Last Thursday was one of the biggest nights of my literary life...and I nearly missed it. My wife and I raced over three hours to San Francisco, peeled into a valet parking garage, and with the valet standing nearby, changed out of our comfy work clothes and into our much less comfy (but much more appropriate) dress clothes. Then we ran a couple blocks and made it to the California Book Awards ceremony just in time.
Here's Agent-of-the-Evening Laura Rennert squished between two of her authors, Ying Chang Compestine and me, co-winners in the Young Adult category.
Paul Fleischman (the man can write anything) won in the children's lit. category.
A couple winners you may have heard a little something about are Michael Chabon...
...and Khaled Hosseini.
I swear, I felt like such a dork giving an acceptance speech to a room filled with authors of this caliber. But I had fun, and even had a chance to work Ross: Dress for Less into my speech!
The next morning, my wife and I flew to Chicago for the Chicago Tribune Printers Row Book Fair. Here's the view of the fair from our hotel window.
We went to a ceremony honoring S.E. Hinton, where she took audience questions for an hour. For such an influential writer, she's extremely down-to-earth. Unfortunately, I had to run to my speaking gig and didn't have a chance to faint in front of her. So my wife stood in line to get an autograph. And without being asked, she knew I'd want a photo to put on the blog!
Then I spoke on a very fun panel with Jennifer Smith, Renee Rosen, and David Wartik, with Kait Steele moderating. Everyone on that panel was so nice, and it was great to hear so many different perspectives on writing issues. I even used the water bottle in front of me to play an impromptu game of Spin-the-Bottle (because, apparently, everyone's played it but me)...but when it stopped spinning, it pointed back at me. Sigh!
Then we stayed in Chicago an extra day to check things out. We caught a show at The Second City. Hilarious! Took an architectual boat cruise. Awesome! Heard (but couldn't see) B.B. King play at the Blues Festival. Insanely cool! Got caught outdoors in a thunderstorm. Wet! And checked out a few museums.
Of course, we had to eat, too!
Best pizza of my life!