Thursday, October 11, 2007

Booking Through Thursday: Live And In Person

I said in August, when we talked about fan mail, that I planned on expanding that to live meetings when the time was right. Well, that time is now!

Have you ever met one of your favorite authors? Gotten their autograph? How about an author you felt only so-so about, but got their autograph anyway? Like, say, at a book-signing a friend dragged you to? How about stumbling across a book signing or reading and being so captivated, you bought the book?

On my drive to work this morning, I prepared a well thought out response to this week's Booking Through Thursday meme only to lose all thought of it once I got to the office and was swept up in the various crises of the day. If only I had a tape recorder handy . . .

Three years ago, I attended my first book festival and had the opportunity to hobnob with several authors. Since then, attending the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books has become a tradition. My husband and I sit in on author panels and browse through the booths, coming into contact with booksellers and authors alike.

That first year I was in such awe of the environment and the people around me. I think the author I spoke the most to that visit was mystery author Laura Levine. I had not read any of her books, but I knew her name from an online reading group I belonged to. I told her as much went I approached her table. She was the nicest woman, gracious and kind. I was ready to buy all her books on the spot, but she suggested I buy just the first one to test the waters. I also spoke with Carol and Mary Higgins Clark who are both wonderful women. Of course, I had them sign a couple of their books for me.

There were a couple of other authors whom I chatted with and bought autographed books from. I had never heard of either of them nor was I particularly interested in their books. Then why did I bother, you ask? There was no line to see them, they were as friendly as can be, and I thought it would be the nice thing to do. I learned my lesson after that, however, and for the past two years that I have attended the festival, I have tried to be more picky about how I spend my money.

One year at the festival I got the chance to meet Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down (a book I loved; who would have thought?). Oh, how I would have loved to ask him a bunch of questions, but I was so star struck that I barely said anything at all to him. I did at least manage to ask him to autograph one of his books for me.

This past spring I met authors Joanne Fluke (who makes to die for chocolate chip cookies!) and Christopher Moore among others. I am afraid it was not much of a meeting because I was so tongue-tied. Perhaps some of you may recall my blog entry about this year's book festival in which I disclosed just how star struck I can be.

I have enjoyed hearing quite a few authors speak at the book festival these past three years, some of whom are among my favorites and also many I had either not heard of before or knew very little about. I did not have the chance to meet most of them, however, my wish list of books to read grew regardless.

My experience in meeting authors is not solely isolated to the book festival, however. Usually it's by sheer accident that I will walk into the local bookstore to discover the featured author signing books. Sometimes I will stop and check out the author's book and other times I will pass by with a nod and a smile.

Unfortunately, with Los Angeles being so close, most of the authors I would like to meet prefer to skip my town for the City of Angels. I would love to visit The Mystery Bookstore in Los Angeles and meet with a favorite mystery writer or two. I am terrible about checking their schedule though to see who might be appearing when. And often times when I do remember to check, the author I want to meet will be at the store on a week night, an impossible time for me to make the drive into Los Angeles and home again with the work day behind me and an early work day ahead.

I am afraid this is not nearly as captivating a post as the one I envisioned writing this morning, but it will have to do. I wish you could have read it. It was quite insightful and witty.


  1. I have never been to the LA Festival. I've wanted to go many times and I just get intimidated by the thought of the crowds. I'm glad you've had such good experiences.

  2. I live just a couple of hours away from LA - I'll have to keep an eye out for the next book festival, it sounds wonderful. Thanks for sharing!

  3. BookGal - It can get crowded and it seems to get more crowded each year. Sitting in on the panels is free, but it helps to get tickets ahead of time. I've met some very nice and interesting people waiting in line to get inside for a seat to hear the panels. It makes up for the wait.

    Lesley - You definitely must try and come if you can! It's a fun experience.

  4. I have always enjoy reading your post, Wendy! :) I find that I have learnt a lot through your writing. You really write well.

    I don't think I'd have the chance to meet any of my favourite authors here, unless I'm prepared to travel! LOL. Hopefully when there's a chance for me to visit the US, there will be some book festivals around. ;)

  5. Give yourself credit, this post is great. You must be doing something right because I keep coming back for more!

  6. That book festival sounds like a dream! I would love to go to something like that. I am going to check if there is an equivalent up here in the bay area. And I like your posts. You write like your talking to someone minus all the grammatical errors and slang. It is a natural writing style that is all too rare.

