As some of you know, I attended the SIBA (Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance) conference this past weekend. This was my very first literary event, so bear with me if I seem like a loopy, giddy teenager. Before I forget all of the details (as my brain is wont to do these days) I want to share with you some of the highlights.
Because of family obligations (football game!), I was not able to attend the entire convention, which ran from Friday to Sunday. Instead, I drove up to Daytona on late Saturday afternoon and stayed through until Sunday afternoon. The exhibits were just closing down when I arrived, so I chased down my buddies Heather (Raging Bibliomania) and Kathy (Bermudaonion) for some drinks and dinner. Heather lives in Orlando, and I had met her before (you can't find a nicer, sweeter person), but I'd never met Kathy before. This was a huge highlight for me, because she and I have been online friends for a long time, and I think very highly of her. We didn't miss a beat...it was like we had known each other in real life for years. By the way, she is just as special in reality as you would imagine her to be. We met up with Natalie (Coffee and a Book Chick) and her husband for drinks before they headed back to their home in Jacksonville, then headed out for a chatty dinner.
On our way to dinner, we ran into Rebecca (Book Lady's Blog), Susan Gregg Gilmore (author of "The Improper Life of Bezillia Grove"), Jim Minick (author of "The Blueberry Years") and Lisa Patton (author of "Whistlin' Dixie in a Nor'easter"). They were on the way out for putt-putt and hot dogs, and were definitely a group ready for fun. A flurry of hugs and business cards and pictures were exchanged.
Left to right: Me (with football game hair), Kathy, Susan, Lisa, Heather and Jim. Rebecca is taking the picture.
The next morning, we met early and headed off to the exhibits. I've never been to BEA, but based on what I've heard, that event is HUGE and pretty crowded. This was not really the case with SIBA. There were about a hundred exhibitors, which is plenty but not overwhelming, and included big guys like Hachette, HarperCollins, Random House and Penguin. There were also small publishers and vendors selling bookmarks, reading glasses, and jewelry. There were several authors present for book signings as well. I was easily able to make my way through most of the tables and talk to anyone I wished. There were very few lines and you could literally chat up a kindred soul for 20 minutes if you wanted to.
In three hours, I accumulated over 60 books (see my top picture). I had to make multiple trips to my car, and I think I threw my back out of joint. It was being like a kid in a candy store!!! I was trying hard not to be a pig, but everything sounded appealing. I'd love to tell you absolutely everything I got, but that would get tedious I'm afraid. But a few highlights were: Hachette's one and only copy of the newest Cornelia Funke novel "Reckless", Algonquin's one and only copy of "The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating" by Elisabeth Tova Bailey, and a copy of "The Knife of Never Letting Go" that I found hiding behind other books. (I felt like I'd found a buried treasure.) But that was before lunch...more excitement was in store there.
The big hoorah of the conference was "The Moveable Feast", a lunch event that you had to purchase a ticket to attend (Kathy my hero got me one before they sold out). One of twenty authors sat at each table, and while we were all eating, they would have about 15 minutes to talk about their newest book and answer questions, then they would move on to the next table. Each table was able to visit with six authors. After that, we all moved to a different room for a book signing of any of the featured authors' newest releases. Just about more than a little blogger can handle, right?
Heather and I were at the same table and had a great group of authors. We heard from A. Manette Ansay (Vinegar Hill, Good Things I Wish), Lou Dischler (My Only Sunshine), Mark Mustian (The Gendarme), J.S. Chancellor (Guardians of Legend Trilogy), Jim Minick (The Blueberry Years) and T. Marie Benchley (Once Wicked Always Dead). Folks, this was fascinating stuff! These wonderful authors poured out their hearts, thought processes, frustrations, muses and inspirations, plans for the future, and personal lives for us, despite the fact that they had to be exhausted and sick of talking. I fell in love a little bit with each one of them - it was very intimate. Can I just say that I found Mark Mustian one of the most humble, endearing men I have ever met? I wanted to pack him up in my trunk and take him home. I would have loved to have heard from Michael Koryta (author of So Cold the River, who now has a new book coming out called The Cypress House) and Karen White (author of a million books, including On Folly Beach). But never fear, I got signed books!
At the end of the day, I got a huge number of signed books. In my top picture, my "signed" stack is on the left. Once I have gently read these and reviewed them, they will be donated for auction for our annual Adult Literacy League silent auction next year. I fear they will regret ever asking me to help them!!!
So that was my 24 hours worth of SIBA. A whirlwind for me, that left me high as a kite, dazed and exhausted. And determined, NO MATTER WHAT, to attend next year in Charleston. Heather and I are road-trippin' baby. I want to give a shout out, from the bottom of my heart, the organizer and general diva of this conference, Wanda Jewell, who makes it all happen. If you are even remotely interested in attending, please contact me and I will convince you this is where you need to be! You can go with Heather, Kathy and I, and participate in the literary hedonism with us!