Thursday, December 17, 2009

OCAF Signing & Singing a Great Success!

Last night I got to wear a Santa hat onstage, along with authors Terry Kay, Gail Karwoski, Julie Cannon, Grady Thrasher and Philip Lee Williams. We took the stage to do an ensemble reading of "The Night Before Christmas" as part of the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation Christmas event, Signing and Singing: A Holiday Treat in Watkinsville. From the photos you can see we were quite a festive, literary group as we took turns reading the lines from the famous poem that first brought St. Nick to life, as we know him today. We were planning to discuss how Clement C. Moore, the author credited with this holiday poem, might have plagiarized the work of another author, which is unlike any of the other poems he wrote during his lifetime (they were all rotten, according to critics). But time prevented us from launching into this discussion. Whoever the author of "The Night Before Christmas was," I'm so glad this classic poem survives.

We enjoyed music by two talented choirs, Decatens Acapella Choir of Oconee County Middle School (sorry I didn't get a picture on this one) and a chorale from the Westminster Christian Academy's lower school. Authors gave away books from their own libraries, plus we donated copies of our own books for the book basket giveaway. Delicious refreshments were provided by OCAF. And yes, we signed many books, with all proceeds going to OCAF.

I can't say enough about OCAF and the dedicated volunteers who put this event together. I also thank Terry Kay and the other authors for including me. As the "new kid on the block" author, it felt wonderful to stand on the stage among this literary company. I can't think of a better way to celebrate this holiday season.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My Reading Stack: A Treasure of Novels and Two Special Books of Poetry

"What are you going to do during the holidays?" That's a question I hear often this time of year. My rather ambitious plans are to read some of the wonderful-looking books on my "to read" bookshelves. Notice I said "bookshelves" with an s. I've lost count of the novels and other books there, many written by my author friends.

Here's a small sampling of what I intend to read soon and write about here on Winterville Writer. They're in no particular order and I'm looking forward to them all.

Elegies for the Water: Poems by Philip Lee Williams. Phil was my very first editor (as an adult) back when I wrote columns for The Athens Observer, a popular alternative weekly newspaper published in my hometown of Athens, and I count him as a dear friend and writing mentor. Phil has published 14 books over the years, including his first, The Heart of a Distant Forest, and A Distant Flame, which won the prestigious Michael Shaara Award. Phil began his writing career by writing poetry. Believe it or not, this is his first published book of poetry and I'm looking forward to curling up on the futon by the fire in our den and taking it all in (I've sampled it already and I know I'm in for a treat!) I'll also be reading his new novel, The Campfire Boys, soon. Published not long after his book of poetry, this book is the story of Civil War camp entertainers told via fiction. Watch this blog for my reviews of both of these recent Philip Lee Williams' books.

So, what else is on Donny Bailey Seagraves' reading shelves? There's The Cracker Queen by my Cracker Queen friend, Lauretta Hannon. This bestselling book is already out in an audio edition, though as Lauretta shared with us at her recent book signing at the Athens Barnes and Noble, the reader is not from the South!

Also on my shelf is a slender volume of poetry, The History of Nursing, by my friend and fellow author, Anne Webster, who happens to be the younger sister of noted author and poet, Rosemary Daniell. I've sampled several of Anne's poems from this book which was nominated for a National Book Award and can hardly wait to finish the rest and tell you about them in a review. Anne worked for many years as a registered nurse in the Atlanta area. She gives readers an inside look into nursing plus shares much more. Stay tuned for the full review.

Another book I'm looking forward to reading is The Confederate General Rides North by Decatur author, Amanda Gable. An interesting thing about Amanda's book is that she also has an eleven-year old main character, as I do in my debut middle grade novel, Gone From These Woods. But Amanda's book, which is her debut, was published as an adult novel. I'm looking forward to reading her story and sharing my review with you here.

