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When: Saturday, September 30, 2023 9:00 am – 3:45 pm EDT
Where: Culinary Institute of the South | 1 Venture Dr, Bluffton, SC 29910
Registration: Eventbrite

The nonprofit Pat Conroy Literary Center will host the 7th annual Lowcountry Book Club Convention on Saturday, September 30, at the Culinary Institute of the South at the Technical College of the Lowcountry in Bluffton, SC. Ideal for book club members, those interested in joining a book club, or anyone who simply loves the joy of reading, the Lowcountry Book Club Convention is presented in partnership with NeverMore Books and the Technical College of the Lowcountry, and made possible by the generous support of the Pulpwood Queens Books Club, the largest book club in the U.S.

This year’s presenters include musician, educator, and bestselling novelist Brendan Slocumb, author of The Violin Conspiracy (A Good Morning America Book Club Selection) and Symphony of Secrets; master entertainer and chef Johnathon Scott Barrett, author of Cook & Celebrate: A Collection of Southern Holiday & Party Culinary Traditions; and teenage entrepreneur Sidney Keys III, creator of the Books N Bros Book Club (featured in Forbes Magazine). The Convention will begin this year with a panel discussion highlighting five lowcountry novelists with new or recently released books: Donna Keel Armer (The Red Starfish), Laura Elizabeth (All Is Now Lost), Nancy Ritter (Slack Tide), Lynn Seldon (Carolina’s Ring), and John Warley (Jury of One).

A gourmet box lunch will be provided by Catering by Debbi Covington. Books by presenting authors will be available for sale and signing. The Culinary Institute of the South will also be offering guided tours of their facility for the convention attendees. The registration fee includes all-day access to all author events and a tour.

As a prologue to Saturday’s in-person events, on Friday, September 23, at 6:00 p.m., the Conroy Center will also host a special live-streamed appearance by podcaster and publisher Zibby Owens, creator of Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books and author of Bookends: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Literature, in conversation with Lauren Marino, editorial director of Hachette Books and author of Bookish Broads: Women Who Wrote Themselves into History. This free event will be held on Zoom and also live-streamed on the Conroy Center’s Facebook page.

Registration for ticketed events through the Conroy Center’s Eventbrite page: Eventbrite

Website: Facebook Event Page


Saturday, September 30
9:00-9:30 a.m. Check-in Begins

9:30-10:30 a.m. Lowcountry Novelists Panel Discussion, featuring Donna Keel Armer (The Red Starfish), Laura Elizabeth (All Is Now Lost), Nancy Ritter (Slack Tide), Lynn Seldon (Carolina’s Ring), and John Warley (Jury of One), moderated by Pat Conroy Literary Center executive director Jonathan Haupt

10:30 a.m.-11:00 p.m. Book signing break

11:00-12:00 p.m. As featured in the Good Morning America Book Club — musician, educator, and novelist Brendan Slocumb (The Violin Conspiracy and Symphony of Secrets) in conversation with Jonathan Haupt

12:00-12:45 p.m. Book signing break & lunch: Gourmet box lunches by Catering by Debbi Covington. (Register by September 18 for lunch)

12:45-1:45 p.m. Master entertainer and chef Johnathon Scott Barrett, (Cook & Celebrate: A Collection of Southern Holiday & Party Culinary Traditions) in conversation with Mary Martha Greene (The Cheese Biscuit Queen Tells All)

1:45-2:15 p.m. Book signing break

2:15-3:15 p.m. As featured in Forbes Magazine — Sidney Keys III, author of Books N Bros and founder of the Books N Bros book club, in conversation with local students.

3:15-3:45 p.m. Final book signing break and tour of the Culinary Institute of the South.

About the Featured Authors

Brendan SlocumbBrendan Slocumb was raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a degree in music education, concentrations on Violin and Viola. For the past two decades, he has been a public and private school music educator from kindergarten through twelfth grade, teaching general music, orchestra, and guitar ensembles. His students were often chosen for district and regional orchestras.

