- Fizzy Thoughts: Chapter Three of the Book Group Expo

Chapter Three of the Book Group Expo

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thanks for all of your well wishes. Unfortunately, I’ve still got the head cold from hell…if anyone knows of a doctor who will perform a head and lung transplant, please let me know.

However, I have moved past the "kleenex in hand at all times" stage of the cold, so I’m back to blogging. You have probably already seen Trish's and Wendy’s posts about the Book Group Expo, so I’m pretty much old news at this point. But oh well…I’m still gonna gush, because I had a terrific time.

And to prove to you how much of a dork about books I really am, I will first confess to getting up at 4:30am on a Saturday morning. I was on the road at 5:45am for the 3 hour drive to the San Jose Convention Center, site of Chapter Three of the Book Group Expo. Here are some of the highlights from the two days:

  • I met Trish. Who seemed to like me. Thank god.
  • The first author panel consisted of Diana Spechler and Andre Dubus. When Trish and I ran into Andre later, we both confessed to hating House of Sand and Fog. And he seemed okay with that. Diana Spechler just published her first novel (and she’s not even 30 yet!), Who By Fire. Stay tuned for my review of her book…and a possible guest post from the author.
  • The second salon that I went to was Historical Friction. I chose this salon because I totally loved C.W. Gortner’s book The Last Queen, and he was on the panel, along with Maggie Anton (Rashi’s Daughters) and Gail Tsukiyama (The Street of 1000 Blossoms). Memorable moments from this salon include Gail stating she wrote about the sumo culture because she “likes big guys in diapers” and C.W. answering a question that I asked about how he felt at the end of his book, since he couldn’t change Juana’s ultimate fate. He asked me how I felt, and I said I cried…he said he did, too. He added that he couldn't bear to continue her story, and that was why he ended the book at that point.
  • The third salon for Saturday was Which Witch is Which, with Brunonia Barry (The Lace Reader), Kathleen Kent (The Heretic’s Daughter) and Erika Mailman (The Witch’s Trinity). Again, I had the opportunity to ask a question and I asked if they had any input in the cover art and how they felt about the covers of their books. The best response came from Kathleen Kent, who said that the girl on the cover of The Heretic's Daughter is from a photo she found in a box. It was taken in 1910 and is of a Latvian girl. She kept the photo pinned up above her desk when writing the book. Since I adore the cover of her book (it’s so haunting), I thought it was so cool to learn its origins. And I just finished the book this week, so there will be a review sometime in the next week. Also, Michelle Gagnon moderated this panel...I met her afterwards (she witnessed the squealing that was the meeting of Trish, Wendy and me) and she was great fun to talk to.
  • The final salon I attended on Saturday was Bibliotherapy, with Ann Packer, Julia Glass and Dr. Irving Yalom. Despite the presence of two well-known authors, I didn’t find this salon to be as interesting as the others. I did learn that Julia Glass was an artist before she was an author.
  • I met Wendy. And her husband Kip, who took this wonderful photo…

From left to right, it's Trish, me, author/moderator Michelle Gagnon and Wendy

  • Saturday evening I got to hang out with Jennie Shortridge, Garth Stein and Joshua Henkin. Seriously. Thanks to Carol Fitzgerald from Bookreporter.com, who organized cocktails and dinner, I had the opportunity to meet these wonderful authors and feel like I was in the presence of royalty. I could go on and on, but I won’t. I did, however, buy Garth's and Joshua’s books the next day…something I never would have done had I not had dinner with them.
  • Saturday night I also stayed at the St. Claire, which had the most comfiest bed I’ve slept in since the one time I got to stay at the Sheraton in Sacramento.
  • Sunday morning started with a panel consisting of Garth Stein (The Art of Racing in the Rain), Van Jones (The Green Collar Economy...which I would totally read if I read books like that) and Kristin Billerbeck (who writes Christian chick lit).
  • Next up was Wedlocked, with Joshua Henkin (Matrimony), Jennie Shortridge and Sylvia Brownrigg. I went to this salon because I’ve read Jennie Shortridge’s Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe. In fact, I will be blogging about it on November 10th, as part of a TLC Book Tour. So I’ll be talking more about this panel then.
  • The third salon for Sunday was Makin’ Whoopee, featuring Mary Roach (Stiff and Bonk), Karen Abbott (Sin in the Second City), Melanie Abrams (Playing) and Douglas Abrams (The Lost Diary of Don Juan). This was a hysterical discussion on writing about sex.
  • And last, All Abroad, which I attended because I’ve been wanting to read Finding Nouf. And if you’re wondering how to pronounce Nouf, the author informed us it rhymes with loaf. This panel consisted of Zoe Ferraris (author of Finding Nouf), Jana McBurney-Lin (My Half of the Sky), and John Nathan (Living Carelessly in Tokyo and Elsewhere). The moderator was David Corbett (Blood Of Paradise).

