Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Authors for Literacy

Couldn't Blame the Weather
The sun was shining and it was in the 60s Saturday for Authors for Literacy at the Lexington Main Library. However, the event drew little traffic. I wasn’t the only writer who sold very few books. Too bad. It was for a worthy cause. Donations from the event were given to Turning Pages, a Columbia based organization that offers free instruction to adults in reading and math. South Carolina barely misses being in the list of top ten highest illiteracy rates in the USA.

We authors visited one another and talked the talk of writing and publishing. I sat beside Johnny Bloodworth, a friend who writes Southern fiction. His novel Gift is set in a small town in Georgia in 1946.
Ready and waiting, but where were the people?
Thanks to the Lexington Library, which provided the venue where we writers might meet readers. 

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Authors for Literacy 2019

Authors for Literacy

A book is a Christmas gift that keeps on giving, especially if it’s one that speaks to you. I’ve changed my mind about life in general after reading some books. Shop at the library Saturday. Maybe you’ll see a story that must be read.

Authors for Literacy Christmas
Saturday, December 7
11 AM – 2 PM
Lexington County Main Library

I’ll be there with several of my novels and my children’s book Cat’s Fur, which is about a witch who discovers she’s allergic to cats. How can a witch be a witch without cats? I had to solve that problem. The sequel to Cat’s Fur is nearing completion and should be out in January. Lizard Brew brings the cats back into the house.

Jerry Bellune of the Lexington Chronicle has assembled a number of local writers for the event. All books are either $10 or $20. The library is located on US 1 a mile from I-20.

Come by and say “hello” and meet a group of dedicated writers.
At 2018 Authors for Literacy Christmas (photo courtesy of John Starino).

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

harvest festivals


Two back-to-back weekends of harvest festivals. Last weekend was the Inman Harvest Festival. I met readers and book buyers. Over a hundred vendors selling novelties, such as cameras turned into lamps, perfumed oils, watch art, and elderberry syrup. There were even orange, paw-print door wreaths for Clemson fans (I had to wonder who would buy them). The bandstand drew crowds all day as various entertainers performed.

It's gratifying to meet young readers.
Several aspiring writers stopped by, and we chatted about life as a writer. I was especially pleased to talk to a couple of high school students. Also teachers were interested in me and my work. Old and young visitors to my booth...gave Doug a chance to tell his jokes.

Aynor's Harvest Festival, held September 21, was another story. Plenty of vendors and traffic, very few readers. The parade of people quickly walked by. Hardly anybody stopped to look at my books or talk with me. 
Yes, I write, yes, I have books...
I should have taken a hint in the morning when a woman’s dog pooped in front of my booth. She picked most of it up (somebody gave her a plastic bag) after I growled at her. 
Sidewalk scene, Inman
Photos thanks to Douglas Stanard.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Moon Magazine poem

"she’s bad another Saturday"

My poem “The Payoff” is published by The Moon magazine in its current issue on addiction. I'm not an addict but my imagination was.

There’s another poem in the same issue that will lift your spirits. It makes language the butt of a comedy routine. It’s “Lars the Cereal Killer” by Jim George. So clever!

I hope you’ll take a look.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Jewish Community Center, Columbia, SC

Local Author Book Fair 
 Wednesday (Sept. 4)

Cat's Fur, Page 7 © Bonnie Stanard
Cat’s Fur is a Halloween book with a story and pictures kids ages 4-7 will love. Get your copy at the Local Author Book Fair on Wednesday at the Jewish Community Center of Columbia (JCC). From 10 AM till 6 PM I’ll be there with Cat’s Fur as well as my historical fiction novels.

Numerous other local writers representing a variety of genres (Southern fiction, westerns, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, travel) will be there. We'll chat with you, sign books, give you personal information about writing and publishing.

The JCC is open to persons of all religious faiths or ethnic background. It’s a modern facility with heated pool, health and fitness center, and programs like yoga and dance. 

Located at 306 Flora Drive, Columbia, SC 29223. PH: 803-787-2023.

