BREVARD COUNTY – Our corner of the country may seem quiet to those coming from the big city, but beneath the seemingly quiet surface lies a veritable hotbed of excitement lurking in plain sight. Brevard County is home to hundreds of talented authors who creatively put pen to paper. Or typing on various laptops and digital devices, but that image lacks the romance and allure that writers are known for — and readers are looking for.
Thanks to Valerie Allen, co-founder of the Authors for Authors organization, Brevard bibliophiles can score a new favorite and meet local writers at the annual Meet the Authors’ Book Fair. The event coincides with the Eau Gallie Fine Arts Festival on November 19 and 20.
The ArtWorks festival takes place outdoors and is a wonderful opportunity to observe artists practicing their craft. The Meet the Authors Book Fair is held inside the Eau Gallie Civic Center, which is lucky because paper products and the elements (heat and humidity) don’t mix. In addition, interested readers can browse the books on display at their leisure and take their time to meet new authors.
After more than a decade of serving writers and readers, the Authors for Authors organization continues to thrive in its efforts to cultivate relationships with and for the writing public. “We wanted to create a place where authors could showcase their work,” Dr. Allen said of the group’s original purpose. After 14 years of continuous attempts, they have certainly met and surpassed the noble enterprise.
Local writers really benefit from Dr. Allen’s kindness to pay it forward. An overview of his extensive experience and expertise provides a snippet of his professional and personal experiences.
With advanced degrees in education and mental health, the licensed psychologist specializes in working with children, adolescents, and their (long-suffering!) parents. The accomplished professional has spent many years writing for academia and teaching education and mental health at colleges and universities.
Over the years, the Good Doctor has turned his love of writing into a distinct business venture. “I write fiction, short stories, and non-fiction, all of which focus on mental health and family relationships,” Dr. Allen said. His writings address topics of mental well-being and taking charge of – and responsibility for – one’s life. These include the decisions one makes that ultimately lead to where you are.
One of his most recent publications is “Understanding Mental Illness: A Guide for Family and Friends,” a book that helps people accept that mental illness is really an illness. Dr. Allen’s novels and short stories focus on the nuances of family relationships. “I’ve written four collaborative novels with children at risk,” Dr. Allen continued. “My stories aim to help readers understand how a child gets entangled in dire situations and how to look for solutions without causing more damage.”
Dr. Allen applied his business acumen to his writing endeavors and never looked back, having published over 50 short stories and six short story anthologies. The pieces fall into two categories: some are humorous with an O. Henry twist (think Gift of the Magi); others are “two-handkerchief” stories, as Dr. Allen puts it; poignant and heartfelt. Importantly, she managed all of this while maintaining her private psychology practice!
Dr. Allen collaborated with fellow authors Marshall Frank and Holly Fox Vellekoop to create the nonprofit Authors for Authors to share their knowledge with aspiring writers. The trio accomplishes the initiative with two annual events:
The spring event is an educational conference for writers about the writing process and the publishing industry. This weekend’s Book Fair is a way for writers to market their hard work, but it’s also a fun event to meet their fans and vice versa. “The purpose of the Book Fair is to meet the reading public and share their work,” Dr. Allen said of the attendees. “Writers also have the opportunity to network with their cohorts in the publishing world,” she continued.
Marketing is at the heart of selling any product or service and can be especially challenging for most authors. Their forte lies in the solitary act of building and creating the world. However, they want to share their story and Dr. Allen offers the Book Fair as a way to do that.
On the other hand, readers have the chance to meet local writers, of whom there will be many. More than 50 authors will be present covering all genres. They are eager to discuss new work and sign autographs. Some of these authors include Jill Clark, Pamela Ackerson, Malcolm Massey, Nick Wynne, and Dr. Allen, of course! Fiction, non-fiction, poetry and children’s books are represented, as well as many local writing groups and book clubs.
The Meet the Authors book fair is a great option for local book lovers looking for the next great novel. An avid reader can walk away with enough reading material to last through the holidays, then some, and land the perfect gift for the other bookworms in the family.
The Meet the Authors book fair is scheduled for November 19-20, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (both days) at the Eau Gallie Civic Center located at 1551 Highland Ave., Melbourne. For more information on the Meet the Authors Book Fair, visit https://authorsforauthors.com. For more information on Dr. Valerie Allen’s book releases, please visit https://www.amazon.com/Valerie-Allen/e/B004O9QAUW/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1.