2016 Tucson Festival of Books, Day 1

Day 1 of the 2016 Tucson Festival of Books is in, well, the books. (Sorry.) (Not really.) Hosted on the University of Arizona campus, it’s the fourth largest book fair in the entire country, and 99% of it is FREE! (Pictures tomorrow, I promise!)

Check out this (very) partial list of authors in attendance: Paolo Bacigalupi, Greg Bear, Terry Brooks (yes, the Sword of Shannara creator), Jared Diamond, Diana Gabaldon (yes, the Outlander creator), Tucson writer J. A. Jance, Jeff Mariotte, Sierra Vista’s own Yvonne Navarro and Weston Ochse, cartoonist Stephan Pastis (creator of the Pearls Before Swine strip), R. L. Stine (creator of the Goosebumps kids’ series), Chuck Wendig, and over 100 others. Don’t recognize many of the names? That’s OK: there are lots of authors I haven’t heard of either who are on panels I went to today, and I learned from and enjoyed every one. Some of these folks, and others I didn’t mention, are people I’ve met at the Tucson Science Fiction convention (TusCon) in the fall.

I might even have found a cover artist for my next book–the one after I finish The Eternity Plague series.

Now, to be honest, the quality of the panels was uneven. “Kick-Ass Women of Sci-Fi” was terrific while “Layering Laughs: Writing Comedy” not so much because the “moderator” made himself too much the center of attention, rather than letting the authors really talk about what they do. That’s always a risk with these panels at any conference or convention, so you just have to go with it and get whatever you can out of the talk.

Besides all of the presentations, there are hundreds of tents for all kinds of organizations–booksellers (of course), authors (of course), publishers (of course), editors (of course), but also schools, religious groups, health and wellness groups, the National Park Service, Native American groups, newspapers, radio and TV stations, basically anyone who wants to get visibility with so many people and can come up with the money to pay for a tent (or several). This is how I found out about TusCon.

It’s a GREAT event. How a writer could NOT go to this event is mostly beyond me. (OK, I’ll give a pass to folks who don’t like crowds. After all, over 100,000 will attend over the two days of the Festival.)

If I have one beef, it’s that indie authors still get short shrift. Yes, they can reserve some time at one of two big, well-placed selling/signing tents (an improvement: it used to be one small, hidden one), but they aren’t invited to be presenters, no matter how well they’re selling or whether they started their career in traditional publishing or have been sought out by traditional publishers. That’s just wrong: we’re 25% of the market, after all! More, in some genres.

So, it’s up “early” again tomorrow to make the drive back to Tucson.

Speaking of the drive, something significant happened on the way up this morning: my car turned over 200,000 miles on the odometer. Here’s the proof.

(Kids, don’t try this at home. Well, how would you do almost 80 miles per hour at home anyway?)


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