Acworth: Dick Bailey, Decorated Storyteller

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Rona Simmons with Dick Bailey

Dick Bailey has something better than a Pulitzer Prize or a Hugo Award or the PEN America Literary Award. He has not one but two Distinguished Flying Crosses and thirteen Air Medals from his service in World War II. In 2013, almost seventy years after D‐Day, the Consul General of France awarded Lt. Bailey the French Legion of Honor. And at ninety-six, he’d going strong, meeting and greeting the public and telling his story.

I had the good fortune to sit down with him recently at the Acworth Bookstore, in, yes, Acworth, Georgia where he was signing copies of Combat Veterans’ Stories of WWII by Norman Black. Why sign another author’s book, you might ask. Because Dick’s story is one of those penned by Mr. Black and included in the book. And, it’s a good one.

In 1942, when he enlisted, Dick was one of the youngest pilots in his home state of New York. He wanted to fly and soon found himself with his wings and behind the controls of a twin engine, medium bomber, a B-26 Martin Marauder. In England during the war his mission was to assist in the disruption of the German forces’ transportation systems throughout France. He was paving the way for the Allied invasion in June 1944.

Dick flew sixty-five combat missions during his tour of duty. On one  mission during the Battle of the Bulge, he shot down an ME-109 German fighter. That’s a feat usually reserved for pilots of fighter aircraft.

To read more about Dick Bailey (and many other veterans), go by Acworth Bookstore to pick up a copy of  Combat Veterans’ Stories of WWII.

Acworth Bookstore and Coffeeshop, 4857 North Main Street, Acworth, GA, 30101

 

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Eatonton: Flannery O’Connor and the Georgia Writers Museum

Flannery O’Connor

Despite my degree in economics (even at twenty you have to start think about making a living), a course in southern literature was one of the most memorable of all my college courses. In that long ago semester of 1970, we read and dissected William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Shirley Ann Grau, Sidney Lanier, and Katherine Ann Porter and lost ourselves in moss-draped oaks and along limitless marshes and seashores. Perhaps the reason the topic resonated was my college was situated in the heart of the deep south (New Orleans, with its own special brand of “southern”), or that my professors lectured with authentic southern accents, or that the stories touched readers souls.

I recall laboring through Faulkner’s prose with my fellow students and with a Faulkner Reader by my side—a rewarding exercise that brought the dialogue to life and illuminated the scene, while explaining the masterfully veiled meanings.

“Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting. They were coming toward where the flag was and I went along the fence. Luster was hunting in the grass by the flower tree. They took the flag out, and they were hitting. Then they put the flag back and they went to the table, and he hit and the other hit. Then they went on, and I went along the fence.”

So starts Faulkner’s “The Sound and the Fury.”

Katherine Anne Porter made us look in the mirror and confront our mortality in “Pale Horse, Pale Rider”, as she did the young girls in the opening of “Old Mortality.”

“Maria and Miranda, aged twelve and eight years, knew they were young, though they felt they had lived a long time. They had lived not only their own years; but their memories, it seemed to them, began years before they were born, in the lives of the grownups around them, who had a way of insisting that they too had been young once. It was hard to believe.”

But there was something about Flannery, though she might prefer to be called Miss O’Connor as we haven’t been introduced, that persists. I believe it’s her characters. They are people we’ve met, passed by, or lived with. We know them well.

From the grandmother in “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” wearing her white gloves, navy blue straw sailor hat with “a bunch of white violets on the brim and a navy blue dress with a small white dot in the print … In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady.”

To the small-town busy bodies and do-gooders like the Baptist ladies at the post office, Mrs. Watts, Mrs. Carson, and Aimee Slocum in “Lily Daw and the Three Ladies.” Mrs. Watts with their pink hands, thimbled-finger, and wearing widow’s black and Mrs. Carson who has a tape measure hung over her bosom. They are a whirlwind lost in a cause that sucks the reader in over the scant few pages it takes to tell the story.

Flannery managed to fill her short writing life (from the age of twenty-one until she died at thirty-nine) with a collection of some of the finest short stories ever written—by writers from the South, the North or anywhere else in the world.

