Passion for ' Purple' clear at book signing Fans flock to hear reading from sequel


Rita Brown cut short a Mother's Day lunch yesterday, abandoning her family to make a beeline for a Columbia bookstore.

The 69-year-old Hyattsville resident wasn't about to miss the reading and book signing by Sandra Haldeman Martz, editor of the books "When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple" and the sequel "If I Had My Life to Live Over I Would Pick More Daisies."

Mrs. Brown said the books gave her nothing less than a new approach to life.

"They enliven you and send you off in a new livelier direction," said Mrs. Brown, who wore a purple T-shirt to the reading at the Cover to Cover Bookstore and Cafe in Columbia.

"I think some people give up too early in life. I don't feel like I'm 70, and it's the way I approach life."

Both books are anthologies that center on women's issues and feature poetry, fiction and art, expressing different points of view.

"Purple" deals with the aging process, and "Daisies" focuses on the choices women make throughout their lives. "The stories tend to be of everyday life -- the woman next door or your sister," Ms. Martz said. "It brings a certain level of acknowledgment to the value of ordinary women's lives."

Women lined up yesterday to have Ms. Martz sign their books and some bought purple and pink T-shirts bearing the books' names.

Phyllis Minton came from Falls Church, Va., with two friends to attend the reading. She read "Purple" when it came out six years ago, and its message made quite an impression on her.

"Some of them aren't laugh stories, but they make me think there's nothing I'm not going to be able to get through," she said.

"I think they're very insightful, they hit home and are very true to the heart," said Jody Tracey of Columbia, who attended the reading after having a Mother's Day lunch at Cover to Cover's cafe with her mother and two sisters.

Ms. Martz, 48, in addition to editing the anthologies, is the founder of Papier-Mache Press, the California company that published the books.

She entered the publishing field after a 20-year career with TRW, a California aerospace company.

"I don't have the gift with words that writers have, but I realized I wanted to do something more creative," Ms. Martz said.

Initially Papier-Mache Press was a hobby for Ms. Martz, but she left her management position permanently after "When I Am An Old Lady I Shall Wear Purple" became a best-seller. The book has sold over 600,000 copies.

Ms. Martz says that women have told her the book has helped

them to better understand their own aging process. "It introduces this concept of old age being joyful and experimental and outrageous if we want it to be," she said.

"And I think it's a message that women really want to hear."

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