The 20th Annual Alabama Writers Symposium

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Photo: Alabama Writers Symposium Facebook Page

Hailed as the literary capital of Alabama, Monroeville has produced several notable authors. It would only make sense then, for Monroeville to be the home of one of Alabama’s most celebrated literary events, the Alabama Writers Symposium.

Every spring, writers, scholars and readers gather in Monroeville for two days of readings and discussions, as well as workshops. In addition, two awards are presented during the Alabama Writers Symposium: the Harper Lee Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Writer and the Eugene Current-Garcia Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Literary Scholar. Last year, an additional award was added: the Truman Capote Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Writer of Literary Non-Fiction or the Short Story. These awards are made possible by a grant graciously provided by George F. Landegger.

This years Symposium is extra special, as this will be the 20th Annual Alabama Writers Symposium. The Alabama Writers Symposium is hosted by the Monroeville branch of Coastal Alabama Community College, formerly known as Alabama Southern Community College.

The 20th Annual Alabama Writers Symposium will kick off on Thursday April 20th, with a memoir writing workshop at Coastal Alabama, taught by writer, poet, editor, and teacher, Jennifer Horne. Discussions will begin at noon on Thursday, in the courthouse of the Monroe County Heritage Museum. Featured speakers for Thursday will be: Jacqueline Trimble, Nancy Anderson, the Alabama Bicentennial Panel, Brad Watson and Kirk Curnutt.

On Thursday evening, a dinner and awards presentation will be held at the Monroeville Community house. Michael Knight will accept the Truman Capote Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Writer of Literary Non-Fiction or the Short Story. Knight resides in Knoxville, Tennessee and is employed by the University of Tennessee, where he teaches creative writing. Knight is the author of a book of novellas entitled “The Holiday Season”; two novels, “Divining Rod” and “The Typist”; and three short-story collections, ” Dogfight and Other Stories,” “Goodnight, Nobody,” and his latest work, “Eveningland.”

This years Eugene Current-Garcia Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Literary Scholar will be given to Alabama Writers Symposium veteran Kirk Curnutt. Curnutt is an English professor, as well as a chair of English at Troy University. Curnutt has penned fourteen books, three of which are novels. His scholarly works mainly center around Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein. In addition to teaching and writing, Curnutt is also the co-director of the Alabama Book Festival.

Finally, The Harper Lee Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Writer will be presented to Brad Watson. Watson is an alumnus of the University of Alabama. He has written several books including: ‘The Heaven of Mercury,” “The Last Days of the Dog-men,” “Aliens in the Prime of their Lives,” and “Miss Jane.” All of his works have either been nominated for, or have received awards. Watson currently teaches creative writing at The University of Wyoming.

On Friday morning, attendees will gather back at Coastal Alabama, where featured speakers will resume discussions. Friday morning keynote speakers will include: Jeanie Thompson, Kyes Stevens with the Alabama Prison Arts + Educaon Project, Frye Gaillard, Michael Knight, Deidra Suwanee Dees with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, Don Noble and Jennifer Horne.

A luncheon will then be held at the Monroeville Community House, with guest speaker Yaa Gyasi. Gyasi’s debut novel “Homegoing” made quite an impression in the literary world, even being nominated as one of Oprah’s Ten Favorite Books of 2016 as well as one of Time’s Top Ten Novels of 2016. A book signing will follow the luncheon.

Don’t worry, the party doesnt end there! Guests will return to Coastal Alabama for afternoon discussions and book signings. Those speaking Friday afternoon include Miriam Davis, Jaime Primak Sullivan, T.K. Thorne, Sue Brannan Walker and Katherine Clark.

Tickets were previously sold for the awards gala and luncheon, as well as an optional ticket to the opening night presentation of the play “To Kill a Mockingbird” on Friday night. However, all discussions on Thursday and Friday are free and open to the public. There will also be several opportunities throughout the weekend to meet these distinguished writers and speakers and to have books signed as well.

The 20th Annual Alabama Writers Symposium is sponsored by George Landegger, the Alabama State Council of the Arts, and the Alabama Humanities Foundation. In addition to Coastal Alabama Community College, the Symposium is hosted by The Monroe County Heritage Museum, The Association of College English Teachers of Alabama, as well as The Alabama Writers Forum.