Read one. Read two. Read a handful. And enjoy the trip back in time with stories that could be told today, but no more skillfully than in Flannery’s hands.

Born in Savannah, Flannery spent most of her time and writing life in Milledgeville, Georgia where it’s easy to find traces of her life..


Georgia Writers Museum (and Book Store), Eatonton, Georgia

This month, I’ve taken a slight departure on the traditional book store to include a museum—the Georgia Writers Museum in Eatonton (Putnam County), Georgia, which also carries and sells books by local authors.

The museum hosts permanent exhibits to honor three of the state’s most famous authors (Alice Walker, Joel Chandler Harris, and Flannery O’Connor) who lived and worked in the area. Further, of the forty-six authors in the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame, nine hail from within thirty miles of Putnam County, and their works and artifacts are exhibited on a rotational basis at the museum.

But the Georgia Writers Museum is much more than a museum and today acts as a center for the literary art in the Georgia’s heartland. Rather than rest on its laurels and those of its featured authors, the museum is evolving to create “a modern day experience using leading edge virtual and augmented reality and 3D technology”—setting the bar for the next generation of Georgia authors.

To learn more or contribute to the Georgia Writers Museum’s outreach efforts, visit the Museum at 109 S. Jefferson St. in Eatonton or go to the website: georgiawritersmuseum.com

 

Atlanta: Matthew Quinn and Posman Books

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Matthew Quinn

It’s October. And you know what that means. Already there are signs cropping up in a few front yards in my community, a net of white strands caught in the branches of an oak still holding its leaves, nearby a conical black hat topping the straw filled black cape astride a broom. A skeleton, arms and legs akimbo, dangling from a mailbox. Yes, Halloween is just around the corner.

So, of course, my thoughts go to what sends chills up my spine. And, while Stephen King, the master, has released something I dare not watch (It), Matthew Quinn has a new release too. Just in time. Perhaps it’s not time to put Matthew and Stephen together in the same sentence. Perhaps it is.

Matthew is a local author, born in Marietta but now living in “the city” itself. His new book, titled The Thing in the Woods — more on that later, I have to get up the courage — is not his first book, but it is his first full length novel. His other works, include a number of short stories, most of them in the horror genre, but some in science fiction and fantasy as well.

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Don’t think for a minute that Matthew will stop with this novel, in fact, he already has a sequel in the works.

Matthew’s broad writing background will serve him well for years to come in future novels, stories, and small and large screen tales. He holds a degree in magazine journalism and history, started his career as a journalist, moved on to blogging, returned to school for a Masters in world history, and now teaches high school in Atlanta.

It’s his interest in history (and the history of the city around him) that adds layers of complexity and stories within stories to The Thing in the Woods and what makes the tale work for me. While I suspect we’ll see more historical events play out in future works, in this one, it’s the backdrop of recent history—the Great Recession—and the topical social issue of racism that have their tentacles interwoven with the story of James Daly, the seventeen-year-old protagonist.

One review calla The Thing in the Woods, a “great, heart-pounding, terror-filled, horror novel set in an American historical background. Okay, I’m taking a deep breath, tucking my feet up underneath me well away from the dark space beneath my chair, and cracking open the cover.

Read more about Matthew and The Thing in the Woods on Matthew’s blog at:  http://accordingtoquinn.blogspot.com
where he’s posted a video of a readingor on his Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Matthew-W-Quinn/e/B00A8ZZZZW
or through his book page: https://www.amazon.com/Thing-Woods-Matthew-W-Quinn-ebook/dp/B0728NHQMY/


Posman Books, Ponce City Market, Atlanta

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There’s a breath of fresh air rolling through town. Yes, true, there’s a hint of fall in the air, but that’s not what I mean. There’s something even better to those of us who call ourselves book lovers. There’s a new bookstore in town.

New might not be the most appropriate word, Posman Books has been in its location in Ponce City Market in the Old Fourth Ward of Atlanta for a year. And the parent of the Ponce City location is family-owned Posman Books with a twenty year history in New York City, with two locations, one in Rockefeller Center and one in Chelsea Market.

