Literary Events

Winnsboro Festival of Books

Saturday, May 4, 2024

9AM - 3PM

Authors Scroll down to register for your table at this year's big event. Registration thru April 30

Make your reservation for Lunch and Learn and lunch choice here

Mission:  To bring readers and writers together to share in a myriad of adventures that books offer as they expand knowledge and delight all ages

Vision:  To grow literacy and cultivate connections which enrich cultural experiences in Northeast Texas

Winnsboro Center for the Arts is excited to announce the 6th annual Festival of Books on May 4, 2024.

We invite you to come and take advantage of this opportunity to meet participating authors and enjoy the full array of literacy events we have planned for the day. 

Thank you to our Sponsors and Grantors for their support

This year's festival will feature:

  • High-energy performing artist, Michael Guinn as event emcee
  • 30-minute Lunch & Learn workshop, led by Guinn, on instant poetry, followed by an open mic Poetry Slam opportunity for participants
  • All genre of published authors signing/selling their books and available to meet you
  • Ventriloquist Sandy St. John and Jack Bunny will be here
  • Story times and interactive literacy recitations throughout the day
  • Hands-on children’s literacy activities
  • Performances by local poets of all ages and poetry styles
  • Photos, high-fives and hugs from a popular children’s book character Froggy
  • Fort Worth Poetry Society will be reading and hosting a panel discussion
  • Romance author discussion with Delia Latham and Dana Wayne
  • High School Poetry contest winners will have opportunity to share their work
  • ….and MORE

Michael Guinn

Festival Schedule: 
9:00 – Event Kickoff – Michael Guinn
9:30-9:45 – HS Poetry Winner Recognition & Reading
10:00-10:30 – Romance Authors Presentation
10:45-11:40 – FW Poet’s Society Panel
12:00-12:45 – Lunch & Learn Workshop 
1:00-1:15 – Sandy St. John & Jack Bunny
1:15-1:25 – Sandy interview/introduces Michael Guinn
1:25 – Poetry Slam performance – Michael Guinn 
1:30 – 2:15 – Open Mic Poetry 
3:00 – Closing – Michael Guinn
 Poet Society group will do spontaneous bell ringing/poetry sharing throughout the event. 
Children’s events 9:00 – 3:00 -Kids crafts – Froggy themed – origami; paper bag puppet; frog/insect catcher
Children’s storytelling – 9:15; 10:30; 12:45

Fort Worth Poetry Society

Larry Atchley, Jr., writes poetry, fantasy, science fiction and horror.  His short stories and poetry appear in a multitude of anthologies.  He has stories in volumes of the shared universe series Heroes in Hell, and Sha’Daa.  He also performs his poetry as “Lars Shortshanks, the Pirate Poet,” with The Seadog Slam at various events and festivals.  Atchley is a member of the Fort Worth Poetry Society.  He likes watching Britcoms with his wife Ali, spending time with his daughters, Leila and Alina, bicycling, nature hiking, reading, and collecting books.  You can find his blog at

Amanda Russell is a guest editor at The Comstock Review, a member of the Fort Worth Poetry Society, and a stay-at-home mom. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Hole in the Head re:View, Grand Journal, EcoTheo Review, Lily Poetry Review, and Atticus Review. To learn about her or her chapbooks, Barren Years and Processing (forthcoming from Main Street Rag), please visit

An east coast transplant in Texas, John Bartell enjoys Shiner beer and the Austin music scene, though he hasn’t taken to wearing cowboy boots. He is the President of the Fort Worth Poetry Society and is a past president of the DFW Writer’s Workshop. His poems can be found in various journals, including The Orchards Poetry Review, Canyon Voices, The Loch Raven Review, Rat’s Ass Review, Horror Writers Association Poetry Showcase X, and Muddy River Poetry Review.

Stephen Sanders is an award-winning, published poet.  He regularly performs his poetry at events such as the 2023 East Texas Paranormal Convention, Steampunk November, and the 2024 Texas Storytelling Festival.  Sanders is on the Board of Directors of Seadog Enterprises, the Board of the Poetry Society of Texas, and is a member of the Fort Worth Poetry Society and the National Federation of State Poetry Societies.  To listen to some examples of his work, go to “The Adventure Poetry Channel” on YouTube.  If you want to know more about him, simply do a web search for “Stephen Sanders poetry.”

