Bay Area Book Festival 2019

J. Dianne Dotson – Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer – Bay Area Book Festival 2019

This past weekend, I piled books, a wagon, swag, snacks, and water into a rental car and drove up to the San Francisco Bay Area for the Bay Area Book Festival (aka Bay Book Fest). The Bay Book Fest hosted 250 authors this year, and held several events. It was massive!

I left my home around 4:30 AM on Friday, determined to get past LA before rush hour. This worked really well. Then I stopped to get my favorite smoothie from Sunlife Organics in Malibu. I took a brief break by the moody sea at Carpinteria, then continued north.

As I headed up Highway 101, I had an epiphany: I could finally see Big Sur, since I was driving alone and had no motion-sickness-prone passengers. I checked on the weather: clear. I decided to go for it.

And it did not disappoint. This was one of the only stretches of coastal highway on the West Coast I had not been on yet. I began the slow trek and soon it became mind-boggling. Not just in beauty, but in the sheer scope of everything. Highway 1 is an engineering marvel through Big Sur. You’re hanging off of mountains over the Pacific Ocean. I’m glad I was heading north, so I could hug the mountainside, rather than going south and teetering on the edge. But one day, I hope to see the other direction. There are too many beautiful vistas. And most of the stops for them were jammed with cars, despite light traffic on the road itself. So I could only stop once. Not too shabby a place to stop, I think.

After a couple of hours, I finally made it through the end of Big Sur, where redwoods stretch into wisps of fog high above the other trees. Pure dreamland. That’s what Big Sur is. But I had to keep going.

North of Santa Cruz, there is a little blip named Davenport. And in Davenport, the truly magical Swanton Berry Farm beckons me every time I head to the Bay Area. It’s a pilgrimage, truly. They are famous for their olallieberries, their jams, their pies, their hot berry cider, and they are pay-what-you can. I’m not sure how such a place really exists, but it does, and I love it down to my DNA.

I reached San Francisco in time for dinner with my hosts, who got loads of Burmese takeout, and I devoured it. I caught up with them, and readied myself for the Bay Book Fest the next morning, tired from the drive but strangely energized also.

Before I headed across the Bay Bridge, I checked to make sure I had everything: boxes of Heliopause, some of my friend Henry Herz’s (How the Squid Got Two Long Arms) children’s picture books, my new 4-foot-wide table banner, my swag (Ephemeris stickers), some Dove chocolates, water, apples, Clif Bars (these latter 3 are my convention essentials), foam board display, business cards, cash bag, Square device, flyers for my upcoming Green Apple Books signing, sell sheets, signing pen, notepad, postcards for both Heliopause and Ephemeris, fabric for a tablecloth, copies of Heliopause, and my Notes from the Spiral Arm newsletter signup sheets. Whew! I had everything I needed. I drove over to Berkeley to set up.

I shared a table with the truly delightful Patricia Bossano, who writes the Faerie Legacy series (Cradle Gift, Faery Sight, and Nahia). You absolutely have to check out her work! She’s just the sweetest, most resourceful person, and I am so happy we worked as a sort of dynamic duo at the festival.

The Bay Book Fest was a great success. On Saturday, loads of folks came through, many also having visited the Saturday Farmer’s Market in downtown Berkeley. I saw baguettes peeking out of book bags, and that made me quite happy. On Sunday, the final day of the festival, a good crowd turned out. I wished I could have visited every booth and table there, but this was a large event. 

On every side of me, wonderful authors in various genres struck up conversations with me. I particularly enjoyed talking to Dean Stuart (Finders Keepers) and K.M. Harrell (Nyira and the Invisible Boy). Go check out their fabulous works! I’m thrilled I brought home some treasures from the festival. It was so busy with people stopping by that I did not have much time to go and see other authors, but still, it was a blast.

I want to thank Sarah Kidder for helping coordinate this wonderful Bay Area Book Festival. She was incredibly helpful, and the event was one of the best-organized I’ve been to yet. I felt the love of Bay Area book fans, and made some wonderful connections for the future. I’m hoping to return next year! 

Image Credit: J. Dianne Dotson at her Bay Area Book Festival table May 4, 2019. Copyright J. Dianne Dotson 2019.

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