2017 Featured Author: Rita Mae Brown

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Rita Mae Brown is the New York Times bestselling author of the Mrs. Murphy mystery series (which she writes with her tiger cat, Sneaky Pie) and the Sister Jane novels, as well as Rubyfruit Jungle, In Her Day, Six of One, The Sand Castle, and the memoirs Animal Magnetism and Rita Will. An Emmy-nominated screenwriter and a poet, Brown lives in Afton, Virginia, with cats, hounds, horses, and big red foxes.

(Bio and images from author’s website)

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2016 Featured Author: Ann Hite

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Ann Hite’s debut novel, Ghost On Black Mountain, not only became a Townsend Prize Finalist but won Georgia Author of the Year in 2012. Her personal essays and short stories have been published in numerous national anthologies. The Storycatcher and Where the Souls Go are the second and third books in her Black Mountain series. The latest Black Mountain novel is Sleeping Above Chaos.

Ann is an admitted book junkie with a library of over a thousand books. She lives in Smyrna, Georgia with her husband and daughter, where she allows her Appalachian characters to dictate their stories.

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2016 Featured Author: Susan Sands

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Susan Sands grew up in Northwest Louisiana, but has strong Cajun roots (Southern Louisiana) on both sides of her family. She currently lives in the Atlanta suburbs with her dentist husband and near-adult children, plus a few furry creatures.

Sands loves to cook and adores food. She writes Southern romantic women’s fiction. She’s a member of the Georgia Romance Writers and Romance Writers of America and is currently represented by Inkwell Management.

She would love to hear from her readers on Facebook, Twitter (links below) or at snsands@gmail.com.

(Image and bio adapted from author’s website)

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2016 Featured Guest: Mark Braught

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Mark Braught is an award-winning illustrator who has created images for numerous corporations, design firms, advertising agencies and publishers in the United States and Europe. He has taught at the University of Georgia, Creative Circus, and the Portfolio Center as well as workshops and presentations for the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, numerous literary festivals, universities, high schools and elementary schools across the country.

Projects & Clients include The Kentucky Derby, Warner Brothers, Scholastic, Sleeping Bear Press, Newsweek, Citibank, Visa, Learner Publishing, Oxford Press among others.

Braught is the illustrator of the children’s books P is for Peach: A Georgia AlphabetCosmo’s Moon, Dear Baby, I’m Watching Over You, T is for Touchdown, A Football Alphabet, J is For Jump Shot, A Basketball Alphabet, and Ellen Craft’s Escape from Slavery, and Piggles Choice in addition to a number of book covers including Princess Nevermore and Cam’s Quest.

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2017 Featured Author: Jacob M. Appel

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Jacob M. Appel’s first novel, The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up, won the Dundee International Book Award in 2012.  His short story collection, Scouting for the Reaper, won the 2012 Hudson Prize and will be published by Black Lawrence in November 2013.

Jacob has published short fiction in more than two hundred literary journals including AgniAlaska Quarterly ReviewConjunctionsColorado Review, Gettysburg ReviewIowa ReviewPleiades, Prairie Schooner, ShenandoahSouthwest Review, StoryQuarterly, Subtropics, Threepenny ReviewVirginia Quarterly Review, and West Branch. He has won the New Millennium Writings contest four times, the Writer’s Digest “grand prize” twice, and the William Faulkner-William Wisdom competition in both fiction and creative nonfiction. He has also won annual contests sponsored by Boston Review, Missouri Review, Arts & LettersBellingham ReviewBriar Cliff ReviewNorth American ReviewSycamore Review, Writers’ Voice, the Dana Awards, the Salem Center for Women Writers, and Washington Square. His work has been short listed for the O. Henry Award (2001), Best American Short Stories (2007, 2008), Best American Essays (2011, 2012), and received “special mention” for the Pushcart Prize in 2006, 2007, 2011 and 2013.

Jacob holds a B.A. and an M.A. from Brown University, an M.A. and an M.Phil. from Columbia University, an M.S. in bioethics from the Alden March Bioethics Institute of Albany Medical College, an M.D. from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, an M.F.A. in creative writing from New York University, an M.F.A. in playwriting from Queens College, an M.P.H. from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He has most recently taught at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, where he was honored with the Undergraduate Council of Students Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2003, and at the Gotham Writers Workshop in New York City. He also publishes in the field of bioethics and contributes to such publications as the Journal of Clinical Ethics, the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, the Hastings Center Report, and the Bulletin of the History of Medicine.His essays have appeared in The New York TimesThe New York Daily NewsThe New York PostThe Chicago TribuneThe Detroit Free PressThe San Francisco ChronicleThe Washington TimesThe Providence Journal and many regional newspapers.

Jacob has been admitted to the practice of law in New York State and Rhode Island, and is a licensed New York City sightseeing guide.

(Bio taken from Website)

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2017 Featured Author: H. W. Buzz Bernard

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H. W. “Buzz” Bernard is a best-selling, award-winning novelist.

