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Local author launches 'book the vote' online movement

Little-known authors to Pulitzer Prize winners join effort urging people to register before November election

Palo Alto-based novelist Meg Waite Clayton is an enthusiastic American voter, and she wants her readers, followers and fellow writers to get excited about it too.

So she launched a #BookTheVote effort — which has been trending online since Friday — urging people to register to vote in time for the November election.

Using the time-tested social media technique of telling two friends who'll tell two friends who'll maybe tell a few million friends more, Clayton reached out to a group of author pals, who immediately jumped on board.

Within about five days, she had more than 200 participating writers, from little-known authors to Pulitzer Prize winners like Berkeley's Michael Chabon, all who signed up on bookthevote.com. They immediately started tweeting, blogging, Facebooking, Instagramming and even old-fashioned emailing their followers, colleagues, friends and readers nationwide on Friday, encouraging people to take advantage of their voting privilege.

"We were trending on Twitter this morning, which was really exciting," said Clayton, the New York Times best-selling author of "Beautiful Exiles" and "The Race for Paris" and "The Wednesday Sisters."

"This effort came about because, like so many people who are engaged in the current political goings on, I wanted to find some way to make a difference other than just my own tweets," Clayton said. "I do a lot of organizing of things with author friends, so I reached out to 11 other writers who were excited to join in, and it took off from there."

The nonpartisan effort has drawn support from writers and readers in the far reaches of the country.

"Book the Vote is important because it is our responsibility to take action and make our voices heard," Washington-state writer, Heidi Renee Mason, author of "Your Next Happily Ever After," said. "If we don't like the way things are going, we have the ability to affect change by voting," Mason said.

Michigan-based writer Barbara Stark-Nemon, who calls herself "a little-known Midwest author not prone to political activism," says she joined the effort because, "as the child of Holocaust-surviving parents and the mother of three sons - two of whom served in the United States military ... I believe fair and accessible and informed voting is the key to our democracy."

While people were posting #BookTheVote messages on Friday to get folks to register to vote before the midterm elections, another push will take place on the morning of Nov. 6, "to remind readers and friends to get to the polls," Clayton said.

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