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SC Book Festival canceled for 2016; new statewide literary initiatives in the works

From The State Article by Mindy Lucas, photo by Tim Dominick

One of the biggest literary draws and book events of the region is being canceled in favor of new statewide programming, organizers say. The almost 20-year-old S.C. Book Festival held in the spring will give way to new, literary offerings that will be available “...in every corner of the state” officials with the Humanities Council of South Carolina said Thursday morning. Widely considered one of the Southeast’s premiere literary events, due in no small part to its variety of offerings, the book festival usually brings about 6,000 visitors to the Midlands each year. Festival director T.J. Wallace, who also works for The Humanities Council, said she could understand why those in the literary community — including some of the 60 to 70 volunteers who regularly help with the event each year — might be disappointed. “This decision was not made lightly,” she said. “Many have put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into it. It has been a wonderful event, but we’re excited about this new opportunity.” Wallace denied that the board of director’s decision to discontinue the Columbia-based event had anything to do with funding or the expense of hosting the free event, which on average ranged from $180,000 to $210,000, saying only that the decision had to do with the organization’s core mission “to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians.” “As the state program for the National Endowment for the Humanities, the council is mandated for the state, not just the Midlands,” she said. Executive director Randy Akers said the festival “will evolve” into a new set of literary initiatives that will be available year-round and “reach a wide and diverse audience in every corner of South Carolina.” “South Carolina has a rich literary heritage that The Humanities Council S.C. wants to celebrate and share, and these new programs will expand and diversify literary opportunities in South Carolina,” he said. The new initiatives, Akers said, will include a literary speakers bureau featuring authors and writing instructors who can travel across the state for public programs; a fast-track literary grant opportunity for statewide organizations for writers series, festivals, conferences, workshops, or artist residencies; and a literary track at the annual South Carolina Humanities Festival, which is hosted in a different town each year. Attendance had also fallen off somewhat from previous years. Last year’s festival drew close to 6,500 people while this year’s festival only drew about 5,000. While Wallace said the council had received inquiries as to whether the festival could be moved around the state to different regions, ultimately the board decided to design new initiatives that could roll out as early as this fall, that would have a wider reach and even serve rural and under-served communities. “We certainly hope that the new literary programs we’re planning would bring things to say Dillon... or Gaffney or those communities that don’t allow us to reach for literary programming.” Wallace said the council hopes the new programming will have an even greater impact across the state. “Instead of spending 9 to 12 months planning for three days, we’re hoping that now we’ll be planning literary events monthly, weekly and all around the state.” Still, many in the literary community were surprised and disappointed to hear the news of the festival’s discontinuation. University of South Carolina English Department professor Elise Blackwell said she was “deeply sorry” to hear the book festival was being canceled. Blackwell, an author and host of USC’s own popular author series, “The Open Book” said that the book festival “helped put Columbia on the national literary map.” “It was an event I valued even more as a reader than as a writer. (It) was also a wonderful resource for local students of all ages. My hope is that it will be restored.”

Book-related exhibitors invited to apply for the South Carolina Book Festival

Are you a publisher, bookseller, literary organization, community nonprofit, or book-related exhibitor? Consider applying to be an exhibitor at the SCBook Festival scheduled for May 15 - 17, 2015, at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center in Columbia, S.C. The festival annually attracts more than 6,500 participants for this two-day event, and more than 70 percent of attendees indicate that they come with the intention of buying books. The SCBook Festival is the largest annual literary event in South Carolina. Space for exhibitors is limited, so register early. The deadline for Early Bird Registration is March 15, 2015. All other application forms and payments in full must be received by April 15, 2015, for inclusion in publicity and printed materials. The official exhibitor guidelines and registration forms are available on the festival's website. About the SCBook Festival The 19th Annual SCBook Festival takes place May 15 - 17, 2015, at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center in downtown Columbia. Saturday, May 16 and Sunday, May 17 are FREE and open to the public. Special events take place throughout the weekend. The SCBook Festival features more than 90 authors in solo and panel presentations, more than 100 exhibitors selling books and book-related merchandise, book signings, special ticketed events, and much more. For more information about the 2015 SCBook Festival, visit the website, www.scbookfestival.org. Via: SCBook Festival

