Thursday, April 27, 2006
Back from TLA annual conference
Me (left with the greasy face and crooked glasses), pictured with illustrator/author Brian Pinkney.
Just returned from Houston, TLA. Overall, it was a fun productive time. I left the conference today at noon, and we had sold all but four books. When I first started signing on Wednesday, seeing the huge mound of books under the table, I thought: no way are we gonna sell all these books. But we did. So, I felt pretty good about that.
This type of signing was a bit different than others I've participated in. I signed for two half days, though I couldn't sit still for too long, leaving my post to seek out autographs from other authors and illustrators. Most times, I've signed for up to an hour, then I'm on my way. This signing was work. And next time, I'll have to be sure that my participation is advertised. I mean, with no signage, and my name missing from the roster, nobody knew who I was. I was just a sweating black guy sitting behind a table, with a glued-on grin. I had to sell myself, and selling is not one of my strong points. Many people made purchases once I, or my publisher explained to them that I was the illustrator of the book they were holding. But some sales depended upon them reading the entire book, asking me questions about my previous books, awards, publishers, reviews, and my mother's maiden name. Then, if I'd sing, and do a little dance, I might make a sale. I'm an art guy, not a sales guy. Not complaining, it was a good learning experience. I made many contacts, passed out flyers for school visits, and met some really neat people. Librarians are the reason I fell in love with this field.
While there, I met, and shook hands with many librarians, as well as children's literary notables including: Brian Pinkney, Jason Low, Roger Sutton (yes, I shook his hand this time), David Davis, Jan Peck, Irene Smalls, Anastasia Suen, W. Nikola-Lisa (the author of one of my books), Jerry Wermund, Jeanette Larson, and Randy Cecil. I missed Nikki Grimes. How did I do that?
Highpoint: Meeting W. Nikola-Lisa. He is a super warm person. Also, meeting an elementary school librarian from a school in Menchaca, just a few blocks from my home.
Low point: Some lady called me ugly, I think. I gave her one of my promotional flyers. She looked at it, then at me, then back at my flyer. When I asked if everything was ok, she said, "You don't look anything like your picture." She was refering to the same picture I use here on my blog. She goes on to say: "This picture looks like a young college kid. Is this a recent picture of you?" she asked again, her face accusing me of a lie. "No," I explained, trying to pick my jaw up off the table. The picture is only a year old, but I must have aged, or uglied quite a bit since then, by the look on her face.
Also, I just did it. I enrolled into one of Anastasia Suen's intensive writing courses. I feel bad spending so much money, but this year, I had made a commitment on turning up the knob on my literary endeavors, and I think this course will help with my writing.