Author Discussion with Delia Latham and Dana Wayne

Delia Latham’s inspired stories immerse the reader in a world of romance with a whisper of angels’ wings. You can count on a touch of the divine in her sweet, inspirational novels and novellas.

An award-winning, best-selling author, she’s been writing something—though not necessarily anything readable—since long before she even knew what words were. Both her vocabulary and her writing skills have improved considerably since then—a very good thing for her readers!

Delia lives in East Texas with her husband Johnny and a spoiled Pomeranian named Kona. She likes to crochet and spend time with her family.

Dana Wayne fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming a published author at the age of sixty-six. Since then, she has self-published six more highly regarded and award-winning novels and a cookbook. Among her work’s honors are several international awards, including the prestigious Best Indie Book Award, Bronze Medal from Readers Favorite, and the International Impact Book Award. A sought-after speaker and frequent guest on various writing blogs, she’s a die-hard romantic whose heart-warming stories are filled with strong women, second chances, and happily ever after.

When she isn’t writing or spending time with family, she is an avid crafter, especially Christmas-related items, her favorite being tabletop Christmas trees, a craft she learned from her mother.

2024 High School Poetry Contest


DEADLINE: All poems should be received by April 24, 2024. 5:00 pm

Submission Rules
According to, the definition of “shine” is: to give forth or glow with light. For this poem, consider what makes YOU shine.
● What makes YOU special and stand apart from others?
● What is it that others distinctly notice about YOU?
● Are there personal characteristics that make YOU uniquely YOU?
● What special talents and gifts do YOU possess that allow you to glow?
● What passions, experiences, beliefs have shaped YOU into the person you are?
ELIGIBILITY: All local public, private or homeschool high school students are eligible to
enter the contest. Poem must be the sole work of the entrant. Any length and genre of poem can compete. A single contestant can submit a maximum of one poem for consideration.
JUDGING: Entries will be judged on creativity, originality, imagery, artistic quality, and
mastery of poetic expression as it relates to the theme, My Shine. Local authors and an area poet will judge students’ submissions.
PRIZES/RECOGNITION: The top three student poetry winners will receive cash prizes and a certificate. Cash prizes will be awarded as follows: 1st place – $100, 2nd place – $75, and 3rd place – $50. The student who submits the first place awarded entry will be invited to share the poem publicly at the Winnsboro Festival of Books on May 4, 2024.
SUBMISSIONS: All entries must include full name, mailing address, phone number, name of high school, and year of graduation. Poems may be submitted as follows:
1. Email a copy of your poem to: with all of the required entry information above included in the email.
2. For Winnsboro High School students, turn in a copy of your poem, with required entry information, to WISD Language Arts teacher, Becky Morris.

Lunch and Learn Slam Poetry with Michael Guinn

Join us at lunch time to discover your inner poet.  Michael Guinn is versed in guiding everyday people on a journey to find their poetic voice.  Not only will he help you find your voice, he will give you an opportunity to share it with an open mic performance later in the day.   “Everyone has something to write about” – Michael Guinn

Call for Authors

Registration has been extended until April 30th.  Secure your spot today. Sign up today to participate in this year’s fun!  Please complete the form below and get your booth reserved. 

Be part of the fun!

Past Events

Festival of Books 2022

Spoken Word Performance with Billy Henderson

What better way to bring this year’s Festival of Books to a close than with a Spoken Word presentation! Billy Henderson entertained with his intriguing monologues ranging from the history of music to more personal stories of his own adventures! This performance took place at 7 p.m. on the Bowery Stage at 200 Market St.

Billy also led a song-writing workshop on Friday evening. 

Billy is truly one of a kind: A Whole ‘Nother Thing!”