South Carolina Book Festival takes place May 16-18

The South Carolina Arts Commission is again happy to sponsor the SCBook Festival, organized by The Humanities CouncilSC.  One of the largest literary events in South Carolina, the festival features presentations by renowned national and local authors, book signings, an Antiquarian Book Fair, exhibitors, book sales and appraisals, children’s events, and more. The festival takes place at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. And even better: it is free and open to the public! On Saturday and Sunday, more than 80 regional and national authors, poets, and presenters will appear, including poet Nikki Giovanni and authors Pat Conroy, Cassandra King, Mary Alice Monroe, Ron Rash and George Singleton. More than 100 exhibitors will participate, including local, regional and national book dealers, antiquarians, publishers, independent presses, writer’s collectives, individual writers and nonprofit organizations. Saturday hours are 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and Sunday hours are noon until 4:30 p.m. The SCBook Festival and the University of South Carolina Press will present a special opening keynote address featuring award-winning author Christopher Buckley on Friday, May 16, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. The event will take place at the University of South Carolina Law School Auditorium in Columbia and is free and open to the public. Buckley is a political satirist and author of the novels Thank You for Smoking, Boomsday, and Supreme Courtship, among many others. His most recent book is But Enough About You, a collection of wide-ranging and witty essays. Five Writing Workshop classes are being offered on Friday, May 16, and three are being offered on Sunday, May 18. The Friday Writing Workshop classes are ticketed and require registration. Registration is $30 per person. The Sunday workshops are free and open to the public, and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. To register for the Friday classes, and to view the complete schedule and the list of authors and exhibitors, visit the SCBook Festival website. Via: South Carolina Book Festival

REMINDER: First Novel Prize submissions due March 3!

What will be on the cover of your first novel? Submit your unpublished manuscript to the 2014 South Carolina First Novel Prize and you may find out! The competition recognizes one of South Carolina’s exceptional writers by providing a book contract with Hub City Press. Eligible applicants are writers who have not published a novel. A submitted manuscript must be an original work, and self-published books are ineligible, including e-books. Ben FountainApplicants’ works are reviewed anonymously by panelists who make selections based on artistic merit. Six to eight novels will be judged by nationally recognized novelist Ben Fountain (pictured right). Fountain won the National Book Critics Circle book prize in 2012 for Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. His other honors include the PEN/Hemmingway Award, a Pushcart Prize, two O. Henry Awards, two Texas Institute of Letters Short Story Awards and a Whiting Writers Award. Hub City Press will publish at least 1,500 copies of the winning book, which will be nationally distributed. The First Novel Prize provides significant promotion, including an invitation from The Humanities CouncilSC to appear and sign books at the 2015 South Carolina Book Festival in Columbia. The South Carolina First Novel Prize is funded by the South Carolina Arts Commission, Hub City Press and the Phifer-Johnson Foundation of Spartanburg, S.C. The Humanities CouncilSC is a founding partner. Submission deadline is March 3, 2014. Find more information and complete guidelines online. Images, left to right: First Novel winners Through the Pale Door by Brian Ray (2008), Mercy Creek by Matt Matthews (2010), In the Garden of Stone by Susan Tekulve (2012).

Writers – enter the First Novel competition!

Submissions due by March 3, 2014. Polish that manuscript and submit it to the 2014 South Carolina First Novel Prize! The competition recognizes one of South Carolina’s exceptional writers by providing a book contract with Hub City Press. Eligible applicants are writers who have not published a novel. A submitted manuscript must be an original work, and self-published books are ineligible, including e-books. Ben FountainApplicants’ works are reviewed anonymously by panelists who make selections based on artistic merit. Six to eight novels will be judged by nationally recognized novelist Ben Fountain (pictured right). Fountain won the National Book Critics Circle book prize in 2012 for Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. His other honors include the PEN/Hemmingway Award, a Pushcart Prize, two O. Henry Awards, two Texas Institute of Letters Short Story Awards and a Whiting Writers Award. Hub City Press will publish at least 1,500 copies of the winning book, which will be nationally distributed. The First Novel Prize provides significant promotion, including an invitation from The Humanities CouncilSC to appear and sign books at the 2015 South Carolina Book Festival in Columbia. Susan Tekulve of Spartanburg was winner of the 2012 competition. Her book, In the Garden of Stone, was published in May 2013 and was nationally reviewed by such publications as Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews and Library Journal. The South Carolina First Novel Prize is funded by the South Carolina Arts Commission, Hub City Press and the Phifer-Johnson Foundation of Spartanburg, S.C. The Humanities CouncilSC is a founding partner. Submission deadline is March 3, 2014. Find more information and complete guidelines online.

