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Reading at SIBA

I had the privilege of reading a paragraph-length excerpt from Bells for Eli at the Parapalooza event at SIBA (Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance) this weekend. How different it was going to SIBA as an author for the first time, rather than as a publicist as I’ve done in the past. This year I wore both hats. And had a great time!


There were 14 authors who read to an audience of booksellers, publishers, and authors at Parapalooza, held in the bar amid much festivity (understatement) at the hotel where the trade show took place in Spartanburg, SC. The passage I chose takes place on Valentine’s Day in 1964, when my main characters Delia and Eli are in third grade. Ostracized for his fraility and physical disfigurement, Eli receives no Valentines in the box he decorated for the occasion. In this excerpt, his cousin feels his pain. Hope you’ll read my selection below!



Eli didn’t take his Valentine box home to show it off to his parents. He threw it into the tall metal trashcan at the end of our hall as we were leaving school. The halls had mostly cleared. The sound made a hollow thud in the empty bin. “I hate them,” he said. Of course, he could see my box (full of cards) tucked under my arm. I was sorry it was too big to fit in my book satchel so he wouldn’t have to see.I shifted my box under the arm holding my book bag, leaving my left hand free. I reached out and took Eli’s hand. At first his fingers hung limp in mine, not consenting to my gesture.  Then finally his grip tightened. We walked that way until we exited into a cold, clear day. He dropped my hand in front of the building where the cars picked up children. He didn’t want anyone to see him holding on to me.On our walk home along the sidewalk, I remarked on the bare winter trees, how they looked like skeletons. He zipped up his coat, not really answering, but nodding, more or less. He was a proud, lonely boy. I loved him.

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