Bitter Tide by my friend and fellow writer Ann Stamos (Judy Iakovou) is very near the top of my reading stack and I'm eager to get into it. It tells a story of Ellis Island and emigrants who came to the United States through that place. I'm a big fan of Judy's previous mystery novels with co-author and husband Takis, so I know I'll enjoy this latest publication.

Since I write books for children and young adults, of course there are middle grade and young adult novels in my reading stack. One is Road to Tater Hill by my fellow Delacorte Press author, Edith M. Hemingway. Edie tells a story of death and loss in a North Carolina family in her novel debut. I'll be reading it soon and sharing more about it with you on this blog.

Two other childrens' books that are rising to the top of my reading stack are Susan Rosson Spain's The Deep Cut and Fran Cannon Slayton's When The Whistle Blows. Susan's book is set during the Civil War and is based on a family story. Fran's book, also based on her own family, is about a town, a train and a boy named Jimmy Cannon.

These books will be gifts to me this holiday season as I happily read through many pages in front of the fire. I hope you also find time to read.

Friday, December 11, 2009

My First Holiday Season as a Published Author Rather Than a Bookseller

I've been a published writer for more than 20 years, and since the late 1980s, I've written fiction for children and adults, including five or six children's middle grade novels, a fat, strange novel for adults, and the world's most horrible romance novel. In 1998, I decided to add "online used and out-of-print bookseller" to my resume and called this new business, "Junebug Books," after a nickname from my childhood. So in addition to writing books, for a long time, I sold the used books of others online, beginning in the days before this was common.

Holiday season 2009 marks my first as a published author with my own book for sale in bookstores and at websites including, where I was one of their first third-party booksellers. Now I get to see my own brand new novel, Gone From These Woods, listed on right next to used and even new copies from third-party booksellers who are constantly engaged in price-dropping wars.

So how do I feel about this as an author?

Of course I don't like it. Like my publisher, Random House, I want buyers to purchase new copies of my book from at their discounted price. That should be good enough, right?

Let's go back a moment, to third-party book selling on Amazon before our used, rare and out-of-print copies were moved to positions right beside the new from the publisher copies. Back in those days, in the late 1990s, our books were in "z-shops" and were only visible to buyers if they knew the web address of our Amazon z-shop or they searched for an out-of-print copy using the Amazon home page search box. And in the beginning, we actually had a tab on Amazon's home page that said, "z-shops." This led buyers to our books. In addition to z-shops, many of us sold our OP books directly to Amazon. They mailed us actual checks.

Then we got Marketplace and our books were moved to the pages where new from publisher books were sold and the rest is history. Booksellers, many with almost no knowledge of the book selling business, multiplied. Prices dropped. And the book business as I knew it was gone forever, forcing many small time booksellers out of business and reducing revenues for the ones who were left. Through this all, I continued to write with the goal of selling my own books someday, instead of the books of others.

Now, back to the present, holiday season 2009. I now can go to the website and see my new book, Gone From These Woods, listed for sale at a discounted by Amazon price (a definite thrill for a first time published author, I must say). And on the same page, there are numerous new and used copies at a much lower price that drops (due to their use of automatic pricing software) constantly.

I never would have chosen to have my used book listings on the same pages as new books on Amazon. When I was a bookseller there, I wondered, along with all the other booksellers, how anyone could make any money from a book priced at $1.99 or $.01? There is a "shipping allowance" given to booksellers for each book sale to help offset the cost of postage to ship orders. However, Amazon also charges each seller a commission, which is a percentage of the selling price.

Why do they keep dropping the book prices? Well, as my husband has pointed out to me many times, that's capitalism. But as an author who sees her own book price dropping on Amazon, I say it's another word that I won't type into a G rated blog. I'm in favor of booksellers and authors making a living (and I admit that I also buy these cheaper books sometimes). But selling recently-published books for $1.99 or $.01 isn't the way. What do you think?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Reading, Visiting and Fashion Kind of Day

So what does reading have to do with fashion? Those two subjects don't usually go together, unless, of course, you're reading about fashion, which I wasn't.