The Pleasant Hill Quilters-January 2022

Winnsboro Center for the Arts and Helping Young People Excel (H.Y.P.E.) partnered together to present The Pleasant Hill Quilters in a special performance at 11 a.m. January 15, 2022, at 200 Market St. Winnsboro, Texas. The Pleasant Hill Quilters are a quilting group from Linden, Texas. The group consists of LaWanda Warren, Ether Blaylock, Oteria McDaniel, and Flo Stevenson. The quilting group was formed in 2004 and has been performing shows together for nearly 18 years. They sing and share the oral history of the secret codes used in quilts that helped enslaved people in the Underground Railroad.

The group was formed after Stevenson found one of these quilts at a flea market in Montgomery, Alabama, and remembered a book that she had recently read, Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad. Stevenson and a group of community members in Linden decided to form the quilting group and start sewing their own quilts based on the secret code patterns.

The quilting group meets once a week at the Pleasant Hill Community Center which was formerly known as the Pleasant Hill School and was a school for the African American children in one of Texas’ oldest African American communities up until 1964. It is now used by the Pleasant Hill Quilters as a workshop for making quilts that preserve African American history. Proceeds made by their quilts and performances go towards the maintenance of the historical building. The group performs mostly at high schools, universities, concert halls, and churches in East Texas, but has traveled as far as Washington D.C.

The Pleasant Hill Quilters wore brightly colored hand-sewn bonnets and aprons during their performance, sang spiritual hymns, and educated attendees about the secret codes of the quilts. Literacy was forbidden for enslaved people in the United States. Because many were unable to read, important messages were conveyed through stories, songs, and symbols. Quilt codes were stitched into quilts and displayed where enslaved people escaping to the north could see such as windows, clotheslines, or porches. The codes held important messages that helped people navigate their way to freedom.

The Pleasant Hill Quilters-January 2022

Winnsboro Center for the Arts and Helping Young People Excel (H.Y.P.E.) partnered together to present The Pleasant Hill Quilters in a special performance at 11 a.m. January 15, 2022, at 200 Market St. Winnsboro, Texas. The Pleasant Hill Quilters are a quilting group from Linden, Texas. The group consists of LaWanda Warren, Ether Blaylock, Oteria McDaniel, and Flo Stevenson. The quilting group was formed in 2004 and has been performing shows together for nearly 18 years. They sing and share the oral history of the secret codes used in quilts that helped enslaved people in the Underground Railroad.

The group was formed after Stevenson found one of these quilts at a flea market in Montgomery, Alabama, and remembered a book that she had recently read, Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad. Stevenson and a group of community members in Linden decided to form the quilting group and start sewing their own quilts based on the secret code patterns

Third Annual Festival of Books

May 1, 2021

This festival was dedicated to the former Kate Park, a native of Winnsboro whose love of reading combined with her business acumen led to a successful career in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex. Never forgetting her small-town roots and always eager to give back, she encouraged and guided us in the organization of our first Festival of Books here in Winnsboro in 2018. We were very fortunate to have such an outstanding group of speakers and panelists, many of whom were close friends of Kate’s.

Our third Festival of Books was a success. Guests were able to peruse the published works of authors from all over the state while enjoying performances by “King of Cajun” Jo-El Sonnier and Winnsboro’s own Alter Dance Studio. The morning session also included a children’s literature panel as well as Mr. Sonnier signing his new children’s book.

The afternoon session included keynote speaker, Michael Merschel, noted author and friend of the late Kate Park, to whom this festival was dedicated. The afternoon closed with a mystery panel led by Winnsboro native and award-winning author Melissa Lenhardt.

This Festival would not have been possible without the support of our sponsors:
-Chip and Terry Mathews
-The Bowery Book Club
-Community Chronicle
-Nestle Water North America
-Texas Commission on the Arts
-The Mrs. A.D. Francis Endowment Fund at East Texas Communities Foundation (on behalf of Winnsboro Community Foundation)

Keynote Speaker

Michael Merschel is an editor with extensive narrative, lifestyles and breaking-news experience; writer who has provided columns, reviews and author interviews ranging from Khaled Hosseini to Colleen Hoover to William Shatner; freelance humorist who has contributed to “A Prairie Home Companion” and Dallas’ Ground Zero Theater Company. His out-of-office reply ended up in “The New York Times” and on NPR, and his award-winning middle-grade novel, “Revenge of the Star Survivors,” was published in 2017.

