ROSEMOUNT - This year's Writers Festival and Book Fair at the Steeple Center felt like the first awakening of spring: people walked into the building without their coats, neighbor met neighbor who had been hiding in their houses all winter, and many books and writings about the outdoors were available for perusing and purchasing.

The two-day extravaganza held March 22-23 had a little bit of everything related to books. One room was filled with authors, publishers and other writing-related vendors. Notable organizations included Beavers Pond Press (an independent publishing house based in Edina), the League of Minnesota Poets, and the Loft Literary Center (an organization based in Minneapolis that offers classes, conferences, awards/grants, events, readings and more to writers and readers of all ages and abilities).

Authors and publishers were in one large, open room that was filled with warm, sunny light. Shoppers could spend hours milling about, looking at each book and talking to the dozens of local authors.

There was also a book signing that highlighted authors who published with Shipwreckt Books and Sigma's Bookshelf.

The festival is unique, however, because of the classes and workshops offered. Fourteen workshops were offered and each tackled a different topic, from starting to write to publishing and marketing a book or piece of writing. The workshops were taught by professors, published authors, and book company CEOs, to name a few.

Mary Schier, the editor of the magazine "Northern Gardener" and publisher of "The Northern Gardener: From Apples to Zinnias," led a workshop on how to write about gardens.

Attending the workshop was a little surreal; it was like being back in school but without the stress of writing final papers or drafting a thesis. Instead, Schier had those in the "class" sit around a table as she talked about ways people write about gardens. After each example, she read a couple of examples of well-written garden writing. Schier quoted Diane Ackerman, a New York Times bestseller:

"Small wonder a gardener plans her garden as she wishes she could plan her life," was one Ackerman quote that Schier shared.

Sitting and listening to poems and prose about gardens, as well as learning how to successfully craft such pieces, was a calming way to transition from the cold, bitter winter to spring. And the joys that arrives with the season as tulips begin to appear and the plants, so lovingly tended and cared for last year, can again be found as the snow melts and last-years leaves are raked out of the garden.