His debut novel, Eyewall, which one reviewer called a “perfect summer beach read,” was released in May 2011 and went on to become a number-one best seller in Amazon’s Kindle Store.

Plague (“One of the best thrillers of 2012″–novelist Al Leverone) came out in September 2012, and won the 2014 EPIC eBook Award in the suspense/thriller category.

Supercell (“Races along with the speed of a twister”–novelist Michael Wallace) was published in late 2013 and became a best seller on Kindle as well as the winner of the 2015 EPIC eBook Award in the suspense thriller/category.

Buzz’s fourth novel and third in his “weather trilogy,” Blizzard (“A terrific book”–novelist Deborah Smith) was released in February 2015.  It led to his nomination for a 2016 Georgia Author of the Year award.

Cascadia (“heart pounding”–Reed Farrel Coleman, NYT best-selling author of Where it Hurts) was released in July.

Before becoming a novelist, Buzz worked at The Weather Channel as a senior meteorologist for 13 years.  Prior to that, he served as a weather officer in the U.S. Air Force for over three decades. He attained the rank of colonel and received, among other awards, the Legion of Merit.

His “airborne” experiences include a mission with the Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters, air drops over the Arctic Ocean and Turkey, and a stint as a weather officer aboard a Tactical Air Command airborne command post (C-135).

In the past, he’s provided field support to forest fire fighting operations in the Pacific Northwest, spent a summer working on Alaska’s arctic slope, and served two tours in Vietnam. Various other jobs, both civilian and military, have taken him to Germany, Saudi Arabia, and Panama.

He’s a native Oregonian and attended the University of Washington in Seattle where he earned a bachelor’s degree in atmospheric science; he also studied creative writing.

Buzz currently is vice president of the Southeastern Writers Association.  He’s a member of International Thriller Writers, the Atlanta Writers Club and Willamette Writers.

He and his wife Christina live in Roswell, Georgia, along with their fuzzy and sometimes over-active Shih-Tzu, Stormy. Buzz is represented by Jeanie Loiacano of the Loiacano Literary Agency.

(Images and bio from author’s website)

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2017 Featured Author: Jackie K Cooper

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Jackie K. Cooper was born in South Carolina and now lives in Georgia. He is the married father of two sons and the proud grandparent of a boy and three girls.

He is familiar to people living in the middle Georgia area as the “entertainment man” since his entertainment reviews run in newspapers and are shown on television there. His short stories have been used as commentary on Georgia Public Radio. He also keeps active appearing as an after dinner speaker for various events.

Cooper has lived an exceptionally interesting life and portions of it were contained in his first book Journey of a Gentle Southern Man. The journey continued in Chances and Choices. His third book, Halfway Home, was published by Mercer University Press in October 2004. His fourth book, The Book Binder, was published in the fall of 2006.

His latest collection of stories is titled Memory’s Mist which was also published by Mercer University Press.

(Bio from author’s website)

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2017 Feature Author: William Rawlings

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If you ask William Rawlings where he lives, you will likely be told “in the Center of the Universe.” The thought comes from Lewis Thomas, the talented physician, scientist and essayist who compared a writer’s world to a universe swirling around the tip of his pen. Indeed, for an author and a physician, there are few richer sources of inspiration than that of a small, rural Southern town.

Rawlings was born, raised and still lives on the family farm in Sandersville, Georgia, where he is the son, grandson, nephew and brother to physicians who have served the area for more than a century. He was educated at Emory University in Oxford and Atlanta, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa Honorary Society. He earned his Doctorate in Medicine and a Master’s Degree in Epidemiology at Tulane University in New Orleans. Completing his postgraduate medical training in Internal Medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, he returned to Sandersville to practice medicine with his father. He has received numerous awards and accolades over the years, including the award of an honorary Doctor of Science degree by Mercer University in 2011.

 Writing is an interest that developed relatively late. “Unlike a number of other authors, I didn’t grow up with a burning desire to be a writer.” Rawlings says. “But sometimes you have a story that just needs to be told, and so I hammered out my first book. To my great surprise, it was quite successful, and now writing occupies much of my free time.”  Working first in the genre of “Southern suspense,” his first five novels were commercially successful, earning positive reviews and interest from Hollywood. More recently he has turned to writing non-fiction, for the most part Southern history, and is a frequent contributor to newspapers and magazines.

A Killing on Ring Jaw Bluff (Mercer University Press, 2014), Rawlings’s first non-fiction book, is the story of the infamous 1925 Rawlings-Tarbutton murder for which his great uncle, Charles Graves Rawlings, spent the latter part of his life in prison. “In 1920, Uncle Charlie was one of the richest men in the state,” Rawlings says. “Some five years later he was serving a life sentence for the conspiracy-murder of his first cousin. It’s a great tale, with all the elements of a Greek tragedy: greed, deception, lust, treachery and murder, not to mention actual court dialog that could have been written by Erle Stanley Gardner.”   The book has been commercially successful, going through a second hard cover printing, and released in softcover in September 2015.  In June 2014 it was named Finalist in History for the Georgia Author of the Year Awards.

