So the NCTE has come and gone! I spent a good month nervous about it, only to end up sad to see it go!
Getting to Philly went pretty smooth aside from my mom almost getting us killed driving in New Haven. Sheâ€™s worse than I am. We got lost, which didnâ€™t help my nerves, but it was the driving on the wrong side of the road that really fried my nerves.
Once I was in Philly, I met up with my editor Connie. We went through the Reading Market terminal to see â€œauthenticâ€ Philly, although it was busy enough there that we grabbed coffee and headed right over to the convention center.
Seeing the room Iâ€™d be speaking in helped calm my nerves a bit. I prepared my notes outside, and headed in where I met Gladys, who was moderating the panel for Gareth Hinds and I.
Gladys was very complimentary and assuring, which was a good help. Once I was in the room, Connie and Gladys and Gareth and his wife and I, and the 15-20 or so teachers in attendance, started to feel like a little group. It was comforting somehow.
Gareth spoke first, and talked about his process in adapting Shakespeare and most recently the Odyssey. He did a great job and was smart enough to incorporate some demonstration on how he composes his pages.
I was up next. Itâ€™s a really, really strange thing talking to a group. I mean, really itâ€™s a group of people that just stare at you for 20 minutes. Itâ€™s one thing to have a conversation or to tell a story at a party, but to start talking and know you canâ€™t stop for 20 minutes and that no one is going to react to you in any way is very odd. I couldnâ€™t help but feel like I was really blowing it.
About halfway through, my mouth got unbearably dry. I had to excuse myself for a second to grab my water. When I got back, I really had an empty mind. I took out my notes and started reading off point-by-point trying to wrap it up. I went short. I felt so embarrassed by the end. I took questions â€“ the first guy was really sweet and asked if I had this speech online anywhere. He said it was powerful and that kids would benefit so much by hearing it. I was pretty blown away. Was he pulling my leg?
After my talk, we had some books to give out, so I signed books, drew pictures and talked to the teachers there. This was easily the best part. Everyone was exceedingly nice. I kept asking if I did all right, and everyone said I was calm and down to earth and real and inspiring. Iâ€™m just going to go ahead and believe them. :) Connie reminded me these are all people passionate about books, and in my panel, passionate about graphic novels and finding new ways to get kids to read.
Connie walked me to my hotel before dinner â€“ I was going to head to my room to drop off a few copies I took for myself, but encountered more teachers by the elevators. They were so excited to see an author â€“ I ended up signing more books and giving them away. I felt like an author throughout the trip but I felt like a rock star by the elevators!
I should also take a second to say there are some really cute young English teachers! I donâ€™t know why I had this image of older English teachers hitting me with rulers.
Dinner was incredible, too. I ate at Supper with editors Connie Hsu and Alvina Ling, and authors Grace Lin, Matthew Quick and Alicia Bessette. It was great just talking about books and publishing and options and genres. Again, I felt more authorly in that one night than I do most of the rest of the year!
The next morning I headed over to the convention to check it out. When I got there, there was a huge pile of HAPPYFACE books. By the time I circled the floor, they were all gone! It was so neat to see people walking around thumbing through the HAPPYFACE arcs.
I really did spend November thinking â€œAs soon as I get through this speech I can relax and focus on work again!â€ but getting home Sunday, I was bummed to leave the world of Super Cool Published Author behind! Or at least the world where people other than me act like Iâ€™m Super Cool Published Author.
I have 2 more appearances scheduled for May, and a book release party in CT when the book is out in March, so thereâ€™s that to look forward to! And Iâ€™ll be putting together an author appearance kit so I can go visit all the great teachers I met!
And now, back to procrastinating.