Months before, I had found myself invited once more to attend Oz-Stravaganza2012 as a returning member of Author's Alley, which is part of a most incredible festival devoted to Oz in all it's incantations. This particular Oz fesrtival takes place in Chittenango, New York, birthplace of L. Frank Baum, which is located in the middle of New York State, just east of Syracuse.
By the end of May, my wife and I had made our plans and eased on down the road to Emerald City and the land of Oz.
By day's end, we had made it into Ohio for the night and the follwoing day, we aimed for Pennsylvania. This year, I was to premier my newest Oz book, The Ozian Adventure of Pickleless & Blu, which is a spin-off of Family of Oz. As usual, my wife and I treat this adventure as our vacation, and so the next day found us approaching my home state of West Virginia and one of a number of casinos that Amanda (my wife and the Creator of the Legendary Potato Soup) and I would visit.
On our way out, we saw not only a waterfall...
... but a tunnel as well. I was reminded of my new book, which features both a pair of waterfalls and a tunnel into Oz.
Soon, a local Pennsylvania winery called Laurel Mountain Winery grabbed outr attention and we found ourselves enjoying some of the local Niagra wines.
By Thursday, we had arrived in Oz, by way of Chittenango, New York and were happy to be there. On Friday afternoon, we took a leisurely stroll down to Sullivan Free Library of Chittenango, where we found my books on display. I happily donated a copy of The Ozian Adventure of Pickleless & Blu and was told that my books were being regularly checked out and read. What could make any author happier than hearing those words?
Friday evening was the first of several outstanding programs featuring various dignitaries from Oz. First off was a gathering of Oz authors including myself, promoting our work and meeting many fine people.
Here I am, still working on trying to look like I'm smiling, which I actually am. Next to me is Paul Miles Schneider, author of Silver Shoes and his new book, Powder of Life.
Here's our illustrator, Gwen Tennille, looking quite normal for her usual self. She did the most incredible illustrations for Of Cabbages, Kings, and Even (Odd) Queens of Wonderland and Oz, as well as Whether the Sea is Boiling Hot and Whether Pigs Have Wings, which I co-authored with Ron Baxley, Jr.
Ron Baxley, Jr., my co-author was also in attendance. He's the one on the left. That hat! Oh that hat!!!
Gregory Maguire, author of the Wicked series of books was also in attendance.
As well as Robert Baum, Great Grandson of L. Frank Baum and his wife, Claire. They seem quite happy to be there! So was I!!
After several hours of meet and greet, the evenings entertainment began with several wonderful singing performances, including Gregory Maguire, who also spoke about writing Wicked. There was also an appearance by Margarette Pelligrinni (left), an original Munchkin from the MGM 1939 Wizard of Oz movie, as well as Myrna Swensen (middle), Munchkin by marriage and Caren Marsh-Doll (right), stand-in for Judy Garland from the Wizard of Oz movie.
Photo courtesy of Paul Miles Schneider
It's always a pleasure to see them onstage and away from the limelight. I have found all three to be wonderful ambassadors of Oz. Margarette Pelligrinni (left) did something I've never seen before. She left John Fricke, (our host for the evening and a really nice guy), speechless when she commented on her pay rate for the movie ($50.00 per week) and Toto's higher paycheck ($125.00 per week). "Where's Toto now?" she asked John. After a quizical look from our host, she replied; "He's pushing up daisies and I'm still here!!!". It brought the house down and John Fricke was speechless. What a hoot.
Tomorrow, we take a look at Oz-Stravaganza 2012 in all its glory!