on prices. But if they stick with what they usually charge you will be looking at 50 cents to $2 per book. Have a good weekend!
Blogs I Like
- B’ham Public Library
- Book Chase
- Book Patrol
- Bookshelf Porn
- Exile Bibliophile
- Fine Books Blog
- Loud poet
- Nathalie Foy
- Oh My Godwin!
- Reed Next’s Next Read
- Turn the Page
- AL.com Books
- AL.com Books Forum
- Alabama Center for the Book
- Alabama Writers' Forum
- Bham Wiki
- Book TV
- Menasha Ridge Press
- The Literacy Council
- Book Art
- Book Collecting
- Book Column
- Book Covers
- Book Design
- Book Reviews
- Book Sale
- Book Talk
- Bookstore Ideas
- Digital Publishing
- Free Books
- Friday Finds
- Gifts for Book People
- New Releases
- On the TV
- On the Web
- Publishing Industry News
- Site News
- Tools for Readers
- Upcoming Titles