One for the books

Florence Festival of Books brings dozens of authors, printed books to Florence Events Center

Sept. 26, 2018 — Books. Physical books, with hand-turned pages, crisp spines, inked words, that lovely old book smell of a new vintage find and the excitement of a fresh-off-the-press edition. For many booklovers, this is the best way to read.

“Our whole point is celebrating books with pages you can actually turn,” said Florence Festival of Books founder Judy Fleagle, herself a local author and co-chair of this year’s event.

The eighth annual Florence Festival of Books takes place at the Florence Events Center, 715 Quince St., on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 28 and 29. The festival opens with an Author’s Panel at 3 p.m. Friday. The keynote address will be given by New York Times bestselling author Amy Stewart at 7 p.m. Friday. This one part of the festival has an admission fee, but the rest of the events are free.

On Saturday, dozens of authors and publishers will be at the events center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the heart of the festival — a showcase of printed works.

 “I’m really excited. We have a great lineup for this year,” Fleagle said. “Locally, we have 15 people, one writing group and three publishers who are involved in the event this year.”

In all, there will be 72 authors, along with the Siuslaw School District Writers, who will have examples of the elementary school’s recent student-led publications. Representatives from GladEye Press, First Steps Publishing, Luminare Press, Maple Creek Press, Port Hole Publishing, Stone Ring Press and the Watchtower, Bible, & Tract Society will also be in attendance.

Read more about the festival authors and events in the special Florence Festival of Books publication included in today’s edition. Inside, read about how one young author wrote and published her first book.

In 2011, Florence Festival of Books Co-founder Connie Bradley’s granddaughter Carolyn participated in NaNoWriMo — National Novel Writing Month, a competition to complete a 50,000-word novel in the month of November.

“After three years of working on it, she sent it to her grandmother Connie, who put it into book form through CreateSpace (an Amazon-based company to self-publish manuscripts),” Fleagle said. “By the time Carolyn graduated high school, she had a published book — and Connie will be selling it at her table at the festival.

“Writing her first book got Carolyn started, and she is now studying screenwriting at the University of Southern California. She’s on her way and she will be a writer.”

For many, the first book can be the hardest. Even harder can be keeping a series interesting and engaging. This hasn’t been the problem for festival keynote speaker Stewart, who has now written more than 10 books.

“We’re thrilled to have Amy Stewart attend and speak,” Fleagle said.

According to Siuslaw Public Library Director Meg Spencer, co-chair of the book festival, “We are very proud to be sponsoring New York Times bestselling author Amy Stewart’s Friday night keynote address. We offer all of her fiction and nonfiction works here at the library. Her ‘Girl Waits With Gun’ kicks off the great Kopp Sisters series of mysteries based on the life of one of the first female deputy sheriffs in the U.S. It was one of my favorite novels of the last several years, and is now being developed into a drama by Amazon.”

Fleagle said she enjoyed Stewart’s “Girl Waits With Gun” first as a physical book, and then as an audiobook.

“I was hooked,” she said. “It’s just a hoot. It’s got humor, interesting characters, great plot — it’s just great fun. And there are four of them in the series now.”

Fleagle characterized Stewart’s nonfiction books “The Drunken Botanist,” “Wicked Bugs,” “Wicked Plants” and “Flower Confidential” as having “lots of humor.”

 “The Drunken Botanist,” for example, shows the different plants people have used over the ages to make alcoholic drinks.

“They’re just really great fun and give a lot of information,” Fleagle said. “A lot of books also have a children’s version, as well as the adult version.”

Although the Florence Festival of Books focuses on physical books, some authors use every trick in the book, including digital sales, audiobooks and multi-media, to publish and advertise their works. The festival planning committee has worked to create a diverse panel of authors who have found success “Marketing Your Book.”

The panelists are authors Melody Carlson, Cindy Cashman, Ron Lovell and Florence resident Tracy L. Markley. Between them, their book sales total several million dollars.

“The library has lots of the works from the festival authors, and is often lucky enough to receive donations from participants in the event,” Spencer said.

The works represented at the Florence Festival of Books cover a wide variety of topics, from children’s picture books to nonfiction war memoirs. The authors are from all over the Pacific Northwest and the U.S., with many attending the festival year after year.

For Fleagle, the event just gets better and better.

“We are just so privileged to have Amy Stewart and the authors on the panel. I think we’re going to have just a dynamite year,” she said.

For additional information, visit and To purchase tickets for Amy Stewart’s Keynote Address, go to or call 541-997-1994.


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