The morning was dominated by female authors. I have much respect for these women and their readers. It's not their fault that they don't happen to write the kind of books I most enjoy reading. The panel discussions were wide-ranging and thought-provoking. An especially heated exchange ensued when the moderator of one panel asked the women to discuss the concept of "Chick Lit." All the authors agreed that there's no such thing, it's just a label that people who don't read made up to organize shelves in book stores or something. Jennifer Crusie made the point very strongly: "80% of all novel readers are women. I object to the idea that there is such a thing as 'women's fiction.' Since women are the vast majority, if someone is going to be ghetto-ized, it should be the men: 'men's fiction' for that 20% of readers who are male."
The women on the panels discussed literary trends, differences between men and women, recipes, family, balancing career and kids, traditions, culture, and love. In contrast, the afternoon session I attended that consisted of two men, moderated by a man: they simply presented facts and discussed their books. Some of the difference may be attributable to the contrast between fiction and non-fiction, but it seemed to me that I was witnessing a fundamental difference in communication styles.
One of the authors really made an impression: Adriana Trigiani. In addition to writing books, she also directs and produces movies and television shows. She was a writer for the Cosby Show and she is also an actress. She is from Virginia, and her books are about rural southern culture, but I'm sure she has no problems fitting in where she lives now: New York. Adriana has a fun website where she connects with her readers. She really loves her fans and they love her back. Her latest book is Home to Big Stone Gap--it's part of a series and the first book in the series is currently in the process of casting for the movie version, which Adriana will direct.