We have not yet come down from our experience with the Southern Festival of Books, 2014. What an incredible honor to have been included in such a wonderfully planned, celebrated, and well-attended event. Rain? Yes, there was plenty of that, but my take-away lesson as a rookie SFB2014 author is that true book fans aren’t afraid of a little cloud water.
Parnassus Books was the on site book retailer for featured Festival books, and we felt a swell of pride when a stack of Otis books was placed in the middle of them all. And of course, Parnassus played their part with all the professionalism, elegance and class for which they are known and loved.
Saturday morning, October 11, my little tight-knit family boarded the Bramlett-mobile, hung out the windows with paddles, and rowed together into Nashville’s downtown. War Memorial Plaza was a marble and granite-floored sea of bustling excitement and umbrella polka dots, sailing from one book-loving tent to another. I had already discussed with my supportive family the possibility of low attendance, by reason of the weather and the busy weekend. Delightfully, I could not have been more wrong!
At 1pm, my scheduled time to present Otis Goes to School, the children’s tent was packed (standing-room-only-PACKED) with little eyes of wonderment and hearts a-flutter with sightings of a real, live, fluffy black dog, making his SFB2014 debut. We shared the story of Otis and how his book came to be. We read a few chapters for all my new whippersnapper friends, talked about descriptive words and story-telling, handed out bookmarks, and then Otis did his thing with his new stage-induced howl and his charming willingness to sit and be petted and loved on and oooohed and ahhhhhed over. Tough job he has!
We went on to sign books, meet new fans, take pictures, and just flat out enjoyed our day. Landmark Booksellers, the first bookstore to host a book signing for me (eternally grateful!), was there with treasured antique books and a wealth of knowledge. And we made a great connection with the super cool book experts from McKay’s Bookstore, including plans for an upcoming Otis event!
I also had the high honor of signing books right next to Southern writer, Rick Bragg, author of Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story (Harper Collins Publishers)… and wouldn’t you know, he loved Otis and took his picture with him too!
As if we had not yet reached enough stars for the day, we then crossed paths with Pete the Cat (also Harper Collins)! Children’s literature brings folks and animals of all kinds together. That was one awesome feline.
Hey Harper Collins: I’m seeing a pattern… maybe we should chat!
My biggest fans, who will go with me anywhere, are my husband and three children.
Rain or shine, sun or snow, they share their love wherever we go.
I am so thankful to have their inspiration, for their heart-generated support, and for their encouragement to keep reaching, keep writing, keep going. This is a family adventure, this call to write, because it affects each one of us. I appreciate and love all of you–my Robert, my Paul Kent, my Ella, and my little Preston–beyond any string of words I could ever hope to weave.
Thank you to the Southern Festival of Books, Humanities Tennessee, Parnassus Books, and all the many generous sponsors and donors, for a truly amazing event. The hospitality was top-notch, the swag was perfect, the organization was flawless, and the fans were devoted! For me, it will forever be one of those career moments that shines with a special brightness… and I hope it’s the first in a long line of moments together. SFB2015? I definitely want to be there.
And for those of you who know us well, and noticed that our schipperke, Oxford, was not in the photos… he’s the only one who stayed home for SFB2014. What was he doing? Conjuring up ideas for the sequel. After all, The Oxford Files, is in the works. Maybe SFB2015 will be his year…