Thoughts from the SFB in downtown NashvillePosted: October 12, 2008
It was hot!
This is the twentieth year for the Southern Festival of Books, when Legislative Plaza comes alive with more than 200 authors and their new books. The crowd swells as people walk from booth to booth browsing books, to sessions led by authors, to the food tents where the smell of fish and chips rises and hangs. A popular place on a hot Saturday was the fresh icy lemonade booth.
Kristin O’Donnell Tubb led a session Saturday afternoon about her new Young Adult novel Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different — a lovely little hardback with the coolest cover ever. Her release date is days away and she was not expecting to have her books at the festival…but she was ecstatically surprised to see a stack of them at the signing colonnade and went into a photographing frenzy, snapping pictures of Autumn on the tables among thousands of others at this, the biggest book event in the South. Maybe the world. Currie, Chance, and I took a moment to share the excitement with her, to buy a book, to have it signed. She was gracious to put our names in the Acknowledgments as being in the first critique group to lay eyes on the manuscript.
One of the biggest hits at this year’s festival is the T-shirt booth: It’s All About Books — novelty items for book lovers. Star and her friends, understanding what this event is all about, displayed stylish and colorful shirts printed with the most apropros sayings: LIT HAPPENS, BOOK SLUT, REAL DIVAS READ, and several others. Below, Barbara is holding the blue shirt and Andrea has the book slut one. I wanted one of those so bad, but chickened out and bought a Lit Happens. So did Currie and Chance.
This is the second year the Council for the Written Word has had an exhibition tent. We are a nonprofit group that promotes writers and the art of writing in Williamson County and beyond. We hold two workshops a year and a critique group and we maintain a Bibliography of every writer who has ever lived in Williamson County and published a book, and we are the only county in the state of Tennessee to do this. Our members have an opportunity to display and sell their published works. I sold eight Pink Butterbeans on Saturday. It was fun to spend the day in the tent with Bill Peach, who knows everybody and everything, and if it ever gets dull, he can keep us entertained with his stories. And he’s got stories. He wore his “O” button yesterday. Can you guess what that stands for? Mm-hm, Obama.
One of my biggest delights was having Franklin’s beloved poet Susie Sims Irvin, a Council for the Written Word Hall of Fame honoree, sign her new children’s book Too Tall Alice…to save for the grandchildren now “in production.”
To cap the day, Currie and I went on River Jordan‘s radio show to talk about our books and writing groups. River’s BACKSTORY RADIO, 98.9 WRFN-LPFM, Radio Free Nashville, broadcasted live from the midst of the signing colonnade. I’m not a great one to do an interview, but it was fun. Thanks, River, for the opportunity! I first met River several years ago the week before a Southern Festival. Her first novel The Gin Girl was just being released and she’d be doing a reading at the festival. She wanted a practice run-through so, having just moved to Nashville, she brought her galley to our Barnes & Noble writers reading night and read from it. It was a delight to meet her then and is always a delight to see her at writerly events now and then, as we all write, read, teach, and lead.
This is how Lit Happens.