On November 5th, I will be one of the featured writers at this year’s Festival of the Written Word, hosted by the Chesterfield County Public Library.
Festival of the Written Word has something for the reader and writer in you! Embrace your creativity and immerse yourself in literacy, ideas and imagination. The 2016 Festival of the Written Word will include live readings, workshops, panel discussions with local authors and food. It’s an activity that the whole family can enjoy.
In addition to the events listed on the flyer above, the festival will include readings by various authors, workshops for writers of all ages, panel discussions with local authors (including me!), and, of course, delicious food provided by Firehouse Subs.
It’s a great idea for readers (and writers!) to take advantage of such festivals and literary events at their local libraries. They are typically free and open to the public!
Other featured authors include:
Stacy Hawkins Adams
Nancy Wright Beasley
Kristen Green (Featured Presenter)
Ann Marie Halstead
Last weekend I participated in the 7th Annual Gaithersburg Book Festival, and I cannot praise it too highly. It had something for everyone! There were writing workshops for adults, teens, and children. The Children’s Village features storytellers, puppeteers, jugglers, authors, and magic, all encouraging reading, writing, and a love of books. There were exhibitor booths catering to adults and children, a variety of food vendors, and live performances by poets and singer-songwriters. And there were book sales!
The official bookseller for the even was Politics and Prose. They sold all of the books represented on the program. I bought two, having been captivated by the authors’ presentations I attended after finishing my own presentation and signing. Thomas Murphy by Roger Rosenblatt, who had an engaging conversation/interview with Alice McDermott.
The second book I bought was “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs” by Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf. They presented jointly. She is the author of The Hemingses of Monticello, and a professor at Harvard. He is the Thomas Jefferson Foundation professor of history at the University of Virginia. They were a dynamic duo, talking about what promises to be an atypical biography of Jefferson (e.g., covering music and religion), and answering questions clearly—and patiently!
There was also a used book sale by Friends of the Library Montgomery County, MD. I bought two books related to three of my passions: popular culture, old books, and dictionaries! For which I spent a total of $8.
Bartlett’s Dictionary of Americanisms was published in 1848! It explains what a chore is (the equivalent of char in England), and polk, meaning sack. Needless to say, it’s my oldest slang dictionary, and it nicely illustrates that what was slang 200 years ago has moved into—and sometimes through—mainstream English!
GBF drew participants from near and far. I met authors from New York, Texas, and London—to name a few. Some of the famous authors were highlighted on the festival poster, for example, Juan Williams.
Well-known or not, everyone was articulate and professional.
But enough about attending. As an author presenting there, I couldn’t have been treated better!
Before the event, my primary contact was Carolyn Crosby, the Senior Program Supervisor. She was not only friendly and gracious but well-organized and responsive. She made sure I had all the info I needed ahead of time, from hotel reservation to maps to advice on rain gear.
The festival hotel, Homewood Suites by Hilton, was spacious, comfortable, and provided shuttle service to all events. They gave us our GBF book bags, containing all the important stuff (program, shuttle schedule, maps) and no throw-away junk. It’s a classy bag, heavy canvas.
On Friday evening, there was a VIP Reception from 7:00 till 10:00. The food was great and plentiful, and there was an open bar. Presenters mingled with those involved in producing the event. I met Jud Ashman, Founder and Chair of GBH and currently mayor of Gaithersburg. He is articulate and humorous! He’s shown here with me and M.Tara Crowl, who writes fantasy fiction for middle-schoolers.
Gaithersburg Book Festival is a rain-or-shine event.
All of the programs are under tents—and this year it was rain, with temperatures in the low-50s. GBHis a class act, and they provided all the presenters with umbrellas.
The weather dampened people but not spirits. Attendees could choose among 10 presentations at a time, each in a tented pavilion: Dashiell Hammett, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edgar Allan Poe, H.L. Mencken, James Michener, Gertrude Stein, Rachel Carson, Jim Henson, Willa Cather, Ogden Nash.
I was on at 10:00 a.m. in the Dashiell Hammett Pavilion. Debbiann Holmes and I talked about Making Fiction Real. We seem to make a great sister act. Maybe we should take it on the road.
Enthusiastic, upbeat volunteers were everywhere.They kept the presenters on time starting and ending. We were escorted to the pavilion for the presentation, then to the signing area after. People seemed okay waiting in the rain to get books signed.
By definition, presenters were VIPs. Besides umbrellas and book bags, we had reserved parking, special registration, and a VIP lounge with refreshments all day.
But perhaps the most striking aspect overall was the universal enthusiasm and the breadth of community support. Just look at the number of partners and sponsors they have!
I want to go again! And you should go, too. It might even be sunny!
The launch included a panel presentation on Pathways to Publication, moderated beautifully by Mary Burton. Panelists included both traditionally published and independently published writers of short stories and novels. I served on the panel along with Meriah Lysistrata Crawford, Kristin Kisska, Adele Gardner, and Teresa Inge. We represented a wide range of genres: romance, fantasy and horror, historical fiction, memoir—and of course, mystery!
Besides those on the program, a number of Sisters in Crime contributors attended, along with more than seventy others.
The audience was thoroughly engaged and asked lots of good questions—before buying books and devouring the cake!
All the authors present signed books on request.
We were especially pleased that Sherlock showed up—and tolerated being womanhandled with great stoicism.
Visit the SinC-CVA website and the individual authors’ websites to see more photos and read more about the event.
I had to leave home at 8:30 a.m. and didn’t get home till nearly 10:00 p.m. But it was definitely worth the time! The commute was a reconnect with Heather Weidner and Maggie King. Lots of conversation about everything from work life to pets.
The Center for Cultural Arts is attractive—white columns, brick walkway, garden sculptures. On the way in and out, I was too encumbered to take pictures. Oh, sigh. Opportunity lost.
Our table location—just inside the door, first on the right—was a blessing and a curse. The blessing was that everyone entering passed our table first, all adhering to the U.S custom of keeping to the right. The curse was that we were backed by a bank of windows, and all my photos there are dark and sinister looking. Heather got better pictures.
But I did get seeable pictures of Mary Miley, Fiona Quinn, and Maggie King. Mary Miley, former president of the Central Virginia Chapter of Sisters in Crime, is the author of the Roaring Twenties mystery series. Two are published (The Impersonator, winner of the Mystery Writers of America Best First Crime Novel award, and its sequel, Silent Murders.) Two more in the series are forthcoming.
Maggie King is author of Murder in the Book Group. Fiona Quinn is the author of the Lynx series: Weakest Lynx, Missing Lynx, Chain Lynx, and co-author with John Dolan of Chaos is Come Again.
Our panel presentation on getting published was scheduled for 5:00—the last hour of the festival—and I was a bit skeptical. But the room was packed! We talked about everything from traditional to DIY, short stories to novels, pen names to web presence. The attendees were engaged, asked lots of questions, no one left, and when the 6:00 end time arrived, the security guard had to clear the room because he was closing the building. What a high!
Advice for book signings: Be Prepared. Never go to a book signing with only one pen!
Read More About the Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival