Please join us for an afternoon of lively conversation about books with twenty extraordinary American authors while enjoying delectable desserts and libations on Sunday, March 15, from 2:00-4:00 p.m. at the AC Marriott Hotel. Guests will have a unique opportunity to chat with a variety of writers about their work and all things literary in a relaxed, elegant setting.

 

Delicious Reads 2020 Lineup


Carter Sickles, The Prettiest Star

Small-town Appalachia doesn't have a lot going for it, but it's where Brian is from, where his family is, and where he's chosen to return to die. At eighteen, Brian, like so many other promising young gay men, arrived in New York City without much more than a love for the freedom and release from his past that it promised. But within six short years, AIDS would claim his lover, his friends, and his future. With nothing left in New York but memories of death, Brian decides to write his mother a letter asking to come back to the place, and family, he was once so desperate to escape. Set in 1986, a year after Rock Hudson's death shifted the public consciousness of the epidemic and brought the news of AIDS into living rooms and kitchens across America, The Prettiest Star is part Dog Years by Mark Doty and part Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. But it is also an urgent story now: it's a novel about the politics and fragility of the body; it is a novel about sex and shame. And it is a novel that speaks to the question of what home and family means when we try to forge a life for ourselves in a world that can be harsh and unpredictable. It is written at the far reaches of love and understanding, and zeroes in on the moments where those two forces reach for each other, and sometimes touch.

CARTER SICKLES is the author of novels The Prettiest Star (Hub City Press 2020), and The Evening Hour (Bloomsbury 2012), an Oregon Book Award finalist and a Lambda Literary Award finalist. His essays and fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in various publications, including Guernica, Bellevue Literary Review, Green Mountains Review, and BuzzFeed. Carter is the recipient of the 2013 Lambda Literary Emerging Writer Award, and earned fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the MacDowell Colony. He is Assistant Professor of English at Eastern Kentucky University, where he teaches in the Bluegrass Writers Studio Low-Residency MFA program.

 

 

Nicole Gulotta, Wild WordsRituals, Routines, and Rhythms for Braving the Writer's Path

Wild Words is an invitation to explore the intersection of your writing practice with everything else in your busy life. Through personal stories and practical lessons you’ll learn how to enter a new relationship with your creativity, one that honors where you’ve been, where you’re headed, and where you are today. Discover methods to support a sustainable writing practice, clarifying and nourishing routines, an understanding of your own creative history, and guidance on how to make small but powerful mind-set shifts (such as how to see a career as a partner rather than an obstacle). Above all, Wild Words encourages you to approach creativity through a seasonal lens and helps you untangle the messy process of embracing your circumstances, trusting your voice, and making time to put pen to paper, season after season.

NICOLE GULOTTA is the author of Wild Words: Rituals, Routines, and Rhythms for Braving the Writer’s Path and Eat This Poem: A Literary Feast of Recipes Inspired by Poetry, which was inspired by her blog of the same name. As the founder of the Wild Words community, she helps fellow writers embrace the season they’re in, create at their own pace, and care for their minds and bodies along the way. Nicole holds an MFA in poetry from Vermont College of Fine Arts and her work has been featured in Life & Thyme, The Write Life, Motherly, Fathom, and others. As a Daring to Rest™ yoga nidra facilitator, she guides other women to feel both physically rested and tapped into their creative potential. Born and raised in Southern California, she lives outside Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband and son. Connect with her online at thewildwords.com and on Instagram @nicolegulotta.
 

