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E.L. James delights 500 adoring fans

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For fans of E.L. James and the “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the much-anticipated day arrived Saturday morning.

Hundreds of fans lined Main Street in front of The Bookworm Box to catch a glimpse of the author of the worldwide best-selling book series who traveled from West London to Sulphur Springs for a highly-anticipated book signing. 

Five-hundred lucky fans were able to purchase tickets to meet James and get her to sign a copy of her new book “Grey.”

The doors opened at 10:30 a.m. for the 11 a.m. event, which was coordinated by local author Colleen Hoover, owner of the Bookworm Box. Fans from all over the world poured through the doors in a zig-zag line. As James walked out to speak to her adoring fans, cheers echoed through the long room. 

“I just want to say, ‘Wow!’ Thank you so much for coming. I am so proud to be the first author here (at the Bookworm Box). Colleen is a huge part of my life. She is so awesome for doing this and I am honored to be here. I hope you all enjoy the book,” said James. “Sulphur Springs is such a beatiful place. It’s gorgeous with real Americana. I love it.” 

Her new book, “Grey,” tells the trilogy of “Fifty Shades of Grey” from the protagonist Christian Grey’s point of view. The book was released yesterday worldwide and James choose Sulphur Springs to debut her new book before she heads to New York later Saturday. 

James proceeded to take a group selfie with all of her fans before the book signing began. 

Prior to the book signing, the News-Telegram took to the street and asked some of the die-hard fans in line their thoughts on the erotic romance novel in which 125 million copies of the trilogy have been sold and the film version hasgrossed more than $560 million worldwide. 

"As soon as I found out about the book signing I bought a ticket, even though I did not know if I could make it,” said Liis McKinstry. “I live in Canada and flew out last light to get here this morning. We left out of Dallas at 5 a.m. this morning.”

McKinstry said that she has read the series more that 30 times and has watched the film numerous times. 

“Everyone always asks me, ‘Why is this series so special?’ This book is like a gateway drug to the genre. It lead to me discovering so many other authors,” said McKinstry. “The other great thing about the series is that most women aren’t married to billionaires and we enjoy living vicariously through these characters. In the end, it is a really great love story.”

Only 500 tickets for the book signing were allowed and were announced via social media. After several minutes, the event was sold out. One of the other lucky individuals who received a ticket was Kathryn Perez.

“I think the reason this book is so popular is it stems from E.L. James, who is a great person. I have met her at a convention in Dallas and she is genuinely so much different that what people would perceive her to be. She is so laid back, personable and really authentic,” said Perez. “I know she is very charitable and when she found out that Colleen Hoover started the Bookworm Box, it was not a second thought in her mind to have a book signing. This is a huge deal for East Texas.”

Perez continued to say she loved the books because they went places where other books had not dared go. 

“E.L. says things that other authors were too worried what other people would say about them. It paved the way for women not to be ashamed of their sexuality. Woman should not be ashamed to say what they want and what they like in a book. Men have been able to talk about sex for years, but they are not looked at poorly,” said Perez. “I think this book has empowered women sexually. I know this book has improved marriages and has been a life-changing piece of literature for millions of people.”

 

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Pick up a bit of Hopkins County history at collectibles sale

After a long work week, there is no greater feeling than busting open the wallet for an extended shopping spree. On Friday and Saturday, Hopkins County Heritage Park will be hosting an arts, crafts and collectibles show and sales to benefit the Hopkins County Historical Society. 

“We are going to have gorgeous handmade quilts, jewelry, framed art, candles, plants, wood crafts and a variety of handmade items that would make the perfect gift, especially since Father’s Day is just around the corner,” said Hopkins County Historical Society member Carlie Penson. “One piece of history we will be selling are slates from the 1895 Hopkins County Courthouse. We have cleaned the slate and created wonderful cheese boards, cutting boards, chalk boards and other souvenirs people can put in their homes. It is like taking home a piece of history.”