Children's Literature Panel

Nancy Churnin is the author of THE WILLIAM HOY STORY, HOW A DEAF BASEBALL PLAYER CHANGED THE GAME (Albert Whitman), on the 2016 New York Public Library Best Books for Kids and Bank Street College Best Children’s Books list, the 2017 Texas Library Association’s 2X2 and Topaz lists, 2017-2018 Kennebec Valley Book Award Books, the 2018 Illinois School Library Media Association’s Monarch Award Master List, Connecticut’s 2018 Charter Oak Children’s Book Awards list, the 2018-2019 Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice awards, the 2017-2018 Armadillo Readers’ Choice Awards list and is a 2020 Northern Lights Book Award winner in the sports category.

Mary Brooke Casad has written a series of books about an armadillo named Bluebonnet, detailing Bluebonnet’s travels around Texas.

A native of Louisiana and graduate of University High School on the LSU campus, Casad received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and also studied at Harlaxton College in Grantham, England. She spent her childhood summers in the Texas Hill Country at Camp Waldemar, where she was first introduced to armadillos! She edited a history of the 75-year-old camp: The Waldemar Story – Camping in the Texas Hill Country. Casad was invited by First Lady Laura Bush to be a featured Texas writer at the Texas Book Festival in Austin in 1997 and 2000. She is a member of the Writers’ League of Texas, the Texas State Historical Association and the Daughters of the Republic of Texas.  She is also a member of Chapter AB of P.E.O. and Kappa Kappa Gamma.

Michael Anthony Steele has been in the entertainment industry for more than twenty-seven years. For the past twenty-four years, Mr. Steele has written exclusively for family entertainment. For television and video, he began as a staff writer for Wishbone on PBS. Later, he wrote twenty-five episodes for Barney & Friends, was the contributing writer on fifteen Barney videos, and wrote four videos for Boz, the Green Bear Next Door.Mr. Steele has authored more than one hundred and twenty books for various characters and brands including: Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Scooby-Doo, Shrek, LEGO City, Spider-Man, Word Girl, Garfield, Night at the Museum, andThe Penguins of Madagascar.

 For the past twelve years, Mr. Steele has visited schools and libraries across the country. His exciting author visits include audiovisual elements that show writing tricks and techniques, explain behind-the-scenes action from his days of working in the movies, and incorporate music and storytelling. The theme of his presentations is how each of the students can achieve their dreams if they keep telling themselves the four simple words that he uses, “I Can Do That!” 

Rosie J. Pova is a multi-published, award-winning children’s author, poet, speaker, and writing coach on a mission to inspire children not only to read and write more, but to use their creativity, follow their passions, dream big and believe in themselves. She is also a Writing Instructor for the Dallas Independent School District through The Writer’s Garret, an instructor with Writing Workshops Dallas, teaching picture book courses to children’s writers, and the founder of two children’s writing contests ― KWEST and Haiku Hype ― as well as the organizer of The Write Universe Kidlit Writers Workshops in Dallas, TX. She also serves as a judge for Rate Your Story.

Rosie visits schools and shares her inspirational journey as an immigrant from Bulgaria and how she became a published author, encouraging kids to persist, push through obstacles, and hold a high vision of themselves.She also speaks on many women’s topics and has appeared on radio and print media.

Writers' and Poets' Panel

Melissa Lenhardt is a women’s fiction, mystery, and historical fiction author. Her debut mystery, STILLWATER, was a finalist for the 2014 Whidbey Writers’ MFA Alumni Emerging Writers Contest, and SAWBONES, her historical fiction debut, was hailed as a “thoroughly original, smart and satisfying hybrid, perhaps a new sub-genre: the feminist Western” by Lone Star Literary Life. The New York Times called her sixth novel, HERESY, “An all-out women-driven, queer, transgender, multiracial takeover of the Old West”. THE SECRET OF YOU AND ME, her seventh novel and her first contemporary women’s fiction novel, will be published on August 4, 2020. When Melissa isn’t writing, she’s thinking, “I really should be writing” and eating Nutella or peanut butter straight out of the jar. She enjoys reading, watching British detective shows, hiking, photography, traveling, searching for the diviest dive bar in Dallas with her husband and friends, eating ice cream, drinking ice cold beer on a hot day, and taking naps. She lives in Texas.