 

 

Michael Farris Smith, Blackwood

A timeless, mythical, spiritual tale of love and harm, of unforgiving justice and elusive grace set amongst the enigmatic kudzu of rural Mississippi. The town of Red Bluff, Mississippi, has seen better days, though those who've held on have little memory of when that was. Myer, the county's aged, sardonic lawman, still thinks it can prove itself- when confronted by a strange family of drifters, the sheriff believes that the people of Red Bluff can be accepting, rational, even good. The opposite is true: this is a landscape of fear and ghosts- of regret and violence- transformed by the kudzu vines that have enveloped the hills around it, swallowing homes, cars, rivers, and hiding a terrible secret deeper still. Colburn, a junkyard sculptor who's returned to Red Bluff, knows this pain all too well, though he too is willing to hope for more when he meets and falls in love with the local bar owner Celia. The Deep South gives these noble, broken, and driven folks the gifts of human connection while bestowing upon them the crippling weight of generations. The vagabonds represent the vagabond hearts of the townsfolk themselves; the evil in the woods, the wickedness that lurks in each and every one of us.

MICHAEL FARRIS SMITH is the author of The Fighter, Desperation Road, Rivers, and The Hands of Strangers. His novels have appeared on Best of the Year lists with Esquire, Southern Living, Book Riot, and numerous others, and have been named Indie Next List, Barnes & Noble Discover, and Amazon Best of the Month selections. He has been a finalist for the Southern Book Prize, the Gold Dagger Award in the UK, and the Grand Prix des Lectrices in France, and his essays have appeared with The New York Times, Bitter Southerner, Writer’s Bone, and more. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi, with his wife and daughters.

 

 

 

Rev. Sharon Risher, For Such a Time as This

How can you forgive the unforgivable?

The instant her phone rang, Reverend Sharon Risher sensed something was horribly wrong. Something had happened at Emanuel AME Church, the church of her youth in Charleston, South Carolina, and she knew her mother was likely in the church at Bible study. Even before she heard the news, her chaplain's instinct told her the awful truth: her mother was dead, along with two cousins. What she couldn't imagine was that they had been murdered by a white supremacist. Plunged into the depths of mourning and anger and shock, Sharon could have wallowed in the pain. Instead, she chose the path of forgiveness and hope - eventually forgiving the convicted killer for his crime.

REVEREND SHARON WASHINGTON RISHER was catapulted into the limelight after the Charleston, South Carolina shooting at the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, 2015. Her beloved mother — the church’s sexton — Ethel Lee Lance, was killed along with eight others, including two cousins and a childhood friend. Since that horrific tragedy, Sharon has been very outspoken about the nation’s gun laws and is one of the national spokespersons for the grassroots advocacy groups Everytown and Moms Demand Gun Sense. A Charleston, South Carolina native, Sharon became an ordained minister in 2002 while attending St. Paul Presbyterian Church in North Carolina. She relocated to Austin, Texas where she received her Masters of Divinity degree in 2007. Today, Sharon travels the country as an activist and a speaker. Audiences nationwide call her talks incredibly powerful, emotional, riveting, raw, and authentic. Her personal experience losing loved ones to gun violence, race, racism, and hate in America as well as the path to forgiveness offer a hope for tomorrow.

 

 

 

Corrie Wang, City of Beasts

For seventeen years, fees have lived separate from beasts. The division of the sexes has kept their world peaceful. Glori Rhodes is like most other fees her age. She adores her neighborhood's abandoned Costco, can bench her body weight, and she knew twenty-seven beast counterattack moves by the time she was seven. She has never questioned the separation of the sexes or the rules that keep her post-nuclear hometown safe. But when her mother secretly gives birth to a baby beast, Glori grows to love the child and can't help wondering: What really is the difference between us and them? When her brother, at the age of five, is snatched in a vicious raid, Glori and her best friend, Su, do the unthinkable - covertly infiltrate the City of Beasts to get him back. What's meant to be a smash-and-grab job quickly becomes the adventure of a lifetime as the fees team up with a fast-talking, T-shirt cannon-wielding beast named Sway, and Glori starts to see that there's more to males, and her own history, than she's been taught. Glori, Sway, and a motley cohort of friends will go to the ends of the earth to find her little brother. And maybe save their divided world while they're at it.

