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At the Library 10/12/23

At the Library
by LeAnn Kunz

If you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at the Washington Public Library, let me tell you. Lots of planning. Your librarians are delighted to serve you as you pick out your reading material for the week, and in between the “hellos” and “see you next times”, we are planning. Currently Tammy and I have been working on our joint plan for our second annual Author Fest coming November 4. We held our first ever fest last year with seven local authors reading from their work, including Heather Gudenkauf. This year is going to be another spectacular one that you won’t want to miss.

At Author Fest 2023, we are hosting five diverse Iowa authors including our headliner, Beth M. Howard! Beth is known as the “pie lady” who lived for five years in the American Gothic house in Eldon, Iowa where she ran the Pitchfork Pie Stand. She is an author, a world traveler and adventurer, often using pie as her way to connect with the world. She has written Making Piece, World Piece, Hausfrau Honeymoon, all memoirs of her life journey and the pie cookbook Ms. American Pie. Beth will be reading from her work at 10:30 am followed by a pie demonstration! Participants will be able to enter to win and take home that very pie! Beth, and all our authors, will have books for sale and signing afterwards.

We are so fortunate to have so many talented writers in our state and Chuy Renteria is the one who will kick off our Author Fest at 9 am. Jesus “Chuy” Renteria is a writer, teacher, and dancer who has published We Heard It When We Were Young, a memoir detailing his upbringing in West Liberty which was Iowa’s first majority Latino town. His stories, which celebrate the spaces between the Mexican, Laotian, and small-town cultures, can also be read in We The Interwoven. If we are lucky, maybe Chuy will do a few b-boy moves for us too!

Venise Berry will be joining us at 9:45 am. Venise is a professor and writer at the University of Iowa in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications and does research on African American cultural criticism. She has published the novels So Good, An African American Love Story, All of Me, A Voluptuous Tale, and Colored Sugar Water. She has also co-authored several books on African American cinema. 

After the lunch hour, Leigh Michaels will read at 1 pm. Leigh Michaels is a prolific author, speaker, editor, and public speaker. She has written more than 100 contemporary and historical romance novels as well as non-fiction books. More than 35 million copies of her romance novels have been published in more than 25 languages and 120 countries. She is also a big supporter of libraries, serving as a member of the Libraries Advancement Council for the University of Iowa Libraries, a member of the board of trustees of the Ottumwa Public Library, and the president of the board of the Ottumwa Public Library Foundation.

Our final author for the day will be Eric Gapstur at 1:45 pm. Eric is an author, illustrator, cartoonist from eastern Iowa. His work can be seen in DC and Image comics, among others. Sort of Super is his debut middle grade graphic novel series which combines his love for the action, adventure, and drama in comic books and the humor and whimsy of comic strips. Following his reading, Eric will also be giving an illustration demonstration. You will want to make sure to bring your upper elementary kids to this reading and demo!

I hope you will the WPL Author Fest on your calendar and plan to spend all or part of your Saturday with us. And remember, when you enter the library and see your librarians intently typing on their computers, know that we working hard to fulfill our mission to provide educational, cultural, and social enrichment for everyone in our community.