#117–3rd Florence Festival of Books . . .

The big day, Saturday September 28, finally arrived and so did a big storm––a really big storm. Obviously, I forgot to memo Mother Nature. Of the 91 participants, seven cancelled at the last moment due to the weather. For the three traveling 101 from the north, that was totally understandable. The winds were fierce, and at times, the rain was torrential. But, you know, storm watching is one of the coastal attractions here. One participant, Ken Babbs, said that he and his wife enjoyed watching the wave action and the fierceness of the storm before coming to the events center. I would expect nothing less from one of Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters.

Ken Babbs enjoyed the stormy weather as well as the book fair.

Ken Babbs enjoyed the stormy weather as well as selling his book at FFOB.

And it didn’t keep folks from attending the Florence Festival of Books. We had more than 100 more attendees this year than in 2012, when it was sunny and warm. This year, the weather literally drove them inside. Where we were inside, we couldn’t even tell if it was rainy, windy, or sunny outside.

On Friday, some of us committee members were at the events center passing out table numbers, names of participants, packets, book bags, the newspaper supplement that functions also as the program and setting up all the special areas. By 3:30 p.m. our work was done.  Or so I thought .  . .

George Byran Wright has a great collection of books he has written.

George Byron Wright has a great collection of books he has written.

When I got home, the phone was ringing. It was one of our participating authors, George Byron Wright, from Portland, alerting me of a huge storm with high wind warnings and torrential rains for the coast to hit on Saturday. He suggested that I might find out the severity of it and alert all participants. So for the next 1 ½ hours, that’s exactly what I did.

I went online. Sure enough, high wind warnings were in effect from the Washington coast to Florence. We were the tail end. So I called the Coast Guard station here in Florence. The young man said 20–30 mph winds were predicted with 40–50 mile winds at the headlands. Heck, that’s what we get on most summer afternoons. No big deal, unless you’re coming from the north down the coast on Hwy 101, that is. So I sent out what I had learned with the suggestion to check TripCheck before heading off. I can only send 10 or less at a time from my email, so it took awhile to get everyone notified. I just had enough time to grab a little dinner before heading out to a class I was attending at 7 p.m.

On Saturday, I arrived about 8:15 a.m. and was surprised to see a few authors already unloading their vehicles. That continued for the next hour and a half. By then, everyone was pretty well set up. We had scheduled a couple of Mormon missionaries to help authors unload in the morning and load up at the end of the day. They helped me load up when I was done, and we did it in one trip. On Friday, it had taken me five trips to unload. These two young men were greatly appreciated.

Boomer Wright just finished reading from his book and is answering questions. Shelley Taylor in her blue T-shirt keeps an eye on everything.

Boomer Wright just finished reading from his book and is answering questions. Shelley Taylor, in her blue T-shirt  and in charge of the Readers’ Corner, keeps an eye on everything.

We had a Reader’s Corner that was new this year. A great deal of effort went into it and the blurbs about it and the schedule for when everyone was reading was in the newspaper the Wednesday before the event as well was in the program passed out as folks entered. The readers for the first two hours were children’s book authors. The only problem was that there were hardly any children. Shelley, the committee member in charge of the Readers’ Corner, sought out children and brought them over with their parents and during the rest of the day, she pulled in passersby to hear whomever was about to read.

We had curtains with rods separating rows of tables, so no table was back to back with another table and those along walls also had rods and curtains behind them. The curtains provided something on which to pin or clip signs and posters. And the rods allowed banners to be hung. We had a bucket of S hooks for the banners and all the pins and clothespins that we could buy in the Dollar Store available for the participants.

The Myth Makers decorated a lot.

The Myth Makers really know how to grab your attention.

When I first got there, I told Lindsey and Maire, committee members who would not be stuck at a table selling books, who would not be coming that I knew of and they also had received a couple of phone calls at the events center. So we crossed those off the list and called the next names on the waiting list. Two of them decided to come—one was from Eugene and the other from Salem. Then I connected to my email to check one last time and found no more cancellations.

Since a couple of our cancellations were readers for the Readers’ Corner, we let those on that waiting list know so they could be ready to read. The changes to the tables and to the Readers’ Corner schedule were posted at the entry table, so folks coming in would know.

Between keeping up with the changes and greeting folks as they came, I’m glad I had my table all set up the day before.

Gary Hartman shows a young man a homemade kaleidoscope that is one of the projects from his book Kids' Book of Adventure Projects.

Gary Hartman shows a young man a homemade kaleidoscope that is one of the projects from his book, Kids’ Book of Adventure Projects.

Once it was 10 a.m. folks were suddenly there. It was great all day. The camaraderie between authors was great—lots of networking. The folks visiting seemed to be in a buying mood. I sold 20 books and all but one of the authors I talked to later in the day, had made good sales. The atmosphere was happy and friendly—great fun. I only heard good comments. In the lobby, pianist Rebecca Phillips played in the morning and pianist Robin DeVour in the afternoon. And there were food and beverages for sale. We had lots of volunteers wearing blue T-shirts to babysit tables for the Readers’ Corner readers and anyone who wanted to leave their table for any reason. I saw many blue shirts helping out throughout the day. That was essential to the success of the event.

Dr. Veronica Esagui talks to interested folks at her table.

Dr. Veronica Esagui talks to interested folks at her table.

I mentioned earlier that I was attending a class on Friday evening. That was a class about marketing your books taught by Dr. Veronica Esagui. It was one of three classes taught that day that were not officially a part of the FFOB, but were in conjunction with it. Two classes were taught earlier in the day by committee members, Karen Nichols who taught about starting your book and Ellen Traylor who taught about self-editing and style. We were afraid that hardly anyone would show up for the classes, but folks did show up. The numbers were small but enthusiastic. The Friday night group had about eight writers. I found it informative and loved the intimacy.

So all in all it turned out to be a great Florence Festival of Books––in spite of the weather.  Mark your calendars––last Saturday of September next year, September 27, 2014.

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About crossingsauthor

Freelance writer/editor and author of Crossings: McCullough's Coastal Bridges, The Crossings Guide to Oregon's Coastal Spans, and Around Florence. Spent 22 years teaching 1st and 2nd grades and 21 years as editor/staff writer with Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines.
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6 Responses to #117–3rd Florence Festival of Books . . .

  1. Evelyn says:

    I thought about you on Saturday as Mother Nature was flexing her muscles down here in Gold Beach, too. I am delighted to hear there was such a great turnout. Folks normally don’t head out into the elements until much later in the rainy season! Congratulations on a stupendous job done by all involved.

    • Thank you. We are thrilled with how it turned out. We had five authors cancel because of the weather at the last minute and were able to resell two of their tables at 8:45 a.m. on Saturday to one author from Eugene and another from Salem. They were next on the waiting list. I still have thank you emails to send to everyone who participated, and I’ll do written thank you notes to all the volunteers. Not quite done.It really is a wonderful eventevan if I do say so myself!!! Kevin at the events center has it scheduled through 2017! How bout that!

  2. Brenda Howe says:

    Glad to hear the weather didn’t stop the show. That’s one thing I learned about living on the coast for so many years, just bundle up and keep living. Of course, there are some extremes that are wise to avoid, just here in Central Oregon. Congratulations, Judy. Brenda

  3. Donald Meyer says:

    Wow! Sounds like a great success! Congratulations!

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