Have you attended a past Symposium? Are you attending this years 20th Annual Alabama Writers Symposium? What events and/or speakers are you looking forward to most? I am looking forward to ALL of it, but I am most excited to attend the memoir writing workshop, the awards gala and to hear Yaa Gyasi speak at the luncheon on Friday. We hope to see you there! [Read more…]

Ol’ Curiosities and Book Shoppe and Monroe County Heritage Museum present: Forgotten Alabama & More Forgotten Alabama photographer Glenn Wills at Old Courthouse Museum

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Huntsville, Alabama native Glenn Wills has taken nearly 15,000 pictures across all 67 counties in the state of Alabama. It began when one day Glenn noticed an old car by the side of the road, but realized that he didn’t have a camera with him to capture the moment. From that moment, Glenn set out to photograph “forgotten” physical reminders of our past. His photographs range from abandoned stores and buildings to old cars and houses, and more.

Glenn took his collection of photographs and turned them into not one, but two photography books: Forgotten Alabama and More Forgotten Alabama.

Glenn will be at the Old Courthouse Museum in Monroeville, Alabama next Thursday February 23rd from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm. Forgotten Alabama and More Forgotten Alabama will both be available for purchase, and Glenn will be happy to autograph them. He will also be sharing a PowerPoint presentation that will take viewers on a journey, explaining how the project came to be and showing examples of his photography. Following the presentation, there will be a question and answer session with Glenn.

We hope to see as many of our friends as possible next Thursday to meet Glenn and explore and discuss Forgotten Alabama and More Forgotten Alabama at the Old Courthouse Museum.

If you can’t wait until next week and want a sneak peek of Glenn’s work, visit https://www.facebook.com/forgottenalabamathebook/.

 

For questions or further information, please contact one of the following:

Nathan Carter

Old Courthouse Museum

251-575-7433

mchm@frontiernet.net

Ann Mote
Ol’ Curiosities & Book Shoppe
251-575-1050
ocbookshoppe@gmail.com

Mockingbird Songs by Wayne Flynt

Mockingbird Songs: My Friendship with Harper Lee
Wayne Flynt and Harper Lee. Flynt is holding his granddaughter, Harper, who’s named in Lee's honor. Photo by James Hansen, originally published by PBS.org
Wayne Flynt and Harper Lee. Flynt is holding his granddaughter, Harper, who’s named in Lee’s honor. Photo by James Hansen, originally published by PBS.org

Wayne Flynt, Professor Emeritus at Auburn University, and an expert on Southern culture, poverty, religions in the South, and politics of the South and Alabama, has created a beautiful tribute to one of the most beloved American writers of all time, and he has done so in a way few expected—he’s published a collection of letters between his friend and fellow author, Harper Lee, and himself, written between 1992 and Lee’s death in February, 2016.  It is to be titled, Mockingbird Songs: My Friendship with Harper Lee.

Mockingbird Songs: About Author Wayne Flynt

Born on October 4, 1940 in Potonoc, Mississippi, to a teacher and a salesman, Wayne Flynt holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Samford University (formerly Howard College), and a Masters of Science and Doctorate degree from Florida State University.  He is also the editor-in-chief for the online Encyclopedia of Alabama, sponsored by Auburn University and the Alabama Humanities Foundation.

In addition to Mockingbird Songs: My Friendship with Harper Lee and other works, Flynt has previously published Poor But Proud: Alabama’s Poor Whites (1990), Alabama in the 20th Century (2006), and Alabama: A History of the Deep South State (2010). He is considered one of the foremost authorities on the American South and specifically, Alabama. Poor But Proud and A History of the Deep South were both nominated for Pulitzer Prizes.

Mockingbird Songs: My Friendship with Harper LeeAt one point, Wayne Flynt left Alabama based at least in part on his feelings about the violence that transpired during a haunting era of the American South, but even more important was Flynt’s later decision to make Alabama’s history the focal point of his career after reading a book by a never-before-published Alabama author, Harper Lee.  Flynt eventually became a friend of the Lee family, well respected by sisters Louise, Alice, and Nelle (Harper), and the two writers stayed in touch for years.

Mockingbird Songs: A Look into the Life of the Author We Lost

The intimate correspondence detailed between Flynt and Lee in Mockingbird Songs: My Friendship with Harper Lee, which began at a time when Harper Lee was still residing in New York, begins fairly formally, according to the publisher, but traces the growth of a friendship that stood the tests of years, fame, health concerns, and social issues.  It will be published May 2, 2017, and documents a 25-year friendship between the two writers and their families.  The result is a work through which Lee’s fans will understand her better and learn more about her in her very own words.

