Fuse #8

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Swag. Sweet, Glorious, Suitcase-Clogging Swag.

All right, where was I?

Ah yes. Yesterday. After plopping myself down on the Convention Center's clean but less-than-heavenly carpeting to report (later on I would discover their benches and pinch myself accordingly) it was off to go to the different publisher booths for goodies. I had on my possession a list of those editors that had made contact with me in the past and every once in a while I would put in a hopeful, "Is [enter name] around?". To which the response every time (except for at Harper Collins for some reason) was, "No, they stepped out just five minutes ago". Lackaday. I was not prepared, by the way, for the author signings. I knew that they happened sometimes, sure. Each major publisher would have a little schedule that people could follow if they were looking forward to bending the ear of a Walter Dean Myers or An Na. I distained such schedules partly because I am spoiled (example: I would think, "I don't need to see Jennifer Armstrong again) and partly because I was unaware of how these booths work. They give you free books. And I'm not talking ARCs here (of which there are plenty) but honest-to-goodness hardcover first editions. In no time flat my right shoulder was hanging somewhere around my mid-section and I was making multiple trips to the Bag Check station. I saw an author Who-Shalt-Not-Be-Named (because I got their book signed for my mother and she reads this blog) who had a line of 100-some people across from a poor author Who-Shalt-Not-Be-Named (because he made me sad) with only one fellow in his line.

Because I am naturally shy, I have a hard time introducing myself to people and convincing them that I am worth talking to. The Central Children's Room moniker hanging about my neck helped a little, but I still couldn't say the word "blog" and get much of a response. More fool you Candlewick!!! I managed to determine that Matthew Reinhart, who created Encyclopedia Prehistorica with Robert Sabuda, is hotness incarnate. Just FYI.

Later, while nosing about some book titles, I ran into Mo Willems who has switched from calling me Fuse Lady to Blog Lady. To his quip, "Still blogging?", I responding with the clever comeback of, "Guh?". You can bet that he was impressed. I spent the rest of my time skittering away to stare longingly at the author with 100 people in his line.

Laden with more books than I can read (I've got the sequel to Donuthead, sweeties) and directing husband with car to pick up my overly laden little self, it was time for the parties.

Publisher parties are grand. They spend countless oodles of dollars to feed you for free. Plus you get to talk the ear off of their authors. Publisher party #1 was Random House. My husband is a filmmaker and not a librarian but we quickly found ways to sneak him into all sorts of stuff. In the case of publisher parties, it wasn't hard at all. Nobody checks for your MLIS degree at the door. So off to the Louisiana Children's Museum we went and the food was faaaaabulous. The first person I managed to corner? None other than author and fabulous blogger Mitali Perkins. She is, should anyone ask, charm incarnate. After talking about everything from Hot Men of Children's Literature (one was present and there was a future potential addition there as well) to me writing a YA novel (?!?) we moved on. I must say, for sheer people-I-know, the Random House party was the best. I ran into Child_lit-ers, the head of children's services for all of Brooklyn, librarians from as far away as Oakland, CA and even the occassional publisher. Shana Corey, who once came to my library bearing pink cupcakes with Matthew Holm, came over and said howdy. She then turns to a woman next to her and says in, what I would characterize as a misleadingly casual, voice, "Do you know Tammy Pierce?"

Oh, sweet mother of God. What exactly is the protocol for answering that kind of question? What do you do when someone asks you, "Do you know [enter famous author name here]"? Do you allow your eyes to pop out of your head and roll willy-nilly around your ankles? Cause that's what I did. Worse, I did it while babbling incoherantly for a good five minutes. Ms. Pierce, needless to say, is no fool and was patient enough to wait out my jibber-jabber until I could say something halfway decent. Eventually the conversation turned to how she used to read the book, Sexuality Psychopathica as a child ("I didn't know you could DO that with sheep") in response to my childhood love of Trixie Belden. As conversations of the evening went, this one was hard to top.

Then it was off to Party #2. We were thinking of doing the Penguin Putnam event as well, but they had been very silly and scheduled it at the same time as the Random House party. Party #2 was Simon & Schuster instead. In an interesting twist, the authors at the party were told to wear palpitating colored balls around their necks which would identify them in the darkened room as the "writers". Unfortunately, no one seemed able to wear these balls without cracking the inevitable, "Boy, I hope no one has epilepsy" joke. Over. And over. And over. In time, all the authors tossed them over their shoulders and wore them like aging ravers (sans the requisite pacifiers).

Husband and I waylaid Neal Schusterman right off the bat and drilled him for information on the old subway tunnels of New York (as per his book Downsiders). I've always been especially fond of the failed pneumatic tube subway system that was installed during the time of Boss Tweed. It worked (Schusterman was unable to say exactly how) but was never officially approved of. After Neal we purloined the books that were scattered hither and thither about the room and I found a whole contingent of NYPL teen librarians wandering about. I also ran into this year's Newbery Chair (I won't say who, in case it's not meant to be official) and a Multnomah County librarian of infinite charm and taste.

My husband, very good at patiently listening to me debate other librarians over the relative merits (or lack thereof) of The Boy In the Striped Pajamas, came into his own when Peter Parnell entered the room. You know Peter because he wrote And Tango Makes Three. We know Peter because he was my hubby's writing professor at Columbia this year. Alongside Justin Richardson we had a great discussion of various Tango debacles and debates.

Then it was home. Today has been low key in comparison. Just attendance at Random House's Fall Book selection this morning and a day spent eating at the Napoleon House, wandering around the French Quarter, and eating beignets at the Cafe du Monde. It's a tough life, I know.

