Award winning authors come to holiday Open House

Submitted by Jan Ballard

Mississippi State University Extension, Choctaw County

“Mississippi is Finally Number One in the Nation”

Have you ever noticed it seems that Mississippi has more talented authors than any other state? I couldn’t find actual data to prove this theory, but just ask anyone on the street, I think they will agree.

On December 8th, from 2:30-6:00 p.m., Choctaw County will once again have the pleasure of meeting three of Mississippi’s best. The annual Holiday Open House, sponsored by Mississippi State University Extension, Choctaw County Library, and the Choctaw County Chamber of Commerce, will be honored to have three authors come to meet people, to share their books, to answer questions about their writing, and to be the judges for our First Folk Fibbery Contest (contact the MSU Extension Office, at 662-285-6337, for information.)

A short biography of each author follows:

Michael Kardos co-directs the creative writing program at Mississippi State. His novel The Three-Day Affair (Grove Atlantic/Mysterious Press, 2012) was named a best book of the year by Esquire magazine, and his story collection One Last Good Time (Press 53, 2011) won the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters award for fiction. He is also author of the textbook The Art and Craft of Fiction (Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013). His short fiction has appeared in Crazyhorse, The Southern Review, The Harvard Review, and elsewhere, and won a 2015 Pushcart Prize. His newest novel, Before He Finds Her, was released in 2015 from Grove Atlantic/Mysterious Press.

Michael Kardos grew up on the Jersey Shore and then became a Princeton graduate with a degree in music. He played the drums professionally for several years, going on to earn an MFA in fiction from Ohio State University and a doctorate from the University of Missouri.

When asked how he ended up at Mississippi State University, he replied:

“Mississippi State made an offer that my wife (the poet Catherine Pierce) and I couldn’t refuse: a pair of tenure-track jobs at a fantastic university. No, we never expected to land in Mississippi, but coming out of our graduate programs we really had no expectations about where we’d land. We’ve lived in Starkville now for eight years and have enjoyed just about everything other than the fire ants and the tornado warnings. One thing I hadn’t counted on was the supportive and close-knit literary community: the writers, readers, world-class independent bookstores. There are a lot of people who care deeply about the literature that’s being written right now in the state.”

Laurie Parker is the author of 16 published books. A self-taught artist, Parker wrote and illustrated thirteen rhyming children’s books, including Everywhere in Mississippi and Mississippi Alphabet, before turning her hand to “big person books” in 2013 with the novel Matchstick Cross. Her second novel Yonder Breaks the Morning, a story set in Oxford, which pays tribute to World War Two veterans, was published in 2014. The 2015, third novel, Hush, Swing, Hush, takes place in Meridian and is about a single mom, and her son, Micah, who has Asperger Syndrome. The newest addition to Parker’s adult books, Trespassers Talking, came out in 2016 and is set in Natchez and describes the results of a young, ambitious sports reporter writing an article about an NFL veteran who is suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Originally from Bruce, Mississippi, Laurie grew up in a family with two sisters and one brother.  Her family moved to Starkville in 1964, where they all still live. As soon as she could write, she began penning rhyming narratives, which eventually led to Everywhere in Mississippi and All Over Alabama.

Parker is a graduate of Starkville High School and Mississippi State University, with a degree in elementary education.  She graduated in 1985, only to return four years later as an engineering major, after unhappily teaching at various levels in Starkville.  She eventually quit college one year away from a second degree.

Remaining in Starkville, Laurie began her hobby of jewelry making full time and traveling around the country to jewelry shows where she sells her works.  Out of pure necessity she turned to writing and publishing a book for extra money.  She could not have known the success that her self-illustrated children’s books would have.  When asked if she has any advice for high school students or aspiring writers, she replied, “If something brings you joy that is what you are meant to do. Follow your heart”. Parker is also an artist and a member of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi.

Earlier this year was the nationwide release of author Sister Alies Therese’s interesting book: Contemplative Drawing and the Gifts of Mercy, an interactive, religious art book that also became available in hardback in October, and Home Sweet Home, an intriguing crime novel that will be available in paperback in November.

“Your prayer-walk with God has just taken a wonderful turn, for Contemplative Drawing and the Gifts of Mercy will touch all your senses right down to that quiet place in your heart. You could take a lesson from the book and try some contemplative drawing yourself. This breath of artistic fresh air will challenge you to sit quietly and pray, and then discover how God leads you to become a mercy-maker, a perfect gift for someone you love!”

“Home Sweet Home is dedicated to all those who suffer from the disease of alcohol and the often-brutal outcomes of its abuse. This book holds a story situated in the beautiful northwest, which is also a story of healing and hope and of those caregivers and compassionate people who are willing to help. In this book, readers will meet Native Americans, Anglos, African Americans, Australians and others as they try to discover the truth to a ‘murder’.”

Published by Tate Publishing and Enterprises, the books are available through bookstores nationwide, from the publisher at, or by visiting or

Sister Alies Therese, a vowed Catholic solitary, lives an essentially eremitical life. Her days are formed around prayer, art and writing. In the past, she served in parish ministry and academically explored education and spirituality, earning a doctorate from University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. The author, who lives in Ackerman, attends Girlfriends weekly, which is a group composed of women who meet for art, Bible study and laughter.

Don’t just accept what you read in the newspaper. Come to the Holiday Open House on December 8th to meet the authors, talk to them, see their books, and maybe get a glimpse of why Mississippi has the BEST writers in this country!