The day Chuck Palahniuk gave me a penguin

I like to support local authors and local bookstores whenever I can. Sure, sometimes the convenience of online shopping wins out, or the instant gratification of an ebook, but when I can help it I like the real thing. I like to wander the asiles of a bookstore and let something I’ve never heard of catch my eye. I’ll pick up a book for no other reason than it was written by a local author. I’m always glad I did.

I also try to go to book readings when I can. There’s an energy in the air when an author is sharing their words, their stories, in their own voice. I like experiencing the story along with an audience.

When I heard about the Story Time for Adults event happening last night I knew I had to be there. Three amazing local authors reading stories to an audience wearing pajamas and sitting on pillows on the floor. The event lit by flashlights. Oh, and Chuck Palahniuk giving out stuffed animals.

Chuck and me

It was like a book nerd’s dream come true.

I still remember going to the library as a kid for story time – and having essentially done the same thing last night, I can’t imagine why we act like story time is just for kids.

The energy in the room last night was amazing. Authors and book lovers alike, all coming together for the joy of a good story. From the moment people lined up outside something special was in the air. Whether it was the absurdity of being in public in your pajamas or having Chuck Palahniuk chatting with people in line and giving out animals, it was clear from the first moment this night would be special.

The authors all read dirty or scary stories or excerpts. Some managed to be both at once.

Chelsea Cain reading from her latest novel.

Chelsea Cain is a master of being both sexy and scary… and I now have a plastic severed foot signed by her sitting on my mantel – with my penguin sitting serenely below.

As fun as the event was as an evening out, or even as a spectacle, what stuck with me more than anything was the joy of story telling.

It’s easy when you sit behind a computer screen all day to forget your audience. When you don’t get to tell your stories to a rapt crowd, it’s hard to imagine their faces as their eyes take in your words.

Last night I remembered what it means to be a story teller. I remembered what’s at the heart of what I do – of why I do this.

I hope I can hang on to this energy and get it onto the page. And if I forget what I feel like right now, you’re all invited to my blanket fort so we can recapture this feeling. Bring a flashlight.

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