Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Top Ten Bookish Memories

Top Ten Tuesdays is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is: Top Ten Best Bookish Memories.

I've been pretty fortunate - working in bookstores and libraries, I've had the opportunity to attend some pretty awesome author events. Here are a few of my favorite bookish memories.

1. My first ARC bookshelf
I'll never forget my first day working at an independent bookstore, when I was being shown the staff work room. There was a whole shelf of Advanced Reader's Copy books, and I was told that I was allowed to, no, in fact, highly encouraged, to take them home to read. I had never heard of ARCs before, and the idea blew my mind - reading a book before it was published? It was like peeking into the future!

2. Ray Bradbury
I worked a book signing with Ray Bradbury. It was so amazing getting to meet him. He was rather irascible in person - the kind of guy who loves a "good argument." We had a great conversation about theatre and he was very passionate about hating when playwrights lean on using swear words to create controversy. I agreed with him wholeheartedly, and I think he was a little disappointed that I didn't disagree. He was pretty hungry and we got him a grilled cheese sandwich - when he was signing my books at the end of the night he got greasy crumbs all over my copy of The Martian Chronicles! I was cringing inside, but didn't dare say anything!

3. J.K. Rowling
I was working in a bookstore before Harry Potter had come out - it was a whole different world then. Fantasy was not popular. Only "nerds" enjoyed books about wizardry. Kids books did not make money, not big money, anyway. Rowling agreed to a book tour, before her book had come out - her books were just catching on in England, and there was some question if they'd be popular in the States or not. Her publisher booked her on a grueling tour of the U.S. to promote the book. By the time the date of her book signing rolled around, her books were already climbing the bestseller charts and things had really spiraled out of control. It was crazy! We limited the signing to "only" 400 people and it was still a complete mob. Jo was such a trouper. Even though she was exhausted, she still had a smile for every fan, and signed the whole time while chatting with everyone. Obviously, she'll never do a "small scale" event like that again. Getting to meet her was so awesome!

4. Lemony Snicket
This was another author I got to meet before he was really famous. I'd read The Bad Beginning from The Series of Unfortunate Events and loved it. I was so excited to work a book signing with Daniel Handler. He came dressed in a 1920's seersucker suit, complete with boater and spats! A lot of the parents were completely taken aback. They had no idea what to make of this guy, who cheerfully played the accordion and sang songs about orphans and death. It was so much fun. We gave him a "thank you" gift of an Edward Gorey book which turned out to be absolutely perfect.

5. Avi
I got to meet Avi! I was invited to dinner with Avi and a couple of book industry people. It was so nervewracking, because he was one of my favorite authors as a kid, and I was sure that I'd be completely tongue-tied. He ended up telling us all about cold winters in Colorado which really "broke the ice" so to speak.

6. Brandon Sanderson
Another of my favorite authors, I had the opportunity to go to dinner with him and work at one of his book signings. It was an awesome experience. Apparently, he has a legendary love of salty food - and I can confirm that was absolutely true. He put a ton of salt on everything! I think he ordered a steak, and pretty much salted every bite! It was great talking to him about his books - he is so intelligent and inventive when it comes to manipulating magic systems. The man has a sharp, sharp eye for business as well. He was very focused and involved in creating his "brand" - his online blog, promoting his books, running a podcast and teaching new writers. At his book signing I got to meet a lot of his fans, many of whom had traveled from several states away just to see them. Everybody there had an interesting story and we had a really good time.

7. Susan Patron
I was working at Los Angeles Public Library when Susan Patron, who was then working in Collection Development won the Newbery award for her book The Higher Power of Lucky. It was a thrilling time! While Susan Patron wasn't my direct boss, she had done quite a bit of my training when I first started as a professional librarian and she'd always been someone I really looked up to. I was so excited for her and her book which was a complete dark horse. Plus, I got to hear a "sneak preview" of her acceptance speech before she spoke at the awards ceremony.

8. Carmen Agra Deedy
While I've been lucky to host lots of authors for storytimes at various libraries I've worked at, I think Carmen Agra Deedy must be one of the most entertaining storytellers I've ever met. Lots of authors are actually quite sensitive and shy - but Carmen was absolutely vivacious. We actually had a lot more teens come to the program than we'd expected, and she instantly adjusted her story, Martina the Beautiful Cockroach turning it into a sassy, hilarious, Cuban "dating game" that the teens could really relate to. She did different voices for all the characters and was absolutely a hoot!

9. ALA Teen Coffee Klatch
Last year, I finally got to attend the American Library Association Teen Coffee Klatch. It was an incredible event. Basically, it's musical chairs in a room full of YA authors. They'll come and sit at your table and talk with a group of 5 or 6 librarians for about 10 minutes. Then, a bell rings, and they get up to go to the next table, and you get to meet someone else. There was a great blend of debut authors and "big names." I wrote more about it here.

10. Book festivals - Texas, Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Suwanee, Decatur
This has got to be a 5-way tie! I always love a book festival, and I've been lucky to get to go to some pretty big ones - the Texas Book Festival in Austin, Texas, the Los Angeles Festival of Books, the West Hollywood Book Fair, the Decatur Book Festival right outside Atlanta where I got to be a featured storyteller and even minor festivals like the Book Festival in Suwanee, GA. It's so great when the weather is nice, and you're among fellow book lovers, and you never know which book celebrity you're going to meet or what book you're going to discover. I love book festivals!


  1. I can't even tell you how jealous I am of you because you met JK Rowling! Especially when HP was just gaining in popularity.

    1. As soon as I read Harry Potter - I knew that it would change children's publishing forever, and that it would change my life. I was right!



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