Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Deckle Edge, a New Literary Festival by Paula Gail Benson

Several times in WWK, I’ve written with enthusiasm about the South Carolina Book Festival, which originally was held in February and later moved to May. Organized by the Humanities Council of South Carolina, the Book Festival was a highly anticipated event for folks who loved reading and writing. A WWK blogging partner, James M. Jackson was a panelist one year. In the past, the Book Festival has featured Jeffrey Deaver, Harlen Coben, Scott Turow, Robert Dugoni, C.J. Box, Hallie Ephron, and Pat Conroy. So, when it was announced last year that the Book Festival would be no more, the news was met with despair.

Fortunately, a group of reading enthusiasts took up the mantle and organized a new festival that will take place this coming weekend. Called Deckle Edge, after the deckle frame used in manual paper making that leaves a ragged or feathered edge as the paper comes through the machine, it promises a terrific three-day celebration of all things literary.

Hank Phillippi Ryan
The local organizers welcomed our Palmetto Chapter of Sisters in Crime’ request to be involved and our chapter was delighted when Sisters in Crime National gave us a grant to bring Hank Phillippi Ryan to participate. Not only will we be celebrating Hank’s latest Agatha nominated What You See, but also the reissuance of her first Charlotte McNally book, Prime Time, which won the Agatha for best first novel. Hank will be involved in two events on Saturday, February 20, the first at 9:30 AM moderating a panel of mystery authors that will include Palmetto Chapter members C. Hope Clark and Sasscer Hill and the second at 12:30 PM being interviewed by former Sisters in Crime National President Cathy Pickens. Since Hank also is a former SinC National President, it will be wonderful to have two “goddesses” from National’s pantheon to enthrall us with tales about their work and experiences in publishing.

Cathy Pickens
On Friday, February 19, I’m excited to be teaching a workshop called “Plotting Strategies for Short Stories, Novels, and Plays.” Another member of the Palmetto Chapter, J.E. Thompson, will have a segment about children’s mysteries on Saturday. On Sunday, the Richland County Library is hosting a local author showcase featuring some of our chapter’s members.

C. Hope Clark
The Palmetto Chapter is especially delighted that our member Carla Damron, a WWK contributor, is being honored for her new book The Stone Necklace. As Carla has mentioned in her WWK posts, her novel is being published by the University of South Carolina Press’ Story River Books, Pat Conroy’s imprint. It has been selected for the “One Book, One Community” program (where the folks in Columbia are urged to read and discuss The Stone Necklace), so Carla has been making lots of personal appearances and many folks have been reading the beautiful work where she has carefully crafted four intertwining, compelling stories. Carla’s panel will close out the Deckle Edge Book Festival on Sunday.

Sasscer Hill
If you can attend the festival this coming weekend in Columbia, SC, you’ll hear great authors and have the opportunity to view a number of historic venues. My workshop will take place in the Woodrow Wilson Family Home, where the future president spent his boyhood years. Hank’s events will be in the Columbia Museum of Art.

So wish us well as we embark upon this new endeavor. Do you have a book festival in your community? Have you thought about initiating one?

Carla Damron


  1. SO looking forward to this! Very honored…and see you all soon!

  2. Hank, we are so excited to have you! Counting the minutes until the weekend and delighted that the weather looks as if it will be mild!

  3. I am thrilled and honored to be speaking at this conference this coming weekend. So proud of the Palmetto Chatper of Sisters in Crime for their role in this festival. And a huge thank you to Paula for being so instrumental in having Hank attend this Saturday!

  4. looks like a great event. Cincinnati has Books on the Banks which is...overwhelming.

  5. Sounds like a wonderful conference!

    I live in a very rural area, but close enough to a number of festivals, etc. to attend. I try to get to the Baltimore Book Festival, and I've made Malice Domestic for the past few years. There are a few smaller conferences, like Murder as You Like It in Mechanicsburg, PA. that I like to attend.

  6. Paula, it sounds like a wonderful conference. I so wish I could be there. We're having a smaller event in Cleveland in March for one day. S.J. Rosen will be our guest speaker and there will be other authors there, too, from our chapter.

  7. Oh sounds so wonderful. Makes me want to move to South Carolina. Wish I lived close enough to come up for the weekend! The closest event I know of to my area is in Miami-The Miami Book Fair in November. So far, I haven't made it to that, but I am hoping for next year.

  8. Kudos to those who saved the event. My first and favorite conference did not survive.

  9. Best of luck with your new book festival, Paula. I just attended the one in Savannah and heard some excellent speakers.

    ~ Jim

  10. Good luck! I'm glad another group took up the cause and will provide a forum for authors. Hank will attracted fans of mystery, and Carla will develop her Southern Literary platform! Paula will provide great instruction. Go team!

  11. Definitely wishing you well! What a great line up of authors - wish I could attend.
    I haven't scoped out the literary festivals up here in CT, but I do know that there were many great events in my former home, northern Virginia. Of course I was right near the grandaddy of them all, the Smithsonian's National Book Festival on the Mall, and there was the wonderful Fall for the Book in Fairfax, Virginia.

  12. Thanks for plugging the conference, Paula. You're workshop will be a hit, I'm sure!

  13. It's so amazing to me to read about all the events around the country. Wouldn't it be great to spend a year traveling from one to another?

    Thank you, everyone, for all the good wishes. Wishing you could all be here with us. Hank, Sasscer, and Carla, I'll be seeing you soon!

  14. So thrilled -- and so happy to support a new chapter with so much energy and enthusiasm!

  15. Paula,
    Good luck with the festival! That's very exciting--I know how much work goes in, and I'm sending you all good wishes. I know it will be great. I wish I lived closer!