KABAM! Festival celebrates authors, artists

Deborah Laurent, Lauren Perry, JC Amberlyn

Deborah Laurent, Lauren Perry, JC Amberlyn

KINGMAN - Book a date with authors, illustrators and poets this weekend at the 12th Annual Kingman Area Books Are Magic - KABAM! - Festival.

The event kicks off with a poetry slam at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the newly relocated Beale Street Brews, 510 E. Beale Street on the corner of Fifth and Beale.

Owner Angela Patterson will hold the downtown coffee shop's grand reopening Friday, five months after she began remodeling and renovating a former bank building.

"I couldn't have picked a better weekend to reopen," said Patterson. "I've been a KABAM sponsor since I opened the old place [in 2007]."

The event will begin with an open mic, and then the poetry slam competition, featuring slam poets from all over, including the Kingman area, will begin. Poet Lauren Perry will perform.

On Saturday, the festival, touted as, "Where Route 66 Meets Magic and Mystery," takes place from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Metcalfe Park, at Beale Street and Grandview Avenue.

Two of the featured authors are Golden Valley resident Deborah Laurent and longtime Daily Miner photojournalist JC Amberlyn.

Both women have new releases. For Laurent, her third novel, "Desires of the Heart" is a labor of love that began when she was 12 years old.

"It was back in the dinosaur days," she said with a chuckle.

She exaggerates. The work began four decades ago, and it was finished in honor of the memory of Laurent's late mother. The novel is a 520-page epic that chronicles the life of a woman before, during and after the Civil War.

"Desires of the Heart" was ultimately put to the side, but not before Laurent's mom, a woman who did not give compliments freely, read what the adolescent wrote all those years ago and made her promise she would do something with it, said Laurent.

When her mother died a dozen years ago, Laurent finished the book and when she was done, she said, "I kept my promise, Mom. I did something with it."

"Desires of the Heart" is being released this spring and it comes on the heels of Laurent's second novel, "The Christmas Robe," an award-winning short story that was picked up by "Chicken Soup for the Soul."

Laurent since converted the piece into a Christmas novel, "as the timeless story of how important those cherished Christmas memories are, especially after the loss of a loved one."

The self-published book has sold 12,000 copies and is on track to being filmed as a Christmas movie on the Hallmark channel.

Laurent donates half her earnings as a writer to help the homeless. Last year, she and her husband fed 500 people on Christmas Day.

When not taking award-winning photographs for the Miner, Amberlyn has written and illustrated four successful art instruction books that reflect her love of art combined with her love of animals, with a fifth on the way.

Amberlyn's most recent effort, "How to Draw Manga: A Beginner's Guide," is set for a May release.

Several unsolicited reviews on Amazon have been of the two-thumbs-up variety. The publisher is Monecelli Studio, which also is publishing Amberlyn's next effort, a book on how to draw dogs.

Watson-Guptill Publications published her first three instruction books, "Drawing Wildlife," "Drawing Manga Animals, Chibis, and Other Adorable Creatures," and "The Artist's Guide to Drawing Animals."

The fifth book hasn't been given a title yet, but one can bet the word "dog" will be in it somewhere.

"I'm very excited to have two books coming out soon," said Amberlyn. The first, on how to draw manga, is a step-by-step demonstration for beginning artists, as well as more detailed discussions for advanced artists.

"This book gets into the nuts and bolts of creating the distinctive look of manga characters," said Amberlyn. "Readers will gain an understanding of the foundations of manga design. They can then take those standards and apply a twist that makes a character uniquely theirs while still maintaining that manga style so popular with young audiences today."

In addition to winning multiple photojournalism awards through her work at the Miner, the Arizona Game and Fish Department named her Outdoor Writer of the Year in 2008 and she is also a Woman Making History recipient for her contributions to the arts.

Both Amberlyn and Laurent said KABAM is a wonderful event for both writers and book lovers.

Other featured authors and illustrators:

• Lynne Avril is the illustrator of more than 80 children's books. Her most popular characters are Amelia Bedelia, from the well-known author Herman Parish and Nellie Sue, from "Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse," by Rebecca Janni. The award-winning illustrator lives in Phoenix.

• Jim Turner is the author of "Arizona: A Celebration of the Grand Canyon State," and "The Mighty Colorado River: From its Sources to the Seas, is due out later this year.

Local authors can be found in the Authors' Tent.

They include

• Stephanie J. Cress, author of "Gilded Shadows."

• Shawna Leigh and Grace Ware, co-authors of the middle grade fantasy and adventure novels "Adrianna and the Four Guardians" and "Gidget the Archaeology Pup Goes to Machu Picchu."

• Alexandra Livingston, the writer of a number of adult fantasy novels.

• Sherry Engler, author of "Living with LEO (Law Enforcement Officer)."

• Elaine Auerback, author of "Fairy Tales for Women Who Have Been Through the Mill."

• Tom Keller, author of the Vegas Fae series.