Saturday was the Ann Arbor Book Festival. As I was scheduled to do a panel and wanted to see the awards ceremoney for the young writers contest I judged, we packed up the husband and child and off we went.
Alexander fell asleep in the car on the way, so Tim dropped me off while he found a place to park so Alexander could sleep himself out (waking Alexander in the middle of a spontaneous nap should be avoided if at all possible, it leads to crabby-badness).
It was a gorgeous, warm, sunny day. The fest initially looked to be about a block of tents -- booksellers alternating with events pavillions. At the t-shirt vendors, I got directions the author check-in/information tent. There they did not have a name tag for me, nor my name on any of their lists. Fortunately, they believed me when I said I was supposed to be there, and I did find my own name on the schedule. I then asked where the tent for the awards was. While they were directing me, another woman came up saying that the people at that tent said the awards WEREN'T happening there, and were turning inquiring people away.
Not a propitious start. Info booth lady did escort us to tent, which was around the corner from the main fest in between A2s famous bell tower and The World's Ugliest Fountain (no, really, it is) and helped determine that this was, indeed the place.
In the place, the current speaker was talking about how he'd helped the Mastadon become Michigan's State Fossil. Overhead, the carrilon chimed the hour, and the tent began to fill up with very tense kids, and their equally tense parents, and he kept talking, and kept talking, for at least ten minutes before somebody in charge asked him to wrap it up.
Okay, Michigan's State Fossil was finally finished, and the awards ceremoney began. Nice ceremoney. Talk from a YA author. All the finalists got certificates. The prize money was quite hefty for this sort of thing ($100, $250, $350). These kids were quite talented and had clearly worked hard and taken the whole thing seriously. I'd made comments on all the mss. I read, and these got handed out to the kids I'd judged, and I was also able to catch up with the one young woman who'd written the one story I read and could say with confidence, "This, as is, is publishable." Due to my fellow judge's...differing opinions on literary merit, she didn't place, but I told her what I thought of the story, and gave her the Speculations website, telling her to go there and find some markets, and start submitting. I also talked to her friend, who also had not placed, but had written a charming story, and encouraged her to keep at it, and to the second place winner, who, if he learns more about structure has it in him to be truly great, IMHO. So, that all felt really good.