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The first view of South Dakota as you enter from Minnesota.

The first view of South Dakota as you enter from Minnesota.

I attended the South Dakota Festival of Books as a presenter two weeks ago, but only now have I 1) had time to write a post about it, and 2) had time to process those few days.

The book festival ended up being a writer’s dream for me because something seemed to “break open” there. It’s not too often that I get to take off my teacher’s hat and put on my writer’s hat. My days are filled with grading, prepping, and advising students. After that all gets done, sometimes I’m too exhausted to think about my own writing. But for four days, I got to be a “writer.”

I had Thursday afternoon free, so of course I found the nearest Caribou and proceeded to write.

I had Thursday afternoon free, so of course I found the nearest Caribou and proceeded to write.

I warmed up the room for acclaimed novelist Jill McCorkle :)

I warmed up the room for acclaimed novelist Jill McCorkle 🙂

What made the Festival of Books so great for me at this time:

  • Teaching a memoir workshop to 20 people, all of whom were so engaged and enthusiastic. From what I could tell, all of them could walk away with ideas to develop an essay or even a book. Yay, them!
  • Thinking about writing and talking about writing for four days influenced me after I got home. When I got home, I had to write an essay for a freelance assignment and sometimes, I dread those assignments. But the writing came easily and the ideas flowed. I was in the “zone.”
  • The book festival and Sioux Falls in general made me excited, in many ways, about my next project.

And the best thing:

  • Meeting new people. The book festival features dozens of authors, some not well-known, others quite well-known. Some are from South Dakota, some are from New York and L.A. and points in between. I made a couple of professional connections, but the personal connections were the best. I got to know a colleague from Mankato better, which was a blast. It’s always nice as a writer to connect with other writers. I hope that we can continue to be each other’s champions for a long while.
Sonia Manzano ("Maria" from Sesame Street), me, and Jill McCorkle.

Sonia Manzano (“Maria” from Sesame Street), me, and Jill McCorkle.

Read this post from one of my new “besties”! Dawn nicely captures her own experience at the book festival. Dawn has written a beautiful novel, Meadowlark, which illuminates the pioneer experience of a woman on the South Dakota plains.

Please consider attending the South Dakota Festival of Books, which will be held Sept. 24-27, 2015 in Rapid City and Deadwood. The organizers do a wonderful job bringing in a variety of authors. More than 7,000 people attended this year’s event.

Near the falls for which Sioux Falls is named. Each day was warm and bright.

Near the falls for which Sioux Falls is named. Each day was warm and bright.

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