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Local authors share their works with families

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Kaila Williams
Staff Writer

Readers and writers alike gathered Sunday for the La Verne Writers Group’s second annual Afternoon with Local Authors at the La Verne Community Center.

Attendees enjoyed refreshments and listened to the authors share excerpts from their books as if it was one big story time.

The authors shared children’s books, young adult fiction, action-adventure, historical fiction, and memoirs.

“We wanted to have a forum where we can share our works,” coordinator of the event and group, Toni Eastwood said.

Authors included Eastwood, Sue Maywood, Lisa Griffiths, Sharri Cohen, Jonathan Chaus, Don Ball, Carol Elek and Lauren Nile. The majority of the authors reside in La Verne and Pomona.

Maywood opened the event, along with her friend Alice Cook, who played the ukulele as they sang “Michael Finnegan.” Maywood read from her children’s book “Finnegan, Begin Again” which is about a poodle named Finnegan and his friends living in a shelter waiting to be adopted.

Eastwood also read an excerpt from her children’s book “Poodles About Town.” She entertained the audience with the adventures of poodles Dru and Chy who are fighting with the neighborhood evil cat as a storm is rolling in.

Griffiths switched the topic when she read from “It’s Alive,” a story about a young girl who believes that her toys protect her from harm. Things change after she begins to have an eerie feeling from a battered stuffed bear from her grandmother that she finds sitting on her bed. Griffiths based the story on her childhood experiences.

“I really did believe that they (her toys) would save me at night,” Griffiths said.

Cohen shared from her humorous short story “The Patriot.” It follows a young woman, Shelley, who works for a company that evaluates a store’s customer service undercover. Even though she has a respectable job she dreams of being a secret agent. At the climax Shelley stops a shooter and a potential mall shooting.

Chaus read about Jonathan Trent, a spy, from his book “Spies in the Night.” The story follows Trent as he discovers an evil plot to poison America with Ebola and it is up to Trent to stop it.

“Ian Fleming was a big influence on me when I was growing up,” Chaus said. “Although I don’t read James Bond books anymore, I’ve read all of them several times.”

The audience then traveled back in time as Ball shared experiences from his youth in “Another Home.” Ball has another novel, “Hopscotch,” which is based on his experiences of growing up during the Dust Bowl, his service in the U.S. Navy, attending college and teaching.

Elek continued the time travel as she took the audience even further back to California in 1789. “Dynasty” follows a family though the historical changes in California. The book begins with a Native American boy, Swooping Hawk, and the arrival of the Spaniards.

Nile shared from her books “Race: My Story and Humanity’s Bottom Line” and “Religion: My Story and Humanity’s Bottom Line.”

Nile shared her experiences from growing up in 1950s and 1960s segregated New Orleans.

“I had this sense since I was a child that there was something I’m supposed to do in the world,” Nile said. “Finally it occurred to me ‘You’re supposed to write a book.”

The event brought out many members from the community.

“The books are interesting and it’s a neat way to hear about the authors,” Glendora resident Claudine Abdelkassa said.

Eastwood announced the Spring Youth Writing Contest, for all students enrolled in La Verne high schools. Entries are judged on creativity and technical aspects. First place receives $75, second $50 and third $25.

The La Verne Writers Group meets Friday at the community center from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Writers interested in the group can contact Eastwood at

Kaila Williams can be reached at

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