The event began after severe weather rained out Heritage Park’s annual Spring Festival. The board gathered and decided on an arts and crafts sale that would hopefully be a springboard to an annual sale. This event would help cover costs of storm damage, especially cutting up and hauling off all the downed trees in the park. 

So far, the decision is paying off — two dozen vendors have signed up to participate this weekend. Penson said she wants the sale to be as big as possible and additional vendor spots are still available. Interested parties can contact any member of the Historical Society or contact Heritage Park.

“We are also going to have food vendors, ice cold lemonade and have snow cones for purchase,” said Penson. “This is a way to support the historical society and the history of our city. We want to support Heritage Park because there is some additional roofing that needs to be done and other ongoing upkeep work.”

Most the proceeds from several of the vendors’ booths will be going directly to the Historical Society although any vendor can sign up to participate in the event. 

Anyone who has questions about the show or who wants to donate to the historical society or to sign up as a vendor, can contact Joyce Bateman at 903-945-3308 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

The event will begin Friday, June 19, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and continue Saturday June 20, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Heritage Park is located at 416 North Jackson St. 

Fifty Shades of Sulphur Springs

Sulphur Springs will be colored Grey on Saturday.

E.L. James, author of erotic romance novel “Fifty Shades of Grey,” will be appearing in an intimate, sold-out book-signing Saturday at The Bookworm Box on Main Street.

The signing event comes just one day after James’ highly anticipated fourth book in the “Fifty Shades” series — entitled “Grey” and told from protagonist Christian Grey’s point of view — is released for publication Friday.

The book signing, which is limited to 500 guests, has already sold out. People from all over the country, who were able to purchase tickets online, are jetting in to Sulphur Springs for the event.

More than 125 million copies of the trilogy have sold and the film version of “Fifty Shades”  earned more than $560 million worldwide.

All of which begs the question, how did the most sought-after author in the world end up in Sulphur Springs one day after her biggest release?

It’s due to the friendship between James and The Bookworm Box owner and New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover, who is a Hopkins County resident.

“People have already been calling about how to get rental cars and asking about which hotels are in Sulphur Springs,” said Hoover. “People are flying in from all around the United States because E.L. James is only having two book signings in the states. After this, she will be headed to New York.”

Hoover and James became acquainted three years ago and became fast friends. 

“After we met, we really hit it off. She is so sweet and has helped me along the way,” said Hoover. “I never wanted to exploit our relationship and ask her to do a signing, but while I was telling her about The Bookworm Box, she offered to come.”

The Bookworm Box is not like any other bookstore because it helps local organizations while connecting fans with their favorite authors. 

“I wanted to give back to the community because I have had lots of good things come my way,” said Hoover. “I realized that I had a lot of connections with other authors and tried to think how I could give back on a larger scale.”

Here is how the Bookworm Box works: authors donate hundreds of signed copies of their books to Hoover’s organization. In turn, The Bookworm Box sells the books and donates all the proceeds to local charities. Customers can also go online and purchase a box of two different signed books called “Good Deeds, Great Reads” to further raise money for the charities. Books can be purchased online at thebookwormbox.com or inside the store. 

“We started in March and sold out our inventory in four minutes. It was really crazy that we have received such a great response,” said Hoover. “Now, we sell 2,000 ‘Good Deeds, Good Reads’ boxes in a month online and have raised more than $100,000 for charity.”

Hoover, who grew up in Hopkins County, quickly realized her home was too small to run such a large amount of inventory on a monthly basis. After some searching, she settled on a storefront on Main Street off of Celebration Plaza. 

“We wanted to open a bookstore that was an extenuation of the online charity. Every book in The Bookworm Box has been signed by the author, all of our employees are volunteers and every month we pick new charities to donate to. This is a one-of-a-kind bookstore,” said Hoover.  “E.L. James has chosen No Kid Hungry to receive all the funds from her book signing.”

“Grey” is a retelling of the events of “Fifty Shades of Grey” from the perspective of main character and billionaire Christian Grey. The other two books in the series are “Fifty Shades Darker” and “Fifty Shades Freed.”

The book signing begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, but tickets have already sold out. 

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