Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Good times - Part 2 of SC Book Festival Review

Okay all horror aside, the rest of the weekend was so awesome. As a volunteer, I usually am a greeter at the top level where most folks enter and I so enjoy getting the folks to fill out the surveys and hear their reactions and all about the different activities, panel discussions and the book festival in general.

Saturday started with a book club breakfast with the authors and that was so awesome in and of itself. I got to mingle with Gwen and Cathy and some other authors as well as some book club folks (I don't belong to a book club because I just don't have time but I would if there was one local and I had the opportunity to do so).

This year, TJ had other plans for me - I was a room monitor part of the time and a greeter part of the time (well I was scheduled to be a greeter half the day Sunday but ended up being a room monitor all afternoon which was fine with me).

As room monitor, your duties include making sure the water pitchers are full and that there are clean glasses on the tables for the speakers, making sure the temperature, lighting, sound, et cetera are good and holding up signs so the moderators and panelists know that they have 10 minutes left in the session and 5 minutes (so they can wrap things up and get on over to do book signings too).

The first session I got to monitor was entitled "Bartenders, Cops, & Priests, Oh My!" - I had no idea what to expect but I'm glad TJ assigned this one to me. Julia Spencer Fleming writes mysteries with a priest or preacher as the amateur slueth. Interesting concept and not one I think I've seen done before. With my father being an ordained Orthodox Priest and all, I think I need to check out some books by Ms. Spencer-Fleming. Con Lehane is an ex-bartender and so naturally his protag is a bartender. His series sounds very interesting too - it's amazing how mystery writers are creating new and unheard of characters for their stories. James O. Born was the last speaker on the panel. He is an FBI agent/cop or some such thing - I believe he has worked as a DEA officer at some point. He writes more real-life experiences of course with a fictional twist. The panel was very interesting and the moderate, Paula Benson, did a great job of questioning each of the authors and bringing the whole discussion together.

The next panel I got to monitor was "SHE Did It: SC Women of Mystery" with Gwen Hunter and Cathy Pickens (both of whom I have met previously in other venues), moderated by Carla Damron (again someone I knew from other places). Now talk about a funny, Gwen and Cathy both have such southern backgrounds and a great rapport and definitely are not conceited about being an author, that I don't think anyone walked out of that panel not laughing. Cathy has a posting on her blog about the book festival and her newest book that just came out. Check it out here for more details.

Gwen on the other hand is absolutely schizo (her words not mine) because she has to be two different people (writing under Gwen Hunter and Faith Hunter and she said if she were to write romance she would write under yet a third name - I honestly don't know how she keeps up with all novels she has out there). You can check out her blog postings here.

The rest of Saturday I just hung around and did my greeting in the late afternoon. I don't feel I did near the job I usually do with the greeting because I was only there a couple of hours. I hope there were plenty of surveys filled out for the book festival.

Sunday - wonderful day. Panels I monitored were: Cassandra King (The Queen of Broken Hearts - novel that came out last year). She was a very good speaker and of course her southern charm and stories came out. Like she said, you can't make up some of this stuff (the reality is so much more interesting than the fiction and her novels are based on her life experiences of having grown up in a small southern town and everything in between that has given her some great fodder).

Civil War - with Orville Vernon Burton, John Wesley Brinsfield, Jr., and Andrew Billingsley - Andrew Billingsley has written a memoir based story on Robert Smalls entitled "Yearning to Breathe Free..."; John Brinsfield's book is about the chaplains of the civil war - "Spirit Divided ..." (I found this interesting because of my father being an Orthodox priest and wondering if he would read something that is civil war based - an idea to look into later). Orville Burton's book is called "Age of Lincoln". He takes the civil war way past the end of the war and into the reconstruction. This panel was different for me because I'm not a big history buff although I do have some roots in the civil war due to my grandmother's family having killed a soldier on the property and burying him, no questions asked.

Southern Writers: Exploring and Revealing Their Passions - Panelists Marti Healy (animals and God - her book "The God Dog..."), John Lee (wild turkey hunting and God - I forget the title of his book but it is about Wild Turkey hunting and being a novice hunter) and L. D. Russell (NASCAR and God - his book "God Speed...") all spoke on their passions. Even though each of their books has a religious undertow, the discussion was not overtly religious and was very enjoyable.

Last room monitored of the day was a poetry reading session with Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda, Joyce Brinkman, Marjory Wentworth, and Lisa Starr. I have never been in a poetry reading room before and this was interesting because to me poetry is rhyming, follows a certain beat or whatever my preconceived idea was at the time. I left the room with a different perspective of what poetry is. The one thing that really fascinated me was the "simultaneous poems" - they are basically two poems written together that each line of one completes the line of the other but they should be able to stand alone too. I can't even fathom writing something like that but I guess it is the equivalent of writing a dialogue based story where each person's voice is very distinct and complements each other, but if you read them without the other, you would still have a sense of the voice.

All-in-all, I had a great time. Check out some other fun postings on the festival - Daisy's Dead Air; Shannon's posting; Arts Institute Blog. I'm sure there are many more postings out there but for now that is a taste on the variety of folks who attended the festival in one capacity or another -

See you all in the postings - E :)

1 comment:

Cas said...

Wow - what a mixed bag! I'm so sorry about the bad, but it sounds like the good made it worth it. I've never been to a writing conference, but it sounds really interesting. Apart from the sleeping arrangements.