Two years ago, Barbara Barth traded the traffic, noise, and never ending, ever expanding cement byways of Atlanta for a life in Monroe, Georgia. She never looked back. Actually, she transitioned seamlessly, continuing to do what she’d done before–write books, walk dogs, and gather a community together.
Let’s take those one by one. Barbara’s last book was A Cup of Love (in which thirty authors share stories of love, not coincedently released for Valentine’s Day in February 2018). All proceeds from the book’s sales go to First Book, the country’s largest network of educators serving kids in need. Prior books include A Cup of Christmas (short stories, poems, and recipes for the season, an anthology of thirty-one authors, 2014), Finding Love is Magic (tales of romance and second chances at love from nine authors, 2015), Danger in her Words about a dog-columnist (hmm, how close to home might that be?, 2014), and all the way back to 2010 The Unfaithful Widow—Fragmented Memoirs of My First Year Alone.
My favorite is perhaps Barbara’s 2015 release A Dog Dreams of Paris, because I know from the cover, we’re really talking about one of Barbara’s own—her sixth rescue!
You know where Barbara’s heart is. She subtitled her website “Writer With Dogs; Author, blogger, dog whisperer . . . although there are days I have to bark loud to be heard.” And, if you poke around the site, you’ll see one or the other or several of her six four-footed companions, along with adorable April with Barbara on the home page.
And then, there is the community Barbara has been instrumental in making happen. When she moved to Monroe, Barbara jumped right in the middle of things, never mind that she had to walk for months with a cane due to hip surgery–nothing was stopping her. Barbara joined the Board of Directors of the Monroe-Walton Center for the Arts as the Literary Arts Chair, working with local authors, aspiring writers, and of course readers. She also started Walton Writers to foster collaboration among anyone in Monroe or the surrounding communities interested in writing, regardless of their skill level, or choice of writing format. At the group’s meetings, Barbara hosts an open mic for storytelling, author readings, a book club, music, and more. There is an open invitation to speakers to participate in book signings, book launches, and to peruse the Book Nook which carries local authors’ works.
You might have imagined sleepy, quaint Monroe would be populated by those who like to sit back and relax on their wide verandas and sip sweet tea? Not on your life. Barbara is hard at work seeing that writing and reading are at the center of the Monroe arts community while working on her next book (due out momentarily), planning another writing event with the local Art Guild, and visiting and encouraging the local bookstores, the Story Shop and The Southern Pen Bookshop.
Learn more about Barbara Barth and her books and activities here: https://www.barbarabarthwriter.com.
Check out Walton Writers on Meet-Up https://www.meetup.com/Walton-Writers/ and the Monroe-Walton Center for the Arts (with its open mic nights the second Saturday of each month from 7 pm to 9 pm http://www.monroewaltonarts.org/.
The Southern Pen Bookshop
Brainchild of Tori Bailey, The Southern Pen Bookshop started as a bookshelf inside the large Monroe Mercantile building. There, local authors could display their books for a modest fee—gaining what has proved difficult in today’s crowded literary space. Tori touched a nerve, in short order the bookshelf grew and grew and grew. The Southern Pen needed more space.
Tori, the author of a string of books she calls the Coming Home series knows her community and what readers like to read. She’s made her space comfortable with a spot to browse for books, relax and read, and on occasion meet and chat with local authors, or attend a live event, including this year a writers’ conference on May 18. There is still time to sign up.
I am delighted to have the opportunity to display a book on World War II that I co-authored with Jack Smith a World War II veteran and artist. And when I have visited I have been very impressed by the buzz around the bookstore, yes there is much more than one bookshelf now.
Visit the store to see for yourself at 113 North Broad Street, Monroe Georgia 30655 or online at https://www.southernpenbookshop.com. Sign up for the writers’ conference at: https://www.southernpenbookshop.com/writers-conference.