Wordstock Day 1: Kim Barnes and Pauls Toutonghi

I packed up copies of Brave on the Page to bring to Wordstock today. And the fun continues tomorrow!

It was so great to see many, many authors and readers wandering around the Oregon Convention Center today. I spent a lot of time at the Espresso Book Machine booth, and then wandering around the booths, chatting with other exhibitors.

The one reading I heard featured two amazing authors–Kim Barnes and Pauls Toutonghi. I actually intended to go to a panel on marketing, “Getting the Word Out: Self Marketing,” featuring Dave Weich, April Henry and Kevin Emerson. I had the great pleasure of meeting Dave right before his appearance, and he asked me some great questions about using technology in publishing through the Espresso Book Machine. He said he might incorporate some of my answers in his appearance! Which was amazing. And then I found the right room a minute or two before the panel started. I had a great spot to stand in the back, but then the organizers checked and found out nobody could stand due to fire code.


But that’s okay, because before I met Dave, I had been planning to go hear Pauls and Kim speak. I’m enchanted by Pauls’ method of writing without looking at his computer monitor. (I know this because Jeff Baker profiled him in the Oregonian a few months ago).

Kim read from her new novel, In the Kingdom of Men. During the Q and A session, she mentioned bestselling author Selden Edwards telling her she didn’t have to go to Saudi Arabia in order to write about it. Selden reminded her 1960s Saudi Arabia doesn’t exist any more.

“I took that to heart and really did try to depend on the memories and observations of people who were there at the time,” Kim said.

I knew, at the mention of Selden Edwards, who is one of the most inspiring people I know (see the Seven Questions interview I did with him in August), that I had found my way to the right place after all.

To continue with the place theme, Pauls said he knew he wanted to write about Cairo and Butte, Montana. He wanted to create a character who would be challenged by Cairo.

“Setting is a big part of fiction–for me and the way that I write–and I really wanted to bridge those two places,” he said.

Both authors spent five years writing their novels. I love to hear that, as someone who is just beginning year three on my comic historical romp about music boxes, lace and a fainting pimp.

It was also amazing–and I was totally starstruck–to say hello to Kim and Pauls after the event. I wasn’t fast enough to buy their books so they could sign them, but they’re definitely on my to-read list after hearing the excerpts they read.

About Laura Stanfill

Publisher, Forest Avenue Press
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10 Responses to Wordstock Day 1: Kim Barnes and Pauls Toutonghi

  1. Sounds like a great day.

    The idea of writing without looking at the monitor reminds me of years ago when a friend of mine wrote me a small program that functioned like a text editor but didn’t display anything on the screen. It also beeped if you went too long without writing. I used it a few times, but not as often as I’d expected to (I didn’t tell my friend that). I found that pen and paper is still my favorite way to go.

    I was intrigued by the “What Sex Does to a Story” panel. There are a few different ways you could approach that subject.

    • That program sounds great, Anthony. I always write on the computer but I’ve never tried looking somewhere else. I suppose these days I could dim my laptop screen all the way down.

  2. jmmcdowell says:

    I always enjoy reading about writers’ experiences at conferences. There are so many great insights and ideas that get shared with those of us who couldn’t be there. 🙂

    • I always enjoy those posts, too, jm. I’ll have info on Whitney Otto and some other highlights in the next few days. I didn’t do a ton of panels or events, but I met a lot of writers and networked and gave and received many hugs.

  3. Laura, the convention sounded like fun and the cherry was the people you met. I look forward to learning more about both these writers and of course, I can’t wait for more news about your book 🙂

    • Oh thanks, Florence! The convention was a blast–and so exciting to participate in a new way this year, instead of just as an attendee. I also have even more respect for bookstore staff who steer people toward certain titles and folks who staff convention booths. It’s a lot of work!

  4. Pingback: Wordstock Highlights | Laura Stanfill

  5. 4amWriter says:

    I love to hear it when authors admit to spending more than a year on a book, too. I feel validated, and it also encourages me to keep writing, keep querying, don’t give up.

    I love writer’s events. I wish I could go to more than I am able, but I do try to hit one or two every year.

    • Validation is exactly how I feel, Kate. And that also reminded me I’m starting year three of this novel, so I need to start moving forward again. Five years seems like a good goal!

      Writers’ events recharge my battery, but on a smaller scale, reading blogs about writing also gives me a creative boost.

  6. Pingback: Brave on the Page at Wordstock! | Laura Stanfill

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