Friday, October 17, 2014

The Collingswood Book Festival 2014

On Saturday October 11th, one of my favorite events of the year took place, The Collingswood Book Festival. 

Although I had a nice book buying budget (I save my loose quarters and cash them in for book buying money), I planned on going conservative this year, after all, I have books from last year's festival that are still on my to -be- read pile, but as the poet Robert Burns says, "The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men..." 

     If last year we felt like wilting daises in the heat, this year we felt like water lilies.  

The day had a rainy beginning 

so the festival was relocated from outdoors on Haddon Ave. to the Collingswood high school and middle school.

 Although the venue didn't provide exactly the same cool vibe as its usual street festival atmosphere, the organizers did a great job creating a fantastic indoor event.

My first task of the day was to find The South Jersey Writers' group table. I signed up to work at the table from 10am-11am.  Authors and vendors were spread throughout two buildings in a maze of rooms and hallways. It was quite an adventure.  I went here, I went there, thank goodness I found Jessica who is also in the group. She helped me figure out where we needed to be.

This event marked the debut of The South Jersey Writers' group new anthology, Reading Glasses, published by Hypothetical Press.

Jessica is one of the Reading Glasses editors

The group had lots of fun at the festival.

Photo by Mieke Zamora-Mackay

After eleven o'clock, I went on a festival walk about.

Oh look, I just finished the first book in The Lunar Chronicles, Cinder, and here is the second book in the series, Scarlet.

Book count: 1

Though I didn't have my usual list of used books to look for, I could not resist the thrill of the hunt.

I am so happy I didn't see this book last year when I was planning my Nanowrimo novel. I'm also happy I changed my novel's title.

Since I didn't want to miss the two YA author panels, I had to cut my book hunting time short.  I did manage to find two books, each recommended by a friend, to add to my every growing pile.

Book Count: 3

The YA author panel room was a little tricky to find.  I definitely missed the normal outdoor tent. The room gave me high school flashbacks.  

The first panel was titled Fantasy and Mythology in YA fiction.  It included authors Tom Tancin, Diane Salerni, Kit Grindstaff, Ellen Jensen Abbott, and, Charlotte Bernardo.

It was an interesting panel filled with a variety of topics that spanned romance, gender, negotiating with editors, and building relationships between characters.  I was a little disappointed at the lack of young writers attending the panels.  If I could have absorbed all of this great writing wisdom at 16 instead of at 36, maybe I'd be a little further along in my writing journey.  The young lady who was sitting next to me was quite impressive however. She asked intelligent questions and seemed enthusiastic about being a writer. At the end of the panel I tried recruiting her for our writers' group. I hope to see her signing her books at the festival someday. 

Photo by Beverly Michaels

I was excited to see Ellen Jensen Abbott at the festival. I won the first book, Watersmeet,in her trilogy back in December. I loved the book.  It has a strong teenage female character, considers deep questions, and explores complex relationships. I'd been holding out on getting the next two books because I was hoping she would be at the festival.

Book Count: 5

I have seen Kit Grindstaff at other panels. The cover of her book mixed with the explanation of her story, The Flame in the Mist, piqued my interest the very first time I saw her.  It seemed like it was finally time to add the book to my shelf.

Book Count: 6

The second YA panel was a Developing Characters in Realistic Fiction discussion. The authors included Elisa Ludwig, Tiffany Schmidt, Timothy Tocher, Yvonne Ventresca, Pamela Tuck, Alissa Grosso, and Margaret Gurevich.  The topics for this panel included finding story ideas, creating realistic settings, and plot research. I especially enjoyed Elisa talking about the research she had to do to find out how to rob the Philadelphia mint, for her story of course (Coin Heist). 

I am more of a fantasy, science fiction or dystopian fiction reader, but I'm always open to reading outside my genre of choice. I think you can learn something from just about anything you read. I knew I wanted to purchase a book from this group of authors so I chose Making the Cut, the first book in the Chloe by Design series by Margaret Gurevich.  It's pretty different from my usual book of choice.  I 'm about halfway through already.  It's about a teenage girl who is trying out to be a contestant on a Project Runway type show for teens.  The design of the book is beautiful, and I'm learning a lot about fashion. I may have actually spent this past week watching Project Runway, a show I have never watched before, because I wanted to have more of a reference for the book. I think this book is rubbing off on me in more ways than one.  I wore an outfit to work this week and someone complemented me on my "style." 

Book Count: 7

After the panels I took one more stroll before the festival wrapped up.

Puppet Show

These smiling, energetic guys, Joel Franke and Zach Rodis, were hard to miss. I decided to check out their kids' picture book, Snow Pirates. It's the kind of story that I have always loved since I was a kid, where things start out simple and escalate into craziness. The book has a great instructional section at the end that teaches you how to make different styles of newspaper pirate hats.

Book Count: 8

As I was walking back to the writers' group table to see if I could help pack up, I passed a book, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library, that has been on my books-to-read list.  Seeing the colorful cover in person made me want to read it even more, so I made one last purchase.

Book Count: 9

Although I'm sure a few book festival attendees and a couple of authors opted to stay home under cozy blankets with a cup a tea, in spite of the weather, the festival was well attended, and although the venue wasn't quite as cool as it normally is, it still ended up being a success.

My total book count: 9  

In the end, I thought under 10 books was pretty good, for me. We'll say I kept it semi-conservative this year.  Now if I could only get a few weeks off  of work so that I could read all of them as soon as possible.

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