Calling All National Book Festival 2010 Attendees!

If you’re planning on attending the National Book Festival in Washington, DC on September 25, 2010, this post is for you!  Last year, we all got together for dinner after the Festival, and it was a great chance to get to know each other.  Additionally, there were a lot of random meet-ups during the day.  It makes things easier if we have one document with everyone’s contact information in one place, and that brings me to the point of this post.

I’ve created a contact information form for anyone that will be attending the NBF this year.  On Sunday, September 19, I’ll close out the form and distribute the spreadsheet to everyone who is attending – that way, if we need to get in touch with one another, it will be simple!

A note on the dinner question:  I included a “maybe” option, but please answer yes or no if at all possible.  I’m going to be making a dinner reservation based on these numbers on Monday, September 20.  Dinner will be at the same location as last year, Elephant & Castle, which is a pub-style restaurant a few blocks off the National Mall.

This form is now closed. If you’re attending the NBF 2010 and haven’t filled out the form, please email me.

Richmond Book and Author Dinner 2010

Last Tuesday, I headed down to Richmond, VA to go to the Junior League of Richmond Book and Author Dinner with Rebecca from The Book Lady’s Blog and Michelle from Galleysmith.  It was a wonderful, bookish night and a great break from the stresses of life!  I’m telling you, if you need a good laugh, Rebecca and Michelle are the two women you need to be hanging out with.  I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much!

We met up before the event for a quick drink at a bar.  It was fun to catch up and talk about BEA and such, though I have to say that the highlight was when the waiter brought us fresh drinks that we hadn’t ordered.  When we looked at him quizzically, he informed us that the man behind us had bought us drinks.  He was directly behind me, so I couldn’t see him, so Rebecca leaned over to see who he was.  He took that as his cue to come over, and it turns out he was about 60 years old and balding.  We made a little conversation with him, but eventually he wandered away, and we proceeded to crack up laughing.  We were all dressed up for the event, but it was definitely sketchy!

After that hilarity, we proceeded to the Richmond convention center, where the event took place.  We mingled and socialized and got to meet some of Rebecca’s bookish friends which was great!  Then we took our seats and dinner was served, after which the program started.

 

 

First up was Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone, who was the person I really wanted to see.  He spoke beautifully and eloquently, and I think every woman in the audience was a little in love with him by the time he finished.  His talk reinforced my resolve to read his memoir as soon as possible.  Verghese is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors, and that’s saying something since I’ve only read one of his books.

Next up was Sarah Blake, author of The Postmistress.  Rebecca and I were lucky enough to see her a month ago, and it was interesting to see the differences in what she talked about.  Granted, she spoke for longer at the dinner, but she emphasized the importance of not delivering a letter much less in this speech than she had previously.  If you’ve read the book, you’ve probably encountered the fact that the event that frames the story and is hyped is not really what the book is about.  Rebecca and I both wondered if she was responding to that criticism by moving away from talking about the letter.

Still, though, I maintain I would listen to that woman read a phone book, she has such a beautiful and soothing voice.  If she decides to stop writing, she always has career potential in audiobook narration!

Dean King was next, author of Unbound: A True Story of War, Love, and Survival.  He chronicles the story of 30 women who marched 4,000 miles when the Chinese Communist Army fled from Nationalist soldiers in 1934.  His book sounds beautiful, but harrowing and very difficult to read.  Rebecca bought a copy, and I think I’ll wait for her review before I pick it up, as while it sounds very interesting, it also sounds depressing.

After him came Phyllis Theroux, author of the memoir The Journal Keeper.  While I’d never heard of her before this dinner, she really made me want to read her book because she was absolutely hilarious!  I couldn’t get over how funny she was, she really had the audience in stitches.  I do wonder if her sense of humor will translate to the page, but I want to read her memoir anyways.

Then came Sam Beall, author of The Blackberry Farm Cookbook.  It’s supposedly a mixture of a cookbook and a chronicle of life at Blackberry Farm.  Apparently they have a hotel on site, and you can stay there for about $600 a night.  In light of this revelation, his talk made sense, as I felt vaguely like I was sitting through a time-share pitch during his talk.  He talked about the wonders of the farm and how people should really come visit.  Following Phyllis Theroux did not turn out well for him, as he was a bit stilted and wasn’t nearly as genial as she was.  I have to say I didn’t really care for his talk, and was glad when it was over! 

Finally, the night ended with Noah Boyd, author of The Bricklayer.  His story about how he came to write books was certainly interesting and was a good close to the night.  Additionally, a friend of Rebecca’s read his book and said it was very good, so I’m definitely going to give it a try at some point!

After the dinner was over, we decided to stand in Abraham Verghese’s autographing line, even though none of us had a book to get signed!  His book was big and wouldn’t fit in my purse, so I decided not to bring it, and Rebecca made the same decision.  But we wanted to meet him and play fangirls, so we stood in his line.

He was just as wonderful as he seemed.  We got the chance to chat with him a little and express our love for his book, and when Rebecca and I gave him our blog names, he recognized them and knew both of us from Twitter.  He was sweet and kind, and was nice enough to take a picture with the three of us!

So there you go, that was our wonderful bookish night!  I wanted to write a detailed account, as I likely won’t be able to do the same for BEA.

Author Event: Sarah Blake

On Sunday, Rebecca of The Book Lady’s Blog and I had a somewhat impromptu get-together in Washington, DC.  Rebecca came over around 2 PM, and we went to Busboys and Poets in Arlington, VA.  Busboys and Poets is a bookstore and restaurant.  I’d never actually been, but had always wanted to go, and going with Rebecca seemed to be the perfect opportunity!  If you ever have a chance to visit, we’d both highly recommend it as the food and atmosphere are both excellent.

