A busy and fraught few days,
Wednesday: tarting up my talk for NCTE and the Lee Bennett Hopkins roast, getting everything ready for an early morning plane on Thursday, paying bills, banking, cleaners, etc. To bed by 8.
Thursday I was out of the house before 5 a.m., plane to Philadelphia landing at 8:35 a.m., and in my hotel and ready to party by 9:30 in the morning. Of course I had nothing on the docket until evening, so I used the time to write. I did some poetry, some organizing for anthologies, answering all the assorted email, wrote the last part of BUG over again, began working on stuff Adam had sent on the novel. Got about five hours of work done all in all, then sat down for some serious catching up with “Project Runway” since I don’t get to watch it in Scotland.
At 5, I walked over to the restaurant where I was meeting the poets and others who were throwing the Friday Hopkins Roast, plus Lee himself and his partner Charles. Among the other poets–Janet Wong, Christine O’Connell George, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Georgia Heard, Sara Holbrook, Michael Salinger and a few others. We had two tables full. Pat Lewis was to have been there but was stuck in the Atlanta airport computer mess. We had a hilarious time. Lee was in full-on outrageous cranky and adorable mode. A wonderful dinner party was had by all.
Friday morning first thing was the roast/toast. About three hundred folks there, chocolate everywhere (no, I refrained, am not going to blow my once a month chocolate on Hershey’s kisses!) Though neither the NCTE Poetry Award nor the party were a surprise to Lee, we had kept the fact of a feshschrift book of poems a secret. When it was given to him, Lee was absolutely speechless, which may be the only time I have ever seen that! Lots of teary eyes all around.
Then I had my marathon signing adventure: five publishers in five hours: Harcourt, S&S, Scholastic, Boyds Mills, and Penguin/Putnam. In the last, I got to sit with my new Philomel editor Jill. We discussed possible books to come. In no other booth did I get to do any such thing.
Then dinner with the Scholastic folk and some of the following authors/illustrators I knew, and some I didn’t: E. B. Lewis, Brian Selznick, Kathy Lasky and her husband Chris Knight, Maggie Stiefvater, and several more. A private dining room, three tables, lots of wine, sparkling conversation, witty jokes, fine food, and two teaspoons of chocolate cake. I was in heaven!
Back later than I’d hoped because Saturday was starting with an early breakfast with Sara Holbook and Michael Salinger. Dear friends, wonderful poets, and we gabbed about an hour and a half before heading in separate directions. I had one more signing–with Publishers West, a conglomerate carrying my Key-Porter books. So I signed the HIPPO board books, PUMPKIN BABY, and the real winner, the brand new UNDER THE STAR Christmas counting book which quickly sold out.
By the time I left the Convention Center to go back to pack and check out, my stomach was gurgling madly. Evidently I had eaten something at breakfast that didn’t agree with me. I was pretty miserable for the next five hours, which included the big luncheon where Brian Selznick was speaking. I was one of the authors presiding over a table of teachers, but only able to drink some ice tea. I could eat nothing. Managed to cheer Lee as he got his award and entertain the teachers at my table, but it was difficult. Even more miserable was the four hour wait in the lobby of the hotel till my ride picked me up at 6:30 for the airport. But by then, the stomach problem had (quite literally) passed. So the plane trip home was not a problem nor the 40 minute drive from the airport.
And the next morning I weighed in at 2 pounds lighter. All water weight, of course. But the wonderful two teaspoons of chocolate had done no damage to the diet.