BEA report! I didn't bring my camera and was way too rushed to take photos anyway. Here's the scoop from the day.
The children's lit breakfast was early but worth it. Julie Andrews emceed and she was a delight. A surprise guest came out--Peter Yarrow! From Peter, Paul, and Mary. THe music of my childhood. He had his guitar and he played and we sang along to "Day is Done" and "Puff." It was dreamy.
I did two signings--first in the Bloomsbury booth for The Actor and the Housewife. They gave away real hardcover copies! It was thrilling. I love getting to give away books. I don't know how many I signed, but I signed steadily for my allotted hour and then some. We had to leave after that, and there was a huge stack of A&H at the booth. When we got back an hour and a half later, all the books were gone. How exciting!
My editor and I had an hour to stroll the floor. There were very few books given away, a very visible sign of the economy. In past years, you'd see huge stacks of galleys for the taking. THings were pretty bare. I did score a few very key ones, and one might or might not be Catching Fire, sequel to Hunger Games. I cannot confirm or deny that rumor.
One of the best things about shows like BEA is it's such a reunion! You walk around this exhibit hall and see the most fabulous booksellers who are my best friends whenever I'm with them. There are so many, but Monica and Valerie from Hicklebees I'm claiming as family at this point. Alex from Whale of a Tale (formerly known as Moby Dick and Jane...K, I made that up), everyone from Books Inc, BookPeople, Blue Willow, The Flying Pig, Third Place...am I gushing? I love this business! I was talking with the loveliest bookseller and I'm embarrassed I've forgotten her name, though I can see her beautiful face. And she was saying how as booksellers, they're so eager to preserve and encourage and nurture the authors, to keep us writing and producing. And I said, that's just how the authors feel about booksellers. we're anxious to keep the booksellers thriving and nurtured and out there doing such good things. It's a wonderful symbiotic relationship.
And of course, besides booksellers at BEA, you get all the sexy librarians. You gotta love the sexy librarians. In my experience, the children's and teen services librarians are the happiest. And if you haven't been to BEA, imagine walking around and saying, "Look, there's Kate DiCamillo. There's Scott Westerfeld. And Sarah Dessen. And Justine Larbalestier. And Suzanne Collins. And Jeff Kinney" who gave me a hug. I'm totally claiming we're BFFs now. He and his wife were awesome. I had a very brief close encounter with Libba Bray, who was madly signing but I got to kiss her cheeks. Repeatedly. Then happily I ran into Holly Black and got to stroll around with Her Awesomeness for a while. Am I name dropping? Shamelessly. Someday soon someone's going to kick me out of this fabulous club, so I've got to enjoy it while I can. And of course all my Utah peeps--James Dashner (who apparently is going to be an author of rock star proportions), Sara Zarr, Aprilynne Pike, Brandon Mull.
I saw Jane Yolen and said, "Hi, sorry to bother you, but I love you." And I kid you not but she looked at my nametag then said, "I love you too." And she said the loveliest things about my writing. Surreal! Accuse me of making that up. I must be making that up.
Then I did a signing for Forest Born galleys. I was signing in the autograph area next to Julianne Moore, who is a completely gorgeous person in every way--down-to-earth, thoughtful, generous. What a gem. The autograph area is out of the way downstairs and I was so flattered that so many people bothered to come. All so lovely and kind. One woman let me know they were all huge fans at her house, and then it turned out she was the amazing Gennifer Choldenko, author of Al Capone Does My Shirts. She has a sequel coming out imminently.
The emceeing for the ABC dinner was really fun. I prepared very well because I had limited time and I didn't want to go over, and I wanted to make sure I knew my stuff because I was saying some things that I knew I'd be at risk to get emotional. Then I did anyway. Curses! I'd been so determined to remain composed.
But aside from the choking-up-ness, it was a good time. It's fun to make people laugh. I got to poke fun at several authors whom I adore. Meg Cabot was one, and I'd hoped to see her before and give her a head's up so my comments wouldn't come across wrong. I did see her at the Children's breakfast that morning where she was speaking--and she looked fabulous, by the way, and was, as always, a delightful speaker. But didn't get to talk to her. I didn't try to talk to Jon Scieszka beforehand, because everything I said about him is absolutely true and needs to be known. Here's the sillier part of what I said when I introduced Katherine Paterson to give you an idea of the evening (I swear it's funnier in person):
"And now, our grande dame. Or as her grandchildren call her, our damn gran." [Said many nice things here]
"Katherine Paterson is one of the few children's authors who still writes her own books, while the majority of us just outsource to Meg Cabot. Of course, not everyone hires Meg--even she can only write so many books a week. For example, I know Jon Scieszka simply eats a bowl of chili and burps books. Hey, every writer has their own process, and I don't judge."
[said many more nice things]
It was easy to say nice things about Katherine Paterson's books before having met her, and it's even easier now. WOW! She is someone you want to just be around. Funny, humble, sincere, smart, relaxed, elegant, casual, everything wonderful. I thought I was a fan before, now I'm a huge fan.
After the talks were over, there was the silent auction and reception, a couple of hours of bliss, getting to rub shoulders and chat with amazing authors and amazing booksellers. Laini Taylor is as darling as ever. Scott Westerfeld showed me the jaw-dropping sketches for his upcoming Leviathan. And everyone was so complimentary about my emceeing (and books too). I just kept thinking to myself--don't take this seriously. This is not real life. You are going home tomorrow and that will be real life. No one can live feeling so adored all the time and be mentally healthy. So it's good that I'm not in that situation often. But for a couple of hours, it was really lovely.
That was the day. Up early the next morning, long flight, and I'm home. The kids are even more darling two days later. And now that I've had a nap, I'm firmly back in the real world again, where my five-year-old sits on my lap and says, "I love you more than all of space, Mama," and that's all the adoration I could ever dream of deserving.