In 2005, Brendan was named Teacher of the Year for Robert E. Lee High School; he has been named to Who’s Who of American teachers, and is a Nobel Teacher of distinction. Brendan also serves as an educational consultant for the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. He is the author of two novels: The Violin Conspiracy (a selection of the Good Morning America Book Club) and the recently released Symphony of Secrets.

Johnathon Scott BarrettJohnathon Scott Barrett is a seventh-generation Georgian, and grew up amongst a family that placed high value on fresh, farm-to-table food. He held onto those roots and became a renowned cook and host in his home state. A nonprofit executive, he is also an avid reader, fisherman, and gardener. His cookbooks include Cook & Celebrate, Rise & Shine, and Cook & Tell.





Sidney Keys IIISidney Keys III is a rising teen entrepreneur. At the young age of 10, he decided to take his love for reading to the next level and create Books N Bros, a book club to empower boys while advocating for African American literacy. Keys offers kids a place to be mentored by their “Big Bros” and connect over a shared love for reading and the “Cool Bros Read” mantra.

Featured in Forbes Magazine, he has made appearances on Cartoon Network, Good Morning America, Today with Hoda and Jenna, CNN, MARVEL Hero Project on Disney+, and in Oprah’s O magazine and the Huffington Post. Keys lives in Atlanta, GA.

About the Local Authors

Donna Keel ArmerDonna Keel Armer is the author of the travel memoir Solo in Salento (recently translated into Italian) and the debut novel The Red Starfish. She has published numerous articles and photographs on travel, food, human interest, and home and garden in South Carolina magazines. She also teamed up with the Sons of Italy in Columbia, SC, to produce Bella Cucina Italiana, a cookbook featuring her photography. She and her husband Ray live in Beaufort where she volunteers with the Pat Conroy Literary Center and Hunting Island State Park.


Laura ElizabethLaura Elizabeth enjoys a well-established career in business as well as a rich family life that, many years ago, took her to Daufuskie Island for the first time. Following her years of family experiences on the island, Laura imagined Mongin Island as the home for her new cozy series, The Island Mysteries, beginning with the newly released All Is Now Lost.




Nancy RitterThe author of Slack Tide, Nancy Ritter has worked as a paralegal, a reporter, and an editor. She has received numerous awards for her writing, culminating in a Service to America Medal for her work at the U.S. Department of Justice on the nation’s missing persons crisis, where she first learned about “ambiguous loss,” an issue she explores in her debut novel. Ritter lives and writes in Beaufort, where she is a volunteer for the Pat Conroy Literary Center.



Lynn SeldonGraduate of Virginia Military Institute and Army veteran Lynn Seldon is a longtime writer with more than 500 magazine and newspaper credits, including USA Today, The Atlanta Journal- Constitution, TrailBlazer, airline inflights, several AAA publications, and dozens more. He is the author or coauthor of six nonfiction books, and the novels, Virginia’s Ring and Carolina’s Ring. He lives in Beaufort with fellow writer and wife Cele Seldon.




John WarleyJohn Warley is the award-winning author of seven books. His bestselling novel, A Southern Girl, was praised by Pat Conroy as “stylish as a novel by John Irving and as tightly written as one by John Grisham.” His history of his undergraduate alma mater, Stand Forever, Yielding Never: The Citadel in the 21st Century, led to his selection to write both the inscription for the college’s war memorial and “The Citadel at War,” a narrative history of the wars and conflicts in which Citadel alumni have made the ultimate sacrifice. NPR selected his essay “Lingering at the Doors” for publication in This I Believe on Fatherhood. A graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, he drew on decades of experience practicing law in writing Jury of One, his most recent novel. Warley lives in Beaufort.

This program and others like this would not be possible without your financial help for which, as always, Pat Conroy Literary Center gratefully thanks you.

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