Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fond Memories of Books in the Basin Festival!

What a rousing success this weekend's Books in the Basin was here in Odessa, TX! When my friend, Randy Ham, invited me to be one of the forty authors in attendance, I was quite flattered to be a part of something so prestigious, and this was the inaugural festival for the city of Odessa as well.

After a bit of a rough start to the weekend (flight delayed Thursday due to thunderstorms over the airport meant taking a flight Friday morning), I arrived in Odessa no worse for wear and ready to help Randy with whatever he needed to prepare for this event. His entire crew of library volunteers worked tirelessly to make sure this was going to be a success. I have to say that I was quite impressed with their eagerness. Randy and I worked on final placement of tables in a senior residence across the street from the library (part of the inclement weather contingency plan) since the weather today was supposed to be cold and possibly rainy. I was probably more moral support than anything, but I think he was just glad to have a personal cheerleader.
Ellen Sweets, author of Cooking with Molly
Friday night was the author reception at Odessa College, where we all convened over hors d'oeuvres and beverages to kick off the festival. I met a few of the authors, namely Chris Ruggia, a comic book artist/writer from Alpine, TX, and his wife, and the author of a book about Molly Ivins, Ellen Sweets. Ellen and I had a lovely time chatting, and I knew from that moment I had found a kindred spirit.Saturday morning, we started the events with a Breakfast with the Authors at Dee's Bistro, a lovely continental breakfast of fruit salsa with cinnamon chips, biscuits, gravy, sausages, bacon, and pastries. Each author sat at a table where others could join and chat, and I met Steve Smith, a sci-fi fan who suggested I read works by Larry Nivens and others. Joining us at the table was Mark, a friend of Randy and Tom's I had met last spring during my first visit to Odessa, and later, Ellen joined the table for a bit. After the breakfast, we all convened in our respective places, so I ventured over to Lincoln Tower, a senior residence, where tables were set up for self-published authors, like me, would be sitting for the day.

Chris and I shared a table, and he, his wife, and I spent much of our down time chatting about a wide range of topics, and I thoroughly enjoyed our conversations. They're both down to earth people whose paths I hope to cross again someday. Throughout the day, I spoke with about ten different people who seemed intrigued by my book, and I ended up selling six books (I had only brought five, plus one I had signed for someone who never paid for it). One of the orders involved selling a t-shirt, too. My last customer of the day was a lovely, intellectual woman who was a former teacher, and she so enjoyed that I had written a book using Greek mythology that was geared toward older readers. Wen I told her the book the last book I had had already been signed for someone who never paid for it, she said she didn't mind and purchased it regardless. 

Chris and I purchased books from one another, and I look forward to seeing more from him in the future. His works are about indigenous fauna near Big Bend, and they're comics with a universal appeal.

At 2:30, I spoke with a small crowd about my novel, the process it took to make it to print, my inspirations, researching ideas, etc. All in all, a learning experience. 

I also took away a few other lessons: have more table bling, bring more books, and drink fluids throughout the day. 

The festival ended with an interview of Karen Valby, author of Welcome to Utopia, at the Ector Theater, followed by the film, The Last Picture Show. Beyond that, dinner with Randy, his partner, Tom, two other friends, Corby and Rett, and Ellen Sweets, who is quite the riot. Her quick wit and intelligence remind me of Maya Angelou, and Ellen has sass to match. 

I would like to thank all the volunteers and everyone else who helped Randy make the event such a resounding success. My trips to Odessa never disappoint, and I'm sure that I will make it out again, perhaps for One Book Odessa. :)

Here's a link to the article by Corey Paul in the Odessa American published today.

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