I hope to see you there.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

3 poems accepted for publication

HOW SWEET IT IS! Three Poems accepted for publication.


The magazine Down in the Dirt accepted two of my poems, “Computer Hacker and the Common Brain” and “Fairview Farmhouse,” for publication. The former is a cautionary approach to advances in technology. The latter is an emotional visit to not just one empty farmhouse, but a generation of them.

The two poems are currently published on the Scars Publications website on the “writing from scars publications” page. My name is listed with other authors in a column on the left of the page. Scroll down the list and choose my name. It will appear at the top of the column with titles of the poems. Select the title you’d like to read and the link will open to the page with the poem. The two poems will also appear in their March 2020 issue (v169). The link to the website takes you in confusing directions but this is what the authors' writings page looks like:

MOON magazine

My poem “The Payoff” has been accepted for publication by editor Leslee Goodman of the MOON magazine. It will appear in the September issue, which focuses on addiction. I’m not sure how this poem came to me. The narrator is an addict. Addiction is so much a part of our culture, I suppose I absorbed drugs without actually taking them. The current issue of MOON magazine is online at Check back in September for my poem, "The Payoff."


Monday, June 17, 2019

Ridge Peach Festival


Saturday at Trenton, SC. Sunny, breezy, mild temps. Lots of people, lots of booths with arts and crafts. Best peach cobbler ever (so said Doug). Also lemonade, corn dogs, BBQ, etc. It was a fun festival, good for sales too.
Bought rack for Cat's Fur at flea market.
Marching band began morning parade that paraded into noon.
My booth was under an oak tree and overlooked the bandstand.
Antique cars in parade.
My sister Nila showed up, shared her boiled p-nuts.


Saturday, June 8, 2019

Trenton, SC


Next Saturday (June 15) I’ll sell/sign my novels at the Ridge Peach Festival in Trenton, SC, a town in Edgefield County. Events in addition to Arts and Crafts include:
• Parade (10:30 am)
• Food Festival
• Antique Tractors and Autos
• Softball Tournament
• Live Entertainment
• And edible peach creations

Ebenezer Cemetery in Trenton is the gravesite of SC politician Benjamin Tillman, a flaming racist who murdered numerous black people. He once said that blacks must submit to either white domination or extermination. Unfortunately that made him popular in his time, and he served as governor and was SC’s senator in Washington, DC, when he died in 1918. After the Civil War, the slaves in my antebellum novels who looked forward to freedom would have encountered lynch mobs such as those Tillman inspired, had they remained in SC.

Trenton isn’t a long drive from North Augusta, Aiken, or Wagener. If you’re in the area, come by my tent.


Thursday, May 2, 2019

Town of Art

I'm with Nila in front of a Lake City wall of art.

My sister Nila and I spent a couple of days touring art venues at ArtFields in Lake City, SC. The town is literally innundated with works of art, paintings, sculptures, installation art, photography, illustrations. Art is on display in the barbershop, the mattress sales shop, restaurants, boutiques. I was in heaven!

Nila and one of her favorites.
To make the visit even more exciting, visitors can vote on their favorites. This year, I had 33 favorites. My sister had 37. I’m glad that ArtFields allows ordinary people to participate in choosing the art we like. Contemporary art as chosen by professionals (gallery owners and museum cureators) has put art a step removed from my sentiments, or at least I have no emotional investment in some prominent art that I see. 

I'm with textile art here


Sunday, April 28, 2019

Rice Festival


My tent was located between a booth with birdhouses and another with Mexican goods.
At the Colleton County Rice Festival, there was constant traffic throughout Friday and Saturday. I’m not good at judging attendance at events, but it may have reached the 30,000 estimated on Festival Net. From my seat under a tent, it was like watching a side show of people passing by.

Doug (left) is checking out bird houses.
Lots of strollers and kids. People who stopped at my tent were from Walterboro as well as the surrounding area, some from Charleston and Edisto. The locals had good things to say about the town. 