Whew. I don't think I've ever put so many links in a post..but I didn't want anyone to feel left out!

I'll conclude with a comment from Joshua Henkin, who said he would love to see more bloggers at these events! So there you go...you should think about joining in the fun next year.

17 comment(s):

bermudaonion said...

Oh my gosh, that looks like it was so much fun. I bet you did feel like royalty dining with authors. Josh Henkin is so great in his support of bloggers.

bkclubcare said...

I think I really have a lot of books to read. I didn't know half of your mentions.

LisaMM said...

Next year I'm going no matter what!! I'm not gonna let another year go by with you and Trish having fun without me!! Even if I will be totally intimidated to meet you both IRL. I'm weird like that!

I got an email from Jennie Shortridge today about how much she enjoyed meeting you. She's so cool. She called you softdrink, LOL.

Glad you're feeling slightly better Jill! Sending good healthy vibes your way!!

Wendy said...

Fabulous post! My highlights also included meeting you and Trish IN THE FLESH!!! I think Michelle Gagnon thought we were a little weird at first *laughs* I'm pretty sure I'm going again next year as long as finances cooperate (but I won't stay at the Hilton...I'm gonna stay where I can get free wireless!!!!!)

Ladytink_534 said...

I think I'm starting to get a cold from hell too. Hope you feel better soon! Sounds like you had a whole lot of fun though.

Ti said...

I want to go next time. I'm actually pouting right now.

Glad your head is starting to clear a bit. By this weekend you should be feeling much better.

Thanks for telling us how to say NOUF.

Book Zombie (Joanne) said...

Oh my goodness, I'm surprised you found time to sleep! It sounds like a fantastic time. I like that you asked the authors about book cover input, I've always wondered about how much choice authors have on the matter. And I am soooo jealous that you met Garth Stein, Art of Racing was amazing!

Heather J. said...

I'm totally jealous - I've been wanting to go for the past 3 yrs, but it's quite a hike from the East Coast. :( I'm glad you had a good time, and YEA! for meeting Trish!

Jana McBurney-Lin said...

Wasn't that a wonderful party? As an author, I felt honored. As a participant, I was always discovering something new. Thanks for stopping by our salon. I remember your smiling face. I think you'll enjoy Finding Nouf, especially all the cultural aspects, the traditions (of which I was unfamiliar). When you have a chance, I hope you'll read My Half of the Sky, as well. And stop by my blog sometime to say hello--www.myhalfoftheysky.blogspot.com.

Michelle Gagnon said...

It was so great meeting you and Trish! And the cover art question was a great one- I'm actually killing myself trying to come up with a new title this week since my cover art sheet is due. Argh!

Michelle Gagnon said...

btw, feel better soon!

Dawn said...

fantastic summary! I'm going to start whining about wanting to go next year as soon as the when/where are announced ... I'll give them lots of notice at home :)

Thanks for sharing tidbits about the weekend; looking forward to your post on *Love and Biology...*

softdrink said...

bermudaonion - best. time. ever.

Carrie - That's okay, I didn't, either!

Ti and Lisa - you two must come next year...that's an order! ;-) I'll even pick you up at the airport, if you fly.

Wendy - May I suggest the St. Claire? ;-)

Tink - uh-oh...don't let the cold win!

Joanne - I love book covers, so it was fun to hear from the authors. Brunonia Barry said she had some input on her cover, too....she suggested making the woman on the cover opaque/more ghost like.

Heather - but you have all those great events on the East Coast - so we've got some mutual jealousy going on. :-)

Jana - I loved your salon - and your book is on the list of books to read!

Michelle - thanks...and thanks for stopping by! Great job moderating...I hope you're there next year!

Dawn - Yes...you must join the fun!

trish said...

LOL! I told you that after the read-a-thon, I knew we'd get along. Or, what I should say, that I would like YOU. Am I glad you liked me, too! :D

Anonymous said...

I LOVE reading all of the comments about book group expo --- it's great when you can throw a party and people really do have a wonderful time! Thanks for coming -- and for asking great questions! As the founder of book group expo, I absolutely appreciate it! Ann

Tara said...

Great question you asked about cover art and I love the answer from Kathleen Kent. Cool!

Seaside Book worm said...

I would have loved to go to the expo. Every year for the last 3 years I told myself I was going to go. But I did not make it. This year looked even better, with many different authors. I read on your blog that you went to the salon that Diana Spechler would be speaking. I am having a book giveaway of 10 copies of her books. I would be quite interested in what your thoughts are about her, and her book that was just published, Who by Fire.

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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