Wanting to support Lemuria Books in March 2020 as the shutdowns began, I ordered a couple of books through their website and drove to pick them up. Following their instructions, I called the store and said I was in the parking lot, out in front of the bakery one floor down from our beloved independent bookseller in Jackson’s beautiful Banner Hall. The bakery was closed, and my car was the only vehicle in sight. Worse, it was a gloomy, overcast day, lending an almost apocalyptic feel to the normally bustling surroundings. 

As I write these words this morning, it’s a gorgeous and unseasonably crisp spring day, the brilliant reds and whites of the azaleas a wonderful contrast to the healthy green grass and flowering plants all around. More and more people are venturing out, having been vaccinated, and I think my heart grew three sizes when the announcement was made recently that our Mississippi Book Festival is definitely on for August 21 at the state capitol.

If you’re comfortable getting out this Saturday, I sincerely hope you’ll support Independent Bookstore Day, wherever you are, whether shopping in person or online. Here in Mississippi, we’re blessed to have wonderful stores like Lemuria, Square Books (Oxford), Turn Row Books (Greenwood), The Book Mart and Cafe (Starkville), Main Street Books (Hattiesburg), Pass Christian Books, Southern Bound Books (Biloxi), Bay Books (Bay St. Louis), Friendly City Books (Columbus), Impression Books (Flowood), and Cotton Row Books (Cleveland). All of these stores took a hard hit during 2020, and Independent Bookstore Day is a way to say thanks for keeping our Mississippi literary traditions alive during a truly difficult year.

As you might imagine, I have some shopping suggestions! Try the red-hot Cradle in the Oak from Candace Cox Wheeler. She had two outstanding in-person events on April 17 (in Ocean Springs and Biloxi, Mississippi, respectively), and Coast residents are absolutely enthralled with Candace’s riveting historical fiction tale set in early twentieth century Biloxi.

Being interviewed by WLOX TV

Signing Cradle in the Oak at Hillyer House

Also consider Valerie Winn’s The Dance Between. She’s pictured here and her book is available at many of our state’s fine independent stores. The same is true of Randy Pierce’s wonderful novel Missy, which you may not have picked up late last year upon release.

Valerie’s coming-of-age novel is a great Mother’s Day idea!

Then there’s John M. Floyd, who was taking part in a Zoom literary conference but may have been dreaming up another riveting short story plot! His fine work continues to grace the pages of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery MagazineEllery Queen Mystery MagazineThe Saturday Evening Post, Woman’s World, and many other widely-read publications and sites. You can also catch his weekly Sleuth Sayers blog each Saturday on Facebook, and PLEASE grab a copy of his wonderful volume of humorous poetry, Lighten up a Little. This little book is a treasure, and because of COVID restrictions at the precise point the book was released, there’s a very good chance you missed it.

Maybe a plot about an abducted Zoom meeting host?

In our immediate future, Candace Wheeler will speak to the Biloxi Lions Club at the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum (where we launched her book this past Saturday) at noon on Wednesday, April 28. On Saturday, May 1, she’ll appear at the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center’s 23rd Birthday Tea Party Under the Oaks from 10am-12pm. A very special event for both young children and their parents/grandparents, Candy will share some essential Biloxi history with attendees and sign books. 
Again, please support Independent Bookstore Day this Saturday, wherever you are, and be sure to put August 21 on your calendar and join us for the Mississippi Book Festival. You can order signed books from the Dogwood Press website ( anytime and have your purchases in hand in just a couple of business days, and you can download most Dogwood Press titles to your Kindle.

Thanks for your time. Keep smiling, and keep reading!