Tucson Festival Of Books 2019
2019 was my first year participating in The Tucson Festival of Books. My emotions have been so mixed since I first said yes to attending, and I wanted to take a moment to share that journey with you.
My adventure started in October 2018. I received an email from the Festival committee, telling me how to sign up, and that they were very interested in the Indie-Author community. They were offering two-hour time slots.
The first thing I thought of was what is the weather usually like the first weekend of March, and when does Church get out. I wanted to make sure I had I the best opportunity to reach the maximum about of people for the day. Sundays in the Southwest still offer quiet lazy mornings, and uncrowded stores if you get there before Church lets out. And typically, I take full advantage of the fact, but for the festival, I wanted to make sure that I was there at the perfect time when Churches would be getting out, and people would be flocking to the UofA campus for the most significant book festival in southern Arizona.
I was so excited when I received the email accepting me into the flock. I set up an account and was given a password that I had to copy and paste every time I wanted to work on my Author page and bio. For the first time in my Author carrier, I felt like I was being taken seriously, and that this would be my opportunity to introduce myself as The Author of The Awakening Love Eternal. When my husband got home that afternoon, I excitedly told him that I was going to be doing the festival, and that I had a two-hour window and that they were guessing that something like 5,000 people would be there. I was over the moon. And of course, as the days went on, the shiny wore off and the idea, and the event was put on the back burner of my mind.
I continued working on my book and talking to small groups of people about what I would be doing, I told my family that I would be there and my friends. I began thinking of all the things I would love to have for this festival, bookmarks, magnets, books. I also thought about the quotes I would have in the books and on the bookmarks. I purchased a wax seal because I love wax seals, and why wouldn’t someone want a custom marker with a wax seal on it with my signature. I certainly did.
The months went on, and the week before the festival the Emails started flowing in. They had the vital information needed, like where to go to pick up your credentials, where to park, where the booth was, what you could and could not sell or give away at the festival. The tax percentage, how to add tax, and that when it was time to pay the tax-fee you could pay using cash or check. It was great information to know, because the University of Arizona is a massive place, and unless you know where you are going it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle.
Friday before the festival arrived and I couldn't have been more excited. I drove down to the UofA visitors center ready to walk in and pick up my credentials. The night before on Instagram, a picture was sent out from the festival FaceBook page. It showed a room filled with goodies bags, and inside the goodies bags were treats, magazines, and other items, but what I was most excited about was the tote bag that all the goodies were stuffed into. I drove down to the visitors center and parked in a parking spot that was not marked. I had noticed while I was pulling into the lot I saw they had spaced that were clearly marked and unmarked parking spot. I parked in an unmarked parking spot and began walking inside. Two elderly ladies stopped me and asked where I had parked. I pointed to my jeep. “Unfortunately you can’t park their sweetheart.”
I understood the words that came out, but my brain was struggling to process why I couldn’t park in that spot if it were numbered. “It’s a strange method, but the spaces that are for public parking are numbered, and the designated parking spots are not numbered.”
Puzzled by this illogical logic, I thanked her for letting me know so I didn’t get ticked in a non-marked parking spot. The women laughed and told me to come to see them for my parking voucher. So not only did they have illogically marked parking spaces but after figuring out the parking riddle, you had to get a parking voucher. I looked around the parking lot, twenty. That is the maximum parking spaces in the lot. Now I was perplexed. Twenty parking spots, the majority saved for employees, or volunteers, and the other parking spots needed a voucher. I shook this fascinating conundrum off and after picking up my parking voucher from the gatekeepers proceeded into the volunteer center.
The very first item I noticed in the entire building was the bell from the U.S.S. Arizona.
The story behind how the bell ended up in Tucson is a fascinating one and one I may write about soon. I noticed that on the other side of the room were two tables both with volunteers at them. I walked up to the table and gave the woman my name. She riffled through a few pages and found me, then handed me my pass and gave me a map showing me where I should park and how to find the tent where the indie authors would be on Sunday. I thanked the woman and took my things, and as I turned to talk walk away, I took another look at the giant ships bell in the corner of the room. I walked outside, and the same two women who met me were there talking to each other. One of them saw me and waved goodbye to me. “See you this weekend.” I smiled and waved goodbye then climbed into my jeep.
