LUMBERTON — After taking a year off for Hurricane Florence, Book ‘Em was back at Robeson Community College on Saturday with 49 authors and six publishing companies.
Founded by Lumberton author p.m. terrell, it was the seventh Book ‘Em, which is a showplace for authors and a celebration of reading for people young and old. Authors, like featured speaker Jonas Saul, came from far away, but many were either homegrown or had stories of local interest to tell and sell.
Saul is a rock star among readers of thrillers. He’s written 30 of them. A Canadian, Saul remembers his early days as an up-and-coming writer.
“Today, I’m going to talk about how I sold over two million books without an agent or a Hollywood contract,” Saul said. “I wrote six books one year, but I write three or four a year now.”
One of Saul’s readers, Eleana Lofton, 12, was excited to meet the author. She said she enjoys Edgar Allen Poe, Stephen King and Jonas Saul.
“When I was 10, I was already into thrillers,” Lofton said. “I just finished ‘Pet Cemetery’ and I am going to read ‘The Shining’ next.”
Thrillers, Saul said, can be described by the tension, pace, structure and action beginning with the first page. Saul attended Book ‘Em to talk with aspiring writers.
While discussing his work, another huge fan, arrived on the scene.
“I’ve read all your books,” Kathy Houlehan said. “I find an author I like and stick to him.”
Wendy Fields, an English teacher at RCC, coordinated Book ‘Em 2019 with history instructor Roy Raby. She also is an author of two inspirational books titled “It was God” and “It too was God.”
“I get inspired by stories of healing and so-called miracles that cannot be explained, except for God’s hand in our lives,” Fields said. “I’ve enjoyed writing them.”
Edward Reed is math teacher at St. Pauls High School and author of five books. One of his titles is “The Whipping Boyfriend.”
“I’ve written romantic comedies, inspirational and books for adolescent readers, too,” Reed said.
Aspiring local authors were well represented. Lee Lineberger brought books of poetry from Parkton. Hector Miray, a minister at the Vertical Church of Lumberton, also had a table.
Veronica Hardy, a social work professor at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, had her inspirational book on display. Joe Lineberry, who grew up in Lumberton, came home with a book to display.
Phillip Stephens, who writes about politics for The Robesonian, had his book, “Winning Fights,” on display. A boxing fan, Stephens’ book takes winning lessons from the ring and expands on them.
“I don’t do this often,” Stephens said of the book conference. “I am here to support Book ‘Em.”
Most authors on display also have jobs, but James Maxey of Hillsboro, who has penned 20 books and 100 short stories in the fast-growing fantasy field, writes full time.
“There are a lot more opportunities to sell your books at events like this,” Maxey said. “Digital books also stay in print forever, even if the publisher goes out of business, like mine did.”
There were authors with local connections, like Maxey. He wrote a story based on the Beast of Bladenboro and another set at South of the Border.
Suzanne Adair, of Raleigh, writes historical fiction about American Revolution action in Robeson County.
“In 1781, the British occupied Wilmington for almost a year,” Adair said. “I did a lot of research on this little-known story of the war.
“The Highland Scots were a factor in Robeson County,” she said. “They joined up with Cornwallis to fight with the loyalists.”
Young readers and some too young to read received free books again this year at the Children’s Corner. The book giveaway was sponsored by Kiwanis of Robeson, the Partnership for Children, Communities in Schools and the United Way.
Book ‘Em sponsors included the Carolina Civic Center, Lumberton Rotary, Southeastern Health, the Friends of the Robeson County Public Library, Biggs Park Mall, Bill and Mayme Tubbs, Edward Jones, Robeson County Arts Council, Ginny Hardin, the law office of Bruce Jobe, RCC’s Friends of the Arts, the City of Lumberton, Golden Corral and Springhill Suites.
The event raises money to support literacy efforts in Robeson County. Groups receiving donated funds from previous events include the Dolly Parton Imagination Library of Robeson County for ages 1 through 5; Communities In Schools for all grade levels; Friends of the Robeson County Public Library for adult literacy programs; and the Lumberton Police Department. Heading into this year’s event, $34,600 has been donated.
Ayden Little, left, and his brother, T.J., show off balloons and books in the Children’s Corner at Book ‘Em on Saturday at Robeson Community College. The books were sponsored by Kiwanis of Robeson, Communities in Schools, Partnership for Children and United Way.
Sharing inspiration at Book ‘Em on Saturday at Robeson Community College were authors Wendy Fields, left, and Veronica Hardy. Both have written inspirational books that they shared with the public. Fields was co-coordinator of Book ‘Em 2019.
Young reader Elana Lofton meets celebrity thriller author Jonas Saul. Saul was the featured speaker Saturday at Book ‘Em. Although young, Lofton already has read many books, including several by Saul.