The Big Lexington Recap

>> Sunday, May 7, 2006

All right, it's been a while since I've blogged, but I have a good excuse. I've been busy, busy, busy - but in a good way.

This past weekend in Lexington, Kentucky I had my first school visit and first booksigning. What a trip! My visit to Lexington Catholic was just amazing. I spoke to three assemblies, one freshman English class, and had lunch with a great group of kids from the creative writing club. All in all, I think I spoke to around five hundred high schoolers about Samurai Shortstop, the writing life, and the dominance of Tennessee athletics. Okay, I didn't mention the UT stuff to the partisan Kentucky crowd, but I was certainly ready if anyone heckled me.

The students had great questions, and the faculty was extraordinarily welcoming. Thanks to David Harrity, poet laureate of Lexington Catholic (and the other bearded dude in the picture), for being such a gracious host.

On the heels of my great visit to Lexington Catholic, Wendi and I attended the author reception for the following day's Bluegrass Festival of Books. For some reason I completely missed the "business casual attire" note on the invitation, and I walked in wearing slacks and a white t-shirt. I felt like a doofus. Wendi wasn't dressed much better, but women can totally get away with looking dressier than men by wearing a long skirt and a t-shirt. It's a total cheat.

So, while I stood around feeling self-conscious about how amateur I looked, I got to reconnect with some old friends from Joseph-Beth Booksellers, the Lexington book store co-sponsoring the festival with the Lexington Herald-Leader. After that I did the standing-around-looking-around-like-somebody-I-knew-was-suddenly-going-to-walk-in-but-I-know-they're-not thing (which I have honed to a science) for a little while, until the lovely and charming Lauren Myracle (author of ttyl and ttfn, among others) came over to bail me out. She knew my name from a YA author listserv we both belong to, and we did the let's-hang-out-for-the-rest-of-this-soiree-because-we-don't-know-anybody-else thing until we could take the first shuttle back to the hotel. She and Wendi chatted on the way back about the business side of things while I zoned out, having been up since four a.m. that morning - two hours before my six o'clock alarm was supposed to have gone off.

The next morning we hit the festival early to do a bit of browsing, only to learn that my booth was ready for me anytime - not just the 1-5 p.m. time I was scheduled to sign books. Wendi and I quickly decamped, and I began selling and signing Samurai Shortstop. It was the first time I'd seen a stack of the real hardbacks, and I felt like I was walking about two feet off the showroom floor. I had to come down pretty fast though, because I had a steady stream of visitors throughout the day - only two of whom were related to me! (Very distantly, I came to find out, but thanks to the Alspaughs for coming out to see me!)

Wendi manned the booth for a few minutes here and there while I ran around and got Lauren Myracle, Michele Jaffe, and Ned Vizzini to sign books for me. Once I returned to my booth, I moved copies of Samurai at a steady pace until it was time to hit the YA panel. Traveling in the company of Lauren and Michele made me look glamorous for a few brief minutes, for which I am eternally grateful. The panel was great, (I actually got asked a question or two!) and the good-sized crowd was enthusiastic and knowledgeable.

Back at the booth for the afternoon, the crowds kept coming. I don't know how many people came to that book festival overall, but we never stopped talking to people and selling books. By the last hour of the day, we had two measly copies of Samurai left - two! One was nabbed for a festival door prize and the other got sold, signed, and stamped with my new hanko. We started the day with thirty books on the table, and ended with zero. It was a heck of a day.

After saying goodbye to my new YA author acquaintances, it was off to find food and celebrate a mucho successful weekend. Then, lo and behold, we actually stumbled across the only Mellow Mushroom in Lexington. If ever I had doubt that I live a charmed life, that dispelled it. I happily reveled in my legitimate-authorness while I consumed my favorite pizza in the world, and then Wendi and I made one last stop - the Lexington Joseph-Beth Booksellers, where I signed and stamped the last three copies of Samurai Shortstop they had on hand. (They had already sold two of the original five they had on hand - Wendi used her super-secret former-bookseller powers to look it up on the computer!)

Wendi and I were both weary on the drive back to Knoxville, where our daughter had stayed the night with her grandparents and no doubt eaten mass quantities of banana splits. It was just a fantastic weekend in Lexington, from beginning to end. Thanks again to Lexington Catholic for your hospitality, and to the Bluegrass Festival of Books and the people of Lexington for your affirmation and enthusiasm.

Whew. And Samurai Shortstop isn't even officially out yet!


Fabricationist,  May 12, 2006 at 3:28 PM  

Congrtz on a well spent weekend. I'm preparing to put decals on ATMs for two months. Then I think I'll write about a fellow who puts stickers on ATMs for a living and finds little time to write.

SpartanComadore,  May 12, 2006 at 5:16 PM  

Hey, glad you had such a good weekend. Sounds like your really having fun. Its cool reading about all the stuff that you guys are up to, though I think keeping up a blog would be a little too much work. Well schools over now, finally, and my email has been acting weird, so I don't know if you've gotten all my emails because some other people have told me they didn't receive stuff I sent them. Anyway I'll talk to you later.

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