On March 1, 2011, the first harbinger of my fifteen minutes of fame as an author arrived. (Actually, it turned out to be more like fifteen nanoseconds of micro-fame. But fame is fame; don’t knock it.) On that date, I was invited to participate in the 2011 South Carolina Book Festival. I would be one of 100 authors who would talk about their recently published books.South Carolina Book Festival

OMG! I was stymied. People were supposed to read the book, not come to listen to me. I agonized. What was I supposed to talk about? I thought I had put everything (almost) I wanted to say in my book, Dawn of Desegregation. The event became a big deal in my mind.

In early May, I was interviewed by Carolyn Click, a newspaper reporter. I knew it was the name J. A. De Laine—and not Ophelia De Laine Gona—that attracted the attention. The result of the interview was published in The State  newspaper on May 10. I must say, the reporter did an excellent job. She highlighted important points and did not misquote me.

South Carolina map with Clarendon County locations

South Carolina map with Clarendon County locations

A couple of days later, my speaking debut as a published author took place in Manning, only 10 miles from my book’s setting. Several of the events that I described even happened in Manning.

Attendance at the event was great. I spoke to a full house. In the audience was my boarding school roommate whom I hadn’t seen since 1953, cousins I had known from babyhood, one of my best friends from elementary school,  a woman my father had taught in 1940, and several faculty members from Scott’s Branch, the school featured in the book.

I thought the talk went VERY well and I did a lot of book signing.

The superintendent for the Summerton area school district bought several books for the Scott’s Branch High School library!

The ride to and from Manning with Carol Martin, USC Press Promotions Manager, was delightful. Originally from a rural area near Manning, she entertained me almost nonstop with descriptions of her childhood and life on a farm. One of her goals in life is to never pick another string bean.

Or was it cucumber? No matter which it was, it made me feel a close kinship to Ms Martin. Back in the 1950s, I had sorted both beans and cucumbers at a Lake City packing house. The pay was pretty good, but I make it a point to be grateful that I will never again have to do that kind of work.

On Friday, I was interviewed by Tom Hayes at SC Radio Network and had a short interview with C-SPAN Book TV. Alas, the setting for the latter interview was so noisy that recording was rendered useless. The former interview fared better. AUDIO: Gona says her father strongly believed in the American Dream (:58)

My 20 minute Book Festival presentation, the one for which I was invited to South Carolina, was poorly attended. However,  the few people who came were genuinely interested. All of my agonizing about what I should say was wasted energy. People wanted to know everything. I literally mean everything. And I hadn’t put everything in the book. It would have been impossible to do so.

I even have plenty left to reflect on in a blog. —odg


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