This is annual festival held in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and the first literary event my family and I have ever been able to attend. Before this we didn't live in an area where anyone came to visit without a long drive. We're from upstate (anything outside NYC even though it was actually on the PA border) New York, and while lots of writers go to New York, they go to NYC and a six hour drive just isn't reasonable. Not to mention I'm from a small town, a city that size scares the heck out of me. I live in a city now, but it's just not as large or frightening or well known for crimes as NYC is. It's the sort of city that still manages to have a townish sort of feel to it while offering a whole lot more for kids and families to do. Even when we moved here though we had no idea how to go about finding bookish events. It had never been an option before, so we didn't know where to start. We actually learned about this because I follow James Patterson on Facebook and he posted that he was doing the opening event which occurred two days prior to the actual festival.
Unfortunately we didn't see the post for the ticketed event until 30 minutes prior to that event and it takes longer than that for us to drive there. So we didn't get to see James Patterson, but he did provide the link to the festival where we found a lot of other writers we really wanted to meet. And the chance to get our books autographed which for my daughter and I was super exciting. My daughter is the only avid reader among my children. The boys are getting into reading because of the people they met at the festival but it's a slow process to turn a gamer into a reader if they aren't already one. Trust me it took years to make my husband into a reader, but I have succeeded.
We were already planning to see The Giver that weekend because it was the weekend we were celebrating my daughter's 14th birthday. My husband only has one weekend off a month so we celebrate on whatever weekend that is even if the event isn't for another couple weeks. So my daughter and I saw this and I'm like we can't do both, one there isn't enough time and two we're going to spend way too much money at the festival to have extra for a movie, you have to choose. So we didn't see The Giver, because my daughter is awesome and chose to do this. Her father took her to see the movie a couple weeks later as his birthday event with her. Our family doesn't do parties because they're a hassle that cost too much and just end up being more stress than fun. Instead we go and do things. Her Dad has kind of adopted that tradition with her as well so in September she usually gets to go and do two fun things for her birthday plus the whole cake and presents thing with family and maybe a couple of family friends tops. They may not make out as great on the gifts as friends who have large parties, but before we switched to doing this instead of parties we asked them and they liked the idea of going and doing things more than having big parties. It works for us.
There was so much going on, but we only made it to three panels even though we were there all day because we also spent time in line for signings or just walking around. The festival offered a lot more than we actually attended. Some of my best photos are missing from this post because I'm not really comfortable with posting forward facing photos of my teen and preteen children. Maybe I'm paranoid, but that's one of my quirks. I did tweet a couple because my kids asked me to, but since sending those tweets I've been frightened out of my mind that some creeper is going to steal my kids away so I'm not sharing those photos here. Below is a combination of photos I took and photos I've saved that other attendees have publicly posted online. About half way through the day the batteries in my camera died and my phone just doesn't compare in quality so I have more of the morning than I do of the afternoon.
My three wishes though - shorter food truck lines with more options in food. A place to buy batteries when my camera's died and more information about the authors who were signing at the different booths. We missed almost all of the authors in the booths simply because we didn't know they were there. And I found out after that fact that there were a few I really would have liked to meet.
For more information on the Bookmarks Festival of Books & Authors or to find out more about upcoming events by the Bookmarks Organization visit their website or find them on Facebook & Twitter.
Adaptation: Transforming Books Into New Art
With Margaret Stohl, Brendan Reichs & Frances Mayes
This was actually the first thing we attended that day and it really reassured me I'd made the right decision in dragging my sons there even though they normally don't care for reading. They were laughing and enjoying themselves from the moment they sat down. My favorite parts of this presentation were when Brendan Reichs noticed a little boy standing actually back past the tent wearing a Goonies t-shirt and singled him out because he liked the Goonies. I can't remember the exact thing he said, but not only did he put this huge smile on the child's face, but I remember whatever it was was really funny. My memory for details is sort of awful so I should I have written this sooner except I didn't decide to write this until last night. So I apologize for not remembering exact details. Another favorite moment was listening to Frances Mayes talk about how when the movie based on her memoir came out they put the actress playing her on the cover of reprints of her books and her friends teased her about how it was her best photo yet. My descriptions of this really aren't the best for anyone to understand how funny this was, but the team of authors had the audience laughing from start to finish.
