The nonprofit Pat Conroy Literary Center will host the 7th annual Lowcountry Book Club Convention on Saturday, September 30, at the Culinary Institute of the South at the Technical College of the Lowcountry in Bluffton, SC. Ideal for book club members, those interested in joining a book club, or anyone who simply loves the joy of reading, the Lowcountry Book Club Convention is presented in partnership with NeverMore Books and the Technical College of the Lowcountry, and made possible by the generous support of the Pulpwood Queens Books Club.
This year’s presenters include musician, educator, and bestselling novelist Brendan Slocumb, author of The Violin Conspiracy (A Good Morning America Book Club Selection) and Symphony of Secrets; master entertainer and chef Johnathon Scott Barrett, author of Cook & Celebrate: A Collection of Southern Holiday & Party Culinary Traditions; and teenage entrepreneur Sidney Keys III, creator of the Books N Bros Book Club (featured in Forbes Magazine). The Convention will begin this year with a panel discussion highlighting five lowcountry novelists: Donna Keel Armer (The Red Starfish), Laura Elizabeth (All Is Now Lost), Nancy Ritter (Slack Tide), Lynn Seldon (Carolina’s Ring), and John Warley (Jury of One).
A gourmet box lunch will be provided by Catering by Debbi Covington. Books by presenting authors will be available for sale and signing. The Culinary Institute of the South will also be offering guided tours of their facility for the convention attendees. The registration fee includes all-day access to all author events and a tour.$15-$40/person. Register in advance at https://lowcountrybookclubconvention2023.eventbrite.com
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS (Saturday, September 30)
9:00-9:30 a.m. Check-in Begins
9:30-10:30 a.m. Lowcountry Novelists Panel Discussion, featuring Donna Keel Armer (The Red Starfish), Laura Elizabeth (All Is Now Lost), Nancy Ritter (Slack Tide), Lynn Seldon (Carolina’s Ring), and John Warley (Jury of One), moderated by Pat Conroy Literary Center executive director Jonathan Haupt
10:30-11:00 a.m. Book signing break
11:00-12:00 p.m. As featured in the Good Morning America Book Club — musician, educator, and novelist Brendan Slocumb (The Violin Conspiracy and Symphony of Secrets) in conversation with Jonathan Haupt
12:00-12:45 p.m. Book signing break & lunch: Gourmet box lunches by Catering by Debbi Covington. (Register by September 18 for lunch)
12:45-1:45 p.m. Master entertainer and chef Johnathon Scott Barrett, (Cook & Celebrate: A Collection of Southern Holiday & Party Culinary Traditions) in conversation with Mary Martha Greene (The Cheese Biscuit Queen Tells All)
1:45-2:15 p.m. Book signing break
2:15-3:15 p.m. As featured in Forbes Magazine — Sidney Keys III, author of Books N Bros and founder of the Books N Bros book club, in conversation with local students.
3:15-3:45 p.m. Final book signing break and tour of the Culinary Institute of the South.
Featured Guest Authors
Brendan Slocumb was raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a degree in music education, concentrations on Violin and Viola. For the past two decades, he has been a public and private school music educator from kindergarten through twelfth grade, teaching general music, orchestra, and guitar ensembles. His students were often chosen for district and regional orchestras. In 2005, Brendan was named Teacher of the Year for Robert E. Lee High School; he has been named to Who’s Who of American teachers, and is a Nobel Teacher of distinction. Brendan also serves as an educational consultant for the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. He is the author of two novels: The Violin Conspiracy (a selection of the Good Morning America Book Club) and the recently released Symphony of Secrets. www.brendanslocumb.com
Johnathon Scott Barrett is a seventh-generation Georgian, and grew up amongst a family that placed high value on fresh, farm-to-table food. He held onto those roots and became a renowned cook and host in his home state. A nonprofit executive, he is also an avid reader, fisherman, and gardener. His cookbooks include Cook & Celebrate, Rise & Shine, and Cook & Tell. www.johnathonbarrett.com
Sidney Keys III is a rising teen entrepreneur. At the young age of 10, he decided to take his love for reading to the next level and create Books N Bros, a book club to empower boys while advocating for African American literacy.
Keys offers kids a place to be mentored by their “Big Bros” and connect over a shared love for reading and the “Cool Bros Read” mantra. Featured in Forbes Magazine, he has made appearances on Cartoon Network, Good Morning America, Today with Hoda and Jenna, CNN, MARVEL Hero Project on Disney+, and in Oprah’s O magazine and the Huffington Post. Keys lives in Atlanta, GA. www.booksnbros.com
Featured Local Authors
Donna Keel Armer is the author of the travel memoir Solo in Salento (recently translated into Italian) and the debut novel The Red Starfish. She has published numerous articles and photographs on travel, food, human interest, and home and garden in South Carolina magazines. She also teamed up with the Sons of Italy in Columbia, SC, to produce Bella Cucina Italiana, a cookbook featuring her photography. She and her husband Ray live in Beaufort where she volunteers with the Pat Conroy Literary Center and Hunting Island State Park. https://donnaarmer.com
Laura Elizabeth enjoys a well-established career in business as well as a rich family life that, many years ago, took her to Daufuskie Island for the first time. Following her years of family experiences on the island, Laura imagined Mongin Island as the home for her new cozy series, The Island Mysteries, beginning with the newly released All Is Now Lost. www.theislandmysteries.com
The author of Slack Tide, Nancy Ritter has worked as a paralegal, a reporter, and an editor. She has received numerous awards for her writing, culminating in a Service to America Medal for her work at the U.S. Department of Justice on the nation’s missing persons crisis, where she first learned about “ambiguous loss,” an issue she explores in her debut novel. Ritter lives and writes in Beaufort, where she is a volunteer for the Pat Conroy Literary Center.
Graduate of Virginia Military Institute and Army veteran Lynn Seldon is a longtime writer with more than 500 magazine and newspaper credits, including USA Today, The Atlanta Journal- Constitution, TrailBlazer, airline inflights, several AAA publications, and dozens more. He is the author or coauthor of six nonfiction books, and the novels, Virginia’s Ring and Carolina’s Ring. He lives in Beaufort with fellow writer and wife Cele Seldon. www.seldonink.com
John Warley is the award-winning author of seven books. His bestselling novel, A Southern Girl, was praised by Pat Conroy as “stylish as a novel by John Irving and as tightly written as one by John Grisham.” His history of his undergraduate alma mater, Stand Forever, Yielding Never: The Citadel in the 21st Century, led to his selection to write both the inscription for the college’s war memorial and “The Citadel at War,” a narrative history of the wars and conflicts in which Citadel alumni have made the ultimate sacrifice. NPR selected his essay “Lingering at the Doors” for publication in This I Believe on Fatherhood. A graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, he drew on decades of experience practicing law in writing Jury of One, his most recent novel. Warley lives in Beaufort. www.johnwarley.com