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Organizers pleased with book fair

November 05, 2006|by CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Holding a copy of "Rocket Boys" in her hand, Lynne Lashley was waiting in line Saturday to have the book signed by its author, West Virginia native Homer Hickam.

"I thought this would be a good book for my son," said Lashley, who admitted she has not read the book, but said both she and her son, Barham, 16, have seen the movie based on the book, "October Sky."

Hickam appeared as part of the West Virginia Book Faire at Olde Towne Martinsburg, which featured appearances by several authors and other notable personalities, including best-selling author Jeannette Walls; Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, who write Star Trek novels; actress Natalija Nogulich, who plays Vice Admiral Alynna Nechayev in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine"; and Faith, a dog that has no front legs and can walk on her two back legs much like a person.

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Also waiting to see Hickam were Rusty and Alice Rice of Romney, W.Va., who befriended the author a few years ago. The couple each were wearing a fleece "Rocket Boys" vest.

"We love the descriptions of the small town of Coalwood," Alice Rice said of the coal mining town in West Virginia in which Hickam grew up and in which he has set several of his books.

Rice said she likes the interpersonal relationships and the characters Hickam develops in his books, while her husband said he likes how Hickam weaves together several different plot lines.

Standing first in line to see Hickam was Linda D. Miller of Martinsburg.

One of the few not carrying "Rocket Boys," Miller wanted Hickam to autograph a copy of his latest novel, "The Ambassador's Son," which is set during World War II.

Miller said she enjoyed the fair, and spent most of the morning at Boydville, a historic home in downtown Martinsburg. There, Miller said, she met the authors of novels set during the Civil War.

So interested, she said, she ended up buying more books from those authors than she had planned.

Miller said she enjoyed the book festival overall.

"They've done a wonderful job this year," Miller said. "It seems real organized. Nice-sized crowds."

About 2,000 people registered to attend various events associated with the fair, said Andrea Ball, director of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Convention and Visitors Bureau, which organized the event.

Proceeds benefit literacy efforts in the Eastern Panhandle, she said.

Ball said several authors' books sold out.

"I certainly, certainly cannot complain," Ball said.

Typically, this time of year tends to attract fewer tourists to the area, with an idea behind the fair being to bring people downtown. Having nonauthors such as Faith the dog might help attract nonreaders, and prompt them to possibly find a love for reading, Ball said.

If the event is held again next year, Ball said she plans to heed suggestions that events be more spread out. Overlapping events meant some people could not attend everything they wanted to, she said.

Overall, though, Ball said she was pleased with the fair.

"Hopefully we'll be 'Second annual' (Book Faire) next year," she said.

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