The Ink Penn

Have you attended A Novel Idea in Dunwoody? Dunwoody author Kathy Florence brought the monthly event to Crema after hearing about the idea from Marsha Cornelius who organized the original series in Canton and then expanded it to Alpharetta.

Marsha tells me she got the idea from a nationwide event called Noir at the Bar and provided this description:

“Over the last seven years, dozens of Noir at the Bar events have sprung up around the country, and it has become something of a phenomenon in the crime fiction community.”

After attending a Noir at the Bar event in Lawrenceville in April 2016, she set out to build upon the idea and expand it beyond the crime fiction genre and make it more than a one-time event.

Thus was born the concept of A Novel Idea as a monthly event with a different theme each month: Romance, Mystery/Thriller, Historical fiction, Southern Writers, SciFi/Fantasy, Non-fiction/Memoir, and yes - Crime.

The first A Novel Idea was in June 2016 at an upstairs bar in Canton. By January 2018, Marsha had started a second location at Alpha Soda in Alpharetta, and in May, with the leadership of Kathy Florence, the Dunwoody location sprang up.

For Marsha and Kathy, this is a labor of love, a way of paying it forward to authors, readers, and communities. You may be surprised to learn Marsha and Kathy are not compensated in any way for their hard work organizing these events. There’s no charge for authors to participate and no charge for guests to attend. They spend untold hours lining up authors and do a yeoman’s job publicising the events. You may have seen the ads in The Crier for the Dunwoody events at Crema.

Their work brings together authors and readers. When I attend the events in Dunwoody, I feel as though I’m in one of those 1960s poetry readings in a New York or San Francisco coffeehouse, the scenes I’ve read about in novels and seen in movies.

These events give the authors a chance to get in front of 30 to 50 guests and tell their stories. The authors get about 10 minutes to introduce their book(s) and read a short excerpt. This is not a sales event, per se, though authors are invited to bring their books for the audience to purchase. In Dunwoody, I function as the local bookshop, sitting at a table in the back with books at the ready for interested readers.

Many of you already know author Kathy Florence, whose latest book is “Three of Cups.” So, who is Marsha Cornelius? As a gal who had a Dale Evans outfit as a child, I cracked up when I saw her website intro:

“The only contest Marsha Cornelius ever won was when she was 8-years-old. The prize was a Dale Evans cowgirl shirt, plaid with pearly snaps. She doesn’t remember how she won the prize, but she’s sure it wasn’t for writing.”

Things change, and today she’s the author of seven novels. The latest is her second book featuring the “wacky crime-solving husband and wife team of Rachel and Brian Sanders” in “Into the Pond.”

As for A Novel Idea, authors love it; guests love it, and the restaurant owners love it. I’m looking forward to being a guest author Oct. 14 at A Novel Idea in Alpharetta at Alpha Soda. It will be a cross-genre evening so I’ll get to read from both my books: “The Ink Penn” and “Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch.” I hope to see you there.

A Novel Idea 6:30 – 8:30 pm

Alpha Soda, 11760 Haynes Bridge Rd, Alpharetta

Kathy is a Sandy Springs resident. Find her books, “Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch” and “The Ink Penn: Celebrating the Magic in the Everyday,” at the Enchanted Forest, Amy’s Hallmark at the Forum and Mansell Crossing, and on Amazon. Contact her at, and follow her on Facebook,

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