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.