This was my second "running with the Penguins" and I had a blast!
Last year, I participated as a speaker on several panel discussions, read from my short story collection (okay, DRAKE's short story collection) and volunteered in the bookshop a little bit. It was a whirlwind of a weekend, and I came home tired... good tired.
This year, I took a different approach... I didn't participate on any panels, and focused on experiencing the Con as a writer instead. I still volunteered at the bookshop... I'll always do that... but this year, it was nice to get out to some of the panels and sit with the "regular" people rather than present. It's a different type of exposure to an event that has so much to offer. I enjoyed having this different perspective. It was fun.
I took part in a panel on pitching your MS to whomever... this was a great way to be reminded that a pitch, whether in an elevator or at a festival, is NOT necessarily your back cover blurb. I knew this already, but of course, who among us doesn't need an occasional refresher course?
I attended a panel that discussed the wonderful writing of Ray Bradbury and how he influenced other writers of that genre. I also attended a session devoted to the mechanics of writing a "Choose Your Own Adventure" novel. I loved this session because this is something that's on my list of writing projects. I've toyed with it for several years, but couldn't quite grasp the nuts and bolts of the build. This session was extremely helpful in showing me an effective flow process. Now, that project is again closer to the front burner... not like I don't have enough irons in my creative mind's fire already!
There was a lively discussion about Tropes. This session was particularly helpful for me... not because I'm confused with what tropes are or how to use them, but because I'm planning a major collaboration project that focuses on using tropes as a momentum vehicle for the story's progression. I'm being cagey about this right now because it's a great idea, and I'm still working on the specifics with a team of outstanding writers. But, stay tuned, because more details will be leaking out shortly. Tease? Me? Never!
There was also a very supportive discussion about attaining your MFA on your own terms... DYI. Hearing about the positive aspects of designing your own degree program was a great reminder that the writer doesn't necessarily need a "credited" program to learn more about craft and thrive as an author. There are a lot of accelerated workshops and low residency retreats that can fuel the writing flames just as effectively, without the long-term commitment or cost of a degree program. The information given to us regarding programs and pricing was helpful, as were the tips and tricks of how to choose the best program for your style of writing.
The discussion group I enjoyed the most, I think, was the panel on Subversive Fairy Tales. This was a delicious romp through the world of what is and isn't a fairy tale, and the history behind them. So many people equate these stories with a Disney-esq approach, and it was refreshing to hear that other writers loved the original, darker tales, as I do. The Grimms Brothers didn't have talking animals in their stories, and they frequently didn't end happily ever after - regardless of how strong the orphan was at the end of the story. This conversation stimulated yet another story idea... and this is exactly why I enjoy Cons so much. You never know where your next story idea may come from, but you're certainly to locate many of them at a Con, if you sit, listen, and watch for a while.
Rounding out the event was time spent with fabulous authors, hearing them read, discussing craft, marketing approaches, and books, in general. I was honored to hear many authors read their work, including Michael W. Lucas, David Erik Nelson, Mary Lynne Gibbs, Jean Davis, G.S. Scott, Brigham Vaughn, and Clif Flynt. Cons are wonderful for networking and making new friends. I even got to play with baby Kit throughout the weekend!
The staff at The Westin in Southfield were exemplary, as usual. Kindness and cleanliness permeated the weekend. The staff got involved by collecting ribbons to show their support, and every one of them had a smile and a "hope you're having a great day" to add to the experience. This truly is a wonderful venue to hold a Con, and I can see why the organizers of Penguicon keep coming back.
Authors, Books, and a Baby... a great way to spend a weekend... even considering the wee bout of ConCrud that came home with me. Will I do it again next year? You Betcha!
I enjoyed my time at this event. The event was well planned-out, super-affordable, with a nice diversity of vendors. There were three book tables (mine and two others), spaced well throughout the room, which worked to everyone's benefit, I think. There was plenty of space for people to walk about without feeling claustrophobic, and nice table neighbors. An added bonus, there was the opportunity for families to bring their children to have photos taken with the Easter Bunny. This event had everything going for it, except there was one major problem... a lack of marketing common sense.
The only place I saw any promotion at all was on Facebook, and there wasn't very much of it. I shared whenever I could, but the organizers should have done more. I'm a member of LOTS of online resources to list events in Michigan, and I didn't see this event listed anywhere.
