Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Austin: Or why I want to go back!

I'm never going to be a reporter. It takes me too long to process events and decide what I'd like to say about them. 

Thank goodness for more pictures to get my thoughts going.

Cheryl Klein and I, as we begin our conversation
 about the editor/author relationship.

Despite having only met Cheryl in person the night before, I felt at home talking with her on a stage in front of 200 people. In fact, conversations are my favorite sort of "presentation." I find it easier than in a prepared speech to confess my weaknesses, to admit to being overwhelmed by editorial letters, and to share how unsure I was at the beginning of our collaboration on Operation Yes of how this particular editor/author relationship would go. But obviously---do you see my smiling face in that picture??---I love working with Cheryl, and that extends to speaking with her as well.

 Nathan Bransford, Stacy Cantor, Andrea Cascardi, 
Kirby Larson, me, Marla Frazee, and Lisa Graff
(Dang, we look good for 6:45 in the morning)

How I love getting to meet fellow authors and book creators! 

It was great to re-connect with Lisa Graff, who I'd met through Caroline Hickey, and remember how fabulously goofy she is. And because of her talk, I will always picture myself in a Seuss hat while writing, and a construction hat while editing. I also bought her latest book, Umbrella Summer, and was lucky enough to have her sign it. I peeked at the first page on the plane home, and wow! What a masterful first paragraph. I can't wait to savor the whole book. (She said she wrote 14 or 15 complete drafts of it. Now that's crazy/inspiring.)

I was also charmed by Kirby Larson, who I'd met before at the L.A. conference when she warm-heartedly invited me to sit and have coffee with her. Her act of kindness this time was giving me a signed copy of Nubs: The True Story of a Marine and a Miracle, which I've been coveting since it was published and wanting to take on school visits when I talk about Operation Yes. Thank you, Kirby!

Marla Frazee and I had also briefly met in L.A., mostly because I was gushing to her about how wonderful her co-creator of All the World was---my friend, Liz Scanlon. But on this visit, I really got to hang out with her, compare boots, lust after her (and Liz's) curly hair, share thoughts on running (she's against my ever doing it again) and see an early copy of The Boss Baby. I LOVE Boss Baby. I want to bust out laughing every time I see his suit-like pajamas and his angry eyebrows--- and then pick him up and squeeze him tight. Seriously, this is a picture book that I predict will sell like Boss Baby himself was in charge.

Critiquing manuscripts

More about how inspiring it is to read another writer's work later. But in short, looking closely at the words of other writers always teaches me something about my own writing---and often, it's exactly what I need to break through a block.     

With the ever-smiling Varian Johnson
 and illustrator portfolio coordinator, Mark Mitchell

Book signing

Book signings are sooooo much nicer when done in the company of other writers and with chocolate on the tables, don't you think so?

I remembered to bring my silver pen, 
the one that enables me to write 
on the black "chalkboard" of Operation Yes

Thank you, Austin conference organizers! I want to come back for the Texas Book Festival. (Just saying!)


  1. That looks like so much fun and you seem at ease. I'm impressed. That would terrify me!
    Winged Writer

  2. Thanks so much for joining us! I'm so sorry we didn't get a chance to really visit. The downside to hosting the reception is that Friday, you're running a party and trying to greet 75 at once (and then Saturday, you're one tired pup). But oh, you did such a wonderful job! Please do come back again soon!

  3. Wow, looks like a great time! Love the photos :).

  4. 200 people! Go, you!

  5. Look how beautiful you are in a dress and HEELS!! I loved seeing these pics.

  6. It was so wonderful getting to know you, Sara! Your book rocks and so do you!

  7. Austin has such a great vibe and it sounds like the conference did, too. Glad you had such a good time!

  8. Makes me feel so good that ATX treated you well! :) xo

  9. Congratulations, Sara--looks like a totally fantastic event! I know you did great.

  10. Your presentation with Cheryl was tops. I cannot believe you met in person the night before. I think so often of what y'all said that I finally had to see if you had a blog, and here you are.

    Don't know what your back story is on running, but you have killer legs, when you are done helping us write would you mind helping us get legs like yours?


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