Frances Mayes's new book is Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir, published by Crown. With her husband, Edward Mayes she recently published The Tuscan Sun Cookbook. Every Day in Tuscany is the third volume in her bestselling Tuscany memoir series.
In addition to her Tuscany memoirs, Under the Tuscan Sun and Bella Tuscany , Frances Mayes is the author of the travel memoir A Year in the World; the illustrated books In Tuscany and Bringing Tuscany Home; Swan, a novel; The Discovery of Poetry, a text for readers; and five books of poetry. She divides her time between homes in Italy and North Carolina.
Find Frances Mayes online at her Website, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon & Twitter.
Margaret Stohl & Brendan Reichs @ Hanesbrands Theatre
Besides being funny, I really enjoyed listening to their stories about how they got into writing and it was hilarious when Margaret Stohl kept teasing Brendan Reichs about writing with his Mommy. Before you get the wrong idea the tone made it obvious that it wasn't her being mean or anything like that. It was just a friendly joke between the two of them. Besides no matter who he writes with he's accomplished something most people, myself included haven't, he's taken something in his head from an idea to a published novel and that's impressive. I hadn't actually read Virals before this event, but since then I have had the chance to read the first novel which was truly interesting. I'm hoping to read the rest of the series before Oct 4th when we see him again, so fingers crossed and all of that. Reichs actually said something that I thought was really good advice about writing, and setting a goal toward writing. Now don't quote me because like I said my memory for details sucks, but it was something like don't tell yourself you're writing a book, tell yourself you're writing a chapter or a page and write that. Keep doing that each day or week or month and eventually you'll have a book. You'd have to contact him for exact wording on that, but it was just a really great piece of advice that at least I remember some of. You're aren't allowed to film any of the presentations and I really wish I could have because little tidbits that are helpful to people with the dream were just constantly dropped in their stories of how they got to where they are now.
We chose this event because I'm a huge Beautiful Creatures fan, not so much of the movie, but the books are just really wonderful. I'm usually behind on most of the series I read because I'm a book addict and read too many series to keep up with them all so before this event I'd read the first 3 novels in that series. I've since read the first leg of the series and am starting the Dangerous Creatures spin-off series probably tonight. But I loved listening to how Beautiful Creatures started out as a challenge from her children who told her there was no way she and Kami Garcia, her daughter's teacher, could write a book. So they started this stellar series just to prove they could write it with no intention of ever publishing it. When they finished they let a friend of their who was actually a writer read their work and he passed it on to his agent even though they hadn't actually given it to him for that reason, and the rest is pretty much history. So basically one of my favorite YA series actually started out as a lark just to prove their kids wrong. I just thought that was really cool. Stohl also got some major cool points with my sons when she talked about how she began in the video game industry, so even though she's a girl they think she's cool too because she knows about video games.
Margaret Stohl is the author of Icons, the first book in the Icons Series as well as the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Los Angeles Times, Indie-Bound and Internationally bestselling co-author of the Beautiful Creatures novels (with Kami Garcia.)
Translated into 28 languages, the recent film version from Warner Brothers stars Emma Thompson, Jeremy Irons, and Alden Ehrenreich. Beautiful Creatures was an ALA William C. Morris YA Debut Award finalist in 2010, as well as a SCIBA award finalist, a NYPL Book for the Teen Age, and a YALSA Teen Top Ten Pick. Beautiful Creatures was named the #1 Teen Pick from Amazon in 2009, and the #5 Editors Pick overall.
A long time veteran of the video game industry, Stohl’s work includes Spiderman, Fantastic Four, The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow, and more. She is the co-founder of 7 Studios with her husband, Lewis Peterson. She has previously been nominated for “Most Innovative Game Design” at the Game Developers Conference. Margaret is on tour for her new book, Idols.
