Seven months after a chance meeting with a woman at a Florida Beauty & Grace Presentation, followed by her sharing of my book with a friend in South Dakota, I experienced my first day as an invited author at the South Dakota Festival of Books.
As I found my assigned author table in the exhibition hall and arranged my display, I wondered if anyone would be interested in my books, or even want to purchase them, 1,300 miles from where I live and write?
In the same context, I reflected on the first of my two author presentations scheduled for later in the afternoon. I’d titled the presentation “Finding Your Writer’s Purpose.”
While I was sure of the value of what I would be offering, I had mentally prepared myself for an audience comprised solely of the South Dakota woman who had read Beauty & Grace and encouraged me to apply to the festival.
My first surprise of the day came as I was putting the finishing touches on my display. While I was two hours ahead of the official opening of the exhibition hall, a slow but steady stream of people started passing by.
Actually they did more than pass by. They stopped and chatted, wanting to know about my work. It was only a short time before one of those with whom I chatted returned and purchased two of my books.
At this point, it was time to head to the Deadwood Pubic Library for my presentation. The day was sunny and warm and the library close by, so I decided to walk. As I turned a corner to arrive at my destination, I was impressed by the iconic building before me.
Based on a nearby historic marker this library was one of more than 1,600 throughout the United States generously funded by the philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie.
Ground was broken on March 28, 1904 and the Greek Style Building was officially dedicated as the Deadwood Public Library on November 8, 1905.
Entering the library, I was completely caught off guard by the fact that two people were already seated, awaiting my presentation.
As the time drew near for me to begin, more people joined with those two until all the chairs were filled and more had to be added. By the time I started speaking there were over 40 people in the audience.
I asked if I could take their picture to show my kids that their mom was a famous author—-which explains the smiles you see in the photo of the front half of the audience.
From that point it was a fast-and-furious 45-minutes of encouraging those gathered to find their writer’s purpose, whether as a family historian, a blogger, a newspaper/magazine writer, a Pr/media consultant or an author.
The collective of men and women of all ages took notes, asked questions and were an incredibly supportive audience, for which I will be forever grateful.
Afterwards a few individuals approached for some one-on-one exchanges and then I returned to the exhibition hall for a group author book signing.
The hall was now officially open and filled with 65 authors, an assortment of vendors and crowds of book lovers.
For the next three hours I met people from across South Dakota and beyond. We chatted about the festival. They shared their book genre favorites. They asked about the topics of my four books. More often than not, they chose one to purchase. Some who attended my presentation stopped to thank me and bought books as well.
Finally, at 5pm, my first day as an author at a book festival came to an end. I was exhilerated and exhausted all at the same time.
I was also grateful that people who love to read now have my books in their hands, to experience the redemption and renewal of my Beauty & Grace characters, to become immersed in the spirit of my beloved Crown Hill Home and to share in my slice-of-life Heart & Soul newspaper columns and WBFO radio commentaries.
And to validate that I have found my own writer’s purpose.