This past weekend I was privileged to attend the West Virginia Book Festival in Charleston, WV, headlined by no less than Neil Gaiman, and featuring such spectacular author-speakers as Homer Hickam, Jodi Picoult, Jeff Shaara, and Jacqueline Woodson. The wonderful Jane Friedman also presented a seminar on self-publishing for authors, which I was thrilled to attend.
I wore dual hats for the two days of the festival – one as reader fangirl, and one as author. You see, fellow Virginia Romance Writer Sue London was there featuring her marvelous Haberdashers series, and she graciously allowed me to display A Man of Character in her booth. I even got to spend a few hours hanging around to sign copies for anyone who wished one (and to my utter delight, there were some people who did!). It was my first big book festival signing (I’ve been blessed to hold signings at the Artisan Galleries in Massanutten, but the two venues are quite different). I met several enthusiastic book aficionados, sold a few books, and several readers signed up for my newsletter – hooray!
Speaking of which, congratulations to Carla W. for winning a copy of A Man of Character! Maria G., Elizabeth S., Debbie S., and Holly W., thanks for signing up for my newsletter. Even though you didn’t win a book, I hope you’ll stick around to find out more about my books and me!
I wasn’t alone in my adventures, either – luckily for me, fellow friends and Shenandoah Valley Writers Foy Iver and Rebekah Postupak were in attendance. After a delightful dinner together on Friday, we listened in awe as Neil Gaiman charmed the entire audience with his humor and insights, and even read us a story.
Saturday morning that reader hat was firmly fixed to my head as I hit the famed used book sale, and scooped up a rather insane number of romances for under $20. Woo hoo!
Then it was off to hear the charming Homer Hickam speak – he’s really quite entertaining and funny, and the stories he told about his folks were both amusing and touching. My favorite anecdote was when he talked about meeting Harper Lee. She appeared at an event at which he was scheduled to speak, where she said to him, “So I hear you wrote a classic?” “Yeah, that’s what they say,” he responded. “Your readers will never forgive you,” was her comment. Something about that struck a real chord in me – we do tend to associate an author of a famous book only with that book, and anything else they write likely pales in comparison, right?
I missed Jeff Shaara and Jacqueline Woodson, as I was chatting with Sue at the romance booth while also meeting and greeting folks, but finished off the festival by listening to Jodi Picoult speak. It’s with great embarrassment I admit that I’ve only read one of her books — House Rules — but I have a number of friends who love her stories, and after hearing her talk about some of the subject matter and research methods for a few of her hard-hitting books, like 19 Minutes, many more of hers are on my list.
Book Festivals are fun, y’all. When I’m there, I truly sense I’m with my tribe, my people. I felt that both as a reader and as an author, and it makes me even more determined to get to RWA and any other romance festivals I can find — and has me anxiously awaiting the Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville next spring.
Thank you, Sue, for allowing me to join your party!
Thank you, Charleston and West Virginia, for a fabulous weekend!
This photo doesn’t do the stunning scenery justice, but I have to admit, I literally whooped and hollered at the gorgeous fall foliage draped across the mountains.