A capital idea!
It was a capital idea to expand Capital Bookfest to include three cities this year. (Thanks, Kwame!) After exhibiting at Capital Bookfest—Harrisburg in September, setting up at Capital Bookfest—Largo last Saturday had the feel of familiarity. (Largo is in Maryland, near Washington, D.C.) This time I already knew Kwame Alexander, producer of the show, Stephanie Stanley Alexander, and Lawanda Amaker, who all worked so hard to make it all happen.
At this show, we recognized Jonathan Queen, author of Are You S.A.N.E., Don’t Blame Me, and his children’s book The COOL Way to Start Your Day, and the illustrator of Cool Way, Courtland Murray from being at their neighboring table in Harrisburg. We discovered new talent, too. T.S. Grant (http://tsgrant.com) was at the table across from us. His book, The U.S. Constitution for Regular Folks, translates the Constitution into plain English and is sold at the bookstore of the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. He was also exhibiting his new novel 8th Grade, which is about conflict between a student and a teacher (Troy is a teacher, by the way). Behind us Uncle E (www.DBLadventures.com) attracted all the families with kids. By the time Uncle E interacted with them, his books with CDs included sold themselves! He does family literacy and character development programs, and a number of people came to the table having already heard about his presentations in schools and other local venues.
Two tables away we reacquainted with Dr. Christopher Bell, Jr., who does marvelous portrayals of Frederick Douglass and who was offering his controversial new book, The Black Clergy’s Misguided Worship Leadership. The Largo venue was a little different from Harrisburg in that each author had an opportunity to speak in a public setting about the book being exhibited. I talked about Well Considered and afterwards some of the listeners came to my table. Inside the Borders bookstore where the festival was held, I was able to attend a few presentations; the first was celebrity actress Victoria Rowell’s talk about her book Secrets of a Soap Opera Diva (www.victoriarowell.com and http://blackpress.org/victoriarowell.htm). Victoria played Drucilla Winters on 455 episodes of the CBS soap opera “The Young and the Restless” from 1990-2007, winning eleven NAACP Image Awards for the role, and 176 episodes as Dr. Amanda Bentley opposite Dick Van Dyke on the weekly CBS television series “Diagnosis: Murder,” from 1993-2001. She discussed the dearth of African-American writers, editors, producers, and technical crew in network TV.
Then I heard Dolen Perkins-Valdez, author of the wonderful novel, Wench (see my post “Delightful!”), whom I met at the Gaithersburg Book Festival, and Noni Carter whom I met in Harrisburg, the author of Good Fortune (see my post “The Fall Book Festival Season Has Begun!”), whom we met in Harrisburg. Barbara and I had thought they would enjoy meeting each other, and here they were on a panel together, talking about their novels about enslaved women.
I also enjoyed hearing Michele Singletary speak, as we regularly see her column, “The Color Of Money,” in the Washington Post. Her new book is The Power to Prosper: 21 Days to Financial Freedom (http://www.michellesingletary.com/ ). At six o’clock, we packed up, slept a few hours – then started all over the next day in Takoma Park (see next post).