As I sat there getting myself ready to drive back home, I laughed looking at my name tag. It would have cost them less to mail me my name tag then it cost me to venture clear across Tucson to pick it up. But I wouldn’t have seen that bell, and I wouldn’t have met the keepers of the ill-logical parking spots.
Sunday morning found me in good spirits. My son helped me load my books and goodies into the jeep, and we were off to see what the UofA Tucson Festival of books had to offer us. Finding where we needed to be was pleasantly smooth. It had been so long since I had been on campus, so much has changed. The kids were amazed at the number of people at the festival, and when the clock bell began to ring, they all stopped and searched for the tower. The sound of the bell tolling the time reminded me about the massive ships bell in the volunteer building because the bell in the tower is also from the U.S.S. Arizona. Yes, we are a proud state, and we proudly keep the memories of the crew still entombed in the battleship alive. It indeed was a magical time for me, but that might just be the parent in me showing.
We wove through the maze of tents looking for the one marked as indie authors, located the students helping to organize the lost, and began setting up my spot, thanked the kids, and sent them off into the wild to find some festival fun to get lost in.
The two women who were also indie authors sharing the spot with me was very nice. The three of us discussed the other places we had lived around the united states. One who writes under the name K.L. Peacock was actually from upstate New York and knew the small town I have lived for two years. They both wrote mysteries, and one was with a local mystery writers group. It was nice having someone to talk two while I was there.
The people were as usual hesitant to approach indie authors. Most assume the if we don’t publish traditionally then there must be something wrong with our books, or our stories. An author friend of mine who writes under the name Cassie Beebe, add to a discussion on the very subject. She said "They (being the general public) shy away from them because there are soooo many self-pub books out there that are really really bad. I think it's important, to be honest about that. I don't think my book is bad, and there are plenty of self-pub authors I've read who aren't bad, but there are also a lot I've read who are so far beyond a few typos here and there. The ratio of poorly written books to outstanding books is a lot higher on the self-pub side than it is on the trad pub side, from my experience. Which unfortunately means that if people want to read a good self-pub book, they have to be willing to work for it a bit and sift through some garbage first." Unfortunately, this is a very true statement.
I did have a couple of women who came up and were interested in us, there were a few teenagers who wanted the mysteries series, and a few people interested in what "Indie Author" meant, and why we chose to self-publish versus traditional publishing. But for the most part, the most exciting part of the day came when my daughter and niece came over and explained to us that they were going to try to break a record. For a bargain price of $20 they were going to be given a bag, and they can stuff as many books into the yellow bag as they could jenga into it. The record was 14. K.L. Peacock and I were very excited to see what these two girls could come back with and if they could break the record.
At the end of their time, they returned to our tent excited about the fun of trying. Unfortunately, the girls were only able to get 12 books into the bag, but they were 12 good books, and the girls were pleased with themselves.
Before I knew it the time had come to an end. We began packing up our books and things, the new indie authors who were slotted to replace us were anxiously waiting to meet their new readers. I met another woman Tonya Plank. An indie author from Florence Arizona. I looked at her covers and thought, "a woman after my own heart." SWALLOW was her debut novel, and she was celebrating her Ten year publication anniversary. I was so excited for her and wanted to pass on some good luck, so I bought her book. I do hope that she was successful.
As the kids and I wounded our way back to the parking lot they told me about their adventures. I was surprised about how much fun they had in a short amount of time. But kids are able to find adventure at every turn when allowed to roam loose in the world. I was glad they enjoyed themselves. I was also delighted to be out of the heat and on my way home. Overall the festival was great. I am unsure whether or not I will return next year, two hours isn’t really enough time to do much of anything.