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Sometimes people surprise you, sometimes not. Best-selling author Jennifer Chiavarini was exactly as I expected. Jennifer has received high praise for her thorough research and accurate depictions in her historical fiction books. Having listened to many of her books where she nailed the woven personalities, joys and conflicts of a groups of women, I knew Jennifer would be smart, articulate and congenial.

I was one of about 60 people who attended Jennifer Chiavarini’s book Mrs Lincolns Rivalsigning at Anderson Bookshop in downtown Naperville, IL. Jennifer was touring to promote her most recent book “Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival.” This is Jennifer’s 23rd book. I thought I was going to be late. I had given myself adequate time but then found the downtown had streets closed due to construction. My GPS got me through by recalculating several times. It was one thing to get there, another to locate a legal parking spot, but I made it. I entered the store with my service puppy, West and was welcomed by employees. I had called ahead to buy a book which secured my place in the signing line. I was #17. We made our way to the back of the store where the group of mostly women sat on folding chairs set in rows. It was 6:58 PM as I took my seat and settled West at my feet. Whew. An employee addressed the group and explained that Jennifer would be with us shortly; she encountered traffic, construction and was seeking a parking spot just like me.

A few minutes later Jennifer was introduced to the audience. Jennifer was dressed nice, was calm and smiled often as she spoke. She was like a neighbor or someone who would chat with you while in line at the post office. There were no pretenses. She is not a stand up comedian but did insert some humor as she shared some of her experiences. She had a loosely planned speech which took about ten minutes and then she welcomed questions. The group was reserved. No one talked over another. A few people help up hands like in a classroom and Jennifer called upon them. Although Jennifer had smiled as she talked, she smiled brighter as some women asked their questions. They asked specific questions about characters and events in her books. Obviously Jennifer has sold a lot of books but this solidified the relationship between author and reader. Books were not only read but remembered. How gratifying it must be to have what you’ve written stay with someone.

At the conclusion of the question and answer time, Jennifer thanked Anderson Bookshop for hosting this and other author events. She encouraged us to purchase books from our neighborhood stores so they could continue to provide the personal services. We were invited to form a line in order of our numbers. I was between #16 and #18, two pleasant women who asked questions about West. The line was moving along nicely but chatting about service dogs made the time go by even faster. I think either West and I or another Canine Companion for Independence volunteer will be doing a demonstration for a school in Naperville as #18 (we did not call each other by number, we used names) showed a lot of interest. I was multi-tasking, getting an autograph for “Fall in Love with Books” (See Thank You Rewards page for details on how to win this quilt and see pictures of its progress) and as usual, West and I were ambassadors for Canine Companions for Independence http://www.cci.org

Jennifer Chiaverini 1-15-14Jennifer spend a minute or two with each fan. She personalized each autograph and posed for pictures. When it was my time I thanked Jennifer for coming out to meet her fans and said how I have enjoyed many of her books. I asked her to sign fabric for a charity quilt. She is a quilter herself. She has a series of books about women who quilt and she has created and inspired many charity quilts herself. Naturally, she agreed to sign the fabric. She even anticipated the special fabric pen. She also signed the book for me as well as the Certificate of Authenticity which her husband also signed to witness. Jennifer nodded towards West and asked about him. I explained that he is a puppy in training to be a service dog. She said that was commendable. I asked if she liked dogs and if we could get a photo of us with my dog. She agreed and #18 helped out by taking a few pictures.

I said thank you a couple of times and gave her a brochure for Canine Companions for Independence as well as a few pages that I had created with information about my charity quilt project. This included some pictures, a mission statement and the website information. I’m hoping that Jennifer will visit my site but I know she is busy with writing a new book about Julia Grant, wife of Ulysses Grant. She had stirred out interest in that book by telling us of their deep love. I look forward to that book.

Jennifer Chiaverini’s books are available at many stores including Anderson Bookshop. A limited number of singed books are available at Anderson Book Store. Please use this link to visit the store. While there, see what other authors will be visiting. Maybe I’ll see you there.

http://www.andersonsbookshop.com/

To learn more about Jennifer Chiaverini and her novels, please visit her site:

http://www.elmcreek.net/

All the Best,
Valerie

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