I finally was able to participate in the Colorado Springs Pikes Peak Library District’s (PPLD) annual Mountain of Authors (MOA) event! I had been lobbying Bryan Matthews, at PPLD for years. Thanks for getting me in this year, Bryan, and it was a pleasure finally meeting you!
Taken largely from the MOA website: MOA is a free annual community program that provides an opportunity for public and local authors to meet and listen to notable Colorado authors, and for aspiring writers to learn more about the craft of writing.
Bryan tells me that that they select fiction or nonfiction versions of it, but no matter who the keynote speaker is they always have authors of genres. This year was SF/F and children’s books, and let me tell you, the children’s books rocked this joint! As I (and my table mate, Jennifer [more on this later]) surveyed the interior landscape of this new location (it was the first time MOA has been hosted by Library 21c), I commented that most of the attendees were flocked at the children’s books authors. I later touched base with my writer friend Maria Faulconer (whom I hadn’t seen in a while, so nice to see and chat with you, again, Maria!), who writes in the genre (A Mom for Umande, 2014), and she told me she sold 10 books—that’s outstanding (and don’t call her mascot a monkey, for crying out loud…)!
After arriving and checking in (Maria and I met in the check-in line), I was shown to my table. One table away from the food table.
How apropos, thought I.
Anywaaay…authors were paired up two to a table, and grouped by genre. I was paired with Jennifer Goraczkowski (pronounced, if I remember right, as Gorac-zkowski), author of Crystal Dawn and Perfect Betrayal. We had a great time chatting about the event and she was quite the pleasant table mate. While I tweeted during the event, she Facebooked. Jennifer also introduced me into how to make inexpensive magnets. Will be looking into this, since the last time I’d had magnets made it was quite expensive—and they disappeared quickly! Jennifer sold several of her novels—congratulations, Jennifer!
I love these things. I love interacting with readers and writers. I mean, I’ll talk to anyone who’ll talk back (and even some who don’t), so I said “Hello” and introduced myself to absolutely anyone who came within my airspace. No one was safe. Everyone a target of opportunity. If I caught an eye twitch my way—they were mine. I stuck out a hand and introduced myself, then started a conversation with them.
What do you like to read?
Do you write?
How far along are you in you manuscript?
Hey, take a bookmark!
A couple of people came back more than once, one person—K. J.—several times. One talked about metaphysics. I met some cool, interesting people. Talked writing and reading.
These were my people!
It was fun explaining my genre (gritty paranormal and supernatural fiction) and novels to the uninitiated, and (hopefully!) I
made some new friends…some new personal connections.
One could say (as the IRS is wont to this time of the year) that it’s all about selling books…but, I think it was Warren Hammond who said something to the effect that it is all about making connections. These connections can be about the stories themselves…or about the author and readership.
This spirited and bright-eyed twenty-something lass had quite the energy and Jennifer and I both loved her!
K. J. (the initials for “Just kidding”…backwards, she told us) was just starting to write and was here to learn and take it all in, and the funny thing was that after having met K. J. , another woman came by, and after talking for awhile I realized she had to be K. J.’s mother—so I asked her, and she was. Mom was 180-degrees from her daughter’s exuberant self, but no less pleasant. And getting them together was like their own little show.
Enter the topic of “Parent Leashes,” physical and electronic.
Apparently there really are electronic child leashes, K. J. told me (I searched, and, yup, it’s true; here’s one such item). It was a blast playing off the both of them on this topic and K. J.’s energy. She was young and happy and excited to be here. At the beginning of her writing career. She actually reminded me of fellow blogger Jessica Cyphers (whom I’ve never met but interact with). K. J.’s energy was…well…pure. Clean. I sensed a truly good soul here. Thank you, K. J., for stopping by and spending some of your life with Jennifer and me! I wish you well in your writing and travels!
I also ran into my writer friend, K. D. Huxman!
The MOA event was composed of two panels sandwiching an author showcase and the keynote speaker (Carrie Vaughn). It was in the top floor of Library 21c (“21c” stands for “21st Century”). All the authors were arranged in a horseshoe pattern about the perimeter of a large conference room, with the panel at the head of the room and the audience taking up the bulk of the room in the center. It was recorded by three cameras. Library photographers (or at least one, like Lindy) roamed the event snapping off shots. We’re supposed to get these pictures sent to us later, so I’ll post those when I receive them.
