By Penny Warner
VALLEY TIMES Correspondent
I'M A BIG FAN OF summer reading. That's the time I can read anything I want, from cutesy chick-lit to hilarious Sedaris — all guilt-free.
This summer I've already finished "This Will Kill You" by HP Newquist (research for my mystery series), "10-Minute Clutter Control" by Skye Alexander (my son made me read it), "The Cruelest Month" by Louise Penny (Agatha Award winner), and, of course, the entire "How Do Dinosaurs"..." collection by Jane Yolen (at my grandsons' insistence.)
Local libraries enable my reading addiction by providing FREE BOOKS! And they have great summer events for us book-dependents. Last year, I worked with the Pleasanton Library's "Big Read" program to help make "The Maltese Falcon" come to life. This year, the library offers a "Reading Out West" program, with train rides, Civil War lectures and Western music.
This year, the Livermore Library celebrated "Livermore Reads Together," Dublin offers book discussion groups and San Ramon hosts the International Storytelling Festival. In Danville, you can hear such local luminaries as Mark Curtis discuss his new book, "Age of Obama."
But if you're lucky enough to be in Leadville, Colo. in coming weeks, the library there will host a "One Book, One Community" program featuring our local award-winning author, Ann Parker.
I'm especially proud of Ann. She took one of my writing courses years ago, but it wasn't until the last class that she finally read her first attempt at a novel. I knew immediately she'd have a book in the library one day. Three books from her Silver Rush historical mystery series are now on the shelves — "Silver Lies," "Iron Ties" and "Leaden Skies."
"I spent my childhood at the library," Ann said. "I thought it was magical how you could take books home and didn't have to pay for them. Unless they were late. And mine were always late."
Set during the silver boom in Leadville, her books feature the adventures of saloon owner Inez Stannert, a strong female role model.
"As a kid, I read mostly boy books because they had all the fun adventures," she said.
A science/technical writer at Lawrence Livermore Lab, Ann turned her pen to fiction and found her interest lay in historical westerns.
"I used to watch TV westerns with my dad," Ann said. " 'Have Gun, Will Travel,' 'Bonanza,' 'Wild, Wild West.' Again, the guys were having all the fun."
Ann's protagonist, Inez, is very loosely based on her grandmother, who grew up in Leadville during rough-and-tough times.
Being honored by Leadville is a career highlight, but Ann always seeks new horizons: "I'd like to write urban fantasy and explore where no man — or woman — has gone before."
I can't wait to go with her.
Meet Ann at Towne Center Books, 555 Main St., in Pleasanton at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Reach Penny Warner at www.pennywarner.com.