Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sharing from my YA blog: A recap of Teen Book Festival, Rochester

Oh. my. goodness.

Goodness being the operative word.

Just got back from TBF -- my first official author festival ever -- and let me just say it was probably a dumb and crappy way to start things.

Because, seriously, I imagine it can only go downhill from here.

As rumor had it, the dedicated organizers of TBF treat their authors like rock stars, and, let me tell you, in this case, rumor was true!

I'm doing a super-speed recap because I have a thousand other things I need to be doing, for example, finishing my unpacking, dealing with my parental stuff that's piled up, getting my ass to some yoga, and reviewing my contract that just came in from Algonquin!?!

look at my shiny new ISBN number! :D

But, if I don't do this now, real life will seep in, and I want to hold on to the glory long enough to share it with you.

So, without edits, and with apologies to anyone I left out (you were all so nice and amazing!), here goes:

Friday evening, we (my hubby and my older son -- my younger son stayed home due to a heavy load of travel baseball games) arrived to warm greetings in the lobby of the Radisson Riverside Rochester.

They must know how I feel about water because my room had a river view!

We went from there to a meet & greet dinner at the Rochester Library, where I got to meet all sorts of wonderful people I had only read, or been introduced to virtually:

I was especially excited to see my panel sister and fellow Class of 2K11'er, Amy Holder, again, and to meet to-date-only-virtual-writer-pals Shawn Goodman and Paul Griffin (link below).

Funny aside: during an early email exchange, Paul and I had figured out that Paul (who used to live on Long Island) was treated by my father, a pediatric orthopedist, for a broken wrist when he was a freshman in college!

Truth be told, I was a tiny bit star struck by some of the usual suspects: Laurie Halse Anderson, A.S. King and *swoons* Matt de la Pena:

sooner or later, Matt is going to get sick of me spreading rumors
about our love affair... or, more than likely, he's not paying me any attention...
After dinner, we returned to the hotel where we were given keys to the hospitality suite, where, I'm pretty sure I accosted Matt too fast and furiously, and where, having had my magic number of glasses of red wine (um, one half of one), I proceeded to insinuate myself into the presence of such amazing peeps as James Kennedy, Brent Crawford, Jennifer Roy, Terry Trueman, and AS King. *silly bathroom photo to follow if I ever get my hands on it...*

Let me just announce this to the world now. All Matt-jesting aside (and he is too adorable for words), Terry Trueman is my new (yes, yes, come on, we all know I am fickle) one, true author love, for now:

This is the back of Terry's head with a TBF tattoo. He is crazy,
wicked, funny, energetic and has a heart of gold. And check out his
incredible book (I'm in the middle of it) Stuck in Neutral.
Seriously, Terry is some kind of wonderful, and he'll NEVER get rid of me now.

Saturday morning bright and early, the TBF crew had us met by a fleet of classic cars, where Amy Holder and I were whisked to the venue (Nazareth College) olde- Hollywood-glamour-style in the back of a 1960 Buick Eddy:

where we were then greeted first by the sounds, then by the surreal view, of hundreds of screaming throngs:


... then by a red carpet...

and then by our walk of stars.

can you see the happy overwhelm on my face?!

A meet and greet breakfast gave us a chance to get to know our moderator and "handlers" who were all awesome, then we proceeded to the gymnasium for a riotous (especially thanks to James Kennedy's raucous, off-the-cuff, way-too-long and enthusiastic rendition of Oklahoma!) game show-style introduction:

Photo of the audience from the stage thanks to another one of
my tbf faves: Cat Patrick!

If I can ever get my hands on a video clip, I will bring it to you here, I promise. Until then, can I just say show-stoppingly, stupidly HI-larious?!?!

We spent the next two hours in small (well, ours was small...) panel workshops, which went swimmingly, and then were treated to a yummy lunch where I managed to pal around with some of the hot guys,

James Kennedy, Paul Griffin and Brent Crawford, total posers... :)

and then on to the signings.

My signing line was, to say the least, modest *coughs* and humbling... reminding me I still have dues to pay and many goals left to accomplish. Never a bad thing, not that I, um, necessarily needed reminding... ;)

After it all, we were treated to one more dinner, where I had the incredibly lucky honor of being seated with Laurie Halse Anderson who is as nice and generous as she is successful, which is saying a great big lot!

Then, it was one more raucous and memorable late night in the hospitality suite, where I had some more quality, wonder-and-laughs-filled and, yes, still a bit surreal, time with some of my personal favorites from the festival: James Kennedy, AS King, Brent Crawford, Paul Griffin and Jennifer Roy, just to name a few.

The next day, I dragged my patient family around downtown Rochester to try to catch a few of the places Nick and Jaycee go to when they are there (in my book The Pull of Gravity):

This is the Trailways bus station Nick and Jaycee come into
when they arrive in Rochester

... and this is the news station they go into which leads them to
the climax of the story! :D

All in all, it was a crazy-memorable weekend.

Huge props, awe and thank yous go out to Stephanie Squicciarini, the organizer of the Teen Book Festival. She and her team are a warm, energetic and amazing group of people.

If you are a YA author, I highly recommend you try to weasel your way into this festival. BUT DON'T TAKE MY SPOT!!!

It was one of the highlights of my life so far.

- gae

Friday, May 11, 2012

Blind Contours (with love and thanks to Lori Landau)

Ceci n'est pas une pipe

There's an age spot on my left hand.

It's been there for some time now.

I try not to notice it.

This is my father's pond:

and these, my father,

and my father's gardens.

My father was always ageless. Now, he is nearly 75.

He hauls pots and plants and small boulders up his hillside alone. Even as his eyes grow cloudier,

he gardens from dawn to dusk.

My father is old. My father is strong.

I, too, am aging.

I have a liver spot on my left hand.

It's been there for some time now.

If you were an artist, and you closed your eyes, this is me:

My friend Lori Landau drew this blind contour.
I love this more than words itself.
I see me. I am not old or young. I just am.

When I enter the water, I am strong. I can swim forever.

Yesterday, I braved the water alone.

The waves were strong. They slammed me down.

I was free and not afraid.

When I swim, I have no
age spots
or unfamiliar creases,
or tired eyes.

When I swim,

I am all blind contours.

This is the swing that looks out over my father's gardens:

today it was empty because he was working
in his gardens.
One day, it will just be empty.

How I wish everything could stay green.

- gae

Wind breathes longing,
greens the trees
Burns the mountain
Rains the heart,
Exhales fractiles of green

flecks the eyes

Kaleidoscope retina rearranges


turns like seasons

Kisses open trembling lips

sings songs on tongue of green

Antique (green) syllables fall

amber unto a table set with green

Door opens,

woman stares at wheeling
copper Sun

streaking the sky with fading light 

I want to tell you

About the green of time

Bone, flesh and wild mind

Grasps greenly

here you are and here I am

and here it all is

in the palm of green sand in the green of the hand

fisherwomen go down to green

seas troll green waters

for green’s true and secret name that hides among

heartbroken weeds of green  

-  Lori Landau

** you can see more of Lori's amazing work here at the Art House Co op, Sketchbook Project.