Saturday was a fun day -- one that pushed me a trifle out of my comfort zone. I grew up a little bit that day. (And I met a wonderful senior citizen role model Ethel Tucker whose book From Pilot Knob to Main Street would inspire everyone that they can still write the book that they want to write. She was so beautiful and charming that I found myself hoping someday I can be even a little like her when I am in my eighties.)
I really did not want to drive to Sturgis by myself although my husband and everyone said it would be easy. And it was. Gerald printed me directions from his trip maker and also drew me a little map, which was very helpful. I had already looked Sturgis up in the atlas and had it laid out to take in case I got lost. Which was really silly cause the way was so simple.
Somehow I had heard of Sturgis, KY, many times, so I assumed it was a larger town than it was. It was my size town, and the scenery in Kentucky driving there was so beautiful. And a high percentage of the people there must be book lovers. I could not believe the wonderful foot traffic as people came all day long to buy books from the more than a hundred authors sitting at tables prepared for us.
The early morning drive was somewhat difficult because of heavy fog and a bright rising sun shining through it--especially at Shawneetown as I approached the bridge. I am always a little spooked about driving over bridges, but the fog was not that heavy on the bridge. I was sort of proud of myself that I arrived plenty early while a very young man said he arrived late because of the heavy fog coming down from Evansville. I just felt real competant and grown up that I had driven by myself although I still regretted that because of her surgery Lois Barrett had not been able to make it with her When the Earthquake Spoke. Of course, this was a rural drive, and I am a very experienced rural driver. It is city driving that is difficult for me--I can't read and process the signs quickly enough to be comfortable, and Gerald's directions to just "read and follow the signs" does not help me a whit.
I promised myself I would not buy any books, because I knew I would be at risk surrounded by all those authors and their books. I did really good too. I could not resist my tablemate's historical novel when I found out it was about her fourth great grandfather, who was one of George Rogers Clark's 75 men who made the "impossible" expedition through overflowing swampland across Southern Illinois during the Revolutionary War. I have already read A River Away with great fascination. I finished it at 1 a.m. Tuesday morning. Marilyn Dungan's five years of research stored in four file drawers was obvious and made this novel's look at history especially meaningful. I wanted to buy Marilyn's latest book about her son a Kentucky veterinarian, but I resisted.
I was pleased to meet David and Lalie Dick, who have done so much writing about Kentucky. Although I hung around their table as briefly as possible for fear of buying more books, there was no way I could resist David's beautiful hardcover that was a biography of Jesse Stuart. Seeing the dedication to Naomi Deane and the youthful photo on Jesse on the cover, I am looking at it longingly and with great anticipation. Is anything greater than having a special book that you want to read all ready and waiting just for you?
When I stopped at the post office in Sturgis to find out where the convention center was, I saw another person inside and I was able to guess he was there for the same purpose I was. So I did not even have to go inside. I just asked for his directions. That author turned out to be Lee Martin, whose Turning Bones flyer was given to me some years ago by Gerald's librarian sister Ernestine. I have meant to order it all these years--it is in one of the genealogy piles of paper in my office. I did get the opportunity to ask him where his Martins came from, and found out they came from Pennsylvania and not Bedford County, Tennesee, so I guess we aren't related. (Or at least it would have to be even several more generations back if some of our southern Martins did happen to come down from Pennsylvania, which is a possibility I have heard mentioned.)
One of the delights of the Western Kentucky Book Expo for me was meeting several Illinois people, who had also ventured across that Shawneetown bridge through the fog: Mary Jo Oldham Morgan and husband Larry Morgan, the librarians from Harrisburg who were wearing "I am reading Silas House" buttons advertising their book promotions going on in Harrisburg, and many others whose names I failed to remember. Larry, who shares my alma mater Anna-Jonesboro High, had once hauled anhydrous to our farm for Gerald back when he had worked for Winfred Brown, and we had numerous connections of area people and places. Mary Jo had seen my book and sent him over to look at it as she thought he would be interested, and I was so pleased to autograph it for him. (Isn't it strange how the mention of a long-ago hometown friend, such as Winfred Brown, so warms the cockles of one's heart!)
The Harrisburg group had also had Lee Martin recently as one of their featured writers. I went up to his table a couple of times, but he was so popular that I could never find him unoccupied with fans and I did not want to interupt. That is for the best, cause I might have had to buy a third book.
Catching up - It has been a crazy couple of weeks of deliveries, unpacking product, bar coding, pricing, breaking down boxes, watering plants, writing orders, filling ...
11 months ago