September 8-12, 2010

One of the things I love about living part of the year in Scotland is how anonymous I am. I give few if any lectures, workshops, speeches, signings. I am known here as Mrs. Stemple. Oh sure, my close friends know I am a well-known writer in the States. But since very few of my books are in libraries, schools, or bookstores here, there is little call on my time. I write, read, play with my friends, and host a variety of tourists who come to visit.

So it was with a bit of trepidation that on the 10-11 of this month, I flew off to do SCBWI Ireland. I had built in a day to see Dublin (David and I had been there 9 years ago so I wasn’t entirely an Ireland virgin) and the conference gave me Jacqui, a Canadian who’d lived in Dublin, to be my spirit guide. And what a good guide she turned out to be. We saw the Book of Kells and all the other illuminated books on display at Trinity College. Then we went off to the Chester Beatty Library at Dublin Castle where an amazing display of Mughal (Indian and Eastern imperial books) illuminated manuscripts were on display. So bookended between these two exhibits of illustrated books, we had a simply wonderful day out. Of course food was involved as well and a lot of walking.

I’d been put up in a rather nicely appointed hotel, the Gresham, and I did a spot of people watching while drinking tea and waiting to be picked up for a dinner out that night with children’s book folks.

Saturday of the conference, I listened to Irish authors, illustrators, editors, agents–and then gave the last two speeches of the day. Normally I can gauge my audience, but had no idea how to pitch my talk since I know little-to-nothing about the Irish children’s book scene. And I had to cut the second talk short because the library where the conference was held had to close for the day. And there was no booksale so no signing. But a lot of people came up to me to say that this was the best speech(s) they’d ever heard at one of these conferences. So I guess it went well. And then I picked up my luggage and was off to home.

On Ryan Air. The less said about that the better! Except as my friend Marcel said, “Any landing you survive is a good one.”

Otherwise, bookwise, Bob Harris and I finished up the proposal for a graphic novel called JOEY DANTE’S TRIP TO HECK and I sent it off to the editor. Now all fingers and toes crossed. Got a rejection letter wanting to see other things. (Of course.) Did a bit of organizing toward a new proposal with Jason but didn’t start the proposal proper as I have begun the count down to going home on Thursday.

Went to the Doune Antique Center with Debby, an hour and a half trip, and bought an Art’s & Crafts side table which I tried in three different rooms till I found where it needed to live. Had drinks one evening with new friends, Susie and David Sims who are children’s book author/illustrators who live in Crail. And then a long day out with Marianna first spending a lovely time with our friend Gilian Forbes, a stone carver extraordinaire before heading off for other Perth Open Studios. We also took a side jaunt to Dunning to view an astonishing Pictish stone cross.

And so my 2010 Scottish sojourn begins to be “fair drawn in” just what the Scots say about the fall nights.

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