A couple people wrote to ask if there were author signings... A ton of them! The convention keeps some "personality booths" busy, so conventioneers could get autographed books from the likes of Chuck Swindoll, Ted Dekker, Christy finalists like Kaye Dacus, and a bunch of other authors. The folks from the Thriller tour were all signing, and publishers had numerous authors in their booths to sign and give away books. Author signings is one of the reasons many folks show up for the convention. Author Tosca Lee hosted a "Heart of the Author" breakfast one morning featuring a dozen authors you could meet face to face, and there were various gatherings with significant authors going on every day of the show.
One person asked if there's one "can't miss" event for booksellers at the convention... If it wasn't the big Hachette party mentioned yesterday, it might have been Barbour's "Fiction Cafe." Barbour sells as much fiction as just about anybody in CBA, and they brought in Wanda Brunstetter, Kaye Dacus, and numerous others so that bookstore personnel could meet the authors face-to-face. They do this every year, and I always hear good things about it (though I'll admit I've never actually attended). Like everyone else, retailers like meeting celebrities one-on-one, so this is always a good way for Barbour to highlight their authors and books.
Someone wrote to ask what sort of awards are given out at the ICRS convention. There are all sorts of retailer awards given, some art awards, and various other ways to recognize retailers. I suppose the biggest are The Christy Awards, given to the top novels each year. This has become a big deal, getting major press in publishing, and it's nice to see. As I noted already, Lisa Samson was this year's keynote speaker, and she had good things to say about Christian fiction being "the outcome of a life well lived." (Did you know there is a patron saint for writers? I didn't. Lisa told us all about St. Francis de Sales, who developed a sign language and is also patron saint of the deaf. And yes, it's interesting that the saint for writers is named "sales," but I'm sure that's just God's sense of humor at work.) You can find a complete list of Christy winners at www.christyawards.com
Bestselling novelist Colleen Coble wrote to tell me that ACFW didn't just name their Book of the Year Award after longtime Bethany House publisher Carol Johnson, but also announced they were awarding her a Lifetime Achievement Award. They also announced the start of a website, www.fictionfinder.com, that will help promote Christian fiction to readers. And CBA gave its own Lifetime Achievement Award to longtime president Bill Anderson -- a good guy who was always willing to meet and chat when we asked him.
One cool thing that you may not have heard -- Mosab Hassan Youssef, whose father helped found Hamas, made a public appearance in which he not only spoke of his newfound faith in Christ, but admitted to spying for Israel for ten years. It was a courageous, shocking speech, coming on the heels of the US government declaring him a security risk, and he received a standing ovation from the audience. (He also got some good news -- a federal judge granted him asylum in the US while he was at the show.) Youssef has a book coming out with Tyndale this fall, and it should prove fascinating reading.
Several people wrote to me in order to defend the sacred honor of St Louis... proving once again that Christians take themselves (and apparently their cities) WAY too seriously. To them I can only say, "Grow up, people! It's humor!" Sometimes I think this is the curse of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck -- everybody is constantly filled with outrage. I can't be that outraged for so long -- I'd explode. So, for the humor-impaired in our midst, I'll explain that my comments about St Louis were based on 4 days inside a convention center. (Not that it should matter, since you ought to be able to take a joke, for crying out loud. After all, your city is named after a FRENCH KING, of all things. My guess is he was canonized just before surrendering to the Germans.)
One wag wrote to ask if this band performed at the convention: www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-NOZU2iPA8
I told him I doubted it, but that many of the participants would have loved their performance.
Speaking of great performances, check out this from the Opera Company of Philadelphia. It's great art, mixed with normal people at a train station, and it's one of the best things I've been seen that demonstrates the integration of art and normalcy. Enjoy: www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zmwRitYO3w
Finally, someone asked about the 2011 ICRS -- it's in Atlanta, July 10-13. They were looking for the hottest place they could hold it next year, and Atlanta won out. Apparently Hell was booked.