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Thank you, Nashville!

It's fall, so I'm back out on the road with my new book. My mom is travelling with me this trip, in lieu of taking my entire writing career and hanging on the fridge in a look-what-my-kid-made way. This is what moms are for. It's like the opposite of a Kirkus Review.

First stop: Nashville, and the Southern Festival of Books. I had never been to Nashville, but I'm love. We came in from the airport on Friday night, tossed our bags down, and followed our noses to honky tonk. Honky Tonk came with food only with an hour wait, so we instead accosted random people for recommendations, and found ourselves at the suburb and Skulls Rainbow Room in apparently-it's-famous Printer's Alley. The food was outstanding, and the music — a torch singer who opened with “Summer Time”, threw in “Pigfoot and a Bottle of Beer” and closed with “At Last,” — so so good. Really, the whole thing could not have been better.

Saturday was warm and gorgeous -- and holy cow check out the venue for festival! (Photo via Samplings from Spring Creek, with permission. My phone ate mine.)

The Southern Festival of Books is held at the Warm Memorial Plaza and the Tennessee state capitol. As someone who often speaks in high school gymnasiums and beloved but underfunded libraries with teal and beige carpet tiles -- HOLY FEDERALIST ARCHITECHTURE, BATMAN. The Plaza was gorgeous, and packed. And the people at Parnassus Books made me feel like a rockstar. What a bookstore. Thank you.

But of course the point of the trip was not to see live honky tonk, a dead armdillo, and a real burrowing owl -- though I do feel like that's the Tennessee Trifecta -- but to hang out with these lovely ladies: Sharon Cameron, author of Rook, and Martha Brockenbrough, author of The Game of Love And Death.

We chatted about weird narrators, love stories that start in the middle, the writing advice we hate, and much, much more -- and we looked damn fine doing it.

Later I met Kwame Alexander and actually bounced up and down and said: "You're Kwame Alexander! Book in a Day! Poetry in the Schools! You!" because I am cool like that. But Kwame Alexander was very nice to me, and he has extremely cool cowboy boots.

Bottom line: Nashville is beautiful, and the Southern Festival of Books is packed with great authors and passionate readers. It's a terrific festival, and you should catch it if you can.

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