Tag Archives: Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books

Southeastern Wisconsin Festival of Books

Barbara Vey -- June 18th, 2012

This weekend the Southeastern Wisconsin Festival of Books was held for the third time.  I’d love for this little book fest to grow into something big and fun, but I think the idea of a Friday/Saturday gig is not so great.  Why not have it Saturday/Sunday when the majority of people can attend?  Just a suggestion.

I moderated two panels on Friday afternoon.  Both were terrific and fun, but unfortunately not at the best time and with six other workshops at the same time vying for an audience, it spread everyone a bit thin.  It was a shame too because the authors had terrific things to say.

 

J.R. Turner, Elizabeth, David Thome, B.A. Binns

J.R. Turner, Elizabeth Ridley, David Thome, B.A. Binns

Romance With a Twist featured B.A. Binns, Elizabeth Ridley, David Thome and J. R. Turner.  It was a lively discussion made entertaining with David Thome on the panel.  His focus seemed to be on the fact that he is a male writing romance and is that an acceptable thing.  But mainly it seemed like he wanted to talk about Fifty Shades of Grey (yes, everyone groaned at this point).   One of the questions was “With the popularity of fantasy, paranormal, and supernatural elements in romance today, how much romance does a book need to have to be considered a romance?”   The authors pretty much agreed that there is no set percentage.  It was felt that it depended on the publisher.  One author told how her story was deemed not romantic enough by one publisher, while another thought it too romantic.  I guess the same applies to readers.   Some of us like a lot and others like a little.  It’s up to the author to put out the best story that fits each situation.

 

The second panel I moderated was Make Room for Romance with Adrienne Giordano, Sherill Bodine, Tracey Devlyn.  Because of the audience, this panel talked more about the process of writing the book.  One of the questions was “What is my favorite part of the book writing process?”  Everyone seemed to enjoy the research element.  Discovering new things they didn’t know before.  But they all took different roads to get their books finished.  Adrienne appears to be the more outline kind of writer while Tracey admits to writing by the seat of her pants.  She admits that at times she’s not sure where the story is going.  Sherill is very old school, preferring to hand write her stories in notebooks and then transferring them to the computer.

The book signings are held after each workshop and unfortunately on dead end corridors.  I felt bad for the authors seated in such out of the way places.  I wish they would do a huge book signing in a large room a la RWA (Romance Writers of America), where readers could wander the aisles and stop and chat with the authors.  As it is, one would have to come to each event to see every author and get a signed book.  Two full days is a big commitment for that.

There was an author cocktail party held in the library with guest speakers Tawni O’Dell and an interview with Jean Feraca of Wisconsin Public Radio.

Saturday, the Mystery Writers of America held their MWA University.  For an additional fee, aspiring writers could sit in on workshops to help hone their craft.  It was open to the public.

There really was something for everyone with a Cookbook Stage that offered cooking for kids, with cheese and gardens with Jane Austin.  Poetry, literary books, children’s writers and illustrators and a discussion about challenged and censored books.  There was even a concurrent event for teens and tweens.

I think local book festivals are wonderful and have so much to offer.  I just wonder how much the time of the year they have them has to do with attendance.  Summers in Wisconsin are so short and everyone seems to want to be outside when the weather is beautiful.  Would it make a difference to have it in the fall?  Or is it because of the location (UW-Waukesha) that makes it harder because of school being in session at that time.  Just some things to think about.

Bottom Line:   Support your local Book Festivals.  “We read to know we are not alone.” ~ C. S. Lewis

Gearing Up for Conference Season

Barbara Vey -- March 21st, 2011
I wish I were traveling to all these places, but I'll be staying in the U.S.

I wish I were traveling to all these places, but I'll be staying in the U.S.

Finally, my favorite time of year is almost upon us.  No, not Christmas.  Since my kids are grown and gone, my favorite time is conference time for all things book related.  While my schedule isn’t as full as last year, I’ve got some great things coming up this year.

