Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Tucson Report

RHYS BOWEN: For those of you who are still knee deep in snow, I thought I should share some sunshine and warmth. This weekend I took part in the Tucson Festival of Books. For those of you who have never attended, it is huge! They reckon over 100,000 visit during the two days. It takes place at the University of Arizona with panels going on in all the various auditoriums and in tents along the mall. Hundreds of authors, ranging from children's writers, poets, science fiction, to cook books. There is a culinary tent with demonstrations. CSpan is there. And the mall is lined with booths: publishers, bookstores, non-profits, national parks.

Unfortunately I didn't have time to browse because I was given a full schedule, and let me tell you that it takes half an hour to walk from one end of the mall to the other. So on Saturday I had a signing at a booth, had to run back to meet my escort to be taken to my panel (at the other end again), then had to grab a bite for lunch before I was back at the other end to conduct a workshop on writing the historical mystery.

On Sunday the same sort of thing. I signed in the morning with Tess Gerritson whom I had never met, although we share the same agent.


Then a panel on women in wartime: with the fabulous Kate Quinn (of Alice Network fame) and Lynda Loigman whose new book is The Wartime Sisters

Packed house. Lots of good questions, and I learned so much. Kate's new book, just out this week, is called THE HUNTRESS. There is plenty of buzz about it. It features the Night Witches--an all female squadron of Russian  bomber pilots in WWII. They were called Night Witches because they used to cut the engine on their planes and coast in silently to drop their bomb, restart the engine and get out of there. So the Germans thought they sounded like witches on broomsticks. They would return to base, take ten minutes to refuel, reload and be off again. Over ten missions per night, seven days a week for three years. And only 27 percent of them were killed!

What a great story. And Lynda's was equally fascinating. Two sisters working in the Brooklyn Armory, which was  like a small town during the war, with all amenities, entertainment, gossip columns. One of the things I like about conferences and panels is that I always learn such a lot and come away with fabulous books to read.

The other thing I like is having time to catch up with dear friends. On Saturday night I had dinner with Cara Black and Kent Kruger. We sat outside, under the stars, and had Middle Eastern food. And laughed a lot. Perfect.

 Now it's back to work again. I'm so near the end of my first draft that it's hard to stop.
And by the way--everyone sold out of my new book, which was very nice!

I do hope this has brought a glimpse of sunshine to you! If you want to plan a winter escape next year, then you might want to consider this festival. I met a lot of people who had flown down for a week in Arizona, escaping from blizzards and cold.
 Which bookfairs have you attended?

53 comments:

  1. The book fair sounds just wonderful, Rhys . . . I’ve never attended a book fair like this, but I think it’s something I’d really enjoy. . . . [And no snow is definitely a plus!]

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  2. Rhys, The Tucson Festival of Books is something I keep wanting to attend. One of my dearest friends in the world, the boy with whom I was best friends and neighbors during my childhood, lives in Tucson with his husband. They keep telling me to come out there to visit during this books festival (well, it's an open invitation, but they know my reading passion). Maybe next year. I'm so glad you met Tess Gerritsen. I was fortunate to hear her talk in a small group setting years ago, and she's amazing. I've read all her books, which are amazing, too. And your description of eating outside under the stars with Cara Black and William Kent Kruger sounds like a perfect evening. It makes me wish for warm weather to do the same.

    I have been to Tucson, but it has been 40 years ago. My husband and I went to visit a friend of his and had a wonderful time. My friend that lives there fell in love with Arizona as a teenager visiting his aunt who lived there. He wouldn't live anywhere else. My one regret is that we didn't drive on up to the Grand Canyon. I think I really need another trip out that way to see that majestic sight and to visit The Poison Pen. Luckily, I have another close friend in Phoenix.

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    1. You need to go next year to visit your friend during the book fair Kathy!

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  3. I've always wanted to go the the Tucson festival. Is there a mystery track, Rhys?

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  4. Sounds marvelously dangerous - so let's see how I can work this out - end of February I go to the yarn fair in Santa Clara California, the following weekend go to the book fair in Tucson Arizona. That about covers my vacation for the year and will fill up my apartment it even more. It's worth thinking about, I may not have had snow here but we had lots of rain this year.

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    1. See TucsonFestivalOfBooks.org for all festival information. Digging down from the Presenting at the Festival link I found this information: Presenting author self-nominations will open for the 2020 festival in late summer of 2019. Indie Author Pavilion registration for the 2019 festival will be available beginning September 5, 2018 at 12:00 noon, Mountain Standard Time. (I am one of the many volunteers helping at the festival)

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    2. The Tucson Festival date changes every year. Since it is held on the University of Arizona campus it is scheduled over their spring break. However it has always been in March.

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  5. Nice write up on the book fair Rhys.

    Sadly, I've never attended any kind of book fair or convention. I'd love to at some point. I keep hoping they'll announce Bouchercon for Boston, or be able to swing Thrillerfest or some other type of event like that.

