Fuse #8

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Busy Busy Tuesday

WARNING: Descriptions of food are contained in this article. If you have a personal distaste with the image of librarians partaking of delicious desserts, I suggest that you skip the following.

Yesterday I decided to wear a skirt to work. This is a momentous decision to make, particularly when coupled with the fact that skirts cannot be typically worn with Sketchers. They can, but it looks a tad peculiar and the whole point of wearing a skirt was to avoid the odd-look. Not that it isn't my preferred look 9 times out of 10. Anyway.

I had a chance to have lunch with the good people of Roaring Brook Press alongside their Aussie author Gregory Rogers (of The Boy, the Bear, the Baron and the Bard fame). It was just lovely. I had a steak with a side of .... okay. I'm not sure what they were. They could have been fries but they were the same mass and thickness as particularly thin angel hair pasta. I can't find a Google image. What's more, no one around me entirely certain how to eat them. Do you do it individually, one teeny tiny fry at a time? Do you chomp them with a fork? Do you mix them with the meat and attempt to down them in one fell swoop? Most mysterious. For dessert I had, oh man. I had this chocolate cake filled with ooey gooey warm chocolate sauce that spilled out when I cut into it. Espresso ice cream on the side with raspberries and a kind of toffee base underneath. My seatmate, in contrast, had a chocolate "hamburger". Which is to say, it had a cookie center, oddly impenetrable "bun" cookie top (the quotations marks in the menu amused us considerably), pistachio ice cream formed into a pickle shape (this is all true), and a side of what could have been cranberries that were probably supposed to be "ketchup". Dessert chefs, according to my boss, are all into the "dessert hamburger". You have been warned.

Mr. Rogers, for his part, was quite charming. Neal Porter, who I had never met, was nice as well. And Simon Boughton had no idea who I was. Some of you will understand why I am relieved about this.

The Fall 2007 catalog was handed out and I spotted some tasty items. Sarah Varon created Cat and Chicken last year. It was a book that I liked okay, but I had issues with the storyline. It almost felt as if it would work better as a proper graphic novel rather than a picture book. Fast forward to 2007 and lo and behold we have Robot Dreams. Just your typical lonely dog creating a robot for a friend and then hanging out. It's a children's graphic novel (enter flashing lights here) so be on the lookout for it. They're also putting out a graphic novel about Laika. You know. "Earth's first space traveler". Correct me if I'm wrong here, but didn't Laika die? She died in space, right? We'll see how all that plays out in the book. I'm interested but wary. But best of all? Town Boy is coming! It's coming, it's coming, it's coming!!! Can't wait! Those of you who were lucky enough to read Kampung Boy will understand this excitement. I was kind of intrigued by the Don Brown book The Train Jumper. Cool concept. Not sure why no one's thought of it before.

So that was lunch. Still wearing heels (but switching out my glasses for contacts) I proceeded after work to Sweet & Vicious with my good friend Dan McCoy. Good crowd? Great crowd. Started out slow but by 7:00 we were seriously hopping. I won't name everyone there (as I've an embarrassing inability to remember names) but I'll try to post some pics later this week.

People mingled nicely. I'm a terrible hostess (can't remember names, tends to squat down in a single spot and not move for long periods of time, etc.) but thankfully I wasn't really needed. Heck, I couldn't not shown up at all and it would've been swell. Cheryl Klein (who I suspect was responsible for 85% of the attendees) was there as well and stunning as ever. Topics were discussed. For example, I believe that at one point Chad Beckerman's name came up. He is the former Hot Man of Children's Literature with the cool new book designer blog (Check out his recent list of other design bloggers, by the way).

