We are home in Portland at last. It feels like we've been gone forever, after the weekend in Seattle, the trip to California, and flying to New York and back from there. Yesterday we drove about 12 hours, through the stultifying dullness of the I-5 in Northern California and into the lush green of Oregon, with beautiful lightning storms off to the east. Home. Ahh. It's lovely coming home, even if there is a pile of work awaiting you! In this case, I am immediately to work on a new Laini's Ladies line. Well, "immediately" = as soon as I put up another blog post!
First, apropos of nothing, have you ever seen a more deranged mannequin than this?
Anyway, I've been searching fruitlessly for a video link to the Editor's Buzz Panel at BEA, because I really want to hear it again and share it. I haven't found it yet, but in the meantime, here's a School Library Journal rundown of the event, and here's a photo of the editors, with Arthur Levine on the far right (but not politically!):
One of my favorite moments was when the moderator, David Levithan (who in addition to being an author, is also an editorial director at Scholastic), described the affect that Lips Touch had in-house. He first told of a visit by the author Markus Zusak (The Book Thief), and all the female swooning it entailed (Markus Zusak is young, super-talented, cute, nice, AND he has an Australian accent, after all), then said that the ripple affect of Lips Touch was similar, with people fanning themselves over the "heat" -- I wish I had his exact words, but that's the gist, and I love it: reading my book, compared to meeting Markus Zusak. So funny!
As part of his short presentation on the book, my awesome editor Arthur Levine read the intro to the book, and it was really gratifying to sit in the front row and hear the murmurs of the audience :-) I'm SO excited that people have begun to read this book, out in the world. Thank you VERY MUCH to those of you who've emailed me or left comments here to tell me you enjoyed it. I love hearing that!
I don't have time to be organized here, but I want to put up a bunch of pictures before BookExpo is just a dim memory! Thursday Jim and I visited some publishing offices, and it was wonderful. The Scholastic offices, occupying their own gorgeous building in Soho, are like a movie set of what you'd imagine a publishing office to look like. Harry Potter greets you in the lobby:
They have their own gleaming library for employees:
I didn't get a picture, but the carpets are all patterned with words, and there is art galore. So cool. Here is Arthur Levine's office:
Arthur, I want to say, is an icon in children's publishing, and a personal hero, since he acquired not only the US rights to Harry Potter, but also published The Golden Compass when he was at Knopf, along with MANY other brilliant books throughout his career. It is a thrill to be working with him!
And having lunch with him :-)
I want to say, in a way that I hope conveys all of our geeky excitement about this day, that ever since I began to daydream about being a children's book author, I imagined days like this, visiting the publishing houses in New York, and here we were, doing it. It's a dream come true, and the culmination of years of determination and many many MANY hours at a desk (and kitchen table) writing writing writing. To be finally there, taking breathless cab and subway rides between offices, meeting people, having lunch, it was awesome.
We also stopped by the Penguin offices to see my wonderful Dreamdark editor, Tim Travaglini:
where we also ran into the lovely Julie Strauss Gabel, who is editor to John Green, but perhaps even more famously, editor to Stephanie Perkins. Yay!
We popped in to one Scholastic's educational publishing offices where Jim got to see the print-outs of a gorgeous text book he spent the past several months contributing to (a really cool graphic novel style project), and then we plunged into a cab to shoot all the way back uptown to the Simon & Schuster offices (by Rockefeller Center) to see art director Laurent Linn (who Jim recently did a cover assignment for), who we've gotten to know over several years of SCBWI conferences, and who we adore. Here's the S&S lobby:
And Laurent in his own office, which was so cute it looked like a little apartment:
Laurent used to work for the Muppets and then Sesame Street, and even toured Japan with Big Bird. How cool is that?!?
Jim and Laurent on the subway en route to dinner:
You see Jim with my very manly "I [heart] books" bag, which he was to be seen carrying for me all weekend, loaded as it was with books and ARCs. Hey, at least it's not pink!
The three of us met fabulous librarian/book blogger/author Betsy Bird and her husband Matt (who is a screenwriter) for dinner at a place called Popovers on the Upper West Side; you see here why it's called Popovers:
Yes, those are giant, puffed bread products. They were served with strawberry-butter and were de-licious :-) Betsy was the first person to ever review Blackbringer and the review was so lovely that I have doted on her ever since. I'm so excited that she has recently sold her first two picture book manuscripts (I think to Greenwillow), and I can't wait to see them become books!)
So, whew. That was all just on Thursday, before we even got to BookExpo! Friday morning, bright and early, we were down in the hotel lobby to meet our lovely Scholastic publicist Sheila Marie, along with several other out-of-town authors including Jane Yolen, Maggie Stiefvater, and . . . Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games which was easily one of my (and Jim's, and many other people's) favorite books last year. I sat beside Suzanne in the car en route to the convention center, which was VERY exciting, and which I did not document photographically, but I swear it really happened! (She was lovely, by the way.)
I did get a picture of Maggie Stiefvater, though, here with the lightbox of her forthcoming book Shiver, which I will be reading very soon:
I really enjoyed her first title, Lament last year, and Shiver is very promising: about the "bittersweet love between a girl and a werewolf." Yum.
I also met Marie Rutkoski, whose first book The Cabinet of Wonders was, like Lament, a Cybils nominee last year, and which was shortlisted in the middle grade category. I loved it (Prague, gypsies, magical toy spiders, intrigue!), and can't wait for book 2, which will be out next winter.
We saw Alice Pope, another SCBWI friend, and editor of the Children's Writers & Illustrators Marketplace book from Writer's Digest, in the new edition of which will be a story on Jim and myself and our collaboration. Fun!
And, as I mentioned, I got to meet my favorite young reader in person!
This is kind of funny, because I've been corresponding with this lovely young woman since she was eleven, I think, possibly twelve, and when I got her first emails, I really didn't think she could be a kid -- she was so smart and funny and articulate and quirky, and I hasten to add that I do think lots of kids are all of those things. But the tone of her emails was so grown-up, she was such a kindred spirit, that a part of me always wondered: is she really a kid? You know, with the internet, there's always a chance . . . but now I have proof of youth, and have even met her mother (who was so awesome and supportive to bring her book-loving daughter to the convention, which is expensive for "civilians"!). THIS was a highlight of BEA!
AND, I was very excited to see this image of Silksinger promoted in the Brilliance Audio booth,
and to meet Tim Ditlow, and talk with him and some of the other creative folks there about the forthcoming audio version. Can't wait to hear it! They also were giving away Rathersting tattoos in their booth, which was awesome beyond words:
Okay, this is random and incredibly awesome. Would you ever have imagined that Cliff Notes could be necessary for a Nicholas Sparks book? haw haw haw!
I deeply regret that I did not get my hands on one of these babies myself, but alas, I only got to see David Levithan's jealously guarded copy. Here he is gloating:
We were very happy to have a chance to hang out with David, who is super funny and awesome (you might know him best as the co-author of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, which was a movie last year starring Michael Cera, but he has written a LOT, and I don't know HOW, since he works full time as an editor!), along with publicist Sheila Marie, after the convention:
Man, I know, I know. Too many pictures! This post is TOO LONG! But I don't know what to do. It was such an amazing weekend, and how else is a blogger to preserve a weekend than with a ridiculously long post? We met a ton more awesome people, had more amazing meals, this spectacular book signing:
(You can't even tell, but over 200 people came for the ARCs of Lips Touch!)
And these amazing genuine New Jersey bagels with lox, courtesy of Arthur Levine:
And so much more! But I really must get to Laini's Ladies now. NOW!