Posman Books has brought the best of the cutting edge, New York City ambience with a California flair in Marc Stiles the manager. Marc has wasted no time in making a name for Posmans in Atlanta and connecting with the local author community. He hosts frequent signings and other book events in the store. Stop by soon and make this new store your new favorite.

675 Ponce de Leon Avenue NE, Atlanta, GA 30308:  www.posmanbooks.com

Ellijay: Kathi Harper Hill and Walls of Books

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Kathi Harper Hill

Cherokee-irish-temper. That’s the mash up Kathi Harper Hill chose for her email address. So I knew before I dialed the phone to chat with this Ellijay-based author that I was in for a treat. Yes, she has Cherokee blood in her, real Cherokee blood, and not so many generations back. In fact her Facebook page proudly displays a 1927 photo of Kathi’s mother, her grandmother, and two great grandmothers—one with light skin and white hair (representing the Scotch-Irish side) and the other a darker-complected woman with jet-black hair (from the Cherokee side). Kathi’s a blonde (okay, once a natural blonde, but let’s no go there) which came from the Scotch-Irish.

Her heritage was not something Kathi had to research. It’s something she grew up knowing through family stories. “My daddy was a storyteller,” Kathi says, and she credits him with passing that gift to her.

But the gift alone isn’t the key. Kathi has coupled the gift with a large dose of Southern humor and a good ear. In an instant her soft-spoken southern accent can morph into a North Georgia mountain dialect full of “maters” and “taters,” replicating the language spoken unapologetically by the locals when they are among their own. It’s a language Kathi says that with the influence of mass media is rapidly disappearing. Thankfully she’s preserving some of the language and much of the flavor of Appalachia in her books.

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Bensy and Me is her most recent work.  Nominated for the Georgia Author of the Year Award, the book tells the story of Charles (who hates to be called “Charlie”) and Bensy, a devoted couple from Appalachia and the adventures they share from childhood through adulthood. The story is peopled with characters readers may find wacky, but which Kathi says any true southerner would recognize.

Kathi has written a total of seven books, four novels featuring people of the south, one Young Adult book, one children’s book, and one Christmas gift book.

Kathi can “learn you more about her” on her website at yawnspublishing.com or her blog “Everything But the Kitchen Sink” (kathi-harper-hill.blogspot.com).  And, oh by the way, she “learned me” the expression has a long history in the English language and was used by Shakespeare in the Tempest. He wrote “The red-plague rid you for learning me your language.”  But thank you Kathi for learning me a bit of yours.


Walls of Books

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Walls of Books in Ellijay does in fact house walls of books, lots of walls and lots of books, shelves stuffed with new and previously-read, time-tested favorites and new releases, and of course books by local authors like Kathi Harper Hill.

Jan McTier is the owner of the Ellijay franchise (one of nine in the Walls of Books / Gottwals Books enterprise in the state of Georgia—the original located in Warner Robins). Her goal on jumping into the business was to make a great selection of books available at a reasonable price, helping to ensure readers for years to come in Ellijay and the surrounding communities.

That’s Jan at the scissors during the ribbon cutting for Walls of Books’ opening on October 17, 2015.

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And like Mark Twain’s famous comment, “reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated,” a comment some might think applies today to traditional bookstores, Jan says the Warner Robins store has tripled in size since its founding and three other Books of Walls stores have opened in Middle Georgia.

She has great expectations for the Ellijay site too, and loves every day she’s at work, enjoying the feel and smell of books, being surrounded by a staff of book lovers, and promoting the joy of reading with every book sold to her loyal customers.

If that weren’t enough to convince you to visit, the store carries the Melissa and Doug and Fat Brain toys and they trade-ins for store credit and pay cash for recent college textbooks.

Drop by and see for yourself.

The store is located at 96 Craig St, East Ellijay, GA 30540.  You can check them out on Facebook  (WOBEllijay) or at their website (WallsofBooksEllijay).


Gilmer County Arts Association

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And, while I have your attention, allow me to mention the Gilmer County Arts Association. This vibrant group of arts-minded citizens is helping to “bring the arts to Gilmer County.” On weekends, crowds stroll the shops and restaurants in the heart of Ellijay and the informed (and lucky) among them find their way to the Arts Center just a block or two off Main Street. The day I visited, the Center hosted an exhibit of local artist, Camille Candy Day’s paintings. This is not to miss! But, if you do, there’s bound to be something soon to catch your eye.

