Our town on Patch

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.  I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live.”  ~George Bernard Shaw

Like friendship, community building takes care and effort — and modern life typically conspires against it. Thanks to a troubled economy, people move around a lot more now.

And even if we try to set down roots, it’s not easy to connect with neighbors. If we’re not multi-tasking at the office, we’re all cloistered at home in communion with the TV or our laptops. Building a stronger, safer, cozier, cooler, and friendlier neighborhood involves moving outside our comfort zones to talk to each other, just for starters.

My community always tops my gratitude list. I’ve lived here in Royal Oak for 28 years, and I’m thankful to be surrounded by folks who’ve bothered to read my weekly newspapers columns for ages and, bless them, even purchased my books. So I’m more than a little excited to be a part of Royal Oak Patch, a hyper-local and interactive online news service.

I’ll be contributing a weekly Sunday column starting November 21st. I’ll be on my usual “beat” — sharing thoughts from the home front on issues that many of us wrestle with, no matter where we live: the new empty nest, aging parents, career changes and semi-retirement, difficult relationships, and the challenge of finding balance in a world intent on driving us all a bit crazy. From the perspective of my front porch and home office, I’ll talk about places close to home and people dear to my heart.

Half the fun of this new venture is that I’m working with veteran journalists I met through other newspaper gigs in my hometown. And one of my neighbors, author Gerry Boylan, is a fellow columnist. In his inaugural Patch column today, Gerry offers the best description I’ve ever read about Royal Oak: “It’s apple pie ala mode, a drive right down the middle of the fairway, a strike over the middle of the plate, someplace that feels like home the day you move in and that’s why you don’t move out.”

Even if you don’t live in our town, you’re always welcome to visit Royal Oak Patch. Drop by and see what we’re up to. — CL

Support your local authors

Miss a meal if you have to, but don’t miss a good book.” — Jim Rohn

Earlier this year, I went to a friend’s book signing event that was so well attended it brought tears to my eyes. My friend and his co-author gave a wonderful presentation to a standing-room-only crowd — and sold more books than they’d initially planned.

I was reminded of my very first book signing for Writing Home at our local Borders. Before the signing, I worried that only a handful of relatives would show up. Imagine my surprise, and gratitude, when I walked into Borders and saw a line forming at my table — a line of new friends, old neighbors, and column readers from all over the community. I sold so many books that the manager invited me back to do another book signing at holiday time two months later.

All of this got me thinking: What if I could provide a similar supportive experience — a huge book signing — for other authors in my hometown, all in one location? And what if this book sale event could also serve as an opportunity to encourage aspiring authors who want to learn more about getting published?

The first annual Royal Oak Authors Book Fair sprouted from that seed. Thanks to the Royal Oak Public Library, a dozen authors from Royal Oak will gather for a community book signing and public panel discussion this Saturday, Oct. 9, 1:30 – 4:30 p.m.

Nearly every literary genre, from fiction to self-help will be represented at the Fair. Many of Royal Oak’s authors have been featured nationally and are “best-sellers” in their own right: Book Fair authors and publishers will include: Gerry Boyan, David Clements, Judy Davids, Steve Haffner (Haffner Press), Dr. Charles K. Hyde, Steve Lehto, Trevor McCauley, Maureen McDonald, Eleanor Payson, John S. Schultz, Tom Weschler, and yours truly.

So bring your questions on publishing and the writing life to our panel discussion at 1:30 in the Royal Oak Public Library Auditorium. Help us celebrate the printed word. And plan to do some book shopping afterward. I’ll be signing copies of my own book, plus you’ll find several books on Detroit’s automotive history; fantasy and sci-fi novels: a biography on Bob Seger; a hitchhiker’s novel; a photo-history of Royal Oak; a self-help guide; plus memoirs, murder mysteries … and more! — Cindy La Ferle

Royal Oak Authors Book Fair poster (above) designed by Judy Davids. Click on the poster for a larger view.