Literary Festival Awards Contest Winners

Bestselling authors Cassandra King and Rita Mae Brown awarded prizes to the Dahlonega Literary Festivals’ Student Short Story Writing Contest winners at the 2017 festival. Lumpkin County Middle School student Autumn Cleymans won $200 and a signed book by King for her story “Ramen Noodles”. Lumpkin County High School students Alondra Rosa and Michael Gable split the first prize award of $300 because they tied for first place. Rosa, whose story was titled “Never Ending Nightmare”, also received a signed book by Brown at the awards ceremony on March 25th. Gable, author of “Corruption: The Last Job” was unable to attend.

More than 50 submissions were received in the first student writing contest sponsored by the DLF which was open to Lumpkin County high school, middle school, and home schooled students. The contest was part of a grant from the Georgia Council for the Arts Vibrant Communities program.


Pictured: Author Cassandra King, LCMS student Autumn Cleymans, DLF board member Trish Hawkins, LCHS student Alondra Rosa, and author Rita Mae Brown.

Schedule Revision

Schedule-Change (1)

Here is the updated schedule of events for the 2017 Dahlonega Literary Festival.
Please note that all the events will take place at the Dahlonega Baptist Church Fellowship Hall, 234 Hawkins St., the Community House, 111 N. Park St., and the Woodmen of the World Meeting Room above Cranberry Corners, 44 N Park St. There is ample parking at DBC, so consider parking there even if you’re going to a different venue.
Regional Writers will be set up downstairs in the DBC Fellowship Hall all day Saturday, and panels and presentations will be in adjacent classrooms.
FoxTale Book Shoppe, from Woodstock, GA, will have copies of the featured authors’ books for sale and book signings and panels are scheduled throughout the festival at the CH.
The Headline Presentations by Cassandra King and Rita Mae Brown will be in the WOW Meeting Room on Saturday, and panel discussions will take place there on Sunday. The meeting room is up the stairs behind Cranberry Corners, across the street from Hancock Park.
We hope you enjoy the whole weekend!
                                                         — SCHEDULE —



9:00-10:00 – Panel:  “From the Mountains to the Oceans: the Place of Place In Writing”
Ann Hite, Erika Marks, and June Hall McCash
Moderator:  Rona Simmons                                                           DBC Rm. 28

Panel:  “The Importance of Genre in Fiction.”
J.D. Jordan, William Rawlings, Linda Sands, Susan Sands, and Kim Wright
Moderator:  George Weinstein                                                      DBC  Rm. 30

Individual Presentation:  CASCADIA: a Novel About a Tragedy That Will Happen”
Buzz Bernard                                                                                      Community House  


10:15-11:15 – Panel: “The Butler Did It: Mysteries, Suspense & Thrillers,”
Buzz Bernard, Maggie Mitchell, Linda Sands, and George Weinstein
Moderator:  William Rawlings                                                     DBC Rm. 30

Individual Presentation:    “Writing & Linguistics”
Jacob Appel                                                                                        Community House                

Individual Presentation:  “Illustrating Harry Potter”
by Mark Braught                                                                               BC Rm. 28

11:30-12:15 – Headliner Cassandra King:  “The Life and Works of Pat Conroy”                                                                                                                                Woodmen of the World Bldg.


2:00-2:45 – Headliner Rita Mae Brown: “Language Exerts Power (Like the Moon on the Tides)”                                                                                     Woodmen of the World Bldg.

3:15-4:15 – Panel:  “Writing About Race Relations: Where Do We Go From Here?”               Valerie Boyd and William Rawlings
Moderator:  Jackie Cooper                                                              DBC Rm. 28  

Panel:  “Y’all Read This? Does Southern Sell?”
Bryce Gibson, Maggie Mitchell, Susan Sands, and Kim Wright
Moderator:  Ann Hite                                                                         DBC Rm. 30

Workshop: “Marketing for Writers:  Using Social Media”
Nick Kastner                                                                                          Woodmen of the World


4:30-5:30 – Panel: “Hail to the Heroines: Characters in  Women’s Fiction”
Erika Marks, June Hall McCash and Susan Sands
Moderator:  Ann Hite                                                                            DBC Rm. 28

Panel: “Funny Business: Using Humor in Writing
Jacob Appel, Rita Mae Brown,   and Jackie Cooper                                                                       Moderator:  Jameson Gregg                                                                 DBC Rm. 30

Special Presentation:  “The Reading Gender Gap:  How Men & Women Read Differently”
Book Widows                                                                                            Community House


5:30 – Reception and Awards: for Student Writing Contest winners                                                                                                                                                           Community House


11 to Noon – Panel: “Characters We Care About:  Real & Fictitious”
Cassandra King, Linda Sands and Kim Wright
Moderator:  William Rawlings                                                              WOW Bldg

 Individual Presentation:  “The Art of Illustrating Books”
Mark Braught                                                                                             Community House

12:15 to 1:15 – Panel:  “Skeletons in the Closet: The Role of Family Secrets & Truths in       Writing”
Jackie Cooper, Erika Marks and Rona Simmons
Moderator:  Candice Dyer                                                                       WOW Bldg

Workshop: “So You Wanna Be a Writer”
by George Weinstein                                                                                 Community House

1:30-2:30 – Panel: “The Role of the Reader: How to Engage”
Buzz Bernard, Rita Mae Brown, Ann Hite, Erica Mason, June Hall McCash, and Maggie Mitchell
Moderator:  Dr. Kristin Kelly                                                                   WOW Bldg                             

Panel: “The Author’s Business Mindset: What Every Author Needs to Know”                      Valerie Boyd,  Mark Braught,  Jeremy Logan, and Susan Sands
Moderator:  George Weinstein                                                               Community House