You can find out more about the Center’s exhibits and classes for the literary, visual, and performing arts on their website (GilmerArts) and Facebook page  (ArtsAssociation) or visit them at 207 Dalton Street in Ellijay.

Breaking (Sad) News

 

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Yes, I just heard that another independent bookstore is closing.

It’s Humpus Bumpus, the only bookstore within twenty miles of my home in Cumming. They’re a victim not of a lack of readers but of growth (the area where the store has been for decades is enjoying a major construction boom), and the owner’s desire to retire.

I am very sad to see them go. Humpus Bumpus has long featured and promoted local authors, me among them. That’s my first book, face forward, on their local author shelves (fourth shelf down on the right).

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So, the best I can say is thank you Paul and Christy for serving Cumming and our community of authors and readers.  We’ll be looking for Paul around town, sitting down with his feet up and a book in hand and for Christy, an author herself, tapping away on her computer with a cup of coffee nearby.

 

Read Georgia

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Introducing my very own personal armchair travel itinerary for reading stories set in Georgia.  There are more authors and books to be added to the map and summaries to be written, but I had to start somewhere.  I’m also, deliberately omitting the “usual suspects,” like Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind and John Berendt’s Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil to shine a light on newer, and possibly lesser known works that I have read and that resonated within me and taught me more about my home state.

  • Raymond Atkins, Sweetwater Blues, set in a fictitious North Georgia, and I suspect not too far a stone’s throw from the author’s front porch in Rome, Georgia
  • Pete Dexter, Paris Trout, set somewhere down in the old cotton capitals of Georgia, and a book I read before coming to Georgia, the second time around.
  • Terry Kay, The Book of Marie. I could have chosen any one of Terry’s works but when I asked the author to pick just one, he picked this story of Atlanta’s past.
  • William Rawlings, A Killing in Ring Jaw Bluff. The prolific writer has been on to other things, still southern, still entertaining, but this earlier nonfiction work set in Sandersville back in the day, kept me riveted to the page
  • Janisse Ray, Ecology of a Cracker Childhood: A book I might not have picked up had I not heard Janisse speak at a literary festival, her story gripping, her words electric
  • Karin Slaughter, Broken, a must read for all fans of crime, mystery, suspense, and who don’t flinch. Set somewhere not too far east of the big A

I hope you enjoy the list and that you’ll find a new book or new author here or along the trail with me in coming months.

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Let me know who you believe should be added to the list!

And check back soon for the next edition of An Author and a Bookstore in Ellijay.

Decatur: Connie McKee and Tall Tales Books

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Connie McKee

“Then, with your fingers poised on the keyboard, you squint at an image that is forming in your mind — a scene, a locale, a character, whatever — and you try to quiet your mind so you can hear what that landscape or character has to say above the other voices in your mind.”
― Anne Lamott  in Bird by Bird

When Connie McKee turned to writing, she took Anne’s message to heart and approached character description “head on” while drawing on her own lifetime of studying people. As a former psychiatrist, what always mattered to Connie most were behaviors, moods, and perceptions, not how tall or short people were or whether they were brunette or blonde. She wanted to understand first what was inside someone’s head. Only after that would she give them skin and bones and clothe them in their world.

With forensic psychiatry – the intersection of psychiatry and law – as her specialty, the natural thing would have been for Connie to write a crime novel with a serial killer or crazed woman at its center. But she didn’t, at least not yet.  Instead, she wrote of near a death experience, parallel universes, and alternate realities–things that bend the mind. Who, other than someone schooled in divinity, is better able to speculate on these topics than a psychiatrist?

The Girl in the Mirror earned Connie the 2016 Georgia Author of the Year Award. And, yes, the story involves a dream. “Of course,” you might scoff, “what else would the stereotypical shrink do but force you to talk about your dreams and then ask you what you think they mean?” Jodi, the protagonist on Connie’s book is a psychiatrist too with dreams of her own and a particular dream that mirrors, no pun intended, Connie’s own life experience. And, in the story, Jodi is forced to confront her dream or what may not have been a dream at all. That’s where the real world, the science part, ends and–I think–the fiction begins. Or is it the other way around? Another mind bending question for the reader.

