If a couple years in Virginia didn’t convince me that I love southern hospitality, Nashville and Bowling Green have certainly done the job! It’s Monday, and I’m still riding the euphoria of being surrounded by so many wonderful people in the state of Kentucky this past weekend! The Southern Kentucky Book Fest really was “one for the books!”
From Tucson to Phoenix to Houston to Nashville to Bowling Green, it was a long day of travel (a whopping 12 hours each way!) This also was my third time stepping on Nashville ground, if only for a moment, and it was refreshing taking in all that creative energy again before it was time to get in the shuttle and ride to Bowling Green. Cat Jordan was an excellent shuttle mate, and I’m proud to call her the first friend I made during the festival!
I have to say getting a tour of Corsair Distillery was such an interesting experience! I’ve never been to any distillery before, and Corsair takes pride in being one of the “weird” ones. Checking a distillery tour off the bucket list! Oh, and also checking off “smell a bottle of fish-flavored bourbon.” P-U! Following that tour, I had the chance to meet a ton of other authors and illustrators and chat over drinks and appetizers, and it was an awesome evening! But after about 20 hours operating on fragmented sleep and pure adrenaline, it was time to crash out! *cannonballs into hulking king-sized hotel bed at beautiful hotel*
The festival itself was phenomenal! Hundreds of kids and teens on Friday, followed by another couple hundred Kentuckians filing in and out on Saturday, and I can hardly believe I was signing books for 11 total hours. I had to spend a little time walking around the festival myself and meeting the authors, and I can tell you this about our interactions:
- One is an Italian travelphile like me, and a former professor who knows some of my former professors.
- One won The Gong Show last year, and I totally remember watching the episode where her group performed last summer.
- One found his love of writing by sitting at home and filling up a floppy disk with X-Men fan-fiction, which is eerily similar to how I used to pass the time in the third grade . . .
- Two have a Netflix deal for their co-authored series, and are both so entirely sweet and humble about their success.
- One wrote the first chapter book I ever read when I was a 1st grader, and every other book in a series of fifty that I devoured for the next 3-4 years.
- One gave me a homemade, perfectly shaped and delectably textured cookie, and I was so thrilled to learn that she has ideas for a baking cookbook.
- One turned the entire convention center into a cozy mystery, doling out stick-on mustaches that filled the room with tiny incognito detectives.
- One has a second life as a MMA fighter/instructor and I never ever want to mess with her. Ever.
- One came to Tucson last year and I was still too shy to approach her at TFOB because she is larger than life. She then became my table buddy at SOKY and I spent two days laughing with her, learning from her, and drinking up her encouraging words and amazing ideas. Oh, and I super-appreciated her signing a paperback for me, which became a very effective distraction during a rocky flight home!
- I probably missed a few, but I should say ALL were amazing and gracious people I’m proud to call friends!
The festival marked a bittersweet transition for me as it also signaled the end of my trilogy’s production under Blaze Publishing. The greatest thanks goes to them for opening these amazing doors for me, even as they close their own doors and prepare for bright new futures. But don’t worry! If you don’t own a copy of THE CARVER or its sequels yet, come see me in Phoenix next month. I’ll be selling the last remaining copies as they currently exist, and later this summer, look for some updates from me! This isn’t the end of Enzo’s story, and after SOKY this weekend, I’ve never been more optimistic about what’s to come!
Make a wish,