A Shakespearian Selfie
Book festivals are one of my favorite parts of being an author. Gone are the days when a writer could simply hammer out a manuscript, pop it in the mail to a publisher, and expect a copy of the book along with a fat royalty check to show up at her doorstep. That may have worked for the Bronte sisters, and to an extent, Louisa May Alcott, but that isn’t the life your friendly neighborhood author leads.
What goes on at a typical book festival? Come along on my adventures at the Word of [South] Music and Book Festival in Tallahassee, Florida and see for yourself!
- Armed with bookmarks and business cards, I hit the road before dawn for 4 exciting hours of driving the interstate.
- I got McDonald’s! I really find those bacon, egg, and cheese pancake biscuits tasty and agreeable. This has become my writing road trip tradition since a bad country ham biscuit at a Hardee’s somewhere in Louisiana left its mark both on me and a little mom & pop gas station that I can never enter again. Well, that’s another story.
- I pet horses at a gas station! They were loaded up in their trailer getting their breakfast and the man caring for them let me interact a bit.
- I did my hair and makeup in a rest area bathroom. Four hours of nothing but interstate somehow wipes the makeup right off my face, so I wait until I get close to my destination before making myself look decent. The horses didn’t mind the natural me a bit.
- I second-guess Google maps. A lot.
- Once I arrive at the festival, I find my publisher’s booth. There isn’t a Google map for that.
- Then, the fun begins! I meet and greet. I talk A LOT about my book as well as the other books in our tent as I try to match people with stories they’ll enjoy. I hang out with the other authors my publisher represents as well as fangirl over more famous authors who are the headliners at the festival. This particular festival, I was looking around for Sean of the South Dietrich and my Alabama author hero Rick Bragg.
- I didn’t get to schmooze with Rick Bragg this time, but I did meet up with a dude in passable Elizabethan costuming who was hawking an upcoming production of Romeo and Juliet. He was a few tents down and we hit it off by quoting Shakespeare at each other. He spoke in a lovely British accent. I recited Juliet’s bit from the balcony. He recited Sonnet 18…you know, the one about comparing thee to a summer’s day—pretty cool from a man in a doublet.
- I sign autographs, apply sunscreen, eat concessions, and regret forgetting a camp chair (again).
- I sometimes get a little taste of being famous: “Are you Rocky Porch Moore?” Yes, yes I am. “I read about your book in…” And these people aren’t even related to me!
- At the end of the festival, I help my publisher pack up the stock, posters, decorations, racks, and tablecloths. She has it down to a science.
- The Bard and I have one last go at Shakespeare as we bid this festival adieu. I quoted Hamlet and he came back with the next line…from Romeo and Juliet. Oops!
You meet all kinds of people at a book festival. Remember that cafeteria scene in Mean Girls where the different high school people groups are defined? You see all sorts of fashion choices, too. This festival ranged from bikini tops and bare feet all the way to formal dresses and impossibly high heels. You would think all of them would have one thing in common—a love of reading—but this would be a misconception. Today, I heard “I don’t really like books” multiple times as folks browsed the racks.
Book festivals are quite fun for authors, readers, and apparently even people who don’t really like books. I’m off to another one next weekend!
NOTE FROM ROCKY: We are just a few days away from the worldwide release of my new book, A Gathering Misery. Please join me Saturday, April 21 at the Alabama Book Festival in Montgomery as we get to unbox my latest novel! I can’t wait to hold A Gathering Misery in my arms at last!
Can’t come? You can pre-order yours right now, RIGHT HERE.
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