Arts & Entertainment

Authors, Writers and Readers Celebrated the Power of the Written Word at 3rd Annual Morristown Festival of Books

MORRISTOWN, NJ - There is no shortage of ways to spend a cloudy, rainy fall Saturday, but maybe one of the best is with a good book. On October 1, Morristown had 40 of them.

Welcoming in the cool, autumn weather the Festival of Books returned to Morristown for the third year, bringing authors, writers and readers to town in order to celebrate the power of the written word to challenge, transport and transform us as individuals and bring together the community.

The festival began with its keynote event Friday night; a discussion with author and filmmaker  Sebastian Junger and moderator Lance Gould of the Huffington Post, at the Mayo Performing Arts Center. Junger is the author of Tribe, a book exploring what society can learn about loyalty, belonging and human quest for meaning from tribal societies. Junger has spent decades as a war correspondent and  is also author of The Perfect Storm, War and directed the Academy Award Nominated documentary, Restrepo.

Sign Up for E-News

Friday’s keynote event  mirrored what would be happening the following day as 40 authors discussed their current works, processes and what makes a good book to what could be more than 1000 attendees. Last year, MFOB saw 3500 people come out in support of the books.

Taking eight months to organize, the festival employed 30 planners and organizers, as well as 150 volunteers, in order to bring authors, readers and writers together. This year, all of the main festival events were free, owing to the generosity of 91 donors.

As well, this is the first year that MFOB featured KidsFest, a section of the festival devoted to children’s authors such as R.L. Stine, Nick Bruel and Meg Medina. They were also children’s activities including magic, live music and writing games.

Spread across five official venues throughout South Street, there were authors from every major genre participated, such as nonfiction, fiction, romance, suspense, young adult and fantasy who donated their time to share their craft with audiences; talking about motivations, tips, tricks and frustrations.

“If I don’t try and write a book, I’m going to regret it. Let me try.” said Emma Sky, author of The Unraveling, a portrait of Sky’s life and struggles during the decade she spent in Iraq after Saddam Hussein was overthrown.

Sky, who currently is the Yale World Fellows Director, is also an Officer of the British Empire who spent 2003-2004 as a governante coordinator in Iraq, before becoming a political advisor to General Raymond T. Odierno, the commanding general of U.S. forces in Iraq in 2007 - 2010.

She left Iraq angry and wondering what her time spent there had all been for and her book was a response in an attempt to make sense of it all and provide meaning.

“It proved very therapeutic,” she said. “Friends I’ve lost; they’re still alive in the book.”

Bombarded by a packed house at the Morristown Library, Sky articulately and with a few laughs, answered attendees questions about foreign policy, America’s involvement in foreign affairs and the current presidential election.

In another session, a panel of suspense authors discussed their processes, the joys of an unstable narrator and the importance of  written structure in a novel.

For instance author, Peter Swanson doesn’t do outlines or plot his books before setting out to finish them. Instead he prefers to move with his characters and keep them unrestricted from plotlines that not might fit their growth that occurs in the months it takes to write a book.

“I like to get lost in my books,” Swanson said, author of The Kind Worth Killing, a psychological suspense about a man, a woman he meets and a plan to murder his wife.

His co-panelists, however, don’t take such winding roads to their works.

Wendy Walker, author of All is Not Forgotten, spent time reading sexual assault victims’ testimonies and accounts of their attacks in order to make sure her novel  would capture the appropriate tone when recounting her characters’ experiences.

Walker’s novel focuses on the conflict following the sexual assault of a girl and the effects taking a drug to remove the memory of it create. Using research from sexual assault cases and experimental drugs to remove unpleasant memories, Walker set out to write a novel that would make parents question what might be in the best interest children and what is better: getting justice for your crime or forgetting it ever happened.

“It created a premise that pushed up against every ethical, moral dilemma of parent. What would you have to do if you needed to make that decision for a your child, “ Walker said of her novel, published this past July.

Interwoven through discussion of process and narrative, droplets of advice and reassurance were scattered to any fellow writers, young and old, in the audience.

“This was my third first novel,” Sharon Guskin said of her book The Forgetting Time, her debut novel.

