I attended it this past weekend and it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. I admit that I did not attend the first day as it was the announcement of the Omaha Reads book (and I admit 10 a.m. was too early for an extra day off). Then I planned on going down but had so much to do around the house and when I saw it was a day of poetry readings, I was honestly okay with missing out on it. It is exciting to note that the Omaha Reads book is one by Timothy Schaffert who is also the man who is in charge of the (downtown) Omaha LitFest. His book The Singing and Dancing Daughters of God was chose as the book Omaha is reading this year.
The second day I was up early (okay I didn’t make it there by 10 a.m. either, but I did get there in time to enjoy some of the first panel of the day. The panel thing was very interesting to me – I loved the topics and heard some very interesting and dynamic speakers. Some of the topics I enjoyed most were: Literary Failure and Literary Feuds: The Panel about Anxiety; Up from the Gutter: How to Cultivate a Cult Following; The Grimm Reality: The Panel about Re-inventing the Fairy Tale; and Sex in the Library: The Panel about Canoodling on the Page.
There were really some dynamic personalities up there:
The first on who really grabbed my attention was Sean Doolittle who writes what appears to be mystery detective series, I was drawn to purchase one of his books because I was really drawn to his personality. He wasn’t afraid to hold back, seemed like a very opinionated and just a fun guy. You know the kind of person you meet and think ‘I’d like someone like him in my circle of friends.’ Hopefully that’s not to stalker-like.
Another writer who grabbed my interests and oddly enough ended up on three of the panels that I sat in one was Dallas Hudgens, – who has one published book and another coming out soon. His book is one that I will eventually purchase and read. I heard a couple of short readings from him (the opening paragraph and the lovemaking scene – which I have to say was so descriptive, but subtle and for a straight scene – it really aroused this gay man.)What was facinating was I don’t think he used any of the typical descriptions for making love and yet it was so arousing. He was rather amusing when he shared that he has written two books and many other credits, and ‘only one love scene,’ yet here he sat on the panel about ‘canoodling on the page.’He totally provoked in me a challenge to write my own love scene without being so obvious.
Amy Guth appears to have a great cult following already and I could really see why – hers was one of the first blog’s that I rushed home to read and will definitely get a posted on this blog (as soon as I remember how to do that). Her books are appealing too, but I have to admit will not rush to be in my reading pile because they appear to be more along the lines of ‘chic-lit’ to me. I might totally offend her saying that, but…
Carolyn Turgeon has me totally enthralled with her new book that will be coming out in the future – it’s about Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother – who switches places with Cinderella as she falls in love with the prince and wants her happily everafter – I am so excited for this approach. This is one of the most creative aspects of writing that I believe to be out there right now – taking stories with know and doing a ‘other side of the story.’ Gregory McGuire does an exceptional job of this in Wicked and Tales of a Evil Step-sister.
Debra DiBlasi was very intriguing also – it happened that I sat a table away from her at JAZZ when I snuck away for lunch and while I had a feeling she was one of the writers who would appear on a panel – I didn’t have the courage to approach and ask. Her writings are very unique and experimental, but one of those that I know I will find myself having to check out.
Jami Attenberg was another author who grabbed my attention. I liked what she read and some of the things she had to say. Like I say, ‘she grabbed my attention,’ but I am not sure where I stand with her. There was one panel she sat on where it appeared she tried to come off as too much of an expert and it was her way or no way. She had an ‘interesting’ debate with another woman on the panel which was more than a little frustrating for me as an observer – because it came across as if she was dismissing the other womans thoughts and views on the subject matter and she took a ‘stand’ against something the woman said (which I think had to do with sex on the pages also depends some on the age of the reader – and that is stated rather loosely). I do think she has some interesting things to say though, and worth checking out. She has an amazing website that impressed the hell out of me.
Monica Drake was another author I found interesting. But some of that was the history she comes with and who she knows she is friends of Chuck Palahniuk who wrote The Fight Club and many other greats – she talked of his website, which if I remember right, just ended up winning the an award from Writer’s Digest for self-promotion and the many other things it does. She spoke of his site – The Cult which you can take all sorts of writing lessons and such for really reasonable prices. She was thrilled when he asked her to teach a class on there at one time.
I can already not wait for next year. My only ‘concerns’ were that it would be nice to have the panels in rooms so the outside distractions would not affect the ability to hear as much. I would almost like to see more opportunities for the published to interact with the non-published. At this time I don’t see any ways that that could happen – but the panels were pretty much back to back and I am sure I would be in the same boat – but the published appeared to be drawn to each other and the few moments for interactions that there were, the awkwardness of approaching a group of the published to ask questions or share thoughts, seemed too awkward.
It was interesting when I was riding up the elevator with a couple of the authors – and one woman comment on what a ‘imposter?/phony’ she felt like when she sat on the panel. The other guy commented that that is not a feeling that goes away for awhile – he has been doing this for awhile and he stills feels that way when he’s expected to present as if he were an expert.
My thoughts and hopes – one day I will be there on a panel. I can’t wait.