On Saturday, we had our local Mid-South version of Bookstock 2016, a festival celebrating all things, well, books and the art of writing. The theme this year was “From Shakespeare to Dr. Seuss, and Everything in Between,” and we certainly did it up! Performers and citizenfolk alike recited Shakespearean sonnets while children made hats, did paintings, and participated in a scavenger hunt!
Did I mention I really wanted to do the scavenger hunt?
I should have. I’m a nine-year old inside. FOREVERRRRR.
But! I had an important task, a mission, if you will: to round up some of my favorite local authors from the event, so I could present them to you! I think it’s incredibly important to support local artistry in all its forms, and sharing the love with you all is the best way I know. The authors that follow are an eclectic bunch, their works spanning from Children’s picture books, to Romance and Sci-Fi, Fantasy to Literary Fiction and Memoirs, and some that cross many genres with one pen stroke.
Johnnie Alexander writes inspiring stories that linger in the heart. Where Treasure Hides, her debut novel, won the ACFW Genesis Contest (2011) and Golden Leaf Award (2014). The first of her three contemporary romances, Where She Belongs (Misty Willow Series), released from Revell in January 2016. She also has won Best Novel and Best Writer awards (Florida Christian Writers Conferences), and Bronze Medalist (My Book Therapy Frasier Contest). A graduate of Rollins College (Orlando) with a Master of Liberal Studies degree, Johnnie treasures family memories, classic movies, road trips, and stacks of books. She lives in the Memphis area where her morning chores include feeding dogs, cats, chickens, and a small herd of alpacas.
About Where She Belongs:
“Shelby Kincaid is ready to move on from her grief. With high hopes for the future, she longs to purchase her family’s ancestral homestead so she can raise her young daughters in the only place she ever truly belonged. She plans to transform the abandoned house into the perfect home of her memories. But she’ll have her work cut out for her.
AJ Sullivan never wanted the homestead. Inherited as a punishment from his grandfather, it has sat empty for fifteen years and fallen into ruin. He’s glad to finally unload it. But a clean break isn’t possible when he can’t get the young widow Shelby off his mind.
Welcome to Misty Willow, a place that will have as great a hold over the reader as it does over its inhabitants.”
Now, straight-up romance isn’t usually my thing. But ohhh, a tense, accidental spark of romance? How I love you so. For me, romance has to be organic- if it’s forced or manufactured, I find myself unable to follow. Fortunately for all of us, Johnnie’s books are all about that natural, indescribable growth. You can check out Johnnie’s official website here, and her books are available through most retailers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and more!
Jim Bailey is a fellow in the American College of Physicians and professor of medicine and preventive medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, where he directs the Center for Health Systems Improvement, cares for the sick, and teaches doctors in training. His research appears in many peer-reviewed medical journals, including JAMA, Journal of General Internal Medicine, and Annals of Internal Medicine. Dr. Bailey has an abiding passion for the classics, medical history, and ethics, and believes that sharing our stories can heal. The End of Healing is his first novel. Jim was recently named among the winners of the Benjamin Franklin Awards for The End of Healing, the title being awarded a Silver Medal in the Popular Fiction category. The award was presented during a gala awards ceremony held Friday, April 8, 2016 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Here’s a bit about The End of Healing, which I find insanely interesting:
“Jim Bailey pulls back the exam room curtain to reveal a giant healthcare industry spiraling out of control. This literary tour de force resonates with core themes of classical literature, medical history, and science. The End of Healing brings Dante’s Inferno to life for a new era and proves hell is alive and well in American healthcare today. This book will change your perspective on the U.S. medical system forever…and give you the insight you need to find real healing in today’s world.”
The passion that Jim has for this book is phenomenal. He certainly did his research, travelling to Italy for much of the book’s writing, ensuring that his parallels to Dante and his famous works were credible and aptly-described. You can find Jim at The Healthy City, as well as EndofHealing.com. The End of Healing is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers.
