January 31, 2015

Bookmarks Presents A Movable Feast 2015

My dear friend, Sandie, from Booksie's Blog, and  I got to attend another Bookmarks Movable Feast Author Event this year and we had a lot of fun.  We had not heard of as many authors this time around, but we did meet some pretty incredible people.  I jotted down notes throughout the event so I could share some of our experiences with all of you!  At the end I have included some of the swag I got to take home with me, including a book I won in a raffle!

Before the event even started, Kristyn Kusek Lewis, author of Save Me, made the rounds to tables she was not assigned to, which included ours.  She was so friendly and warm and she made a wonderful impression on me.  I would love to sit down and talk with her more some time.


I wish I had taken a photo of Mary Miley, author of Silent Murders, that day because she had on the most adorable cloche hat.  She looked like she would fit right in, no problem, to the setting of her mystery book series, set in the roaring '20s.  She uses her Pinterest account to illustrate her books - fashions, etc.  She had lots of swag and was very friendly. She loves history and told so many lovely historical anecdotes!  She writes mainly nonfiction and I want to get some of her NF books to try as well.  She is a big fan of her critique groups and thinks that critiques are one of the more important parts of the process.

Lucy Ferriss, author of A Sister to Honor, is 2 parts author, 1 part daredevil, if you ask me.  Her book takes place in Pashtun, Pakistan, the very heart of Taliban country.  Lucy went to Pashtun in order to really get a feel for the country and its citizens while she was writing the book.  There is a slideshow on her website, lucyferriss.com, which displays photos from her time there, including those who inspired her/were models for her characters.  In a city of 2 million people, she only ran into one other Westerner, who told her she was the first Westerner he had seen in Pashtun for 5 years.  Lucy also told us while she was there the man showing her and her translator around suddenly said to get Lucy in the car and out of the area quickly.  He had overheard a plot to kidnap the author.  She did not even realize she was in immediate danger until after they were on their way.  She had to be interrogated by ISS later.  I hear her book is just as much of a heart-racing novel as her experience there was.  I can't wait to read it!

Sonja Yoerg's novel, House Broken, isn't actually just about a dog as the cover suggests.  As Yoerg says, "It's not another Marley & Me and I wish it had a different cover."  The book is actually centered around 3 generations of women and told from all three viewpoints - Geneva, Geneva's alcoholic mother, and Geneva's 16-year-old daughter, Ella.  Everyone has their own agendas, and Geneva starts digging into the many mysteries in the family.  The book is written all in 3rd person, but she initially wrote both Ella and the grandmother in 1st person in order to find their voices then switched everything to 3rd person.  I love tidbits about the writing process like that!

Aaron Thier was obviously socially awkward, perhaps from the many hours spent writing all alone as is the authors bane, but he was still charming and answered all of our questions.  Once he got started talking about the topic of The Ghost Apple, however, his enthusiasm was contagious.  He posed the question, "You see pamphlets and informative brochures all the time and never give a thought to who sat down and wrote them.  You're not really supposed to think about it.  But, what if it were obvious who wrote all of the pamphlets, brochures, leaflets?  What if the agenda was always plain to see?"  The Ghost Apple is told in a series of documents and revolves around the food industry and their creation of a study in the Caribbean to test a new "dietary and mood additive."

I really cannot write objectively about Timothy Wilson, author of Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change.  I want to say how he used his recent research on the subject of whether a person can change negative thought patterns into positive ones and he wrote the book to make the research more accessible to the general public.  The way he talks though, you can tell he is very self-important.  I am not sure how accessible the book will actually be for the general public.  The most memorable thing about him, however, is this: 
He spits when he talks.
I had the misfortune of sitting next to him and he spit constantly, including on me.
Not cool.  At all.  
I was traumatized by his projectile saliva.

Now that I have written about it, I can put it behind me.  *shudder*

Okay next up is author Joshua Max Feldman, who wrote The Book of Jonah.  I have no idea what he said because nature called at this time (as did a thorough spit cleansing ritual).  I feel bad that I missed the whole thing but you can always ask Sandie what he said. :)  I did catch that he wants to write 10 Biblical short stories.

Chris Scotton loves interacting with readers, which shows as he is quite interesting and an excellent conversationalist. He said his dream is to wake up on an airplane and the person next to him is reading the book and loves it. :)  He offered that the death in the book (not a spoiler) is based on the brother of a good friend of his.  There is a lot going on in the book, a lot of themes, including Mountaintop Removal, which I had no idea is still going on.  He said over 500 mountains in the Appachians have been obliterated.  Scotton used to be in tech, and still owns a software company, but stepped back, stating, "My day job was getting in the way of my writing."  The Secret Wisdom of the Earth is his first book.

Kate Alcott, the author of the new book The Daring Ladies of Lowell, sat down and the first thing she said was "Someone ask me a question.  I'm getting confused about what I've said to whom already."  Being this was her 8th table, I imagine so!  She told us about how her father-in-law won the Oscar for writing Citizen Kane.  She told us about more of her stories and how they enthralled her.  I introduced her to the term "book hangover" and she said "Dash off a note to me to let me know how you liked the book.  I hope it gives you a - what term did you use?- ah, book hangover.  I hope it gives you a book hangover!"  How adorable is she?

Artis Henderson's memoir, Un-Remarried Widow, is a bit more of a solemn story.  It is her memoir of losing her husband in Iraq and rebuilding her life a piece at a time.  She said it was also about the ties she still has with the military as well as how the event actually brought her closer to her mom.  Her father died when she was 5 years old and she never quite grasped the grief her mother went through.  She says she is closer with her mother now.  I guess it is a tale of how something good can happen out of an unspeakable tragedy if we are open to it.  Artis was a delightful person and you could tell you would adore her once you got to know her.

I made sure I was sitting at a table that Nadia Hashimi would get to visit.  It was hard, though, as many book clubs had swooped up the majority of her tables.  We had to choose between her and Heather Webb and we made the choice to sit and talk with Nadia.  Sandie noticed I got on with her immediately. I found her utterly fascinating.  She is a pediatrician but she had this story inside of her and her husband said she needed to get it out.  Thus, The Pearl That Broke Its Shell was born.  Nadia really wanted to talk about the differences between her experiences as an Afghan-American and the experiences of Afghans.  When asked she said she did wonder if the Afghans would think she was "airing the dirty laundry", so to speak, but she feels "as a writer you have the right to talk about it and make a transparency there, even as a fictional story.  She has not received negative feedback and even the Afghan newspaper out of California has supported the work.  Nadia and I discussed raising girls as gender-neutral (even as she tried her daughter still loves pink and tutus, but at least she has that dichotomy now) and we talked about my sister's experiences with her husband's Indian family and the different gender norms that come from there, even as they evolve, and she told me more about the Afghan norms.  She iterated that we must "be vigilant because you never know when your rights could be taken away.  It will not be sudden, it will be subtle.  And if it could happen in one country, it can happen in any other."  Wise words.

It was a fun event and I can't wait to go again next year!

I won this book in a raffle.  Cool, right?

I won this book and then Kate Alcott came to our table and signed it for me!

Autographs!  Mary Miley and Nadia Hashimi
Nadia is referring to the fact I forgot to bring my book for her to sign!

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