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April 15, 2011
Vol. 52 No. 21

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Visiting author to present PA trivia, factoids

Jodi Webb
Since 1990, the Institute for Lifelong Learning (ILL) has been operating at Susquehanna to bring noted speakers to campus. In the past, lecturers have included people with occupations such as reporters, scientists and politicians.

Although the ILL does not have an enormous amount of funding, Director for the ILL Joseph Herb said, "We are extremely fortunate to get really good people to come for very little money." Herb added that, in some cases, the fee barely covers travel costs.

However, many speakers enjoy coming and recommend the experience to their friends, as what happened with one reporter from The New York Times.

Herb said that they "try to have a big variety of topics, some serious, and some not so serious."

The next event features a speaker "aimed at lightheartedness," Herb said. The goal is to have attendees "have a good time and enjoy" while they are entertained.

The next speaker is author Jodi Webb, who recently published the book "Pennsylvania Trivia (Weird, Wacky and Wild)." The mother of three children, including one currently attending Susquehanna, began writing after the birth of her first child. "I wanted to stay at home," she said, "but I got lonely, so I started to write. It just snowballed from there."

After her third child was born, writing turned into a full-time occupation. Previously, Webb had contributed to popular trivia series including "Armchair Reader Grand Slam Baseball" and "Uncle John's Bathroom Reader," but her recent book was the first one she has been the primary author for.

In regards to her penchant for trivia, Webb said, "My family always told me I was a useless font of information. I just read things and remember them."

According to Webb, Blue Bike Books's Weird, Wild, and Wacky series began in Canada, with a book covering each province. Now it has moved into the United States, working its way through the country. After reading her previous work, Blue Bike Books asked Webb to be the co-author for their Pennsylvania segment. The book describes "crime, food, education - things you never know," Webb said. After family and friends from her hometown heard that she was writing the book, they came to her with random trivia facts.

She also went to many historical societies and libraries to dig up information. "People think they know their home state well," Webb said. She added that people will learn something new at the upcoming ILL event.

The program will begin with a quiz handed out by Webb. As the talk progresses, she will share the answers to the questions, accompanied by the details surrounding them, such as where and why. At the end of the lecture, everyone who answered all ten questions right will be entered into a drawing to win a free copy of Webb's book. She will also be selling the book for $14.

Currently, Webb has a children's book and a young adult novel in the works. She contributes to several blogs, including Schuylkill Vision's Schuylkill Matters and WOW! Women on Writing's The Muffin, as well as writing her own blog, Words by Webb, at jodiwebb.com. According to her website, she is available to teach writing workshops, including, "The Nuts and Bolts of Magazine Writing," "Where All the Good Ideas Are Hiding," "Organizing Your Own Blog Tour" and "Marketing Tips for Authors." She has also written for several magazines, including Christian Science Monitor, American Profile and Writers Weekly.

Herb said that the organization's "primary function is to serve a community of people who are retired" and that the average age of members is more than 60 years. However, the events are open to all faculty, students and community members. "We have memberships that people purchase, which underwrite the costs, but we are always happy to see anyone," Herb said. Furthermore, they operate under the assumption that if people attend the events regularly, they will become members eventually.

The lecture by Webb will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, April 20 in the Degenstein Theater. On April 27, Dr. Rush Wells will show photographs and discuss his trip to the Galapagos Islands last year. This ILL event was rescheduled due to the ice storm in February.

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