The Decatur Book Festival Wrap-Up - 2014

Friday... Stan and I went downtown to pick up my author packet at the hotel and see who we could see. Sure enough, I ran into Tom Angleberger (Origami Yoda) and Cece Bell (El Deafo) and their kids. Sweet folks from the same town as Hollins University! We walked around the square to watch the tents going up. There's a buzz in the air that begins with those tents - everybody starts getting excited. The folks at Little Shop of Stories were still organizing all the books they'll be selling throughout the weekend (no small task), and there was just a general glow to things.
     We went back to the hotel to try out the new restaurant there - Makan. I highly recommend it. Then ran into more folks in the lobby - Kelly Light (who is as sweet and lovely as I always knew she'd be), Tony and Angela DiTerlizzi and their daughter too. Then back to Little Shop at 8:00 for the Children's book creator party.
     They're moving up in the world and had printed pinable name tags this year - they even had one for Stan, how sweet is that? I got to meet so many folks I've been wanting to meet for years, like Peter Lerangis, LeYuen Pham (pronounced "Lee Win"), and Matt Phelan. The bookstore hired a magician (author/magician Mike Lane) to entertain us and it was fun to see him (almost) lose Jon Scieszka's wedding ring in flames!

Saturday... More authors come in today and I can't wait to party with my peeps on the square this evening at the BIG party. DBF is such a non-stop blast!! Until then, today I moderate the "All in the Family" panel with James and Kimberly Dean (Pete the Cat) and Frank Morrison and Connie Shofield-Morrison - can't wait! Wish me luck!

Later... Gads it was a hot one - but we had a blast!! We saw bits and pieces of several presentations, trying to catch as much as we could. (It's impossible not to miss something.) The first we caught was Matt Phelan, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, and Kelly Light talk about "Pure Imagination." Then I had my panel...

I knew James and Kimberly, but was thrilled to meet Frank and Connie - lovely and talented people. Two powerfully creative couples talked about "All In The Family" - the challenges and high points of working with your significant other. I'm biased since I moderated, but I thought it went great.

     And James gave one lucky little girl an original Pete the Cat painting!

     Afterwards, we grabbed lunch at Leon's Full Service - air conditioning! Then we went to an adult author (about the Civil War) for Stan, then home for showers because the VIP party was that night!!
     It was still hotter than blazes, but the VIP party is not to be missed if you can get in. It's basically ALL the speakers in attendance gathered in once spot to mingle and have fun. I finally got some time to hang out with Loren Long, Chris Gall, and meet Salina Yoon - luv 'em! Kelly Light once again looked awesome in her red lipstick with those gorgeous aqua eyes of hers. Here she is (on the right) with my good friend Lynn Cullen (Mrs. Poe) and me in the middle:

They served arepas and creative cocktails and it was all good!

Sunday... It was a groggy, slow start this morning, but we eventually got moving. A good thing considering it was my turn to be on stage. Stan and I nabbed what I have dubbed "The Magic Table" in front of the Brick Store Pub in downtown Decatur. I swear to you, if you sit at this table during DBF, a ton of the folks you want to meet will walk by. Some will stop to say 'hi,' while others will join you for a beer. It's one of the best ways I know to get to know my fellow creators!

     Back to the children's stage, Carmen Deedy wowed the crowd as she always does. Then Chris Gall and William Wegman - there were several Weimaraners in the audience for him especially. Look him up and you'll see why. Sadly, Molly Idle came down with a flu bug in Washington (at the National Book Festival), so had to pass on DBF. I was so looking forward to finally meeting her in person. *le sigh* Oh well, our kid lit world is a small one.
     My panel was called "Southern Drawl" since Deborah Wiles, Tommy Hays, and I are all from the south. Vicky Alvear Shecter moderated and asked some great questions about voice, inspiration, research, etc.

Here's a pic of me with the gorgeous sign my publisher sent:

And we had a great audience too (all strategically sitting in the shade):

     After I signed a bunch of books (yay!) and even wrote my name on a little girl's arm (can you say SOAP please?), Stan and I mosied around to see the punch out image photo ops the Decatur Library created using my coloring pages. We had to do it! I'm in the fairy and Stan is saying "Arrgggghhh!" in the pirate:

And we finally got to see the bus that Little Shop of Stories purchased via a grant from James Patterson. It's SO CUTE!!!!

Then we caught up with a gang of children's book creators at The Square Pub for fall-apart cocktails. Some had to leave to catch flights and the rest of us went on to enjoy a lovely dinner at The Iberian Pig. I think we were all about to fall over by the time we hugged good-bye. But we all agreed, it was a FANTASTIC weekend.
     I was once again SO honored to be asked to participate. The folks at Little Shop of Stories busted bootie to make sure everybody had the books they wanted (they were packed the entire weekend, both in the store and at the booths). The leadership of DBF (Hi Daren and Diane and Paul and Mary!) made it all look easy, even though we know it's not. So a big hearty THANK YOU goes out to everybody for all your hard work making this my favorite weekend of the year!!

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