After lunch, we headed out to Politics & Prose Bookstore in order to see Sarah Blake, author of The Postmistress.  We got there about an hour before the event, so we were able to scope out front-row seats.  We left our bags on our seats while we browsed the bookstore, and of course, we each found books we wanted to buy (of course – are you really surprised?).  We managed to limit ourselves to two books each though, quite an impressive feat I think!  I came away with Travels in a Thin Country by Sara Wheeler and The Lost City of Z by David Grann.

We took our seats, and the event started.  First, there was an introduction by the general manager of the store, and then Sarah herself took the podium.  She read from the book for about 20 minutes and then took questions from the audience.  Now, I’ll admit, normally author readings are not my thing, but Sarah Blake really blew me away.  She put so much emotion into her reading and really breathed life into her characters.  It was clear she knew each of them, their personalities, their quirks, intimately.  I was riveted the whole time and it made me want to pick up the book immediately and devour it.  (I haven’t read it yet because it’s my book club’s pick for April and I want to wait until at least close to the meeting before reading it.)

 

The Q&A was interesting as well, and then we got in line to get our books signed.  At that point, Gayle from Everyday I Write the Book came up to us and introduced herself.  (Apparently, I very much look like my picture on the site/Twitter avatar in real life!). 

We had the chance to chat a little bit, and then Rebecca and I got up to the table to have our books signed.  We got a chance to talk to Sarah a little, asking her how it is to work with Amy Einhorn (since we’re both huge fans).  She said Amy is absolutely amazing (which of course, we expected, but loved to have our suspicions validated.)We also asked if having a blurb from Kathryn Stockett on the front cover of the novel made her feel any kind of pressure.  She said it absolutely did, which isn’t surprising! 

All in all, it was a wonderful day, and I certainly hope to do it again soon!

Read Rebecca’s post about the day – she does it with a lot more snark!

National Book Festival 2009

The National Book Festival is an event that takes place every year on the National Mall in Washington, DC.  This year, the National Book Festival was held on September 26, 2009.

The festival didn’t start until 10:00 AM, but I arrived at 9:15 AM in order to get a seat in the Fiction tent.  First up was John Grisham (below).  I haven’t read any of his books in years, but I really enjoyed listening to him speak.  He was funny, engaging, and surprisingly humble for being such a bestselling author!

After John Grisham, Deborah joined me in the Fiction tent, and together we watched Jodi Picoult (below).  I haven’t actually read any of Jodi’s books, but I’ve heard they are tearjerkers and WOW – I can completely believe it. Just her discussion of the research for her latest book brought tears to my eyes.  She was really interesting and her talk definitely made me want to read her books.

Next, Deborah and I ran to the Teens/Childrens tent where we were able to see Paula Deen and her husband (below).  She was supposed to be talking about her children’s cookbook, but instead she just told funny stories and anecdotes.  My personal favorite was when she removed one of her hair extensions (presumably to make her hair look fuller) and attached it to her husband’s hair and styled it as a comb-over.  It was absolutely hilarious – she was a lot of fun to see!

After that, we stuck around in the Teens tent to see Shannon Hale (below).  My favorite part of her talk was when she brought out a laminated roll of rejection letters and rolled them out across the stage.  She had a great sense of humor.

We grabbed some lunch at that point, and then headed back to the Fiction tent, where Julia Alvarez was speaking.  I haven’t read any of her books, but her talk really made me want to read them.

At that point, Deborah and I met up with Jennifer and Rebecca, who were nice enough to snag us seats in the Fiction tent.  We saw John Irving (below), who was simply amazing.  He talked a lot about the craft of writing.  One of my favorite things that he said was about novels being turned into movies – if you’re a writer, you shouldn’t feel like your novel is incomplete if it isn’t turned into a movie.  So true.

At this point, I actually really wanted to go see Azar Nafisi, but she was in a different tent, and it was pouring down rain.  Plus we had seats, so I decided to stick through Nicholas Sparks (below).  And wow. Was that an experience.  He was a bit…shall we say arrogant, at one point assuring the audience that if they had just stepped in to hide from the rain, he really was famous – he promised.  Additionally, he told us about meeting Miley Cyrus.  I was NOT impressed, though we found him hilarious, laughing at him rather than with him.  I don’t want to go on and on about him, but Rebecca’s post on the National Book Festival sums Nicholas Sparks up pretty well.

Finally, the last speaker of the day I saw was Junot Diaz (below).  His novel The Brief Wonderful Life of Oscar Wao won the Pulitzer Prize last year.  I haven’t read it yet but I will soon.  Diaz was simply brilliant.  He impressed me greatly, with his wit and his passion for the craft of writing.  I will read anything that man writes, and I haven’t even read a book by him yet.

We meandered a bit after that, eventually ending up at a restaurant in DC where we met up with a bunch of book bloggers!  The conversation was great – I only wish I had gotten to talk to everyone more!  I’ll just let the pictures below tell the story of the evening.

Rebecca (imitating her Twitter picture) and Amy

 
Rebecca and her friend Paul


Meg, Jill, and Teresa

 
Deborah and Michelle


(L to R)
Amy, Deborah
Michelle, Teresa, Cara, Trish
Nicole, Me

Carlos Ruiz Zafon – Author Signing!

I was lucky enough to attend a Carlos Ruiz Zafon author event on Saturday night at the DC bookstore Politics & Prose.  I was happy to see that the signing was full – it was standing room only and about half the bookstore was filled!  I was lucky enough to get a seat, but the […]

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National Book Festival 2008

Today was the 2008 National Book Festival, and because I live in the DC metro area, I was lucky enough to be able to attend, along with my husband. We arrived around 10:30 AM, and while there were plenty of people there, it wasn’t crowded so we got the chance to wander into all of […]

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