Léna is also a Regional Manager for Writopia Lab whose mission is to foster joy, literacy, and critical thinking in kids and teens from all backgrounds through creative writing.

"Well, the question is, what do you want to believe? Do you want to live in a world where things are possible, or in one where they aren't?" Cin, Edges.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Book Festival Re-Cap

It's Monday and my oldest son is home sick, and I am fighting off that same change-of-season illness. (Thou shalt not get me, little worm!) I am having trouble focusing on my fiction, so I thought I would look to my blog as a way to practice writing, even when things aren't exactly flowing. The lazy way out for me is to do a re-cap of the events on Saturday. (Last post was immediately written following the Gala on Friday night, where my Gran was inducted into the Hall of Fame! My short acceptance "speech" is here.) So, if you care to come along with me, here we go . . .

The Empire State Book Festival certainly was "a celebration of New York State Writers, Books and Literacy", yet I am surprised that I didn't get to meet more people! Everyone was on a tight schedule. I had reached out to another debut author, the engaging Danette Vigilante whose book The Trouble With a Half Moon  came out this January. I had sent her a message on Facebook, and in the weeks leading up to the festival, we tried to make sense of what we would be doing! Neither of us had any idea of what to expect, as we were slated to be in the Read-Aloud room as the only YA Authors.

Now I am kicking myself for not taking any pictures!

We found the festival in the gargantuan Convention Center, eager to hear Ann M Martin give her keynote speech. (I had met her briefly at the Gala.) I would be "busy" as an author myself from 11:45 until 1:45. We saved seats for friends Katie and Jerry Davis, who were there to promote their first collaborative picture book together, Little Chicken's Big Day.

At 10:45AM I went to hear my friend Deborah Heiligman and her BFF Laurie Halse Andersen (one of my own literary heroes) on a panel with Charles R. Smith, Jr, moderated by the fabulous Erika Halstead. I was dying to meet Laurie, but also incredibly nervous! So I gulped and ran up to her before the panel started and introduced myself. and . . . she exceeded my expectations! So lovely, gracious and present! Erika's questions were wonderful and the panel was engaging and flowed beautifully.

I went to the huge room where Read Alouds were taking place, and I had extremely low expectations, because I knew I would be reading with Picture Book Authors. I was even prepared not to read, as there was a small group of 2-5 year-old children, peppered with some grown ups and a couple of teens. The wonderful Bob Forbes read us his whimsical book Beastly Feasts. (I had hob-nobbed with Bob at the Gala and found him extremely charming - he reminded me of my cousin Francis Mason). Rita Gray followed him reading from The Wild, Little Horse and Liza Frenette read a chapter from her middle-grade novel.

I have to say that I gave the best dramatic reading of Edges ever, because the stakes were so low. I told everybody that the kids were fine, that they could draw and that there was nothing R-rated. Afterward, Rita and I sat next to each other at a "Meet and Greet" table, signing some books and talking to each other. It was a thrill when Kamy Wicoff, the founder of SheWrites (A Facebook-esque site for women of the writerly persuasion,  . . . or writers of the female persuasion?) introduced herself to me.

I would have liked to meet Julie Klam, a fellow Katonah-ite, but were event-ing at the same time.

At the end of the day, the husband and I cruised by indie wonder The Book House to see some friends (and sign some stock!), and talk about writing in and of this crazy world. On drive back, we stopped in Great Barrington, Massachusettes to have our 1:1 anniversary dinner together before reuniting with our kids!
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  1. So glad to hear you enjoyed yourself.

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