This weekend was Book Expo America (BEA) weekend here in NYC. Many booksellers, librarians and authors trekked to our fair metropolis to see what’s coming out from publishers, grab galleys and free stuff, and just generally have a good time.
Thursday night, my husband, Barry Goldblatt, kicked things off with a dinner out with some of his clients–cassandraclare, lizbraswell, and jbknowles. (Holly Black couldn’t make it.) Also there was Book Goddess literaticat (Jenn); Super-librarians Jen Hubert, Angie Benedetti, and Brenna Sparks. Cassie’s boyfriend, Josh, and the wonderful Eddie Gamara, our film agent at the Gotham Group, rounded things out. Much chips and guacamole were consumed. We all shouted over the din to be heard. Jokes were told. Discussions were had. Did I mention there was guacamole? Heaven.
Finally, at 11:30 p.m., I had this terrible realization: I have to emcee the children’s book breakast at 8:00 a.m., and I still am not entirely sure what I’m going to say. Kind of like being all warm and cozy and being shoved into a cold shower. “Barry,” I said in a tone of voice usually reserved for impending ER visits or “what’s that smell?” discussions. “We have to go home. I have to write stuff. Amusing, entertaining stuff. I don’t feel amusing and entertaining. I feel Belly Full of Starch Must Go Night-Night Now. Help. Help. Norman! Norman!” (That last bit is for you Star Trek fans among us.)
So we go home and I stare at my computer for another hour until Barry physically pries my fingers from the keys and makes me go to bed.
At 5:00 a.m., I woke up in a stone cold panic. I padded down to the living room and tried to think of smart things to say. One of my favorite lines from “Spinal Tap” kept popping into my head: “There’s such a fine line between stupid and clever.” It’s amazing how spectacularly unclever one can be at 5:00 in the morning on only four hours of sleep. German Expressionist art is funnier than I am at that hour.
Feeling close to vomitng with fear, I jumped in the shower, found clothes that matched (Why are there no adult Granimals? You know, those kiddie clothes with the matching tags?) and grabbed my only comfortable pair of heels. (I did not get the high-heel gene, sadly.) The car showed up at 6:45 and drove us into Manhattan and to the ginormous Javitts Center, which, much to my dismay, was not terribly air-conditioned. (I will break into a sweat if you show me a postcard of Florida, so I’m just saying.) My panic isn’t at full boil yet, but it’s rising. Oh baby, is it rising. Then I pass the room where the breakfast is being held. It’s the size of an airplane hangar and there’s a Jumbotron screen. And people. Lots and lots of people. Gulp. Now I’m hitting the phase where I’m smiling like a happy robot but I’m close to needing a Depends.
I wait in the green room with Mo Willems (who is lovely and funny and, fortunately, somebody I know) and his equally delightful wife, Cheryl. Mo tries to make me feel better by making me laugh and handing me a joke he got from Dave Barry in case I bomb. Then Jacqueline Wilson and Daniel Pinkwater come in. I’m on a couch with Mo Willems, Daniel Pinkwater, and Jacqueline Wilson. Aaaaaahhhhhh!!! Fan girl moment! Fan girl moment!
Fortunately, the breakfast went well–it was great to hear everyone speak so eloquently and humorously about writing for kids and for teens. Mo taught us all how to draw his famous pigeon. And I didn’t screw it up, as far as I know.
Once that was out of the way, I could walk the floor and grab some freebies myself. I hit the DC Comics booth and collected some pins. Got a Hot Wheels poster and some graphic novel ARCs for the boy. Scored a Bart Simpson fan for myself (soooo helpfpul in that heat). Caught up with Rachel Cohn, who is back on the East Coast for a nanosecond and who looked gorgeous. (Note to self: stop making snarky comments about yoga from the couch while mainlining tortilla chips.)
I had lunch with the fabulous Shannon Hale and her five-month-old baby, Maggie, whom I wanted to steal. Shannon has two books out right now–The Book of a Thousand Days and Austenland, and I can’t wait to read both. The only bummer that afternoon was that I wasn’t able to hook up with my friend Jane from London who was here on business. (Jane was my first friend in NYC when I moved here four million years ago.) Our cell phones kept crapping out. I guess that just means I have to go to London to see her, right? 🙂
The morning started with speed-dating with booksellers. Yes, you can condense your entire plot into a 3-minute pitch. I know, for I have now done it at 21 tables. It was the easiest dating I’ve ever done–and not one bookseller said, “Hey, you’ve got a nice personality, but I think we should just be friends.”
I had lunch with my truly wonderful editor, Wendy Loggia. We ate hush puppies and just took a break from the Javitts center, and then we came back for an autographing. I had the good fortune of sitting next to David Levithan and Rachel Cohn, and they were signing like mad, and I can’t wait to read their new book, too. (The much-awaited sequel to the excellent Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.)
After that, there was a Random House party at the Top of the Rock (30 Rockefeller Plaza). It’s 68 stories up, and you can see the whole city from up there. Oh. My. God. Pinch me. I took lots of pictures so I could pretend it was my apartment later. Actually, once I figure out this whole uploading to LJ thing, I’ll post them so you can see.
I got to meet Marcus Zusak, Jerry Spinelli, Jerry Pinkney, Leonard Marcus, Michael Scott, and…(wait for it) JUDY BLUME!!!!
I sat next to Judy Blume. Her shoulder touched my shoulder. I said, “I just love you,” about 4,000 times, and no doubt, the world’s most famous YA author now thinks I’m an unbalanced stalker. I wanted to shout out, “Are you there, God? It’s me, Libba. Thank you for this moment!!!!” Judy Freaking Blume, people!!! OMG. She is the nicest, most down-to-earth, loveliest person. And I am never washing my left shoulder again.
I really enjoyed getting to chat with Michael Scott, author of The Alchemyst. He’s from Dublin, so for the first five minutes he spoke, I just smiled and nodded and wanted to say, “You talk pretty. Talk some more.” Anyway, I’m looking forward to reading his book, too. Marcus Zusak and his wife brought their unbelievably cute spawn, a little girl not quite one yet. She could have asked me for a pony and gotten it.
Did I mention I sat next to Judy Blume?
After the Random House party, I was supposed to make it to David Levithan’s annual karaoke party. You really haven’t lived till you’ve heard him sing Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful.” Or Gordon Korman singing, “Ziggy Stardust.” Coe Booth belting out “No More Tears.” But honestly? I was wiped out. Being touched by Judy Blume will do that to a girl. It was a great weekend, and I just wanted to take off my high heels, grab a quick burger, wash my face and fall into bed. So I did.
I guess I’ll have to read everyone’s blogs to see what I missed.