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I’ve been thinking about two subjects this week. First, an update on Groucho, and second, the Florence Festival of Books, scheduled this year for September 18-19, but cancelled due to Covid-19.
When I went to pick up Groucho last Friday, September 25, Dr. Barstow said that if he continued to have trouble urinating to take him to the Emergency Animal Hospital in Springfield that is open 24/7. She had just removed the catheter. She also injected him with a long-lasting antibiotic, when she realized what a wild cat he becomes when you try to put anything in his mouth. With assistance, they had tried to give him the Amoxicillin that I was to give every 12 hours for two weeks, and he wouldn’t let them! (I don’t think they ever believed me when I said that Groucho and I don’t do his medicine by mouth. I took a month getting over an infected puncture wound that he gave me once.)
After I got him home, he tried over and over and over to urinate and couldn’t. I got the directions to the animal hospital, but it was raining and I don’t do well going long distances with the glare of headlights and rain. So I was very relieved when at 11 p.m., he finally urinated and pooped.
The next few days were like riding a roller-coaster. Some days he seemed to be doing okay and others he had trouble. Tuesday and Wednesday he urinated totally normal. Then today the pee balls started getting smaller. Last Sunday was the start of a new problem. His new antibiotic caused his poop to become very soft. He has stepped in it and tracked it around; then he got it on his fur and spread it wherever he sat. Lots and lots of clean up. The vet gave me some probiotic to make his poop firmer, and it seems to be working. Next Friday, I’m to take in a urine sample. So we’ll see!
Groucho has lived a long life, and I realize that this may be the beginning of the end. If it clears up and is no longer a problem, I’ll be thrilled. If not, then I’ll not put him through endless painful cycles. I’m trying to get myself in the frame of mind to let him go, if we (the vet and I) feel that it is for the best. This is not easy!
Florence Festival of Books
For the past nine years, the Florence Festival of Books took place on the last weekend in September, which would have been last weekend. Although, this year the FEC asked us if we would have it the weekend before because of a big convention coming to town. So we were bumped. As it turned out Covid-19 bumped everything. I got to thinking about and missing the FFOB.
I blame Dick Smith, one of Florence’s most respected citizens, for turning me into an author and for starting the Florence Festival of Books.
Dick asked me to put his research on the historic coastal bridges into a book. After a couple of years of asking, I finally said yes. It was just before I retired from working for 21 years at Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines. When I finally figured out how to organize his research, I discovered that I would need to do even more. As it turned out, the resulting book, Crossings: McCullough’s Coastal Bridges, took a year of working all day every day. Then that book led to another and then another. Without Dick’s prodding, I would never have written the first one.
Because I had a book to sell, I started going to book fairs with Connie Bradley, who had also written a book. One day, Connie and I were talking about all the things that we would change if we were putting on a book fair and Dick Smith was right there listening. Without Connie or I knowing it, Dick went to the Florence Events Center and talked to Kevin Rhodes, the director. They thought the book fair was a great idea and put it on the calendar for the end of September. Then the next day, Dick called me and said he and Kevin thought Connie and I would be great co-chairs for the new book fair. I called Connie, and after we got over the shock, we put Dick and Kevin on the committee.
We didn’t know what we were doing, but Tara, the gal who was the outreach person at the events center then did. She and Kevin were at every meeting of the committee the first two years and helped us get it figured out. Mostly Tara was the one who knew how to deal with applications and publicity and advertising. As to funding, Connie and I got on the phone and within an hour, we had sponsors willing to pony up $600. (Now we have a much larger budget and received $7,000 from our sponsors in 2019. Who knew!)
We figured maybe 20 authors would show up the first year. So Kevin planned for one section of the flat floor for the book fair. Soon there were 40 and before long 60. We ended up with all five sections of the flat floor. It was a success from the get-go.
The committee decided to add additional activities. About the third year, we tried having the participating writers who paid extra for the privilege read from their books in a special area. We had them on a schedule that was announced over a loudspeaker and posted on the wall. The reader’s area was right next to the participants tables and it was just too noisy and very few attendees sat down to listen So the next year, we moved the reading area to the stage and had a terrific set-up with no noise interference, but very few attendees showed up to hear the authors read from their books. By then the reading schedule had been in the newspaper, in the program handed to each attendee as they arrived, posted on the wall, and announced over a PA system. After three years and few folks listening to each writer, we gave up.
We started having keynote speakers on Friday evening starting in 2014. We had Jane Kirkpatrick, Phillip Margolin, John Daniel, Amy Stewart, and Bob Welch––all fabulous. This year we had Melody Carlson scheduled. She is one of America’s most prolific romance writers with more than 200 books to her credit who just happens to live in Oregon. And she is willing to wait until 2021 to be our Keynoter.
We also started having panel discussions on Friday afternoons about the fifth year. Not only was the panel on the main stage, but so was the audience. We’d set up about 50 chairs. The panels covered various aspects of writing or publishing. All have had good crowds–sometimes standing room only.
During my nine years working with the FFOB, I learned how to put together 30-second spots for the radio. The first year, I worked with Callista Cates at KCST for more than an hour to get two recorded. The past couple of years, it took us 12 minutes. And I’ve been with one or two others to talk about it on the radio—sometimes live and sometimes recorded. I also went to Eugene, Coos Bay, and Newport in various years to do TV segments. And I wrote many press releases and several articles about the event for a variety of newspapers. I also delivered fliers up and down the coast and throughout Eugene and mailed packets to other parts of Oregon.
For several years, I sent the acceptance letter with everything a participant would need to know after they had filled in an application and paid their fee. So I was the main contact for eight years. By the ninth year, I wanted to cut back. So the acceptance letter was sent out by the FEC.
I enjoyed talking to the participants at the meet-and-greet Friday evening prior to the Keynote Address. Then again as they arrived and set up Saturday morning. As co-founder and co-chair for all but one of the years and secretary for all nine, I would go around and try to briefly chat with all participants. The last several years, we had 70+ authors and 8 to 10 publishers participating.
I ‘ve also been a participant each year. I participated with my first book the first year (2011), then added books as they were published, until this past year I had five.
I miss the camaraderie of the committee meetings from April through September. And I miss the actual festival in three ways: It‘s so rewarding to see all our hard work turn into one of the most popular book festivals in the state. Secondly, I enjoy participating and meeting with the attendees. And thirdly, I miss networking with the other authors. It’s always such a treat to be surrounded by other writers. I love the Florence Festival of Books and really missed it this year.
I’m looking forward to next year. Some of our long-time members are no longer on the committee, and we have two new members, so we may do some things a little differently. And who knows how Covid-19 may change things. As expected, we plan on having it on one of the last weekends of September in 2021 at the FEC. As soon as I have exact dates, I’ll post on my blog and FB page as well as see that it’s on the FFOB website.
That sorta sums it up! Mark your calendars for next year!