The food vendors were circled in a nearby town square, but Doug didn't find the food to his taste. I preferred the festival's attraction—Lowcountry rice, good and spicy with sausage. 

You may not recognize the Festival mascot, a kernel of rice, 
or at least I think that's what it's supposed to be

Walterboro's Main Street has the vacant look of so many small towns. Despite shady trees, well tended buildings, and awnings, too many empty storefronts stare into the street. There is a well-stocked antiques market, which I managed to visit a couple of times. Bought a painting that’s hanging on the wall of my office.

My new painting from Walterboro Antiques is at the upper right.
The photos are thanks to Doug Stanard (my husband and assistant).

Monday, April 22, 2019

Pickens Azalea Festival

Good location for my booth, open to traffic on two sides.


Saturday at the Pickens Azalea Festival I learned that in some cases you need more than a tent. It was a promising venue—well organized, various arts represented, continuous traffic. But I left at noon. 

Even with a coat, I went to the corner coffee shop to warm up.
The temperature didn’t get out of the 50s and as soon as clouds blew out they blew in. Almost constant drizzle if not rain. The worst of it was that the wind blew the rain into our tent. If you’re selling jewelry or wood art, it’s not so bad. But rain ruins books. Pickens was great. The weather was awful. 

A day for coats and umbrellas


Thursday, April 18, 2019

Azalea Festival


Join me this Saturday, April 20, for an adventure— a visit to Pickens, SC for the Azalea Festival. Booths with wares by artisans and artists (including writers like me) will line both sides of Main Street, which will be closed to traffic. Other entertainments throughout the day include a pet pageant (12 PM), magician (1 PM), bands and music. Also amusement rides for the kids.

If you’re a history buff, these nearby historic sites are up your alley:

* Hagood Mill, an 1845 gristmill at 138 Hagood Mill Rd., 10 AM – 4 PM, Parking $5
* Hagood-Mauldin House, antebellum, at 104 N. Lewis St., 10 AM – 4 PM, $5
* Pickens County Museum at 307 Johnson St., 9 AM – 4:30 PM

I’m happy to be going to Pickens for the first time. It is one of many small towns in SC that preserve our heritage while adjusting to the 21st Century.

Pink, red, and white azaleas are in bloom throughout SC, a celebration in itself

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

two writer events


Back-to-back literary events in Columbia this week. At the Lourie Center Tuesday evening mystery-writer Raegan Teller discussed “Top 10 Things I’ve Learned about Being a Writer.” 
With Raegan Teller. I won a copy of her novel in a drawing for a door prize.
Raegan started the countdown at 10 and described each one. Examples:
— learn to say “no”
— storytelling is in our genes
— find your own way 
Number two on the list was “UBU.” In other words, take advice but find your own voice, be the authentic "you." This sounds easy. But “voice” is no easier to spot than the wind. Which is perhaps a good analogy. What you see of the wind is not the wind, but its effect on trees and other things.

Topping off the list at number one was “It takes a village.” Most of us writers work in our offices alone, but getting to the end product, the novel, requires many people.

Open Book
Tonight (Wednesday) I attended the last presentation of the 2019 Open Book series at the University of South Carolina’s Capstone building on campus. Professor Elise Blackwell introduced author Margaret Sexton, who talked about writing her novel A Kind of Freedom.
Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
On the day she was sworn in as a lawyer, her cousin was going to jail. The disparity of their situations haunted her and inspired her to write. After an unavailing year of working in the Dominican Republic, she labored on a manuscript, which met with no success. Other writing that was "too easy to be worthwhile" turned out to be the first draft of her novel. Another novel is forthcoming, about a family of former slaves living in the 1920s. 

The Open Book series will return in the spring of 2020 with more authors and books to talk about. Professor Elise Blackwell of USC makes this program available to the public, and at no cost. 
Elise Blackwell -- thanks to her, we have visiting authors.


