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John Scalzi, LeVar Burton, Marlo Thomas, Deborah Harkness, and Many, Many More


What do these people have in common? They’re all authors who will be at the L.A. Times Festival of Books at University of Southern California. It’s going on today and tomorrow and is free to attend. Parking is $10 a day. All the panels are free, but tickets are required for all the indoor events. Tickets are available online the week before (with a $1 each handling fee) and the big panels sell out. Then all you can do is go to the stand by line and hope someone doesn’t show up.

The stand by line doesn’t always work, but there are times… Last year we were able to see Margaret Atwood even though the tickets had sold out before I got to order online. If you haven’t heard Ms. Atwood speak, do so if you get the chance.

redshirtsMy older daughter and I are going again this year. It’s her chance to escape from my adorable granddaughters for a couple days. As a work at home mom, she needs these breaks. It’s fun for us, too. We have tickets to see John Scalzi in a one on one conversation, and to see Deborah Harkness and Marissa Meyer in different panels. There are others we may drop in on, including a visit or two to the Children’s Stage. We often end up in a place we don’t expect and learn something totally different and new for us.

We spend our weekend immersed in a crowd of bibliophiles. I wonder what gems we’ll pick up this year?

LA Times Festival of Books 2012


It was that time again this weekend. My daughter and I had a fun visit to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books once again. We walked all over the University of Southern California’s campus so we could check out the booths and different stages.

The best interview I saw? Anne Perry did a wonderful one on one interview. She still writes her books in long hand! There’s no computer for her. She’s working on a sort of sequel to her World War I series that takes place in the 1930’s.

The best new find? We attended a cool panel featuring Raymond Feist and Greg Bear. I enjoyed hearing their histories of writing. The third panel member was Boyd Morrison. I hadn’t heard of him before but his books sound interesting. So we bought three books between us and had him sign them.

The most fun panel? John Scalzi, Maureen Johnson, and Pam Ribon discussed “The Nerds Shall Inherit the Earth”. We spent that hour laughing.

Other highlights? There is the lady practicing on her mandolin for a bluegrass hour. We chatted with the authors of the Trader Joe’s cookbooks. We brushed off many different religious and philosophy proselytes. We watched Marc Brown draw Arthur the Aardvark and other characters on the Children’s Stage. And we walked, and walked, and walked. My pedometer showed over 8300 steps on Saturday and 7800 steps on Sunday. This from a woman who averages about 3500 to 4000 steps a day.

The least favorite part? We’re not returning to that hotel again. It was about a mile and a half from campus in a more run down area of Los Angeles. First we were put in a smoking room. After we changed rooms, it was somewhat better, but…Next year, we’ll try to get back into the hotel we had last year.

I wonder what authors will be at the LATFOB next year?

Long Day in LA


We have been having fun at the Festival of Books. Then we tried to find a Mexican restaurant in downtown LA. We got lost… Then we found the Library Bar. It seemed like it would be a good place on a book day. But they had a private party going on. We finally landed in an Irish pub. Sheesh!

L.A. Times Festival of Books


It’s that time again. The Festival of Books is this weekend. This year it has moved to the campus of University of Southern California. I hope that campus isn’t as sprawling as UCLA.

My daughter, Mrs. Undomestic, is getting away w/o her husband or daughters this weekend. It’ll be the two of us surrounded by books, authors, and more books. We had a great time last year. I expect the same this year.

I’ll be on the lookout for Diane Mott Davidson…

It’s The Last Weekend in April Again


That means it’s the L.A. Times Festival of Books again. This year I came with my older daughter. She hadn’t come up here yet. We sat in on a panel of writers who had written books about baseball – Game Six by Mark Frost, Giants Past and Present by Dan Fost, and Forever Blue by Michael D’Antonio. Although I’m not the big baseball fan in our family, it is part of my family heritage.

The panel was fascinating. Now I want to read one of the books – although it’s a toss up between Game Six about the Boston Red Sox/Cincinnati Reds World Series in 1975 or Forever Blue about the Brooklyn Dodgers moving to become the L.A. Dodgers.

We wandered around, sat in at the Children’s Stage when Bernadette Peters read and sang her newest children’s picture book, Stella Is a Star (illustrated by Liz Murphy). We also visited in and out of many of the vendors’ pavilions and basically had a great time. We’re going back tomorrow for a couple more panels. I’ll be wiped out tomorrow night.

