An electric energy created by a gathering of readers and writers filled the Sheraton Steamboat Resort's ballroom Saturday.
The 13th annual Literary Sojourn brought together 400 enthusiastic book lovers and five authors for a day of speeches, book discussions and conversations celebrating a love for books.
"This is the first year that I have bought a book from every author that spoke," Lorraine Saulino-Kline said.
Saulino-Kline drove 2 1/2 hours from Laramie, Wyo., to be at the event. She hasn't missed a Literary Sojourn in 12 years.
Chris Painter, director of Bud Werner Memorial Library, said it's not uncommon for people to come from across the nation to attend the popular event.
"Once people come to one, they get hooked," she said. "They just keep coming back."
Painter said one of the main objectives of Literary Sojourn is facilitating dialogue between authors and the audience. Of course, reading is also encouraged.
"I think that reading is a very personal and private activity, but when you meet someone who has read one of your favorite books, you're immediately bonded," Painter said.
Painter said she was excited by the diverse panel of authors this year and the plethora of reading materials available from each one.
"What's been really fun and exciting this year is that there is so much to read and so much diversity in the fiction," she said. "We've been watching the books just fly off the shelves."
During the event, each author had an opportunity to speak to and answer questions from the audience.
The speeches ranged from humorous anecdotes about an author's experiences to touching, personal revelations that shaped an author's personality and work.
Author Haven Kimmel told the audience she's glad she's married because she usually forgets to eat while she is writing and spends most of the day in her pajamas.
"I am talentless. I am unemployable. I work as if every day is an emergency," she said. "Thank you to my husband for feeding me and washing my pajamas."
Audiences laughed with Kimmel and cried with author Chris Abani as he read poetry heavily influenced by his experiences with the violence in his home country of Nigeria.
"Blows that bloody a mouth, clotting it into silence," he read from one of his poems.
Abani then switched gears and talked about what it takes for him to be a writer.
"I drink lots of coffee and chai tea, and I walk around in my boxers reading out loud. Sometimes I forget I am wearing boxers, and I answer the door, and the FedEx guy ends up going, 'Whoa,'" he said. "It's a wonderful gift to be able to do this for a living."
Glenda Transier thought Abanis was one of the best authors at this year's Literary Sojourn.
"I think we really enjoyed Chris because of his passion for what he's been through," she said. "It's nice to hear what inspires them to write."
Abanis has been arrested three times for speaking out against crimes against humanity he saw in Nigeria. He now lives in California.
Authors Gish Jen, Ruth Ozeki and Patrick McGrath also entertained and captivated the audience.
McGrath was, perhaps, the most macabre and dark author, and he spun tales about his younger days playing with psychopathic mass murderers. His father was a mental health doctor.
"I have had some momentous personal discoveries reflecting upon my psychiatric experiences as a child," he said.
After the speeches, the authors were available to sign books, chat with fans and answer questions.
Most people left with new books and new outlooks on reading.
Saulino-Kline left the Literary Sojourn not only with several new books but also with a better understanding about what it takes to be a writer.
"It was a great event, as always. I got some great reading ideas, which is good, because I love to read," she said.
-- To reach Alexis DeLaCruz call 871-4234 or e-mail email@example.com