You might need to look around for it, but, yes, there is a literary Orange County. Casa Romantica in San Clemente hosts a terrific monthly poetry series. Newport Beach's public library offers the impressive, if pricey, Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series. The Bowers hosts occasional writerly events, most recently a talk by California poet Gary Soto. Local hipsters recite and perform at the Gypsy Den in Costa Mesa. The chain booksellers put up tables for authors promoting their work, and UC Irvine's enthusiastic bookstore manager regularly sets out cheese, crackers and cookies for audiences and authors. Now those clever librarians at the County have rounded up some corporate sponsors, invited So Cal writers—some from OC—and put together our county's first-ever all-day literary love-in, featuring panels and talks and discussions for readers and aspiring writers.
The program is heavy on mystery and crime if you ask me, but hey, those librarians must know what people are reading. You'll get to pick from panels featuring teen writers, memoirists and romance authors. Or check out talks by industry types, including agents, editors and teachers. Not to miss is Cynthia Kadohata, who wrote a great novel called The Floating World, about a Japanese-American migrant family. Or poets Patty Seyburn, Michelle Mitchell-Foust and Charles Harper Webb—a very, very funny guy. Keynote speakers are mother-daughter literary tag team Carolyn See (Dreaming) and Lisa See (On Gold Mountain), with a midday lecture and another keynote speaker. There's time in there somewhere for lunch and book signing. Considering all the overdue fines you've paid, the modest charge makes this a bargain book event—one we hope becomes an annual lit shindig.
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Literary Orange at Hyatt Regency Orange County, 11999 Harbor Blvd., Garden Grove, (714) 566-3000; www.ocpl.org/literaryorange. Sat., 8:30 a.m. $75 (includes lunch).