CORRIE WANG is passionate about libraries, recycling, and eating all the food, everywhere. Corrie grew up in Buffalo but spent her formative years in Brooklyn, where one of her last paying gigs was managing a three-story nightclub on the Lower East Side. Writing to fix things that make her angry and explore things that frighten her, Corrie’s novels are about girls unapologetically conquering scenarios they should have little control over. Tired of seeing women and girls lose in this culture - spoiler - they never do in her stories. Her debut novel, The Takedown was chosen as one of the best books of 2017 by the New York Public Library and a 2018 YALSA selection for Best Fiction for Young Adults. City of Beasts is her second novel.

 

 

 

Evan Williams, Ripples

Is repaying a debt of gratitude worth the cost of sanity? Ben Bramley must answer that question when a fall day phone call beckons him back to the farm of his youth, to the land that scarred him to the bone. If he rescinds his resolution of lifetime avoidance, he will be returning to the postcard mountain hamlet of Abundance where townsfolk are long on judgment but short on sympathy. Clueless that their black-or-white world of Southern Baptist status quo is in jeopardy should Ben decide to unload his repository of dark secrets and completely unravel the pious fabric of the close-knit community, which includes the handful of those who care for him most. Complex relationships fuel a story in which hypocrisy is an art form, change is impossible, and to love someone is to give them the power to destroy.

EVAN WILLIAMS entered his first writing competition in sixth grade- a county wide, agricultural conservation essay contest. Spurred on by a second-place finish and a nifty plaque, he has written, or thought about writing, since. From Queens University of Charlotte, he earned an M.F.A in Creative Writing. His first book, a memoir entitled One Apple at a Time, received the Willie Parker Peace Award for state history, given by the North Carolina Historical society. A few of his short stories appear in anthologies, including, Hemingway Shorts: A collection of new and engaged writing from new and engaged writers in the best tradition of Ernest Hemingway, also, The Cricket And Other Stories: Finalists From The Second Annual Grateful Steps, Short Stories Contest, and others. His book reviews appear quarterly in The Main Street Rag. Prior to American's Revolutionary War, Evan's ancestors settled in the Blue Ridge range of the Appalachians, where he remains. His latest novel, Ripples, draws heavily on his family's multi-generational apple-growing business. Surrounded by orchard, and writing from within a former apple storage shed, converted to dwelling, Evan inhabits the family compound along with a smattering of his adult, married children, several rescue pets, and a growing number of grandchildren.

 

 

 

Joe Posnanski, The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini 

Harry Houdini. Say his name and a number of things come to mind. Escapes. Illusions. Magic. Chains. Safes. Live burials. Close to a century after his death, nearly every person in America knows his name from a young age, capturing their imaginations with his death-defying stunts and daring acts. He inspired countless people, from all walks of life, to find something magical within themselves. This is a book about a man and his extraordinary life, but it is also about the people who he has inspired in death. As Joe Posnanski delves into the deepest corners of Houdini-land, visiting museums (one owned by David Copperfield), attractions, and private archives, he encounters a cast of unforgettable and fascinating characters: a woman who runs away from home to chase her dream of becoming a magician; an Italian who revives Houdini’s most famous illusion every night; a performer at the Magic Castle in Los Angeles who calls himself Houdini’s Ghost; a young boy in Australia who, one day, sees an old poster and feels his life change; and a man in Los Angeles whose sole mission in life has been to keep the legend’s name alive. Both a personal obsession and an odyssey of discovery, Posnanski draws inspiration from his lifelong passion for and obsession with magic, blending biography, memoir, and first-person reporting to examine Harry Houdini’s life and legacy. This is the ultimate journey to uncover why this magic man endures, and what he still has to teach the world about wonder.

JOE POSNANSKI is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller, Paterno. He is a national columnist for NBC Sports and was a senior writer at Sports Illustrated from 2009 to 2012. In 2012, he was named National Sportswriter of the Year by the Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame. Before joining SI, he was a columnist for the Kansas City Star for fifteen years, and was twice named the best sports columnist in America by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is the author of four books and has been anthologized widely. He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with his family.

