Getting Together With Old Friends
Hi, readers! When I decided to leave my job as an editor and become a full-time writer, one of the things I knew I would miss was the daily interaction with my friends and co-workers at the office. Even though I talk to my editors on the telephone and attend meetings on a regular basis, the majority of my time is spent in front of my computer in my office at home. So when I had an opportunity to travel to Chicago to attend a huge convention dedicated completely to anything and everything that has to do with books and publishing, I jumped at the chance and hopped on the plane!
The name of the convention is BookExpo America (BEA), and once a year it provides a meeting place for those of us who have chosen careers in the book industry. Almost every publisher, big and small, is represented at BEA. These publishing companies set up creative exhibits in the convention center to showcase their new books. Their goal is to excite the people who run bookstores (the booksellers): to make them as enthusiastic about their new books as they are. These booksellers are from small, independent stores, large chains (such as Barnes & Noble and Borders), toy stores, mail order businesses, and book clubs. They're all very eager to order the books that they think their customers will want to read.
In addition to the huge hall filled with booths and exhibits, there were lots of opportunities to get together with other people in the industry. I attended the Children's Book and Author Breakfast, where I had a chance to meet with friends I hadn't seen in a long time. I had a great time over dinner one evening with the wonderful people from the Scholastic Book Fair organization, who do a terrific job of bringing quality books into the schools.
For me, one highlight of the convention was a dinner given for a group of about thirty booksellers, as a chance to meet several authors and illustrators. It was a memorable evening for me because one of the other authors was Julie Andrews! I couldn't believe that I got to meet the actress who played Mary Poppins and Maria von Trapp. (I can honestly say that Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music are two of my all-time favorite movies.) Julie Andrews has written a number of books for young readers, including a new series of picture books inspired by her grandson. (I was lucky enough to get an autographed copy of the first one for my two-year-old nephew.)
I also had a great time when I was on my own. I walked up and down the convention floor, meeting authors, illustrators and publishers, and got to see for myself what the book industry has planned for the upcoming year. I hung out at the Scholastic booth for a little while and visited with friends. Scholastic had one of the hottest "giveaways" (free stuff that publishers hand out to promote their books) at the convention — a Harry Potter baseball cap. Wait until my friends' kids find out that I have one!
I'm home now (with an armload of signed picture books for my nephew!) and settling back into my normal routine. And while being a full-time writer is the best choice for me, it was fun to leave it behind for a few days and mingle with old friends and make new ones. But before I get too busy, I think I'll take a little break and pop in a video. I'm suddenly in the mood to hear Julie Andrews sing Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!