So this week is my first conference since I have joined HarperCollins Children's Books: NCTE, followed shortly by ALAN. Part of my day-to-day job, among other things, is to coordinate our booth at conferences. So as you're walking up and down those aisles and you see the booths, consider that someone had to make sure the books arrived on time. Someone orders the furniture, the carpeting, the big signs. And the author signings? Someone organizes that schedule, avoiding overlaps and making sure everyone is where they need to be at the right time. And those various meals that you get invited to by publishers? Reservations are made, menus are decided on.
Ever wonder how that all happens?* That's me! At least at Harper...
So I've been at Harper for three months and this is my first time on the road. Am I nervous? Hell to the yeah. But I also think it's going to be a good time. Will I screw up? Drop the ball? Inevitably. My goal is to handle it all with grace, self-possession, and a wicked sense of humor.
Aside from the nausea and sleeplessness, on the bright side, I'm looking forward to two things in particular:
1. Meeting author superstars. Among them, Chris Crutcher, Beth Kephart, Patricia McCormick, Naomi Shihab Nye, Jerry and Eileen** Spinelli (though I've met Jerry before), and Gordon Korman. And this is just the beginning - there are a slew of other amazing authors I'll be working with at the conference and I can't wait, particularly since I've been exchanging emails furiously with most of them for weeks.
2. Dinner on Sunday night. On Sunday night (11.22), the booth will be all broken down. NCTE will be over. Whatever hiccups come my way will be dealt with by then. So Sunday night I get to enjoy the dinner I'm planning at a fabulous restaurant in Philadelphia; it's the HarperCollins Children's "Family Dinner" so it's just the editors, authors, and library marketing folks. The menu isn't completely finalized but there will be duck. There will be "squash tortelli with amaretti cookies and sage". There will be wine. It'll be fabulous and I hope to get a moment to myself so that I can forgive myself for whatever mistakes I made in my planning and congratulate myself for getting through a major career milestone.
So if you're going to be at NCTE and/or ALAN, be sure to stop by and say hi. We'll be in booth #213 - I'll be the curly-haired one with the smile on my face and the wildly beating heart.
Eat, drink, and face a trial by fire with style and humor.
* Okay, you probably haven't ever wondered. In fact, part of my job is to make sure everything is so seamless that you don't.
** I fully intend on GUSHING to Eileen how much I desperately loved Where I Live, her book illustrated by Matt Phelan. That book just got me where I live.