Friday, June 5, 2009

Jay Black, Dena Blizzard and Nick DiUlio Read Their Work at PA Bookstore

Someday I’ve got to learn how to delegate.

My writers’ organization, the Brandywine Valley Writers Group, has regular public readings at bookstores. I’m the current president of the BVWG. For our May reading, I delegated the responsibility for organizing the reading. The result: in May, we had three readers and one audience member. ONE!

For our June reading, I was determined to have good readers and a sizable audience. So I did everything myself. I sent our press releases. I posted it as an event on Yahoo and Facebook. I emailed so many reminders that people got sick of them. And I stacked the lineup with good, funny writers: comedian-screenwriter Jay Black, comedian and former Miss New Jersey Dena Blizzard, and editor-reporter Nick DiUlio.

I know that their presence drew at least three audience members, all of them fellow stand-up comics: Norm Klar, LaTice Mitchell-Klapa, and Jason Pollock. So I already had a larger audience than last time. (Jason has already put his version of this event on his blog.)

I had dinner with my readers before the show (except for Jay Black, who was coming from another gig in North Jersey.) We ate at the Magnolia Grill inside the bookstore, so we didn’t have far to travel. But the Chester County Book and Music Company is a BIG bookstore, reputed to have the largest selection of books east of the Rockies. The speaker’s area isn’t visible from the Grill.

Now I LIKE the people I was dining with, and I lost track of the time. So it was almost time for the event to begin when one of the BVWG officers showed up and said that I was needed. I left my guests—who hadn’t finished eating—and hurried over to the speaker’s area. Where I found another officer of the BVWG already at the lectern, organizing the speakers. (And putting herself on the lineup, which I had already arranged to fill our allotted time.) I realized that I should have delegated someone to be in the speaker’s area while I was dining with our guest speakers.

But it turned out all right. Even with her unanticipated addition, we kept to our time, since a few speakers went short. I took the opening spot – the least desirable, since people are still arriving. (In fact, Jay Black arrived during my reading. My dinner guests missed it entirely.)

Nick DiUlio read a fine personal essay titled “Yes (I Think) We Can: Surviving Family Brunch in a Post-Election America.” It can be found here, on his website, About Twenty Pounds of Headlines.

Dena Blizzard read a short piece from her blog, and a very funny article she wrote for

And, to my amazement, Jay Black wrote a hilarious piece just for this event. I hope he posts it on his blog (or gets it published somewhere).

Was this event a success? Well, we had about 25 listeners (some came and went over the course of 90 minutes). That’s as many as most professional authors on book tours get.

My guest speakers all said that they’d like to do it again. Perhaps I’ll schedule another such event before my term as BVWG president ends in August, provided I learn how to be in two places at once. Or learn how to delegate.


  1. I had a great time that night. It was fun. Thanks for the plug.

  2. As one of the listeners, I found your piece in the opening slot to be absolutely hilarious! For me it was the highlight of the evening, and deserves publication.

  3. Thanks, Kate. I sent it to McSweeney's, which is a long shot. Haven't heard back yet.