BEA was amazing this year. Maybe it's because I have a new publisher, Algonquin, whom I adore (okay, that's absolutely the reason why) but I had such a great time. There seemed, to me, to be such a sense of community, and because I was so anxious about doing well in my speech (to 190 librarians at a sold out lunch from the Association of American Publishers), I hadn't slept at all the night before. I had written out my speech and memorized it, practicing it in front of the mirror, the Mac camera, the wall, to my husband Jeff, on a tape recorder, etc. I kept worrying I wouldn't be funny, that I'd have to pee, that I'd cough at bad times!
The signing was fantastic, and so much fun. Libraries saved my life when I was a little girl and chronically ill with asthma (I'm just about cured now), and they were all so warm and friendly and I was so thrilled and honored to be speaking in front of them. Everyone at Algonquin was incredible--and I mean that with capital letters. I insisted on drawing a coffee cup on everyone's page as I signed, except for the non-coffee cup loving folk who just wanted my scribbled name (but I snuck in a few stars for them.) And part of the fun was seeing brilliant fellow writers Jessica Brilliant Keener, Jennifer Gilmore, Susan Henderson, Susanne Dunlop, Joe Wallace, Leora Skolkin-Smith, and many more!
Even better, Rainy Day Books, my guardian angel bookstore was there, so I could give a hug in person. Thanks, too, to RiverRun Bookstore, to PW, Booklist, Library Journal, United Federation of Teachers, Jewish Book Council.
While my hands were a tad shaky (my beloved editor told me she was a touch worried before I got up, but maybe that was because I told her I wasn't eating the lunch for fear I'd throw up--but I meant that as a joke! Sort of. Later, she told me I seemed to switch on like electricity the second I spoke), I did indeed ham it up and have a great time speaking--and I got laughs (you have no idea how getting a laugh can feel like chocolate every day!) Every author (Susan Isaacs, Jonathan Adler, Joshilyn Jackson, Deborah Coonts, Adriana Trigiani) got a gracious and heartfelt introduction, and I was thrilled to have this blog mentioned in mine!
Even better was the Algonquin party that evening, which was packed, and where I stayed until five minutes until the end, and ran into people I hadn't seen in years and met so many incredible people, including the astonishing Heidi Durrow, who is also published by Algonquin. (The moment I entered the party, I kept asking, "Where's Heidi?")
I do want to say one word about generous writers. Adriana Trigiani knocked me out. The moment I stepped inside and saw her, I mentioned to my publisher that I wanted to meet her and she took me right over. Adriana stood up, hugged me and said, "Darling, email me, whatever you need me to do for you, I will." She was clearly the most famous and feted of everyone in the room and they had her speak last because no one could have followed her speech, which was outrageously funny, but when she came up to the podium, she did this incredible thing. She held up each one of the other writers' books and said something complimentary, heartfelt and generous (there's that word again.)
While speaking, Adriana called up a librarian from the back, ("You. I like the way you look in that coral top. Come up here. I want to give you a ring." ) And she did give her a ring! (There is a story that once, when she won an important award, right on stage she pulled out her cell phone to call her mother and tell her.) She asked who knew someone named Laura and gave away a signed book made out to Laura, and her speech was so hilarious, so warm and real, that I ended up wanting her to move next door to me so I could bake her brownies every day.
Anyway, I am feeling extraordinarily grateful for the camaraderie, the support, and the pure joy and fun of BEA this year. Deep thanks to everyone who came by my table for books (please let me know how you like my novel Pictures of You), for everyone who introduced themselves to me or took the time to introduce me to others, to everyone at BEA and everyone at the Association of American Publishers, and to every single person who even met my full-of-joy gaze.