Sunday, April 7, 2019

St. Matthews, SC
The traveling Purple Martin visited my booth.
The Saturday festival at St. Matthews, SC, brought visitors and locals to the Court House square. My booth was near the steps where continuous music and entertainment were staged. I can tell you, it’s not easy to talk to possible buyers when a rock band is blasting in your eardrums. Notwithstanding that, it was a good day, perfect weather, steady traffic. 

My husband Doug helped with my tent and set-up. Photos thanks to Doug.
Food vendors had a central location, BBQ was popular.
I was situated on a corner spot. I'm not ignoring people, just looking at traffic in the other direction.


Sunday, March 31, 2019

purple martin festival


I’ve borrowed a tent and have talked Doug into staying with me for five hours Saturday (April 6) while visitors trawl the Purple Martin Festival in St. Matthews, SC.

My tent, along with other festival tents, vendors, and food trucks will be parked on the Calhoun County Courthouse Grounds from 11 AM until 4 PM.

According to the Festival’s Facebook page, there will be a parade, street dance, live bands, raffles, antique cars, and crafts.

St. Matthews is a country town located south of Columbia and northeast of Orangeburg. A short drive for those of us in the Midlands.


April 30: Azalea Festival, Pickens, SC
April 27: Cayce Festival of Arts, Cayce, SC (Doug standing in)
April 26-27: Rice Festival, Walterboro, SC

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Starry Place Between Antlers


This morning at the White Mule in Five Points I attended a panel discussion held to celebrate writer James Dickey. It’s subject was “The James Dickey Influence On SC Writers.” The panelists, for the most part, were former Dickey students who recounted anecdotes. Roger Pickney told of a poetry reading in which Dickey growled, roared, and sweated, ending by saying that his audience had seen his last reading. It was too hard for him. He couldn’t do it again. At some later venue, Pickney told of seeing the same performance, with Dickey saying it was his last poetry reading, too hard. 
(LR) Ellen Malphrus, Roger Pickney, Ray McManus, Jane Zenger
Dr. Jane Zenger gave the most insight into Dickey, quoting comments he had said in the English class she took from him. She said Dickey’s view was that there were two ways in which poems were written: 1) one-shot and it’s done; or 2) a labor of years. She engaged the panel in an aside to Dickey’s philandering. Ray McManus, though he hadn’t been a student, told of how his work has been influenced by Dickey. 

This first panel was followed by two readings, one of them poetry. What I get from authors reading their work is impatience. I would like to have seen later panels but didn’t want to wait two hours.

The name of the event, “The Starry Place Between The Antlers” is taken from Dickey’s description of Columbia. I’m glad to see our city celebrating its literary heritage. Wish there were more of these.


Monday, February 25, 2019

2019 oscars

We had several friends over last night to watch the Oscars on TV. We chipped in an ante and awarded a pot of $$ to the person who accurately guessed the most winners. Doug won the pot.

We didn’t necessarily vote for our favorites. The point was to try to guess what winner Hollywood would pick. Though I haven’t seen all the nominees, I was happy to see Green Book win Best Picture (though A Star Is Born is almost as good). 

It’s inspiring to see that five books were made into Oscar winning movies. Five more books were made into movies that received nominations. Meg Wolitzer wrote the novel that became The Wife, one of my favorite movies of the year. I was conflicted about how to understand it. Seemingly the wife had been wronged, but had she?

Inspired by the Oscars, I’m going to see Vice with a couple of friends this week. Christian Bale, who plays Dick Chaney, looks nothing like himself in the previews. The actor, when a young boy, starred in a movie I’ve watched numerous times and still love, Empire of the Sun.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Pat McNeely Presentation


Author Pat McNeely had the spotlight last night at Words & Wine hosted by the Lourie Center in Columbia. Many, if not most, of her nonfiction books focus on the history of South Carolina, with titles such as Eyewitnesses to General Sherman’s Campaign, and Lincoln, Sherman, Davis and the Lost Confederate Gold. Her other books touch on the media and recipes from an historic perspective.