 

 

 

Tupelo Hassman, gods with a little g

Unsinkable and wrecked by grief, motherless and aimless and looking for connection, Helen Dedleder is a girl with a gift she doesn't want to use and a pack of friends who are all just helping each other get by. So cut off from the rest of the world that even the internet is blocked (never mind traffic in and out), Rosary, California, is run by evangelicals but was named by Catholics. It’s a town on very formal relations with its neighbors, one that boasts an oil refinery as well as a fairly sizable population of teenagers. For Helen and her gang of misfits, the tire yard, sex, and beer help pass the days until they turn eighteen and leave town. Her best friends, Win and Rainbolene, late arrivals to Rosary, are particularly keen to depart―Rain because she’ll finally be able to get the hormones she needs to fully become herself. Watching over them is Aunt Bev, an outcast like the kids, who runs the barely tolerated Psychic Encounter Shoppe and tries to keep Helen connected to her own psychic talents―a gift passed down from her mother. Tensions are building, though, in every way. Threats against the Psychic Encounter Shoppe become serious actions. One of the kids gets in trouble, and then another. And Helen can see some things before they happen, but somehow can't see the most important things happening right in front of her.

TUPELO HASSMAN's debut novel, girlchild, is the recipient of the American Library Association's ALEX Award. Her short fiction, Breast Milk, won Quiet Lightning's inaugural chapbook competition. She is the recipient of the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame Silver Pen Award, the Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award, and is the first American to win London's Literary Death Match. Tupelo’s work has been anthologized in 100WordStory's Nothing Short Of 100 and in Drivel: Deliciously Bad Writing By Your Favorite Authors. Her work has also appeared in The Boston Globe, Harper's Bazaar, The Independent, The Portland Review, Imaginary Oklahoma, and ZYZZYVA, among others. Tupelo teaches at Santa Monica College and California State University, East Bay, and lives in Charleston, SC with her husband and their two sons, Tupelo’s brother, Daniel, Blaschko the dog, Pekoe and Smokey the cats, and a 6-foot tall dancing wooden pig named Theo. 

 

 

 

Anthony E. Varallo, The Lines

Set in the summer of 1979, when America was running out of gas, The Lines tells the story of a family of four—the mother, the father, the girl, and the boy—in the first months of a marital separation. Through alternating perspectives, we follow the family as they explore new territory, new living arrangements, and new complications. The mother returns to school. The father moves into an apartment. The girl squares off with her mother, while the boy struggles to make sense of the world. The Lines explores the way we are all tied to one another, and how all experience offers the possibility of love and connection as much as loss and change.

ANTHONY E. VARALLO is the author of a novel, The Lines, as well as four short story collections: Everyone Was There, winner of the Elixir Press Fiction Award; This Day in History, winner of the John Simmons Short Fiction Award; Out Loud, winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize; and Think of Me and I’ll Know. Currently he is a professor of English at the College of Charleston, where he is also the fiction editor of Crazyhorse.

 

 

 

Sandra E. Johnson, The Mind-Body Peace Journal: 366 Mindful Prompts for Serenity and Clarity 

Reduce anxiety, relieve stress, and live a calmer, more balanced life. The practice of mindfulness has been gaining popularity amid our fast-paced world, and this entry in our successful gilded and guided journal series will help you reconnect with the earth and nature. Featuring writing prompts and daily words of wisdom from popular luminaries throughout history—from the Buddha to Bob Marley—every page brings joy and peace into your routine.

SANDRA E. JOHNSON is a regular guest columnist for The State, South Carolina's largest newspaper. Her work has also appeared in the Washington Post, Transitions Abroad, and Columbia Metropolitan magazine. She lives in Columbia, South Carolina about twenty miles from St. John Baptist Church, and participated in its rebuilding.
 