Find Margaret Stohl online at her Website, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon & Twitter.
Margaret Stohl & Brendan Reichs Signing
What I found extremely impressive about this signing wasn't just that we managed to get near the front of the line so we didn't have to wait that long, but that both authors paid attention to who had attended their panels and they remembered my kids probably because of all the questions my youngest and oldest asked them. Yes I was the mom of the children who announced to everyone there that they hadn't read their books yet. One of the more embarrassing moments of my day. Both authors were really good natured about my children's blunt honesty and were friendly and encouraging when we reached them in the signing line. They made a really great impression on all three of my kids and I'm truly grateful for that.
Basically engaging with these two authors was like every parent's dream for me. They got my kids attention, remembered them from panels and made them feel special. The two of them made my kids excited about reading. This event and those authors specifically are why I now spend a lot of my time searching the net to find signings and festivals we can actually attend as a family. They're the reason I started this blog in hopes of finding like minded people. They made my kids want to read and to go to every signing and festival they can find and there really aren't words to express how grateful I am for that. I've sent Brendan Reichs so many thank you messages he probably thinks I'm his stalker. Mr. Reichs if you happen to come across this blog, I promise the only thing I'm stalking is more signings and events the kids can attend.
Brendan Reichs has a bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University and a law degree from The George Washington University School of Law in Foggy Bottom. Upon graduating from law school, he returned to Charlotte, NC and worked for three years as a litigation attorney. He now co-writes The New York Times bestselling Virals series full-time, with his mother, Kathy Reichs.
This young adult series includes: Virals, Seizure, Code, and most currently, Exposure and follows Tory Brennan, niece of acclaimed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan of the Bones novels and hit TV show. Tory is the leader of a band of teenage “sci-philes” who live on a secluded island off the cost of South Carolina and are exposed to an experimental strain of canine parvovirus that changes their lives forever.
Find Brendan Reichs online at his Website, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon & Twitter.
Jen McConnel Signing
When we read the description for Daughter of Chaos both my daughter and I were really interested in reading it. So we put the signing on our personal schedules and both bought a copy of the book to have signed because of that. It was the only paperback book that I purchased at the event. Okay I should rephrase that, it was the only one I purchased for myself. I'm not really a fan of the paperback novel. If I can't get a hardcover I'd normally rather have an ebook. Unfortunately a digital signature is so not the same as a real one. This was also the only book that my daughter and I both picked at the festival which is why I bought it anyway. (Advice to any writers that happen upon this blog: release a hardcover copy. I'm not the only one who pretty much only buys hardcovers. I've had long discussions with people on twitter who feel the exact same way as I do.) To my kids a book is a book, but to me, the hardcover last longer and looks better on my bookshelf. If I'm just looking to read a story I own two ereaders that will suffice if it's not in hardcover.
While I'm still not a fan of paperback, I don't regret my purchase. I've since read the book and really enjoyed it. I'd definitely recommend it, but still wish it came in hardcover.
Jen McConnel first began writing poetry as a child. A Michigander by birth, she now lives and writes in the beautiful state of North Carolina. A graduate of Western Michigan University, she also holds a MS in Library Science from Clarion University of Pennsylvania.
When she isn't crafting worlds of fiction, she teaches college writing composition and yoga. Once upon a time, she was a middle school teacher, a librarian, and a bookseller, but those are stories for another time.
Her fiction titles include Daughter of Chaos (YA), The Secret of Isobel Key (New Adult), and the recently released sequel, Her Secret Inheritance, as well as Goddess Spells for Busy Girls, a non-fiction title.
Find Jen McConnel online at her Website, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon & Twitter.