First, I'll tell you about the reading. I started my day very early, for a non-morning person, by driving to Barrow Elementary School in Athens to participate in their Guest Readers event. The parking lot was almost full when I got there just before 8 AM. On my way in, I watched three extremely tall athletic-looking young men emerge from their vehicle wearing University of Georgia sweatshirts. They looked like basketball players and this was confirmed later by Andy Plemmons, media specialist at Barrow School, who organized Guest Readers Day.

These tall guys were just the beginning of the big crowd of community leaders and local celebrities and parents and grandparents who gathered in the media center to look over the tables covered with books waiting to be read to kids in grades one through five. Cardee Kilpatrick, former District 10 Commissioner and Mayor Pro Tem of Athens during the time I was a councilmember and Mayor Pro Tem of Winterville, and I enjoyed a brief visit as we posed for a group picture before heading off to the classrooms, escorted by student guides, to read.

I brought my own book, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson, to read to Ms. Slongo's fifth grade class. It's one of my all-time favorite holiday stories and the kids seemed to enjoy it, too. After reading them the first chapter, I asked if they had questions, and boy did they! This class had read my book, Gone From These Woods, together a few weeks ago, and their faces were familiar to me from my recent authors' visit. I enjoyed chatting with them about reading, writing, lots of bad cousins and a few good ones, and, of course the Herdmans from the Christmas Pageant book. I left them my copy of the book, so they could finish reading it together in class. Once you've heard chapter one of Barbara Robinson's classic and hilarious story, how can you not read on?

So what does fashion have to do with all of this? Nothing, of course. But do read on.

Back in Winterville, I stopped by our favorite gathering place, the Winterville Post Office, a hub of local news and sometimes gossip, to pick up my mail. The mayor was there, chatting with Bobby Cook, a member of the Commercial Bank's board of directors, a contractor, and former car dealer. Jim Mercer, the mayor, was attired in his usual plaid shirt jacket and casual pants. So, no this wasn't the fashion part of my day (sorry Jim). And then I headed over to Watkinsville, fifteen miles down the road, to deliver a signed copy of Gone From These Woods for the authors' basket raffle at their holiday market event this coming Saturday and Sunday (let's hope it doesn't snow too much this weekend). Things looked festive in the OCAF building, but no, that's not the fashion part of this blog post.

Fashion came at lunchtime when I attended the Athens YWCO Holiday Fashion Show & Luncheon at the Ann Florence Center. My high school classmate, Kitty Meyran, is the director of the YWCO. Our table included classmates Jan Lanier, Donna Griffeth, Eleanor Mason and Eleanor's daughter-in-law. We were treated to a real fashion show, emceed by Sonia Steffes of Sonia Says. Beautiful models, Amy Malone, Brenda Blanton, Crysty Odom, June Turnell, Kiz Adams, Mary Mills, Matt Dixon, Patsy Grimes, Rubelene Norris, Tammy Gilland, Tracie Hedges and Winona Evans entertained us with dazzling holiday outfits and accessories. At one point in the show, Sonia surveyed the room to see which tables featured ladies who had "accessorized." Okay, our table wasn't mentioned. Maybe we need to work on that.

On the way out I enjoyed talking to Lola Finn, a retired principal and former member of one of the writers groups I belong to. I also got to catch up with Pat Brittian, another retired principal (from Winterville School) and Cissy Alexander, a member of the Athens High School Class of '68.

I think this was the first time I've ever combined reading with fashion in one day. The fashion luncheon was a fundraiser for the YWCO and Guest Readers Day at Barrow Elementary raised my spirits considerably when I saw the interest and excitement about reading and writing and bad cousins and the Herdmans in Ms. Slongo's fifth graders. Not a bad way to spend a Thursday in December. Now it's time to get back to writing . . . but maybe first, I'll accessorize.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Signing and Singing December 16, 2009 in Watkinsville, GA

Okay, the headline of this blog post says, "Signing and Singing," but hopefully I won't be singing when I join five other authors plus numerous young singers in Watkinsville at the 1902 OCAF Center December 16 from 6 - 8 PM.