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After winning the award for her book in the science fiction category, Connie explained she considers the work not so much science fiction as a blend of science and fiction. And maybe that is the best explanation of what transpires.

On a personal note, Connie is a soft spoken and self effacing person. She listens more than she talks, that’s expected of a psychiatrist and makes for a good writer even if while speaking with her you might fear she’s making notes for her next character from what’s inside your head.

While not running road races, traveling, or writing, Connie appears around town as one of The Book Widows, a group of four local authors who speak about how men and women read differently and why. While the others talk about the what and how and how many, Connie’s contribution to the group is definitely the why. She gives a lot of thought to the topic and dives below the surface–and maybe into the mirror–for new insights each time.

Read more about Connie at: www.constancemckee.com


Tall Tales Books

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Tall Tales has been in Atlanta for almost forty years, and though construction surrounds the Toco Hill Shopping Center, if you get lost, just stop and ask. Everyone in the neighborhood knows just where the book store is.

It’s a busy place, bookended with a Pike Nursery on one side and a Kroger Supermarket on the other. But step inside and it’s as if you’ve stepped into your living room, albeit one with floor to ceiling bookshelves. It’s cozy and quiet with just the right amount of like-minded guests–book lovers all.  On the day I visited, the Saturday before Easter, moms and dads led small children by the hand to one aisle full of pink and blue and yellow children’s books and left with arms full of books.  Never mind that I was there with two other mystery and suspense writers for a signing, we had an audience too–one loyal Tall Tales customer balanced a stack of her favorite mystery writers in one hand and then piled on a copy of each of our books.

And if you ever need a suggestion for what to read next, Rebekah and her staff are knowledgeable and eager to help–they claim to have majored in book recommendations in college. Plus, you can stop in for one of the store’s many book signings events featuring a variety of genres. You won’t leave empty handed!

Tall Tales is located at 2105 Lavista Road, Atlanta, Georgia 30329. And, for more about Tall Tales, visit the store’s website at: www.talltalesatlanta.com

 

Decatur: Doug Dahlgren and Half Price Books

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Doug Dahlgren

Doug Dahlgren is perhaps most visible (or should I say “heard”) in the Atlanta area as the radio personality behind The Doug Dahlgren Show—formerly known as The Prologue. This weekly radio program is where Doug hosts discussions with authors whether local or from across the county. He’s a consummate professional, always prepared for the guest author and their latest book and making the author feel as if they’ve spent their life behind a microphone. Of course, Doug has help! His wife Donna is the secret sauce powering Doug’s show. She reads every book cover to cover, leaves reviews (bless her), and helps Doug prepare for each week’s broadcast.

But Doug is not just a radio show host, he is also an author in his own right. An author with a bucketful of five star reviews for his series of contemporary thrillers he dubs “plausible fiction.” From congressmen who are dying off mysteriously, to drug cartels that are gaining power, to a killer of former Navy Seals, to Russian gangs, federal agents, and the syndicate, Jonathan Crane, Dahlgren’s protagonist, battles for what’s right against formidable odds. And, of course, Crane survives to fight through the series of six novels. He’s an assassin known only as The Son. As such, Crane metes out justice according to his own rules of right and wrong, thankfully, rules aligned with the readers’ view of the world.

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The first in the series, The Son: Silas Rising, was penned in 2010 and followed with near super-human alacrity by the next five in the series, including The Daedalus Directive, the last, in three and a half years. Doug has a vocal and enthusiastic fan base, some comparing his work to Vince Flynn’s and finding a new hero to follow in Jonathan Crane now that Flynn has passed. Doug considered moving on to other settings and series after The Daedalus Directive, but because his fans clamored for more, he is writing a new stand-alone novel but returning to and reuniting some of the characters from the series. It no doubt will find a loyal readership.