Maggie Stiefvater @ Hanesbrands Theatre
What's wonderful about listening to Maggie Stiefvater is seeing someone who dreamed big and basically accomplished her entire bucket list. What a great role model. She also said something great about these fields that are often filled with rejection and heartache that I found inspiring. Again don't quote exact wording, but the just of what she said was that when someone rejects you they aren't saying no, you're not capable of doing this, they're saying not yet. You're not ready yet, or you're not there yet. She talked about different rejections she received and how she eventually accomplished each of her goals. It was really just a wonderful presentation that my whole family enjoyed. She was also really good natured about how most of us, myself included, mangled the pronunciation of her last name. I got to the point where instead of making a fool of myself screwing it up when I was speaking about her I called her Maggie who wrote the Shiver trilogy. If we ever get the chance to see her again I swear I'm going to practice saying that last name until I get it right and therefore stop looking like an idiot.
Maggie Stiefvater is an artist, musician, and the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the young adult novels Shiver, Linger, and Forever. Her books in the Shiver trilogy have been hailed by Publishers Weekly as “lyrical tale[s],” and by BookPage as “beautifully written and a perfect indulgence for readers of all ages.” There are 1.7 million copies of the trilogy in print, and since publication, rights to more than 36 foreign editions have been licensed.
Her novel, The Scorpio Races, was named a Michael L. Printz Honor Book by the American Library Association and was named to Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, The Horn Book and Kirkus best of the year lists. Publishers Weekly selected The Raven Boys as a best book of the year in 2012.
Stiefvater’s new book, Sinner, follows Cole St. Clair, a pivotal character from the Shiver trilogy. Readers of the Shiver trilogy think they know Cole’s story. Stardom. Addiction. Downfall. Disappearance. But only a few people know Cole’s darkest secret – his ability to shift into a wolf. One of these people is Isabel. At one point, they may have even loved each other. But that feels like a lifetime ago. Now Cole is back. Back in the spotlight. Back in the danger zone. Back in Isabel’s life. Can this sinner be saved?
Find Maggie Stiefvater online at her Website, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon & Twitter.
Maggie Stiefvater Signing
Maggie Steifvater was one of the few authors that did two signings, one before and one after her presentation. The ones before are when I still had a real camera and you can tell the difference in the quality. The batteries in said camera died during the first signing. I had a few more of her but a few I deleted because I caught her daughter in the shot and considering how I feel about other people taking photos of my children, it didn't feel right to keep a photo with her child in it. It would be different if I knew the woman personally, but I'm just a fan and don't need to be keeping photos of her kids. I did however think it was kind of cool that she brought her daughter along to see her in action even if I didn't keep any photos of her.
We also took a couple with her and my children where you can actually see their faces, but I'm not posting those because of the kidnappers, who are probably all in my head, that I fear will run away with my kids. We had photos of the kids with a few different authors throughout the day that I haven't shared here for the same reasons. Yes you can see the backs of their heads in a lot of these photos, but it's not the same in my opinion. Everyone has their quirks, this is one of mine. I actually keep my Facebook page as private as the settings allow me to because of this fear.
Anyway back to the signing, I managed to talk to Maggie Stiefvater a bit on Facebook prior to the Festival because never having gone to something like this before, I wanted to know if I could bring The Shiver Trilogy that I already owned and what titles they would have at the festival for purchase. I asked this because my youngest who was only allowed to pick two books since he's not much of a reader, wanted her title from The Spirit Animals series and because she's really great about responding to comments on her Facebook page I learned that title would probably not be at the Festival and was able to go pick it up from Barnes and Noble the night before. She was actually correct in that it wasn't there so if we hadn't made that night before bookstore trip he wouldn't have been able to get that book. I'm seriously appreciative of that. What was really neat about when he got to meet her at the signing is she drew a lemur in his book when she signed it. It was impressive how fast she drew and it really made his day.
