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Author R.J. Fox to Evaluate Previously Submitted Manuscripts at the BookFest

Writer R.J. Fox, author of the new memoir, Love and Vodka, and teacher at Huron High School in Ann Arbor, will serve as Writer-in-Residence at the 14th Annual Bookfest. He will offer free, personalized evaluations of previously submitted manuscripts on the day of the event.


This is a unique opportunity to talk with a published author and see what advice he has from the real world of publishing. There is no charge to have your manuscript evaluated by Mr. Fox, though contributions to the BookFest are always welcome. Interested writers should submit the first 20 pages of their manuscript before Friday, September 2nd, via email to Hart Johnson, Ms. Johnson will then schedule an appointment with Mr. Fox on the day of the BookFest (Sunday, September 11), who will offer a 20-30 minute one-on-one critique with the participants.

R.J. Fox is the award-winning writer of several short stories, plays, poems and fifteen feature length screenplays. Two of his screenplays have been optioned by Hollywood. His work has been published in numerous journals and magazines.

He is also the writer/director/editor of several award winning short films, His stage directing debut led to an Audience Choice Award at the Canton One-Acts Festival in Canton, Michigan. In addition to moonlighting as a writer, independent filmmaker, and saxophonist, Mr. Fox teaches English and video production at Huron High School in the Ann Arbor Public Schools, where he inspires students to follow their own dreams.


His first book, Love and Vodka, is called by FOUND Magazine’s Davy Rothbart as “honest, funny, and deeply heartfelt.” BookFest director Robin Agnew notes that “a writer who is also a teacher makes an excellent critic for aspiring writers.” Don’t miss your chance to sign up for one of the few available slots with Mr. Fox.

Washtenaw Literacy Named 2016 Community Book Award Winner

Celebrating its 45th year, Washtenaw Literacy will be honored by the Kerrytown BookFest as a vital part of the community, receiving the 9th annual Community Book Award which Executive Director Amy Goodman will accept.

wash literacyThe Community Book Award celebrates a person or organization in the Ann Arbor area who has impacted the culture of books, reading, writing, printing or publishing. Past winners have included BookFest founders Tomand Cindy Hollander, Ann Arbor District Library Director Josie Parker, booksellers Jay Platt and Nicola Rooney, and writer Loren D. Estleman.

The organization believes that literacy is the foundation for a sustainable community, and provides literary support, free of charge, to adults through a network of trained tutors. As Goodman says, “our nationally-recognized tutor training and on-going development supports armies of volunteers that are on the ground making a difference everyday throughout Washtenaw County.”

Goodman has been with the organization since 2009. She is most “moved by our ability to mobilize resources to address a critical issue, adults with low basic skills, that has deep and wide- ranging impact on our community. The population we serve often falls through the cracks, yet the impact of 12% of Washtenaw County adults that are functionally illiterate has on everyone is often unnoticed.”

Tutors Nancy and David Baum relate, “Tutoring gives us a great sense of accomplishment when we see our learners make progress, and it reminds us how lucky we are to have received the gift of a good education.”

The individuals who receive tutoring receive confidence and knowledge. Learner DeAngelo speaks of his journey to Washtenaw Community College: “Basically I never was much of a school boy. I never thought I was smart. Coming here, I realized that I am a lot smarter than I thought I was. Through learning with tutors I realized that if I want to succeed, my tutor wanted to succeed with me.”

The 14th Annual Kerrytown BookFest will take place on Sunday September 11 at the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market, and the presentation to Washtenaw Literacy will kick off the day at 10:30 a.m At 4 p.m. in the Kerrytown Concert House, the group will present the ABCs of Washtenaw Literacy, an informative tour of the agency’s highly effective programs including a video and a presentation from learners.

Visit Washtenaw Literacy at and on facebook and twitter

The Path to the 2016 Poster

This year’s BookFest theme, “Travels with Books”, sparked artist Barbara Brown to suggest one of her beautiful works of art for this year’s poster. Here’s the original design, which was created by Gloria Wilson, who took the original photo; Kate Wilson, who created the backdrop, and Barbara Brown, who created the book images.  The three parts were then combined to make this wonderful image:



As our posters are handprinted on a letterpress printer, the design needed to be modified for use on the poster. She collaborated with artist Jim Horton who first made a woodcut of her design, simplifying it:


When that was done, he handset the type that went with it



Then the poster was printed

printing poster


Here’s the end result

Observatory Lodge Building Rm 2131 Multi-20160219130919

We’ll be selling these at the BookFest or you can purchase a copy at Aunt Agatha’s bookstore anytime for $20.   We hope you’ll agree it’s beautiful!

2015 Cover Contest Winners

cover finalists 2015Better late than never, we’re posting the winners of our book cover contest, announced at the library in September. First Place, Megan Pohl, Genesee Career Institute, Flint; Second Place, Magda Duck, Pioneer High School; and Third place, Sarah Neam, Pioneer High School. Congratulations!

Michigan Humanities Council Awards the BookFest a grant for 2016

mhc logoThe Michigan Humanities Council (MHC) announced $220,234 in grants to 21 Michigan organizations in support of public humanities programming. This major grant cycle, the Humanities Grants, support projects exploring history, poetry, reading, education and community identity. The 2016 BookFest will focus on “Travels with Books” with programming to be announced soon.

“The Council is pleased to support these humanities programs in Michigan,” said Jan Fedewa, Interim Executive Director of the Michigan Humanities Council. “These projects not only educate, inform, and enrich local audiences in these communities, but also attract visitors, support community development, and build capacity in organizations around the state.”

Humanities Grants are awarded to Michigan nonprofits in support of cultural, educational and community-based public humanities programming. These grants play a vital role in defining our culture, our state, our community and ourselves, and are intended to connect us to Michigan’s rich cultural heritage and historical resources.

We are more than grateful for the support of the Humanities Council and look forward to working with them in 2016!