Sunday, April 28, 2013

One Author's Journey To SOKY And Back: Part 3

Saturday came early for me just as Friday had done when I awoke at around 4:00 am and could not go back to sleep. Saturday, after all, was the day that would surely bring some sales. I once again watched television until it was time for breakfast. Fortified for the morning, I then set out for the conference center. I got my pen, sharpies, and paper ready the same as the day before and exuberantly waited for the throngs of people to rush through the doors.

A police officer stood at the end of my aisle and I jokingly asked him if  if he was there to keep people from fighting over our books. He jokingly replied yes, although we both knew he was there to keep overly eager fans from showing excessive love to Mr.Winkler.

I had two extra special highlights that morning. The first was when a mother who had been at the Children's Day event with her daughter returned to my table to purchase a book. After her daughter thoroughly examined it and she decided she wanted it, her mom said, "I knew you would like that book." The second was when a young girl grabbed her friend and said, "You have to come over here and see this lady. She is the best artist ever!" This was indeed great praise since as I mentioned before I can only draw a handful of characters.

My friend Debbie Dadey and I also got to meet the oh so famous SkippyJon Jones. It was a good day and although I did not sell my whole stack of books, I did deplete it by half which is just fine in my book.

After the book fest was over, a local SCBWI chapter invited me to join their meeting. Having just joined last year, I have yet to attend any meetings in my own area so I happily accepted. It was a fun meeting and stayed about a half an hour to forty minutes before leaving. As I left for my hotel I saw a customer reading in a very comfortable lounging area. I spoke to her and  we ended up talking for about two hours. I always find it amazing when I am far from home and I make a connection with someone out of the blue. By then it was getting late so I went back to my hotel and called my family.

After checking up on my husband and daughter, I went out to grab a bite to eat. A wonderful end to a wonderful evening. I went to bed excited for the experiences of the weekend and at the same time, truly grateful to be going home to the family I missed so much.

Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day and encouraging you to tune in tomorrow for my final day and journey home!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

One Author's Journey To SOKY And Back: Part 2

I woke bright and early Friday morning ready to start Children's Day, and by early I mean about 4:00 am. I must have been super excited because I couldn't go back to sleep no matter how hard I tried. So I watched television until it was time to go down to breakfast, and then I headed over to the conference center. Amy Ignatow and I were walking  briskly towards our destination when Mark Wayne Adams stopped and asked us if we wanted a ride. The conference center was only a five minute walk, but the temperature which had been around 85 degrees the day before had plummeted to 45 degrees that morning. We gladly jumped into the back of his vehicle!

Once inside, I got my pen, sharpies, and card stock ready. I knew from experience that I wouldn't sell many books because my book, which retails for $11.99, is priced just above the ten dollars that most parents send with their children. But I didn't let that dampen my spirits, and I got busy drawing farm characters for the children. Now in case you aren't already aware of the fact, I did not illustrate Fern Valley. But since so many people always ask me that, I thought it prudent to learn some basics. I practiced for months on a dry erase board with my eight year old  as my toughest critic. Once I got my six characters down, I could whip one up with the ease of a master chef torching a Cherries Jubilee. The only problem is that six farm characters are all I know how to draw with the exception of a few boy and girl faces. But all was well and fine until someone asked for a duck. A duck, you see, is not one of the six things I know how to draw; thankfully the young man settled for a turkey.

The fun was only beginning because  my friend and fellow author,  Amanda Stephan, came up from Tennessee to attend the Writers Conference that was going on simultaneously with Children's Day. After we were both done for the afternoon, we headed to Cheddar's to hang out. This was a special treat as we had never met in person before. We hit it off splendidly and managed not to embarrass her daughter Brenna very much. The waiter was kind enough to snap a picture of us which I will cherish always.

Amanda Stephan and I

We were only able to spend about two hours together because I had to get ready to attend the Author Meet and Greet Fund Raising Reception. It was a glorious night of smoozing with celebs, other authors, and locals from Bowling Green. I really do love a good party.

Mr. Winkler and I

Mary McDonough and I

Mark and I

Virginia Smith and I

Stacy Curtis, Bruce Kessler, and I

As much as I love to mingle though, having been up since four made for a long day; so around about seven, I headed for my hotel room to ponder the amazing happenings of the day.

Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day and encouraging you to tune in tomorrow for part three!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

One Author's Journey To SOKY And Back : Part 1

I know I have been remiss in posting this month , but I hope to make up for that fact by sharing my recent journey to the Southern Kentucky Book Fest otherwise know as SOKY. The SOKY Fest is held in the lovely city of Bowling Green, Kentucky and for months and months I looked forward to the trip. Unlike my previous trip to the Kentucky Book Fair in Frankfort, which found my husband and daughter tagging along, this trip I would be making on my own.