Rawlings’s current book, The Second Coming of the Invisible Empire (Mercer University Press, 2016), is a definitive history of the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s.  The Klan was, for a brief moment in time, one of the most powerful social and political organizations in the United States, boasting as many as five million members.  “It’s a fascinating study in sociology,” Rawlings says, “and the Klan’s self-destructive decline was also as rapid as its rise to power.”

His forthcoming book, The Strange Journey of the Confederate Constitution, will be released by Mercer Press in late summer 2017.  It is a collection of shorter pieces on Georgia and Southern history.

Outside of his literary career, Rawlings has multiple business interests, as well as an addiction to travel, especially in Central and South America. “I think I inherited that from my grandfather, a country doctor who had a real fascination with Latin America and traveled there many times from the 1930s through the 1950s,” he said.

Rawlings is married to the former Elizabeth Dunwody of Macon. They have two daughters, one in college and the other in law school.  Now semi-retired from the practice of medicine, he divides his time between attending to his business interests, travel and writing.

As an author, Rawlings welcomes and encourages feedback (both positive and negative) from his readers. “I appreciate other opinions and always try to answer letters and emails promptly.” He enjoys giving talks and presentations to civic and book clubs, historical societies and other groups. Feel free to contact him by email (dirkrawlings@gmail.com).

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2017 Featured Author: Cassandra King

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Cassandra King is the author of five novels, most recently the critically acclaimed Moonrise (2013), her literary homage to Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Moonrise is a Fall 2013 Okra Pick and a Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) bestseller. It has been described as “her finest book to date.”

Fellow Southern writers Sandra Brown, Fannie Flagg, and Dorothea Benton Frank hailed her previous novel, Queen of Broken Hearts (2008), as “wonderful,” “uplifting,” “absolutely fabulous,” and “filled with irresistible characters.” Prior to that, King’s third book, The Same Sweet Girls (2005), was a #1 Booksense Selection and Booksense bestseller, a Southeastern Bookseller Association bestseller, a New York Post Required Reading selection, and a Literary Guild Book-of-the-Month Club selection.

Her first novel, Making Waves in Zion, was published in 1995 by River City Press and reissued in 2004 by Hyperion. Her second novel, The Sunday Wife (2002), was a Booksense Pick, aPeople Magazine Page-Turner of the Week, a Literary Guild Book-of-the-Month selection, a Books-a-Million President’s Pick, a South Carolina State Readers’ Circle selection, and a Salt Lake Library Readers’ Choice Award nominee. In paperback, the novel was chosen by the Nestle Corporation for its campaign to promote reading groups.

King’s short fiction and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, includingCallaloo, Alabama Bound: The Stories of a State (1995), Belles’ Letters: Contemporary Fiction by Alabama Women (1999), Stories From Where We Live (2002), and Stories From The Blue Moon Café (2004). Aside from writing fiction, she has taught writing on the college level, conducted corporate writing seminars, worked as a human-interest reporter for a Pelham, Alabama, weekly paper, and published an article on her second-favorite pastime, cooking, inCooking Light magazine.

A native of L.A. (Lower Alabama), King currents lives in the Low Country of South Carolina with her husband, novelist Pat Conroy, whom she met when he wrote a blurb for Making Waves.

(Bio and images from author’s website)

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2017 Featured Author: June Hall McCash

JHMcCashJune Hall McCash is the author, co-author, or editor of thirteen books (four historical novels, eight nonfiction works, and one book of poetry) as well as numerous articles. Her novel, Plum Orchard, won the Georgia Author of the Year Award for best novel in 2013. Her first novel, Almost to Eden, also won the Georgia Author of the Year Award for first novel in 2011. She is the recipient of eight other literary awards for fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. She has spoken to many historical, museum, library, book clubs, and university groups throughout the South, as well as in Connecticut, New York, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Michigan, Texas, and abroad in France, England, Ireland, Wales, Holland, Switzerland, Italy, and Canada. She has appeared in four film documentaries and on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Her nonfiction books have focused primarily on the history of Jekyll Island, Georgia and medieval literature. Her most recent books are Marguerite’s Landing, published in 2016, and The Boys of Shiloh, published in December, 2015.

McCash holds a bachelor’s degree from Agnes Scott College as well as a master’s degree in French and a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Emory University. Before becoming a full-time writer, she enjoyed an academic career at Middle Tennessee State University as a professor of French and humanities. At MTSU she was founding director of the University Honors Program (now Honors College) and chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. She was the recipient of MTSU awards for teaching, distinguished research (1996), and career achievement (2003), the latter being the highest award given to one faculty member each year by the MTSU Foundation, She is also the recipient of as outstanding alumna award from Agnes Scott College in 1996.

She has been a fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Education. Serving as chair of Humanities Tennessee, she helped to found the Southern Festival of Books. She also served as president of the Southeastern Medieval Association and the International Courtly Literature Society. She has recently completed a nine-year term as a trustee of the Jekyll Island Foundation and currently serves on the Foundation’s advisory board.

(Bio and image from author’s website)

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