At the end of last week I was at the NJASL conference with a bunch of other authors. I’m not comfortable at these things. Authors are there to get school visits and it feels like a hard sell and I’m typically shy and solitary, so it’s not fun. What is fun is seeing fellow authors, some I’ve come to know from the conference and others that I meet for the first time. Going to one of these is kind of like having a day at the office. The only thing missing is a box of donuts. Here’s the rundown.
Frank Finale, the author of A Gull’s Story and many others is a Jersey Shore poet and writer. He always comes with these giant posters, the height of a 4 year old child and equally as wide, of the book covers (which are beautiful). Frank always seems perplexed that I’m happy to see him. You’re a nice guy, Frank!
Lin Fong-O’Neill is another regular. Lin is amazing because she self-publishes her picture books and markets them really well. I think it’s brave and ballsy. She also gave me a copy of Tiger! Tiger! Tail on Fire! for the kids, especially helpful since my daughter’s a bit of a fraidy cat. Courage wins!
I always meet up with Jackie Hardrick, who I met for the first time at the NJ book fair that was held in Englewood some years ago. Jackie is another self-pubbed author who I really admire. She’s incredibly hardworking and a marketing champ. Giant publishing houses could learn something from Jackie.
Kevin Kammeraad is the author of The Tomato Collection and This is Not a Square which are pretty special. It’s not a square! It’s a rectangle! Oh, the page is a square? Wait. If I cut the rectangle in half it’s TWO SQUARES? Crazy! What would Kevin do with a triangle? Get on that, Kevin!
His buddies, the Adlerman duo are pretty cool. Kim is an illustrator who was kind enough to not laugh in my face when I showed her my illustrations for Zombie Cat. Her husband Dan is hysterical and apparently had an odd, pranky relationship with my Simon & Schuster editor when they worked together. Hmm.
I also ran into a former co-worker from MGH, Trish Marx, who is writing so many books about far-away lands and logging so many hours on a plane to do it that she might have to commission her own jet. She’s starting a biography of Muhammad Yunus, who I did a piece about in Being a Leader and Making Decisions. She read my piece and was able to confirm something she had been wondering about Yunus. You’re welcome, Trish. I’m happy to help.
Know who else needs to thank me? Javaka Steptoe. I was kind of surprised to see him there. He’s HUGE. I went over to say hi and to tell him that I’d chosen his book The Jones Family Express for the 3rd grade reading anthology for MGH. He had no idea. Fortunately Betty Tatham was there as well. I chose her Penguin Chick for the same anthology and she always travels with it, so I was able to show him the layout. He said he vaguely remembered signing off on something, but didn’t really know about it. Dude, you owe me. Big time. I had to fight for that book. Seriously. I expect you to buy me a drink next time we meet.
Susan Amesse the author of Kissing Brendan Callahan was there, who’s like me and has one work of fiction out. We could commisserate over struggling to get book #2 out there. Stay strong, Susan!
I also met Nancy Viau for the first time. Her book Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head was one of those that really piqued my interest, and I meant to buy a copy for my daughter and have Nancy sign it, but it never happened. Clearly I have rocks in my own head. It’s ok. I’m sure I’ll run into Nancy again.
There were many other authors and illustrators there, and it was nice to see everyone. I think I’ll be back next year. So who’s bringing the donuts?