The third annual Book ‘Em North Carolina Writers Conference and Book Fair was a tremendous success. One of the highlights of the event was to discover attendees who journeyed long distances just for the opportunity to meet their favorite authors and sit in on some of the panel discussions.
No attendee was more determined to reach Lumberton than Andrea Kay, who drove here from Rockford, Ill., for the second year in a row.
Andrea left Rockford on the Thursday before the Saturday event, at the edge of a wicked winter storm that dumped freezing rain on her as she drove southeast. Within a short time, she found that visibility was reduced to a few feet beyond her front bumper. By the time that visibility had increased, she found herself in the midst of construction barricades — along with more freezing rain.
By the time she reached Indiana, the weather seemed to be clearing but her ordeal had only just begun. She had a flat tire two hours outside of Fort Wayne, and was slowed down yet again as she stopped to buy a new tire and have it put on.
She stopped again in Indiana to pick up more enthusiastic readers wanting to make the trek to Lumberton, and around 11:30 that night, they stopped at a hotel in West Virginia to spend the night. She thought they had outpaced the winter storm, but the next day she found they were surrounded by tornado watches and warnings.
Many authors and attendees braved that same storm, especially as they traveled along Interstate 95. Many told us that they’d pulled off the road numerous times as the winds and rains became too tough to battle. Yet they persevered just for the vision of a few hours with their favorite authors.
By the time they neared Lumberton, the storm was near the Atlantic Coast, and the sun was beginning to shine for the big event.
Fortunately, those that battled the storms were well-rewarded with some informative panel discussions and talks as well as one-on-one time with their favorite authors. The event raised $9,000 for four literacy groups: the Dolly Parton Imagination Library of Robeson County to help purchase books for children ages 1 through 5; Communities In Schools of Robeson County for students of all grades; Friends of the Robeson County Public Library for adult literacy; and the Lumberton Police Department for Reading Across America. Each organization will receive $2,250.
This brings the total raised to $27,600.
The fourth annual Book ‘Em North Carolina event has already been scheduled for Feb. 28, 2015. We owe each attendee, author, publisher, volunteer and sponsor a deep thanks for supporting the annual event and helping to increase literacy while participating in something fun and exciting.