Sunday, September 29, 2013

Baltimore Book Festival

My friend, Beth, called to invite me to go with her to yesterday's Baltimore Book Festival.  I'd never attended so I decided this would be a good opportunity for a new experience. 
 Looking down one street of
the Baltimore Book Festival

Beth also sent me an email with a link from the Maryland Romance Writers (MRW) stating that they were accepting the first page of your manuscript to be read aloud and critiqued.  She playfully dared me to do it.  Not wanting to back down from a good challenge, I accepted. 

We met near her office building, just down Charles Street from the festival, and walked the few blocks to Mount Vernon Square, the site of the Festival.  First, we checked out the used books but decided that we’d come back later since we didn’t want to lug them around all day.

Nathan Hale illustrates Charles Stanton
from his novel
"The Donner Dinner Party."
We found the MRW venue immediately so we wouldn’t have to search for it at the last minute, across from the three-dollar bookstand that we both wanted to revisit.  Walking on, we saw author of graphic novels, Nathan Hale, on the Children’s Stage.  He has a historical series for children called “Hazardous Tales.”  He talked about his books and the history behind them while he drew pictures to illustrate.  He was funny, well read and interesting and we thoroughly enjoyed his talk.  We looked for his books afterward but they had already sold out.

Peabody Institute Library
Books, books and more books
A tour of the beautiful Peabody Institute Library was next.  As a child, my mother took piano lessons at Peabody so I’d always wanted to see the inside.   Along with a book sale, there was an author talk in the library.  When Beth and I stepped inside, we both stopped, mouths opened.  I felt like the heavens parted and a choir of angels were singing.  Several levels of books lined three sides of a large atrium.  They looked like boxes in an old theater, with each box holding shelves of books.  I could spend the rest of my life there.  I took a picture but it truly doesn’t do it justice.
Mt. Vernon UMC

Next, we toured the Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church.  The stained glass windows were gorgeous and the parishioners friendly and well informed about their church.

Scrabble Game

Finally, we headed over the MRW venue.  I handed in my pages and we waited for a seat after the “Pantzer vs. Plotting” talk, which was lively and informative.  Beth wandered over to a giant scrabble game while I stood in the middle of a bush listening to the talk.

MRW Panel.
This bush is not as comfortable as it looks.
When the crowd turned over for the next event, we were able to sit.  After several wonderful submissions, mine was read.  I was told that it was well written but they wanted to me expand the description about the hero character.   

Mary Sue Seymour

Afterward, I chatted with agent Mary Sue Seymour and then at long last we visited the three-dollar book sale.  I only ended up with six books.  One of those was for my husband so that one doesn’t count.

After we dropped off our loot at the car, we headed to an Irish Pub, Mick O’Shea’s. I was glad to sit down since we’d been there for about six hours.  It was a great choice since the food and the prices were good.  
Beth at Mick O'Shea's

My husband raised his eyebrow when I walked in with a passel of books but I handed him a bag of cinnamon almonds and one of the books so that he wouldn’t say anything about yet more books coming into the house.  He smiled at me in that knowing way spouses have since he knew what I was doing, but he didn’t comment.    

Another step in the delicate dance of marriage.  But that’s a blog for another day.        


  1. Aren't book festivals wonderful! Thanks for sharing your experience in B'more. I didn't know they had a festival. Last year I attended the Gaithersburg Book Festival (MD)(

    I didn't know what to expect and was delighted at the list of authors, booths and of course the library's used book sale. I discovered there was a Maryland Writer's Association--who knew! But I didn't see any of the local mystery and romance chapters. I wonder if that would be a way to build readership and inspire writing?

    Lisa, thanks for a great post.


  2. Sounded like a wonderful day, Lisa! Thanks for sharing. I will definitely put that on my todo list for next year. And don't all writers have the same hubby...ha...'what do you mean, you have more books'. Mine has given up.

  3. Thanks for sending us the scoop, Lisa! I love local festivals of every kind. They're always a great way to get to know your community and others who are working hard on their crafts. It can be hard to put faces to names, too, when it comes to writers and agents. Festivals are a great way to do that, as you noted. I always find those festival panels make me aware of writers I hadn't thought were for me. And then I buy their whole backlist!

  4. Shellie - The Gaithersburg Festival sounds good, too. I saw the Maryland Writer's Association in Baltimore as well. There was so much to see I couldn't take it all in.

  5. Hi Emelle - Thank you! It really was a wonderful day and the weather was perfect. Mine has given up regarding new books as well. But he can raise one eyebrow and convey a lot. LOL

  6. Nichole - I think festivals are a great way to get exposure as a writer. I had never heard of Nathan Hale but there were so many kids around ten or so that were hanging on his every word. Adults were enthralled by him as well. It was a whole world that I'd never heard about.

  7. Lisa ~ Sounds like quite an adventure. I'll have to add The Baltimore Book Festival to my agenda for next year.

    Thank God for my Kindle. Now most of my library remains hidden. LOL. No more raised eyebrows as I enter the house with that large bag of books from B&N. Sigh. But I do still frequent the B&N. Now I've just got more places to go ... and invisible bookshelves.

    Fun post. Thanks for sharing your Baltimore experience with us! ;0)

  8. Mackenzie - Yes, it was an adventure. Maybe we could make it an R8 field trip. :)

    I have also been downloading a lot of stuff to Kindle. I wish there was a way it would accept the used books as well. :)

  9. Lisa! It sounds like a fabulous day! I guess one of the bright spots of living sans spouse - no one to give me the hairy eyeball about the number of books I bring into the home...although maybe that freedom has gone to my head...I have an *awful* big TBR pile...

  10. Hi Keely - It was a wonderful day. The TBR pile is always growing, isn't it? I can't say the censure from my husband isn't too onerous - I still do it. LOL