It’s That Time of Year


In December we look back over the year and see what we like or don’t like about it. Since I’ve attended the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books the past couple years, I’m on their email/blog list. Today they posted “25 Favorite Fiction and Poetry of 2009” selected by the LA Times editors. Again, I haven’t read any of them. Knowing my tastes, that isn’t surprising…

Favorites 2009: Fiction and poetry

I think I’ll do that later this month. I’ll choose my favorite group both from my 999 Challenge and from all my reading. I’m certain that The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will be on both lists. I’ll start considering the others.

L.A. Times Festival of Books


Once again the Festival of Books was huge, crowded with book lovers, and fun. Unfortunately, the traffic on 405 going to the UCLA campus and back to my daughter’s was horrid. Since there weren’t any speakers on Sunday I HAD to see, I skipped Sunday’s session to miss the stop and go traffic.

It was fun on Saturday. I made it to the Silverberg, Harrison, and Haldeman panel. It was fascinating listening to them discuss how they got into writing in science fiction. More than once they made the excellent point that good science fiction needs good characters, just like any good fiction. It’s only the setting that’s different – and what then gets the genre denigrated somewhat. Someone in the audience asked why there weren’t more books about utopias rather than about dystopias. Someone on the panel (Silverberg, I think) quickly quipped “Bo-ring”. They then seriously answered that utopias don’t have any conflict. What’s a good novel or story without conflict?

I also stopped by the Mysterious Galaxy booth (no surprise). I was excited to see Connie Willis. Unfortunately I hadn’t found MG’s signing schedule on line to know she would be there because I would have brought my copy of All Seated on the Ground for her to sign. Unfortunately they were out of copies of The Doomsday Book, so I bought To Say Nothing of the Dog for her to sign.

Cornelia Funke was at another book stall as well. I finally got my signed copy of Inkheart that I’ve been wanting.

One of the highlights for me was sitting outside one tent watching people and reading the tent. It asked “What Are You Reading?” There were markers provided. People wrote down the names of books they either are reading or loved (who knows which?). There was everything from East of Eden to Fast Food Nation to Twilight to Catcher in the Rye to Good Night Moon. It was intriguing. I wonder if they put up a new, clean tent on Sunday to start again?

5/14/09 – I was at Mysterious Galaxy for their 16th birthday last weekend. The “What Are You Reading” wall was duplicated there for customers to write on. It’s still a good idea and was fun to read.

L.A. Times Festival of Books


Speaking of Ray Bradbury, the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is tomorrow and Sunday. He will be speaking again this year. Jane Smiley, Mary Higgins Clark, Lisa Lutz, Andrew Sean Greer, and Jan Burke are less than 1% of the authors and speakers who will be there.

This is where I can be found for the next couple days. I’m especially looking forward to the panel tomorrow called “Sci-Fi Grand Masters”. The authors on the panel are Joe Haldeman, Harry Harrison, and Robert Silverberg.

Love What You Do


Ray Bradbury lives here in Southern California and makes many appearances in the area. Finally, I was able to sit in an audience and listen to his stories. It was super. His theme was “Love What You Do”. He talked about how so many parts of his career happened because he loved what he did or the people he met. He was able to turn that love into his life and his work. I had never known he wrote the screenplay for John Huston’s version of Moby Dick. The man deserved his standing ovation.

Weekend Plans


Although I’ve lived in Southern California for almost 7 years, I’ve missed one of the biggest book events in the country each year. Until this year, that is.

The L.A. Times Festival of Books is this weekend. This year I’m going. After I made the decision, I checked the schedule. When tickets became available, I immediately reserved two sessions. On Saturday Ray Bradbury is talking. On Sunday Julie Andrews is. She’s also reading one of her children’s books in the morning on the children’s stage.

Another favorite author of mine will be there – Jacqueline Winspear. Unfortunately, her only panel is scheduled against Dame Andrews. Hopefully I’ll get another chance to see Ms. Winspear – she’s the younger of the two.

I also hope to see Cornelia Funke. Other authors whose work I’ve read who will be there include David Brin, Christopher Buckley, Carol Higgins Clark, Mary Higgins Clark (they’re together, but scheduled against Bradbury), Michael Connelly, Richard Paul Evans, Lisa Lutz, Walter Mosley, T. Jefferson Parker, Rick Riordan, Laura Schlessinger, Jane Smiley, and Stuart Woods. Check out the full list of authors and presenters – a few hundred.

It’s about time I made it to this Festival of Books.