Laura Lee Yates has been working at the Paonia Library for over 10 years. In that time, she has become well known for both her popular adult programs and her ability to connect people with the right books. However, a lesser-known fact is that she is a writer and has recently self-published her first book, "Bound for the Western Sea: the Canine Account of the Lewis & Clark Expedition." This novel, geared toward adults but appropriate for readers over about 10 years old, depicts the Lewis and Clark expedition, with the delightful twist of taking on the perspective of their dog, Seaman.

Yates explains, "Traveling through Montana in 2001, I began to consider the way a dog would feel about the bold and perilous journey into uncharted territory, about interactions with native peoples, heroism, duty and cuisine -- he was a canine, after all... There are several books about Seaman intended for young readers, but I wanted to write something fresh and fun for an adult audience."

Many self-published authors live and write in Delta County. The Delta County Libraries carry a number of their books, and the district is, in fact, exploring other ways in which to help writers pursue their dreams of self-publishing in an upcoming "Read Locally" campaign. Writers' groups already meet regularly at the Delta Library, and occasionally in other libraries. Plans are in the works for library outreach, panels and education geared toward aspiring writers. Additionally, the libraries are always open to purchasing locally self-published works, and are investigating platforms which allow them to offer self-published e-books to patrons as well.

Nationwide, libraries are exploring the challenges and rewards of offering self-published books, which is a huge pool of writing. Unfortunately, without consistent editing, the quality of available materials varies greatly. Some books contain plagiarized text, while others are filled with distracting errors. Yet included in the field are gems of wonderful writing, unique styles and interesting concepts that break away from mainstream formulas.

Delta County Libraries is pleased to promote this particular writing gem -- Bound for the Western Sea -- by hosting a book release party for Yates at each library, starting in Paonia on Saturday, April 30, at 2 and 4 p.m. Yates and her musician partner, Harry Harpoon, have planned a full event which highlights both her book and the accompanying CD that he has created. According to Yates, "Both of us will be dressed in period regalia as I read favorite passages from the novel and Harry plays a couple of rousing songs from the upcoming CD, and we'll have books to sell. But most of all, we'll be celebrating with our Delta County communities the 15-year journey of Bound for the Western Sea."

Yates decided to donate a portion of every book sold at one of her events to the local animal welfare group, CAWS, saying, "I hope to give back to the canines who've been such a steadfast source of love and acceptance in my own life -- I owe them big-time." For more information about the book release events, patrons should contact their local libraries.

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