Last weekend, I participated in Dedham, Massachusetts’s first annual Smack Dab in the Middle Author Festival.
It. Was. AWESOME.
The event was sponsored by the Dedham Public Library, the Blue Bunny Bookstore, and the Dedham Library Innovation Team, and thanks to the hard work of all these incredibly creative, highly organized individuals, the day was a tremendous success.
It all began with a handful of us authors running writing workshops for aspiring young writers. Though “aspiring” isn’t all that accurate a word — the kids in my group are already astoundingly talented. The story ideas they shared with me were so exciting, I made them promise to go home and start writing them so that I can read them all someday!
Next up were authors panels. We were broken up into three groups:
- FANTASY, featuring Marcykate Connolly, Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Petti, and Tui Sutherland
- CONTEMPORARY, featuring Victoria Coe, Lee Gjertsen Malone, Peter Reynolds, Anna Staniszewski, and Susan Tan
- SCI-FI, featuring Katie Slivensky, Monica Tesler, Rob Vlock, and me!
Moderator Janet Reynolds got each panel going by asking a question, such as, “Where do you get your ideas?” Authors took turns answering, and also occasionally got into conversation with one another. After that, the audience had a chance to ask questions. There were some excellent ones. Scholastic Press Corps Kid Reporter Maxwell Surprenant asked us sci-fi authors what role our parents played in shaping our career trajectories, and also wanted to know the most important thing we’d learned from them. Middle Grade fiction fans not there in person could still take part in these panels, as each of them was live-streamed on Facebook. Throughout the day, there were well over one thousand out-of-town readers tuned into the event.
The final part of the event, however, was something that you had to be there in person to enjoy: a book signing! All of us authors set up shop in the main room of the Dedham Public Library. We signed books and, even better, got a chance to chat with local kids, parents, and educators. I also learned about a brand-new independent bookstore opening up in just a few weeks in West Acton, Massachusetts — the Silver Unicorn. The owner of the bookstore stopped by to check out the event and spread the word.
All in all, it was a jam-packed but totally fantastic day. There’s nothing better than connecting with young readers, and the Dedham Public Library, the Blue Bunny Bookstore, and the Dedham Library Innovation Team offered all of us authors a wonderful opportunity to do so. The event serves as a testament to the importance of public libraries and independent bookstores in our communities. Fun, inspiring, life-enriching events such as these would not happen without them. So make sure to get out there and support YOUR local libraries and independent bookstores — for your sake, for your community’s sake, and for the sake of the book and reading community at large.
For more on the Smack Dab in the Middle Author Festival, read Maxwell Surprenant’s write-up of the event here, or Ariane Komyati’s write-up for Dedham Wicked Local here.
. . .
If hearing about the Smack Dab in the Middle Author Festival got you fired up to attend some book events, you’re in luck! I’ve got a bunch of them coming up, and at each I’ll be in the company of some truly excellent authors. Below is a list of where I’ll be, when I’ll be there, and who I’ll be with for the rest of the month of March. I hope to see you out there!
Saturday, March 17: Barnes & Noble Framingham Spring Author Festival
with Jannie Ho, Diane Magras, Gina Perry, Heather Lang, Jen Petro-Roy, Sarah Jean Howitz, Rob Vlock, Lisa Rosinsky, Sara Levine, Gregory Katsoulis, and Carol Gordon Ekster
12:00 pm — 4:00 pm
Barnes & Noble, Framingham
1 Worcester Rd, Framingham, MA 01701
Sunday, March 18: Book Signing at Savoy Bookshop and Cafe
with Kara LaReau (The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters series, The Infamous Ratsos series)
Savoy Bookshop and Cafe
10 Canal Street, Westerly, RI 02891
Saturday, March 24: Barnes & Noble Burlington STEMlit panel
with Katie Slivensky (The Countdown Conspiracy), Monica Tesler (Bounders series), and Rob Vlock (Sven Carter & The Trashmouth Effect)
11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Barnes & Noble, Burlington
98 Middlesex Turnpike, Burlington, MA 01803