There and back again

I’m on the road again – after the March madness of Lunacon and Norwescon back to back, two classes taught at UConn (that’s the University of Connecticut), plus at least two bookshop readings, I had a week of appalling con crud or a bad cold or whatever it was that had me in its clutches and then struggled out the house (wo)manfully on April 2 to do a reading at Village Books (the indie bookshop in my home town) and on April 4 I was on a plane to Boise, Idaho, for the inaugural Children’s Literature Festival there. Joining me here is fellow SFNovelist Louise Marley, aka Toby Bishop – and I am in fact writing this blog entry in a coffee shop on a break from festival duties, with Louise doing something that’s actually constructive (as in, working on her next book) across the table from me. But they have WiFi in the coffeeshop, I could access it, and for some reason she can’t – so I get to blog, and she gets to write a book. Someday I’ll learn to eschew temptation…

Either way, here we are, for the inaugural festival conceived and launched by Laura de Laney of the Rediscovered Bookshop here in Boise. Laura is a genuine treasure – a passionate, interested bookseller whose bookstore, unlike many independents, is not only refusing to go under but appears to be blossoming. Part of the reason for that is that she has made a concerted effort to do an outreach into her community of which she and her books are firmly and solidly a part – this year marks the first Festival organised in Boise but I doubt it will be the last.

We had an “Author Dinner” last night, where people came in to eat a three-course meal and while they were eating the visiting authors – six or seven of us – would table-hop and go and talk to different people while they were having their dinner. We got to meet a lot of lovely interested people that way, and afterwards, when the meal was over, we got shepherded off to strategic tables set up around the edges of the room where our books had been set up and where we could hold court and talk to the people we didn’t quite get to talk to during the dinner. I had some eight or nine of my books in front of me at the beginning of this last interactive period – by the time we were packing up to go I had two paperback copies of “Gift of the Unmage” left, pretty good going for just over an hour of sitting there and talking to people.

This morning we gave two presentations, one to adults and one to kids, about writing and plot structure and worldbuilding and what people are reading now and what they could be reading and all that. Lively and fun, despite some initial technological snafus which torpedoed Louise’s Powerpoint presentation with pretty pictures (oof, heavy on the alliteration) – but we managed, and I think we did pretty well, again, lots of interest, this time from people who are actually interested in writing themselves (and this fully includes the crop of teen and pre-teen writers who raised a forest of hands when asked which of them wrote fantasy). We have one more appearance this afternoon, a series of authorial readings at Laura’s bookshop, and then we fly home tomorrow.

I’m still nursing the pesky remnants of that awful cold, but the occasional attacks of hacking notwithstanding it was a very worthwhile trip. I got to meet an extraordinary bookseller, I spent a bit of time with a friend whom I usually otherwise see only in passing at a convention here and there, and I got acquainted with several other fascinating (published) writers as well as with an audience of potential writers and certainly enthusiastic readers. I hope to return the following year.

I did write a couple hundred words of chapter on this trip, on the next book, and may still achieve a few hundred more before I get home, but when I DO get home I still have one more thing I have to prepare for – the reading that I am sharing with Louise and with Kay Kenyon at the University Bookstore in Seattle. After that, I’m going to knuckle down and actually start SERIOUSLY writing this new novel – it simply has to be halfway done or over by the time Wiscon rolls around at the end of May. I’ll post occasional progress reports on some blog or another, here and/or at the LJ blog – but that’s the plan. Travelling is great and I love it that I am here in this place right now – but I need some quality time between me and my computer now, teasing out the story that is spinning together in my mind, getting it all down on paper in a first draft. I want to have another novel done by Christmas – and I still have quite a bit of travelling left to do, especially seeing as I have just been accepted into the LaunchPad workshop that Professor Brotherton is running in Laramie this summer (insert a squeal of delight here). Can’t wait to go look at stars – but I’d better have a fair amount of novel written before that time, is all I’m saying…

Well, maybe I have time for a refill on the coffee before our escort (they’ve been wonderful with those – anywhere we needed to go or be, there were volunteers standing ready to take us…) arrives to ferry us over to the bookstore and our afternoon event there. After that, we’ve been told there is going to be some sort of group dinner for us author types. After that, home to the gorgeous B&B where they’ve put us up. After that, one last breakfast and then it’s back on a plane and home, James.

Time to go back and be a writer again for a while, holed up in my office with my trusty computer for a companion and a story to be told.

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  1. 1. Ken McConnell

    Go Rediscovered Bookshop! Pardon the cheer, it’s my local bookstore. I wanted to attend this event, but I had a Cub Scout activity that day. I’m glad you came and had a good time. Please come back again!

    Bruce and Laura are wonderful people and they have a great bookstore with interesting employees and lots of involvement in the community. I’m a member of the newly started Speculative Fiction Writer’s Group that they are hosting, so there are even a few of us adult SF/F writers in Boise.

  2. 2. Alma Alexander

    You’re so lucky that it’s your local! It’s a terrific bookstore and a great one to have in one’s own back yard. I’m sorry I missed the opportunity to say hi but next time you go in to the store say hi to Laura and Bruce from me and tell them thank you again for a terrific event.

    And if they’ll have me I’ll be more than happy to return!

Author Information

Alma Alexander

Alma Alexander is a novelist, short story writer and anthologist whose books include High Fantasy ("Hidden Quen""Changer of Days"), historical fantasy ("Secrets of Jin Shei", "Embers of Heaven"), contemporary fantasy ("Midnight at Spanish gardens") and YA (the Worldweavers series, the Were Chronicles). She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two cats. Visit site.

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