If You’re in Albany This Saturday…

empire-bookfest-2011.jpgI’m headed upstate this weekend to take part in the second annual Empire State Book Festival, and it’s looking like we’ll have a pretty good time. I’m participating in two panels: First, I’ll be discussing “genre, gender, and race” in the context of the new publishing and bookselling landscapes—my contributions will probably touch upon how social networking tools enable authors and publishers to connect with readers who share an affinity for certain types of stories, even if those stories aren’t covered extensively (if at all) by mainstream literary outlets. Later that afternoon, I’ll moderate a panel called “Romance: [Publishing's] Red-Headed Stepchild,” where I’ll talk with novelists Lauren Willig and Cara Elliott, and Sourcebooks editor Leah Hultenschmidt, about how this genre keeps big publishing afloat but still gets barely any respect—from there, we’ll hit upon some of the most popular trends in current romance publishing, as well as the eternal verities.

There’s a lot else to see Saturday—one panel alone consists of Jonathan Dee, Martha McPhee, and Teddy Wayne, and the afternoon keynote speaker is Rosanne Cash—so if you can make it to the Empire State Plaza in downtown Albany, I hope you’ll drop by! (You can’t miss it; it’s the group of buildings that looks like the set of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. We’ll be in the underground meeting rooms, which you can access through the building that looks like an egg turned on its side.)

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31 March 2011 | events |

The Fountain Bookstore Civil War Book Club

1861-fountain-bookstore.jpgThe 150th anniversary of the attack on Fort Sumter, the start of the U.S. Civil War, is just two weeks away. For a long time now, I’ve had it in mind to read my way through the conflict in chronological order; originally, I was just planning to blog my way through it, but a few months back, inspired by the success of subscription book club programs at independent bookstores like Powell’s and WORD, I approached Kelly Justice, the owner of Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia, and pitched her on the idea—and now we’ve got a Civil War Book Club for which I’ll be selecting books, providing short introductory reading guides, and in many cases heading down to Richmond for in-store events.

On Thursday, April 14, for example, I’ll be interviewing Adam Goodheart, the author of 1861: The Civil War Awakening. It’s a fantastic book about the months leading up to the outbreak of conflict, in which Goodheart considers the war not as a simple matter of North versus South but a crisis of conscience for every American citizen—a national trauma that forced people to examine their most closely held beliefs about what the nation stood for and what it was meant to be. There’s some combat in the book, to be sure, but Goodheart’s main interest lies in getting inside people’s heads, and he offers us a diverse cross-section of American and Confederate society. I’m very much looking forward to our discussion, and I’m hoping to get a good recording of it to share with those of you who can’t make it to the event.

When you enroll in Fountain’s book club program, you’ll be able to choose how many months you want to participate in the program, and whether you want to join the hardcover or paperback reading track. (We’ll be unveiling the first paperback selection next week.) This book club isn’t just intended for Richmond residents, either: The monthly fees include shipping, along with the reading guides I’ll be creating, and other exclusive materials we’re putting together. I’m really excited about this program, and I hope you will be, too!

30 March 2011 | civil war 150, events |

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