At 81, dreams of a becoming a published author come true for Orange County native

Mary Frances Howard long dreamed of becoming a published author. After suffering two strokes and needing to re-train the muscles in her hands and arms, she decided to use the time to write her memoir.

“We Thought It Would Last Forever” (CenterPeace Publishing) recounts her experiences growing up in rural Orange County, where her family raised tobacco and dairy cows, and her penchant for turning life’s challenges into opportunities. Five years and two children after marrying her childhood sweetheart, he was killed in a logging accident. A second marriage ended in divorce and her third husband was taken by Alzheimer’s Disease.

Howard’s time as a caregiver for her husband led her to lead a support group in Fuquay-Varina, later being honored as the town’s citizen of the year.

Howard, 81, lives in Holly Springs.

New title

“Heaven-Sent Warrior” (Soul Mate Publishing), Nancy Lee Badger’s 24th book, was inspired by the Rodin statues on exhibit at the N.C. Museum of Art. This paranormal romance is set in North Carolina, with trips to an art museum, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and a terrifying dip in the Atlantic Ocean at Rodanthe on Cape Hatteras.


Badger, who lives in Raleigh, is a member of the Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, and the Triangle Association of Freelancers.


Two books by Holly Springs writer Sherry Monahan were honored at the Will Rogers Medallion Awards in October. “Tinsel, Tumbleweeds, and Star-Spangled Celebrations” (TwoDot) received the 2018 Gold Medal in Cookbooks. In the non-fiction category, “The Golden Elixir of the West: Whiskey and the Shaping of America” (TwoDot) by Monahan and Jane Perkins was awarded the Bronze Medal.


For writers

The N.C. Writers’ Network is launching a new contest to honor the best in short prose by African-American writers in North Carolina. The Jacobs/Jones African-American Literary Prize will be open to short works of fiction and creative nonfiction. The winner will receive $1,000 and possible publication of the winning entry in “The Carolina Quarterly.” Submissions will be accepted Nov. 1 through Jan. 2. For information, visit


LaHoma Smith Romocki and Cindy Waszak Geary talk about “Going to School in Black and White” (Torchflame Books) at 11 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 11, and at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 13, on UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch. Their book is the dual memoir of Romocki and Geary, who were teenagers living across town from each other in Durham in 1970 when court-ordered desegregation landed them both at Hillside High School. The women, one black, one white, share coming-of-age stories that are part of a bigger story about education and race in America.

Triangle-area authors: We want to hear about your new book. Send information to As space permits, we will mention self-published books by local authors that are for sale on commercial sites.