Local author lecture series a win-win for bibliophiles, singles, aspiring authors, more
Tom Blake was featured at the Feb. 22 Friends of the San Juan Capistrano Library Local Author Lecture Series. Shown here (L to R) are author Cheryl Gardarian, Blake, panel moderator Ann Rohan and Mary DeMers, president, Friends of the Library. Photo: Monique Dodge
Tom Blake was featured at the Feb. 22 Friends of the San Juan Capistrano Library Local Author Lecture Series. Shown here (L to R) are author Cheryl Gardarian, Blake, panel moderator Ann Rohan and Mary DeMers, president, Friends of the Library. Photo: Monique Dodge

By Tom Blake

On the third Sunday of each month, the Friends of the San Juan Capistrano Library sponsor a Local Author Lecture Series from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the bookstore. The February event featured romance and travel writers.

Tom Blake. On Life and Love After 50
Tom Blake. On Life and Love After 50

Cheryl Gardarian and I were the guest authors. Cheryl writes fiction, and I write non-fiction. Nearly 30 people attended and it seems that everybody benefitted in one way or the other. Cheryl and I benefitted simply by being the invited authors. That was an honor in itself.

Both of us were able to share our stories and writing experiences in a panel that was moderated by Ann Ronan, a local travel agent and chairwoman of the San Juan Capistrano Chamber of Commerce. At the end of the session, complimentary snacks and refreshments were served while Cheryl and I got to display and autograph our books.

The bookstore is run entirely by volunteers, led by Friends of the Library president Mary DeMers, who put a great deal of effort into coordinating the event. The book shelves are moved aside and temporary chairs are set up for the guests. After the event, the chairs are removed and the book shelves put back in place. The all-volunteer staff was assisted by members of the National Charity League.

Book-lovers benefitted by meeting the authors in person, asking questions and purchasing autographed books.

The library earns a commission on the sale of the books, which helps cover operating costs. Not to mention the exposure that the library received by having people new to the bookstore enjoy its charm.

Singles benefitted by making new friends and getting dating, relationship and travel advice. One woman, recently widowed, met Christine Baumgartner, a relationship counselor/event planner who attended, and scheduled some future consulting appointments with Christine.

Aspiring authors learned the ins and outs of publishing books. Cheryl uses publishers and Tom self-publishes. Both authors also publish electronic books, which are very popular these days.

I often tell older singles that the most important thing they can do is get off the couch and out of the house and meet new friends. Attending events like this is a great way to achieve that; I heard two women say they were meeting for coffee the next morning.

Getting out and meeting the public is beneficial to authors as well. I was pleased and surprised when moderator/travel agent Ann asked if I would like to host a four-day cruise out of Los Angeles in November on the Star Princess cruise ship. When I said yes, Ann replied, “We will name it the ‘Tom Blake’s Loving Life after 55 Cruise.’” That would not have happened to me had I not appeared.

Each of our local tri-city libraries are greatly assisted by volunteers. Funding is tight for libraries. We as residents are blessed to have these volunteers helping our libraries, which we need to support.

What a pleasant afternoon this was. There is nothing greater than to be in a warm and cozy environment surrounded by books just waiting to stimulate our minds.

For information on the Sunday, March 15, Local Author Lecture Series at The Bookstore at the San Juan Capistrano library, call 949.493.2688 or visit the website at www.sjcfol.org.

For information on the Nov. 12 cruise, contact Ann at 949.702.3977 or by email at ann@sjctravel.com. Cruise details are also on the website: www.mybookinggenie.com/tom-blakes-travel-after-55-cruise.

Tom Blake is a Dana Point resident and former business owner who has authored three books on middle-aged dating. For dating information: www.FindingLoveAfter50.com. To comment: tompblake@gmail.com.

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