Mockingbird Songs: A Celebration

At Ol’ Curiosities, we believe that Mockingbird Songs: My Friendship with Harper Lee will be nothing less than a celebration of one of the most prominent American authors of all time, and we want to celebrate its release accordingly.  Stay tuned for some exciting announcements to follow in the next few weeks.

The 2016 Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair

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As many of you know I have been traveling the country a lot lately. I have spent a lot of my time in the Pacific Northwest and have even started writing my very own suspense novel.  Life certainly keeps me on my toes.book fair

I have traveled to numerous book stores and find it interesting how many independent bookstores the west coast supports.

I was just in a pizza parlor earlier this week and saw a poster for the 2016 Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair. I might be a bookstore owner, but it’s not because I have a passion to sell books—I have a passion to have them. I added the Book Fair to my itinerary right then and a few days later tried to ignore the beeping reminder of the event. It’s not that I didn’t want to go, but that I really didn’t have any extra money to buy more books.

Well, obviously, because there is a post about the event, I succumbed to the reminder and went. This was my first Antiquarian Book event ever and I have never seen so many amazing finds in one place.

I know these vendors only brought a small portion of their wares and I wonder how they even went about choosing. I believe everyone brought a first edition signed copy of The Old Man and the Sea, but what I wanted to see were books by our famous Harper Lee and Truman Capote.

Capote was more common and I only found one seller with any copies of To Kill a Mockingbird. He had two first edition copies of our favorite novel and they weren’t cheap. The price tags were steep because of the nature of the books themselves, but very reasonable for the finds, and– in my opinion—there were some very good deals. One day I am hoping we at Ol’ Curiosities & Book Shoppe will be able to have a rare book room of our own.

The Ultimate Book Giveaway

Ultimate Book Giveaway Harper Lee
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Alright, so last year we had an amazing time getting ready for the Go Set a Watchman book release  on July 14th. Well, this year we would like to do something else big to give back to our loyal followers. So we have decided to give away a signed Go Set a Watchman Special Edition!

How you can win the Ultimate Book Giveaway

All we want you to do is sign up for our newsletter and like us on Facebook and share this on Facebook and on July 14th of this year we will give away a signed copy of Go Set a Watchman. It really is the Ultimate Book Giveaway! These are very limited and worth upwards of $2,000 so this giveaway is going to be pretty sweet for the lucky winner, but that’s not all…  You see, I am a goal setter and I want our little book store to grow just like anyone wants their small business to grow. So, on top of the Go Set a Watchman giveaway we are going to give away a signed copy of To Kill a Mockingbird! That’s another $2,500 prize to a different winner. The books will be given to two separate people and all we want from  you is your help in getting the word out.

The Ultimate Book Giveaway: Our Goal

Now, the To Kill a Mockingbird giveaway comes with reaching a goal of  100k people subscribing to our newsletter, and 100k people liking us on Facebook. Now, I know this will be an easy task and we might do other giveaways if you blow it out of the water– so share this post with all your friends and family and don’t forget to join our newsletter by going to ocbookshoppe.com and signing up!

Also, please remember that we are a full service book store and if you cannot find something you’re looking for on our website, you can always give us a call and we can get it for you. If you do not have a local book store, we would love to be your local store no matter where you’re located. Our Shoppe is very small and each and everyone of our customers make a huge impact in our small community. Your orders from us have a very personal impact on our lives and the lives of our employees. You make a difference shopping with us and we appreciate you guys more than you can imagine.

Why the Ultimate Book Giveaway Means so much to us

When Go Set a Watchman came out last year, a lot of people thought we were a corporate-sized store with unlimited resources because we sold over 10,000 copies. The world soon found out the Book Shoppe is actually a 2,000 square foot house and each package was hand wrapped, stamped, and processed. We learned lot and we experienced some very real growing pains as a small business, but it was worth every moment.  Of course, it’s our desire to continue to serve you guys–to really be your hometown bookstore. So visit us online, in the store, or call us and let us know how we can help you today.

Book Signings and more at OCBS this Weekend

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If you’re local, or are going to be near Monroeville, Alabama this weekend, you should come by the Shoppe. We are going to be busy with events over the next couple of days.

We will be having a book signing and reading Friday night, with Georgia native and young adult author Ted Dunagan. On Saturday, we will be celebrating Independent Bookstore Day and having a book signing and reading with author Darlyn Finch Kuhn.