She was also really great about signing a lot of stuff. My youngest had Spirit Animals, my daughter who got more books not only because she reads but also because we went for her birthday activity had The Raven Boys and a Festival T-shirt she was collecting signatures on and I brought the Shiver Trilogy and bought Sinner at the Festival. She signed all of them without complaint which was kind of awesome because we were asking a bit much by bringing so many items. She then signed a book sleeve for Sinner that she'd drawn for each of my children even though my middle child didn't have one of her books. And she didn't say that I was weird when I admitted I'd read all that was out at the time of the Raven Boys series but didn't have the physical books, but hadn't read the Shiver Trilogy yet even though I'd clearly had the books for a while. I meant to, they're in my TBR pile, I just haven't gotten around to reading them yet and I'm super addicted to The Raven Boys series. I would have probably bought that too, but the only copies of that the Festival offered were paperback and you've heard my feelings on paperbacks.
Emily Giffen Signing
Emily Giffin, a Chicago native, graduated from Wake Forest University and the University of Virginia School of Law. After law school, she moved to Manhattan and wrote a novel while practicing litigation. Despite the rejection of her first manuscript, Giffin dreamed of becoming a writer and retired from the legal profession in order to pursue her dreams. She moved to London and it was there that she wrote Something Borrowed, which landed her an agent and a two-book deal on both sides of the Atlantic.
Giffin has since penned five more New York Times bestsellers, including: Something Blue, Baby Proof, Love the One You're With, Heart of the Matter, and Where We Belong. Her books have been translated into twenty-nine languages, with eleven million copies in print worldwide. Five of her novels have been optioned for the big screen and are in various stages of development. Something Borrowed hit theaters in 2011 starring Kate Hudson and John Krasinski.
Giffin's new novel, The One & Only, debuted on the New York Times bestseller list in May 2014, and is a story about finding your passion, following your heart, and, most of all, believing in something bigger than yourself.
Find Emily Giffin online at her Website, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon & Twitter.
With a family of five we just couldn't afford to get a copy of every author's book for every person in our family so our agreement was that Kennedy could get a Festival shirt to have signed and could get a book from each of the authors we were planning to go see (and we caved and bought two more from authors we saw in the booths when we first got there.) I actually had some better photos of the authors in the booths, but again they were pictures of the writers with my children so I haven't posted them. These are a few of the writers my daughter hit up for a signature on her t-shirt and I'm really grateful that they agreed to sign her shirt even though she didn't buy a book from most of them. My boys who only after this event took any sort of interest in reading each got two books. My husband who actually reads only bought one because he very seldom picks up an actual book, I got him reading by introducing it on a ereader and that's where he prefers to do his reading. Considering we spent pretty much an entire week's pay at the Festival I'd like to think we contributed a little bit to the literary world, even though we couldn't buy from every author there. I don't really have a whole lot to say about each of these authors because my interaction was mostly following my daughter around and taking pictures. I didn't really get the opportunity to actually talk to them.
As a former children's book editor, Megan E. Bryant edited 325 books and learned the inner workings of the publishing industry. The author of over 200 books, Bryant's most recent books include a series on early learning concepts featuring dinosaurs and a new historical fiction series for ages 8-12 published under the pseudonym Adele Whitby.
Find Megan E. Bryant online at her Website, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon & Twitter.
James Grymes is an internationally respected musicologist, a critically acclaimed author, and a dynamic speaker who has addressed audiences at settings ranging from prestigious academic conferences to significant public venues such as Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and Merkin Concert Hall in New York City. Dr. Grymes has also been featured in The New York Times, on ABC News and CNN.
With the publication of Ernst von Donhányi: A Bio-Bibliography, Grymes became known as a leading authority on the Hungarian musician Ernst von Dohnányi (1877-1960), a forgotten hero of the Holocaust resistance who was later falsely accused of Nazi war crimes. He has been published in a variety of scholarly journals and other publications in English, French, German, and Hungarian.
His new book is Violins of Hope: Violins of the Holocaust—Instruments of Hope and Liberation in Mankind’s Darkest Hour. A stirring testament to the strength of the human spirit and the power of music, Violins of Hope tells the remarkable stories of violins played by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust, and the Israeli violin maker who lost 400 members of his own family and dedicated the past 20 years to bringing these inspirational instruments back to life as a tribute to those who were lost.
