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.