Panel 1, titled, KOPs, Goblins, & A Time-Traveling President, was composed of Hilari Bell, Jason Heller, and Warren Hammond. This discussion yielded all kinds of great sound bites and personal writing anecdotes, like “writers are sensitive bunnies,” dealing with editors is like “Thank you, sir, may I have another!“, and “You just gotta suck it up and take your medicine.” All three described their personal journeys to publication.
During the Showcase Spotlight Bryan and Shannon (from the library) read each author’s bio to the public as they went from author to author. That was really nice!
Panel 2, titled, Marketing Your Book, was composed of Justin Luzader, Mary Walewski, and Doris Baker. Liz Pelletier was unable to make it, so Doris sat in for her. This discussed the obvious, and one of the cool statements I got out of it was for authors to build a community around your passion without pandering to the reader. Another interesting statement was to build a content plan about what you want to say through your social media. Huh. Inneresting.
The Keynote speaker was Carrie Vaughn. Originally from the area, Carrie used to work at a now long-defunct indie bookstore I used to frequent: McKinzey-White. I was so glad to hear her bring up that long-gone bookstore. I think it was the best bookstore around, and is where I met Joseph Reininger (dang it, I’d wished I’d asked Carrie if she knew him—she must’ve, since he was there when she was), who gave me a blurb for my current work-in-progress years ago. Carrie’s delivery centered about mustaches and a sense of location. And it was quite curious (and hilarious) to learn that NYC doesn’t seem to have a good sense of “mustache employment” (my words, not Carrie’s) Especially out in the West. Really? [NYC] Your only “sense” of mustaches is from Ron Jeremy?!
Carrie also had a set of guidelines (I don’t like “rules”), not for writing…but for reading:
- Every now and then, read outside your comfort zone.
- Don’t be afraid to quit a book in the middle!
- If you don’t like what you’re reading, ask yourself why.
- Try to figure out why you like your favorite book.
- Always have a book with you.
- Spread the word about what you’re reading.
- Support your local library (received rousing applause!).
- Read more.
There was a lot going on in these panels and Carrie’s Keynote, and this blog post is getting long enough, so I’ve only given a smattering of what went on. When this comes around next year, do make a point to attend! Heck, even if I don’t get in next year, I still plan on attending!
And this event was so well-attended that the parking lot was totally filled! I mean, isn’t that great? In an era of everything-online, a library function was SRO.
As I sat there and took it all in, I realized I’ve missed going to these kinds of author events. It’s been really hard getting out there and promoting, because my work schedules (yes, I have a day job) have been so all-consuming (I heard this a lot from other writers), but I love interacting with readers and writers. I just always enjoy the heck out of these things!
On my way out I checked back with Maria, discovering her success, and beside Maria met Brandy Vallance, who writes inspirational historical romances. But the funny thing was that as I talked with Maria, Maria and I noted all this food and drink being placed down before Brandy.
I couldn’t let this pass.
So, jokingly, I make a comment or two about this and Brandy tells us that it’s not for her…that her husband and kids are coming by.
We never saw these “husband and children.”
But Brandy, whom I met for the first time, here, was a good sport about it, and let me take a picture of her and “her food.” Thanks, Brandy! Thing is my HD camera didn’t seem to working all that great (I think it was user error), so it’s kinda blurry, but I so loved the shot’s composition and the look on Brandy’s face, I’m including it anyway.
A note of apology to Warren Hammond!
As I was leaving the event, I noticed Carrie Vaughn (and Warren) at their author table on my way out. They were both busy, but as I got closer, Carrie freed up, so I thought, I’m gonna thank her for her speech, so stopped by. I noticed Warren to my left, but he seemed busy with something/someone. Carrie and I talked, I thanked her–and took a picture of her—it turned out unintentionally “patriotic,” as you see, with the flag behind her. It wasn’t planned that way, but she stood right in front of it, and we chuckled about it. I looked at the picture when I got home, and thought how she looked like a State Department official…except she was smiling!
As I left, I saw Warren freed up, so stopped and talked with him. The “apology” part comes in that after chatting with him, I don’t remember if I thanked him for his part on the panels! So, Warren, if I did not thank you—my apologies. I thank you for you part on the first panel. Got a lot of tweet sound bites from you!
I enthusiastically recommend the PPLD Mountain of Authors event to all writers and readers! This is a fun, one-day gathering. Thanks to everyone who attended and participated in MOA, making it such an awesome experience!