Monday, September 8, 2014

Kerrytown Bookfest 2014


The Kerrytown Bookfest of 2012 was my first off-site event for Crazy Wisdom. It was also our first time participating. Two years later, we were a major sponsor and we had to have two of us there, one to woman the booth, and me to hang out at the author signing tent outside the Kerrytown Concert House. I did hang out at the booth for a bit, too, since I was assigned the first panel of the day and the last at the Concert House, and neither of the panels in-between. 

Kerrytown is a fantastic book festival. People come from all over to sell, buy, and - very importantly - network. There is a saying in Michigan that goes "If you want it to rain, have a street fair." One day only from 11am to 5pm in early September, this fest always enjoys good weather (last year was windy, and the year before that was a tad chilly, but it hasn't rained since I started). This year, I think, was the best turn-out yet, and some thanks, at least, is owed to the mild temps and sunny skies. I, however, was in the sun pretty much the entire day (yeah, there was a tent, but I certainly wasn't under it), and I came away with the back of my neck sunburned. 

I was really pleased by my first panel, though I wish I had been inside and not outside so I could have listened to it. The title was "The Art of the Short Story," and I figured it would be relevant to me, a published short story writer. I talked with all of the authors before and after, and it was great. I especially enjoyed talking with John Smolens and Kodi Scheer

John is just a great guy, full of life and down to earth. He lives in Marquette, a beautiful city in the UP. (that's Michigan's Upper Peninsula for you out-of-staters). A few of his books take place in the UP while others take place in Boston and other regions. He writes all kinds of stories from thrillers to historical fiction. I always have respect for a writer who writes whatever pleases him. I do the same! 

Crazy Wisdom's manager Rachel is in love with Marquette and happened to pick up John's book Anarchist from Snowbound on her last trip there. She bought the book because she wanted to read it, and only later realized not only that the author lived in Marquette, but he was going to be at the Kerrytown Bookfest and would be signing at our table. She ended up buying more of John's books that he brought with him for us to sell, and they talked about their favorite bookstore Snowbound and the general Marquette region. And this is how cool a guy John is: he gave Rachel his contact info so that the next time she and her husband were in the region, they could all get together. 

Kodi Scheer currently serves as writer-in-residence for the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. And she's really fun to talk to. She called herself one of the black sheep of her MFA program who delighted in writing off-beat fiction that borders on the irreal. So far, I have just read the first story, "Fundamental Laws of Nature," of her collection of stories Incendiary Girls. I knew the book was for me from the first line: "Ellen is convinced her daughter's lesson horse is the reincarnation of her mother." In Kodi's own words, "It just gets weirder from there." Yes! I enjoyed chatting with Kodi about writing workshops, getting published, all that goes into just picking the cover of the book, and so on. I look forward to finishing Incendiary Girls and any future works.

The woman next to our booth in the market was an independent author there to sell and promote her book. She had an awesomely positive attitude and we talked about looking for agents, finding places to get stories published, and how books are assembled. She did everything on her book from the cover art (which looked more professional than a lot of main stream publications) to layout to publication. She said that she's had a lot of success and if I ever wanted any advice or help doing my own book to get in touch with her. I thought that was pretty generous! I don't have her info on me right, so I can't share it. It's at work. I gave her our info, too, and I hope she stops by with some books and an invoice soon so we can carry it for her in the store.

Speaking of books selling in the store, Valves & Vixens, the steampunk anthology in which my short story "The Waiting Future" is published, has now sold three times! And I only put it out a month ago. That's great for a small publisher in a niche genre, and especially for a collection of short stories which, for whatever reason, don't sell well. I think Valves & Vixens has sold more copies than Joyce Carol Oates' Black Dahlia & White Rose

After the Kerrytown Bookfest, I was really geared up to get some revision work done on one of my novellas that I've had sitting around for the past XX years. Alas, my body gave out on me. A whole day in the sun, being on my feet, and all the activity caught up to me, and I ended up on the couch watching the latest episode of Sailor Moon Crystal before luxuriating in a long, hot shower. 

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