2:45-3:30 –  Headliner Ambassador Jonathan Addleton: “The Dust of Kandahar:  A           Diplomat Among Warriors in Afghanistan”                                 Community House                     

Closing and Farewells

BOOK SIGNING SCHEDULE – All at the Community House


10:15 – 10:45 am  Jackie Cooper, Ann Hite,  Erika Marks, June Hall McCash, Kim Wright, Susan Sands,

3:00 -3:30 pm  Jacob Appel, Mark Braught, Rita Mae Brown, Cassandra King, Linda Sands, George Weinstein

4:30-5:00 pm  Buzz Bernard, Valerie Boyd, Maggie Mitchell, William Rawlings

5:30 pm  Book Widows (Valerie Joan Connors, Susan Jimison, Constance McKee, Rona Simmons) – immediately following their presentation


3:30 pm  Jonathan Addleton immediately following his presentation


The Dahlonega Literary Festival is supported by donations and grants from Georgia Humanities, in partnership with the Georgia Department of Economic Development, and the Georgia Council for the Arts, through funding from the Georgia General Assembly.

Have Lunch with Your Favorite Festival Author


The Festival’s Featured Authors will be having lunch at various restaurants on the Dahlonega Square on Saturday, March 25th from 12:30-1:45 pm. Up to nine individuals can join each author on a first-come basis by calling the restaurant for reservations starting March 20th.


Back Porch Oyster Bar ( (706) 864-8623) – Rita Mae Brown and Cassandra King


Bourbon Street Grille ((706) 864-0086) – William Rawlings


Corkscrew Café ((706) 867-8551) – Buzz Bernard and Mark Braught


Don Pollo ((706) 867-0233) – Susan Sands and June Hall McCash


Grapevines ((706) 864-0280) – Valerie Boyd and George Weinstein


Gustavo’s ((706) 864-2366) – Erika Marks and Jacob Appel


Pueblos ((706) 867-7155) – Maggie Mitchell and Linda Sands


Shenanigan’s ((706) 482-0114) – Jackie Cooper and Kim Wright


Spirit’s Tavern ((706) 482-0580) – Ann Hite


For more information and the schedule of appearances, please visit

lunch with authors graphic



2017 Featured Author: Susan Sands



Featured Author Susan Sands’ newest novel, Forever, Alabama, is set for publication on March 20, 2017.  In this third book in her fun, romantic women’s fiction Alabama Series, Sabine seeks peace and hopes to escape her painful past by moving to a small, southern town. Enter the town’s gorgeous favorite son who presents a complication she can’t afford, but also can’t resist.  

susan-sands-1Sands’ book, as well as books by all the Featured Authors, will be available to purchase in the mini-bookstore FoxTale Book Shoppe is setting up in the Community House during the Festival, March 25-26. 

DLF Awarded 2 Grants


Dahlonega Literary Festival Receives Grants for Lumpkin Teen Writing Program

DAHLONEGA, GA – January 25, 2017 – Dahlonega Literary Festival (DLF) announced today that the non-profit organization had received two state-funded grants to support a program to encourage writing among Lumpkin middle and high school students.

The matching grants were awarded by Georgia Humanities, in partnership with the Georgia Department of Economic Development, and the Georgia Council for the Arts.

Money from the grants will go toward funding a four-part DLF writing program aimed at young writers. The program includes a short story contest, an Open Mic session, an Adopt-an-Author reading program, and a presentation by a noted Atlanta writer to Lumpkin County students. The DLF program runs through February and March, culminating March 25-26 with the thirteenth annual Dahlonega Literary Festival.

The DFL Teen Short Story Contest is open to Lumpkin middle and high school students in public, private, and home-schools. The winning high school writer receives $300 and the middle school winner gets $200. The Dahlonega Woman’s Club donated $500 for prize money as part of the matching grants, according to Trish Hawkins, DLF coordinator for the student writing program.

Contest winners will be announced March 25 at the Literary Festival, and The Dahlonega Nugget will publish both winning stories on the Nugget’s web site. Deadline to enter is March 1. Entry applications are available at the Lumpkin County Library and at the Lumpkin County Middle and High Schools.

The Spoken Word Open Mic is set for 7 p.m., March 8, at Lumpkin County Library. Budding authors, including teen writers, are encouraged to read excerpts from their works.

Also planned by DLF is Steve Allen’s Adopt-an-Author program where Lumpkin County High School students read a specific author’s book and then that author visits the school to discuss the book. At Lumpkin County Middle School, well known screenplay writer and choreographer Sandra Hughes will either perform or teach a workshop to Language Arts classes on writing.

Contest rules are available for download here. For more information about the program, contact Hawkins at 954-383-5717 or email For details about the festival, visit

This project is supported by Georgia Humanities, in partnership with the Georgia Department of Economic Development, and the Georgia Council for the Arts through funding from the Georgia General Assembly.


2017 Festival Special Appearance: Nick Kastner

nick-kastnerNick Kastner serves as marketing manager and adjunct instructor for the Mike Cottrell College of Business at the University of North Georgia (UNG). Prior to joining UNG in 2013, he served as an account director at Red Clay Interactive, a leading web design and marketing company based just outside of Atlanta. He has worked with a number of high-profile clients and has substantial experience in the financial industry. He has served as faculty for the American Bankers Association (ABA) School of Bank Marketing and Management since 2011 and was the first instructor for the School on the topic of digital marketing. 

He is an honors graduate of the ABA School of Bank Marketing and Management where he was awarded the coveted ABA James H. Donnelly Award of Excellence. In addition to his formal education, Kastner is a Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) and Certified Agile Marketing Specialist (CAMS).

Kastner will be doing an individual presentation at the Dahlonega Literary Festival on how writers can best use social media to promote themselves and their works.