The other authors, in addition to yours truly, include Terry Kay, author of many popular books including To Dance With the White Dog; Julie Cannon, of True Love & Homegrown Tomatoes fame; Philip Lee Williams, who has two new books, The Campfire Boys and Elegies for the Water; Gail Karwoski, whose latest book is River Beds: Sleeping in the World's Rivers; and Grady Thrasher who is the author of the Tim and Sally series.

The singing part of this holiday event will be handled by two groups: Decatens Acapella Choir of Oconee County Middle School and A Chorale from the Westminster Christian Academy's Lower School.

In addition to signing our latest books, the six authors will perform an author's ensemble reading of The Night Before Christmas. This is one of my all time favorite poems, so I'm looking forward to taking part in this performance (as long as we don't have to sing it).

The OCAF Artist Shoppe will be open as well and stocked with plenty of handmade, original art perfect for Christmas gifts.

Other things you should know: Admission is free and more information is available on the website: or by emailing them at or calling 706-769-4565.

I hope to see you there.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Front Porch Bookstore Opens in Winterville, Georgia

I'm a native of Athens, Georgia, but for many years I've lived in nearby Winterville, a tiny municipality of approximately 1,200, located in Eastern Clarke County. We've had a branch of the Athens Regional Library in Winterville (115 Marigold Lane) for a very long time.

Today, I'm happy to announce that the Friends of the Winterville Library are launching a new venture, Front Porch Bookstore, in the quaint, newly renovated old Town Hall building (which was formerly used as the Winterville Volunteer Fire Department and is located near the library at 102 Marigold Lane) on December 4, 2009, which also happens to be the date of this year's Winterville Christmas in the Park event (more on that in a future post).

Front Porch Books is 100% non-profit. All proceeds will go toward purchasing books, equipment and literary programs for the Winterville Library. At the December 4 grand opening, the bookstore will be open 5 PM until 8:30 PM. After that, the bookstore hours will be the same as the Winterville Library's hours: Monday and Tuesday and Thursday, 3 - 7; Wednesday, 9 - 12; Saturday, 10 - 2, and closed Friday and Sunday.

This new bookstore needs both donations of books and vounteers to staff the store. If you're interested, stop by the library or the bookstore or email or call Jan Mazzucco at 706-742-7090. Leave your name and number and the shift desired.

See you at Front Porch Books!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Jackie Elsner: New Oconee Country Libraries Director

I had the pleasure of attending Jackie Elsner's farewell storytelling event at the Athens Regional Library in September. Jackie, or "Miss Jackie" to Athens area children, was bidding the Athens branch of the Regional Library goodbye with a special performance of rhymes, songs, a lap puppet show and more. Jackie had served as the children's librarian for 20 years. Now she is the librarian and branch manager of the Oconee County Libraries.

I first met Jackie 20 years ago, when she became the children's librarian in Athens. Our library was smaller then and was located at 120 West Dougherty Street in what is now called the Governmental Building. My husband's office is in that building now, in what was once the fiction section of Athens Regional Library. My children were still young the day we met Jackie. We had come to the library to hear her tell a story. That was my introduction to this amazing woman's storytelling talents.

Over the years, I got to know Jackie better and learned that she had many other talents as well including Sacred Harp singing, puppetry and writing. For several years I had the pleasure of being in a writers' group with her and several other writers from the Athens and Oconee Country area.

Jackie will be missed at the Athens Regional Library. But Oconee County Libraries have gained a treasure.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Southern Festival of Books in Nashville

I had the pleasure of participating in my first Southern Festival of Books in Nashville this weekend. The trip up through the mountains was beautiful and I couldn't help but remember my only other visit to Nashville as daughter Jenny and I took in the Tennessee sights.

It was way back in the 1970s when husband Phillip and I caravaned to Nashville in a 1939 Hudson as part of the Athens Antique Auto Club. We were accompanied by other antique auto clubs from the Atlanta area and our vintage autos were quite a sight as we motored along the highway, praying that our antique brakes would hold on those twisty, winding mountain roads.

