CUMMING, Ga. — Nearly 70 authors gathered in the Forsyth Conference Center as part of the Sweet as a Peach Georgia Indie Authors event Oct. 5.
Heather Gunter, herself an author of young adult books, has been hosting the event since its inception in 2014. Each year, a local nonprofit reaps the financial benefits of the event. This year’s funds went to The Place of Forsyth County.
“I was excited to learn we were the beneficiary,” Melina Holt, outreach coordinator for The Place said. “Heather learned about us from someone who had actually used our services.”
Holt said the event raised $950 for The Place.
“The money will be a great help during the holiday season,” she said.
With Blessing Boxes and The Place Holiday House back-to-back, the monies raised from Sweet as a Peach will be a huge help to fill any gaps. Five hundred families receive boxes of food for Thanksgiving, and Holiday House helps families pick out presents for their children. Last year, 2,064 children received gifts, Holt said.
Authors at the fundraiser included Alpharetta residents Bethany Lopez and her daughter Katie, and Cumming’s Shanna Swenson.
“This was local so it’s convenient,” Lopez said. “I just packed up the car and drove on over.”
Sitting next to Lopez was her daughter, Katie, 11. The Taylor Road Middle School student co-wrote “Katie and the North Star” a few years ago. Katie said that her friends think “it’s cool” that she’s a published author.
Will there be another book in her future?
“I don’t know,” she said shrugging.
Lopez writes contemporary fiction.
Swenson says she writes “romance with a touch of reality” and is inspired by her family visits to Texas.
“My dad was from Texas, and we’d spend our summers out there,” she said. “I got obsesses with that lifestyle. The idea for book one actually came from “Horse Whisperer” and “Hope Floats,” and it went from there.”
Other authors participated because of their friendship with Gunter either in person or through Facebook.
Erin Trejo, author of several motorcycle club series that are “hard and gritty,” features characters with real-life struggles. It wasn’t surprising then, that Trejo donated proceeds from “Run to Me” to the Hootch Chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse.
“Now that I’m making enough where I could give back, I wanted to give back something so I went with them,” Trejo said. “I went to their meetings and they were awesome.”
Sidonia Rose, from Baltimore, Md., who writes “everything from new adult to contemporary romance to paranormal romance” attended to meet readers and interact with people.
“I love these events, I love to talk about books, I’m a voracious reader, myself,” she said. Her literary works are a family affair. She bounces ideas off her husband, has her son help with research and has had her niece do the artwork for two covers. Her editor, who has been known to act out scenes for accuracy and consistency, is her sister-in-law.
“She keeps me in check,” Rose said.
Rose’s family isn’t the only one that helped. Gunter’s husband Josh, manned his wife’s table so she could take care of event things.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “I’m proud of her.”
Josh stressed that he’s not the inspiration for his wife’s male characters but added that she told him he will be in one of her forthcoming books.
Gunter’s son Gabe manned the raffle table, too.
Fans were thrilled to have face-to-face meetings with beloved authors. Lula Jordan came from Ohio to meet a much-loved author.
“I’ve never been to Georgia before,” Jordan said. “I have all of her books. I came to get one of my books signed. Some people like concerts, some people like movie actors, I’m a book person.”
Gunter said she was pleased overall with the multi-genre event.
“We are going to do our darnedest to this every single year,” she said. “I think it’s important. We don’t have anything like this. There are so many local authors.”