  7. I seem to do some of my best "writing" in the car as well (or in the shower) but when I go to actually write it down, I forget all of those brillant thoughts!!

    I think that is pretty cool that the one author suggested you buy only one of books to see if you liked it. I would be more likely to then buy more of that author's books than from one who tried to push all of their books on me at once.

  8. Hello fellow FSR reviewer!

    The post came out just fine. Interesting, in fact -- you hint that when you read the books by the authors you'd met only because they had no line, you didn't overly like the books. Is that true? Or did you find some hidden treasures there after all?

  9. I went to the LA festival but I was short on time and money so it was only a quick window shop for me. Happy BTT.

  10. I found your post both witty and insightful, for instance, I'm glad to know the author of a book called "The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder" actually knows her stuff...cookie wise. :)

  11. I too found this both insightful and witty :) You have met quite a few authors. Unfortunately I never get to go to any book festivals or anything of the like. But tomorrow I am meeting Terry Pratchett at my first ever book signing! He's my second favourite author, so, needless to say, I am very excited.

  12. How lucky you've been to meet so many authors!
    And a whole mystery book store? I hope the atmosphere is appropriate - I'm just trying to imagine it.
    Oh, the posts that get written in your head. I write many in bed at night.

  13. Great you met so many authors.

    A mystery book store? That sound fun. I will go there right now!

  14. this was a great post! the LA Times Festival of Books sounds like terrific fun!

  15. Melody - Thank you! That's so sweet of you to say. :-) I do hope you get the chance to meet some of your favorite authors. We should encourage them to visit you. :-)

    Niki - Thanks so much. :-) I can say the same about you.

    Jaimie - The book festival is so much fun. If you can't find one up there, do try to come down for one. You can make it a mini vacation! And thank you for your kind words. I got a lot of practice thanks to all the letters I've written over the years. :-)

    Daphne - Yes! I do some of my best "writing"/thinking in the shower too. :-) With all that water (or while driving), it's impossible to take notes for later.

    I thought it was pretty neat that Laura Levine did that too. :-)

    Susan - Thank you! You caught me out. I wasn't too impressed by either of those books, sad to say. That isn't to say there weren't hidden treasures. I did find a few of those as well. :-)

    Pussreboots - Time is definitely a benefit to have when attending a book fesitival! Thank goodness the author panels are free. After that first year, we learned it was a good idea to carry cash with us for our booth browsing time.

    Kookie - Thank you! The woman manning the booth told us as we paid for Joanne Fluke's book that the author bakes cookies for just about every signing she attends. It's such a nice personal touch, I think.

    Nymeth - Ah, thank you! I have met quite a few. When I write it all out, it's more than I thought! I do hope you enjoy meeting Terry Pratchett! That is so exciting!

    Elizabeth - It's a very cozy store with a wide selection of books. They sell used and new books. Whenever my husband and I are in Westwood, we have to stop in.

    Gautami - It is a fun place. I wish they would move the store to my town. Haha

    Alisonwonderland - Thanks! I would love to attend some of the other and much bigger book festivals in the U.S.

  16. I don't know where you are in the L.A. area so this might not be helpful, but have you heard of a bookstore called Book Carnival in Orange? I live in North Orange County and find it a bit much to make trips into L.A. (especially on weeknights). I've met some wonderful mystery authors at book signings at Book Carnival. I met J.A. Jance a few months ago and she is just delightful. Since the events here are smaller, you often get a chance to talk to the authors in a comfortable environment.

    One of these days I'll get to the book festival in L.A.

  17. Terri - I haven't heard of Book Carnival, but I will have to make a point of visiting. I live outside of the L.A. area actually. While Orange County is a bit closer, I'm not sure I would want to brave a weekday drive there either. LOL I did check out the website for Book Carnival and it sounds like a place I would enjoy visiting. And the book signings listed are all on the weekend, I see. I'll try to remember to check back and see who is appearing when. Thanks for letting me know, Terri!

  18. Not captivating? You must be kidding, Wendy! I love your answer. :)

  19. I would love to go to a book festival but not heard of any in the UK. It would be like my porn though, all those books and authors wandering about. I'm salivating just thinking about it ;)

  20. Rhinoa - I think I remember a friend talking about a book festival in the UK but considering how big the UK is, it might not be anywhere near you.

  21. Let me know if they mention it again, I have friends in random places I can stay!


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