When we got there, it was worth the trip. We enjoyed a picnic sponsored by Kraft Foods and hosted by Roy Acuff, and at the end of our stay, our banquet speaker was Roy Orbison! Roy also was a big antique car buff and he told us all about his collection that night.

This weekend's Nashville trip was all about books. I had the pleasure of talking about and reading from my debut novel, GONE FROM THESE WOODS, on a panel with authors Peter Huggins and Billy Moore on Saturday (this panel was podcast -- watch for the link here when it becomes live on the festival website).

I also enjoyed hearing astronaut/author Buzz Aldrin speak in the handsome War Memorial Auditorium. I got to talk to and hang out with several other authors, too, including Philip Lee Williams, Amanda Gable, Elizabeth Dulemba, Lisa Dale Norton of Santa Fe, and Nancy Vienneau, a Nashville chef, food activist and writer.

Speaking of food, a highlight of our visit to Nashville was eating at the Midtown Cafe, rumored to be Reba McEntire's favorite restaurant. Jenny and I know why! I can't say enough good things about this local Nashville treasure. We also had an outstanding dinner at Valentino's Ristorante, an Italian restaurant nearby.

We were a little disappointed that we didn't see any actual country music singers in Nashville. About the closest we came was spotting Keith Urban's tour bus parked at the motel across the street.

So we didn't see Keith or Nicole or their baby. We saw plenty of great authors, marveled at the selection and beauty of all the great books by the festival's 200 authors, and ate our share of out of this world delicious food. Not a bad way to spend an October weekend -- or any weekend.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Soap, Soap, Soap by Elizabeth O. Dulemba

Today Winterville Writer hosts author/illustrator extraordinaire Elizabeth O. Dulemba on the final day of her blog book tour for her new book, Soap, Soap, Soap. Be sure to read this entire post to find out how you can win an autographed copy of the English only edition of Elizabeth's new book.

I first met Elizabeth at a Southern Breeze region of SCBWI SpringMingle writers' conference about four years ago. I was immediately impressed by her big, bold, colorful book illustrations. The kids she drew had personality. Lots of personality plus really big faces. Definitely my kind of illustrations. We chatted at the conference and I discovered that Elizabeth had studied Graphic Design at the University of Georgia in my home town of Athens. She has also lived in the Tennessee area where my mom and sister and family still live. Small world, for sure.

Something else I noticed about Elizabeth is her personality. It's a lot like her illustrations: bright, happy, fun. She's uses words like "GADS! and "Woosie!" and "Yip, Yip, Yahooooooo!!!!!" and "WooHoo!" and my favorite, WOWSA!!!

I'm going to borrow WOWSA!!! today to describe Elizabeth's new book. Soap, Soap, Soap, which was published September 25 by Raven Tree Press, is clean and boldly illustrated and, well, say it with me: WOWSA!!!

Before I tell you more about Soap, Soap, Soap, remember, I'll be giving away an autographed copy to one of my lucky blog readers. So read on to find out more about Elizabeth's new book and how to win a signed copy.

Now, on to the main event on Winterville Writer today: a review of Elizabeth O. Dulemba's Soap, Soap, Soap. Note: I am reviewing the English Edition, ISBN: 978-1934960-64-6 hardcover. There also is a Bilingual Edition: ISBN: 978-1934960-62-2 and paperback editions, too.

The Review

Soap, Soap, Soap, the first book award-winning illustrator Elizabeth O. Dulemba has both written and illustrated, is based on the classic Appalachian Jack Tale but features a modern twist. Dulemba sets the story in a small town and gives the title role to a young boy named Hugo.

The first thing a reader will notice about this book, which is written for children pre-K to 3rd grade, is the bold, bright colors the artist uses to introduce Hugo, along with a tub overflowing with bubbles and a cute yellow rubber duckie on the front cover. The back cover art features Hugo hanging by his overall strap on an old-fashioned clothesline.