Veronica Randolph Batterson
Veronica Randolph Batterson attended the University of Tennessee at Knoxville as an art student and graduated with a B.A. degree in Communications from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She studied broadcast journalism and has worked in television and radio. Veronica has been a freelance writer, editor and proofreader for many years: her short stories, essays and creative non-fiction have appeared in various publications. She has written four books and published three: the novel, Daniel’s Esperanza, and the middle grade books of fiction, Billy’s First Dance and Funny Pages.
Research took her to southern Illinois recently for her next project, a fifth book tentatively titled Williamsburg Hill (a novel of historical fiction). Other plans in the works include books set during the Civil War and World War II, a biography, a couple of plays, finding an agent for another completed manuscript, more short stories and poetry. She’s also tossing around the idea of a sequel to Daniel’s Esperanza.
Veronica enjoys photography, gardening, antiques, theatre, reading, visiting museums and horseback riding. Other interests include history, historic preservation and supporting environmental and animal rights issues. After living in Detroit and Chicago, she now makes her home in Memphis with her husband and their golden retriever. She has two adult daughters.
About Daniel’s Esperanza:
“A rancher and his wife provide a haven for wild mustangs on ten thousand acres in northern New Mexico. Unable to have children of their own, they also provide a home to a broken and abused teenage boy from Virginia. Their wild horse sanctuary gives comfort to the boy, while the family faces challenging actions and lies from a vindictive neighbor and the threat of the boy’s biological father resurfacing.
Under the backdrop of Native American culture and New Mexico ranch life, Daniel escapes his abusive father and finds a new home with Frank and Sarah Carpenter, ranchers and owners of a wild horse sanctuary. For three years, he heals, is nurtured and becomes an adult. Daniel learns to ride horses, train them and accept a family as his own.
However, a vengeful, neighboring rancher and son become formidable enemies. They engage in threats against the Carpenters and Daniel that involve horse stealing, gambling and potential danger to the sanctuary horses. The neighbors also hire a private investigator to look into Daniel’s past, allowing his abusive father to learn of his whereabouts.”
This story threatens to tear me up inside– there’s so much intrigue, and a constant, looming threat. As anyone knows, my opinion is that conflict makes the story; if everything is too soft, too easy, the reader can’t grasp on and buy into the work. Luckily, that isn’t the case with Veronica’s work! You can find Daniel’s Esperanza, along with Veronica’s other titles at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers. Her official site is here, while she updates much more frequently at her blog.
Elaine is a storyteller, writer and actor. Elaine studied theater at Lambuth College in Jackson, TN and earned an associate degree in nursing from Union University in Jackson. She worked for twenty years in acute care settings; ten years of that time she worked with people recovering from addictions. She earned a BS from UT Martin in 1992, with a double major in English and philosophy. She earned her Master of Divinity, 2000, from Memphis Theological Seminary where she is currently adjunct faculty and teaching “The Preacher as Storyteller.” She is frequently a pulpit guest in a variety of faith communities. She leads spiritual retreats for groups and congregations.
Elaine’s first book, Help Me Remember, was published and recorded by Pilgrim Press in 2005. Her short fiction has won Honorable Mention in the 2008 Memphis Magazine Fiction Contest, and her nonfiction was published by Christian Century magazine.
Elaine facilitates ongoing classes, Prison Stories, at Shelby County’s jail for women. Prison Stories is a creative writing and performance program created and coordinated by Elaine. Each class of twelve participants meets for four months. Participants share their life stories. Elaine writes a script based on the stories shared in each class. That script is used by professional actors to create a performance for the entire community to attend. These story sharing events destroy stereotypes and build hopeful connections in Memphis and Shelby County communities.
For her creative work in the prison system, Elaine was awarded The 2011 Jefferson Award for Public Service. She was selected as an Upstander by Facing History and Ourselves. She was selected by the Commercial Appeal as one of the 16 Memphians who made a difference in Memphis in 2011. And the Shelby County Division of Corrections selected Elaine as Volunteer of the Year for 2012. In 2013, Elaine was awarded the Chairman’s Award from Shelby County Juvenile Court for her service on the Foster Care Review Board. Elaine was given the 2014 award for Vision by Memphis Women of Achievement.
