Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Playing Catch-Up

I've been neglecting this blog, as well as several other things in my life. I keep thinking, oh, I forgot to blog about...whatever. Right now I'm up to about six of those whatevers.

In an effort to fast forward to my current life, where NOTHING is happening, I will summarize the last few weeks wherein I had my seventeen minutes of fame.

Please forgive any typos or other errors. Like I said, this is a fast-forward, so I'm going to be doing this quickly, and when I speed-write it's not always polished. So remember, this blog post isn't representative of my true writing ability. Honestly, I usually write better than this.

Anyway, at the end of May I traveled to New York for the BEA, the Book Expo America. It's a huge book publishing event, a convention center filled with people pitching, selling, and handing out (free!) books. The attendees include librarians, teachers, booksellers, authors and publishing folk. I attended a few years ago when it was in Chicago even though I didn't fit into any of those categories.

This year I was legit, so I didn't have to slink around in the shadows, but could walk out in the open. It was very freeing.

The day I arrived in NYC, I went to a dinner hosted by the wonderful marketing folks from AmazonEncore (thanks Sarah and Vicky!). I was able to meet three other authors at the restaurant: Raymond Bean, Christopher Herz and Laurie Fabiano. Laurie's book, Elizabeth Street, is already out. I read it and really enjoyed it, especially knowing that it's based on the author's family history. Christopher's book, The Last Block in Harlem comes out in July, and Raymond's book, Sweet Farts: Rippin' It Old School will be released in August, like my novel, A Scattered Life. I can't tell you how tickled I was to find out my book is coming out at the same time as the fart book. I just know my two sons would have LOVED this book when they were in third or fourth grade.

The dinner was wonderful and the company even better. And we spotted a celebrity at the bar. I don't want to violate anyone's privacy, so I'll just say her name rhymes with Fodie Joster. Fodie was just hanging out, drinking some wine, and visiting with friends. I don't think she noticed the woman from Wisconsin who was gaping in her direction. I tried not to look, honestly, but holy smokes, it was Fodie Joster! At the bar!

Okay, back to the BEA.

You can find some great photos online of the BEA, but this is the only one you'll see taken by me. I was on the second level, looking down through a window to the main floor. Yes, it's photographically terrible, but you get the idea.

On Wednesday I spent the day walking the floor at the BEA. I was happy to snag a number of books that will be released in the upcoming months. And then, in the afternoon, I did a book signing at the Brilliance Audio booth. The Brilliance Audio people were so nice--professional and personable.

The people who came up to get their books signed were the best. They'd heard it was my first published novel (and a long time coming), and they wished me well and offered congratulations. A good number of them were librarians, which warmed my heart. I hope they like A Scattered Life enough to order it for their libraries.

When I came home from New York I had a few days to recover and then on the Tuesday after Memorial Day, I went to Merton Intermediate School where I'd been invited by one of the teachers, Miss Schwartz, to speak to the fourth grade about my book, Celia and the Fairies. All five of the fourth grade teachers had read the book to their class, so the kids were familiar with the story.

When I arrived at the school's Little Theater, I was greeted by posters illustrating my book. This was a first for me and I was so touched. Just as lovely were the individual pictures I received depicting scenes from the book. And Mrs. Jones's class did a book with illustrated letters for me. I loved all of the letters and the artwork.

A few lines from the kids' letters:

My favorite part was when Vicky McClutchy was going to turn Celia's house into a highway because I'm the kind of guy that likes mean people in stories.

The book was the best book I read in a long time.

I hope you have a successful career!!

I think you had some good describing words.

You truly are a great writer, and I hope you have success with your upcoming books.

I also loved the dog, Clem, because he is such a loving dog and comes in handy.

Aren't they awesome? I was delighted I could take home the posters, drawings and book.

POSTERS of Celia and the Fairies

Me, Speaking to the kids
Them, listening

And then a day or so later, I frantically cleaned my house in preparation for the photos that would accompany the Wall Street Journal article.
The cleaning did double-duty, because a local TV station, having seen the WSJ article, called to see if they could interview me the afternoon of the day it appeared. The house looked good, but I did not. I wasn't planning to go anywhere that day so my hair was flat and I was schlumpfy. In fact, I was just about to mow the lawn when they called. But in the interest of important, fast-breaking news (ha!), I pulled it together. The clip is on Youtube. My favorite part of the whole thing? When my daughter said she was proud of me. I got teary-eyed when she spoke, which amused the interviewer, Barclay Pollak.
One good thing about me not mowing the lawn was that my older son did it over the weekend and my husband did the trimming, so that turned out okay after all. I watched and they did a fine job.
Since the article appeared, my email inbox has exploded. Honestly, I was astounded at the response. I am working on answering as I'm able, so if you're waiting for a reply please keep that in mind. Thank you!


Bill B said...

It sounds like it's been a continuous roaring-good time at the McQuestion house lately! Not to mention a great time at the BEA (and seeing Frodie ... man!), encouraging comments from the Merton bunch, AND your son & husband doing a fine job on the lawn. It don't get any better than that! Savor those fan emails and have a wonderful summer!

Ellen Fisher said...

Congrats... it sounds like everything is going wonderfully. Enjoy it all!

Therese said...

How wonderful! BTW-I am halfway through the book and I love it! Now that the kids are done with school, I plan on having more reading time!!! :D

Thanks for the treat that Andy brought home! Love it!

Dody said...

Hey Karen! That video made me tear up! Just to think a little ol' mom from Wisconsin is on her way to "fame and fortune", as the reporter put it!

You give all us mom's from Wisconsin who enjoy writing, someone to look up to!

And there is nothing quite as rewarding as the appreciation of a group of grade school kids, is there?

Karen McQuestion said...

Bill, you're right--it has been a roaring-good time here at the McQuestion house. More excitement than we've had in the last fifteen years.

You have a great summer too! Are you seeing any warm weather yet on your end of the world? Someone told me summer rolls into the Seattle area in early July...

Ellen, thanks for stopping by and commenting!

Therese, Yay, you love the book! Fingers crossed that the second half goes well too. With your family and busy schedule, I'm amazed you find time to read at all.

And Dody, I think "fame and fortune" is way over the top but if it helps other writers to keep the faith, so be it. And you're right, talking to the kids was big fun. Of course they asked the standard kid question, "How much money do you make?" I'd been warned about this possibility by another writer so I had an answer prepared, luckily. I just told them how much I made per book, which seemed to satisfy them.

Anonymous said...

Great story in WSJ and the news interview was great. Congrats on all the success. Really have enjoyed watching and reading about all that you do. Thanks for all the insight and hope.

Sean McCartney
Treasure Hunters Club
Secrets of the Magical Medallions

Karen McQuestion said...

Hey Sean, fellow author, didn't I just see your new book cover?!I believe I did. :-) Thanks for joining in with the blog comments.