Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Highlights from the Gaithersburg Book Festival

Last Saturday, my family drove a few hours down the road for the Gaithersburg Book Festival, where I would be presenting a panel with two other amazing Christian historical fiction authors, Cathy Gohlke and Carrie Turanksy. Having never attended this festival before, I wasn't sure what to expect. But it was so much fun!

First, it was raining. I'm talking, we've had 2 solid weeks of rain in the mid-Atlantic. Trees are coming down just because the ground is so soggy it can't hold them up. To say it was a bit wet for this outdoor festival is an understatement.

But you just can't dampen the spirits of book nerds. They still showed up by the thousands.

The GBF is a really great, really big event. There were hundreds of authors present in every conceivable genre for every conceivable age group. My family and I sat in on a panel with writers and illustrators of the Science Comic series and learned how they turned topics like The Plague and Sharks into fun, accessible stories for kids, and then we got to watch them draw for us on the spot. We caught the tail end of a non-fiction talk on the founding and building of Los Angeles. And then I joined Cathy and Carrie for our panel on weaving history into fiction.

It rained off and on all day, and the ground was a muddy mess. I had mud splatters all up my legs, and at the time I'm writing this, I haven't even summoned the bravery to check out the shoes that we just shoved in a plastic bag after the event was over, before we drove home. [Update: they all cleaned up just fine, LOL.] We juggled umbrellas and raincoats and had to try to figure out how to keep our bags off the sopping ground. The bookstore had a lot of books with slight curls to their pages.

And it was SO AWESOME. 

Because we got to see hundreds and thousands of other book lovers, coming together in a community. I got to meet two members of my launch team (hello, Kat and Kathy!!!) and finally meet two authors I've long respected but have never actually gotten to see in person. And of course, I got to talk about books! These sorts of panel conversations are always so much fun for me. A chance to talk about writing in general, the stories I love in particular and share a glimpse into the crazy life of a homeschooling writer.

And it's so cool to then walk to the book signing area and get to meet some of the people who sat in on the panel. To meet people I've talked to online. To hear new readers say they so enjoyed my talk they had to run and buy my book. To hear another young woman say I'm one of her favorite authors and she had to come to the GBF to meet me (she said that to the NEWS camera!). To sign one book for a sweet lady's friend and then see her back in the line with her family, because her husband bought her a copy.

Me, Cathy, and Carrie...and a bit of the mud.

The folks who put on the festival gave the authors a regal welcome and thanked us for coming, thanked us for writing. But I think I speak for most of the other authors when I just smile and laugh and turn that right back around--because I've written for years in a vacuum, without my words ever going anywhere beyond my computer. Writing itself doesn't accomplish much. It's the interaction of writing with readers that matters. It's the readers who make it all worthwhile, and seeing all those dedicated readers braving the mud and rain to come and listen to a bunch of authors talk, to stand in line in the rain to get a book signed...they're the ones who deserve the thanks.

(Video from the local news station--you can see me a fair bit in the background as they interviewed Michelle, the young lady who was so excited that I was going to be there!)

It was a wonderful day, and I'm so grateful to everyone who turned out to say hello! I had a great time, and I hope to see the diehard readers of Montgomery County, Maryland back at the GBF in years to come!

(Sorry I didn't take more pictures--my hands were filled with umbrellas and books I was trying to keep dry, LOL!)


  1. This looks like such an awesome experience! I haven't spent much time at book festivals, but I'd really like to attend one ... on another note, one of the girls I follow on Instagram was also at this event (I think). You signed one of her books and she was so excited about it!

  2. Fun! Great to see you and your book featured!