On Friday, my cohort in crime, Margo Hoornstra, and I climbed into our trusty conveyance (Hubs’ Chevy) and set off for an adventure in the wilds of Northern Michigan. After six hours of battling obstacles along the route (weekend traffic), we arrived at a charming port city on Lake Huron (Alpena). There, we found a comfortable campsite for the night (Best Western).
Why did we embark on this adventure? The Alpena BookFestival. A gathering of authors and readers. On Saturday our hosts, volunteers at the Alpena County George N. Fletcher Public Library, greeted us with enthusiasm, happy to see us. We were guided us to local businesses where we participated in panel discussions on our favorite topics—books and writing. An independent bookstore carried our books and set up tables for us to greet readers and sign our books.
The best part was talking. Talking to readers. Talking to other authors. Talking to the gracious event volunteers. A lovely lady named Patti from Rogers City eagerly gave me ideas for a story that has been percolating in my mind for years and made me excited again about this project. I shared a panel on science fiction with two talented guys (Raymond Brege and John Garavaglia) who write sci-fi graphic novels. What amazing young men! A helpful YA author, Chanda Stafford, made a point of seeking me out to share a tip on self-publishing.
Margo and I participated in three panels together. My favorite was on being a Michigan author. We thoroughly agreed with the other five authors that Michigan is a terrific setting for our stories as well as being such a beautiful state. We aren’t prejudiced or anything. We both agreed the networking was the best part of the all-day event. We shared, we learned, we came away happy.
The organization of the festival was amazing. Margo and I are eager to go back next year.
Returning home, I wished we had one of those self-driving cars. Traffic was heavy, as usual on a Sunday with weekend vacationers returning home. With an easy-to-talk-to passenger, the trip went by quickly. Only after dropping off Margo did it become tiring. Stop-and-go through a lengthy stretch of construction forced me to stay focused but stretched the rest of the trip home by an hour and a half.
Still, I was grateful that I got home safely. Exhausted. So tired I slept twelve hours! And woke up this morning to 965 email messages.
Was it worth it? Absolutely.