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Author Program

Titles @ Twilight

“MY SWEET VIDALIA”

a wonderful and complex look at hope, strength, the power of unconditional love, and a young mother’s refusal to give up.


Author: Deborah Mantella
Wednesday, March 6, 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.


About The Author:

A transplant to the South, Deborah Mantella has lived and taught in various cities in the Northeast and the Midwest. Now a long-time resident of Georgia, she lives outside Atlanta.

As a Deep South Magazine’s 2015 Fall/Winter Reading List featured selection, My Sweet Vidalia earned a spot on the Lady Banks’ Bookshelf, was designated an OKRA16 pick by SIBA, the Southern Independent BookSellers Alliance, and is one of fifteen books included in TRIO’18.

Named to The Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize Long List in the Prince of Tides/literary category in 2016, Mantella was also a nominee for the prestigious Lillian Smith Book Award sponsored by the Southern Regional Council, University of Georgia Libraries, DeKalb County Public Library/ Georgia Center for the Book and Piedmont College.


“My Sweet Vidalia”

In rural Georgia on July 4, 1955, an act of violence threatens the life of Vidalia Lee Kandal Jackson’s pre-born daughter. Despite the direst of circumstances, the spirit of the lost child refuses to leave her ill-equipped young mother’s side. For as long as she is needed – through troubled pregnancies, poverty, spousal abuse, and agonizing betrayals – the determined spirit child, Cieli Mae, narrates their journey. A transplant to the south, Deborah Mantella has lived and taught in various cities in the Northeast and Midwest. Now a resident of Georgia, she lives outside Atlanta with her husband and is a member of the Atlanta Writers Club, the Authors Guild, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

“My Sweet Vidalia is a five-star novel that will pull at your heartstrings from the very first page until the last. Definitely a book to put at the top of your list of must-reads. “―San Francisco Book Review

“It is this unorthodox and refreshing choice of narrator that sets this novel apart.”―Manhattan Book Review

“An engaging story of overcoming terrible circumstances with temerity and grace.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“Unforgettable…”―HuffPost Books

“Simultaneously shines a light on the unbreakable human spirit and the power of a mother’s love.” ―Buckhaven Lifestyle magazine

“Marvelous yet melancholy …The whole book is lovely and a testament to the human spirit.”―Historical Novel Society

“MY SWEET VIDALIA, has the most unique point-of-view since Death narrated The Book Thief.”―Foxtale Book Shoppe

A touching story about friends, family, and a journey into understanding what is good for you…―Olivia’s Catastrophe

“It’s written in the tone of a surprising kind of joy.” ―Reading Reality

“My Sweet Vidalia, is a magical and gut-wrenching tale of a blossoming steel magnolia and the old infant soul who shepherds – and goads – her mama’s emergence.”―South Main Muse

“Mantella’s prose is gorgeous. Her sentences sing. With beautiful artistry she weaves a tale both heartbreaking and thought-provoking, culminating in an exciting, satisfying conclusion and an epilogue that left me in tears. This stirring novel about the transcendent bond between a mother and her daughter is not to be missed.”―The Finer Things

Wednesday, April 3, 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Margery Diamond: “Torah and Trails”

Torah and Trails is a photographic trail guide for integrating Judaism and Jewish history with environmental awareness and an appreciation of Nature. A visual artist, Margery Diamond uses her passion for natural beauty to produce photographic images that capture the rich stillness and timeless scope of nature. Her gorgeous photographs illuminate scriptural text and capture your eyes, head, and heart. Her award-winning images are on exhibit throughout the United States and Israel, and she is published in several national and regional magazines. This book is for everyone who enjoys the outdoors: camp directors, counselors, Rabbis, youth leaders, teachers, parents, outdoor educators, hikers and ecologists alike.

Wednesday, May 1, 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Dr. William Rawlings: “The Strange Journey of the Confederate Constitution”

The Strange Journey of the Confederate Constitution is a collection of seventeen articles and essays on topics in Georgia and Southern history ranging from the significance of the invention of the cotton gin and the Great Yazoo Fraud, to the true story of the Lost Confederate Treasure, to the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s. Dr. William Rawlings was born, raised and still lives on the family farm in Sandersville, Georgia. After completing his postgraduate medical training in Internal Medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, he returned to Sandersville to practice medicine with his father. He has received numerous awards and accolades over the years, including the award of an honorary Doctor of Science degree by Mercer University in 2011. Dr. Rawlings is the author of five “southern suspense” novels, and three historical nonfiction works and is a frequent contributor to Georgia Backroads.

