Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Shelton to host local author signing


Authors face different struggles and hurdles on the way to fulfilling their dreams for their books. Whether the topic is current issues, religious principles or their relationships, the authors all want to achieve a similar goal: impacting readers.

Twenty-one Southern authors, including some authors from Tuscaloosa, will be presenting their books for the second annual book signing at Shelton State Community College on Tuesday.

The signing will have free admission to the general public. Organizer Ronda Shirley said the event is a fundraiser for Shelton State’s Alumni Association and spotlights the works of local talents.

“The goal is to get the community to come out and sample the different books that authors in our community write,” she said. “What we do with our money is we give scholarships. We’re working on endowing a scholarship for a year’s tuition.”

Bruce Berger, a University of Alabama advertising and public relations professor, is one of the authors who will be in attendance. Berger will be presenting his book, “Our Dreams We Read,” a collection of stories that chronicles the struggles of adult 
illiteracy in Alabama.

“Functional illiteracy is a fairly widespread problem that affects as many as 20 percent of adults in Alabama—adults who can read a little bit but not a lot – not enough to take a driver’s license test or fill out a job application without help,” he said.

Berger, who’s served as a member of the Literacy Council of West Alabama, has been a long-time advocate of understanding adult illiteracy. For the book, Berger interviewed tutors, service 
providers and adults learning to read.

“The inability to read is a significant problem that affects individuals in many ways,” he said. “More than 40 percent of people who live in poverty in this country are people who can’t read or can’t read well. Unemployment is a big issue. More than 50 percent of those unemployed 
cannot read.”

Through his research, Berger learned illiteracy is not specific to a particular age or ethnic group, but can be found in many different regions. One of the central issues is why adult illiteracy continues to be a problem in the country.

“One of the key factors [is] if children don’t learn to read by the second or third grade, then chances are pretty good they won’t be able to read well as adults,” he said.

Berger said all profits from the book are donated to the Literary Councils of West and Central Alabama. He said he hopes his book raises awareness for a problem that people don’t often talk about and leads to further discussion among the general public.

Author Amy Wheat said she hopes her romantic Christian novel, “Avoiding the Flame” inspires people to be closer to God, she said. Her novel follows a single woman, Elizabeth, who is forced into motherhood when her sister dies. Elizabeth adopts her sister’s child and develops a growing romantic relationship with a firefighter.

Wheat said her faith and her children were what inspired her to write the novel.

“I feel like people always tell you, ‘When you write, write what you know,’” she said. “I’m a stay-at-home mom, so I’ve had a lot of experiences with babies. I drew from the struggles of being a mother.”

Wheat said she wanted to reach out to people she had never met and inspire them. During the writing process, Wheat turned to her faith to help her overcome self-doubt.

“I was thinking, ‘I can’t do this,’” Wheat said. “‘I’m not qualified. I don’t have enough information,’ and you want to quit. I had to pray through every step. I drew strength from God.”

Joseph Moore’s novella, “I’ll See You In The Winter” draws from ancient Greek ballads such as Homer’s “The Odyssey.” Moore’s novella, written in poetic verse, revolves around the budding relationship between a godlike being who controls the season spring and a mortal woman.

“He writes her letters,” Moore said. “He keeps sending her birds, controls the moon and other things to send her messages because he can’t go see her.”

Moore initially conceived the idea as a traditional novel, but he said he found it hard to write in that style. Moore drew upon his background as a songwriter and his relationship with his wife.

“I decided to write [the novel] in poetic form, a series of poems that connect and tell this love story,” he said. “What inspired me is that I’ve been married for almost 17 years now. Just going through the different seasons with my wife. It’s kind of a play on those words.”

Moore said his wife was a huge influence in overcoming doubt and helping him with the edits of the story. The hardest part was letting go of the work and deciding it was finished, he said.

For the signing, Shirley said almost all the authors were different than the ones who attended last year’s signing, offering new talent a chance to 
showcase their works.

“I love to collect books that the author has signed – just the fact that I’ve actually met them and have a book that they signed,” Shirley said.

The book signing will be at Shelton State Community College on Tuesday from 4 to 6 p.m.

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