Now that you've heard about our interviews, the parties and the panels, it's time for a look at the Southern Festival of Books from an author's point of view. Panelist Sandra Brannan was a first-time author attendee, in town to discuss Lot's Return to Sodom, her second Liv Bergen mystery. Below, she shares her impressions of the Festival.

Standing on the marble steps of the limestone building of Nashville's Legislative Plaza was overwhelming for this fourth-generation quarrier. Being there in the colonnade amongst fellow book lovers made my first time attending the Southern Festival of Books even more memorable.

I met so many wonderful volunteers and staff who made me feel like I was part of the beautiful community known as Nashville and am grateful to all the sponsors, donors and local businesses who made the Festival fun. The gift bag and hospitality room for us authors was so great, and although tempted to sample the goodies before my panel (particularly the Jack Daniels), I resisted the urge so I could share with my family when I got back to the hotel. Three days of awesome hospitality and wonderful accommodations were the perfect recipe for all us readers, and I for one had a great time meeting mentors, fellow authors, fans and many new friends.

With my fellow panelists—J.T. Ellison and A. Scott Pearson—and our expert moderator, Deb Thomas, discussing our sleuths with four dozen readers and fans, I glanced down at our table and realize the crest indicated we were in the legislative hearing room for the Department of Agriculture. How cool is that for this native South Dakotan, a state where the top four industries are ranching, mining, farming and timber? The wonderful Festival attendees—mostly fans of J.T.’s and Scott’s, of course (aren’t we all?)—had so many interesting questions that made our discussions real and personal. I actually ran into one longtime attendee who flies from South Dakota to Nashville specifically for the Southern Festival of Books as his annual vacation destination.

Although the entire experience—from getting my picture taken with Llama Llama to meeting new friends from all over Nashville, Tennessee, and the South—my favorite part by far was seeing all the smiles on the friendly faces of fellow book lovers, a community I am so fortunate to consider myself part of. My only regret is that I missed the first 22 Festivals!

Thanks Sandra! Find out more about Sandra's books on her website, and be sure to enter our Monday Contest for a chance to win Lot's Return to Sodom and four other fall favorites.

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