Ambassador of Books ~ Book Club Madam ~ Blogger Gal

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Recapping The Baltimore Book Festival


Yeah, yeah, yeah ... I know, I know ... I was supposed to do this weeks ago. So sorry!  I started telling you about my Baltimore Book Festival adventures but I never got around to telling you how the panels went. And that's after posting over and over again before the event, encouraging you all to attend.  Slacker.

Also, I didn't take but a few photos during the Festival, and definitely none during the panels.  You'll have to rely on other bloggers recaps for those. Sorry!

Ok, here goes ...

I was a bit worried on the drive to the Festival Sunday morning (9/26) because I had to use my windshield wipers. Yup, it was raining.  Drizzling really, but the ground was wet. Ugh.  That's usually a bad sign for the Festival since many people won't come out if the weather isn't good.  Then I found out that Ravens football had kickoff at 1pm right downtown, so the traffic was going to be a nightmare at lunchtime.  Oh boy, this is not looking good!

I arrived early since I needed to drive my car onto the Festival grounds to drop off several boxes of books and get the car off the grounds by 11am.  After I parked I made my way to the wonderful hospitality suite located in a gorgeous old Baltimore home.  (Did anyone who was there get photos inside the building? I'd love to show the rest of you what it looked like!)  I had a complimentary tea and muffin while I relaxed and read a book.

Then I headed down to catch part of Warren St. John's talk on his book Outcasts United.
Warren St. John
I really enjoyed this book and am excited that is was chosen for the One Maryland One Book campaign.  I couldn't stay too long though because soon it was time to head to Festival Stage tent and get ready for the first panel. 

Panel #1 - The Wonderful World of Book Blogging

At the tent I found a wonderful group of bloggers, some of whom would be on the panel and others who would be in the audience.  The panelists (Nicole @ Linus's Blanket, Candace @ Beth Fish Reads, Celeste @ Reading Local: Baltimore, Dave @ Read Street, and Serena @ Savvy Verse and Wit) and other bloggers helped me to get the handouts on to the audience chairs in the few minutes before we were to start.  Thanks to everyone who pitched in!

Each of the bloggers on the panel was invited to participate because his/her blog is unique in some way.  Nicole reviews a wide variety of books and hosts a blog-focused online radio show.  Candace's background as an editor and her focus on audiobooks gives her a different perspective.  Celeste concentrates on the local Baltimore literary scene.  Dave writes for a newspaper-affiliated book blog. And Serena features a lot of poetry and poets on her blog.  My hope was that these various viewpoints would come together to paint a picture of blogging and how diverse it can be.

I wasn't able to take any video of the panel (unlike last year) so I can't give you the specifics of what we discussed.  From my notes I can tell you that we touched on how each of us got into blogging, the global nature of blogs, the variety of niches out there, and how every reader can find a blog they relate to.  We also talked about negative reviews, author/publisher interactions, and blogging styles.

Several bloggers recapped this panel and some even included photos.  Definitely check them out because they include details that I'd forgotten.
me and Jenn (Jenn's Bookshelves)

In The Interim

We had only a short break between the first and second panels ... just enough time to grab a glass of wine from the hospitality suite and enjoy the lunch provided by Jenn's (@ Jenn's Bookshelves) husband.  Jenn posted about both panels and our fun lunch at her blog, and she has lots of pictures - go there and check it out.

Then it was back to Festival Stage tent for panel #2 ...

Panel # 2 - More from "The Book Club Toolkit"

This panel was meant to build off a panel I moderated at last year's Festival, hence the name.  Panelists included bloggers Swapna @ S. Krishna's Books and Julie @ Booking Mama, as well as local book clubbers Melissa McCrory-Hatcher and Faye Houston.

The focus of this panel was finding ways to keep your book club going strong.  We discussed ideas for themed meetings, field trips, author chats, and new genres, among other things.  Julie did an excellent recap of some of the best ideas on her blog so definitely read her post. Jenn's recap post included some great ideas as well.

