Gaithersburg Book Festival

Today I attended the 2nd annual Gaithersburg Book Festival.

We had gorgeous weather and it is held in a really pretty area in Olde Towne Gaithersburg.  It was just as well organized as the National Book Festival in DC with labeled tents, books for sale/signing, food, and detailed colored programs.

The first speaking event was a panel discussion titled “There’s a Children’s Book in Me–How Do I Get it Published?”  The five authors on the panel were very knowledgeable, and I enjoyed listening to them speak about their own personal writing experiences.  They gave out a useful little flyer with commonly asked questions about children’s publishing.

I knew most of the information at this discussion already, but it was nice to reaffirm that I’m doing all the right things, such as joining SCBWI, writing every day, conferences, critiques, staying well-read in my genre, etc.  Not to mention getting my MFA in Children’s Literature.

I ended up buying two of the author’s books because they appealed to my interests.  I bought Jennifer Allison’s Gilda Joyce series for middle grade readers.  It’s a mystery series about a girl who is a psychic investigator that looks like something I would have LOVED as a young girl.  It will be perfect easy reading when I’m done with all my grad school texts.  Jennifer had some good advice about revision, and she also spoke about how she’s learned a lot from teaching and listening to her students.  I really identified with a lot of what she spoke about.  Check out the author’s website below.

I also bought Pamela Ehrenberg’s book Tillmon County Fire.  The book tells the story of a hate crime in a rural community through several different characters.  Definitely sounds interesting, and I’m always looking for books that give me insight on how to write from multiple points-of-view.  Pamela also spoke about how she teaches classes at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda.  Once I’m done grad school, this would be a great resource nearby to keep me motivated and writing!  Information about her books and The Writer’s Center can be found on her website:

Another author I really enjoyed listening to is Wendy Shang.  Her first book The Great Wall of Lucy Wu just came out and I loved the excerpts so much that I had to buy it.  I can’t do the summary justice, so here is a summary from Wendy Shang’s website:

Lucy Wu, aspiring basketball star and interior designer, is on the verge of having the best year of her life. She’s ready to rule the school as a sixth grader and take over the bedroom she has always shared with her sister. In an instant, though, her plans are shattered when she finds out that Yi Po, her beloved grandmother’s sister, is coming to visit for several months — and is staying in Lucy’s room. Lucy’s vision of a perfect year begins to crumble, and in its place come an unwelcome roommate, foiled birthday plans, and Chinese school with the awful Talent Chang.

Her plans are ruined — or are they? Like the Chinese saying goes: Events that appear to be good or bad luck often turn out to be quite the opposite, and Lucy finds that while she may not get the “perfect” year she had in mind, she can create something even better.

Wendy was an excellent public speaker (not all the authors today were…), and I connected with a lot of things she said.  She brought up joining SCBWI (I just did!) and applying for grants (I need to do that!).  She also spoke about describing sensory details and how scents and textures can bring a scene to life.  I’m confident Wendy has a long career ahead of her as a children’s writer.  I bought her book and can’t wait to read it!  Check out her website:

I also heard the following authors:

Newbery Winner, Clare Vanderpool, author of Moon Over Manifest
National Book Award Winner, Kathryn Erskine, author of Mockingbird
Alison Hart, American Girl author
Dominique Paul, author of The Possibility of Fireflies
Alan Orloff, adult mystery author

And finally, two pictures of the event:

2 comments on “Gaithersburg Book Festival

  1. Thanks so much for making my day, Lauren! I'm so glad that you got in touch and look forward to hearing lots of great news about your writing in the future…and to connecting at the Writer's Center, through SCBWI, or elsewhere. Many thanks again!

  2. What a great description of the festival, and lots of helpful tips for writers too! Thanks for this blog post — much appreciated! -Jennifer Allison (

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