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In 2 weeks I’m headed to Los Angeles for the RT Booklovers Convention.  This puppy is huge with lots of authors and readers.  There’s panels (yes, I’ll be on one), book signings, an award ceremony and of course, parties.  Lots of parties including a vampire ball and faerie ball.  Dean Koontz will be there as a special guest and the fan favorite cover model competition.  And did I mention that it will be in Los Angeles?  I’m just hoping I have enough time to stop at Disneyland.  After all, I am a kid at heart.

At the end of April, I’ll be headed to Huntsville, AL for the Heart of Dixie Romance Readers’ Luncheon.  I’ve never been there and I’ve heard it’s a great time.  Another new event to break in.

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I also get to go to BEA (Books Expo America) in New York.  I was only there for one day a couple of years ago and I had a blast.  It’s so exciting with tons of authors, publishers and any with anything to do with publishing.  I was like a kid in a candy store and I was only in the exhibit hall.  This year I’m hoping to go to some of the actual sessions.

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The other big conference in New York will be the RWA (Romance Writers of America). I’m honored to be on a panel there this year.  Their book signing is amazing.  It’s free and open to the public with all monies from books sold going to literacy.  It gives me chills to see fans lined up to meet their favorite authors and discover new ones.  Although this is a working conference for many of the writers, there always seems to be time to socialize and the publishers parties are to die for.  I’m expecting a lot since the event is on their home turf.  And I’ll also get to attend Lady Jane’s Salon where they have authors read from their own books in a very cozy atmosphere with an audience of enthusiastic romance fans.

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In between, I’ll be flying to Detroit to give a workshop to their GDRWA members.  I love the intimate gatherings and getting to know both the published and unpublished authors in the group.  There’s also the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books where I’ll be on both a panel and acting as a moderator for a panel of romance authors.

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I’ve been invited to do a workshop with author Dianna Love for the GRW in Atlanta.  Since I’ve gotten to attend a meeting of theirs in the past, I know the talent in this group.  Excited to visit with all of them again.  I’ll be in Ohio twice this year.  Once for their reader luncheon and once for their Central Ohio Fiction Writer’s Annual Conference in Columbus where I’ll be doing a workshop.  More people to share the joys of Facebook and Twitter with.

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I do admit that I’m in withdrawal because I won’t be able to attend the San Diego Comic Con, but I will be at DragonCon in Atlanta and it’s unique fan based style.  Always an experience and such fun.

If I win the lottery, I’d love to attend Moonlight and Magnolias, RomCon, Novelists, Inc., Thrillerfest, Emerald City, WRW, New Jersey Romance Writers  Conference, Crimebake, WisRWA and many more.  But it’s always fun to dream about and hopefully some people will step up to be cub reporters for the events I cannot attend.  I know my readers love reading about the events they can’t always attend and I’m honored to represent them.  I try to report back what it’s like to be a reader living the dream.

Here’s where I’ll be this year:

RT - April 6-10 Los Angeles

Heart of Dixie Romance Readers’ Luncheon – April 30 – Huntsville

GDRW – May 17 – Detroit

GRW – May 21 – Atlanta

BEA - May 23-26 New York

SEWFB - June 17-18 Waukesha

Lady Jane’s Salon – June 27 – New York

RWA – June 28-July 1 – New York

DragonCon - September 2-5 – Atlanta

Central Ohio Fiction Writers – September 30-October 1 – Columbus

Ohio Readers Luncheon – October 20 – Medina

Bottom Line: I think there should be a magic card, just for me, that lets me travel to every single conference.

Join me on Facebook and Twitter.

Romance Panel at SE Wisconsin Festival of Books

Barbara Vey -- June 21st, 2010
Ann Voss Peterson, Lori Handeland, Shari Anton, Isabel Sharpe relaxing after their Romance Panel

Ann Voss Peterson, Lori Handeland, Shari Anton, Isabel Sharpe relaxing after their Romance Panel

On day 2 of the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books, I moderated a panel of romance writers.  Our event was held in the beautiful Lunt-Fontanne Theatre and I have to tell you that there is something magical about standing on a stage that offers stadium seating.

