West Virginia Book Festival

Dispatches from the West Virginia Book Festival, Day 2: (if you missed Day 1, find it here)

11:30 a.m.: Welcome back. Today’s the day you get an author with a No. 1 book on The New York Times’ best-seller list. You thought that was yesterday? No, Nicholas Sparks, that slacker, is down to No. 5 on the hardcover fiction list with “Safe Haven.”

But Diana Gabaldon, today’s featured speaker, has the No. 1 graphic book for the third week in a row: “The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel.” She’s on at 2 p.m., and signing books afterward.

The festival runs from noon to 6 p.m. at the Charleston Civic Center. Several more author programs today, the marketplace and Word Play are open, the book sale is $2 for a bag and $5 for a box. A reminder: One of the programs scheduled for today (and still listed on the website), “Goodbye Wifes and Daughters” author Susan Resnick, has been canceled.

Let’s go.

11:58 a.m.: A few dozen people in line waiting for the doors to open for the second day of the book sale.

12:15 p.m.: Jayne Anne Phillips and Mary Kuykendall-Weber will start their programs at 12:30 p.m. Phillips will read from her novel “Lark and Termite,” and Kuykendall-Weber will talk about writing memoirs.

12:20 p.m.: If you’re wondering (because I was), it’s pronounced Mary KIRK-en-dall-Weber.

12:45 p.m.: Just spent a few minutes with Diana Gabaldon, who seems very nice and talks very fast. A few snippets:

On her writing process: “I don’t write in a long line or a straight line.” Instead, she starts each day with a “kernel,” anything she can see clearly. All the while, “the back of my mind is kind of kicking up questions.”

On the contemporary crime novel she’s writing, in addition to her Outlander and Lord John series: When she first decided to try writing, she considered mysteries, because she reads a lot of them. But she was worried about the plotting, “so I decided to write historical fiction instead and, well, here we are.” After her first few Outlander books, though, she got her publisher to give her a contract for two mysteries, which she still has

On whether her new status as the author of a graphic novel has changed the kind of audience she gets at events like this: Not yet. “It’ll probably take some time before it seeps in. … By this time next year, we ought to know if we have something.”

On what she’s reading now: “Little Bee,” by Chris Cleave, a novel about a Nigerian refugee in Great Britain.

1 p.m.: Lynn McCallister, a librarian in the Kanawha County Public Library’s mobile library, withstands an invasion from the Union Army:

At least, that’s how it looks from here.

1:05 p.m.: There is already a significant line forming for Diana Gabaldon’s program at 2 p.m., and unlike the Sparks program yesterday, it has not been moved to a larger room.

1:15 p.m.: Buckhannon native Jayne Anne Phillips notes that Winfield, where part of her National Book Award-finalist novel “Lark and Termite” is set, is the hometown of her college roommate.

She also notes that her publisher rejected her original title for the novel, “Termite,” even though they recently published a book called “Rat.”

1:18 p.m.: The Gabaldon line continues to grow. To paraphrase Chief Brodie from “Jaws”: We’re gonna need a bigger room. That’s how it looks to me, anyway.

1:20 p.m.: From earlier today, a roundtable of West Virginia literary stars.

From left to right: Jayne Anne Phillips, Denise Giardina, Irene McKinney. The woman with her back to the camera is Patty Tompkins, development coordinator for the Kanawha library’s new building campaign.

1:30 p.m.: As of a few minutes ago, this was the back of the Diana Gabaldon line:

1:40 p.m.: They’ve opened up the adjoining room for the Gabaldon program, and are filling it with as many chairs as they can find.

1:42 p.m.: The mystery of the Union Army advance on the mobile library has been solved. From Dawn Miller:

Sean McCallister, 10, of Midland Trail Elementary School, dressed as one of his ancestors, a Union cavalry second lieutenant of the Civil War. (That’s his mother in the mobile library.)

Sean, who plans to study archaeology, has six Union ancestors and one Confederate, but the Confederate was a blacksmith, he said. “He is always trying to explain that one Confederate,” said his aunt, Joetta McCallister Kuhn, regent of the Anne Bailey Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She’s running the booth for the Boone County Genealogical Society.

Sean earned the rank on his uniform at the Logan re-enactment two years ago, she said. He carried powder.

Kuhn has her entire family history on display at the booth, along with books by St. Albans historian and author Helen Margaret Bassitt.

One of Sean’s ancestors, Andrew Jackson Turley, was among the soldiers released from service at Wheeling after the war. They had little or no provision for getting home. Turley walked from Wheeling to Alum Creek with a comrade who had no family to return to. They ate what they could find, Kuhn said. At home, Turley’s friend died and was buried at the Turley Cemetery in Alum Creek.

Here’s Helen Bassitt and Joanna Kuhn talking in the Boone County Genealogical Society booth, with one of Bassitt’s books in the foreground.

1:51 p.m.: The Gabaldon line is gone. It looks like they all got it; whether they’re sitting or standing, I don’t know.

1:55 p.m.: Looks like, by opening the extra room, they got everyone a seat. Program starts in 5 minutes.

1:56 p.m.: As does the program by Jim Benton, creator of Happy Bunny, Franny K. Stein, and various other series.