 

 

Susan Zurenda, Bells for Eli

Bells for Eli is a tender and engaging Coming of Age story in which fate takes with one hand and gives with the other in a time and place of social constraints. It is a world where family secrets must stay hidden, present and past. The novel explores the power of culture, family, friends, bullies, scars, and lovers on two cousins devoted to each other. Though cruelty and pain threaten to dominate, determination, otherworldliness, and most powerfully love, hope, and connectedness combine to enact their mysterious forces

.

SUSAN ZURENDA is delighted to present her debut novel, Bells for Eli, to readers on March 2, 2020. After teaching literature, composition, and creative writing to thousands of high school and college students for 33 years, Susan turned her attention to putting a novel in her heart on paper, the genesis of which started with a short story that won a fiction prize some years ago. Susan has published short stories and won numerous regional awards such as the South Carolina Fiction Prize (twice), the Porter Fleming Competition, The Southern Writers Symposium Emerging Writers Fiction Contest, The Hub City Hardegree Contest in Fiction, Alabama Conclave First Novel Chapter Contest, and The Jubilee Writing Competition (twice).  Since 2018, she has published six stories in literary magazines. Susan received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in English from Converse College and now works as a book publicist managing media relations for Magic Time Literary Publicity. She lives in Spartanburg, SC, with her husband Wayne.

 

 

 

Deborah Cohan, Welcome to Wherever We Are: A Memoir of Family, Caregiving and Redemption

How do you go about caregiving for an ill and elderly parent with a lifelong history of abuse and control, intertwined with expressions of intense love and adoration? How do you reconcile the resulting ambivalence, fear, and anger? Welcome to Wherever We Are is a meditation on what we hold onto, what we let go of, how we remember others and ultimately how we’re remembered. Deborah Cohan shares her story of caring for her father, a man who was simultaneously loud, gentle, loving and cruel and whose brilliant career as an advertising executive included creating slogans like “Hey, how ‘bout a nice Hawaiian punch?” Wrestling with emotional extremes that characterize abusive relationships, Cohan shows how she navigated life with a man who was at once generous and affectionate, creating magical coat pockets filled with chocolate kisses when she was a little girl, yet who was also prone to searing, vicious remarks like “You’d make my life easier if you’d commit suicide.”

In this gripping memoir, Cohan tells her unique personal story while also weaving in her expertise as a sociologist and domestic abuse counselor to address broader questions related to marriage, violence, divorce, only children, intimacy and loss. A story most of us can relate to as we reckon with past and future choices against the backdrop of complicated family dynamics, Welcome to Wherever We Are is about how we might come to live our own lives better amidst unpredictable changes through grief and healing.

DEBORAH J. COHAN's first book is Welcome to Wherever We Are: A Memoir of Family, Caregiving, and Redemption. A sought after speaker, Cohan is available for talks, readings and workshops related to intimacy and relationships, gender-based violence and trauma, grief and loss, body image, sexuality, and race, as well as creative writing and issues related to the landscape of higher education. She is a professor of sociology at the University of South Carolina-Beaufort, a contributing writer for Psychology Today online, a frequent contributor to Inside Higher Ed, and is regularly featured as an expert for national media on a range of social issues. Cohan has done domestic violence work in four states and worked as a counselor and clinical supervisor at the first battering intervention program in the United States. She has also served as an expert consultant in cases of domestic violence, sexual assault and sexual harassment. Cohan is trained in mindfulness and healing work, and facilitates Deep River workshops.

 

 

 

Ken Woodley, The Road to Healing: A Civil Rights Reparations Story in Prince Edward County, Virginia

“The Road to Healing” is a first-person account of Woodley’s crusade to bring healing to Prince Edward County, Virginia. The town closed its public schools in 1959 in “massive resistance” to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board decision of 1954. The editorial pages of the family-owned Farmville-Herald led the fight to lock classrooms rather than integrate them. The school system remained closed until the fall of 1964, when the county at last was forced by the courts to comply with Brown-mandated desegregation. Meanwhile, most white children had attended a private, whites-only academy, in part with state-funded tuition grants. But more than two thousand black and a few white students were denied a formal education during the five-year closure. Lives were forever changed. The narrative unfolds in Virginia, but it is a deeply American story. Prince Edward County’s ongoing journey of racial reconciliation blazes a hopeful and redemptive trail through difficult human terrain, but the signs are clear enough for a divided nation to follow.