Someone just walked through this lobby saying, "We didn't really stalk Anderson Cooper, but so many people went!" That would be the clue for me to sign off here and get all prettified for tonight's Newbery/Caldecott Banquet thingy. Remember, the goal of the evening is to make sure that Chris Raschka never mentions the fact that years and years ago he was tossed out of the Donnell Central Children's Room. If that story is preserved in the annals of time alongside other Caldecott acceptance speeches I will have no choice but to launch myself over the white tableclothed dining tables and strangle him personally with my bare hands. Let us hope it does not come to back. I feel a touch too tired to give a good old-fashioned strangling.

Till tomorrow, sweetmeats. I'll let you know if Raschka is still amongst the living or not.


At 7:25 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

OH MY GOSH! My jaw dropped to my ankles just from reading about your encounter with Tamora Pierce! I would have had less composure than you.

And, I'm wondering---did the Multnomah County librarian happen to also be a young-adult author?

At 9:53 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, you can mention the names of any and all the members of the Newbery and Caldecott committees. It's not a secret -- the names are up on the ALA website for all to see. (imagine my surprise when I checked the website and discovered two members of a panel I was on in April there.)

Love your reports. This is the first ALA I've missed in a long time.
-writer, librarian, and grandmother
BTW, my signing line is ususally the one with only one or two people, but I have fun, anyway.

At 11:37 PM , Blogger Mitali Perkins said...

Hey Fuse. I'm back in my writer's hermit cave, but oh, the glitz and the glam was fun, wasn't it? I LIKED chewing on stuffed mushrooms while chatting with you and your lovely screenwriting husband ... Yes, I do think you (and/or your Mom) have a YA voice, and predict that one day you'll pen a funny, award-winning story, but time will tell, as usual, if I'm right or off the deep end. See you at the next bash!

At 1:06 AM , Anonymous Jill said...

I totally had the same question when meeting Mo Willems! (and Lane Smith, incidently) I was going to say something about how cool it was that I was getting my picture taken with a Hot Man of Children's Literature, but I didn't have the nerve to, in case they had no idea what I was talking about...

Hey, I'll see you for dinner again tomorrow, yes? Same place, similar time?

At 11:51 AM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

Hey, Jill. Thanks for the offer! Husband and I, however, were thinking of checking out the restaurant that was once his parents' favorite when they were living here in town. Hopefully I'll get to see you soon anyway.

At 3:56 PM , Anonymous Jill said...

Ah, and I ran into LSP in the Sheraton last night, who says she owes you parking money. She was going to give it to me to give to you, but didn't have change with her, so it's just as well. But it would be great to catch you again sometime - you still in town tomorrow? I also have a Proposition for you, based on something discussed in one of my meetings yesterday. I'll shoot you an email about it in a bit.

At 11:22 PM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

Shoot away. Ms. Park caught me at the Newbery/Caldecott banquet and told me about the money thing. We waived her off. How often does one get to schlep about Newbery Award winning authors? Not often enough, I say.

At 12:41 PM , Blogger MotherReader said...

You poor souls. You just say "How does it feel being the one of the hottest men in kids lit?" And smile warmly. Not seductively, cause that's creepy, warmly.

At 2:00 PM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

Yeah, but you can't say that if you're the one who made the list. Then we're in Creepy Country again and nobody's happy. Miss Manners should write a book on blog etiquette with a chapter devoted to, "Meeting the Men You've Physically Idolized". I would buy that book.

At 4:50 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I completely agree with Mitali. You should write YA. I'd read it!
-Shana, the misleading casual editor

At 5:03 PM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

Shana, I debated suggesting that you would make an excellent beginning to a series of Hot Women of Children's Literature. That series would have to be done by someone other than myself, however. For my part, I would love to write YA but I've decided my life should be constructed in this fashion:

1. Get job in major children's room (check)
2. Get onto a Newbery or Caldecott committee (pending)
3. Write either a YA novel or a picture book (as suggested by Lane Smith) or a fantasy novel (which everyone is doing but I have a REALLY REALLY good idea for one!)

I have to do these things in this order. Plus, if I start writing in a serious manner, I'll have less time for this blog. Then again, Gail Gauthier does it. Then again again, she doesn't have a job as a librarian. I'll figure this out. Give me encouragement however and I'll rattle off my idea for a YA novel that's been beating about my brain ever since Mitali suggested it.

At 5:17 PM , Anonymous Tammy Pierce said...

The Psychopathia Sexualis reference was just to say there are worse books to have read in childhood than Trixie Belden! Just so you don't think I'm a complete psychopuppy!

I agree, Mo Willems is one of our Hot Men.

So why not start thinking about a book? It's partly scheduling out the wazoo, but by the time I sit down to work, I've usually been thinking about a book for a few years. You could start now . . . ::typing in a siren's voice::

And this is a VERY cool blog--thank you so much for telling me about it, and Shana for introducing us!

Tammy Pierce
recovered from New Orleans melt

At 8:22 PM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

Admittedly a friend of mine who also liked Trixie could make a pretty strong case for it being lesbian children's fiction. All books have the potential to be diced and dissected in a variety of scintillating ways.

I hem and I haw but the fact of the matter is that I've had several children's books circling about in my beady little brain for a couple of years now. I just haven't the time, is all. But I WANT to. I really want to. I've told Shana that I'll hammer out some ideas and speak with her. Oh, what fun it would be.

I'm so glad you like the blog. It was lovely meeting you. I am now the envy of thousands of children's librarians with this posting (see, everyone! I DID meet her!). Hopefully I'll get to see your newest book soon. *cough cough*

At 10:09 PM , Blogger Jennifer said...

I loved Trixie Belden! In fact, if my mom can ever dig up the boxes of them, I will let my daughter dig in. I'll have to re-read to see if there's any funny business going on with Honey and Trixie.


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