Ted Dunagan

Ted-DunaganTed Dunagan is the author of A Yellow Watermelon, Secret of the Satilfa, Trouble on the Tombigbee, and The Salvation of Miss Lucretia. These four books are young adult novels that feature the characters Ted Dillon and Poudlum and their adventures.

 

 

 

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A Yellow Watermelon

A Yellow Watermelon is author Ted Dunnagan’s first book introducing us to the segregated South of the 1940’s. Dunnagan writes about the adventures of Ted Dillion, a twelve year old white boy, and his gradual discovery of racial double standards in his hometown. Ted spends most of his long summer days playing where he shouldn’t, thinking of how to get out of school in the upcoming fall, and wondering about why white and black people in his town don’t mingle. Dunnagan uses colorful dialect and even more colorful characters to spin a story that doesn’t just look at racism from one perspective.

When Ted meets Jake, they develop an instant friendship despite their age and racial difference. Soon Ted is picking cotton on his uncle’s farm and meets Poudlum, a twelve-year-old black boy. The two hit it off immediately and with Jake, get in over their heads in adventure. You can’t imagine the trouble these three can conjure up. As you’ll come to find out, the Tombigbee river plays a big role in this story and many more to come from Dunnagan.

 

Secret of the Satilfa

In The Secret of the Satilfa, we pick up the story of Ted and his best friend Poudlum catching up and fishing during their Thanksgiving Break. The boys have barely begun to settle down at camp before their trip is interrupted by fugitive bank robbers. No strangers to danger and adventure, the boys must figure out how to escape and solve a riddle that will hopefully lead to a hidden treasure.

Author Ted Dunagan dives head first into rural Alabama, in a time that was both simple and complex, due to the racial tensions of the time. Dunagan fleshes out the wonderful relationship between Ted and Poudlum even further in his second book. The boys spend the entire story escaping from one set troubles to the next, growing closer, and maybe even getting a little bit wiser.

Trouble on the Tombigbee

Trouble on the Tombigbee is Dunagan’s third novel following the escapades of unlikely pals Ted and Poudlum. The duo take adventure and adversity well in stride during a time when an interracial friendship could cause almost as much of a stir as the Klu Klux Klan’s latest shenanigans. After a brief separation when Ted’s family moves away, the boys get together to catch up, fish, and explore their beloved Tombigbee River. As luck would have it the river has more than catfish floating in its current.

The Salvation of Miss Lucretia

The Salvation of Miss Lucretia is the latest, but not last, book in his series following the adventures of young Ted Dillion and his best friend Poudlum. The two boys are once again neck-deep in adventure and action when their hunting trip comes to a screetching halt. The boys find themselves missing dogs, robbed, and held captive. Their captor isn’t just a bank robber or a bootlegger this time, it’s a bonafide voodoo queen! Miss Lucretia was banished to the woods for practicing voodoo by a “preacher” and “deacons”, but Ted and Poudlum soon realize that instead of fearing her they’ve got to help her.

 

Ted will be joining us at the Shoppe Friday, April 29th at 6 p.m. and will be doing a book signing and reading.

Darlyn Finch Kuhn

darlynA poet known for her saucy style and engaging readings, Darlyn Finch Kuhn is also a gifted storyteller. In addition to her two poetry collections (Red Wax Rose and Three Houses) her work has appeared in literary journals, newspapers, magazines and online. Her poems have been featured on Poetic Logic on WMFE-FM, and been read by Garrison Keillor on the Writers Almanac. She was interviewed on World Radio Paris. She is the eponymous “Scribbler,” of the Scribbles e-newsletter. Kuhn produces book trailer videos with her husband at Brad Kuhn & Associates, LLC in Orlando, Florida.

 

 

 

Sewing Holes

SH-front-cover-195x300A little girl grows up in the 1960s and 70s in a family with a volatile mother, a loving but very ill father, a brother who flees the country to evade the draft, a foster-sister whose life is consumed by waiting for her real parents to return, and a best friend who likes to beat her up. She survives on stories told` to her by her father, particularly the one about “sewing holes” – creating beauty out of what seems to be nothing.

Darlyn will be joining us on Saturday, April 30th at 2 p.m. She will be reading from Sewing Holes and signing books as well.

 

 

Also on Saturday, we will be celebrating Independent Bookstore Day all day long. In addition to the reading and book signing, we will have refreshments available to anyone who stops by to visit. Come on and join us, we would love to see you! It’s going to be a great weekend here at OCBS!