A Day of Bookish Joy
Book Fair Day!
I recently attended The Write Women Book Fest in Bowie, MD. As soon as I walked into the hotel ballroom and saw the rows and rows of author tables, I thought, “Ah yes. These are my people.”
I found myself reminiscing about the annual school book fair from my grade school days. They were so exciting! The big metal cases, each brimming with shelf upon shelf of goodies, clattered down the school hallways one by one. The anticipation built. Then it was finally my class’s turn to be let loose among the myriad displays of picture books, journals, posters, bookmarks, and cool erasers. It was like Christmas for nerds like me.
Unfortunately, I’ve not heard of Scholastic rolling up and setting up shop in the lobbies of office buildings or other adult hangouts these days. But, with a little online searching, I’ve had good luck finding great book festivals not far from home.
I decided that grown-up festivals might be even better than those old school fairs because of the interactions with the authors themselves. At such events, I got to hear stories told right from the mouths of those who created them. The Q&A sessions were fun and informative. At times, I had the opportunity to gush about how much I loved an author’s work. I also walked away with autographs on the title pages of my new books. That never happened in grade school. The younger me would have been jealous.
At The Write Women Book Fest, I stopped at each table, careful not to miss any. Every writer was excited to answer questions about their work, their inspiration, and their upcoming projects. Although I wasn’t able to buy a book from everyone, but I did pick up lots of business cards. Over the days that followed, I made my way through them all, following them on social media, and I signed up for several newsletters.
And did I mention the swag? Many of the authors had stickers, bookmarks, pens, candy, buttons, and other treats, free for the taking. For this festival, I applied for their “influencer” program, which netted me a whole tote bag filled with paperbacks, candles, journals, annotation sets, and so much more. Yes, I even picked up some cool erasers.
During my day in Bowie, I attended two author panels. The first was “Women Authors & Storytelling: Fiction” where the four speakers shared about their journeys as writers. They spoke about the feminist themes in their stories and about recent trends in the publishing world.
They billed the second panel as “Fantasy and Romance: Myth, Magic, Love, and Steamy Stories as Told by Women Authors”. Even though I haven’t been known to read much romance, I was so happy I attended. I learned how romance authors challenge the traditional male gaze that dominates so much other media. I heard women talk about “spicy” topics without a hint of demure blushing or shame. They also offered profound insight into how fantasy, be it of a sexual nature or the kind that involves magic, both allow the space to explore possibilities outside of our everyday lives.
There were poignant moments throughout the day, like when I spoke with women who wrote about loss or great struggles. I also met women who saw a need in early education and decided that they could fulfill that need by writing books for children. They addressed topics like bodily autonomy, awareness of cultural differences, handling big feelings, and treating others with kindness.
My favorite experience was one that left both the panel of writers and the audience laughing out loud. The romance authors all shared about the rabbit holes of research that they fell into from time to time. Hours of searching for facts, more often than not, was for one sentence. A woman who goes by the pen name Golden Angel spoke of how she could probably take on the profession of one of her characters because of the deep dive she did. She threw some of those details into her story because “I know all about it and now you have to, too!”
10/10 Would Recommend
I left The Write Women Book Fest a bit exhausted from talking to so many amazing women, but I was grinning from ear to ear. The bag I brought with me to put my purchases in was also significantly heavier. That’s happened to me a lot at events like this. The bookish little girl inside me had the time of her life.