Open Mic Blog

Feature Story About Launch

Posted on August 20, 2020 at 7:50 PM

Social distance book launch Saturday

Lee Ward | The Daily Independent Aug 12, 2020 Updated Aug 12, 2020


HUNTINGTON Author Laura Bentley’s book launch, set for noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at the gazebo on 14th Street West, is taking a social distancing approach.


The book, “Sir Grace and the Big Blizzard,” will be available via curbside pickup and will arrive in buyers’ hands signed and encased in a sealed bag for those who alert her at


For those who wish to walk up, hand sanitizer will be available, and masks are required. Attendees should enter by the “Entrance” ramp that will be marked 6 feet apart to maintain physical distance.


Q: Did you realize early this year that “the COVID” would interfere with the release of the book? What was your feeling about it?


A: Actually, no. I didn’t know when the illustrations, etc. would be finished and how long it all would take to pull it together.


I didn’t realize how serious the virus had gotten until the West Virginia public schools were closed in March. Then, soon after, I had to cancel my much anticipated St. Patrick’s Day reading/signing at Taylor Books in Charleston. The audience was bringing their favorite Irish poem to read in the Open Mic after my program. I hope to reschedule if the virus is under control or there’s a vaccine by next St. Patrick’s Day 2021.


Q: How did you think of this socially distanced book launch?


A: I spent a great deal of time brainstorming about how I could make this launch work. First, I knew it had to be an outside location, and the 14th St. W. gazebo in Huntington is perfect. I wore gloves when I pre-signed a box of new books, and my husband sealed each in its own zip-lock bag. I kept brainstorming and realized that it could all be safely done — even with curbside pick-up!


Q: I’m unaware of you having written a children’s book. Where did the idea come from?


A: I’m primarily a poet and a novelist, so not too many know that I received a Fellowship Award for Children’s Literature in 1994 from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts. My picture book stories have also won a couple of awards at the annual West Virginia Writers competition. Although I have written a many stories, Sir Grace and the Big Blizzard is my first published picture book.


I was influenced by the famed picture book writer Cynthia Rylant, and I own many of her books. I knew her when she lived in Huntington and worked in the Junior Department of the old Cabell County Public Library. I used to teach Lamaze childbirth classes, and she was my assistant and student!


The book was inspired by something that my daughter, Treacy, said when she was just five years old. A blizzard was predicted for West Virginia, and all the schools were dismissed. People were sent home early from work, and everybody raided the groceries, hunkered down, and prepared for the worst. But, that blizzard never showed up! Treacy confused the word blizzard with something else and said (spoiler alert), “I never did see that big lizard.” So, the seed of my story was planted.


Q: What was writing a children’s book like, as opposed to writing a novel for adults?


A: Both genres take a great deal of time, dedication and craftsmanship. Picture books are an art form unto themselves, just like novels. In my case, I have spent years writing and rewriting my novels as well as my picture book stories. Sometimes my poetry takes years to polish, too.


Q: I know you’re still enjoying having finished this book and putting it out there, but do you have any future plans?


A: I’m currently revising (again!) a character-driven suspense novel set in the mountains of Western Maryland. I must say that working on it and finishing up Sir Grace and the Big Blizzard has kept me sane during this unending pandemic. That, and lots of carbs!


(606) 326-2661 |


“Sir Grace and the Big Blizzard” by Laura Treacy Bentley may be ordered on,, or from your favorite bookstore. Cost is $15.




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