Inside, the endpapers with yellow bars of soap, yellow duckies and soap bubbles are very attractive and lead the reader to the beautiful kitchen where Hugo's mom asks him to run to the store to buy soap. The artist uses graphite to draw the illustrations and renders them digitally. Both Hugo and his mom almost pop off the page, they look so alive. But my favorite part of this first two page spread is the cute brown and white dog (rumored to be Elizabeth's dog). This adorable canine takes in every word Mom says.

Hugo gallops through a school playground and past an attractive group of small town buildings on his way to buy soap. Along the way, he slides into a very large and wet mud puddle and forgets Mom's instructions. His neighbor, a little girl named Jellybean Jones, shows up then and offers to help, though the smirk on her face shows her thoughts might be otherwise. When Jellybean ends up in the mud, Hugo's memory is restored and he takes off again to buy soap at the store.

The rest of the story is easy to predict, which should suit young readers and listeners just fine. The writing is crisp and clear and written in language modern day kids will enjoy. They'll also like Hugo's stinkiness as he continues on his mission to procure soap. The ending is satisfying and clean and the soap bubbles and wink from the dog are just the right touch.

Now, if you'd like to win my copy of Soap, Soap, Soap (English only hardback edition), add a comment to this blog and be sure to use my favorite Elizabeth O. Dulemba word: WOWSA!!! at least once. No Wowsa, no name in book drawing. The drawing will be held October 6. Good luck! And don't forget to visit Elizabeth's Soap, Soap, Soap activity page where you can download neat stuff and even watch a book trailer.

Monday, September 28, 2009

SIBA 2009 in Greenville South Carolina

Today I end my blog book tour for Gone From These Woods by stopping by Eddie Suttles' blog, Georgia Books and Water. Click on the link to visit Eddie's blog and read an all-new question and answer about writing and publishing my debut children's middle grade and YA novel. And don't forget to come back here to Winterville Writer on Friday, October 2, to read my review of author/illustrator Elizabeth O. Dulemba's brand new children's picture book, Soap, Soap, Soap. This will be the last stop on her blog book tour and I'll be giving away a signed copy of her beautiful new book.

Here's another date to mark on your calendar. On Sunday, October 4, 2009, Elizabeth and I will be participating in a children's author and illustrator's panel at the Athens, Georgia Borders Bookstore. The panel will be held from 1 - 2:30 PM and will include Donna Bowman, Robyn Hood Black, Gene Fehler and Margo Candelario, as well as Elizabeth and myself. This event is part of Borders' Educator Days but is open to the public.

This weekend I had the pleasure of participating in my first ever Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) Trade Show! The location was the huge Carolina First Convention Center in beautiful Greenville, South Carolina. My traveling companion, daughter Jenny, and I had a pleasant car trip up to Greenville, about 100 miles from my home in Winterville, Georgia. When we got there Thursday, we checked into our motel and then headed to the convention center to check everything out.
Things were winding down for the day when we arrived but we got a chance to see the set up and where we'd be the next day.

On Friday morning we headed back to the Carolina First Center and at 11 AM, I participated in an author's panel called "Writing the South," along with four other authors. This was the panel line up: Moderator: Karen Zacharias, Will Jesus Buy Me a Doublewide? Cause I need more room for my plasma TV (Zondervan); Batt Humphreys, Dead Weight (Joggling Board Press); Karen White, The Girl on Legare Street (NAL Trade Paperback); Donny Seagraves, Gone From These Woods (Delacorte Press); Amanda Gable, The Confederate General Rides North (Scribner). I can't say enough good things about our moderator, Karen Zacharias. She arrived with our books in her arms and had read them all! Her questions were excellent and tailored to each of our books. Thank you Karen and thanks to Batt, the other Karen on our panel, and Amanda for an enjoyable hour spent talking about the South and our books.