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    1. Jay, Boston Book Festival every late October! One day long, fabulous. SINCNE and MWANE always have booths, too.

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    2. Jay, you could certainly come to the New England Crimebake!

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    3. Edith, never heard of the Boston Book Festival before, I'll have to look into that.

      Lucy, I've got the site bookmarked and check in every so often so I can see if I can go to it or not. Thanks.

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  6. Books on the Banks in Cincinnati, and the best of all, the National Book Festival in DC when it was still on the mall. I heard Toni Morrison and Tomie dePaola (Stregna Nona books). Morrison was inspiring and dePaola was fun. He only took questions from children.

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    1. Margaret, I wanted to go to the National Book Festival. Alas, I was never invited

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  7. Ooh, does that look lovely. And you get to be in Tucson and eat great Mexican food! I love book fairs. The annual one in Los Angeles is wonderful if overwhelming. And of course Book Expo. So nice to hang out with writers and readers.

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    1. Hallie, I agree with the overwhelming part. But, the authors are so-o-o-o worth it!

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  8. My favorite is Quebec City Bookfair because it is a little less huge than Montreal's and as an introvert, I'm not very comfortable in the midst of a crowd and I go first thing in the morning before it is too populated.
    It is there I met Louise Penny for the first time many years ago.She was presenting her second book Dead Cold and she was not yet known. She was alone in her booth and , as I like to meet new authors, I went to speak with her. We had a good chat about what kind of book she wrote. She was charming and interesting so, I decided to try her first book Still Life to encourage her and she signed it to me.
    Need I say that after reading it , I felt in love with her work for life and went to most of her prelaunchs.

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  9. I can report that Hank did a wonderful job at Bookmania for the Martin County Library (Florida) last Saturday. It was a grand panel on suspense writing. Can I talk any of you in attending the St. Petersburg Times Festival of reading? I promise no snow. It will be in November 2019.
    How hot was it Rhys? Glad your wonderful The Victory Garden is so appreciated.

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    1. The temperature was perfect. Around 75 degrees. Some years it does get hotter and this year they had snow only a week before!

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  10. That sounds amazing, Rhys! It’s so much fun to be at a good convention— you are such a rockstar! … And I have always wanted to go to Tucson. I was in Florida this weekend at a wonderful convention, one of the best ever, Bookmania— and met the fabulous Coralee! . I also hung out with sister panelists Sophie Hannah and Carol Goodman, and we will be best friends forever!

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  11. I love Tucson and the book fair sounds like a great time--putting on my wish list for the future. Glad to hear you had a wonderful experience--thanks for sharing! And no surprise that The Victory Garden sold out!!

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  12. Looks wonderful, Rhys. I don't know I could do all the walking, but I'm sure they could come up with something.

    I just heard about the Night Witches this weekend. I had a workshop with my local SinC chapter (on public speaking) and a young woman there is working on a book featuring the Night Witches (not a mystery, I don't think).

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    1. There is a lot of walking, that's true!

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    2. But then you get to walk off all the good food you tried in Tucson! Seriously, if the walking is too much you can arrange for a shuttle cart ride to where you need to go.

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  13. Six or seven years ago I was able to go to the Tucson Festival of Books. The outdoor setting makes it really special, as does having access to the campus for workshop/discussion venues. I was unprepared for how huge it is!

    I second Margaret's suggestion of Books by the Banks, here in Cincinnati. It's jointly sponsored by Joseph Beth Bookstore and the Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library. There are panel discussions and signings, but best of all, over 100 authors are in one room, each sitting behind a pile of their own books. I've met Judy Collins there, as well as several other amazing authors. Sara Paretsky was there this year. Ohio authors have pride of place there, too. Since it takes place in the fall, I usually pick up Christmas gifts there.

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  14. Wonderful!!! I love the TFOB! Such a fun festival and the big names they get - like you! - are really fantastic!

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  15. Road Trip everybody! Let's get to Tucson.

    My dear hometown launched the Pasadena LitFest last year and it's set to go again this May. The venues are dotted in and around the Theater district which is anchored by the Pasadena Playhouse on one end and Vroman's on the other. I accidentally went to a panel on why it's important for those in government to be readers. The panel included a woman of the LA Council and also Adam Schiff. They discussed their own reading habits and I was struck by the range of topics in which they were invested.
    Just for fun here's a website for book fairs in the United States for 2019. You're bound to find one near you. http://www.bookfairs.com/fairs.html Go!

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    1. I'm so happy to find out about this, Lyda. My neck of the woods and I adore Vromans

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    2. Lyda, I LOVE Pasadena and Vroman's. That sounds fabulous!

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    3. I was born in Pasadena, Lyda!

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  16. To attend such a book fair would make me feel as though I’d died and gone to Heaven!!

    DebRo

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  17. Wonderful! I went to U of A in the Sixties, and it was a very different place than now, I'm sure. Book Fairs are so much fun, and this one sounds wonderful. Plus, dinner with WKK. Wow.

