I will always be a reporter

Published 11:59 pm Friday, December 12, 2008

Saturday morning, when I saw the rows of tables with bold nametags spaced evenly upon them in the Birmingham Public Library, I knew that the newspaper ink still flows through my bloodstream.

It was the setup up for the second day of the Third Annual Local Writers’ Expo. My husband and I were there to display his first book, The Secret in Deep Water Swamp, A Reverend Alabaster Armstrong Mystery. Some of the other authors arrived at same time, loaded down with books and other gear. I was curious about all of them. I knew that I just had to flit up and down the table rows to find out how those people came to write their books.

Lucy, seated next to us, arrived in a flurry with a big poster stand sporting a black balloon and a white balloon flowing from the top of it. Her creation was a workbook for couples contemplating marriage to determine whether they were suited to each other. She said a lot of people came to her for advice, so she decided to put together the workbook.

Nancy, a personable woman close to my age, had the book she edited spread across her table space. Her project started when she volunteered to type some letters a 16-year-old girl and her family wrote to each other while the young lady enhanced her education at a Paris, France, boarding school from 1842 to 1844. The more Nancy typed, the more she became convinced that others needed to know the story, as well.

Down one row was a teacher who had compiled several small books for beginning readers. She used photographs she had made of her dogs and her cat Harry to illustrate it. That was a clever idea and the delightful pictures attracted my attention.

As I made a turn, I saw three pretty young women wearing crowns on their heads. Spread across their display area were bags of cookies, a cookbook with an eye-catching pink cover and one of those crowns and a pink t-shirt with “Princess” written across the front, packaged in clear plastic. Their purpose was to raise the esteem of women. The cookbook featured some recipes from their families.

Two elementary school teachers were promoting their colorful children’s books. As one was inspired to write, the other drew the pictures. They said their students loved their creations.

I stopped short at another table when I saw an oversized book filled with history and photographs about the Avondale area of Birmingham. “How long did it take you to do the research and gather the pictures? And where did you find all of that?” I inquired of the author. I knew what her answer would be. “Years,” she said. I was right.

I never ran out of questions, but time ran out. I didn’t speak to all that I wanted to. It was a most enjoyable time.