LANDOVER – Approximately 500 adults and children attended the second Prince George’s Book Festival on May 14 at the Wayne K. Curry Sports and Learning Center in Landover. A diverse group of 60 authors who hail from the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York participated in the free event that was […]
LANDOVER – Approximately 500 adults and children attended the second Prince George’s Book Festival on May 14 at the Wayne K. Curry Sports and Learning Center in Landover.
A diverse group of 60 authors who hail from the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York participated in the free event that was open to the public. They sold their books and discussed their work with readers throughout the day.
Additionally, Pamela Samuels Young, an attorney and author of seven legal thrillers, traveled from California to join the written word celebration. Young won the 2014 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Fiction with her book, “Anybody’s Daughter.” The thriller takes readers inside the disturbing world of child sex trafficking.
Cynthia Kelly, the events manager of the learning center, founded the Prince George’s Book Festival with Sharon Lucas. Lucas is a book club president, author and literary advocate who volunteered to help coordinate last year’s book festival. This year she was hired to serve as the festival coordinator. Lucas brought all of her connections in the literary community with her to attract talented authors and book sellers.
“After working so closely and successfully coordinating last year’s event, Sharon was a must-have. Her expertise and success with now the fifth annual literary conference, The Black Authors & Readers Rock Weekend, has been invaluable,” Kelly said. “She and I saw the potential to make an impact on literacy here in the county and immediately joined forces and experiences to bring this dream to life for a second year.”
The next Prince George’s Book Festival will be held on May 20, 2017. Kelly and Lucas hope to attract corporate sponsors next year.
This year’s event also highlighted the high caliber of literary talent that is present in Prince George’s County. Tressa “Azarel” Smallwood is a county resident who graduated from Largo High School and earned a Masters of Arts in Teaching degree from Bowie State University. Smallwood is also a former public school teacher who resigned to fulfill her dream of becoming an author. She founded an award-winning publishing company called Life Changing Books (LCB) and published her first novel called, “A Life to Remember,” then began accepting author submissions in 2003. A total of 141 book titles have been published by LCB. Through www.tressaazarelvipclub.com, writers and authors stay connected with Smallwood to learn the business side of writing and publishing.
Smallwood is now turning her catalog of books into films. She anticipates the first project will be shown in 230 theaters.
“The film project’s name is ‘Secrets’ and it’s based on the novel called ‘Secrets of A Housewife’ written by J. Tremble. The novel is published under Life Changing Books, and it deals with infidelity and the increase in cheating, and how loosely people basically treat the topic,” Smallwood said. “Basically we have a lot of people who are not fully committed to staying together, and so with the rise in infidelity, it breaks up the black family. So our goal was to paint an image that would keep the black family together, despite a lot of what’s going on in society. It’ll be in movie theaters Sept. 28 and we are producing this project primarily independently.”
While presenting a segment at the Prince George’s Book Festival called “Effective Ways to Write and Publish Your Book,” Smallwood offered valuable advice to aspiring authors and current authors regarding what it really takes to publish a book, in addition to sharing strategies that may be utilized to make a book project stand out in light of the accessibility of self-publishing. The entrepreneur, publisher and author reminded those in attendance that a great book can still receive little support if it is not effectively marketed and the author does not brand himself or herself.
Bayyinah Monk-Nduaka lives in Greenbelt. Her book, “Gimme That Recipe! A Divas Cookbook of Her Family’s Favorite Ethnic Dishes” is a collection of ethnic international recipes. Monk-Nduaka explained that some recipes were passed down to her from her mother and grandmother. The book even includes her own creations and recipes from Africa.
“My husband hails from Nigeria, so I taught myself how to cook his cuisine. It also includes spices that I use, different drinks, desserts, breakfast items, different things like that,” Monk-Nduaka said.
The author’s smoothie cookbook, “Gimme That Smoothie Recipe!” sold out at the book festival.
While adults had ample opportunities to listen to book discussions, Roger James, an artist and author, drew children who lined up for caricature drawings. The activity was sponsored by the Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council. Other youth had their faces painted on the edge of the Children’s Corner as more youth enjoyed read-aloud stories. Children were scattered around the book festival, coloring and browsing books and games of strategy, such as Katatu. The award-winning game is presented by Curtlin Toys and Games, LLC.
Interacting with authors also inspired others who want to publish their books. Njeri Nembhard found out about the Prince George’s Book Festival from a librarian who works at Fairmount Heights Library, who suggested Nembhard take her budding writers to the event. She attended the event with 11-year-old Indigo and 13-year-old Honda, seeking information and publishing connections. Indigo is penning a book that combines sci-fi with a superhero theme. Honda finished his book about superheroes and space. He noted that he was inspired by authors at this year’s book festival.
“I actually feels like I can be like that, too,” Honda said. “I can have my books out there.”