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  18. Sounds fabulous! Starts getting me in the mood for the LA Times festival of Books, and that’s not for another 5 and a half weeks yet.

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  19. It sounds like a wonderful time! One of these days I'll make it to the Tucson FOB. I keep saying I'll do it when I have a book to promote, but this year, when I finally do have a book to promote, I didn't go. Boo!

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  20. Rhys, so much fun to share in your book fair events! I did Tucson a few years ago and it was a blast. It was hot that weekend, though, and with all the walking, I got sunburned. So be prepared if you go, folks, and wear your sunscreen.

    I've done the Texas Book Festival, which is lovely. And the National Book Festival, which was amazing!! That was 2007, I think, the last year that Laura Bush was in charge.

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  21. No, I've never gone to a book fair. I think Austin has a big one but I've never been tempted to trip up there to see. I'm waivering about whether to go to Bouchercon in Dallas this year. It's an easy 4 or 5 hour drive, but I'm not sure I can deal with the crowds. I'd love to meet everyone but I'm afraid I'll spend the time hugging walls.

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    1. Pat D, don't be afraid to go. I, an introvert, went to Bouchercon in Toronto . It was one of the best experience of my life. When overwhelmed, I went to my room for a while before returning to the panels I most wanted to attend. It was so much fun and the pleasure to meet my favorites authors.
      I registered for Dallas and booked a room. I would be willing to share with a JRW member if you want. If not, don't hesitate and book your own room.

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    2. Pat, please come! I promise you'll have a great time. Everyone is so friendly, and this is going to be a terrific conference!

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  22. I forgot to address the question of what book fairs we've attended. I went to the National Book Festival in D.C. several times, first one in 2004 and last one in 2012. It was still on the outdoors on the mall then, and it was wonderful. I met and got my picture taken with Neil Gaiman at the one in 2004. He's such a gracious person. There were so many people there in his line to sign books that he did an additional hour and a half of signing. I also met Joyce Carol Oates at that one, a very somber individual, but nice. There were lots of authors to meet, but it was hard to schedule hearing them speak and standing in line to get a book signed, if the author was especially popular.

    The Southern Kentucky Festival of Books held in Bowling Green, KY (an hour away) is always a great place to meet favorite authors, although not just mystery. It's there that I had some of my best book festival moments. I met and heard Pat Conroy speak there. He was so entertaining. Scott Turow was a great speaker, too. Carl Hiaasen had me laughing from the moment he opened his mouth until, well, all day. I met the lovely Carla Buckley there when she had come out with her first novel and, of course, bought it and talked to her. She hasn't changed from that sweet person with whom I met as a debut author. Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series that I love, was there one year, but I had already seen her at Joseph-Beth Book Sellers in Lexington, KY, so I didn't get in her long, long, long signing line. Katherine Howe is another favorite author I met there, so smart and engaging. Jamie Ford was there one year, too. I haven't been in a few years, but it's time I checked into it this year, as it's in April.

    I've also been to the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, TN, and it's mostly an indoor/outdoor event. I first met Sena Jeter Naslund there, and later I had the pleasure of meeting her again here in my own town where I live. She has written some of my favorite non-mystery books, such as Ahab's Wife, The Four Spirits, and Abundance.

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  23. I want to go to Tucson in early March! Who do I contact to beg/bribe/blackmail for an invitation?!? (There's a foot + of snow on the ground and the temperature with windchill is in the low twenties. Get me out of here...)

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    1. The average temp in St. Pete in November is 77 degrees, and in Maine it is 47 degrees.
      Just sayin' + hint hint hint. St Petersburg Times Festival of books wants you!. Well, Coralee does.

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    2. See TucsonFestivalOfBooks.org for all festival information.

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  24. Bookfairs are challenging for me since they are not fully accessible. I would love to visit the Edinburgh Book Festival some day. I have been to the Bay Area Book Festival. One year I got sign language interpreters, and unfortunately, the organizers thought they were FREE and the interpreters were Never Paid! I felt bad for the ASL interpreters who spent money on transportation and their time getting to and from the Bay Area Book Festival, which was at Fort Mason at that time. That was quite some years ago. Now it is in Berkeley. It would be wonderful if the festival was accessible to everyone.

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  25. That looks like a wonderful festival. Congratulations on your book sales, Rhys!

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  26. I love going to festivals and of course when we are in Az we love our boys in spring training but also love the farmers markets and all of the things where everyone gathers and has fun! Peggy Clayton Oh and Rhys A fist bump for your book sales so glad!

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  27. Okay. I took the leap and registered. There'd better be a JRW get together with copious alocohol! Perhaps later on someone can give advice about attending this event so I don't freak out/burn out/etc.

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  28. Yay!!! See you in the bar, Pat! Hank just did a nice piece for her Career Authors blog. https://careerauthors.com/book-conventions/ All great advice!!

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  29. When I lived in Los Angeles I attended the LA Times Festival of Books a number of times. It was always a lot of fun.

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