Kathi Dore, owner of Kathi's Books in Chino Valley, welcomed author Liesa Swejkoski to her store for a meet-and-greet and autograph session this past Saturday.
Swejkoski was in the area visiting family members who live in Paulden.
The Utah author began her professional life as a teacher after graduating form Brigham Young University, but never lost the enjoyment of storytelling she developed while keeping journals as a child.
"I've always wanted to write and enjoyed writing assignments and stories for English class as early as grade school," said Swejkoski. "After college I realized that I still wanted to write."
Kathi's Books, at 318 Perkinsville Rd., saw a steady stream of customers throughout the afternoon to welcome Swejkoski, whose works include the semi-autobiographical work of fiction, "Lizzie's Blue Ridge Memories," and "A Sideshow Journey," a coming of age novel about the child of a bearded lady and sideshow dwarf.
After spending some years as a substitute teacher and raising her children, Swejkoski decided to pursue her writing full-time.
Her first novel, "Lizzie's Blue Ridge Memories," describes the childhood memories of a young girl's adventures in the Blue Ridge Mountains and is targeted for readers between the ages of 8 and 12. She hopes the book, illustrated by Jared Beckstrand, a veteran of Don Bluth Studios and Walt Disney Feature Animation, will stir the imagination of readers of all ages.
"I hope it sparks young readers, and inspires them to get outside and play," said Swejkoski.
Swejkoski took the time to sit and talk with some young readers, and possibly some future writers.
"The first thing I encourage young writers to do is get a spiral notebook and write down all of your thoughts in it," said Swejkoski. "No thoughts are too silly or too far out there. If you hear a phrase in your head that might be a good title, write it down. If you have an interesting conversation, write it down, it might make a good story. And pay attention to your English teachers."
Swejkoski also encourages all students, even those that aren't necessarily interested in pursuing writing, to take creative writing classes.
"Those classes will help you in all fields, no matter what you decide to do," she said.
Copies of both "Lizzie's Blue Ridge Memories" and "A Sideshow Journey," both published by Synergy Books Publishing, are available at Kathi's Books and online through www.amazon.com, Kindle outlets, and many other retail booksellers.
More information on Kathi's Books inventory, hours, and upcoming events is available by visiting www.kathisbooks.com or by calling 928-636-2450.