Doug is a mild mannered, polite, individual, not someone you would at first think writes edge-of-the seat political suspense. So where does he get his ideas and how does he work what looks like magic? The answer is lots of research, naturally, including everything from espionage, to high-tech weapons, to belief systems in synch and at odds with America’s values. And, then, there are the characters that populate the novels. Doug says he studies people around him whether friends or relatives or complete strangers. Be careful what you say around Doug, or what you admit to knowing, you might find yourself cast in the role of one of his characters, if not in his well received series then in his unnamed new work perhaps!

Find out more about Doug Dahlgren on his website: dougdahlgren.com and about his radio show here: artistfirst.com/dahlgren  . If you are an author and are excited about the prospect of hearing your voice on the air, let Doug know.


Half Price Books – Decatur, GA

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What’s better than a book? A half-priced book.  That’s Half Price Books’ stock in trade. And yes, they sell new and used books and many at remarkable prices. Plus, they buy back books to sell again and spread the word. But that’s not the best thing about Half Price Books. To my way of thinking, it’s that despite its size (120 stores across the US), the company is still “family owned.”

Half Price Books’ family values show, too. Take for instance what they call “Local Author Saturdays” at the Decatur store and check out their schedule to know who’s coming next. And, perhaps my favorite event, even if it doesn’t involve books, Kitten Adoptions on March 25 as part of the store’s Lifeline Animal Project. Trust me, I know, pages fly by when you have a warm cuddly kitten in your lap.

Visit the Decatur Half Price Books at  2615 N Decatur Rd, Decatur, GA 30033 or on their website: hpb.com/125.

Norcross: Valerie Joan Connors and Barnes & Noble at The Forum

January 18, 2016

Valerie Connors aka Author With a Day Job

No matter if it is the first time you meet her or the umpteenth time, Valerie Joan Connors greets you with a warm smile and a hug. She says she’s a “hugger.” It’s the way she welcomes you to her world and makes you feel like you just sat down to the family dinner table at your regular place.

Family, whether dysfunctional to start or whole and falling apart, is the heartbeat of Valerie’s novels. Sometimes it beats slow and measured across the pages, unhurried and nearly unheard. At others, it throbs and pounds with fear, dread, or love—always love in whatever form it takes.

In A Promise Made, Valerie’s first novel, it’s Eva Larkin who struggles with an abusive alcoholic husband and eventually flees to raise her young son on her own. Her next novel, In Her Keeping  features Sylvia Holt a woman who desperately wants to have children but can’t and walks away from her husband and her life only to find love in one of the strangest places, a tiger sanctuary. “Motherhood can take many forms,” the tag line reads. Meredith Springfield fills the pages of Shadow of a Smile, Valerie’s third novel, with her journey to discover who her mother really was and eventually herself.  When Valerie turned to a psychological thriller for her next work, once again she found a woman with tortured relationships. Willow St. Claire, the protagonist in A Better Truth, tries desperately to escape her demons, the loss of her mother and a strained relationship with her daughter.

Like cutting diamond, Valerie has explored just about every facet of family relationships, But pick up any one of her books and you can be sure you’re in for a happy ending, no matter the twisted road it takes to get there. Valerie’s fans and friends would rise up and demand a rewrite if it were any other way.

Still, Valerie isn’t all mothers and daughters and husbands and sons, far from it. By day she is the chief financial officer for a local engineering firm, which requires skills a world away from writing.  Her one regret about having such a demanding career is that she never has enough time to read or write. Nevertheless, Valerie has managed to find a solution to the first problem (reading) by listening to audio books during her daily commute. And her writing is done on weekends and vacations, thanks to a very understanding husband who is nothing like the husbands in her novels.

Come to think of it, with a full home life, a satisfying career, and being active in her avocation (Valerie is the past president of the Atlanta Writers Club), I’m now wondering where she dreams up those tormented women. I think I’ll schedule lunch with Valerie to ask—and get another warm hug too.

To learn more about Valerie Joan Connors and her books, visit her website at valeriejoanconnors.com

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Featured Bookstore Nearby: Barnes & Noble at The Forum

 

Who has not been to a Barnes and Noble book store? With over a dozen in the Atlanta metropolitan area, a store is always within reading distance.  And you need not even be a “reader” to go there as the stores offer other diversions as well, including music, games, toys, gifts galore, and usually a Starbucks. And while it’s a real B-O-O-K-store, B&N has cleverly crossed the digital divide with NOOK, its own electronic book reader and offers a variety of models for sale at the front of the store. Besides author events, the store hosts a weekly writing workshop, a knitters group, story time for children, a book club.