Guskin had written two previous novels without much success, and found herself doubtful of her ability and path. She felt pressure to have a published work and impress her peers and colleagues, only to come to the realization that it wouldn’t happen if she wasn’t writing for herself.

“Writing to impress anyone is a book dead on arrival,”Guskin said, receiving excited clapping and smiles of understanding from the audience.

But, there was no more thunderous applause then when acclaimed children’s author R.L Stine addressed a crowded room at the Presbyterian church to talk about his work and the almost 20 years he has put into the Goosebumps children’s books. From a  line that wrapped around three hallways, parents and kids alike took to the floor to cram their way into hearing Stine speak about his featured books Lizard of Oz and Young Scrooge: A Very Scary Christmas Story.

Very fitting for the first day of October, Stine recited “Haunted” by children’s poet Shel Silverstein, which received a great many giggles from his audience before continuing with letters he received from his fans, detailing the spooky and silly nature that has come to be associated with the Goosebumps name.

Festival goers could talk and speak with each of the authors after their presentations at the Vail Mansion lawn, even getting the ability to get their books signed by the authors, who donated their time for the day.

With more than 19 sessions, stories and discussions of craft lasted throughout the day before the closing event of a conversation and tasting with Jockey Hollow Bar and Kitchen’s Chris Cannon,  a dedicated festival patron.

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Morristown

Mount Olive Bridge Set to Be Replaced in Early August

July 19, 2017

FLANDERS, NJ - The Flanders-Drakestown Road Bridge in Mount Olive is being replaced beginning the first week of August, closing the span for 120 days, announced officials. The bridge has  extensive deterioration of the bridge’s arches, with bulging, leaning, cracking and delamination (or failure of the composite materials) of the spandrel walls.

The project will result in ...

Summit Man Struck and Killed by Train; Incident Occurred on Tracks Between Summit and Chatham

July 18, 2017

SUMMIT, NJ - A Summit man was struck and killed by a New Jersey Transit train at approximately 6:30 a.m. July 17 on the tracks adjacent to Stanley Avenue between Summit and Chatham.

According to a NJ Transit spokesperson, Michael Kane, age 46, was hit by NJ Transit train #6610, which left Dover at 5:55 a,m. and was due to arrive in Hoboken at 7:10 a.m. None of the 150 passengers ...

Butterfly Tent Safari Returns to Essex County Environmental Center July 15

July 17, 2017

ROSELAND, NJ – Butterflies are once again coming to the Essex County Environmental Center located at 621B Eagle Rock Avenue in Roseland. The “Butterfly Tent Safari” will be open to the public beginning July 15 through July 29.  The Butterfly Tent Safari is an interactive display where visitors can observe hundreds of butterflies while walking through a ...

Free Movie Night in Morris Township Wednesday July 12

MORRIS TOWNSHIP, NJ -  The movie Jungle Book (Rated PG) will be shown during Morris Township's Free Family Movie Night on Wednesday July 12. Bring the whole family down to Ginty Field and enjoy this classic film that tells the story of Mowgli, an orphaned human boy who’s guided by his animal guardians, sets out on a journey of self-discovery while evading the threatening Shere ...

Bring Your Tents; Second Camp Out on the Beach Set for August 4

MORRISTOWN, NJ -  The second annual campout at Sunrise Lake Beach is set for August 4. The campout begins at 7 p.m,  but arrival time can be as early as 4 p.m. to enjoy free beach admission and swimming.

For an additional fee, you can run, jump, splash and have a blast on the Wibit, an inflatable obstacle course, and explore the scenic lake by renting a paddle or row ...

Morris County 4-H Fair Begins Today; Wednesday July 19

July 19, 2017

CHESTER, NJ - The 2017 Morris County 4-H Fair, a celebration of the efforts of 4-H youths from across Morris County, mixed with a car and motorcycle show, hot air balloons, fireworks, amusement rides and games, plus entertainment and food, kicks off today, July 19 and will run through Sunday, July 23 at Chubb Park in Chester Township.

Varieties of family-friendly activities are ...