2:30 p.m.: Diana Gabaldon gives a very good speech — funny, informative, a little off-color in a couple of places — and her fans were loving it.

2:35 p.m.: I’m told there are lots of good books left at the used book sale. A bag for $2, a box for $5.

2:36 p.m.: Advice from the Jim Benton program, via Dawn Miller: He spent 10 years illustrating, and thus reading Writer’s Digest, so he can save us a lot of time and render it down to (1) the secret of writing is rewriting, and (2) you are not your work.

3:20 p.m.: Diana Gabaldon and Jim Benton are now signing books. The Gabaldon line stretches all the way through the marketplace. Fans are waiting in line with all kinds of her books, from the first “Outlander” novel to the just-released graphic novel “The Exile.”

3:25 p.m.: Irene McKinney, state poet laureate, starts her program in 5 minutes.

3:30 p.m.: Clare Higgins, a Piedmont Elementary student here in Charleston, says her favorite part of the Jim Benton program was “the flame-throwing dogs.” I’m not sure what that means, but it sounds like fun.

3:35 p.m.: Mary Calhoun Brown, author of “There Are No Words,” came over from the Lucky Press booth to get an autograph from Griffin Benton, 10-year-old son of Jim Benton. It’s his first autograph, so she may have a real collector’s item there someday.

3:40 p.m.: Susan Maguire advises that Diana Gabaldon just signed someone’s Kindle. Hope it doesn’t rub off.

3:45 p.m.: Among the Gabaldon fans getting books signed was Samantha Shleser of Beckley, who said that she started reading the Outlander series after her girlfriends did. “Once one picks it up, everyone wants to read it so they can talk about it,” she said.

Shleser also confirms something Gabaldon said in her program about men in kilts. You’ll have to check the story in tomorrow’s Charleston Gazette to find out what that was.

3:50 p.m.: A view of the Gabaldon signing line from the front:

And from the back:

3:55 p.m.: A bunch of people getting Jim Benton to sign their stuff as well:

4:10 p.m.: Civil War author John Fox found a copy of William Woods Hassler’s biography of Col. John Pelham at one of the vendors, Bookworm & Silverfish of Wytheville, Va. They also have a full set of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series, which if I had $750 burning a hole in my pocket, I would absolutely get.

4:20 p.m.: More from Jim Benton’s presentation: Clay Tantlinger, 9, takes photos of Benton’s sketches after the program. A group, including Clay, outlined the story of a puppy with a flamethrower that fires cheese. The puppy is a villain, but a troubled one who has lived his whole life on a planet of mean cats.

Clay, a student at Alban Elementary in St. Albans, has written his own story called “20,000 Leagues Under the Bed.” Snappy title.

4:30 p.m.: As always, people come out of the Irene McKinney program talking about how remarkable she is. She’s headed back to sign some books now.

4:50 p.m.: Diana Gabaldon also has a bionic right hand, apparently. She’s still signing, and the line is still not insignificant. She’s been great, though, smiling and chatting and letting people take pictures the whole time.

4:55 p.m.: Parts of the book sale have been picked over like a carcass in the desert. All that’s missing is the cow skull:

4:57 p.m.: Many of the vendors start to pack up as the last hour of the festival approaches, but the Word Play area remains a haven for children (and for parents with children). Whoever thought of the block table way back when is a genius:

5 p.m.: Abby Freeland of WVU Press says they had a good festival, including a bunch of people who bought John Antonik’s WVU basketball history after his program on Saturday.

5 p.m.: The back of the Diana Gabaldon line:

The end is in sight.

5:03 p.m.: More from Word Play: Lori Ellis of Pioneer Federal Credit Union helps children (from left) Katie and Kallie, both 4, and brother Cael, 7, with an activity involving money.

The kids’ dad, David McCutcheon, says they come down from Spencer every year and make a day of the Book Festival. He likes the Word Play area, where children are free to move around and touch the toys and books. Their mom, Sheryl McCutcheon, is author of “Riley Goes to the Races” from McClain Printing.

5:20 p.m.: Diana Gabaldon has outlasted the Book Festival hordes. She has signed the book of the last person in line.

5:22 p.m.: Gabaldon says her secret to signing so many books in a row is her Sensa pen, which is ergonomic with a wide, the cushioned barrel and is weighted toward the tip. Plus, she said, a slow-moving line like the one here gives her a chance to rest her hand between fans. She says that her personal record is 1,800 signatures in two hours. Holy schneikes.

5:25 p.m.: There’s a vicious cycle at the end of the Book Festival this year (and every year). The vendors start packing up, because they say there aren’t enough people walking around. But if there aren’t any vendors open, then festival-goers don’t have a reason to stay.

5:28 p.m.: Diana Gabaldon with Book Festival chairwoman Pam May. I don’t know who that crazy woman in the back is.

5:30 p.m.: Word Play will not close until the last kid is satisfied. Kanawha County Master Gardeners help them make bookmarks:

5:35 p.m.: Gazette Editor James Haught with one of his finds from the book sale:

5:45 p.m.: BTW, I got to meet Carmen Deedy last evening, and I’m very sorry I missed her program. If you have a chance to see her perform, you should do so. She is a force of nature.

5:50 p.m.: It’s 10 minutes early, but people need help cleaning up. So …

The End