Monday, July 22, 2013

Vacation Recap: Washington State

The family and I returned one week ago today from a wonderful trip to the Pacific Northwest--Washington state in particular. It was phenomenal. I loved it. My husband loved it. My boys loved it, and are already begging to go back. The weather was beautiful while we were there, though I have been assured by friends who reside there that this lovely weather is certainly the exception and not the rule over the course of a year. Still, we had an absolute blast! 

I know some of my friends (Hi, Niki!) will be traveling to Washington within the next year, so I thought I'd dedicate a blog post to sharing some of our photos. Enjoy! 

Day 1: Mt. Rainier National Park
A view of Mt. Rainier from about an hour away. It's huge! 
My 11-year-old admiring the view from inside the park.

A view of the Cascades from inside the park.

Day 2: Deception Pass & Whidbey Island

                                                    Deception Pass bridge from a scenic overlook. 

A view of an island with trees in the Puget Sound from Deception Pass State Park.
                                                   The boys enjoying the big waves at Deception Pass State Park.

Days 3 & 4: Olympic Peninsula
The charming Scandinavian town of Poulsbo on Bainbridge Island.

Beautiful, blue Crescent Lake in Olympic National Park.
This and the following pictures are from the Hall of Mosses trail in the Hoh Rainforest.

The next few photos are from La Push on the Pacific coast, home to the Quileute Nation.

Day 5: Lunch with the Larsons and a trip to Leavenworth

In Mukilteo, the boys were starstruck by Kirby Larson.

The Mukilteo Lighthouse, built in 1906.

Day 6: San Juan Island

I wanted to post a picture of the beautiful Friday Harbor here, but I can't find it. We went into the library there to see Every Day After on the shelf, but it was checked out! I was ecstatic. Somebody somewhere on the island--thousands of miles from my home--was reading Lizzie's story. The librarian was extremely kind and offered her congratulations. It was the coolest thing ever! 

In lieu of Friday Harbor, I'll present you with the island's lavender farm.

The following pictures are from Lime Kiln State Park. It is an awesome place for whale watching. We did see a pod of orcas from a distance on the ride over to the park, but none once we arrived. Still, it was one of my favorite places by far. I could live on this island. 
Michael overlooking the sound with the Olympic Mountains in the background.
The lighthouse with Vancouver Island visible in the background.

Then it was farewell...

Rainier from the air. Gorgeous.

If you haven't been to Washington, and aren't planning a trip there in the foreseeable future, I would encourage you to start saving and planning now. You won't regret it. Washington state is an embarrassment of riches as far as things to see and do. There are many more pictures I wish I could share, but this gives a good overview. If you ever travel to Washington, do let me know. I'd love to see your pictures. There were tons of places we didn't have time to visit. Thanks for letting me share! 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Experiences of a First-Time ALA Attendee: The Long Version (because there can be no short…)


Honestly, that is the only way I can begin. This past weekend was filled with such fun, and camaraderie, and laughter, and happy tears. I couldn’t have imagined it being any better.

Michael and I arrived in Chicago just after lunch on Friday, and by Friday evening we were sitting with the wonderful Kirby Larson and her husband sharing spinach and artichoke dip and great conversation. Kirby and I work with the same brilliant editor, Michelle Poploff, and I am honored to call her my friend.

On Saturday we took the shuttle bus over to McCormick Place and traversed through the exhibit halls. Here is a picture of Every Day After on the shelf in the Random House booth:

It wasn’t long before I started bumping into folks from Twitter and fellow authors. I teared up when I spotted Cynthia Alaniz amidst a sea of strangers. We gave each other a big hug, and my husband was kind enough to take a picture of us for posterity:

Next came the ever-so-clever author of RUMP and fellow Lucky 13, Liesl Shurtliff. She signed my sons’ copy of her book, and they were super-excited to receive it!

At 11:00 Beverly Horowitz, VP and Publisher at Delacorte Press/RHCB, took a break from the booth and chatted with my husband and me for nearly an hour. She is a brilliant and lovely person. If you haven’t, I encourage you to watch this YouTube video in which Beverly moderates a panel on “Writing Dangerously”. It lasts an hour and a half, but it is fascinating, and the participating authors are phenomenal. Here is the summary:

How do children's and young adult authors approach controversial subjects, challenge convention, and confront the psychological risks of the creative process? Moderator Beverly Horowitz joins authors Adam Gidwitz, Gary Golio, Nora Raleigh Baskin, and Rita Williams-Garcia for a discussion on censorship and the risks in breaking boundaries.

On Saturday evening we took a short cab ride with Alison Cherry, author of RED, to Elizabeth Fama’s house for a Nerdy Book Club party. (Thank you for hosting, Beth!) OMGsh, it was the best time ever! Here is a list of other attendees with links to their respective websites. I hope I didn’t forget anyone. If I did, it’s only because I didn’t see you come and go.

*Niki Ohs Barnes
*Donalyn Miller
*Brian Wyzlic
*Beth Shaum
*Laura Given
*Jennifer Reed
*Katherine Sokolowski
*Jen Vincent
*Kathy Burnette
*Colby Sharp
*Sherry Gick
*Margie Myers-Culver
*John Schumacher
*Elisabeth Dahl
*Liesl Shurtliff
*Amy Timberlake (whom I didn’t get to meet, but I heard the excited chatter when she arrived)
*Stephanie Kuehn
*Kirby Larson

I mean, come on! You can read that list of names and know how awesome this was. Incredible.

When Sunday rolled around, Michael and I decided to forgo the exhibit halls for a leisurely lunch and a stroll to Navy Pier. That left us plenty of time to get ready for the event that was truly on everyone’s minds: the Newbery/Caldecott/Wilder Awards Banquet, aka the Oscars of children’s literature.

The evening was filled with fairytale magic. When you are in the room with Jon Klassen as he becomes choked up during his Caldecott acceptance speech, and Katherine Applegate as she is handed her Newbery Medal and immediately announces “I’m wearing this sucker to Target!”,

and THE Katherine Paterson as she eloquently (and at times humorously: “Rest perturbed spirit!”) accepts her Laura Ingalls Wilder Award,

you merely sit there in stunned silence. Unforgettable. This is one of those rare occasions when even words are not enough.

A few highlights:

*Riding the elevator down to the Newbery Banquet with none other than Gordon Korman. He is so nice.

*Running into fellow Lucky 13er Tim Federle, author of Better Nate Than Ever, at the Newbery Banquet and hearing him say “I love your dress!” It’s now official. The dress is a keeper.

*Attending the Random House cocktail party and standing in awe as Patricia MacLachlan passes by not six feet away from me.

*Realizing that one of the folks sitting at my Newbery Banquet table is Matt Phelan.

*Seeing Roger Sutton, editor-in-chief of The Horn Book, stroll past my table.

*Having Donalyn Miller introduce me to Teri Lesesne (aka Professor Nana), Ed Spicer, and Tom Angleberger all within ten minutes time.

My boys love their finger puppet Yoda, Tom!
Thank you!

*Meeting all the lovely people associated with the Nerdy Book Club and my fellow Lucky 13s. I miss my book-family all ready! <3

See you next year in Vegas? Here’s hoping.

Kirby stands on tippy-toes and I squat to get head-level.
Rather amusing.
See you soon, Kirby! <3