Tucson Festival of Books
We are still on Ohio time, so again we were up really early. This was good though as we had time to get dressed and me fixed up so that I looked decent for the festival as well as have time to stop for Starbucks and breakfast. Then the journey began to find the festival. It was a gorgeous morning and showed promise of being a warm and lovely day. Thank you, God! I so wanted to spend some time in the sunshine.
Now I had an address, but for some reason our GPS kept taking us in the wrong direction. We were back and forth for 45 minutes before we found the place and by that time I was freaking out. I wanted to get there early so that I wasn’t rushed in finding the author’s pavilion and getting checked in (before 10:30) and finding my group for the panel and my host, and basically I wanted a few minutes to gather myself. I was scared.
But no. That was not to be. We pulled into the university area and I just happened to see a parking lot full of little pink tags, the same as the one I had clutched in my hands, that I was provided by the University. I pointed my husband over to that area, he rolled down the window and waved the tag, and we got front and center parking, because I……was an author. How cool was that. I literally, got out of my car, crossed one intersection and was there. It was great and a huge time saver too.
We came to the festival and I stopped in my tracks. The place was HUGE. I can’t say what exactly I was expecting, but the sheer number of tents and tables and activities and venders, was enormous. I just stood and took it all in. It was only a little after 10:00 a.m. and already the place was packed full of people. We wound our way through and after asking for direction to the Author’s Pavilion, finally we found it. I got hugs and kisses and wishes of luck from my girls and my husband, then they left me to go and see what they could do until my first panel began at 11:30.
I walked in, presented myself and checked-in. I was given a lanyard with my name and status (as an author) on it. It was so cool. Yes, it was just a lanyard, but it made me feel special for once. I sat down in the first empty seat I could find and pulled out my notes and itinerary for the day. The lounge had fruit and veggies and coffee and water and donuts and danishes, but I was so nervous and my tummy was so jumpy that there was no way I was going to be able to eat anything right them. I would just come back between my two panels and grab something then.
I didn’t know anyone. I know loads of author’s by name, but I don’t know any of them by face. Maybe one or two like Stephen King and Anne Rice, but they weren’t going to be there that day. I sat there feeling out of place and then had to have a firm talking to myself. I was there to meet and mingle. I needed to quit being a big baby and I needed to say hello. To someone. So I turned the man next to me and did just that. He was a very nice man, and although he told me his name and that he was an illustrator, I was so nervous all I can remember is that his name is Dave, which is a shame as apparently he was quite the illustrator too. People kept interrupting the poor man as he was trying to talk to me just to say hello and that they loved his work. He was very nice. I hope I get a chance to meet up with him again, not just to get his last name either, but because I enjoyed his company.
The next person I met was one of my panel “mates”. Cynthia Leitich Smith
She was so nice to me and when I expressed I was nervous, she laughed and said I would do just fine. She made me feel better. We talked a bit until our Moderator, Donna Jurich, came to hunt us up. We were still missing a panel member at this point but we decided to head over to our room and hope that she would make it in time.
We got to our room, and thankfully the last member for our panel, Apprilynn Pike came in. She had forgotten her little pink tag and couldn’t get parked and had been driving around for an hour trying to find a place to park. She was a bit frazzled and that gave me something to focus on. Worrying about someone else is always so much better than worrying about yourself.
The room was filling up and finally, Donna started the panel at promptly 11:30. Cynthia was introduced and she spoke of herself and her books and it was eloquent and it was fun and it was interesting. She talked for a good 5 minutes. Then I was introduced and honest to God my entire brain shut down. I smiled. A big toothy smile and according to my family the look of honest panic that crossed my face was almost comical. I found my Seren’s smiling face and she giggled at me. I was in a complete panic. I broke into a sweat and as I was told later, my face and chest turned bright red. I finally stuttered out a hello, and then said something stupid like, I was in such awe of Cynthia I forgot what I was going to say. The room laughed and then I struggled to introduce my work and myself and I can’t really even tell you what I said. That moment did end thankfully and it was then Aprilynne’s turn and she carried her introduction off without a hitch. Then we began the question and answer section, which I was able to do without problem. After another ten minutes or so, I wasn’t quite as scared as I had been at the first and was able to actually answer questions as if I knew what I was talking about. By the end of the panel, I was good to go.
I am so very thankful for both of my panel mates and my moderate, as without them, that moment could have been a disaster for me. They smiled and they were funny and they all understood I was a mess of nerves. I am so very grateful to have met them and to have been on the panel with them. They were wonderful.
From there we went to an autograph session. We signed books, and bookmarks and autograph books and had our pictures taken. There was a whole herd of girls about 12 years old that came through with “New Moon” autograph books that were so sweet and nice. I had fun during that portion. One on one I am good. It’s the group things that need a little work.
After that I found my way back to the pavilion and decided I was hungry. I rechecked in and went to the food tables to find them almost empty. Picked through to the last piece of pineapple. I grabbed about four slices of cucumber and a new bottle of water and munched on them. I decided to try to find my way back to my next panel room, as I didn’t really have anything else to do. After making a quick pit-stop I waited at my room for my next set of panel people. I was starving so I dug through my bag for the little cutie oranges that Donna had given us at our autograph session. Thank goodness she had thought to do that. They were a life saver!
My next panel had Joshua Cohen and Amy Dominy with me. Our moderator was Michelle Parker-Rock and she is with the SCBWI.
Because we had all met at the room there wasn’t much time to meet and greet but enough to say hello and get comfortable. Again we were asked to introduce ourselves and that time I was able to pull it off. Although I was still shaking like a leaf, I was more able to hide it and press onward. I was still red in the face and chest and I was still sweating like you wouldn’t believe, but it was better. Again afterward we went to an autograph session, which was a bit slow, but it was still worth it.
From there my family picked me up and I demanded FOOD. We browsed around the festival for a bit. Found that most of my books appeared to have been sold. We were only able to find four books in the bookstore, so hopefully that really is all that was left.
All in all it was a great day. Aside from a few snafus here and there, I think I did all right. After we left the festival, we grabbed some real food, check in at home and on my dog (he was fine), and then called it a night. After all that anxiety, I was tired.
To be continued…