There’s just no excuse not to visit the Barnes and Noble store at Forum, 5141 Peachtree Parkway, Norcross, GA 30092, or one close to you. You can also, of course, visit their website at:  stores.barnesandnoble.com/store/2070

Acworth: Mark Lemon and the Acworth Bookstore and Coffee Shop

December 5, 2016

Mark Lemon: Artist, Author and Historian

I have enough trouble just juggling my “author ball” in the air, but Mark Lemon manages three: author, artist, and historian.  As an author, he’s written or collaborated on two award winning books on the Alamo, The Illustrated Alamo 1836: A Photographic Journey (for which Mark did the illustrations as well) and 13: The Alamo book of Days, (a collaborative work for which he developed the concept, the cover design, and did the illustrations.  Mark is known for his expertise on this important event in American history–so much so that he was interviewed for two History Channel documentaries on the Alamo. The documentaries aired in 2008 and 2012.  

Besides, renderings of the heroes of the Alamo, sculptures of the fortress, and highly detailed illustrations of the historic battle, Mark also created an epic-scale painting of the Alamo at sunrise. The painting hangs today in the Emily Morgan Hotel, near the Alamo in San Antonio. Another painting by Mark is the world’s largest and most accurate painting of the entire battle of the Alamo. It resides at the Alamo Beer Company, also in San Antonio.

Mark comes by his love of history naturally. He traces his family back to Captain James Lemon the only recipient of the Confederate Medal of Honor from Georgia, awarded posthumously.  Mark lives in the house his ancestor built in Acworth in 1856, one spared the destruction most of Acworth endured as General Sherman made his camp in the home during the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain. Today the antebellum home is painted a delightful shade of lemon and sits at the end of Lemon Street.

In 2013, Mark compiled the first-person narrative of Captain Lemon’s experience in the war, editing, and writing the epilogue and prologue to the memoir titled Feed Them the Steel! Being the Wartime Recollections of Capt James Lile Lemon, Co A, 18th Georgia Infantry CSA. The story makes for compelling reading given that the Captain’s unit participated in almost every major battle in which the Army of North Virginia took part.

And, today, Mark is working on several commissioned paintings, an epic-scaled painting depicting the final moments of the Alamo battle, and a two volume book to be called Sketchbook of the Alamo and Texas Revolution.

Inquire about Mark’s work at the Acworth Bookstore and Coffee Shop and read more about him on Facebook at facebook.com/Mark-Lemon-ArtistAuthorHistorian


Featured Bookstore Nearby: Acworth Bookstore and Coffee Shop

A row of unique shops lines one side of the street along the railroad tracks that run through the heart of downtown Acworth. Tucked among the antique stores, wine and craft-beer bar, and a handful of local restaurants is the Acworth Bookstore and Coffee Shop. Though dedicated to books, reference, and memorabilia of local history from the Civil War through the twenty first century, the store is much more. The book collection contains everything you’d expect to find at any other independent book store, the latest fiction titles, nonfiction works, including books on travel, self-help, children’s books, and cookbooks for the gourmet or beginner chef..

Though book lovers will want to browse the shelves, on Saturdays you’ll often find a local author talking and signing books at the store too. Grab a cup of coffee or a smoothie from the store’s in-house coffee shop, pull up a chair, and visit for a moment. Plan to stay longer than you thought, there’s a lot to see besides books. The nook of a store invites you to explore its maps, models, prints, and photographs, and a large selection of Lodge cast-iron cookware.

For more information check the store’s calendar of events on their website at acworthbookstore.net where you can also sign up to receive their newsletter and have notices of future events sent directly to your inbox. Or, just drop in at 4857 N. Main St., Acworth, GA 30101.


If you have a story to add, a writer, book, or bookstore you’d like to read about here or if you would like to be featured in a future post on this site, contact me at: rona_simmons@bellsouth.net.