Image by _luba_ via FlickrI'd been hearing about the Teen Author Drinks Night, organized by the always intrepid David Levithan for a while, but had never felt brave enough, or accomplished enough to go. However, I knew that it would be good for me . . . so when Judy Blundell, (who has had a long author/editor relationship with David) revealed to me that she had never gone because of her own shyness, and would-I-like-to-go-with-her this fall I both cringed and leaped for joy. How could I say no? Wasn't it Eleanor Roosevelt who encouraged: "do one thing that scares you every day?"
I don't like big parties - especially ones that are held in bars. They are smelly and crowded, and all that standing around makes my legs sore. Plus I feel shy and intimidated, like everybody knows everybody else, and like all I have is a big foot to insert into my mouth. And I am a people person. I LOVE meeting people and getting to know them. (Oh, we human beings are sooooo complicated!) But Sweet and Vicious? How could I not go to a bar with that name? (It says everything I feel about bars and parties right there in those two words.)
Last night was the night. Judy and I had commit to each other and to another shy one, Rebecca Stead - that we would go. It was good timing to be around some author peeps, because I had just gotten the disappointing news that Borders bookstore is not buying copies of EDGES at first, along with B&N who are only stocking it in NYC.
I have to admit, I agonized a little bit over what to wear - but ultimately I went with a black skirt, top, and calf length boots. My daughter let me wear her White Rabbit necklace for good luck - because being part of the publishing world certainly feels like going down the rabbit hole.
Judy picked me up, and we took the 5PM train from Katonah into Grand Central station, then the 6 down to Spring Street where we walked to a bar called Sweet and Vicious, which is right around the corner from David at Scholastic. It was warm enough to be outside, so there were about 16 people sitting around two wooden tables. I went back into the bar to get a drink - my standard seltzer and cranberry juice - and Judy and I sat down at the table with David and saved a seat for Rebecca.
And you know what? It was awkward at first, but we got through it, and we ended up being one of the last groups to leave. Judy and I both got to meet some new people - I had only met David briefly once before, and enjoyed talking to him - Donna Freitas was there - another FSG author who is also a professor of religious studies and whose books are beloved with many starred reviews (and also not at first stocked by the chains). I had lovely conversations with Natalie Standiford and Tara Altebrando. David went out and brought pizza for everyone. Barry Lyga was at the other table and came over to sit with us once people started leaving. He was very funny.
And the consensus was that chain-stores don't have the power they once had. That they're covering their arses. That they stock books once they hear they're doing well. (One friend emailed me in solidarity that the chains didn't pick up her book until she was short-listed for a Printz Award. "This is not a test. It doesn't mean anything.")
The author peeps also like my Dear Oprah blogs, so I will make it a regular staple of my postings. Oprah Mondays perhaps?
It was good for me to go - I felt like I belonged. Judy and I had a lovely train ride back, debriefing and talking more about writing and our process, and how it changes! And now I won't be so scared when I go do the reading at the Jefferson branch of the public library downtown on November 3rd with David and Barry and others. (Although I will of course still be scared - I am human after all!)