One idea that I loved came from Faye.  She has run a club at a local library for over 20 years.  At the start of every meeting she provides a handout that includes info about the author and a summary of the book.  This helps to jog readers' memories and also allows members who didn't read the book to still participate in the discussion.

On The Whole ...

It was a great day.  The weather cleared up and it was actually pleasant out.  There was a good crowd at the festival.  Both panels would have benefited from more people in the audience, but the location of our tent meant that we didn't get a lot of foot traffic passing by so that means fewer people stopping in.  Still, I feel that both panels were successful.  And most importantly I had a FANTASTIC time hanging out with everyone.

A Big Thank You To ...
  • All the panelists who rearranged their schedules to be at the Festival and share their ideas
  • Barbara Mead @ Reading Group Choices for providing Reading Group Choices 2011 for everyone in audience, and for lots of books to giveaway to audience members 
  • The Baltimore Book Festival staff for being open to new ideas and allowing me the time and space to do both of these panels
  • Jenn and the J-crew for hanging around with Kiddo and I (and my husband, though he only stayed a short while) after the panels
  • All the bloggers (and their families) who came to either/both of the panels
  • The authors who dropped in for all or part of the panels, especially Justin Kramon and Alma Katsu
  • My wonderful husband for keeping Kiddo busy all weekend and taking him to a ridiculously early ice hockey game on Sunday morning so I could get a full night's sleep before the panels

Kiddo and the J-boys, making faces and having fun


    Melody said...

    Do DC and Virgina do the One City/State One Book campaign? I haven't able to find it here...

    Thanks for the post! I was bummed to have to miss this one.

    Coffee and a Book Chick said...

    Oh, my goodness, this looks like such an amazing time!! I miss the Baltimore area!!

    Care said...

    These sound like wonderful events - I think the Boston Book Fest is more author-focused. I don't see any mention of blogging anywhere on our schedule. I'm sure it will be fun anyway.

    Jenn's Bookshelves said...

    Love the pictures of the boys! We had a great time, can't wait to do it again soon!

    Heather J. said...

    Melody - In most places there is a city-wide reading program. "Arlington Reads" is one in VA, but I don't have specific details on any others. They go by different names though, so it's hard to search for them. I'd suggest looking on your local library's website or calling them to ask if your community has a "one book" program. Let me know what you find out!

    Coffee and a Book Chick - It was a great day - so sorry you're not local anymore. :(

    Care - Our event is author-focused as well. To be honest (and I'm not trying to pat myself on the back), the blogger panel was my idea - I'm really excited that the Festival staff let me run with it!

    Jenn - DEFINITELY!

    bermudaonion said...

    All I've heard from the other bloggers is that you're the best moderator ever!

    Alyce said...

    It sounds like you were very busy with the two panels to serve on. I'm glad that it went well.

    I love the photo of the boys! Your son's hat reminded me of that Michael Jackson dancing video you posted recently. Made me smiled just thinking about it.

    Heather J. said...

    bermudaonion - Thanks! It's something that I enjoy, so I'm glad that people thought I did well. :)

    Alyce - Oh yeah, he wears that hat ALL.THE.TIME - just so he can tilt it down over his face and moonwalk. He's quite a character!

    Beth F said...

    Super recap!!! You are a fantastic moderator -- really one of the best I've ever had the pleasure of working with.

    I adore the photo of the boys at the end. Too cute.

    Heather J. said...

    Beth F - Aw, thanks. :) And thank you for coming to be on the panel - it was great getting to hang out with you.

    Confabulationists said...

    Hi Heather, Just catching up on my RSS. Thanks for the shout out and the wonderful time at BBF, and for being at the center of a great booky universe here in the mid-Atlantic.


    Heather J. said...

    Confabulationists (aka Alma) - Thanks so much for coming out to the panels - it was great to see you again. Keep me posted on the publication details of your book!

    Michelle said...

    It sounds like you had a successful and fun event! I'm sorry I couldn't make it up this year. Here's to the next :)

    Heather J. said...

    Michelle - Next year for sure!

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