The indefatigable Steve Allen, entertainer, activist, composer of 6,000 songs, author of 48 books, Emmy-award-winning host of the PBS television series "Meeting of Minds," also writes mysteries featuring himself and his actress wife, Jayne Meadows, as crime solvers. Allen, who novelist Sidney Sheldon refers to as "a master of the comic who-done-it," will play the piano and sign his latest title, "Die Laughing," a delicious read about how and why famous funny men are being murdered, at 7 p.m. Friday at Borders Books, 125 W. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks.
Other events at Thousand Oaks Borders: Tara Ison, who sold her first screenplay "Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead" in 1987, the same year she graduated from UCLA with a degree in English literature/creative writing, will discuss her critically acclaimed first novel, "A Child Out of Alcatraz," at 7 p.m. Tuesday. And local author Mark Bailey will sign "Saint," his thriller about modern science and ancient mysteries, at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Four authors will sign their latest titles today at noon at Mysteries to Die For, 2940 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks. Joanne Pence ("Cook's Night Out"), Penny Warner ("Sign of Foul Play"), Gillian Roberts ("The Bluest Blood") and Sarah Shankman ("Digging Up Momma") will also answer questions about writing and publishing mysteries.
The bookstore will host Robert Greer, author of "The Devil's Backbone," at 1 p.m. Sunday and welcomes Carolina Garcia Aquilera who will sign "Bloody Secrets" on Monday afternoon. Call 374-0084 for exact time.
Barnes & Noble, which has superstores in Ventura, Thousand Oaks and Santa Barbara, hosts daily events. Pencil in the following for the week's best bets: James Michael Pratt will sign "The Last Valentine," a future Hallmark Hall of Fame television movie, at 6 p.m. Friday at the Ventura store, 4360 E. Main St. On Friday at 8 p.m., Pratt will appear at the Thousand Oaks store, 160 S. Westlake Blvd.
All three Barnes & Noble stores are supporting Read Across America Children's Literacy Night, sponsored by the National Education Assn. Children are encouraged to visit the bookstores at 7 p.m. Monday and participate in festivities, which include honoring the late children's author, Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.
How do you get an agent or publisher interested in a nonfiction book idea or manuscript? Mary Embree, author, editor and executive director of Small Publishers Artists & Writers Network (SPAWN) will conduct a three-hour seminar focused on preparing query and cover letters, book proposals and how to find the right agent or publisher. Registration and continental breakfast begin at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at Ventura TowneHouse, 4900 Telegraph Road. The fee for nonmembers is $30. Call 643-2403.
In Santa Barbara
Sue Grafton, Jack ("Chicken Soup for the Soul") Canfield, Vincent Bugliosi, Noah BenShea and Mary Higgins Clark are among the authors who will appear at the 12th annual CALM luncheon Saturday at the Double Tree Resort, 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd. Proceeds from the $65-a-person luncheon go to intervention in cases of child abuse. Call Carolyn Gillio at 682-3925 for tickets.
* Frances Halpern and Jon O'Brien are co-hosts of "Beyond Words" at 10 a.m. Sundays on KCLU-FM (88.3 Ventura and 102.3 Santa Barbara), Ventura County's National Public Radio station.