Sunday, January 22, 2006

Revisiting ALA


Photos clockwise: me with Lee & Low Books editor, Louise May; Author/cartoonist, David Davis and I share our books; dinner with Linda Ayers, Diane Roberts and Chris Barton; me with...um, Elvis.

There's one thing I forgot to mention in my previous post about ALA -- I did have a good time. Good times weren't exactly rollin' at the time I last posted but, overall, it was a good experience, and I made some very significant contacts. I thank author, Chris Barton, who invited me to tag along with him. Anyway, here's a rundown of my personal highlights:

Bumped into children's author, Colleen Salley. And she remembered me. Well, kinda.

While standing in line for coffee, I came face to face with Horn Book editor, Roger Sutton. He had no idea who I might be, and I wasn't sure about introducing myself. After reading his blog, which I do several times a week, I wasn't sure if he'd cordially shake my hand, or slap me. Coward I am, I just looked. And, I spent the remainder of the conference hating myself for missing a great photo opp.

Ran into authors David Davis and Jan Peck. I first met them last year at a literary festival in Dallas. David is the nicest redneck I've ever met. I say that with great fondness, and respect; you'd have to be familiar with him, and his books to get the meaning behind that statement. He went out of his way to introduce me to his publishers at Pelican, as well as those at Highlights magazine. I'm grateful to him.

Picked up an early run of my next book, The Hidden Feast (August House). Looks good.

Met with Louise May, Editor In Chief at Lee & Low Books. She made suggestions for revising the Bill manuscript, and spoke in a language that suggested to me that, if I can get this right, they may acquire. Exciting!!

President and publisher of Dutton Children's Books/Penguin Group (USA), Stephanie Owens Lurie walked up to me and introduced herself, welcoming me "to the family." This completely caught me off-guard, and left me stammering and babbling and trying to catch my breath. I just recently signed on with Dutton to illustrate Ron, and she recognized my name, probably having recently signed my contract herself.

Took a trolley ride to dinner at Mi Tierra Cafe & Bakery. Author, Chris Barton and I dined with author's Linda Ayers, and Diane Roberts. Diane is a gem who I'll never forget. I had two fantastic margaritas, and two not-so-fantastic tacos. Diane treated us all to Mexican pralines. Yum!

A big hug from author Cynthia Leithch Smith, and an even bigger hug from author Dianna Aston. Dianna's excitement was behind the news of my New Voices Honor. I also purchased her new book, An Egg is Quiet, in which she signed. Greg Leitich Smith also schooled me in the differences between winter meetings, and summer conferences.

Before we hit the road, Chris introduced me to an editor at Charlesbridge, Judy O'Malley, who incidentally, I believe, was someone who played a role my getting the Sure As Sunrise book. Judy remembered me, gave me her business card and invited me contact her. I will.

In the same conversation with Judy O'Malley, literary agent, Erin Murphy, also offered me her business card. I mean, Chris Barton hooked a brotha up.

I also spotted author, Varian Johnson. I met many other folks, but I'll never remember all the names.

Low point: A lady walks up to me, eyes real big, excitement on her face. She looks at my nametag, then at my eyes, then back at my nametag. She says, "Oh you're!— you're....um, you're nobody."

High point: Finding that internet cafe. I really needed to sit down, or I wasn't gonna be very nice anymore.

Biggest challenge: Finding someplace in the hotel room that was air-tight where I could stash my hot sweaty socks, so that Chris wouldn't think a squirrel had crawled into our room, died, and rotted. The refrigerator? I'm not inclined to say. Also, trying not to snore, talk, scream, or make any other bodily noises while I slept was kinda tricky, too.

Most promising connections: Judy O'Malley; Mark Siegel, who is the editorial director for an imprint that publishes graphic novels. I told him about my cartoon series I've been blogging; Louise May; Pelican Publishing Company (referred by David Davis); and Jeri Gibson of Hampton Brown (one of my first art agents). Erin was also a promising contact, though, I will need something to show her, and I don't have anything yet.

Number of advance YA novels I was given or purchased: 15

Number of unbound picture books I received: 8, most excited about Peggony Po: A Whale of a Tale by Andrea Davis Pinkney (my first book editor), illustrated by Brian Pinkney.

5 comments:

So...Wise...Sista said...

Nice blog...by any chance have you done any book covers?

Susan Taylor Brown said...

Don, the fact that you could type all that and be coherent about it AFTER two days of ALA says a lot for the brotha's stamina.

Way to go on connections. It makes the world go 'round.

And I love seeing a current handsome picture!

Kim said...

Sounds like it was definitely worth your time! Great pictures...and now we know what Chris looks like too!

I'm impressed with your networking ability. I wouldn't have done nearly so well. Shy guy or not-- you did super!

ShellyP said...

I would have thought the high point was meeting Elvis! lol

That rude lady will be so embarassed when she finds out who you are! She will have wished she didn't miss that photo op!

Don't thank me just send me an autographed pic of yourself and one of your drawings. Write something like, "To my bestest friend ever, ShellyP! Love DT II."

rindambyers said...

OOOH!!!! Don!! You connecting, man, you CONNECTING!!! Big time! I hope you get a chance to talk to Roger Sutton in real life again someday. You will. You'll get easier with meeting well-known people, I'm sure. Famous people are just ordinary people at home and inside, you know, just like us! Most of them, anyway!

What the nicest thing to do for someone, anyone, is just to say how much you sincerely like and admire some special achievment of theirs. I remember how afraid I was to approach a well-known writer once, whom I really, really admired. I had to walk a few feet through a crowd to get close enough to talk to him. I was shaking outside actually, but I just kept thinking, "think about what he would like to hear." And he was SO nice! I was SO glad I did it. He'd written something about his mother, and I was able to tell him how much I admired his mother and how grateful I was that he had shared about her. It made him feel good, too, I think.

AND ELVIS TOO????!!!! WOW! Elvis! You got to TALK to Elvis????? I got to go to Elvis' last concert in Seattle before he died in my first year of college! A girlfriend's mother got her tickets for her birthday. Oh, I'll NEVER forget him or that concert, even though I never actually got to MEET him, and I have been a huge Elvis fan ever since....OHHHH!! ELVIS!!! You even got to meet Elvis.....