Garden Tea and Tour at Morristown's Frelinghuysen Arboretum

July 19, 2017

MORRISTOWN, NJ - Step onto the beautiful grounds for an expert-led tour focusing on seasonal blooms at the magnificent Frelinghuysen Arboretum, one New Jersey’s most beautiful public gardens. Located in Morris Township, learn about the history of this site, which is on the State and National Registers of Historic Places, along with fascinating facts about its gardens.

 A leisurely, ...

Women Veterans Peer Support Group

MORRISTOWN, NJ - Are you a female veteran that is looking for a peer support group? Cornerstone Family Programs located at 62 Elm Street is hosting a Peer Support Group on Wednesday July 26 from 7 -8:30 at the Morristown location.

Come and meet with other woman who have been there. Share in the conversation while finding support, resources and strategies. Topics of discussion will include ...

Morristown's Tiny Tot Tuesdays is Back

MORRISTOWN, NJ -  Parents and toddlers can enjoy the sandy beach of Sunrise Lake Beach Club during Tiny Tot Tuesday's. This program allows toddlers to use the lake prior to the lake being open to the community for the day.

Beginning Tuesday July 11 from 9am - 10:45am, children age 4 and under can splash around Sunrise lake, enjoy the beach and meet new friends. The program will run ...

Celebrate George Gramby Day Saturday 8 with Food, Vendors, Speakers and Games

July 5, 2017

MORRISTOWN, NJ - George Gramby Drug and Alcohol Day will be celebrated on Saturday July 8 from 12noon - 5pm at the George Gramby Memorial Park. The celebration promotes sobriety and honors individuals that exemplify the characteristics of the late George Gramby, who was the founder of a substance abuse referral center in Morristown known as, ...

Local Morristown Chef to participate in prestigious James Beard Event

Morristown, N.J. -  Local Chef, Paul Viggiano from Horseshoe Tavern and the Raven Room, will be making his debut at the Friends of James Beard Benefit Event for Perona Farms 100th Anniversary on July 18, with his enticing new dish titled ‘Holy Mackerel.’ This creamed and pickled Spanish Mackerel will be served over savory pumpernickel and rye biscotti. This dish will be specially ...

'Skeleton Crew' hits home

UNION, NJ – Premiere Stages, in its quest for new, richly layered plays, is now presenting “Skeleton Crew” by Dominique Morrisseau.

The playwright had her play “Follow Me to Nellie’s” work shopped at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center in Connecticut several years ago. That was followed by s fine production at the Kean University ...

Bipartisan or Bystander?

July 17, 2017

Bipartisan or Bystander?

Bipartisanship means active, often contentious, yet respectful  cooperation, (and ultimate compromise), between two political parties for the ultimate betterment of their constituents. It is creating productive discussion to achieve a synthesis of ideas. Thus, the welfare of the people always comes before party loyalty. 

It's also about speaking up.

How the Newark riots and other race riots changed America

July 19, 2017

 

How the urban riots in Newark and other cities changed our country and politics forever

I grew up in New Jersey when Newark, Plainfield and other cities experienced rioting and later became a proofreader and reporter for The Star-Ledger  (1978-1983), for which  I covered Newark and Plainfield. 

The demise of Newark as a city has always intrigued and concerned ...

Upcoming Events

Sat, July 22, 9:00 AM

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: NJ Audubon Photographic Instructors' ...

Arts & Entertainment Green

Sat, July 22, 9:30 AM

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Nature Infused Yoga Summer Series

Green Health & Wellness

Sat, July 22, 10:00 AM

Museum of Early Trades and Crafts, Madison

New Exhibit at Museum of Early Trades and Crafts: ...

Arts & Entertainment

Atlantic Health System Named a Best Workplace in New York Region by Great Place to Work® and Fortune

July 20, 2017

MORRISTOWN, NJ – JULY 18, 2017 – Atlantic Health System, a leading provider of health care in New Jersey, today announced it was named to the Great Place to Work® and Fortune’s inaugural list of Best Workplaces in New York.

Atlantic Health System ranked 6th on the list, and was the only New Jersey-based health care system to be highlighted in the New York Metropolitan ...