Tuesday morning came way too soon considering that Cara Black had arrived at Juliet's apartment around Midnight. What followed was Cara and Juliet sitting on her bed and me on the pullout on the floor, listening to Cara describe the novel she's currently working on. It was sort of this hilarious publishing industry sleepover moment. I couldn't believe I was sitting there while an author and her editor talked about her new book while we were all in our pjs.
It would have been awesome if they braided each other's hair too, right? It was like a teen dream of mine had come true except that I couldn't keep my eyes open. And then once the lights were turned out and I could hear the other two breathing, my body said, "I'M AWAKE NOW!" And I stared at the ceiling until finally...I...
heard the alarm go off at 5:30 AM. We stumbled around in relative good cheer, considering that Juliet was set to speak on a panel first thing and Cara had an author signing. What followed was a quest to locate coffee, culminating in us stopping at a--
wait for it
SBARRO for croissants and coffee. Iced coffee for me and no croissant. Sbarro. I tell you: only in New York.
To be fair, the coffee was good. But it felt hilarious walking around with that big cup in the colors of the Italian flag first thing in the morning.
Fortified with caffeine, I braced myself for the first signing of BEA. It's always a tough one. People are still wandering in to the Javits Center. They are still suspicious of free books. In no less than two hours this will change and they will be so hungry for free books that some booths have to GLUE DOWN the books that they aren't giving away.
Yes, they really do glue them down.
Anyway, as luck would have it, my first author was Charlene Costanzo who was signing copes of her book The Thirteenth Gift. Charlene is well known for her book The Twelve Gifts of Birth, for which she filmed an episode of Oprah--though, sadly, it never aired. That's still a huge accomplishment for a writer. Charlene and her husband were incredibly warm and gracious and helpful. Staring the day with them was a wonderful feeling--even better than iced coffee from Sbarro.
Now, a little something about Charlene's book The Thirteenth Gift. It's a modern fable exploring the reason why people all over the world are drawn to pick up stones and keep them. Try saying that as wary people walked by first thing in the morning. I got a lot of jaded looks, a few eye rolls.
But then a person would hear me and as soon as I said, "pick up stones" the person would stop dead.
"I do that!!" they'd say. "I need to read this book."
The people who responded to the idea behind this book were incredibly excited. (Note: they also tended to be women wearing the kind of beaded, new age jewelry that keeps the entire town of Tuscon, Arizona in business.) It made me realize that for a new writer, the reactions of the other people could have been crushing. The writer might have limped away, feeling like their book was silly and no one cared about stones or fables. But the reaction of the people for whom the book was written was wonderful to see. In short, writers: remember your audience and don't let the other people get you down.
Charlene was smart, too. She brought these adorable stones, individually packaged with a tag promoting the book. She encourage people to take one. It was something to talk about with people other than her book and I noticed that people were intrigued by something free that wasn't book-shaped.
Now it's time to head to the bookstore. Tuesday Part II will have to wait! But come back for it because there's champagne and even Flava Flav makes an appearance...