Her presentation, “Andrew Jackson, John C. Calhoun, and the Petticoat Affair,” pointed out the many commonalities between Calhoun and Jackson. Though they had been friends, later in life they became fierce enemies.

SC author Patricia McNeely
Wish I had taken notes and could report some of the fascinating details McNeely brought out. However, I was too engrossed in the program. She delivered many interesting asides to the life of each of these historic figures.

Nobody left hungry, given the spread of cheeses, fruits, crackers, sausages and wine. And two of my favorite guitarists, Ken Baldwin and Igor Agafonov, turned the welcome into a party. Sponsors for the evening were Trader Joes and Rob Akers-Trevett.
Words & Wine hosts monthly events that feature local authors and musicians. Chris Maw does a great job of getting it together. Chris emails a calendar of the author presentations as well as other local events. If you're interested in being on her email list, the address is

Monday, February 11, 2019

Sumter Author Event

Great cookies provided by Betty Reese and staff.

The Elephant Ear is located at 672 Bultman Dr,. Sumter, SC.

I, along with other SC authors, signed books in Sumter at The Elephant Ear Gallery last Thursday. Betty Reese arranged the event, billed as “Meet the Author.” The gift shop is of modest size but well-stocked with booths that display and sell arts and crafts. Many people attended, but not many book sales, at least not that I could see. 

We authors sat at a table in the back of the shop.
I sat between Mike Long and Carla Damron

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Sumter Book Signing


On Thursday, February 7, Doug and I will be in Sumter, SC for a book signing. Betty Reese of the Elephant Ear Gallery will host “Meet the Authors Tea Party.” Come by and say “hello” and taste the cookies. The address is 672 Bultman Drive. Ph. 803-773-2268.

For several years I taught school at Alice Drive Middle School in Sumter. Had a wonderful principal and a terrible librarian. She once told me to be quiet while I was assigning student projects.

I lived in the back door rooms of an old antebellum mansion owned by a family slipping on a financial slope. The owner had a wonderful Southern brogue. The acreage around the house had been sold to a developer who had put ranch houses up to the lawn. I was young and in love with my independence—thought I was making a fortune on a teacher’s salary.

Connected with other teachers who lured me into a life of parties (I’m still grateful to them...). Partied every weekend with soldiers from Shaw Air Force Base. Met an Olivetti we whispered was related to the typewriter fortune. Great memories.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Rockvale Writers' Colony


This week I have been at the Rockvale Writers Colony in Tennessee working on my manuscript about a traveling group of actors in 1672 France. Yesterday I wrote “The End” to the first draft, something I had expected to do over a year ago.

The writers colony is an 1853 farm house that was expanded into a Bed and Breakfast. I am in the Tennessee Room and the board walls and floor are beautiful old plank boards. Stenciled flowers are painted on the floor around the fireplace. 

I'm in Tennessee, the state and the room
My bed (very comfortable) and fireplace
Other rooms have local names: College Grove (the PO address); Flat Creek (runs along the highway); Williamson Room (the county). In addition to the farm house are two cottages. It is a compound that could probably accommodate 12 or 15 guests.

I met director Sandy Coomer and her assistant Heather Meek on arriving, and we had dinner with the other writer guests. Sandy is a writer herself and converted the B&B into Rockvale in 2018. Although there are others about the place, I rarely see them. Meals are on our own. Nothing scheduled. Perfect! 
Here's where I spend the day
I know from experience that I can get chunks of work done in isolation. And my schedule will explain why. Here’s a typical day:
9:30 AM Get up, do my stretches, get dressed
10:30 AM Eat cereal breakfast
Work on writing
2:00 PM Lunch, often tuna salad
Work on writing
Go for a walk
Work on writing
5:00 PM Supper, instant oatmeal
Work on writing
11:30 Bath and bed

I don’t cook, clean house, answer the phone or shop online. When I focus on writing I can become absorbed by the story and march ahead.

By the end of my stay, I’ll be ready to go home. I miss Doug. I hope to keep the momentum going once I’m back in my office.
The sun is in my face. Nice weather but cold