Sunday, November 6, 2016

A Saturday Well Spent

Yesterday I spent the day at the University of Waukesha for the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books. This is a two day event that celebrates local authors and their work using a series of panels, discussions and educational seminars. I've been going to the fest for years and this one was my second where I was featured on a couple of panels.

The first panel I sat on included Susan Martell Huebner who's written a soon-to-be-released memoir and Kathie Giorgio who has just released a short story collection called Oddities and Endings. The panel was titled Writers Branching Out and discussed crossing genres. I had such a blast on this panel answering the ad hoc questions of the moderator. This moderator was actually Kathie Giorgio's high school English teacher. He did a wonderful job of including the audience and the panel. A great interaction.

Sometimes people on panels like to know the questions in advance, but I feel there's something to be said for getting thrown surprise questions one after another. I think it makes for a more engaging discussion. At the end, the audience was invited to ask questions and they obliged nicely. I can't say enough about how much I appreciate readers who support local authors. They make it all worthwhile.

The second panel was titled The Family Tree: Writers on Families and included Fran Rybarik (memoir) and Lauren Fox (fiction). Like the other panel, it featured three of us covering three genres, poetry, fiction and memoir. The nonfiction author in this panel wrote a book about how her husband died and now here children and friends are taking bits of his ashes around on their travels in an effort to continue his adventure. I thought it was a great subject for a book and it was pretty cool sharing commonalities between our memoirs both before and during the panel.
Books by Books and Company.

These panels were a blast, but I also enjoyed so much more about the day.

  • I loved seeing my writing colleagues, old and young, current and past. We attend each others' events and signings because we are a community. Part of that community is mutual support and encouragement. We have each others' backs. 
  • It was cool meeting a few people that I've connected with on Facebook with but never met. This included David Mathews whose book, Lemons and Lemonade, about his experience with mid-life online dating is soon to be released. We had a nice chat and purchased each others' books. 
  • I got to finally meet Lisa Baudoin, who represented Books and Company of Oconomowoc,Wisconsin, the bookseller at the event. I can't say enough about the great job they did with handling all the books. Second to none.
  • At my signing after the last panel, I had a woman come up and talk to me for about five minutes. She didn't buy a book, but made a point of repeatedly telling me how much my stories during the panel meant to her. I talked a bit about some of the losses in my family during my panel and evidently they hit a common nerve with her. She thanked me a couple of times, took a bookmark and a business card and left. These kinds of interactions sometimes mean more to me than a sale. (Though, sales are always nice. LOL)
  • I also bumped into Paula Anderson who published one of my first poems in her publication, Echoes. She has set me up with a reading at Mama D's in Wales, Wisconsin, and has been a poetry advocate for years.
The whole day was really, really good. I came away from the event energized, humbled and grateful. 

I can't wait for next year!

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