Book/author love in Boonsboro

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Ed Maliskas talks about his book, John Brown to James Brown, with Carolyn Bates. To his right is Steve Heske. Both are local writers who joined in the Turn the Page Bookstore book signing.

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Nora Roberts signs a copy of one of her books for me.

I got up early on Saturday to drive the 60 miles to Boonsboro for a book signing at Turn the Pages Bookstore featuring Nora Roberts, along with bestselling authors Mary Kay Andrews and Christine Trent and local authors Ed Maliskas and Steve Heske.

I had heard these were major events with long lines and lots of waiting. I wondered if I should take a book to read.

Not to worry.

If Saturday’s event was any indication, these are love fests to reading, romance, Nora Roberts and pretty Boonsboro. I’ve written about Boonsboro and Roberts’ Inn BoonsBoro before, so I knew my way around town.

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People came singly or with friends. They brought chairs, snacks and drinks — and a love for books and authors.

I arrived at about 8 and parked right across the street (Parking in Boonsboro is free.) That put me in about the 15th spot in line. People bring chairs, cameras, water, snacks. I got right behind two very interesting people so time flew.

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So many tempting things to add to the pile of books already in my arms at Turn the Page Books and Cafe.

One was a Nora fan who has read every single one of her books at least twice and has attended every book signing since 2013. And she drives in from Pittsburgh, usually staying the night before. Her daughter, now married, comes whenever she can.

The other is a poet, Sue Silver, who brought her new book Inside Outside. I shared my business cards announcing my own coming novel. That never gets old.

By 8:30 my friends and fellow writers had arrived and I joined them farther back in line. Perfect time to make new friends — Nora fans and newbies, alike. The mood stayed jovial and the sunshine was delightful.

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I’m ready for a summer of reading.

Here’s what happens: People line up beginning at about 7 but I’ve been told there’s no reason to arrive that early if you have the time. Local merchants come by with coupons for their shops — you’re going to want to shop in Boonsboro with all their cute stores. Then at 10, they start giving out tickets. I was in the C group, said Jim Taber (I think that was his name) who directed me to return to the line about 12. (It was 12:30 when my number was actually called.) Once you have a ticket you can go inside and shop for books, bookmarks, jewelry, cups and t-shirts and bags to your heart’s content. The book signings begin at 12 noon on the lower level.

My group spent about an hour enjoying the book-love as we picked out our treasures.

Then with only about a half hour to go, we stopped in the local shops and had a snack at the Crawford’s Restaurant Guns and Ammo. I skipped the guns and got a milkshake.

Then it got fun. C group was called so we got in line with our books to be signed.

The line for the book signing snakes all through the store, around the children’s room and the Nora Room, past the jewelry inspired by Nora’s books until you are permitted down the steps to the room where the authors have their pens ready for signing. This takes a while.

I didn’t mind at all. I found myself in the company of some of the nicest women, book lovers all. What’s more they made me feel like a rock star. They wanted to know all about my upcoming book. I gave them a card. They promised to come to my book launch. We talked about my friends’ writing projects. And then the ladies who had bought Nora Roberts bags for her to sign asked me to sign it. They wanted to be able to say they knew me before my book came out. Nobody has asked me for my autographs since, I don’t know, maybe high school graduation when we got our yearbooks. I was humbled and honored. It made my afternoon!

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Carolyn Bates signs Murleen Oliver’s bag — Carolyn is a writer, too!

I was delighted to meet so many book-lovers, voracious readers who love authors, too. As we inched closer to the signing tables, I could see how everyone talked with every author, asking all sorts of questions and taking pictures. It is pretty cool to meet an author, whether you already love their work or you’re excited about opening their books for the first time.

Nora Roberts was the last person we met. Someone announced my upcoming book and she congratulated me just before she signed my copy of one of her Inn BoonsBoro trilogy.

I asked whether how this particular event compared to others. About average, I was told. In February, the line went down the street and around the corner with people crowding in the store all day.

I’ll get in line again. It took most of a day. But it was well worth it: I have a summer’s worth of reading and a great memory.

Ⓒ Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman

This post also appears on MaryKTilghmanWrites.com (for obvious reasons.)

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