KEN WOODLEY was the editor for twenty-four years of the Farmville-Herald in Prince Edward County, Virginia. When he went to work at the family-owned newspaper twelve years earlier, he did not know its segregation-boosting history in the 1950s and 1960s. The paper was still owned by the same family, with the same publisher/editorial writer in place. Rather than leave, Woodley chose to spend his entire career there, lending his voice to racial healing and reconciliation. In 2003, he proposed and led the successful fight for a state-funded scholarship program for the casualties of countywide local public school closings from 1959-1964. In 2006, the Virginia Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists presented Woodley with the George Mason Award for “demonstrating that a community newspaper and a principled editor are relevant and vital parts of civic leadership and that the importance of journalism is not defined by the size of the community or the circulation of the newspaper.” Woodley is a licensed lay preacher in the Episcopal Church and has published daily spiritual meditations Forward Day-By-Day. When he’s not writing, Woodley volunteering at an after-school program for at-risk children.

 

 

 

Erica C. Witsell, Give

Every summer, Jessie and Emma leave their suburban home in the Central Valley and fly north to Baymont. Nestled among Mendocino's golden hills, with ponies to love and endless acres to explore, Baymont should be a child's paradise. But Baymont belongs to Laurel, the girls' birth mother, whose heedless parenting and tainted judgement cast a long shadow over the sisters' summers - and their lives. Caught in a web of allegiances, the girls learn again and again that every loyalty has its price, and that even forgiveness can take unexpected turns. Luminous and poignant, Give is the story of one family's troubled quest to redeem the mistakes of the past and a stirring testament to the bonds of sisterhood.

ERICA C. WlTSELL has a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University and a master’s from UC Berkeley. Her writing has appeared in The Sun Magazine and Brain, Child’s online publication. Give is her debut novel. Erica lives in western North Carolina with her family, where she teaches English as a new language and writes a blog about motherhood. She loves mountains, languages, bicycling, and dance, and her favorite time of day is “book time,” when she piles on the couch with her three kids to read.    

 

 

 

Tom Poland & Robert Clark, Carolina Bays

There is a strange beauty at the heart of every mystery, and the mystery of the Carolina Bays is an enigma that is lushly, uniquely beautiful. How did these odd geomorphological features come to be formed in the landscape in the first place, with their uniform shapes and matching elliptical orientations scattered across the Carolinas? There are many hypotheses but no definitive answers. Why are these inland phenomena even called "bays?" There is no clear answer to that either. These wetlands are unique and almost immeasurably ancient; as is to be expected in the modern world, they are threatened by human intervention. Such diverse habitats and their rich, unmatched biodiversity call out for preservation and restoration. The bays are not only visited and documented by the authors; they make an impassioned case for respecting how important these singular formations are for the health of the planet. You could not find more able guides.

TOM POLAND graduated from the University of Georgia and is the former managing editor of South Carolina Wildlife Magazine. He is the author of South Carolina Country Roads, Reflections of South Carolina (volumes 1 and 2), and Georgialina: A Southland As We Knew It. He has received the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina's highest civilian honor.
ROBERT C. CLARK is a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, and his photographs have appeared in National Geographic books, Newsweek, and the Smithsonian magazine, among other publications, as well in photographic awards annuals such as Print and Communications Arts. Together with Poland he co-authored Reflections of South Carolina (volumes 1 and 2).

Tickets and Pricing

$45.00 / seat, $40.00 for Hub City Members
Registration is limited to 120.

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