West Virginia Book Festival

Nicholas Sparks — remember him? — comes out today with his latest book, “The Best of Me.” Judging from the book’s description, Sparks fans will enjoy this one as well:

High school students … fell deeply, irrevocably in love. Though they were from opposite sides of the tracks, their love for one another … unforeseen events would tear the young couple apart … twenty-five years later … neither can forget the passionate first love that forever changed their lives … Can love truly rewrite the past?

I’m guessing yes.

Anyway, today seems like a good time to catch up with the other people who helped make last year’s West Virginia Book Festival a success:

| Diana Gabaldon has the latest installment in her Lord John series, “The Scottish Prisoner,” scheduled for release on Nov. 29. She also a 20th anniversary edition of “Outlander,” the novel that started it all for her, in July. And, she recently announced on her blog that the eighth “Outlander” novel will be called “Written In My Own Heart’s Blood.”

| Carmen Deedy, as we mentioned last month, has a new young adult novel out, “The Cheshire Cheese Cat.” She also has a sequel to her 1994 book, “The Library Dragon,” coming out next April, called … wait for it … “The Return of the Library Dragon.” Michael R. White illustrates the book, as he did the original.

| James Robertson, longtime Civil War scholar, retired after more than four decades as a professor at Virginia Tech. That doesn’t mean we’ve heard the last of him. He’s the author of “The Untold Civil War: Exploring the Human Side of War,” which comes out next week. He’s also the co-editor of “Virginia at War, 1865,” a look at the mother state at the end of the Civil War, due out on Nov. 3.

| Meredith Sue Willis released a collection of stories, “Re-Visions: Stories from Stories.” Her newsletter, Books for Readers, remains a great resource for people who love reading.

| Jim Benton’s twelfth in the Dear Dumb Diary series, “Me (Just Like You, Only Better) was published in June. Because each book covered a month in diarist Jamie Kelly’s life, you might think that’s the end of the series. Not to worry, the first book in the “Dear Dumb Diary, Year Two” series is out on Jan. 1. Also, Benton’s Happy Bunny book, “Love Bites,” gets a special edition release on Dec. 1.

| Did you hear Ken Hechler is 97? Come wish him a belated happy birthday at this year’s Book Festival.

| Jayne Anne Phillips continues as director of the Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at Rutgers-Newark — she’s reading in the school’s Writers at Newark Reading Series on Oct. 25 — and was featured in “We Wanted To Be Writers,” an anecdotal history of the Iowa Writers Workshop published in August.

| Sarah Sullivan, Charleston children’s book author and longtime friend of the Book Festival, released “Passing The Music Down” to general acclaim in May.

| John J. Fox III, Civil War historian, writes:

My project due out late spring 2012 is about how JEB Stuart became famous – his June 12-15, 1862, ride with only 1,200 Confederate cavalrymen around George McClellan’s entire Union army that threatened to capture Richmond. Stuart only lost one man during the operation, but the intelligence he brought back gave Robert E. Lee the green light to go on the offensive and launch the Seven Days’ Battles that saved the Confederate capital.

| Heidi Durrow had her novel “The Girl Who Fell From The Sky” chosen as the city of Portland’s “Everybody Reads” book for 2012. Durrow, the daughter of an African-American father and a Danish mother, also appeared as part of CNN’s “Dialogues” series, in an event on “The 2010 Census and the New America.” She continues to co-host the weekly “Mixed Chicks Chat,” available on iTunes.

| John Antonik remains new media director for the WVU athletic department, and writes the Campus Connection blog on MSNsportsNET.com.