Elaine co-wrote the play, “For Goodness Sake,” with David Prete in 2009. It is a one-woman performance. “For Goodness Sake” is a story about oppression and redemption.
While I came for the children’s book Maggie’s Head Got Stuck, I stayed for the numerous, varied stories Elaine had to offer. Her body of work is incredible and far-reaching! The best way to reach Elaine and purchase her books is through her website, while some of her work is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Tijuana Boswell is a native of Memphis, Tennessee that has provided this country with several years of service as a former employee of federal government agencies. She was often praised by her peers for being an informative person with a vivid imagination, so she wrote a collection of fun and fictional multicultural novels that depict real-life social issues. Tijuana writes of various genres and is the publisher of FUNctional Readings Publications. She hopes to continue to share her artistry with you.
Tijuana’s newest title, Mother of All, is now available! From her official page:
“Alari Jeter is a single and childfree 39 year old woman that is devalued by her cronies due to her marital status. She secretly envies her friends that have a love life, something she wishes to have. After years of being labeled a worthless person, Alari can’t take it anymore and decides to reveal her true self.”
How much more relatable can the story be? Tijuana’s works dig to the core of human existence, pulling each word from our social encounters, cultures, and ideals. You can find Tijuana at her Facebook page, and her works are available through CreateSpace and Amazon.
Patricia Bradley is a Romantic Suspense writer living in the Deep South. “Honoring God through writing” is a personal motto and she holds firm to it. Her short-stories have been published in Woman’s World, and she is releasing her fourth book this summer. Gone Without a Trace is book three in the Logan Point Series which is set in Memphis and the surrounding area. Book one in the Logan Point Series, Shadows from the Past, has won several awards: the 2008 Maggie (Inspirational Category), 1st Place in the 2012 Touched By Love and Daphne du Maurier contests, placed in finals in the 2012 Genesis, and received Bronze in the Frasier.
Patricia is also passionate about abstinence and healthy relationships, and speaks to numerous groups for this cause.
She’s also done what she calls the unthinkable–- written a straight romance–- “who would’ve thought it’d be such fun?”
When Patricia isn’t writing or speaking, she throws mud on a wheel and tries to make something beautiful.
Here’s a bit about Shadows of the Past, the first novel in the Logan’s Point series:
“Psychology professor and criminal profiler Taylor Martin prides herself on being able to solve any crime, except the one she wants most desperately to solve–the disappearance of her father twenty years ago. When she finally has a lead on his whereabouts, Taylor returns home to Logan Point, Mississippi, to investigate. But as she works to uncover the truth, someone else will do almost anything to keep her from it.
Nick Sinclair pens mystery novels for a living, but the biggest mystery to him is how he can ever get over the death of his wife–a tragedy he believes he could have prevented. Now that his estranged brother is the only family he has left, Nick sets out to find him. But when he crosses paths with Taylor, all he seems to find is trouble.
Join the chase as Taylor and Nick search the murky shadows of the past for the keys to unlocking the present–and moving into a future they never imagined.”
Velma Cato has been a broadcast journalist and media entrepreneur for over 30 years. She began her career in news in her hometown of Memphis, Tennessee where she worked as a reporter and anchor for two local radio stations while attending the University of Memphis. She later moved to New York where she was promoted to News Director and Executive Producer for NBC Radio Network and later New York Bureau Chief for NBC Network Television News.
As an independent producer she created and produced hundreds of hours of television programming. Among them are “Personalities,” hosted by Charlie Rose, “Women’s Diaries,” hosted by Linda Ellerbe, the critically acclaimed “Ron Reagan Show,” “Danny,” hosted by Danny Bonaduce, and Famous Families, hosted by Mariel Hemmingway (24 documentaries for The Family Channel focused on America’s most celebrated families, including, the Presleys, the Jacksons, The Clooneys, etc.).
