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Wednesday, January 23 , 2019, 11:08 am | Fair 60º


Literary Stars Tell About Their Tales at CALM’s Celebrity Authors Luncheon

Writers showcase their latest works for fans at the 27th annual fundraiser to benefit the Santa Barbara nonprofit

[Click here for a Noozhawk photo gallery from the event.]

The CALM Auxiliary hosted more than 500 enthusiastic supporters and an array of literary stars showcasing their latest novels at Child Abuse Listening Mediation’s 27th Annual Celebrity Authors Luncheon at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort.

Inside the oceanfront hotel, a throng of literary fans lined up for a book signing and purchasing segment headlined by Cat Cora, Marcia Clark, Milt Larsen and Tiffany Baker.

From the deep south of Mississippi where her family all still lives, Cora has been in Santa Barbara since 2007 and is now comfortably “growing roots here in Santa Barbara,” with four boys, ages 9, 6 and two 3-year-olds.

Cora is working on a large, personal food memoir that she told Noozhawk she is excited about and most likely is due in 2014. Her experiences on Iron Chef and traveling worldwide “has expanded my palette, the sense of food and the passion that I have for food into really a love of global cuisine and understanding the regions,” which will be portrayed in the book.

The importance of the efforts of CALM and the impact that she feels for the cause were shared with Noozhawk.

“It’s very important to me. It breaks my heart when any child is ever abused, and I think this is absolutely a needed organization,” Cora said. “Fundraising and bringing awareness to child abuse all over, not just Santa Barbara, but all over the world.”

Clark, a former Los Angeles deputy district attorney, drew a crowd with her backstory as the lead prosecutor on the O.J. Simpson murder case, and also co-wrote a bestselling book about the trial, Without a Doubt. Clark is now a special correspondent for Entertainment Tonight, and her book Killer Ambition is due for release in June.

Clark’s series continues the story based on Los Angeles prosecutor Rachel Knight that “shows the fun and camaraderie of a special trials prosecutor and the way they joke with each other,” Clark said. “That’s a very grim job so you have to really kind of joke to live through it but there’s a lot of fun and laughter along with the serious part and I never felt like anybody I was reading would deliver that. Because that’s the truth of the job.”

The TNT network is in the early stages of possibly developing the books with a pilot script that she co-wrote, and Clark said she is very excited about the potential opportunity.

Larsen brought the world of magic to the proceedings from his background opening in 1963 a private club in Hollywood for magicians called the Magic Castle, and his latest book, My Magical Journey: The First 30,000 Days, details this story and more.

Involved in magic since youth with magicians around him from birth, Larsen’s father was a defense attorney turned traveling magician selling his practice to take his family on the road.

Larsen compares the book to a “train ride,” as he does in fact ride the train from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles to visit the Magic Castle, and likens the ride to side trips he’s taken in his career with ventures from Santa Monica to Las Vegas that stayed on the main track — “my magic.”

He spoke of the longevity of magic and its draw for people from ancient times to now.

“Magic is simply a door to imagination,” Larsen said. “When people come into the Magic Castle they walk into the reception room with no doors other than the one you come in, and after you sign in as a member or a guest of a member, you say open sesame to a little owl in the book shelf and then the bookcase opens and you go into this wonderful Victorian mansion which is a 100-year-old house in Hollywood. So it’s like Alice in Wonderland going through the keyhole.”

Baker, a New York Times bestselling author, was also on hand with her second novel released last year, The Gilly Salt Sisters, about small-town drama and family relationships, that followed her 2010 novel, The Little Giant of Aberdeen County.

Additional guest authors showcased at the event included locals Neal Graffy and Leslie Westbrook, plus 11 more writers were on hand to answer questions and sign books.

Since 1986, CALM Auxiliary women board members have collectively raised more than $1 million to help children and families across Santa Barbara County recover from the impact of the emotional and physical devastation caused by abuse.

Becky Cohn and Carolyn Gillio co-chaired the luncheon for the second year in a row, and proceeds from the tickets and a percentage of book sales will benefit CALM, the only nonprofit organization in Santa Barbara County focused solely on preventing, assessing and treating child abuse and family violence.

CALM was established in 1969 by local nurse-turned-abuse advocate Claire Miles, who decided to take action against child abuse when she learned that an overworked and distressed father had shaken his infant son to death. Miles formed a parent help line in her home and placed ads in the local newspaper to reach out to strained parents in an effort to stop impending child abuse and protect at-risk children in the community.

Today, with the support of volunteers, board members, professional staff and Auxiliary members, CALM has evolved into a full-fledged clinical service center.

CALM now provides a multiplicity of bilingual English and Spanish programs offered on a sliding fee scale; no one is turned away due to an inability to pay.

The agency’s diverse community-based programs include the Child Abuse Assessment and Treatment Program that provides individual, family and group therapy to victims affected by abuse, as well Family Violence Counseling services that are offered to youths who have witnessed domestic violence. Another service is the school-based prevention program that offers a series of child abuse prevention presentations to children within the Santa Barbara County school system teaching methods to be safe from abduction, negative effects from cyber-bullying and Internet safety.

After the book signing, attendees entered the luxurious Santa Ynez Ballroom for lunch and the highly anticipated celebrity author interviews presentation hosted by returning Master of Ceremonies Andrew Firestone, with Debby Davison and Tom Weitzel also returning from last year to interview the authors.

Upcoming CALM events include “I Will Not Be Silent” open houses in Santa Barbara on April 10 and Santa Maria on April 11, a community lecture at Crane Country Day School on April 16, an online auction April 15-30 and the annual Antiques & Vintage Show and Sale May 17-19 at Earl Warren Showgrounds.

I Will Not Be A Silent is a big public awareness campaign to draw needed attention to the fight against child abuse.

After the highly successful “I Will Not Be Silent” campaign, Executive Director Cecilia Rodriguez spoke about the organization’s spotlight for 2013.

“This year we’re focused on giving voice to the children,” she said, “being the voices of our children and speaking up for them and helping them to find their own voices to talk about what has happened to them.”

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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