Newly minted. Song + story = WordofSouthFestival

If given a chance to waltz in pro bono time in the cause of literature,

who wouldn’t want to attend that dance?

And if this shimmy arrived wrapped up with seats at the feet of author Ann Patchett,

or before expressive storyteller Romona King, or with comics ace Nathan Archer leading children
in story-making, wouldn’t you do that?



So it was that I found myself signed on with a new Southern tradition this month – WordofSouth.
This festival of sound and story unfolded in my hometown, but I would have traveled for it,
just as it was designed to be enjoyed here by folks from far away.



Creative writers and performers from New York City – STORY PIRATES –
entertained. As did Gustafer YELLOWGOLD. And the Emmy-winning
actor Tony Hale, read from his new children’s book ARCHIBALD’S NEXT BIG THING,
(created with Tony Biaggne)


On the sound side of things, the stages rocked to SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK & also with the poignant melodies of Aaron Copland’s LINCOLN PORTRAIT, spoken by newly minted Academy Award winner J.K. Simmons.


It was so much wonderfulness. Even with April showers.


Storyteller Ann Patchett


What I kept thinking of, as I sat with writers on the floor at the feet of Ann Patchett was – Stephen King. Not that the two occupy the same genre bookshelves. But the last time I heard a novelist as generous in public speaking
in our town, it was masterwriter King, who spun personal story after story for us in a sweet – yes, sweet – way. And then, he genially autographed our daughter’s books in a privately memorable way.
Ann Patchett, wearing her stand-up comic mask well, gifted her audience with one story after another direct from her life. (Ann Patchett is on right, introduced by Mary Ann Lindley.)

Novelist Ann Patchett (right) introduced by Mary Ann Lindley

Now we know something of her sister/college administrator, of Ann’s own personal nun, the endearing employee who fled NYC, the endearing employee who sells poetry books for her in her headline grabbing store, Parnassus, Sparky & the shop’s dogs & lotsa other morsels readers & writers gobble like so much kibble.   On opening day a photo of Ann in her revolutionary bookstore in Nashville appeared on Page One of The New York Times. Newly opened indy bookstores that carry new books are a rarity. My hubby & I love visiting our two, which are a hike, WOS sponsor –THANK YOU Annie & Jordan – the bookshelf in nearby Georgia & down by the bay, Downtown Books & Purl.


Story Fort

So now onto the part of WordofSouth that stole my heart, as much as I loved
Ann Patchett’s and other main stage presentations & I now am committed to reading all her books that are out & will be published henceforth.


Story Fort is the WordofSouth
safe place for the youngest ones, a festival within a festival.  Artist Linda Hall, ghost tales-teller Doug Alderson & others were on hand to create fun for young ones. Danielle Shelton, who has impressive educational degrees with her name, brought her geetar & lovely voice to kneel on the Story Fort mats & create songs about the toddlers. She was a lively close-up wee ones’ entertainer.

My hubby & I saw many Story Fort events but we are human & weren’t able to spend time with every performances & art project, of the two days.

Danielle Shelton - Story Fort - WordofSouth Festival
Danielle Shelton – Story Fort – WordofSouth FestivalWe clapped along with our one-and-only-, beloved babytime/storytime/Legostime icon, “Mr. Gary” from our favorite local public book palace – the LeRoy Collins Leon County Public Library.  And we sang “This Land is Your Land” with the equally beloved, one and only duo of HOT TAMALE, (with Craig Reeder) which uniquely features musician and songwriter Adrian Fogelin. Adrian, my dear pal who appears in my posts now and again, is also a hot-off-the-press book-launching middle grade author, with SOME KIND OF MAGIC. And it’s her most recent novel for students, following the legendary CROSSING JORDAN & other titles, such as SORTA SISTERS. Her books justifiably win mega awards. It won’t be long before Publishers Weekly starts granting her column space, I predict.



Here are more, incomplete, images from WordofSouth. In a previous articles here at Bookseedstudio and over at Group Blog, I covered commemoration of Days of Rememrance, which we honored at Story Fort.

I felt fortunate to present to the kiddos three times in the Story Fort during the WOS weekend. Thank you to author Mark Mustian for originating this festival of sound and story. If you travel to attend book festivals WordofSouth has got the power to return, so keep visiting the site for the eventual posting of next spring’s date. Sponsors included the National Endowment for the Arts. And that’s company we like to keep.

Sara, Ayla &  Jan - Story Fort - WordofSouth Festival 2015
Sara, Ayla & Jan – Story Fort – WordofSouth Festival 2015
TCC scholar Briana Byrd  at WOS Festival's Story Fort
TCC scholar Briana Byrd at WOS Festival’s Story Fort







6 responses to “Newly minted. Song + story = WordofSouthFestival”

  1. Wow! That’s sound like an amazing few days! I had to recheck where this was, as in Maine, we aren’t quite ready for outdoor fun. Guess we’d have to come up with a different name here, too…WordofNorth – nah!
    Point of interest: Went to college with Stephen King… not in the same circles – I was a Freshman when he was a Senior – but I do remember him speaking on the Library step about the war.


  2. What a wonderful, well-organized event. I felt so bad that this first-ever had such a tough time with the weather, but everyone braved on. I only hope it really will become an annual event with lots of sunny days ahead. It was great being part of the Story Fort with you Jan–always a pleasure to hang out with you and Paolo.



    • Hot Tamale ( you & Craig Reeder) are so inventive. I always leave energized after your performances.
      And I’ve already responded to a call for volunteers for WOS 2016, so I think the organization is gearing up for a wonderful 2nd event. I don’t know if I told you I was not only a performer, but also a volunteer ahead of the action.


    • I’m glad you mentioned Ann Patchett, thanks as I needed a reminder to scoot something up there to
      her shop. Which by the way, carries my children’s book!
      I’ll ask our gal but she was just beginning high school, so quite a many years. And the other sweet thing ’bout Stephen King’s talk. He was a pinch-hitter for a long-scheduled speaker (name, I don’t remember) who last-minute couldn’t make it. King was a great pal of this person so as a favor flew in & it felt as if the only thing he wanted to do at our lovely Ruby Diamond Auditorium was make everyone happy & well-storied.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I love hearing that about Stephen King 🙂 You know, I never had an opinion on him other than my knowledge of the extraordinarily creepy content of most of his movies, having become more of a fan with “Shawshank Redemption” and “The Green Mile.” Not the gory stuff. But it was when I read (and will reread much of) his STEPHEN KING, ON WRITING that I found I really liked him.


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