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28 January 2008
Hervey Folsom: Southern Writers Will Appear at JSU's 'On the Brink'

By Hervey Folsom
"Down Art Avenue" Column
The Jacksonville News

Reprinted here in its entirety.

What are you reading now? If it’s a Southern book you like (and there seems to be more and more of them out there), then attending “On the Brink” at JSU on Saturday, Feb. 6, should be a way to widen and aid your choices.

The writers’ conference, now in its 15th year, is designed as a provocative and entertaining gathering of Southern writers and readers.

Again, the conference offers a forum to emerging writers as they explore the Southern experience through our past, present, and future.

The conference begins at 9:30 a.m. on the 11th floor of Houston Cole Library and includes two sessions, and two book signings, and interaction with the writers, with the event ending at 3:30 p.m. Lunch is included in the $45 fee. Full -time students may attend for $15.

According to JSU’s English Department, pre-registration checks must be mailed in by Jan. 31.

Notices have been mailed to those already on the mailing list. For more information, contact Gena Christopher at 782-5856.

Increasingly, people are reading and writing novels, poetry, cookbooks and more. Small southeastern publishing companies seem to be flourishing and more willing to put their own money on the line for authors, according to Judith McKibbin, a member of the “On the Brink” Committee.

“People read for refuge from a noisy day,” she says, “or as an escape during a stressful day, or to fight insomnia. But the reading public has also waked up to the joy of reading simply for pleasure,” the retired English teacher said.

The “On the Brink” committee selects Southern writers that have been published by a reputable publishing company and it’s not unusual that the ones selected have written several books and can claim national fame. Writers like JSU graduate Lester Laminack — who writes children’s books — and novelist Carolyn Jourdan, who lives on the family farm in East Knox County, Tennessee, for example, can claim national honors and are in demand as speakers.

Lester Laminack

It should be interesting to talk with writers who have been down the publishing path and reached their goals.

“Unless you’re well established, the publishing industry is tight,” Laminack says. “The key is matching what you do with interested publishers. You absolutely have to be well read on the publishers.”

Laminack, who received his bachelor of science and master of science in elementary education at JSU is ready to share more about his journey to success. He earned his doctor of education in elementary education and reading from Auburn University. And he has another Important link to our area: his childhood was spent in Heflin.

“I was a Southern boy, in a small southern town, with a southern grandmother who spent time with me, “Laminack shares. “What better ingredients could there be to create a memoir?” Write one he did, and “Saturdays and Teacakes” which he will dwell on Feb, 6 is described as a heartwarming tribute to the love of his grandmother and the importance of making memories.

His “Snow Day” was reviewed in the New York Times Children’s Book Section this month. According to his web site, children of all ages will delight in the anticipation of a day with lots and lots of snow — enough for the teachers to declare no school.

Laminack’s four children’s books are published by Peachtree Publishers, Ltd. He lives in Asheville, N. C., where he is retired from teaching at Western Carolina University. He continues to work with schools around the country, but the educator feels comfortable in returning home to his desk and vast collection of children’s books

“I’ve been writing full time now, and I’ve never looked back,” he says.

Carolyn Jourdan

Jourdan has no Alabama connections, but that seems unimportant when she describes her book, “Heart in the Right Place.”

It has a special message for everyone who has ever lived in the rural South, she says, but bookshop customers in urban areas are buying it, too. A disturbing, uprooting move back home to Tennessee from Washington, D. C., and her job at the Senate inspired her to write the book that was honored in Family Circle Magazine as the magazine’s first ever Book of the Month.

The story tells of her mother, who was in the hospital, and of Carolyn going home. Since there was no other choice in the family, she was asked to work, unpaid, in the father’s tiny medical office because the job required someone who would understand the medical programs and billing. Her book is reviewed as a story with compassion, wisdom and wit. Carolyn’s soft Tennessee accent connects her to listeners not only as an advisor, but a kindred spirit.

Gena Christopher’s address is Gena Christopher, Jacksonville State University, Attn: Department of English, 700 Pelham Road, N., Jacksonville 36265-1602.

About Hervey Folsom

Hervey Folsom, an Anniston resident, writes Down Art Avenue. Her column centers on those who contribute to the art world in any way, including musically. Hervey also contributes to The Anniston Star and is active in a number of civic organizations. She and her husband, Bob, are members of Grace Episcopal Church in Anniston. She can be reached via e-mail at

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