After the panel I had the pleasure of eating lunch with some of the independent booksellers who were in the audience, including Janet Geddis of Athens, Georgia, who is in the planning stages of opening a brand new bookstore. I'm excited about Janet's plans and enjoyed meeting her and her mother at this author's lunch. Speaking of authors, our luncheon speakers included bestselling all-star authors: Patricia Reilly Giff, Richard Peck, Silas Read and Rick Yancey. Each in turn told us about their new book and talked about writing and publishing. No children's author could ask for a better meal! I also enjoyed chatting with Patricia after lunch. Seems we share an editor in common, Michelle Poploff.

Later in the afternoon, I enjoyed meeting more booksellers as I autographed and handed out the books my publisher, Random House, so graciously donated for this event.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Today I'm stopping by fellow author Lynn Coulter's blog, "Seedlings." Recently, Lynn asked me some interesting questions about my debut novel, GONE FROM THESE WOODS, and I (hopefully!) gave her some interesting answers. You be the judge when you stop by Lynn's blog. And don't forget to check out her books!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Today, September 15, 2009, marks the beginning of my first GONE FROM THESE WOODS blog book tour. My tour started this morning with a stop at Leandra Nessel's blog: Madame Queen. Leandra works in the main library at the University of Georgia as a Development Office and moonlights as the Madame Queen on her blog. Check it out. Leave a comment there and you'll be entered into a drawing for a free signed first edition copy of GONE FROM THESE WOODS.

Want to follow the rest of the GFTW Blog Book Tour? Here's the schedule:

Leandra Nessel - Tue., Sept. 15 - Madame Queen Blog

Lynn Coulter, Wed., Sept. 16 - Seedlings Blog

Elizabeth Dulemba, Fri., Sept. 18 - E's Blog

Eddie Suttles - Mon., Sept. 21, Georgia Books and Water Blog

Each blogger has a unique group of questions and answers about me, my book, and the writing process. Read them all. And don't forget to subscribe to each one and/or follow them in your Google Reader, or on your Google Homepage or in your favorite reader. These are all excellent blogs. See you there!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

4th Annual AJC Decatur Book Festival

I spent a delightful weekend at the 4th Annual AJC Decatur Book Festival and I must say, IT WAS THE BEST ONE YET! Don't get me wrong, I've attended all four DBFs and they've all been outstanding. But there were three things -- no make that four things -- about this year's festival that made it great for me.

First, I got to attend the festival for the first time as a featured author, thanks to the publication of my debut novel, GONE FROM THESE WOODS, published August 25, 2009, by Random House under their Delacorte Press imprint. I had the pleasure of participating in a panel on Sunday afternoon with Katie Davis (check her out here) and Laurel Snyder (visit her website here), two authors I admire.

Second, it wasn't as hot this year. Okay, my hair did stick to my head and all my makeup sweated off before the Sunday panel and I couldn't stop myself from gulping down a lot of water while I was onstage, but considering the average heat-stroking inducing temperatures I've encountered at the other three DBFs, this weekend wasn't so bad.

Third, I got to peek at author Kate DiCamillo through the massive crowd that surrounded her on the Target Stage. If you don't know who she is, shame on you! Because of Winn-Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux and her latest, The Magician's Elephant are just a few of my DiCamillo favorites. My neighbor down the street, Andy Plemmons, took the photo of this award-winning author. He also got to speak with her and get her autograph afterwards. Andy, I am SO jealous!

Okay, that was three things about this year's DBF. What's number four? I got to stay at the beautiful home of my friend, Lynn Whitten, who lives two blocks from the downtown area of Decatur, where most of the festival takes place. And I got to spend time with my other friends, all writers, as is Lynn, Kathleen, Ellen, Debbe, Deborah, Pam - - and my lovely daughter, Jenny. And Southern Breezers Connie, Robyn, Susan, Donna, Peter, Peggy and others.

That's more than four DBF things, isn't it? And I could count a lot higher. This festival is now the biggest in the country and it's only in its fourth year. I'm already counting down to DBF number five. If you haven't experienced this great literary celebration in Decatur, maybe you should go ahead and mark your calendar for Labor Day weekend, 2010.