On Saturday, Feb. 10, the E.P. Foster Public Library will host a special author event. Four Local Authors on Writing and Their New Works will feature Maryann Ridini Spencer, James Francis Gray, Mike Kennedy and Sheila Lowe in conversation about their work, their process and the ins and outs of getting published. After talking a bit about their work, the authors will open up the discussion to audience questions. The conversation is likely to unfold like a good book.
“This is a fun group,” Ridini Spencer says of the authors she’s gathered for the free public event. Each author has a unique story to share; and as the audience will hear them tell it, there is no one way to write a book.
“First thing,” says Ridini Spencer, when asked when she writes, “I get up and do it before my other work.” She is also an award-winning screenwriter, TV and film producer and lifestyle journalist. “I carve out the time to write two hours a day. Once you get into the swing, it works!” That discipline helps her reach her goal of 20 pages a week, and it has resulted in the publication of the award-winning romance Lady in the Window (SelectBooks, 2017) and its sequel, The Paradise Table (SelectBooks, 2018).
Mike Kennedy steals time to write on long flights and in hotels when he’s traveling for work for the Department of Defense. Sometimes the muse is fickle. Kennedy recalls looking forward to writing on a flight to Japan. “For 12 hours I watched that cursor blink. Nothing! Then at the hotel the story came out all at once.” He can remember the exact day (Aug. 1, 2012) when he got the idea for his first book. He was driving on the 101 freeway with his wife. “All of a sudden a whole book streamed into my head.” He couldn’t get the story out of his mind. “It was all I could think about.” Finally, his wife handed him his laptop and told him to start writing. He self-published his first book, The Huut, in 2015 and its sequel, Red Fortress ob der Tauber, in 2017. Blind Allegiance, the third book in the suspense series, is due out soon.
After decades in the printing business, James Francis Gray says he “retired to his true passion.” He is the author of the mysteries Kali Is Your Code Name, Gumshoe and Audrey’s Journal, as well as the short-story collection Tales Told. (He is also a contributing writer for Ventura Breeze.) Although Gray doesn’t have a set writing routine, he’s been part of a writing class for almost 10 years. The weekly deadlines and in-class writing exercises help keep him focused, and the feedback is wonderful. Once, Gray wrote a story based on a stormy night in the 1950s when he stayed up talking with the call girls who lived in the apartment next door. He read the story to the class and when he said, “The end,” the class roared, “Keep going!”
With a demanding career as a forensic handwriting examiner, Sheila Lowe doesn’t follow a set writing schedule. “I’m a procrastinator.” But, she adds, “When you’re a writer, you have to write.” Lowe has written 10 books, including nonfiction and the Claudia Rose mystery series whose main character is also a forensic handwriting examiner. The latest, Written Off (Suspense, 2018), follows other titles, including Written in Blood (Suspense, 2016) and Poison Pen (Suspense, 2016). Although she doesn’t have a specific routine, Lowe wouldn’t call herself a “pantser,” or someone who writes from the seat of his or her pants. “I start with the title and build a story around it. I use an outline, scene by scene . . . and I write a backstory for each character.”
So different in their approaches to their work, yet these authors share the same passion for writing. At Four Local Authors on Writing and Their New Works, you can share in it, too.
Four Local Authors takes place on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2-3:30 p.m. at E. P. Foster Library, 651 E. Main St., Ventura. For more information, call 648-2716 or visit www.vencolibrary.org/events/foster-author-panel.