2014 Festival of Books

Last weekend I attended the 2014 Tucson Festival of Books. It was my second year, and the crowds had grown! I stood in line for an hour to attend several workshops and interviews with well-known authors. It took some of the fun out of the experience, to be honest. On the other hand, I did get a few autographs, heard six tremendous presentations and enjoyed just being in line with other writers and readers. We had lengthy discussions about genres, recommendations for books we had to read, and encouragement to keep trying, keep submitting…

If you haven’t attended be certain to drive down to Tucson next year. There were anywhere from 15-20 presentations per hour and it was difficult to narrow to one. In fact, I spent a full week prior to the festival just making those decisions. I learned quickly to have a back-up. When I got there the first day at 9:00 and they were already turning people away for the ten o’clock Sandra Day-O’Connor event, I figured that out!
In addition to presentations and interviews, there are a hundred or more tents and vendors set up including book stores with fantastic prices on both new and used books. It’s hard not to come home with a canvas bag so heavy you can barely carry it.

There’s tons of stuff for the kids and story book characters in costume roaming the grounds. And food, of course; lots of food.

As usual, as an aspiring writer, I came home feeling defeated and depressed as well as encouraged and determined. Funny how that happens. Alice Hoffman has written thirty books, was published at age 21, and was as down to earth and approachable as anyone I’ve ever met. She shared her process, her years of research; said “no” when asked if she’d write that particular book again, and we all laughed. If you’ve ever spent three years writing a novel, you clearly understand her answer.

It also became clearer (though I struggle with this constantly) that if you love to write, you simply write. It doesn’t matter if it’s ever published though writers always want to have their words read. But it’s the process, the research, the learning and the journey that make us sit down at the computer each day and “try.”

So after a hiatus from my novel revisions, my short stories and my blog, I’m getting back on the horse. I got inspired by Richard Russo, Nancy Horan, Luis Alberto Urrea and all the other speakers. It’s a fact that I am not 21 or even 51, so time is against me. But the last presenter I heard was a west coast agent who said, “send me your bio and synopsis”, and I intend to do just that. Oh, no, she wasn’t speaking directly to me, unfortunately. It was an invite to the entire class, but hey… you never know. When the publishing gods speak, you follow.

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