Wednesday, June 5, 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Rona Simmons: “Untold, Unsung”

Rona Simmons writes fiction and nonfiction, having co-authored Images from World War II: The Art of Jack Smith in 2017 with the nonagenarian artist and veteran of World War II. With an anticipated publication in 2019, Untold, Unsung recounts the stories of noncombat veterans of World War II with stories to tell. Rona Simmons is the author of Postcards from Wonderland (February 2015) and a previous work of historical fiction, The Quiet Room (November 2013). She retired in 2011 after a thirty-year career in the financial services industry and turned to writing. Today she is an active member of the Atlanta Writers Club and Georgia Writers Association.

Wednesday, July 10, 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Jedwin Smith: “I Am Israel: Lions And Lambs Of The Land”

One hundred days of boots on the ground in Israel in the summer of 2017 challenged all preconceived notions about the people of the land. Jedwin Smith, author of Fatal Treasure, Let’s Get It On, and the Vietnam memoir Our Brother’s Keeper, recounts the lives and trials of the people there who are “viciously manipulated by the United Nations, Deep State Actors, and terrorists and dictators” in his most recent work, I am Israel: Lions and Lambs of the Land. The recipient of 57 major writing awards during his 36 years as a print journalist, Jedwin Smith twice was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize as a war correspondent — in 1984 for his coverage of the United States Marine Corps peace-keeping force in Beirut, Lebanon; and in 1986 for his extensive coverage of Africa’s longest and deadliest struggle, the Eritrea-Ethiopia civil war, for which he was a Pulitzer finalist.

Wednesday, August 7, 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Edward Buckley: “All The Way Home”

In this coming of age tale, two boys navigate their growing awareness of the Civil Rights Movement, racial inequality, and the meaning of love and family. They witness a searing out-of-control jury trial that alters their family, their reality, and their hearts forever. A Sandy Springs native, author Edward Buckley, uses his experiences growing up in the Mount Vernon Woods neighborhood to inform at least some of the events in All The Way Home. Son of famed Atlanta Civil Rights attorney Ferdinand Buckley, Edward remembers their dinner table as a virtual classroom on the Civil Rights Movement and in politics in general. With an education that most kids didn’t have, Edward later became a lawyer himself, practicing first with his father, before striking out on his own and starting a rm practicing law in the civil rights arena.

Wednesday, September 4, 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
William Lee White: “Let Us Die Like Men”

In the fall of 1864, the commander of the Confederate Army of Tennessee had harassed Federal forces in north Georgia so badly that the Union commander, William T. Sherman, decided to abandon his position. During his subsequent “March to the Sea,” Sherman’s men lived o the land and made Georgia howl. A Park Ranger at the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Parks where he gives tours and other programs at the Chickamauga and Lookout Mountain Battle fields, historian William Lee White is the author of several articles and essays on topics related to the Civil War including Bushwhacking on a Grand Scale (2013). His devotion to the Army of Tennessee has taken him from the dense forests of northwest Georgia to the gates of Atlanta and back into Tennessee. He now pens the penultimate chapter in the army’s storied history in Let Us Die Like Men.

Wednesday, October 2, 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Sam Massell: “Play It Again, Sam: The Notable Life of Sam Massell”

In 1969, Sam Massell was elected the first Jewish mayor of Atlanta, Georgia. Since leaving office he has been inducted into numerous “Halls of Fame” for service in fields of business, government, civil rights, hospitality, and influence. Chronicling the journey of ninety-year-old Massell, each chapter is a book unto itself on the separate parts of his life. Sam has excelled in four careers, including twenty years in commercial real estate, twenty-two years in elected offices, thirteen years in the tourism industry, and is now in his thirtieth year of association management. This is a textbook case of behind-the-scenes fact and frivolity of the sins of a workaholic and the success of an idea man, a leader, and the subject of a well-written history. As the subject of Charles McNair’s biography, join Sam Massell himself as he discusses the book that chronicles his life.

Wednesday, November 6, 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Craig Henderson: “Solemn Vows, Mission Continued”

Paul Richter, a retired Army officer who spent twenty-three years of his life fighting this country’s battles around the world, is settling down in his new life. Richter is in love, with Celia, a smart and beautiful woman, her two teenaged children, and with the sleepy rural Georgia town in which he settled. In this tense race against time, Richter is certain that people will die. He is relying on old skills and old friends to make sure that the ones who perish are the ones who deserve it. This fast paced thriller set in rural Georgia is penned by R. Craig Henderson, author of Penance (2015) who is an attorney, an Adjunct Professor of Law, and a Sandy Springs resident! Solemn Vows Mission Continued is the second novel in the Solemn Vows series.

Titles @ Twilight promotes local authors, whose stories of history and the South represent a variety of perspectives. Join us each month for a new topic and new perspective. Click here to view the schedule for the first half of 2019, or scroll down for more details on upcoming topics.

Titles @ Twilight is FREE to attend and takes place in the Community Room at the Heritage Sandy Springs administrative building, 6110 Blue Stone Road.

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