South Carolina Book Festival call for author submissions

The Humanities CouncilSC is now accepting author submissions for the 2014 SCBook Festival, scheduled for May 16 - 18, 2014. Author selection opened in August 2013 and runs through March 1, 2014, however, the process may close early if all presentation slots are filled. Apply today! Suggested authors will be considered as presenters for panels and readings, for book signings in the Book Signing Area, and for other special events occurring throughout the three days of festival activities. Find complete guidelines and the application on the festival website. Via: The Humanities CouncilSC

The First Novel Competition is back!

Submissions due by March 3, 2014. The 2014 South Carolina First Novel Prize is now open for submissions! The competition recognizes one of South Carolina's exceptional writers by providing a book contract with Hub City Press. Eligible applicants are writers who have not published a novel. A submitted manuscript must be an original work, and self-published books are ineligible, including e-books. Ben FountainApplicants' works are reviewed anonymously by panelists who make selections based on artistic merit. Six to eight novels will be judged by nationally recognized novelist Ben Fountain (pictured right). Fountain won the National Book Critics Circle book prize in 2012 for Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. His other honors include the PEN/Hemmingway Award, a Pushcart Prize, two O. Henry Awards, two Texas Institute of Letters Short Story Awards and a Whiting Writers Award. Hub City Press will publish at least 1,500 copies of the winning book, which will be nationally distributed. The First Novel Prize provides significant promotion, including an invitation from The Humanities CouncilSC to appear and sign books at the 2015 South Carolina Book Festival in Columbia. Susan Tekulve of Spartanburg was winner of the 2012 competition. Her book, In the Garden of Stone, was published in May 2013 and was nationally reviewed by such publications as Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews and Library Journal. The South Carolina First Novel Prize is funded by the South Carolina Arts Commission, Hub City Press and the Phifer-Johnson Foundation of Spartanburg, S.C. The Humanities CouncilSC is a founding partner. Submission deadline is March 3, 2014. Find more information and complete guidelines online.

Pat Conroy named editor-at-large for new USC Press fiction series

Best-selling author Pat Conroy will become editor-at-large for a new fiction series offered by the University of South Carolina Press — a series Conroy says just might prevent the demise of the Great American Novel and help repay the debt he owes to the state that has made him famous for fiction-writing. The first book in the new Story River Books series won’t appear until 2014, but Conroy was so excited by the “seductive powers” of the series that he volunteered his name and his services during a recent lunch with press director Jonathan Haupt. It came as a happy coincidence that Haupt had named the nascent series after a river Conroy went swimming in as a kid, he says. That river ran along Fripp Island. Today, Conroy lives in Beaufort. “We could start something that could maybe become a center . . . for terrific stories that can’t get heard in any other way,” says Conroy, 67. “This is going to be one of those (efforts) that saves the novel in this country. “(That) they’re doing fiction at the USC Press seems amazing to me, and wonderful.” University, or “academic,” presses usually are known for nonfiction, often histories. Story River Books will publish fiction with universal appeal but rooted in South Carolina, including novels and short-story collections. Conroy frequently cites his love of South Carolina people and geography for the success of his rich prose. “Literature can choose anywhere it wants to be born,” he says, “anywhere the sting and loveliness of language goes to dwell. “I want Story River Books to find and nurture those voices, and for writers young and old in this infinitely variable state to be recognized and heard. , . . . Stories matter in a state like South Carolina . . .”
Read the entire article. Pat Conroy will appear at the South Carolina Book Festival May 18. Visit the festival website for details. Via: The State

South Carolina Book Festival is May 17-19

The SCBook Festival organized by the The Humanities CouncilSC is one of the largest literary events in South Carolina. Featuring presentations by renowned national and local authors; book signings; an Antiquarian Book Fair; exhibitors; book sales and appraisals; children's events; Summer Reading Station; and more, the SCBook Festival is one of the most exciting events on the calendar. The festival takes place at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. And even better: it is free and open to the public! On Saturday and Sunday, more than 80 regional and national authors, poets, and presenters will appear and more than 90 exhibitors will participate. Exhibitors include local, regional and national book dealers, antiquarians, publishers, independent presses, writer's collectives, individual writers and nonprofit organizations. Saturday hours are 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., and Sunday hours are noon until 4 p.m. Five Writing Workshop classes are being offered on Friday, May 17, and three are being offered on Sunday, May 19. The Friday Writing Workshop classes are ticketed and require registration. Registration is $30 per person. The Sunday workshops are free and open to the public, and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. To register for the Friday classes, and to view the complete schedule and the list of authors and exhibitors, visit the SCBook Festival website. Via: SCBook Festival