...an overcast veil of gray snuffed out what little daylight remained. Despite ample parking, I was forced to trek upon cracked pavement outlining the neighboring building, the afternoon crowd still in flux.
I snuck through the side entrance, knowing the way by heart, and made haste to the gathered assemblage. More than a hundred writers, their smiles now strained following an afternoon of slinging their names across published works and speaking to readers by the thousands. After a day spent huddled over a desk, toughing out a mandatory six hour foster care class, I could relate.
It doesn't take long to lose one's sense of time while in their own environment...The Buckeye Book Fair, yearly ranked as one of the top literary events in the country.
The conversation with Karen Kingsbury, huddled behind a colorful display of past achievements, was inspiring. Terry Pluto has always been a personal favorite. A local sports writer turned novelist, each story christened with athletic locale. I paused before a breathtaking piece from artist, Will Hillenbrand, and shook hands with Cleveland born Neil Zurcher. From where I stood, Regina Brett's, "God Never Blinks," was an apparent fan favorite, her line having stretched around the corner and out of sight. And as every year, children's writer Dandi Mackall infected me with a playful grin reminiscent of the writer's voice she carries.
I was reading the back cover blurb to the latest vampire craze, when a tap on my shoulder stole my attention. "I thought all writers were sitting behind the tables today?"
A weary smile formed. "Hello David," I greeted my editor. "Out trolling for new students?"
"Just enjoying a day with friends." He studied my expression, then, "Long day?"
I nodded. "Classes. And yes, I should be signing today, not reading."
"Once again the bride's maid...still not the bride." His gaze hardened. Steely blue eyes squinting from behind a set of crow's feet. "Patience El. Your time draws near, I promise."
I looked at the tiled floor at our feet, our shadows forming a lengthened embrace. "Seems like it'll never happen," I said. "It's like...edit this, rewrite that...like running in place and getting nowhere fast."
"All these brats sitting behind these tables around us," David turned, waved an arm as if warding off a mosquito, "They start on their next project while edits stumble on."
"Yeah well, I've got that dayjob to deal with...but there's a little something else on the plate I've been thinking about. Another project."
"In the mood to share?" David asked.
"Nope. You've got work to do. Not sure why you're even standing here right now," I countered.
David's shoulders rose and fell with each chuckle. "Always the slave driver. 'South of Charm' will indeed happen. Final edits are rolling like a shapely stone downhill, with the final read to follow, then off to the galley."
"And how long will that be?"
"Aww come on!"
"See that empty space over there?" David directed my gaze toward a far corner of the room, a lonesome chair hiding under the table, an eight foot section of unattended space.
"What about it?" I asked.
"Next year," David said. A second pat on my shoulder. "Next year."
"Okay," I nodded.
As David turned, waving me a farewell, I mumbled, "Probably won't sell a book all day...sit behind a stack of covers, embarrassed and blushing."
"Ha!" David coughed over his shoulder. "Even the rube who failed to show up today ended up selling three books! I think you'll do fine!"
I watched his broken stride as he ambled for the exit, my grin widening. Okay...next year.
Buckeye Book Fair 2011. "South of Charm" ...better late than never:)
Thanks for reading,