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A literary dream come true

For years, organizers dreamed of the first ever Mississippi Book Festival. Beginning at 9:00 am on Saturday, August, 22, 2015, that dream became a reality. Of course, they say that when the Mississippi legislature, Greg Iles, and John Grisham signed on to participate, corporate sponsorship followed and it was a done deal.
And despite the expected summer heat that continued to deal a blow to downtown Jackson, Mississippi, an estimated crowd of 2500 to 3500 ascended the halls and grounds of the early 1900s State Capitol Building, the location of the festival billed as “A Literary Lawn Party.”  At this inaugural Mississippi Book Festival, it was also good to visit with some of my other author friends including Steve Yarbrough, Marshall Ramsey, Neil White, Robert St. John, Ralph Eubanks, and Curtis Wilkie. 
I am grateful to Mississippi Book Festival organizer Holly Lange for my role in greeting and signing in other authors to the event. We all look forward to August 2016! 
----- Darden North…

Inaugural Mississippi Book Festival - 2015

The inaugural Mississippi Book Festival is scheduled for Saturday, August 22, 2015. 
Events will be inside the rotunda and outside on the grounds of the beautiful, historic State Capitol Building in downtown Jackson, Mississippi, and along adjoining Mississippi Street. 
Among others, the author discussion panels will include: Contemporary Southern Fiction, African American History, Comics & Cartoons in Mississippi, Illustrated Children’s Books, Books for Young Readers, Civil Rights History, Romance, and Historical Fiction. Of course, the writings of Harper Lee and Eudora Welty will be discussed. 
Holly Lange and the other busy festival organizers have assembled an impressive list of invited authors and government representatives as well as many other interesting folks for the day long program. An attendance of 3000 to 5000 people is anticipated. Why don't you join me and make it 5001? 
Although event admission is FREE, there will be food vendors and books and other me…

Darden North reviews "The Stranger" by Harlan Coben

The Stranger by Harlan Coben
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had not read Harlan Coben in a while--in fact could not remember the title of that last novel. But now after completing this digital audio book in a few days, I'm hooked and will most likely soon read (or listen to) Coben's "The Missing."

In "The Stranger," when a stranger confronts protagonist Adam Price with a secret in a bar just before the coaches select the local high school lacrosse teams, Adam begins to question the love and integrity of his wife and everything he holds true--or thought was true. He learns that she has faked a pregnancy, but for no good reason.

In the audio version of "The Stranger," the performance may initially seem sing-song or "preachy," but this could be attributed somewhat to Adam's and the narrator's frequent use of simile and metaphor to describe other characters, settings, or the situation. Clandestine Internet websites, mystery-solving throu…

Great video teleconference with intriguing book club

As an author I love to visit book clubs.
Recently by video teleconference, I was the honored guest of the Yarn Spinners Book Club of Ackerman, Mississippi. Friend and member Frances Coleman tells me that the club grew from a group of women who like to knit and crochet. They soon found themselves talking about books and decided to devote one meeting each month to having a book club. The program is sponsored by the Mississippi State University Extension Service - Chocktaw County. 

Last year the Yarn Spinners read and discussed my newest novel, "Wiggle Room," but in 2015 my second novel, "Points of Origin," a national IPPY award-winner in Southern Fiction, was the focus of intention. Pictured separately via Skype and Facetime are the guest novelist and the Yarn Spinners group with guests.The club shared with me the 23 discussion questions it considered including such concepts as what was the central conflict of the novel’s plot, how does one "feel" wh…

More than a piece of cake

Fourth of July 2015 was more than a piece of cake for me, but this red, white, & blue concoction sure made our treasured national holiday a sweet one.  The cake was my wife Sally’s idea, but guess who ate most of it! After all, the calories were a just reward, I thought, for using the time off to finish ten rough-draft pages of my upcoming novel, the thriller “When the Bee Stings”—a follow-up story to “Wiggle Room.”  Instead of this photo, I thought about posting the “after” picture with only part of “Happy Fourth of July” remaining in the icing and the cake towering in the stand over a sea of red, white, and blue crumbs.  Because I am a blessed and proud American, I was able to enjoy this treat and an extended, leisurely weekend with family and friends, either here with me in Jackson, Mississippi, or via cell phone and photo texts.  Although this weekend was a special time, we should take pride every day in what we can offer others and what our country means to us and the world.

A serial killer with imagination

“The Son – Silas Rising” introduces the world to a unique serial killer. At first glance, a stealthy political assassin driven by personal revenge may not seem to represent a new story line. But when the early back story reveals that Silas seeks payback for his parents’ premature death as the result of the newly enacted, but stingy, U.S. health care laws, the reader knows that the congressmen responsible don’t have a chance.  

Of course, becoming a millionaire through shrewd investing initially gives Silas the benefit of playing the eccentric while having the resources to take down the reckless politicos in imaginative ways, including barbed wire on a Texas ranch.  

The first novel of this exciting new series by Doug Dahlgren introduces Silas, the self-made millionaire and serial killer, who leaves clues to his crimes through the words of Revolutionary War heroes.  A reader must admire a new novelist such as Mr. Dahlgren who has a grasp of history and can weave it into a modern novel th…

Paula Hawkins' "The Girl on the Train" is a high speed ride in audio

Early reviewers of this novel touted it as the next “Gone Girl." However, as wonderful as Gillian Flynn's novel is, Paula Hawkins' train overtakes it well before the end of the line. Hawkins' time-stamped structure of the story told in first person by three separate, but deeply entwined female main characters, lets the mystery unravel at just the right speed. The British accents of the three superb female narrators of the audio version of “The Girl on the Train” draw the reader (or listener) into the darkness of the unique tale and its unexpected climax. The voice inflections and diction variations between the jilted Rachel, jealous Anna, and twisted Megan are at times as mesmerizing as the prose. 
Alcoholic protagonist Rachel's memory lapses and her struggles with the disease are central to the story line and her human frailty is so exposed and explored that no reader could deny her empathy and sympathy.
The female narrators do an outstanding job as well with the v…

There really is a science to writing fiction

There’s good news for writers and readers alike. Award-winning author John Hough, Jr., has compiled a new “how-to” book on writing dialogue, The Fiction Writer’s Guide to Dialogue: A Fresh Look at an Essential Ingredient of the Craft, recently published by Allworth Press. 
I was fortunate to meet John at a writing conference in Massachusetts a few years ago and benefited from his editorial services during the publication of my current novel and thriller Wiggle Room. John tells me that the new The Fiction Writer’s Guide to Dialogue is a fun read for readers as well as writers. According to reviewer Jack Shea, Hough’s writing guide magnifies the magic of literature for readers, connecting them to the requirements of good fiction and explaining that readers must be willing to suspend disbelief. For a fiction author like me, whose other profession is rooted deeply in science, John Hough’s new book provides an easy to follow guide regarding the function of fictional dialogue and how it driv…