Then Laura Lutz and her Fabulous Four came in. Queens librarians. I've always had a nice smattering of editors, agents, illustrators, and publicity folks at these things but on the teacher and librarian end we've tended to come up a little short. No longer. Now, people, I've known Manhattan librarians. I've known Brooklyn librarians. I've known Bronx and even Staten Island librarians (with their enviably high Summer Reading stats), but I've never really hung out with any from Queens. Boy howdy, they are electric. Laura L., Laura P., Lori, Gillian, and Sarah were all spit and fire and stories about being bitten on the neck by toddlers and the fact that Conan O'Brien is an Olivia fan. Needless to say, they left me exhausted. After drinks we got pizza and after pizza everyone tromped off to get some delicious high end rice pudding while I lamely stumbled home to sleep in my warm cozy bed. Heck, I was even in my own borough (which was more than they were). How supremely wimpy.

All in all, very nice. Very fun. But why believe me? Here are the facts as such.


# of Males in Attendance: 3 (this is actually quite high)
Outdoor Temperature: 60 degrees or so
# of Agents: 2
# of Cards I Received: 2
Librarians: 6(?)
Total Number of Attendees: Dunno. Could have been 30. 30 sounds right, right? Let's say 30.
Hot Shoes of Children's Literature: Don't remember her name, but there was a pair of black leather boots on one of the Queens librarians (memory foggy) that probably took the cake. At my next party, digital cameras will come into play.

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At 8:04 AM , Blogger Cheryl said...

Aw, pshaw, Betsy. It was all you!

At 9:50 AM , Blogger david elzey said...

If those riced potato fries are what I think they are, you cut them into bite-sized pieces and either eat them alone or with a piece of steak. Last time I saw them there was a sauce that went with both, like chi-chi wet fries.

At 11:54 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Say, Fuse, since we hear often from you about publisher-sponsored fêtes and balls and lunches and publicity, and since you seem wise beyond your years in these matters, I wonder, as an author/illustrator who, naturally, doesn’t think that his books are marketed with sufficient vigor, if we could sometime hear from you which houses you think do a good job promoting books, which houses don’t, and what an author/illustrator can reasonably expect or request of a house? Ads, postcards, free meals to key peoples, etc.? Your author/illustrator readers would love to read this sort of thing, and your publicity department readers would shudder to have these matters divulged, so it would be a win-win piece for you. Thanks!

At 1:05 PM , Blogger Laura said...

I so wish I had been able to make the Gregory Rogers lunch!!! I love his new one..."Midsummer Knight"?

And thanks for the shout-out. We were a tad rowdy, weren't we? And Lori had those groovy boots on, I believe. I work with women who have superior taste in footwear...making my addiction to Aerosoles SO sad and 30-something-ish! Anyhoo, you know when the manager of the pizza place is "shh"-ing the librarians, you're pretty crazy.

Thanks for a fantastic time! I'm supremely jealous that you were in bed at a reasonable hour!

At 1:11 PM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

Dunno if I want to go the make-publicity-people-shudder route. Seems a bit counterproductive.

As it stands, this may sound funny but I don't think I'm in the best person to say which publishers do or do not promote their materials well. I'm looking at all of this from the standpoint of your average librarian. I get noticed a little more than other people, but my position within the library system is relatively low. So really, I don't get all the press packets and invites there are. I don't know how a book like "Un Dun Lun" ends up on the New York Times Bestseller list. And (most importantly) the bookseller component is completely foreign to me. Library promotion, after all, only accounts for a smidgen of the publicity whole. What I would LOVE to read would be a kidlit marketing blog, but that's probably an impossible wish.

I mean, I know what I know. I know which New York publishers are smart and reach out to librarians. And I know which publishers around the country hardly get any press (Top Shelf, Simply Read Books, etc.) yet churn out remarkable material year after year. But unless I had a job that allowed me to get a good look at the whole picture, I couldn't really speak to this point.

Fun idea though.

And for the record, Laura, Aerosoles kick ass. Seriously.

At 8:52 PM , Blogger Sarah Beth Durst said...

Sorry I missed Kidlit Night! Glad to hear you had fun.


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