The panel consisted of authors Shari Anton, Lori Handeland, Ann Voss Peterson and Isabel Sharpe.  While we hit on some of the general romance questions (how difficult is it to write a sex scene, do you get many fan letters from prisoners, how do those covers get picked anyway?), a few of the audience members were more interested in the business side of writing.  Can you support yourself on your writing alone (some could), do you do this full time (whenever possible) and do you need an agent (yes, it’s a good idea).

In the audience was an intern for the local newspaper, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Barbara Vey schmoozing with Eric Randall of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Barbara Vey schmoozing with Eric Randall of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Here for the summer from Yale, Eric Randall took a class “The Historical Romance Novel” with Andrea DaRif and Lauren Willig.  While he said that he enjoyed the class and learned a lot he didn’t know about romance novels, he admitted that he probably wouldn’t buy one.  According to Eric, he was uncomfortable reading them in public, mostly because of the covers, but he found the stories themselves very interesting.

Eric spent the morning attending the local Romance Writers of America meeting and interviewing several of the authors there.  He wasn’t sure when his article would be published, but I’ll be sure to put a link up when I find out.  I took some pictures with my iPhone and offered them to him, but unfortunately the resolution isn’t good enough for the newspaper.

Bottom Line: Where was Jimmy Olson when we needed him?

Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books

Barbara Vey -- June 19th, 2010

Yesterday I was at the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books and appeared on the panel, The Art of Blogging.  Since “The Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books is a free community-wide event organized by the UW-Waukesha Foundation in cooperation with community groups that include the Waukesha County Federated Library System, the Waukesha Public Library, the Literacy Council of Greater Waukesha and Martha Merrell’s Bookstore,” it offered a very wide variety of books and authors.  Not like the usual specialty conferences I attend.

Beth Finkle, Barbara Vey, Paul and Lori Fredrich

Beth Finkle, Barbara Vey, Paul and Lori Fredrich

With that said, my panel consisted of Lori and Paul Fredrich of the “Burp! Where Food Happens” blog and Beth Finke who writes “Safe and Sound: The Adventures of a Woman and Her Seeing Eye Dog.”  It was an amazing experience sitting between these incredible people as they each told of their journey into blogging.

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Lori deboning a duck

Lori deboning a duck

Lori and Paul’s blog developed through their love of food and when the familynews letter got to be too much, they decided to specialize into the tasty arena of trying new foods and sharing their discoveries with family and friends.  It’s now blossomed into a gigantic foodie community.  They’ve even been challenged by the Milwaukee Journal to try one of Julia Child’s tougher recipes and managed to bone a duck in front of the newspaper photographer with nary a mishap.

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Beth and Hanni

Beth and Hanni

Beth Finkle is an NPR commentator, an award-winning author, teacher and journalist. She also happens to be blind.  Beth travels with her seeing eye dog, Hanni and although she moderated a blog for Easter Seals, she came into personal blogging kicking and screaming.  “I started telling my co-workers stories of my life with a Seeing Eye dog, sharing the adventures and foibles I have every day with Hanni. My colleagues encouraged me to start a personal blog. They said, “These would be great blog posts!” I said “no way!”  I was already spending more than my allotted 12 hours a week working on the autism blog, and, besides, I was a freelance writer. People (Chicago Public Radio, various magazines and newspapers) PAID me to write my stories in essay form, why the heck would I publish them as blog posts for free?  They kept pushing. The pressure got to me. , I finally succumb. My personal “Safe & Sound” blog debuted in August, 2007, and I’ve been a happy blogger ever since.”

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Alli Chase & Deb Baker

Alli Chase & Deb Baker

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Because of the diversity of our blogs, the event was light-hearted and entertaining.  I learned a lot, which is always a good thing and now I have two new blogs to read.

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Just two little asides.  First, I got to meet Alli Chase, Library Director of the Alice Baker Library in Eagle, WI who is organizing an Author Event in September and author Deb Baker , who is also a member of Sisters in Crime.  The other thing that tickled my fancy was my visit to the restroom.  Taped to the wall of the stall was “Restroom Reading.”  Being a college, there were listings of events and classes.  Obviously learning opportunities where ever you may be on campus.

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Bottom Line: It just goes to show that blogging is not necessarily about your subject, but about your passion for your subject.