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First Book Festival draws literary-minded to Franklinton

Visitors to Saturday’s Book Festival at the Washington Parish Library Franklinton Branch strolled about as a pleasant cooling breeze drifted through the moss-covered oaks, teasing of autumn days ahead. The many hours of preparation spent by the Friends of the Library were evident as vendors, authors and the curious milled about the library grounds.

Book lovers traveled from miles around to catch a glimpse of their favorite authors and perhaps get an autographed copy to add to their treasured collections. Writers peddled their wares and spoke of their inspiration and love of their craft. A variety of artists from the bold in their flamboyant costumes to the unassuming speaking with quiet reserve brought the characters in their books to life as they shared with the audience.

“Death In The Daylillies” author Mary Beth Magee of Poplarville, Miss., took the podium first and shared of her three senior ladies who can’t seem to keep from stumbling into trouble. Magee describes her book as a cozy mystery written from a Christian perspective.

“I wrote this particular book in memory of my mom. We didn’t always get along as is the way with mothers and daughters, but she lived to see my first work in print. She believed in my abilities and was so excited for me,” said Magee.

Mary Jo Poole, president of the Friends group, was on hand along with many other members and library supporters. Poole said proceeds from Saturday’s event would go toward additional funding for the library and the many services it affords the people of Washington Parish. Poole worked a booth with many interesting books for sale, including John Gallaspy’s, “The City That Refused To Die.”

Poole said, “There are over 20 authors on hand today.”

LSU Ag Center volunteer Kay McElven, a member of the Master Gardeners of Washington Parish, manned a booth at the festival. McElven said, “My club helps the community with local projects.”

The Master Gardeners created a gardening learning environment in five area elementary schools where students can help plant, tend, harvest and taste nature’s bounty. They are not only provided with a chance to get a little dirt under their fingernails but also receive educational materials to help reinforce their hands-on learning experiences.

“Who can go out in the mornings with the sun coming up and dew glistening on the rose petals and not realize that there is a God who created it all?” McElven said with a gentle smile.

Roderick Farmer, author of “Daniel Ironstone and The Legend of Eraleon,” spoke of his writing career. He was born in New York but spent most of his childhood and adult life in middle Georgia. After graduating from Oral Roberts University with a BA in Christian education, he works in manufacturing in Louisiana and writes in his spare time.

Elizabeth Hilby, author of “Audience of One-Mercy Seat,” writes in hopes that her work will inspire others to find a place of intimacy with God. Elizabeth and her husband, Lester, have stumbled on another somewhat unique way of serving their community. Around this time of year the Hilbys make sure their suits are clean and pressed. Santa and Mrs. Claus need to be looking sharp as they share with the young and young at heart during the upcoming Christmas season.

This will be the 16th year that the Hilbys transform into St. Nicholas and his wife.

Hilby said, “Many years ago we were working at a school, and I noticed that the only kids that got to sit on Santa’s lap had to be able to pay. The next year we changed all that, and everyone got to sit with Santa. We love the excitement in the children’s eyes. It’s all about the kids.”

Melinda Taliancich Falgoust’s costume peaked the interest of festival attendees as they wondered just which character she was portraying. Ten-year-old Colin “Smout” McManus embarks on a dangerous mission to find a lost pirate treasure in her book. Some were just curious enough to purchase “The Gubbins Club: The Legend of Charlie’s Gold” to find out.

Keynote speaker Erica Spindler, a New York Times best-selling author, has written more than 19 fictional works with a variety of plots and settings. She spoke at length of her multi-faceted carreer.

“Perhaps the most exciting moment of my professional life came when my editor called and told me that my book, ‘Red,’ was to be launched in Japan,” said Spindler. “From there it just took on a life of it’s own. ‘Red’ did well and morphed into a cartoon strip and then of all things into a Japanese daytime drama. I traveled to Japan on a promotional tour. I grew up in a working class family, and here I was going to Japan to promote a daytime drama based on my book. It was so cool!”

Spindler spoke with animation and excitement about a career that she so obviously loves. Although Spindler started out writing romance novels, some of her latest works have taken a decidedly mysterious turn. At a dinner party recently Spindler’s husband was jokingly asked how he could sleep at night when Erica was nearby. He quickly quipped back, “I sleep with one eye wide open.”

Many more well-known and beginning authors shared with the crowd. Mary Beth Magee summed it up well when she said, “No matter what world you come from, you have a story to tell. Don’t be afraid to tell your story.”