Sunday March 6, 2011, I attended “In Her Own Words…An Afternoon with Author Ann Leary” a charity event for the Literacy Volunteers of Greater Waterbury (LVGW).
The event was at Carmen Anthony’s Fishhouse, which provided a lovely venue with delicious hors d’oeuvre, including lamb chops, mini-spring rolls, scallops wrapped in bacon, stuffed mushrooms, and a nice veggie and cheese and cracker spread.
The purpose of the charity event was to raise money for the educational programs of LVGW, which has 100 volunteers assisting its 200 adult learners to improve their written and spoken English skills. Students include immigrants from 25 different countries as well as people born and educated in the U.S. who cannot read and write at the level they should.
For any published authors who might be willing to donate signed copies of your books, the LVGW is currently in need of them for charity raffles this spring. You can contact them directly or shoot me an email and I’ll be glad to work as a go-between.
My father serves on their Board of Directors and suggested attending this event because it’s good to support literacy and he knows I love to hear authors talk about their experiences.
A huge thank you to Selena Smith, Tina Agati, and Susan Powers who organized a top-notch event. Everything was seamless–check-in, the raffle, getting wine, finding our table. You made it an absolute pleasure to be there. And every scheduled event/talk occurred on a timely basis.
Sticking to a schedule can be next to impossible at any event, but you made it look effortless. Everyone was there to support a good cause, but you made it a terrific afternoon for all as well.
One of the participants in the LVGW program was chosen for a makeover to be done during the afternoon.
Kathy Hanson of Webster Investments gave a quick intro to the importance of investing for women. One of the most striking figures was that 1/4 of all women is broke within a few months of their spouses’ death. The greatest takeaway from her talk was that everyone should have a financial plan regardless of your age and that the plan should be reviewed on a regular basis and updated.
Dan Settani of Viso Bella Day Spa and Massage Therapy Center spoke about the importance of facial peels to remove all the dead winter skin and unleash your spring potential. His estheticians gave some important points on peels and then did a little quiz with free giveaways.
Ann Leary (pictured above) graciously answered questions about being a writer and also talked about how important literacy is. She loves to read and loves books. And is also a volunteer EMT in her town in Connecticut.
She opened by talking about her own experience with Ancestry.com and tracking down her great great grandfather who couldn’t read or write English when he came to this country. He worked at a grocery store to learn English. It took him 46 years, but he ended up owning a grocery store and having a net worth of $3 million in 1895. This is the amazing success story every immigrant dreams of.
She then took some Q&A from the audience. I’ve forgotten the questions, but here are some of her responses:
- If you want to get started in writing, there are many workshops our there and organizations you can join. Write everyday and read A LOT. For practice, try to write in the style of an author you like. This will help you discover your own writing style.
- In terms of least and most favorite parts of the writing process–she loves when she’s drafting a novel and on a roll so that the book feels like it is writing itself. Getting to that point is probably her least favorite part.
- To deal with rejection, she advised that you keep writing, not with the idea of publication but just to tell the story.
- The first time someone came up and liked her book, she was stunned. It was the best feeling in the world.
She read an excerpt from her first book, An Innocent, A Broad, which is a memoir about her experiences of her son being accidentally born in England because she went into labor early and was stuck there for 6 months.She termed it a “fish out of water story.”
The excerpt she read made me laugh. Especially when she labeled herself an “inveterate turncoat” and a “ready convert.” The examples she gave tugged you out of your seat and into her memory. Fabulous writing.
Her second book was a novel about the wife of a tv star. Though a work of fiction, when it was published, people questioned if she modeled it on her and her celebrity, Dennis Leary. She said a resounding “No” to that.
As for platform, she considers having a famous hubby to have a definite effect on her career and readily admits that the road to publication might have been much harder if she weren’t married to him.
She thoroughly enjoys blogging and thinks it’s a great exercise in not self-editing. She suggested writing your blog as though you are writing to a really good friend who likes you a lot.
She mentioned she is working on a third book, which will include lots of characters and a murder in New England. Sounds fun.
When Ann finished taking follow up questions, Constanzo Clothing, gave a brief presentation on their tailor-made clothing and how to build a wardrobe with classic pieces.
Then they revealed the makeover candidate who looked lovely and super professional. Great makeover!
The event wound down with the winners of the door prizes and auction items being revealed. My dad won “A Night at the Movies.” A popcorn tub with root beer, 20 classic Hitchcock films (which are already in my room), movie candy (raisinets and snow caps) and two movie passes.
Did I mention how much he loves going to the movies? This is like the best door prize ever for him. I think he kinda earned it after hearing about makeovers and facial peels. 🙂
We also received free cookies from Savor cookies and a gift bag too.
All and all a spectacular event!