Dr. Stephanie Gordon, owner of Story on the Square, an independent book store on the square in McDonough, is determined to bring top-notch books and authors to the Middle Georgia area. And thanks to her persistence, on Jan. 14 the New York publisher Harper-Collins partnered with Gordon and her staff to stage a book release at the store.

“All the Ways We Said Goodbye: A Novel of the Paris Ritz” became available for sale for the first time anywhere at Story on the Square. Best selling authors Lauren Willig, Beatriz Williams and Karen White came from New York, Connecticut and Atlanta to promote “All the Ways,” their third collaboration.

More than 66 readers from Jackson, Locust Grove, McDonough and Hampton attended the book launch and luncheon.

“This was our first big author event of 2020, and we had a great turnout,” said bookstore buyer Deanna Bailey. “Everyone had fun, and I am looking forward to more events this year.”

Williams, Willig, and White, or “Team W” as they call themselves, met at a writing conference several years ago. They maintain that writing together has been fun because “We trust each other and the process” of collaboration.

This latest book is about three women from different generations who took refuge at the Ritz in Paris during the upheavals of two world wars and the 1960s. According to the authors, it is a romance/mystery/historical novel.

White, author of over 30 books on her own, took time out of her book talk to say to the audience: “How lucky you are to have this fabulous bookstore!” The store has been beautifully renovated with hardwood floors and exposed brick, including event space on the second floor. But White was referring to the idea that Story on the Square is a place that encourages reading. And because it is an independent book store and not a chain, it encourages and supports authors as well.

Story on the Square sponsors children’s events, a Mystery/Thriller Book Club, A Cookbook Book Club, a Sweetly Southern Book Club, and more. This past summer more than 200 people (50 teams) showed up for Disney Trivia Night. A few weeks later, the bookstore hosted Harry Potter Trivia Night.

Story on the Square began in 2016, when Dr. Gordon, a urogynocologist was taking a Leadership Georgia course. She was challenged to state what new business she would start if time and money were no object. She said that she would “open a bookstore, with a bar, and an event space to hold book club meetings and community gatherings.”

Soon after that comment, Gordon and her husband, David Jongebreur, found the perfect building for their dream bookstore, a two-story, 12,000-square-foot building built in 1900, which originally served as the local Masonic Lodge. Jongebreur has a background in architecture and building construction. However, the plans were drawn up by Lori Bork who specializes in historical renovations. Jongebreur and his friends got to do the demolition.

Gordon maintains her private medical practice in Henry and Rockdale counties. She also serves on the board of directors at Haven House, the domestic violence shelter, and on the board of Ferst Readers, a local literary nonprofit that raises money and distributes free books monthly to Henry County children ages 0-5. She and her husband have three children. She calls the bookstore, “my side hustle.”

Gordon hopes that people from Jackson, and other area cities, will visit the store to browse their selections of biographies, mysteries, children’s books, and best sellers. In addition to books, reading groups, speakers, and gifts, Story on the Square features a coffee and wine bar called Rough Draft.

The bookstore, located at 19 Griffin St. in McDonough is open seven days a week. The various hours and special events are noted on their Facebook page and their website, www.storyonthesquare.com.

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