Recently, Charlottesville, Virginia had a spring snowfall. Although such weather events are not unheard of, I found this one worrysome. That morning, the downtown area looked empty. That afternoon, Chenille Books client Zack Bonnie would be presenting his book, Overwritten, the second in his Dead, Insane, or in Jail memoir series, on a panel at the Virginia Festival of the Book (a/k/a VaBook, its Twitter handle and #VaBook2018, this year’s hashtag).
VaBook announced, via tweets, Facebook posts, and emails, that it was canceling a number of the day’s sessions, due to the weather. Although Zack’s session, Seeking Wellness: We Are Not Alone, was still on, we got concerned anyway. Once people got the word that their headliner traveling in from far away wasn’t able to come, they’d probably just wash their hands of the whole day’s Festival events, right?
Gloom prevailed at my office that day. Even though I’m not the author, I work closely with my clients on their book projects. It meant a lot to me that Overwritten was going to be in the public eye at the Virginia Festival of the Book, just as the first volume in Zack’s series had been, when it was published two years before. When I drove to work that morning – my office is a few blocks away from the public library where Zack’s event would take place – the usual parking spot behind my building was slippery and icy. I went to a garage instead. Not a good sign. I was highly motivated, and even I had to make accommodations.
VaBook Panel in Jeopardy
Then Zack contacted me to say he wasn’t sure he could dig his car out, where he lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge north of Charlottesville, until more snow melted. He might not be able to get into town to speak at the VaBook panel. I also heard that another panelist, due to drive in from Richmond, VA – ordinarily about an hour away via Interstate – might not be able to make it either.
In the end, though, the sun came out, and by the time the midafternoon session came around, streets were clear. I walked over to the library hoping that some people would show up. It turned out to be a great session, with an audience that nearly filled the large McIntire Room upstairs at the library. The panel’s moderator, Erin Tucker, Executive Director, On Our Own of Charlottesville, wove the three authors’ backgrounds and stories together, eliciting animated conversations and poignant moments of truth.
Along with Zack, the panel at VaBook included Lisa Jakub, author of Not Just Me: Anxiety, Depression, and Learning to Embrace Your Weird, and Erin Mahone, author of If You Could See Me: Life, Motherhood, and the Pursuit of Sanity.
Another VaBook Success
Thanks to sunshine, determination, and positive thinking, the session was an unqualified success. I learned that the three authors were able to meet before the VaBook panel, and their immediate warmth and compassion for one another’s stories were evident. Take a look at this snapshot I took, right after the event, to get a sense of what I mean. Thanks, #VaBook2018, for another great year!
— A M Carley