Her production company, DVP Group, has also provided musical support to hit shows such “Don’t Forget the Lyrics,” “American Idol,” The Tonight Show with Jay Leno “The Grammys”, and many more. She produced “Kwanzaa Folktales,” a book-on-tape for Time-Warner Audiobooks that features voices by a host of African-American celebrities. She also was also Executive Producer for “Small Steps, Big Strides: The Black Experience in Hollywood (1903-1970),” a video documentary used as source material in college courses and seminars throughout the country.
Velma has received over 40 national and international awards, including two prestigious Edward R. Murrow Awards for excellence in journalism, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and the Charles E. Thornton Award, from the University of Memphis for excellence in journalism from an outstanding alumnus.
Among Velma’s proudest achievement is Founder’s Academy, a non-profit organization founded by Velma and her business partner Diane Louie. The after-school program provided educational opportunities to teenage children of families affected by substance abuse.
Velma has just written her first children’s book, The Talented Toad, and spends her time between homes in Los Angeles, California and a farm in Piggott, Arkansas. She is actively developing new projects.
About The Talented Toad:
“The Talented Toad is an American folktale loosely based on the real life story of musical icon W. C. Handy, known as “Father of the Blues”. Our main character, Froggie and Handy were both discouraged from pursuing their dreams. Those closest to them were their most vehement detractors. Yet, with hard work and perseverance, they succeeded. Journey with Froggie and his forest friends and family in this funny, sad, uplifting tale as something beautiful, revolutionary and historic is created. The Talented Toad is a cautionary tale for young and old to never discourage or ridicule anyone trying to do something new and different.”
This is a story near and dear to my heart. Loving all things music, I grew up learning about W.C. Handy and his determination, his struggle for success. The Talented Toad has a unique art style, which adds a huge dose of character to a book that is already larger than life. Readers can visit Bookhats for more information about Velma Cato, and The Talented Toad is available on Amazon!
Camilla Curran is a model, fashion designer, brand ambassador, ballet dancer and teacher. In addition to her work in fashion and the performing arts, Miss Curran attended art school at the acclaimed Memphis College of Art to study drawing, and even manages her own image consulting company, Curran Consulting. In her spare time, Camilla enjoys reading about archaeology, psychology, and fashion history, salsa dancing and people watching. She uses her colorful experiences amidst her varied social scene as inspiration for her lighter writing, while her journey growing up with Bipolar I inspires her heavier work. Curran was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 17, and has since learned to live and thrive despite the constant ups and downs, the swings of life with a mental illness. She credits her supportive family and strong faith in God for both the success she has achieved and her survival during the darkest times.
Here’s a bit about Swings:
“To most people on the outside looking in, it appears that Camilla is the girl who has it all. What they don’t see, is her struggle with a debilitating mental illness over the last ten years. From facing depressed lows so extreme that in-patient hospitalization as a result of suicidal behavior was needed, to mania so frighteningly fast paced that she married a man after knowing him only three months and divorced two years later, Camilla’s bipolar renders her life anything but easy or by the book, which is why she chose to write one.”
Everyone who has been through my older posts knows that I can share the sentiment of this book. Having OCD and GAD myself, I know the overwhelming feelings that come with mental health issues. Learning to live through the mountains and valleys of these issues can temper you, or break you. Readers can catch up with Camilla at her official website, and Swings, which is penned under Camilla Del, is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Allan Gilbreath denies that he was raised by wolves, but still enjoys quiet moonlit evenings. He is an accomplished skeptic, cook, gardener, computer geek, martial artist, and avid student of arcane knowledge. Allan is also a nationally recognized and award-winning author, publisher, speaker, and instructor. He has appeared on television, stage, radio, web/podcast, and tours the country in live appearances. He enjoys serving on convention panels and can cover a wide range of topics from the serious to the outrageous. In his adult vampire novels, Galen and Dark Chances, he links sensual fantasy with danger and predation to excellent effect. His exceptional use of plot tension between the various characters sets a wonderful stage for the little details that bring it all to life. Allan’s Jack Lago supernatural mysteries are known for their attention to detail and suspense. His short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies and his collection, Allan Gilbreath: A Short Story Collection.
