Sunday, March 22, 2015


By Bonnie Stanard

Last month I, along with more than 75 other authors, participated in Book ‘Em North Carolina, a day-long book fair. Lumberton proved to be friendly and supportive of us writers, beginning with the “Meet and Greet” on Friday evening at the Village Station Restaurant. We were treated to drinks and an appealing table of hors d’oeuvres. Owner Arnold West, as well as official hosts and the Lumberton Visitors Bureau, showed up to make us feel welcome.

For the last several years Robeson Community College has provided the venue. My husband Doug and I arrived at the A.D. Lewis Auditorium entrance Saturday morning and were met by volunteers who helped us unload our car and transport books and material to our table. They provided bottled water and offered to help with the set-up.

Each writer was given half of an eight-foot table to display and market his books. I promoted my books with posters of the covers taped to the wall. Since my novels are historical fiction, I placed on the table antique cast-iron irons (for ironing) and an old-fashioned vase with artificial flowers. Next year I’m thinking about displaying an album of 19th century photos.

At 9:30 AM when the doors opened to the public, attractive tables lined the hallways displaying a range of genres including poetry, non-fiction, fiction, and children’s books. The friendly atmosphere encouraged us writers to socialize and get to know one another. Writers (with guest) were treated to an upstairs Author Lounge where we could get complimentary snacks, drinks, and lunch.

Numerous panel discussions about varying subjects related to books and publishing were held every hour at three different locations. I, along with four other writers, discussed “The History Behind the Fiction” to a turnout of about thirty persons. During the day, several panels discussed self-publishing versus traditional publishing, reflecting the changing scene in the book business. Samples of other panel topics: “Promotion: The Other Side of Writing,” Memoir Writing,” and “Behind the Romance.”

A chat I had at my table with a lady has given me more to think about regarding my antebellum novels. I haven’t thought about them as having a political aspect, but my encounter with her (and hints from others I’ve ignored) is giving me pause. The lady asked me if I was proud of my Southern heritage. I wasn’t sure what she meant, but it became clear when she said most Southerners she knew were proud of their history of rebellion and the Confederacy. That hasn’t been my experience, I replied, though the subject of slavery isn’t one that comes up often in casual conversations.

The day ended at 4:30 PM. Doug and I said good-bye to the people we met and started the two-hour drive back to Columbia. I’ve already applied for a table at next year’s fair to be held Saturday, February 27, 2016. This is an annual event in which any published writer can participate, assuming his application is received before the spaces are filled. Writers are required to donate a percentage of their sales, which goes to support local literacy organizations. If you’re interested in being a guest author, you can download an application at the Book ‘Em North Carolina website.

“Book ‘Em North Carolina” to  -- 
Robeson Community College” to --


Laura Puccia Valtorta said...

The other writer's comments were important. You should listen to her and to African-American readers.

WritePersona said...

Laura, thanks for your comment and I agree. I now see that our Confederate history is more controversial than I had suspected. I guess I was naive to think I was just telling a story.