I started my journey last Thursday in the normal way by taking my daughter to school. Since we always listen to Serius XM Kids Place Live on the radio, I thought it would be nice if I could prequest a parting song for her and I. We were both thrilled when Kenny Curtis from The Animal Farm show mentioned our names and played our song of choice which was Sponge Bob's version of The Best Day Ever! Then I set out on my seven and a half hour drive. The further south I traveled, the leafer the trees became. The scenery was stunning and my only regret was that I was unable to take pictures of said scenery.

Quite some time after crossing the border between Ohio and Kentucky, I decided to stop at a roadside rest. I took this opportunity to call my husband who insisted on contact each time I stopped. As we chatted and I looked at a map on the wall trying to tell him how far I had traveled, I suddenly heard someone call my name. I turned in surprise and found myself face to face with  friend and fellow author Joy Bowser. She was on her way to a book festival in Alabama. We laughed over the coincidence of meeting in a rest stop miles from Ohio. Since I had my brand new Nikon with me, I ran to the car to get it so we could commemorate our unexpected meeting and then we parted ways.

When I had traveled as far as Louisville I noticed one of the large green roadsigns overhead pronounced the upcoming exit for Fern Valley Road. How extraordinarily kind of the people of Louisville to name a road after my book, I thought. It was then that I remembered a friend previously telling me about the very large Ford plant on Fern Valley Road. I made a mental note to stop by for a picture on my trip home.

Finally after what seemed like days of traveling instead of hours, I made it to Bowling Green and carefully followed the instructions spewing forth from my GPS in hopes of soon arriving at my hotel the Staybridge Suites. My GPS took me outside of the city and out into the middle of no where to Campbell Road. As I pulled over and looked at the houses around me I knew I was totally lost. Rechecking my confirmation paper, I noticed that I should be on Campbell Lane instead of Campbell Road. Having driven seven and a half hours already and being kind of tired, it never occurred to me to call the hotel and ask where in the world they were actually located and why I was in the boonies. But before total panic set in, I remembered the fact that the Carrol Knicely Conference Center, where the book fest was to be held, was next door to my hotel.Quickly typing in this new destination, I was thrilled to hear my GPS direct me back toward Bowling Green.

In about the space of ten minutes a very relieved me was pulling into the Staybridge Suites parking lot. I jokingly told the manager on duty that I needed to upgrade my maps because I ended up in no man's land. He then set my mind at ease and told me that the hotel was new and the coordinates had yet to make it into the system. So tired, and yet relieved, I hauled my things to the third floor and into my oh so lovely room. Now for any of you who know that I love to cook almost as much as I love to write, you will understand my awe over the kitchen in my room. It was an inspiring dream hotel kitchen all shiny and new, and the only drawback was the fact that I had no food to cook.

I set about unpacking all my things before deciding to take pictures of my room, and then I decided that I needed to erase the two hundred and some odd pictures already in my camera's memory. I quickly formatted my card erasing everything at once when I suddenly remembered the pictures of my friend Joy and I from the rest stop. Needless to say, this is a pg rated site, so I won't mention the things I said to myself at that moment in time.

When I was done berating myself, I went down to check out the lobby area and I called my husband to let him know that I had arrived safely. While I sat in an extremely comfortable leather chair chatting, I noticed a woman sitting at the author sign in table. Once my conversation ended, I meandered over to that table and signed myself in. I was handed a lovely tote stuffed with nice items like a bottle of water, a sharpie, snacks, and a tube I thought was bubbles. It's hard to describe my disappointment at discovering that the tube held hand sanitizer instead of bubbles, but I'm sure you can imagine it! I was then informed that a local patron had invited the authors arriving early to her home for dinner.

We were shuttled to her home which quite frankly had one of the most fabulous kitchens I have ever seen. I know I seem to be obsessing over kitchens, but it's my thing. And just so you know, because I am a very contented sort of person I was able to fight off the kitchen envy in just a few hours... I mean minutes.

The evening turned out to be tons of fun as I met faculty from the college, chatted by the pool with Mark Wayne Adams the oh so popular illustrator, and dined and shared stories with the likes of Amy Ignatow and Mary McDonough (Erin from Walton's Mountain).

That night as I lay in my bed, which was pretty comfortable for a hotel bed, I thought about all the exciting events of the day and wondered what fabulous mysteries Friday would hold.

Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day and encouraging you to tune in tomorrow for part two of One Author's Journey To SOKY And Back.