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Meet the characters behind the stories
"My Anchor Holds" features many local residents
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Meet Them All: A Unique Gathering

What: Characters featured in Gloria Stargel's book "My Anchor Holds — The Difference Jesus Makes" will gather for autographs
When: 2-4 p.m. Saturday
Where: Brenau University's John W. Jacobs Building, next door to the post office on Green Street in Gainesville
How much: Free, but confirmation is requested by e-mail to or call 770-718-1897

Fans of local author Gloria Cassity Stargel's latest book, "My Anchor Holds — The Difference Jesus Makes," can meet many of its characters during a special gathering on Saturday.

Twelve people whose stories are featured prominently will be on hand to meet guests and sign autographs, along with about 20 others who are either featured as supporting characters in stories or are representing the family of other characters, Stargel said. The informal gathering will give readers the opportunity to mingle with the storytellers.

Some of the stories in "My Anchor Holds" are from local residents Stargel has known for years; others are from people she was told she needed to meet. Tales in the book include North Hall High School football coach Bob Christmas, Gene Beckstein, the founder of Good News at Noon, and Col. Ben Purcell, whose story details his capture and five years spent in solitary confinement in Vietnam as a prisoner of war.

"I've just been thinking about doing it since I started putting the stories together for the book," Stargel said of the inspiration for the gathering. "And, I'd like to see them again myself. And I thought, why not? Let's have a party."

Brenau University graduate students Mandy Sheppard and Sarah Magness have been working with Stargel to make the party a reality, even putting together personalized name tags for all the honored guests. Those who have entire stories featured about them will wear blue ribbons on their name tags, while others representing family members or smaller characters will have white ribbons.

Live music will be performed by Brenau student Xiaolei Chou on keyboards and Alice Oglesby with the Atlanta Symphony, who is also featured in the book, will perform a few numbers on violin.

Plus, the party will take on a nautical theme, reflecting the title of the book, Stargel added. There will be door prizes given to the guests who collect the most autographs from the featured storytellers.

"I wrote them but they told them," Stargel said of her special guests' stories. "It's just such a diverse bunch of people; it should be very interesting."