In April I attended the Texas Library Association's annual conference as I have for the past sixteen years.
As the conference was in Austin this year, I went up early to visit a friend. I planned to leave directly from work, so my bags were packed and in the car.
Before I left work, I got a phone call from Terry, the marketing director at Holiday House. Would I be available to attend a dinner Wednesday night? I told her I would, and she said she would send me the guest list.
At a pit stop on the way to Austin, I checked my email and saw the guest list. I recognized a few of the librarians listed, but what surprised me even more was being listed as an author along with Roxie Munro and Michelle Lord.
Wait. I was coming to this dinner as an author?
Shaken and more than a little terrified at this prospect, I continued on my way. That's when it hit me.
I didn't have anything to wear to this dinner!
I'm a light packer and generally take only what I need. I had pop culture T-shirts for my weekend with my friend and library system polo shirts for TLA. I had sturdy walking shoes. Somehow, I didn't think it would be appropriate to show up at a dinner with Holiday House wearing a Big Lebowski shirt or a Brazoria County Library System polo.
Only one solution - shopping!
My friend and I popped over to Target where I bought a dressier shirt and Frozen flip-flops. I am a children's writer and a children's librarian, after all!
After the Ashes. I picked it up and snagged the first librarian who walked by and said, "This is me!" Then I took a photo with a different librarian (I think she was from Lubbock).
I took that flier and showed it to everyone I knew.
Then came the dinner. Terry asked me to read a small excerpt from After the Ashes. Thankfully, I had the manuscript in my email. I chose a selection that would hopefully leave those in attendance wanting more.
Unfortunately, Michelle Lord was taken ill and could not attend the dinner, but Roxie Munro is amazing. She talked about how she developed her new book Market Maze.
Then it was my turn. It was at this point that I thanked my lucky stars I'm a children's librarian. Reading in front of a crowd is not a problem. I was also grateful for all the one-act play and prose training I got in high school for UIL.
I took a breath and read from my iPad.
Those in attendance seemed to enjoy it. They 'oohed' at the forbidding nature of the end of my selection.
The rest of the evening was spent in discussion about books, libraries and education. All in all, a terrific way to introduce myself as an author.