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Authors lend a hand

Local writers speak at fundraiser for student scholarships

Posted: March 8, 2009 1:31 a.m.
Updated: March 8, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Author Harley Jane Kozak, second from right, signs one of her books Saturday during AfterWORDS, a fundraiser hosted by the Santa Clarita Valley Scholarship Foundation at Salt Creek Grille. Four authors discussed, sold and signed their books. The ticketed event raised money for scholarships to help graduating seniors of the William S. Hart Union ...

Local cookbook author David Lawrence joked about childhood memories of a Martha Stewart-like mother and told about his journey to his second published book as he helped raise funds for future college students.

One woman from the audience raised her hand for a question for the 36-year-old author of Boy Eats World.

"Do you eat your food? You look so thin," she asked, which led to chuckles from the crowd of more than 50 people seated in the outdoor patio of Salt Creek Grille at the Valencia Town Center.

"Yes, I do," said the tall, lean author who lives in Santa Clarita. He added that he "ate like a pig" the night before, feasting on some homemade peanut butter and jelly cupcakes he made for a house guest. The audience laughed even more.

Lawrence was one of five authors to speak Saturday afternoon at AfterWORDS, an annual fundraiser for the Santa Clarita Valley Scholarship Foundation that made its first debut last year.

The foundation, which began in 1951, has raised scholarships funds for graduating seniors of the William S. Hart Union High School District for decades. Its second annual AfterWORDS event sold out of tickets as scholarship committee members, school administrators and local residents gathered to hear the authors share the stories behind their most recent works. The tickets cost $40 per person and $125 for a table for four.

Sharon Mastro, a Santa Clarita resident and self-acclaimed "book nut," said she was excited to hear the writers.

"I just wanted to be with other women who read and listen to the authors' perspectives because I only know what I'm reading. I'm on the other end," Mastro said. "I found new authors (and) I'm probably going to buy their books."

She added that she also came to support local high school students, especially since her son was awarded a scholarship in the Santa Clarita Valley in 2006.

"I'm all for it in tough economic times (with) as many kids as we have here to go to college," she said.

Linda Lambourne, a board member and the chairperson of the event, also emphasized the greater need for scholarships due to the poor economy and a higher number of high school students.

"Because the valley has grown so much, we have so many more high schools," Lambourne said. "The need for more scholarships are there, so we want to be able to afford more seniors ... and in this economic climate, even more so."

The foundation granted about 145 scholarships, totaling about $200,000 in funds last year, Lambourne said. The board anticipates an even higher number this spring.

Those who came to support the fundraiser helped themselves to complimentary appetizers, such as stuffed mushrooms, chicken skewers and goat cheese marinara sauces. They sipped from glasses of iced tea as they listened to authors who shared about books that included everything from thriller spy stories to time travel fiction.

At the end of the event, guests had the chance to buy the authors' books and have them autographed with 20 percent of sales going to the foundation.

Lawrence said he was glad to be able to contribute to local students.

"Education is tremendously important, so I think giving people the opportunity to continue their education ... is great."

But it was the audience interaction he said he enjoyed the most.

"I kind of turn it to (the audience) and let them ask me questions and see what they say," Lawrence said. "I find that food is a topic that certainly everyone can relate to."


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