Last week was amazing. Crazy, but amazing. Amazingly crazy?
Anyway, it started with an early morning flight to San Antonio, Texas. After a little snooze in my hotel room, I got to walk around the River Walk and see a bit of the city.
I was even bold enough to try a local taco at a tiny little take-out place. When the man asked if I wanted hot or mild salsa, I said “Mild” with so much urgency that the man had to shake his head and laugh. Confession: even with the mild salsa, it was hot for me.
Back in the hotel, I got ready for a signing at the ABC Children’s Institute. From outside my window, I heard some thunking. It was a Texas thunderstorm!
Fortunately the rain stopped before we had to leave for the convention center. I shared a table with fellow Bloomsbury author Rohan Gavin, the author of the exciting Knightly & Son series. From there we went to a dinner with booksellers from all over the country. It was cool to hear the things that were going on in their stores. What was really exciting was that many were seeing an uptick in business, and some were even expanding.
The next day I woke early to go on a bike ride around the city with Cycling for Libraries. We used the city bikes, 40 pound beasts, but it was still a grand time.
After the bike ride I had the afternoon free before a dinner with Texas librarians. Now, I am fiercely loyal to my Maine librarians, but wow those Texas librarians are just about the nicest group I have ever met. They were engaged and engaging through-out the meal, and none of them laughed at my spice-sensitivity. When we couldn’t get a cab back to the hotel, Lucy Podmore threw us all in her SUV and took us back, even though she lives in the opposite direction. (Note to Lucy: if you want to see a messy car, come see mine. On second thought, let’s keep that under wraps.)
The next morning it was off to the convention for the “It Can’t be Science, it’s Fiction!” panel with Wendy Mass, Nate Ball, Matt Kirby, Suzanne Selfors, and my friend Kate Messner. The panel was moderated by former science teacher and writer Shirley Duke with enthusiasm and intelligence. I have to admit I was a little intimidated before this panel began. This group had some serious science credentials, and I am a latecomer in my enthusiasm for the subject. I had some great science teachers in high school (especially Ms. Hopkins who carried me through chemsitry and inspired me to learn to knit), but somehow it wasn’t until I was finished with my schooling that I developed an interest in the topic. But the panel was a great time, and it quickly became apparent that while we each had our own approach to including science in our work, there were also some unexpected common threads.
After that panel, Kate and I went to sign together. I would like to do all of my events with Kate.
In the middle of the signing my phone dinged to let me know that my flight would be delayed. After a bunch of back and forth with the help of a travel agent, I ended up just going to the airport trying to see if I could do anything. The best they could do was get me to Baltimore and then fly me up to Maine the next morning. Sigh. I changed my ticket.
When the flight landed in Baltimore, I saw that the flight I had originally been scheduled to take from BWI to Portland was also delayed. I hustled through that airport in my comfortable but not sensible shoes. When I arrived at the gate, the door was still open! I explained my plight to the man at the door, and he said to go to the counter. So I went to the counter and saw Mitzi. Mitzi was a woman of few words, but she printed me out a new boarding pass. As she did, I noticed the man shutting the door. “Oh! The door is closing!” Mitzi assured me it was okay, and said to go wait by the door. So I did. I waited and waited and waited. And then the man came back and told me the plane had left. So I went back to Mitzi who put me back on the morning flight.
Now normally a delayed flight and an overnight would not have bothered me too much. I actually quite like the city of Baltimore. But I was trying to get back for Reading Round-Up, a celebration of children’s and young adult literature for Maine librarians. I was on the conference committee and we had set up a good conference. Anita Silvey was our keynote speaker. I was going to moderate an author panel with Sashi Kaufman, A.J. Paquette, and Lea Wait. But no, I missed all that. I arrived in Portland and drove straight up to Augusta in time to grab a lunch, and for the award ceremony. I always enjoy the Lupine and Katahdin awards, but this year I was particularly excited because The Water Castle was the Lupine honor book in the juvenile / YA category.
Maria Padian was the Lupine Award winner for her amazing book Out of Nowhere which examines the impact of Somali refugees in a Maine town. In the picture book category, the honor book was Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet. The Lupine Award went to Kimberly Ridley and Rebekah Raye for their book The Vernal Pool, which had sold out before I could get a copy. Anne Sibley O’Brien won the Katahdin, which is a lifetime achievement award.
After the awards I was able to enjoy a final session with O’Brien and Kirsten Cappy of Curious City about cultural programming using books. One quote from Anne really stuck with me: “You have to feed yourself something other than an all-white diet.” That’s going to be my reading mission for the year.
But wait, there’s more! You’d think that would be enough for one week, but Saturday I attened the Cape Elizabeth Author Fest. Librarian Cameron Rosenblum pulls together authors and illustrators from all over Maine and New England for the event. Her enthusiastic community of readers can come through, meet the authors and illustrators, and purchase books. It’s a huge undertaking, and I’m excited to have taken part the past two years. Lynn Plourde was there, festive as always, and her husband Paul Knowles took numerous fantastic pictures.
So that was my crazy, crazy week. Now it’s a little break before I go out on tour in May. Philladelphia, D.C., Chicago, Saratoga Springs, and Manchester, VT, I am coming for you!