Thursday, July 16, 2009

ALA in Chicago

Let me say from the start, this was the best conference experience I have every had -- barr none.
I landed in Chicago at 6:30 pm, Saturday, July 11 so I had to miss the Lerner Publishing dinner I'd so wanted to attend earlier that afternoon. But I did manage to catch the end of the nonfiction author panel dinner. My old friend Hester Bass and her husband were also able to attend, and that was a special delight. Stephanie Reynolds and her associates from the University of Kentucky were also eating there, so that was a treat. And several of my friends from the Highlights Foundation's Writers Workshop in Chautauqua, NY were also at the table. So late or not, I got to reconnect with a great cross-section of amazing writing friends.

My amazing roomates, Christine Taylor-Butler and Gwendolyn Hooks and I walked from dinner to our hotel, the Hard Rock Hotel and checked in. Our floor, the 16th floor, was dedicated to Prince and featured one of his beautiful silk shirts and a guitar. I loved Prince when I managed an LA record store in the late 70's and early 80's, so that was cool. But not half as cool as the two women I roomed with.

On the morning of the 12th, I went to the HarperCollins Author Breakfast at the Intercontinental six or seven blocks away, but what a beautiful walk. Chicago is such a vibrant, lively city, even on a Sunday morning. From the breakfast, I went to the panel at the McCormick and MAN, were there a lot of people there. More than 300 folks filed in to hear us share information on nonfiction books, and it was just astonishing. You can see in the photo above, me sitting waiting for my chance on the stage, flanked by all those talented librarians. WOW.

I signed at Lerner after the panel had concluded, had lunch with a bunch of wonderful people, then signed at Sterling after lunch. My signing at Sterling went long -- a good thing -- so I closed the conference down that day. By the time I got on the bus for the VOYA reception at the Marriott, I'd missed it entirely. Disappointing, because my friend Andy Smith -- Andrew Smith on his books -- was going to be there.

Anastasia Suen and April Pulley Sayre were kind enough to invite me to join their party at dinner, so I shared a booth with them at Beppo's on North Rush with some online friends including an old pal of mine, Chicago local Esther Hershenhorn and the very charming editor of Cricket Magazine and her dauther, her daughter's boyfriend and an illustrator I THINK was part of their art department team (forgive me for not knowing -- I crashed the party).

After dinner, I walked back to the Hard Rock and met my roomies. They were headed to dinner, so I had a glass of ice water with them and enjoyed the grand company at a table outside -- a beautiful little Irish restaurant and pub.

My wake up call on Monday was at 4:00 am for the 6:00 am flight -- a little too close, but I made it. I slept most of the way home, but I was so incredibly happy. This was the best possible way to enjoy a wonderful conference. And I'm grateful to everyone who helped ot make it such a success -- including my "boss" who helped me cover the cabs.

Thanks, everyone, for the really exceptional time.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Legend of Boggy Creek

I've just about finished the first of six chapters in my new children's book, IN SEARCH OF SASQUATCH for Houghton Mifflin. It's due this summer, so I'm making good progress. As I weave through my notes and interviews, I find many of the Bigfoot experts were inspired by Charles B. Pierce's camp classic, THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK.

I've written many dinosaur books and articles and paleontologists were often spurred to the study by GODZILLA. So I'm not surprised Mr. Pierce's film sparked Bigfoot hunters. I do hope I can reach Mr. Pierce to get permission to use his poster in the book, and I HOPE if he has time, he might agree to a short interview. But no matter how that unfolds, I think it's fascinating that the story of the Fouke Monster from Arkansas had such a far-reaching effect on adventurers all over the country.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Are wasps evil, or do they just bite that way?

Okay, I don't know yet if they bite or sting, but I do know it HURTS. I got out of my Rav4, headed for the steps up to my house, when they swarmed me -- only three of them. But one stung while the others scared me back. I had to walk to the far side of my car to get my grocery bag, then I had to RUN up the far side of the stairs as they CHASED me. It's been 15 minutes, and now the site of the bite or sting is bigger than a quarter, as you can see in the BAD picture here.

I love animals, even insects. I think they almost all have their place in the universe. I used to think only headlice might be a legitimate exception. Now I'm thinking these AGGRESSIVE wasps -- not the timid ones, but the mean ones -- might deserve extinction too. Man, they sting -- or bite -- as if they are wielding tiny, shards of broken glass.

Should have skipped the groceries. Now, how do I get RID of them?