Virginia Festival of the Book – Day Three

Day Three of the Virginia Festival of the Book started early for me. I got up at the crack of dawn to make certain I had time to do my Friday Fictioneers’ 100-word flash fiction post. That done, it was time for breakfast then to hit the road.

The first panel, “Fiction: Crossing Boundaries,” was about family drama, loss, and love. Both Joe Lunievicz and Elzabeth Nunez had been on other panels I attended yesterday. Lunievicz hadn’t read from his work (Open Wounds) the day before, but today he did. The passage he read confirmed that my decision to buy it was a good one. Nunez read from a different book today, Boundaries, and revealed a subtext about the publishing industry in New York, so I purchased it.

Even though I’m not an alumna of the University of Virginia MFA, I attended an alumni reading next. Of particular interest to me was Chad Harbach, who read from his debut novel, The Art of Fielding. I have gone back and forth on buying it because it seemed for every good critique of it, there were three negative. The passage he read convinced me to make the leap to buy it for my Kindle. Brittany Perham read from her book of poetry, but, frankly, she’s a “modern” poet; I thought she was incomprehensible. Eleanor Henderson read from her novel, Ten Thousand Saints, and it was an intriguing glimpse into a family in Vermont that was both fascinating and disturbing. It’s a possibility for the Kindle.

Though the panel “Readers and Social Media” was supposed to be about how to communicate with readers using social media, it was really more about author use of social media in general. However, panelists Susan Gregg Gilmore (Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen), Rebecca Hamilton (co-founder of Friday Reads), Bethanne Patrick (An Uncommon History of Common Sense and co-founder of Friday Reads), and Elizabeth McCullough (Book Balloon) clued us in on not just social media resources but additional web sites for networking and marketing.

If “The Art of Short Fiction” sounds familiar, it was the same as a panel on Wednesday but with different authors: Erika Dreifus (Quiet Americans), Jeremy Griffin (Last Resort for Desperate People), Cathryn Hankla (Fortune Teller Miracle Fish), and Tamra Wilson (Dining with Robert Redford). They each read from their works, but the same moderator from Wednesday asked the same questions she had on Wednesday. Griffin’s and Wilson’s works stood out, and I’m thinking about purchasing their short story collections.

I ended the day with “Fiction: Reconstructions” with three novelists who dealt with war and its aftermath. Casey Clabough (Confederado) and Taylor Polites (The Rebel Wife) dealt with post-Civil War reconstruction. Clabough’s novel was based on an ancestor of his who was a member of Mosby’s Rangers. After the Civil War, many of Mosby’s men and many more southerners fled to Brazil, including Clabough’s relative. The novel takes on a little-known aspect of southern history, and I purchased it to add to my “books about/involving Mosby” collection, though this is the first novel. Unfortunately, Polites lost me when he referred to slaves as “devoted servants.” Starnes’ novel deals with a World War II vet who isn’t a particularly nice person, but he has redeeming moments. His novel is also notable for having portions of it in the point of view of a dog. The selection he read was earthy and guttural, and I’m considering purchasing it.

Tomorrow is publishing day–with a little dip into writing thrillers.

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