Monday, April 16, 2012

Visiting communities: Red Hook

Jennifer Castle autographs my copy
of The Beginning of After
while Michael  Northrop answers questions.
Writing can certainly be a solitary craft but it doesn't have to be. As I continue to break out of my shell, I am embracing the writing community more and more. By that I mean to get out of my town and visit other towns, other communities.

One such town I visited this past Saturday was the wonderfully bucolic Red Hook. I attended the first annual Read Local Red Hook literary festival. Thankfully, my writing buddy and close friend, Sandy G. knows the area and drove. We caught the end of the first event, Picture Book Story Time, and saw Peter McCarty signing some books. With time to spare, we crossed the street and treated ourselves to dessert, a slice of  flour-free chocolate cake (delicious and the whipped topping was sinful), which we shared from Me-Oh-My Pie Shop and Cafe. I took home a bag of their Thin Crust Chocolate Chip Cookies (which were voted "best dessert" at 2009's Taste of Rhinebeck and were a BIG hit with my family). 

At noon we crossed back over and sat down to listen to the Middle Grade/YA panel speak on "Facing Life's Traumas and Dramas." The authors present were Jennifer Castle (The Beginning of After), Michael Northrop (Plunked, Trapped, Gentlemen) and Robin Palmer (Cindy Ella, Geek Charming, Little Miss Red, Wicked Jealous and Yours Truly, Lucy B. Parker series). Moderated by Nancy Castaldo (Leap Into Space, Keeping Our Earth Green, Pizza for the Queen), who is also the regional director of my local SCBWI chapter, the banter was lively and interesting. Each author read from their latest work showcasing such a wide array of character and voice.

Speaking of voice, I immediately loved the voice of Laurel, how she viewed things, her comments--the character and the author's writing style grabbed me. I purchased this book and Jennifer Castle was gracious to sign it to my oldest daughter. Michael Northrop's piece from Plunked was spot on for the age group and humorous. The author has an impressive background in sports writing and it showed. I will pick this book up for my son (and make a note to carry more money for book signings). Robin Palmer's piece was also humorous and insightful, her main character is a drama queen seeking an equally dramatic love interest.

I am always interested in hearing how writers write, the time they put aside, where they like to write, and again, I learned a lot from these professionals. I was also glad Michael Northrop signed my copy of Trapped which I gave my other daughter who will be entering high school in September.

After the signings, it was break time and we took in the sights of Red Hook before it was time to go back in for the Adult Literature Panel: Writing and Craft. The three authors, Thelma Adams, Mary-Beth Hughes and Edie Meidav (moderated by the always insightful Nina Shengold) blew me away with their readings and their answers to Nina's queries. Talk about intelligent, powerful writing. I really have to make room in my reading schedule to get back to enjoying adult literature (as much as I love YA and paranormal adult fiction).

Another highlight of the afternoon was introducing myself to one of my favorite writers, Carol Goodman, who was in attendance as a spectator and not on any panels (that would have been wonderful). I told her how much I loved The Demon Lover (her novel written using her pseudonym Juliet Dark) and her other novels (for an excellent article on the author, read Nina Shengold's piece from Chronogram Magazine here).

We couldn't stay for the Keynote Speaker, John Sayles, but I suspect his speech was nothing short of brilliant. All in all, a picturesque setting, a lovely Town Hall and friendly faces, Read Local Red Hook was a great day. I hope to return again next year. And I thank Oblong Books for being such a huge supporter and presence of this event. I will be going to their upcoming YA Society event next Sunday to listen and meet YA authors Michelle Zink and Jaclyn Dolamore.

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