The Payson Book Festival is only a few weeks away on Saturday, July 17. The organizers are excited about bringing all the authors to the community. We need a respite this summer from the raging fires in a cool environment at the Mazatzal Casino. This free community festival started in 2015 with an idea.

Connie Cockrell, author, had just written her first book and wondered why Payson had no book festival. She talked with Carol Osman Brown, president of the Arizona Professional Writers, Rim Country Chapter. Cockrell said, “Why doesn’t Payson have a book festival?” Brown said, “Because no one has thought to put one on.”

Brown had been a journalist and teacher in Arizona for years and knew many authors in the state. She had put on conferences for the organization. She knew about the community of writers and how to solicit funds for nonprofit organizations.

Cockrell had a lot of planning experience with her jobs in the military and in civilian life as a project manager. Marie Fasano, a member of the organization, had experience working on public relations for home health agencies and air shows in California. So, together they asked a few others and started to make plans.

Now, seven years later, with one year off due to COVID-19, the Payson Book Festival is back and strong. Authors are eager to share their books with the public.

Folks may want to talk to them about the writing life and get some tips on how the authors develop their stories.

Are you a mystery buff? Mystery writers from around the state are in full force at the festival. In her novels, Susan Budavari tells us that bad things happen to good people. Good people cause harm to other good people without realizing it and some people are just evil through and through. She uses female physicians as sleuths to solve her mysteries.

Suzanne Flag will delight you with her Missy Jenkins musical mystery series, combining the arts with a cozy mystery.

If you are looking for something with more grit, you can choose from Dharma Kelleher’s Outlaw Biker Series and Jinx Ballou Bounty Hunter Series.

As a former police officer and state parole board member, mystery writer Michael Norman understands the criminal justice system better than most. In his newest book, fifth novel and third Sam Kincaid mystery, “Slow Burn,” he asks, “How far might you go to avenge the death of a loved one wrongfully prosecuted and sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit?”

This year the Kids Zone has story times and hands-on activities that will delight the children. Join them for light and shadow activities to match the story times. Clifford, the Big Red Dog has been invited to join in the fun with the huggable green Story Monster.

Whatever the genre of book you enjoy reading, either in print on a Kindle device or by audio, you will find them at the Payson Book Festival.

The auction block this year features many new items for bid. Everyone will get a free ticket for a chance to win a book from one of the many books donated by the authors.

Come to the Mazatzal Casino Hotel Ballroom from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Saturday, July 17. Masks are suggested, especially for those who are not vaccinated according to CDC guidelines.

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