About Galen, the first title in the Galen Vampire Series:
“After centuries of surreptitiously and meticulously keeping his murderous way of life hidden, Galen finds his world threatened as two very different women cross his deadly path. The first is seduced into the darkly erotic world of the living vampire. The second is utterly determined to destroy him in the name of revenge. Their interactions make for a suspenseful and erotic ride through Galen’s dark world.”
I also have to include a bit on the story he promised was just up my alley, “Anatidaephobia.” The first line? “Two nuns and a vampire with a duck under his arm walk into a bar.” (Bonus Points if you know what Anatidaephobia means. If not, go look it up!) Yes indeed, that is up my alley! Allan is a character, I can tell you that. You can find his editorial work over at Dark Oak Press, and his works are available through various retailers, including Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
Robert J. Krog
Robert J. Krog is a native of Memphis, TN, where he still resides with his family. Mr. Krog is a devout Catholic. He has been an assistant arborist to his father, who was a professional arborist. He has also been a grocery store clerk, a waiter for one week, an order out delivery guy for one week, a legal runner, a substitute teacher, and a high school History teacher, all in Memphis, TN. He has several degrees, mostly in History, but is putting none of them to good use, though he loves History and can still translate Middle Egyptian, if he works at it (and maybe Hieratic, if he really works at it). Currently, he is a supervisor for a yard spray company and writes as much as obligations to a full-time job, the church, and family life allow. His published works include The Stone Maiden and Other Tales, numerous short stories published by various small presses and several on this website, and the novella, A Bag Full of Eyes, available from Alban Lake Publishing. His most recently published work is the short story, “The Pauper’s Reaper,” in the anthology, Potter’s Field 5, available now from Alban Lake Publishing. He continues to write and is working on finishing several novels.
Here’s a tidbit from A Bag Full of Eyes:
“In a kingdom haunted by witches, where vampires hunt in the night, when there are murders but not witnesses, when the method of murder reveals the how but not the who, one calls upon the eye-man to help solve crimes. The eye-man has the answer. It can be found in a bag full of eyes, along with things one does not seek. What is a royal inspector to do? He does his duty of course, though duty can be such unpleasant work.
Here is the tale of Royal Inspector Sir Gordon spending a night as an old lady, of a night he didn’t live, of the eye-man and his methods, of a vampire and his victims, and of a bargain with a witch…”
A story about the Eye-Man, who carries a bag full of eyes, who is totally fine with popping them in and out of different people to see the last thing they saw? Yes, that sounds like the perfect way to solve a crime! I can’t wait to read through this one. As passionate as he is quirky, Robert brings a lot to the table with not only the stories he writes, but also his personal insight into the Author world. He has a lot of published stories, and while some of them are indeed available at Amazon and other retailers, I recommend checking out his site for the full available-for-purchase listing.
Writer, mad scientist, professional white belt (long story), wife, mother, and animal wrangler, H.C. Playa leads a busy life. Her friends say she’s fascinating, but in her world, “fascinating” means aliens have landed in the backyard. Unless the aliens are disguised as chickens, she’s pretty sure her life is just as mundane as the next person.
An avid reader since the precious age of four, she devoured books from numerous genres, but science fiction and fantasy hold a special place in her heart. A true Gemini, she couldn’t quite make up her mind what her favorite genre was and so decided to weave bits of science fiction, fantasy, romance, and action into one tale. Thus, Crossroads of Fate series was born. Betrayals is her third published novel and she is also the author of several short stories that have appeared in magazines and anthologies.
About Daughter of Destiny, the first in the Crossroads of Fate series:
“A world scarred by terrorist attacks and global pandemics fights for survival. Unbound by invasion, a millennia old enchantment ends. A daughter of Earth must learn to wield the very power she fears. Dr. Katarina O’Brian, a molecular biologist, fights from her lab in Memphis, Tennessee to find a cure for Reaper, a deadly virus plaguing humanity. During another late night at work, a mental voice touches hers, chiseling a crack in her mental fortress and tempting her to explore the powers she suppresses. As events unfold, Katarina must choose to embrace her fears and control her power, or risk the destruction of everything and everyone she holds dear.
