This past weekend, story-lovers of all ages descended on the University of Arizona campus for year eight of the Tucson Festival of Books. Now, you know us; where stories are being swapped, Jottopia is there. We were very inspired by the amount of people of all ages and interests in attendance. During a workshop about the challenges an author faces transitioning from one book series to another, a young girl asked why the author made the decision to kill off one of her beloved characters. The audience thought this was way too cute to be upset about the spoiler she dropped. It was just great to see that she was so engaged.

The atmosphere of the festival was highlighted, in our opinion, by the intoxicating aroma of kettle corn along with beautifully sunny weather. There was a maze of booths representing every facet of literature and related subjects. There was a full wing of the festival dedicated to kids where schools from all over the region had representation. There were hoards of children's books being sold and a lively interactive story being told where the kids shouted out lines on cue and played along with the storyteller.

We loved seeing the variety of vendors all coming together in the name of reading and writing. Among the 250 exhibitors, R.L. Stein offered up a workshop discussing his craft and influences. He had to be moved to a bigger venue to accommodate the throngs of "Goosebumps" fans. The Jane Austen Society of North America was in attendance spreading the word of the acclaimed English novelist; as was the Western Writers of America who support screenwriters, musicians and poets.  This, in addition to fiction and non-fiction authors with a focus on the American west. The University of Arizona itself occupied a tent promoting upcoming courses that complement the festival theme, including Professor Laura Berry's "The Long Life of Sherlock Holmes.”

We learned of the myriad of assistance that exists for aspiring and accomplished writers. The Writers Studio provides ten week writing workshops online or in person in one of their studios around the world. For those who pen crime novels, you can get hooked up with real police, first responders, FBI and other investigation professionals to act as consultants, ensuring your story has the most accurate of details.

We had a great time rubbing elbows with those in the business, including author, actor and rascal, Aaron Galvin, who's just released the final book in the Vengeance Trilogy, a group of stories surrounding the spirits and witches of Salem.

One thing’s for sure, this was not just an outdoor book store. It was indeed a full two days' worth of panel discussions, workshops, signing opportunities, publishing assistance, and writing advice. And, oh yeah, there were books for sale too. Not to mention kettle corn.

The moral of the story is when the time comes around for the ninth annual Tucson Festival of Books next year,

our advise...Book it!