A First-Timer at SIBA
By Ellen F. Brown, author of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind: A Bestseller’s Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood
This snapshot of my desk sums up my experience in Daytona better than anything I could write. For me, it was all about making connections. Meeting booksellers and bloggers. Getting to know and learning from other writers.
The weekend was so chock full that I am still trying to process it all. Things got off to a brilliant start on Friday morning at Steven Johnson’s talk on innovative ideas – loved his comment about the value of the internet as a “serendipity engine.” The panel discussions the rest of the day were each fantastic in their own way. As I tweeted that evening, I laughed at some, cried at others. I learned something at all of them. Then the fun really began: drinks and good music courtesy of Bookazine and Marshall Chapman, followed by a fortuitous dinner with author James Swanson. I stumbled back to my room ready to sleep when a Tweet came through that the Late Night Readings had started. Ooops… had forgotten about that. I got back in the elevator and headed downstairs for a literary night cap.
Saturday was another whirlwind. The tradeshow is a blur of books, people, and good conversations. And, I experienced a random act of kindness that day I will always treasure. Rhodi Hawk – author of Okra nominee The Twisted Ladder – had been invited to appear on Book Marc, a local radio show, and invited me to join her. If all writers are as generous, I have indeed landed in the right profession.
I was riding on a complete bookish high by the time the taxi came to take me to the airport Saturday afternoon. I snapped back to reality when I got on the airplane and realized that I had been assigned a seat in the very last row, right next to the bathroom. I was within moments of asking to find another seat when I saw Shellie Rushing Tomlinson – one of my favorite panelists of the entire weekend – headed for my row. Let’s just say an hour and a half with her was well worth the noxious fumes. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard. When we got to Atlanta, we carried on our conversation over a plate of nachos at an airport bar. More laughs ensued with a young waiter who kept referring to us as babies. “You want another glass of wine, baby?” “Baby, do you need a napkin?” “I’ll get your check right now, baby.” And don’t even get me started on all the life-changing advice Shelley gave me about the writing biz.
My only regret is that my co-author John Wiley, Jr., had to cancel his trip to SIBA due to illness. The poor thing is still in the hospital. I haven’t yet had the heart to tell him what a productive, inspiring, and fun trip he missed.
Now off to spend a rainy day entering all these new contacts into my address book.