Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the Rose Glen Literary Festival with several of my friends from the SCC Writer’s Group. I’ll admit, I really didn’t want to go Friday afternoon. Why? Because, when I’m working on a writing project, I usually like to stay in my self-imposed exile until it’s complete. And usually, when I’m participating in these festivals, I feel guilty, knowing I could be working on my writing, rather than trying to sell my image and my books. Don’t get me wrong though, I quickly change my tune once I attend these events, but I always get there kicking and screaming.
This year’s festival was the 9th annual gathering and was held at the Sevierville Convention Center. It’s a beautiful venue, which allowed us authors to set up around the exterior of the building, while readers and fellow authors met in conference rooms and listened to very talented authors share their wisdom. As soon as I arrived, I hit the ground running, setting up my books shortly before the doors opened to guests.
Let me stop right here for a moment. I need to take a second and reveal how bittersweet this trip was for me. This festival, the first one I’ve participated in 2018, was the first event I attended without my aunt Eva. That didn’t stop me from taking her books with me to sell. As I’ve mentioned several times, the royalties from her books are going into The Eva McCall Memorial Scholarship, and this place looked like the perfect opportunity to spread the word and raise money.
I didn’t realize the significance of Eva’s loss yesterday, until right at 9 a.m., when a reader came up and bought two copies of Eva’s books, no questions asked. I didn’t even have to convince here that she needed to buy Eva’s books, rather than any of the others in the building. I was so shocked when the woman walked up to me and said, “I want these two,” I said, “Are you sure?” Not my best selling point, I know. I posted a picture of me at the event, and a family member commented on how sad it was to see the empty chair beside me. Yes, the chair was empty, but Eva spent the day with me. I felt her smile on me every time I sold a book. She would have been so tickled. For those keeping track, yesterday’s event produced $116 in funds for the scholarship.
I’d have to say that this was the first event where readers came and were truly interested in buying a book from someone…and brought money with them. Even though my genre of books didn’t really meet the audience that gathered there, I still sold a couple. But as always, I didn’t come to the event to sell books (even though it’s a big driving force). I went to meet other authors, learn new things, and to get energized from everybody else’s energy, which would then help my own writing. It did just that. When I had a free moment, and wasn’t selling books, I was on my iPad, writing a scene I’ve been trying to hash out for several days. Being there, with all of those creative people, helped me make a significant dent in that scene.
In the afternoon, we all converged into the banquet hall, where we were fed a 3-course meal. I was so impressed with the wait staff, who handled my dietary needs with care, substituting the things I couldn’t eat with the things I could. I didn’t even have to ask. I don’t know if they worked at the convention center, or was contracted to come in, but they did a top-notch job, and I thank them for it. While we enjoyed our meal, we listened to best-selling author, Wiley Cash, who discussed the details of his latest novel, and then conducted a Q&A.
The event quickly ended after that, but not before people stopped back by my table and sold out of Eva’s Murder on Haint Branch and Button Box. I got with many of my Writer’s Group friends to get a picture (sorry for those who didn’t get in), which I know will inspire me to attend many more events with them.
Like every literary festival or meeting I dread attending, I left this one more energized than ever. I know there are many authors out there that feel the same way I do. Some of you may be reading this right now. Just know that even though we don’t want to take away time from our writing, it’s sometimes a good thing. It helps rejuvenate us, which helps give us new outlooks into our writing. Promise to keep me attending these events, and I’ll promise to do the same for you.
Thank you all from the Rose Glen Literary Festival, for putting on a superb job. I definetly will be coming back for your 10th annual event!