Captain Zane Gratig of the Inter-Galactic Confederacy Fleet is on a routine recon mission to investigate Earth. During a telepathic exercise, he stumbles upon Katarina’s vibrant mind. Though forbidden by intergalactic laws, neither Zane nor Katarina can stop destiny and love from uniting them. Meanwhile, a Goloth invasion force prepares to conquer Earth and from there reclaim the empire it once ruled across the known universe. Kidnapping and torturing Zane are just step one in the Goloth emperor’s plan. Separated by galaxies, forbidden by laws, Katarina and Zane must find a way to come together to face down their enemies and guide Earth on its new path.”
Daughter of Destiny was the book that caught my eye, and I can’t wait to read it! Playa was a blast to speak to- she’s as wily and lively as the genres she writes. You can find her at her official site, and her some of her works can be found at Amazon, some at Barnes & Noble. I do recommend checking up at her website for the most complete purchase info.
Brandy T. Wilson
Brandy T. Wilson, author of The Palace Blues: A Novel (Spinsters Ink 2014), a Lambda Literary Award Finalist in Lesbian Fiction, earned her PhD at Florida State University. Her work has appeared in Robert Olen Butler’s From Where You Dream, Ninth Letter, G.R.I.T.S. Girls Raised in the South, and Pank Magazine among other publications. She was a 2010 Lambda Literary Retreat Emerging LGBT Voices Fellow in fiction and was awarded three Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference scholarships, the George M. Harper Endowment Fund Award, and the Astraea Emerging Lesbian Writers Fund Finalist Award. She currently teaches writing, literature, and Gender & Women’s Studies at the University of Memphis along with coaching and editing writers on various projects from memoir, novel, to self-help and educational literature.
Here’s a bit from The Palace Blues:
“It is the age of bathtub gin, jazz—and lines. Lines not to be crossed, and certainly not by women.
Ladies sing the blues at The Palace and the rebellious, resourceful Frankie admires the cross-dressing Jean Bailey from afar. Running from her family’s oppressive pressure to marry, Frankie abandons her safe, white life in Chicago and follows the blues singer instead. At first it is merely an adventure of her star struck heart.
But the railroad yards, good times, riverboats and bum times lead Frankie on a remarkable journey between the sterile choices of her family and a reckless, daring life that at least offers a kind of freedom for a girl like her. Or is there another choice, one beyond the blues?”
First off, when I met Brandy, she and her family were all dressed up in 1920s-esque attire, and I exploded from the cuteness. Seriously, I gushed too much. Anyway! The Palace Blues sounds like a lovely trip away from my normal Fantasy/Sci-Fi/YA home. Brandy keeps her website here, and The Palace Blues is available through Amazon for both paperback and Kindle, and Barnes & Noble for paperback. She has additional works available on her website!
In addition to the Authors listed here, I also wanted to share with you guys the Memphis Challenge group, who also presented at Bookstock 2016.
Their group specializes in inspiring and developing future Memphis leaders, and each year, they have a National Day of Service project. This year? Tell Me a Story: Service Through Storytelling.
“There is power in the telling of a good story. In honor of the National Day of Service on January 18, 2016, Memphis Challengers created “Tell Me a Story: Service Through Storytelling.” Through this project, Memphis Challengers in grades 9-12 wrote and produced specialized storybooks and poems for children and teenagers. The project aimed to bring smiles, excitement and love of storytelling to children, as well as enrich the process of using creativity to give back for Memphis Challenge students. The Memphis Challenge story collection includes six children’s paperback books, an anthology of poems for teens and two digital books for online reading.”
You can find even more information about the stories these awesome young people have written here, and the titles are available for purchase. You can contact Cathryn Stout here or McKenzii Webster here for more information about this year’s project.
This is just a small sample of the many authors that attended Bookstock this year!
I want to thank each and every one of the authors listed for sharing their stories, loves, and time with me. It was a fantastic experience– one I can’t wait to repeat next year!