The event was held at a very nice German Community Club, the facilities were wonderful, clean, warm, with food available and lots of parking... but not one sign out front to let people driving by know that there was something exciting happening inside. The club is situated in Sterling Heights, off Utica Road, with lots of free parking, and plenty of traffic going by, but no one was turning in because no one knew that we were there! There was an "A" frame sign out front advertising the club's Friday Fish Fry, but no sign advertising this event. The event organizers put a hand-written sign on the front door - but no one could see that from the road.
The fact that it was the day before Easter, and a particularly rainy day, didn't help the declining visitors... but certainly, there would have been more people visiting had they known the event was happening. Many vendors were frustrated and went home early - which is never a good sign.
I sold some books, some people signed up for my newsletter, and I had a lovely conversation with my table neighbor... but I'm not sure I will attend this event if they host it next year. At least, not unless they promise to do some more promotion. It has lovely potential, but potential doesn't become real without marketing.
This is a book festival I always look forward to attending. Wonderful people, beautiful surroundings, and supporting a charity that serves literacy... what's not to love? Karen is an amazing organizer. She is truly a kind soul, and understands the importance of books and authors - most especially - local authors. We always have a warm welcome in her shop.
I had a fabulous day. The atmosphere at Leon & Lulu is calm and exciting, simultaneously. The energy of the place makes it easy to have conversations with readers and other authors, making for comfortable connectivity. The areas they give us are like miniature living rooms. Super comfy couches, exquisite tables, and enough space in between to get up and stretch. The environment is so comfortable, I feel more like I'm visiting with friends than working a festival.
This time, they offered readings from authors every fifteen minutes throughout the day. My reading time was at 12:30pm, which was perfect. For those of you who know me, afternoons are more brain-friendly for me. :-) I read from Drake's collection of short stories, "A Duck Quacks". It was fun to share his work with visitors. It was also wonderful that the reading space was so close to my table that I could support other authors when my time slot was over.
Spending the day hanging out with author friends, meeting readers, selling and signing books, and spending my day in such an energetically artistic place... The day was comfortable and easy going. I just love being a part of this festival. I look forward to attending again in Autumn.
This was my first time attending one of the Shipshewana On The Road events, either as a vendor or a guest. Its was an interestingly fun weekend.
For those seeking out a variety of stuff to buy, this is certainly the place. Vendors had everything from "as seen on TV" stuff, to hand-crafted wood and leather, to LOTS of food! Curiously enough, one of the most prevalent items I saw walking by in the hands of visitors was a "magic" mop... promised to pick up dog hair from nearly any surface - several people had two. The most curious item... the Sugar Gliders. Super cute, super soft, and completely irresistible. I didn't bring one home, though because... Charlie has no self-control yet.
I was there as a vendor, selling my books, sharing booth space with four other spectacular Indie Authors... Jordan J. Scavone, R.A. Andrade, Brenda Hasse, and Wendy Sura Thomson. After a slight learning curve for booth set up - it's always a challenge to find just the right configuration, we got right at it. The show ran both Saturday and Sunday, and we didn't need to breakdown and set up each day - the venue was locked and guarded at night. This, in itself, is a bonus.
Saturday saw more traffic and sales than Sunday, yet I met a lot of interesting people both days. I kibitzed with the other authors that the little microcosm of humanity that this show held provided a wealth of characters for my next twelve books! LOTS of interesting people! The booths were 10' x 10', and had pipe & drape back walls. The facility was well heated (a necessity, as some of us learned at a recent event), and the bathrooms were clean and safe. There was a very engaging security person who kept us entertained each time he made his rounds, and I think he enjoyed our antics as much as we enjoyed his. The aisles were wide, with plenty of room for the throng that walked them throughout the weekend. Standing at my table, engaging with readers, I never felt that the venue was too tight for the number of visitors.
There was only one other bookseller booth in the entire venue, which was nice. It made for very little competition for sales. The booth cost was affordable, split between us... but might be cost prohibitive for a single author. The sponsors had everything well in hand, were friendly, helpful, and well organized. The event seemed to be well-publicized, based on the number of visitors, and they had the event running on the marquee facing I-75 to draw in traffic.
You'll find some interesting stuff here... some Op Eds, some Information, Book Reviews, and More. Poke around the categories and see what ruffles your feathers... in a good way!