Thursday, June 7, 2012

 Armchair BEA, Day 3:  Networking

First, I must apologize for being a day late on this posting.  My excuse is that I was gone all day spoiling my grandchildren, another passion of mine.  The topic for day 3 was networking, how we are "involved offline and in real life, establishing connections with local bookstores or libraries or even beyond."  It also includes "partnerships with the local literary scene, attending author events and signings, or getting together with blogger in your area."  I was afraid that I wouldn't have much to say on this topic, as I haven't tried to connect my blog to places or events outside of the Internet, but then I started thinking about what bookish things I do outside of my online involvement and how I might even start to connect blogging with those events.  I can only thank Armchair BEA for broadening my horizons and encouraging such thinking (one of the main reasons I wanted to do Armchair BEA).

For quite a few years now, I have attended author signings when possible and one particular book festival.  Author signings, which include the opportunity to hear the author speak and meet said author, are always so much fun and are such a powerful connector to that particular author and his/her works.  It definitely makes reading "real."  Some of the authors whom I have been privileged to meet in this way include Diana Gabaldon, Sena Jeter Naslund, Tess Gerritsen, Azar Nafisi, and Silas House.  An author signing is such an intimate affair, even when heavily attended.  I still seem to be dazzled by the down-to-earthiness of each author, the awareness that this wonderfully talented person actually exits on the same planet as I do.  The events lend themselves to some memorable experiences outside of meeting the author, too.  I will someday soon share the harrowing experience of my friend and I as we tried to get back to the lovely Shakertown Inn after the awesomeness of Diana Gabaldon, creator of our dreamy Scottish lad named Jamie.  It literally was a dark and stormy night!  I'm thinking that perhaps I can make some connections with these authors to my blog in the future.

Book festivals are the epitome of a book lover's lust realized.  All that talent, all those books!  I am drooling just remembering.  The largest such gathering I've attended is The National Book Festival held in Washington, D.C. every September.  It's been a few years since I had the adventure of a lifetime there (well, actually 2, as I attended two different years), but it was the stuff dreams (for book lovers anyway) are made of.  There is much standing in line at this event, but we bookies don't mind, as we can always read a book or talk to a fellow book lover.  A few of the wonderful authors that I met at this fantastic festival were Neil Gaiman (been there, done that, and have the picture to prove it), Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Peck, Katherine Patterson, Floyd Cooper, and Kate DiCamilo.  My greatest regret about the 2004 festival is that Connie Willis was there, and I didn't start reading and falling in love with her writing until later.

A more local book festival that I attend every year is the Southern Kentucky Book Festival (SOKY) held in April in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  As it is a smaller gathering than the National Book Festival, it is more the atmosphere of the intimate book signings.  I get so excited when I think about past festivals and authors I've met, that my mind flies ahead of my fingers on the keys.  There are so many of my favorite authors that I've been able to hear speak and converse with at this festival, and all of it within an hour of my house.  The authors that have particularly been special to me at SOKY are Kathleen Kent (spent an evening talking to this beautiful, articulate, talented lady), Pat Conroy, Harlan Coben, Scot Turow,  Deana Raybourn, Carl Hiassen, and Ellen Hopkins.  I just know I've left someone wonderful out of this list.  Will kick myself later.  What has amazed me as I hear authors speak is that they are as interesting in person as on paper, and they seem to have a sense of humor about themselves and their works, not a sense of entitlement.  My ole gray matter has been mulling over a book bloggers' connection to the SOKY for next year.  Hmm, turn wheels, turn!

So, while I don't consider myself to really network outside of my blog, I actually do, but I must now make an effort to connect the off-line with the online.  Of course, with all the experienced bloggers and networkers I'm being exposed to here on Armchair BEA, that process should be easier than before I landed here among their wisdom.    


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