Can you imagine never having read a book as a child?
Tailholt resident Marsha Coles couldn’t, and that’s why she planned the first AuthorFest in Tahlequah last year. This spring, she’s at it again, contacting authors and seeking volunteers for the second annual AuthorFest in October.
“I did this mainly because I had this friend whose kids never read books,” said Coles. “I loved to read as a child, and I couldn’t imagine never reading books. So I started this, hoping to get more people interested in reading, writing and publishing.”
AuthorFest will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 30, at the Cherokee County Community Building. The event will feature published authors from all over the state of Oklahoma.
“Last year, we had 21 authors, and many have expressed interest in returning this year,” said Coles. “We had all genres represented, including genealogy, history, romance, and non-fiction. We like to have a little bit of something for everybody. We also had one publisher attend.”
Authors participating this year will read passages from their books, and share the process of being published with others interested in getting into the business.
Coles said that unlike last year, this event will feature workshops on how to write query letters to publishers, where to get started when trying to find a publisher, and instructions on how to get your book moved out of a publishing house’s “slush pile.”
“Last year, some of the authors had some really nice-looking tables,” said Coles. “We had a contest, and people attending got to vote for their favorite. One 17-year-old girl author, from Muskogee, had published her first novel about vampires, and she had a really cute table.”
Coles herself is a published author, and writes books from all different genres.
“I’ve written a book on the history of Tailholt, and had published two romantic mystery novels, children’s books and a book of poetry. Right now, I’m working on a book about the history of Welling,” she said.
The event also includes a silent auction, and Coles said she and Mara Webb, AuthorFest volunteer, are actively seeking donations from individuals and businesses. All proceeds from the silent auction are donated to literacy programs at schools in Cherokee County.
Items in last year’s auction ranged from books, to pen-and-pencil sets, to coupons for lawn care, to certificates for spa treatments. Coles hopes for a repeat performance this year.
“Last year, we raised $490 in silent auction donations, which we then distributed to five different schools: Briggs, Keys, Grand View, Woodall and Tenkiller,” said Webb. “Each school received right around $100.”
Volunteers are also needed to help set up for the event, work the concession stand, and oversee the silent auction.
“We put this together with only five volunteers last year,” said Coles. “We’d love to have more help this year.”
Coles and Webb are also working to get elementary students involved in this year’s AuthorFest.
“We’re going to have a poetry-writing contest,” said Coles. “All entries will be compiled into a book that will be available for people attending AuthorFest to pick up for a donation. Those donations will then be distributed to elementary school literacy programs, too.”
Each student published in the booklet will receive a certificate, and Coles and Webb are working out the details for an awards ceremony. The theme for poetry submissions is “Cherokee County: History to Present Day.”
“We’re not an organization or formal group of people,” said Coles. “We’re just trying to promote literacy in our home community.”