Najla Said (born 1974, Boston, Massachusetts, United States) is an American author, actor, playwright, and activist. Through her literary and academic work, Said has confronted racism, stereotyping, social and economic inequality, and among others, the specific challenges that face immigrant and second-generation Americans.
Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 13 novels. She began her career as an assistant to the General Editor for Encyclopedia Britannica, and after an extended trip to Japan, she was awarded a fellowship and earned her master's degree in Asian Studies. She became bilingual in Japanese and helped establish a government-funded ESL program for Southeast Asian refugees. Her books have received numerous awards, including the Award for Writing from the South Carolina Center for the Book and the International Fiction Award for Green Fiction.
Known for her intimate portrayals of women's lives, her writing has gained added purpose and depth with her move to the lowcountry of South Carolina. An active conservationist and environmentalist, she draws themes for her novels from nature and its parallels with human nature, thus drawing attention to various endangered species and the human connection to the natural world. The Lowcountry Summer trilogy is her newest endeavor. The Summer Wind, released summer 2014, is a poignant and heartwarming story of three half-sisters and their grandmother, who is determined to help them rediscover their southern roots and family bonds.
Krystal Wade is happily married to the love of her life (don’t gag) and raising three beautiful children in the gorgeous state of Virginia. They live just outside Washington, D.C., and every day she wakes up to find herself stuck in traffic trying to get there.
The horrid commute gives Krystal plenty of time to zone out and think about her characters in full, brilliant details (she’s a safe driver; don’t worry). Stories give her a way to forget about the sometimes smelly strangers sitting next to her on the fifty mile trek into town (she picks up hitchhikers every day. True story. Check out www.slug-lines.com if you don’t believe us).
Krystal has been a part of organized hitchhiking for nearly fifteen years, but that’s just one small aspect of her oh-so-large life. When she’s not working, commuting, or chasing after her three children (four if you count the man), you can usually find Krystal outside talking to her chickens like they’re the cutest things in the world (they are), or training her amazing dogs how to herd said chickens (which they love), or curled up on the sofa with a good book (why can’t that be 100% of the time?).
Elsie Elmore lives in North Carolina with her husband and two kids.
With a science education degree from NCSU, she never imagined she would someday write stories that challenge the laws of nature. She loves the color red, has an appreciation for chocolate and coffee that borders on obsession, and wishes fall temperatures would linger year round.
Elsie is a member of several writing organizations: RWA, SCBWI, and WSW. The Undead : Playing for Keeps is her debut novel.
A graduate of North Carolina State University, Ryan has been a film critic for over five years. He lives in Raleigh, NC, with his dog/shadow Maggie.
Ryan also feels strange about referring to himself in the third person.
Find Ryan Hill online at his Website, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon & Twitter.
I put Ryan Hill's bio before my final paragraph because I feel guilty that the only photos I took of him were with my youngest son. We did meet him and I did take photos but we'd only just arrived and I didn't at the time plan on making a blog so I didn't think to take pictures of the booth he shared with Krystal Wade & Elsie Elmore or any of that. Looking back I wish I had, but you know what they say hindsight is 20/20 right?
While we didn't manage to purchase a book from every author as you can see between the many members of my family we bought a lot of books. Though in my defense three of the ones signed for me I already owned. If my boys continue their interest in reading when we attend again next year I'll let them get more books. My daughter has already told me she wants to celebrate all of her birthday at this Festival so we'll definitely be back next September.
Like I said at the beginning of this post we had a really wonderful time and if it weren't for this festival my search for signing and thus this blog would never have been started. If you attended the event and have photos you'd like to share here please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the photos. If you have stories to share about the day I'd love to hear them in the comments sections. And if you know of other great Bookish Events in the Area either email me with the info or add them to the calendar on the Upcoming Events Page.
Hopefully you enjoyed this really long and time consuming to write post. My hopes are that this will be the beginning of a beautiful blog together.