Saturday morning was a frog-drowner in South Carolina. Although the convention center was a two-minute walk from the hotel there was no good way to get there. We didn’t have umbrellas and the hotel had given all theirs out. At first Shellie and I thought we’d drive over but that seemed silly once we got to the parking garage because the door to the center was almost directly across four lanes of traffic from the parking garage. That those four lanes were a river was the problem. We didn’t have an inflatible raft with us. No paddles. No raincoats either. I did have some paper in a book box in my trunk, however.
We look like Islamic-wannabes. Paper, btw, isn’t a very effective rain repellent. By the time I got across the street I looked like Flash after his first bath last week. Shellie and I were on a panel Saturday afternoon, reading together, along with some other really fine writers. Lisa Funderburg read from her book Pig Candy about her father’s illness. Anthony Varallo read a two-page short story from his award-winning collection Out Loud. His was the best reading of the panel because it was so well-written and such clarity about what it’s like to be 14 and come face-to-face with exotic girls that he calls The French Girls. I loved his reading. That was followed by the quickly-paced Armageddon Conspiracy by John Thompson, who admitted that he used to be an investment banker.
Shellie read from her Suck in Your Stomach and Put Some Color On about the time her Aunt Marletta ran over her uncle, twice. Which reminded me of a friend whose mother actually killed her father that way, not on purpose. It was a mental thing, I told Jack Riggs later, to which he replied, “When would you run over your husband and not have it be a mental thing?” Good point. What I meant was a dementia thing.
I had been on a panel earlier that morning with Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge and fiction writer Tiffany Warren. That panel was moderated by my good buddy, Jackie Cooper. Nobody does a better job of moderating than Jackie. He was able to draw the connections between Warren’s fiction, my commentary, and the Rev’s book on being a Christian and a Lesbian. We had excellent questions from the audience and I even hear a few claps from the audience when I wondered out loud why Christian bookstores carry Ann Coulter’s books.
With poet Clinton Campbell, Jackie Cooper & his wife Terry, and Karen Peluso author of Magnolia Plantation.
My last panel on Sunday afternoon was with publicist Buzzy Porter and NYTimes bestselling author Robert Dugoni. Dugoni flew in from Seattle so we had that whole NW connection thing going on. We did a panel on publishing and answered questions about the hawking aspect of writing. Dugoni is a hoot. We yukkend it up Saturday night when Shellie hit the dance floor donned in a fireman’s hat and dancing to YMCA. I tried to get a photo of it but only had my cell phone so while you can’t recognize anyone, you can at least see the glowing headdress and the cowyboy hat to the left of it. Shellie is on the other side, next to a young gal who had Down’s Syndrome. She was tearing up that dance floor.
Bob claims that while speaking on the panel about publishing I made the comment, “I did this murder” then switched topics, indicating that I had killed somebody. Buzzy said he never heard that but he did take notes on my comment that “I was just trying to stay out of jail.”
Buzzy Porter, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, & Robert Dugoni.
Like myself, Buzzy recently lost his job due to the economy. He’s based in Raleigh and has plans to develop book events for authors. If interested contact me and I’ll put you in touch with Buzzy.
This is by far my favorite photo of the weekend. It’s Peter Wentworth and Shellie at breakfast. “We farm girls know how to eat,” Shellie says. She was always at the front of the buffet line.
But this photo is notable because of the measures that Peter went to in order to capture Shellie, Marj Wentworth, and myself without our wobble chins. Peter climbed into a chair in the business office at the Hilton to get a good frame on it. Not that Shellie or Marj either one needed to worry about it. Marj has a beautiful new book out Shackles about hidden treasure on Sullivan’s Island.
Tom & Vickie from Litchfield Books handled the book sales at the show and they completely sold out of Shellie’s books. Please support your local Independents. More and more of them are being hit hard by this recession. We authors need our local Independents. What will a world of no newspapers and no local bookstores look like? Will we all just hole up in our homes, talking only online, and yaking only about the latest freaktoid to land on EXTRA?
Nobody does book festivals like Paula Watkins and her stellar team of volunteers at the SC Book Festival. Columbia, SC is a beautiful city and even if you aren’t a writer, you ought to visit this town. It’s got wonderful shops and great dining and when it isn’t raining, the perfect place to spend a couple of days.
I first met poet Mary Harris when she worked as a volunteer with the SC Book Festival. Now she’s got her own published work. The great thing about literary events is the thing that binds us all together — our love of story.
My favorite story was the one Shellie told over lunch about a friend who discovered her husband was cheating, so she took him for a drive to a cotton farm at the end of a dirt road, where she took out the gun and told him to fly straight or else. It worked.
“He lined right up,” Shellie said.