Monday, November 21, 2016

Thank Heavens for Booksellers!


Fran and Don Bush
by Paula Gail Benson

An author can have no greater friend than a supportive bookseller. I am fortunate to have several in my life. I especially appreciate Fran and Don Bush, who have just retired from running their brick-and-mortar Booklover’s Bookstore in Aiken, South Carolina, but are still very active in their community and in promoting writers they love.

We first met through the South Carolina Book Festival, when I brought one of the featured authors to the Aiken library for a special program Fran had arranged. Since that time, we have become fast friends, closer than family. Fran and Don have have been Aiken tour guides, helping me and another author gather information for our work; and they have introduced me to their close friends, best-selling mother-and-son writing team Caroline and Charles Todd. Take a look in the acknowledgements in the Bess Crawford mystery, A Duty to the Dead, and you’ll see Fran Bush mentioned as “bookseller extraordinaire.”

Recently, Fran worked with the Aiken Chapter of the American Association of University Women to organize a Mystery Madness Luncheon event, the proceeds from which benefited AAUW’s scholarship fund. I’m proud to say that over $900 was collected.
Richard Laudenslager, Fran Rizer, Sasscer Hill, me, and Fran Bush
Because Fran and Don are honorary members of the Palmetto Chapter of Sisters in Crime, Fran urged AAUW to showcase local authors she admired. She planned a terrific panel including Sasscer Hill (formerly of Maryland and now an Aiken resident whose multiple award nominated Nikki Latrelle series has been compared to the work of Dick Francis, and whose new series will feature Fia McKee, an agent for the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau); Richard Laudenslager (a project engineer and paranormal investigator currently writing a thriller, Wounded, and collaborator, with Fran Rizer, on an anthology); Fran Rizer (who in addition to her cozyesque Callie Parrish mysteries, about a funeral home cosmetologist, has written Kudzu River, a serial killer thriller, Southern Swamps and Ruins, an anthology of haunting tales written in collaboration with Richard D. Laudenslager, and a tenth novel, The Horror of Julie Bates), and myself (writer of mystery and other short stories).

AAUW Lunch
We had a wonderful lunch, with each author sitting at a different table and getting to know the members and guests of the AAUW chapter. The chicken salad was divine and the desserts delectable. Then, the authors gathered at a table before the audience to field questions from our moderator, Fran. While we had notice of most that she intended to ask, she threw us a few curves--a particularly good one that was suggested by her friend Caroline Todd and still has me thinking: “Tell the audience in 90 seconds why they should read your work.”

Every avid reader loves having a librarian or bookseller to consult with about the most recent releases, but to have true advocates like Fran and Don Bush in your corner is an incredible gift for an author. Thank you, Fran and Don. As our friendship grows, I discover more qualities for which I admire you. I will never forget your warm embraces, overflowing kindness, and complete confidence in me and my writing. I am forever grateful.
Audience at AAUW Mystery Madness Luncheon

1 comment:

  1. That sweetheart Fran Bush was kind enough to post a message on my Facebook page. I'm going to take the liberty of copying a bit of it here, to demonstrate the great love she and Don have for writers: "We met a lot of authors through SIBA (Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance) and the South Carolina Book Festival. When [Paula] invited us to one of the first Sisters in Crime, Palmetto Chapter meetings, we knew we would be meeting mystery authors and those who wanted to write mysteries. We both love Mysteries. What we did not know was how many Friends we would meet. We look forward to the meetings every month because of meeting another Mystery Author or hearing discussions on the writing process but also, because of the greatest gift, the gift of friendship. There are so many talented authors in our on area, and many of those are in SinC Palmetto, that I wanted to showcase that talent. When the opportunity arose for the AAUW Luncheon fundraiser, I said Yes. What could be better than to combine my two favorite organizations for a fundraiser for education! THANK YOU!!!!!"

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