Checking in

I just got home from the NCTE/ALAN conference and I have so much to share with you - it was exhilarating and exhausting and frustrating and wonderful. But I only have today back home and then I'm off to Floria for Thanksgiving (leaving Adam and Bug at home to go sit on the beach with my Soul Twin!). But I'll be thinking of you - I can't wait to tell you about the conference!

One business matter to address before I go: you might notice that I have now turned on comment moderation. I hate to do it but the spammers are killing me with advertisements for penile dysfunction. And I'm guessing you guys don't want to read about it any more than I do.
And if you do want to read about it, there are sources out there more reliable than my blog.

In case I don't get a post in before I leave for Florida, happy Thanksgiving to all of you. I'm thankful for good meals, good wine, and good friends. I'm thankful for an exciting job, which makes me thankful for the authors and illustrators that inspire me daily. Thank you for sharing your work with us.

Eat, drink, and thanks to all of you.


Literary Crushes

So I never thought I'd say something like this, but I got a hot book-related link from the ladies over at Go Fug Yourself. Go figure. Apparently their site is good for more than just snark and fashion.

They linked to "15 Literary Characters We'd Totally Sleep With." I can't get on board with Heathcliff - that is just too, too much crazy. And he crosses the line to mean...and I don't do mean. Same with the Phantom - I would never sleep with someone who scares the hell out of me. Both these guys make me think of a single song: "No More Drama" by Mary J. Blige.

BUT...Gilbert Blythe? Yes, pleeease. Aragorn? Anytime. Mr. Darcy? Cliched, but of course. Also LOVE the selection of Dr. Carlisle Cullen over the brooding Edward and tempermental Jacob. I'll take a real man, thank you.

The oddest choice? Logan from The Babysitters' Club? Really??? That has an "ew" factor for me.

So who did they leave off? Jamie Fraser from the Outlander series, of course. Howard Roark from The Fountainhead. Wesley from The Princess Bride (both the movie and book version).

Which literary characters do it for you?

* Note: I have changed this post a little since its original publication date back in 2009 - the way I had it titled was giving me nothing but p**n site hits (worried that if I use the full word, they'll keep visiting this post).  FYI... 6.2.11



So this week is my first conference since I have joined HarperCollins Children's Books: NCTE, followed shortly by ALAN. Part of my day-to-day job, among other things, is to coordinate our booth at conferences. So as you're walking up and down those aisles and you see the booths, consider that someone had to make sure the books arrived on time. Someone orders the furniture, the carpeting, the big signs. And the author signings? Someone organizes that schedule, avoiding overlaps and making sure everyone is where they need to be at the right time. And those various meals that you get invited to by publishers? Reservations are made, menus are decided on.

Ever wonder how that all happens?* That's me! At least at Harper...

So I've been at Harper for three months and this is my first time on the road. Am I nervous? Hell to the yeah. But I also think it's going to be a good time. Will I screw up? Drop the ball? Inevitably. My goal is to handle it all with grace, self-possession, and a wicked sense of humor.

Aside from the nausea and sleeplessness, on the bright side, I'm looking forward to two things in particular:

1. Meeting author superstars. Among them, Chris Crutcher, Beth Kephart, Patricia McCormick, Naomi Shihab Nye, Jerry and Eileen** Spinelli (though I've met Jerry before), and Gordon Korman. And this is just the beginning - there are a slew of other amazing authors I'll be working with at the conference and I can't wait, particularly since I've been exchanging emails furiously with most of them for weeks.

2. Dinner on Sunday night. On Sunday night (11.22), the booth will be all broken down. NCTE will be over. Whatever hiccups come my way will be dealt with by then. So Sunday night I get to enjoy the dinner I'm planning at a fabulous restaurant in Philadelphia; it's the HarperCollins Children's "Family Dinner" so it's just the editors, authors, and library marketing folks. The menu isn't completely finalized but there will be duck. There will be "squash tortelli with amaretti cookies and sage". There will be wine. It'll be fabulous and I hope to get a moment to myself so that I can forgive myself for whatever mistakes I made in my planning and congratulate myself for getting through a major career milestone.

So if you're going to be at NCTE and/or ALAN, be sure to stop by and say hi. We'll be in booth #213 - I'll be the curly-haired one with the smile on my face and the wildly beating heart.

Eat, drink, and face a trial by fire with style and humor.

* Okay, you probably haven't ever wondered. In fact, part of my job is to make sure everything is so seamless that you don't.

** I fully intend on GUSHING to Eileen how much I desperately loved Where I Live, her book illustrated by Matt Phelan. That book just got me where I live.


La Parisienne

I'm certain I've mentioned this before, but I'm a bit of a Francophile. I've always wanted to be French: dress like a Frenchwoman, speak like a Frenchwoman, and eat & drink like a Frenchwoman. It's the simple glamor of it all, the Audrey Hepburn of it all. It's why I loved From Here You Can't See Paris so much or Madame Pamplemousse and Her Incredible Edibles so much. Or French Woman Don't Get Fat, which I credit with inspiring me to eat and live better.

