The first Milton Literary Festival in downtown Crabapple Nov. 13-14 drew about 120 attendees, which organizers considered a good turnout for an inaugural event. In addition to treating local book lovers to a wealth of writers – 27, including New York Times best-sellers and award-winners galore – the festival might also be considered something of a gift that can keep on giving, especially through the holidays.
North Fulton readers partial to books with local ties – works either written by Georgians and/or set in Georgia – will find titles aplenty to add to their wish lists from among the festival’s participants, all of whom call the Peach State home.
Wayne Boston, Milton’s community builder and one of the festival’s organizers, worked to line up authors along with a committee composed of several members of the Atlanta Writers Club — Kimberly Brock, Valerie Connors, Rona Simmons and George Weinstein, all of whom participated in the festival, as well. Other than a common state residency, the event’s first year of diverse participants shared little else, with such wide-ranging genres as children’s books to memoirs and grit lit to contemporary fiction delightfully on display.
For those who might have missed the multitude of panels, workshops, fireside chats and book signings, all is not lost. In fact, much of it can still be found at FoxTale Book Shoppe in Woodstock, official bookseller for the Milton event. Karen Schwettman, who co-owns FoxTale with Jackie Tanase and Ellen Ward, stocks many of the books featured and was familiar with most of the authors’ current, as well as more well-known, works.
Going down the list of festival participants, Schwettman detailed a variety of titles sure to please any bibliophile this holiday season.
Milton resident Karen White, the event’s keynote speaker, is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of Southern women’s fiction as well as a mystery series set in Charleston, South Carolina. In addition to her 19th novel, “The Sound of Glass,” published in May, the first book in White’s Tradd Street series, “The House on Tradd Street,” remains a big seller at FoxTale, Schwettman said.
Raymond L. Atkins lives in Rome and most recently published “Sweetwater Blues,” featuring a pair of best friends who ramble across the hills of north Georgia together. Schwettman said Atkins’ “Camp Redemption,” also set in Georgia, is a fan favorite.
Brock, a north Georgia native and former Northside Woman Good Books writer, is the best-selling author of “The River Witch,” winner of the 2013 Georgia Author of the Year Award for first novel. Brock’s work has appeared in anthologies, blogs and magazines, including Writer Unboxed and Psychology Today.
Ann Hite’s latest book, “Where the Souls Go,” the third in her Black Mountain series, was released Sept. 1. Schwettman said Hite, a Marietta resident and the 2012 Georgia Author of the Year, is well known among FoxTale shoppers for her debut novel, “Ghost on Black Mountain.”
Simmons is the author, most recently, of the 2015 novel “Postcards from Wonderland.” However, Schwettmann said she receives many requests for Simmons’ 2013 novel, “The Quiet Room,” a work of historical fiction. Simmons, who lives outside of Atlanta, is currently working on a contemporary novel.
New York Times best-seller Haywood Smith started off penning historical romances but, with “Queen Bee of Mimosa Branch” in 2002 and, a year later, “The Red Hat Club,” she moved into writing Southern women’s fiction. In 2014, she published “Queen Bee Goes Home Again,” and Schwettmann said her patrons remain big fans of “The Red Hat Club.”
Roswell’s Weinstein is well known at FoxTale for his Southern historical novel “Hardscrabble Road.” His fourth work, “The Caretaker,” a contemporary novel, came out in 2014, just six years after his first offering, “Jake and the Tiger Flight.” That book, a children’s motivational adventure, was written for the nonprofit TigerFlight Foundation, which encourages youth to become the “Pilot in Command” of their lives.
Schwettmann praised another festival participant, award-winning illustrator Mark Braught, for his engaging children’s book illustrations. FoxTale sells many copies of “P is for Peach: A Georgia Alphabet,” which is illustrated by Braught, a Commerce resident.
Other festival writers whose works are available online and elsewhere include Bob Meyers, author and photographer of award-winning coffee table books, including “Timeless Beauties: Barns of Old Milton County,” the first edition of which sold out in a month. Meyers serves on the Friends of the Milton Library Board of Directors.
Preorders are available now for Romily Bernard’s upcoming young-adult novel, “Trust Me,” her fourth book, which will be available March 2016. On her website, the Georgia State University graduate listed a variety of positions she’s held with a literature degree, including riding instructor, cell phone salesperson and, “during a very dark time,” customer-service representative.
Connors, an Atlanta resident, is the author of three books, the most recent of which, “A Promise Made,” a historical novel set in New York City just after World War II, was published in July. When she’s not writing, Connors is the chief financial officer of an architecture, engineering and interior design firm.
David Darracott was named 2015 Author of the Year by the Georgia Writers Association for “Wasted,” a detective/mystery novel. An Emory grad, Darracott lives in north Atlanta and his credits include another novel, “Internal Security,” as well as short stories and nonfiction for magazines, TV and film productions.
Jameson Gregg’s first novel, the comic satire “Luck Be a Chicken,” was published in 2014, the year he was named Georgia Author of the Year. Gregg’s humorous writings have appeared in literary anthologies, magazines and newspapers throughout Georgia. ■
Former Milton resident Blake Swayne, daughter of Suzanne Pacey and Greg Swayne, is planning her wedding to Richard Thomas Fisk, III in October. Read more on page 6.