Kathleen Kent is a New York Times bestselling author and a two-time Edgar Award Nominee for her contemporary crime novels, The Dime and The Burn. The Washington Post writes of the series, “Raymond Chandler praised Dashiell Hammett for taking crime fiction out of the drawing room and into the streets.  With Betty Rhyzyk, Kathleen Kent brings those mean streets to life as excitingly as anybody has in years.”  The third Det. Betty book, titled The Pledge, will be released Nov. 2021. Ms. Kent is also the author of three award-winning historical novels, The Heretic’s DaughterThe Traitor’s Wife, and The Outcasts.  She has written short stories and essays for D Magazine, Texas Monthly and LitHub, and has been published in the crime anthology Dallas Noir.   In March 2020 she was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters for her contribution to Texas literature.

Harry Hunsicker is the former executive vice president of the Mystery Writers of America and the author of eight crime thrillers and numerous short stories. His work has been short-listed for both the Shamus and Thriller Awards, and in 2019 he served as Toastmaster for Bouchercon, the world mystery conference. Hunsicker lives in Dallas with his wife Alison, an attorney. 

John Bartell is an east coast transplant trying to make it in Texas, drinking Shiner beer and enjoying the Austin music scene, though he hasn’t taken to wearing cowboy boots. His poetry has been published in Canyon Voices, The Loch Raven Review and The Orchards Poetry Review. He also has prose in the Manhattanville Review, Sanitarium Magazine, Flash Fiction Press, Trembling with Fear 2019 Halloween Edition and in A. Lee Martinez’s Strange Afterlives Anthology.

Children's Concert with Jo-El Sonnier

Jo-El Sonnier, noted storyteller and a Grammy award-winning songwriter, has toured extensively, having performed in 32 countries and all 50 states. The sounds of his accordion can be heard on the albums of such greats as Alan Jackson, Neil Diamond, Johnny Cash, Sammy Kershaw , The Indigo Girls, Mark Knopfler, Dolly Parton, Hank Williams Jr. ,Robert Cray and Leftover Salmon  among others. Jo-El is a very accomplished and versatile musician; in addition to his virtuosity as an accordion player he also plays bass guitar, acoustic guitar, drums and harmonica. 

 Sonnier has spent his life dealing with the day-to-day struggles of living with a form of Autism known as Asperger’s Syndrome. It was not until he was a grown man that he was given the diagnosis which brought peace to him and finally gave him the answers to why he was always so different from others and why music was his entire world. “Once I had the answers, I decided that it was not a disability, it’s what really gave me the ability to focus on my music when I didn’t fit into the rest of the world around me. It hasn’t always been easy, and I still struggle with large crowds or new things outside of my normal routine but, with a great family and band and friends who understand me, I am ok with just being me.”

The year 2018 was the beginning of a new era for Jo-EL as he released 2 new children’s books:  There’s a Mouse in my Accordian and The Little Boy Under the Wagon.  The latter is based on his early childhood and growing up different from most children. Jo-El’s hope is that it will encourage children who are different to follow their dreams and to understand that being different is what makes them special. A Cajun cookbook was next on the agenda and was released in the Spring of 2018

Winnsboro Center for the Arts was proud to host the following authors at Winnsboro Festival of Books 2021:

Brenda DavidsonBook Folding Art
Judy LoweChildren’s
Rick M. GordonBook Seller
Keith R. ReesHistorical Fiction
Melinda Taliancich FalgoustMixed
Linda BrendleChristian Memoir and Fiction
Maryann MillerHistory/Mystery
Gaylord WhitingFiction
Larry FarmerRomance
Carol ThompsonPoetry/Memoir
Ryan BurchettChristian Living
Jean LauzierFantasy/Romance/Mystery/YA, Children’s Lit
Kent SipesHumor/Family/Christian
April CokerRomantic Suspense
Joy ChitseyChildren/Fiction
Carol Kuter & Ben Stovallheroic fantasy/children’s lit
Jan HeatherlyAudio & Video, hardcover, womb books
Jolene ReedYA Fantasy