I know it’s been too long since my last post. Lot’s of exciting things have been afoot keeping me very busy, and one very wonderful piece of news centers around Cha’risa’s Gift. In December, I heard from my library that my book had been selected for a program called Read Around Sedona. The month-long program is just in its second year in our town, but it has quickly become a much-anticipated community event. It is made possible not only by the tireless efforts of our librarians, but also by the Arizona Community Reads project, which is funded the Arizona State Library, with additional federal funds coming from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
This year’s Read Around Sedona will begin with a community read of Cha’risa’s Gift. Then in April and May there are several wonderful speakers scheduled, who will all be talking about subjects that are explored in my book. I will also be giving two talks. The first will be a Meet the Author talk that will launch the program on April 9th. The second will be a workshop on how to research a work of historical fiction. I have the pleasure of doing this presentation with one of the best resources at my library, my favorite librarian, Cheryl Yeatts.
The library has launched a very well-done publicity campaign to help spread the word, part of which entailed sending me off on my first ever professional photo shoot. That was a new and interesting experience but was also a lot more work than I ever would have guessed. I liked Jordan, the photographer, right from the start. Admittedly, the fact that my first-born grandson is also named Jordan worked in this guy’s favor, but also, I was impressed with his dedication to making art. It was this very dedication, however, that nearly proved to be my undoing. Jordan was going for a scholarly look, wanting me to hold my glasses in a way that suggested I’d just taken them off after finishing my work. I struggled for nearly an hour trying to attain that natural posture. And no, the trick is not to just take the glasses off your face. I tried many versions of that strategy to no avail. But somewhere as we headed into the second hour I finally met with success! In the end, Jordan’s perseverance paid off, but you don’t have to take my word for it, see for yourself 😊
Since the news came out about Cha’risa’s Gift being this year’s community read, all 60 copies at the library have been checked out, and there is now even a waiting list. A local book store has purchased a dozen copies, wanting to have a supply on hand for the event. I am not sure I can begin to describe what it means to me to know so many people now hold Cha’risa’s Gift in their hands and are reading its words for the first time, but I will try. When I first published the book, it had been my hope that my story would find its way into the hands of people who would feel the thrum of the desert in its words, who would respond to the generous and humble spirit of Cha’risa and her family. I wanted to share with others what the desert had awoken in me. Nothing could answer such a prayer more directly than the being the community read for my own town!
Without further ado, let me share the schedule of events for this year’s Read Around Sedona. If you’re in the area, I hope you can join us. All the programs are free and open to the public. I am even planning to brew some of Cha’risa’s special blend Hopi Tea for the Meet the Author Event, so come have a cup with me!
Read Around Sedona Kick-Off Event. Monday, April 9, 1 to 2:30 p.m., community room at SPL: Meet Ilana Maletz, author of “Cha’risa’s Gift.” Following the program, the author will be available to answer questions and sign books.
Community Book Discussion of “Cha’risa’s Gift.” Tuesday, April 10, 2 to 3:30 p.m., quiet study at SPL.
Arizona Stories: Frontier Characters and Communities. Thursday, 19, 1:30 to 3 p.m. Sedona Heritage Museum, 735 Jordan Road. Presented by Jim Turner.
The Golden Era of Movie-Making in Sedona. Monday, April 23, 1:30 to 3 p.m., Church of the Nazarene, 55 Rojo Drive in VOC. Presented by Janeen Trevillyan.
Community Book Discussion of Cha’risa’s Gift. Monday, April 30, 6 to 7:30 p.m., quiet study at SPL.
People and Plants from the Land of the Colorful Corn. Thursday, May 3, 1:30 to 3 p.m., community room at SPL. Presented by Phyllis Hogan.
Vintage Arizona: The Growth, Death, and Rebirth of a Local Wine Industry. Saturday, May 5, 1:30 to 3 p.m., Church of the Nazarene, 55 Rojo Drive in VOC. Presented by Erik Berg,
“How I Wrote My Book” Writing Workshop. Saturday, May 12, 2 to 3:30 p.m., community room at SPL. Author Ilana Maletz will discuss her writing process and research methods, and librarian Cheryl Yeatts will provide an overview of research tools.
Tour of Special Collections and Archives. Wednesday, May 16, 10:30 a.m. to noon, NAU’s Cline Library in Flagstaff. Learn about the treasures found in Cline Library’s special collections and archives, including letters, diaries, vintage photographs, and maps. Preregistration is required for this free tour; transportation to Flagstaff not provided.
Before I end this post, I’d like to tell you about one additional activity that the library has initiated to go along with this year’s community read of “Cha’risa’s Gift”. They will be collecting donations of new personal hygiene items that they then will deliver to the Hopi Reservation. I love the idea of Cha’risa’s generous spirit finding life beyond the pages of the book.
For those of you who live in town, suggested items for this drive include bars of soap, liquid soap, tooth paste, tooth brushes for children and adults, dental floss, lotion, moisturizers, razors, shaving cream, combs, and hair brushes. Gift cards and monetary donations are also welcome, so for those of you reading this blog from farther away it is still possible to participate in this endeavor. You may leave your donations at the main library or the Village library. You can also contact Sophia Zarifis-Russell, 928-282-7714, ext. 114, or Cheryl Yeatts, 928-284-1603 with questions or for more information on how to make a monetary donation.
Thanks for bearing with me over the long delay. I promise the next blog will not be so long in coming. Perhaps as a special treat, I will share a section of the companion novel to Cha’risa’s Gift now currently in the works. It is called Ahote’s Path.