The 7th annual AJC Decatur Book Festival was held in the square in Decatur, Georgia this weekend. I arrived an hour early on Saturday morning, September 1, 2012 before the crowds arrived and mapped out all the things I wanted to see. The parade lead by bestselling author Kevin Henkes and his Lilly, were there to celebrate his new book Penny and Her Doll. The march started on a side street around 9:30 am with the parade scheduled to arrive at the Children’s Stage by 10:00 am.
Things looked different this year because of the construction. The site for all the exhibitor’s booths and performance stages involved a lot of walking to get from place to place. It was impossible to make all the rounds since there were lectures and signings from more than 300 national and local authors, including award-winning and best-selling authors representing all genres of books.
Here’s a restaurant, Out of the Pan, that’s typically Southern cuisine. Perhaps those visiting the tents and booths lining the streets found this restaurant.
While I was there patiently waiting under the trees along with all the other Kevin Henkes’ fans for the parade to arrive at the Children’s Stage, I met a woman waiting for the author of Penny and Her Doll. I found out that her name is “Penny”. Below meet “Penny” waiting for her book and doll to be autographed.
Let me introduce you to another person: She’s “Mara The Helper” pictured below. She was standing next to the line of people waiting to get Kevin Henkes to sign their book, mine included. I chose his book Owen for the one I wanted autographed. She greeted me with a great big smile and asked “How can I help you?”
That red fan she’s holding in her hand, it’s now mine. Thanks, Mara, for giving me something to help keep me cool. Even though it’s not quite 11:00 o’clock yet, it’s really hot out here. I learned that Mara is all about helping others with a village mentality. Her mission is speaker, advocate, mentor, parent advisor and helper. Here’s a link to her Youtube show for her series, marahelper1
Now I’m off to the Decatur Library to get my new library card and make a donation. The illustrator for this children’s book, James Dean, was there signing autographs. He signed my new library card. The first time I found out about this great illustrator was from the book, Pete the Cat, I Love My White Shoes. My five-year old grandson absolutely loves this book and wears red shoes, just like Pete’s. The book I selected to buy today was Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons. I know a little boy who will be turning six years old this month.What a great birthday present!
My next stop was at the booth of a local author, Michelle Nelson-Schmidt. She’s the one dressed in green introducing her latest book Jonathan James and the Whatif Monster (the green one). I’m the one dressed in purple sitting next to her. I liked her book, Cats, Cats so I bought it. She autographed it for me. What a great illustrator and author to meet today.
The Blue Typewriter on display by Type Rider caught my attention. I didn’t realize how much finger effort it requires to strike the keys. When I finished typing my first line with the beginning words, “The first…..” I stopped typing and looked down at the keyboard. Where’s the return key, I asked? The reply: It’s the bar on the top. I had automatically looked at key that would have been the Enter Key on my computer’s keyboard thinking it was there. I guess the age of computers is how my mind thinks now.
At the Atlanta Writer’s Club annual booth , it was my pleasure to stop by and say hello to two great writers & members who volunteered to help this year. Tiffany Parks told me that I motivated her to get her first article published on August 9, 2012. It’s a great story about the Goldwasser Family and The Brooklyn Loan Company.
I first discovered Fran Stewart when she hosted a one-year project in 2009 on Mystery Matters. Every Friday morning she would interview a mystery writer. As an author herself, Fran has written many books. The first line of Chapter 1 in her first mystery book “Orange as Marmalade” is one of my favorites: “There had definitely not been a body on the second floor landing when I had run upstairs to the attic earlier in the evening.”
Photo of Josh Russell at the book festival booth promoting Kill Shakespeare.The Friday night before the festival I had the pleasure of meeting Josh Russell when I attended his Short-Shorts Workshop at Agnes Scott College. Here’s an excerpt from the overview about the workshop: “The short-short story is, for many reasons, more open than any other narrative form ….”
One of the reasons I stayed all day was to meet Erin Morgenstern, the author of Night Circus. I was there before 4:15 pm waiting on the steps of the First Baptist Decatur Church when I saw her being escorted into the church through the side entrance. The Sanctuary quickly filled with over 200 people who had come to hear her talk about her book. Since I wanted to get a good view I moved up to the front row. That’s why you don’t see any heads blocking my view in the photograph I took of her on the stage. The other photograph is outside with her signing her book. The couple in front of me who had lined up to have their books signed came dressed as two of the main characters, Marco and Celia. If you haven’t read this story, here’s the script as written on the back of the book: The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazement. It is called Le Cirque des Reves, and it is only open at night.
This concludes my day at the Decatur Book Festival. What a great sunset to end my long day!
Written and Photographed by Mary Gilmartin, September 1, 2012