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Claire Kirch
We all bemoan the fact that so many people don't read anymore, that young people especially don't read books, preferring to hang out with friends, cruis the Net or listen to their iPods.

A Louisiana author of suspense novels is doing more than complaining. Deborah LeBlanc has put her money where her mouth is by sponsoring the LeBlanc Literacy Challenge, now in its second year. LeBlanc is encouraging people ages 13 and up to read by giving them an irresistible incentive: cold, hard cash.

Participants in the challenge will compete for a $5,000 prize, plus another $1,000 to be awarded to the school or public library of the winner's choosing.

And if the winner agrees to put that $5,000 aside to finance his or her (or a child's) college education, LeBlanc will match that sum.

In order to compete, participants must read LeBlanc's two recent novels, Grave Intent (2005) and A House Divided (June), then answer multiple-choice questions on her Website (theleblancchallenge.com). Those who answer all questions correctly move on to competing in an essay contest. Last year, 4,000 readers participated.

LeBlanc intends to sponsor the challenge for as long as it takes to accomplish her goals. "After all, reading is responsible for my success," she says.

LeBlanc signs Grave Intent and A House Divided at Dorchester's booth (1319) today, 1-3 PM. She'll also provide more information about the challenge at a wine and dessert reception for booksellers at the booth at 3 p.m.