And then there is the "conversion experience" (which I wrote about here, among other places): Julia had it, Alice had it, MFK Fisher had it. All of these women traveled to France, at various times in the country's history, and were never the same again, having experienced la joie vivre, la belle France, la vie en rose, and all that stuff.

So imagine my thrill when Cup of Jo directed me to Yves Saint Laurent's new Parisienne website and blog*. Yes, it's a marketing campaign, but it's a brilliant and inspiring one.

What does this have to do with food or children's books, you ask? Well, they have a blog post about eating on a plane like a Parisienne - how simple to stop by a cheese shop and get something non-stinky, along with some bread. Take it on the plane. How hard is that? Buy wine from flight attendant. So simple. If you don't want to buy wine on the plane because it's overpriced and not all that good, you can pull an Alice Feiring and pack your own vials!

Along with the food, the blog gives advice on packing like a Parisienne and perfecting the messy French knot in your hair. The model has long straight hair and I bitterly thought that, once again, the curly-haired of us were going to be left out. But it totally works on my hair - I've worn the messy French knot for the past three days. Though, truth be known, I need to take a break from it because now I'm just feeling sorta lazy.

Now, if only they'd teach me how to tie my scarves beautifully instead of just haphazardly wrapping them around my neck...

Eat, drink, and channel your inner Frenchwoman.

(Photo by Anna Wolf)

* Careful with the video on the main Parisienne page - it ain't exactly work appropriate.


Poetry Friday

I don't normally take part in Poetry Friday - other than Walt Whitman, I'm just not a fan - but I'm just feelin' it after the week I've had. Here's my contribution:

A Dream Deferred

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?
~ Langston Hughes

I first read this poem in high school and, while I loved it then, I didn't "get it". Because most of what high school students are forced to read won't connect with them until later in life.

For the past two weeks, in particular, I have encountered the term "deferred dreams" many times and this poem kept drifting through my mind. And when something is speaking to you like that, you have to share it, right?


Not a graham cracker in sight

Ashley over at Not Without Salt posted this intriguing, mouth-watering recipe for an Applejack Rabbit cocktail, circa 1965. The photo is tantalizing, no? Ashley takes amazing pictures:

And I'll bet it tastes a lot better than my now-notorious crappy pumpkintini.

Here's another:

Calvados is one of my favorite beverages. A few years ago, I went to dinner with a bartender friend of mine and I ordered an apple crumble for dessert. I wanted an after-dinner drink. Damon heartily recommended the Calvados with the apple crumble, particularly when he discovered I had never tried the brandy. It was a sublime combination: stout, sweet, and invoking autum in all its glory. I can't say enough good things about it.

Eat, drink, and discover Calvados on a cool autumn evening.

Book Blogger Holiday Swap

I read about this first at Presenting Lenore, followed by GreenBeanTeenQueen - they're both participating. It sounded like an absolute hoot to me so I signed up.
Go to the holiday swap official website to sign up - you only have until November 12th!

"One thing's for sure, we're all gonna be a lot thinner!"

No words can describe my love and affection for these bookends:

I would go so far as to say that my day just got infinitely better, knowing these exist in the world.

Thanks to ALA Direct and Oddee for bringing them into my life.


Blogging and drinking: these are a few of my favorite things!

I'm thrilled to see some of my favorite ladies on the cover of School Library Journal this month:

Betsy Bird (Fuse #8), Liz Burns (A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy), Monica Edinger (Educating Alice), Cheryl Klein (Brooklyn Arden), and Jen Hubert Swan (Reading Rants!). You all look gorgeous!

And check out the accompanying article!

Eat, drink, and cheers to my blogging cohorts!

"Books Unmasked"

Think you know kids' books? Think you can't get stumped by a quiz? Then go check out Sarah Miller's post on books without their "costumes." I sucked at it.

SCBWI Winter Conference

I just read about the SCBWI Winter Conference registration over at Lee Wind's blog I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell Do I Read?

As someone who has begun writing a book, works in publishing, and generally loves children's literature, I'm thinking it might behoove me to attend this shindig. But I don't really know what to expect.

Can anyone give me the inside scoop? If you've been to a SCBWI conference before, let me know your thoughts. What did you get out of it? What is to be gained by attending?

Illustrator Magic

I am not an artist. That needs to be disclosed right off the bat.

But that does not prevent from appreciating this:

This is from Matt Phelan's blog, Planet Ham. Like I said, I don't know anything about drawing, but it seems that capturing this sort of action would be really difficult for an artist. The sense of movement is completely gorgeous - I can just envision, a second after this moment was captured, the boy catching the football and cheering, a big smile on his face.

It's so simple and yet, out of this, I get childhood, innocence, summer, joy, laughter. And I love the ability of an artist and an illustrator to make me feel that way. Bravo to Matt!