Hubbie and I scooted on up to Nashville for the Southern Festival of Books on Saturday. I've spoken at this festival several times now, and it's one of my faves. Happily, we got there early enough to say 'hi' to Betsy Bird and Julie Danielson who were there to talk about their new book, WILD THINGS (I featured them recently on my blog). And we were there on time to see Susan Eaddy and Julie Hedlund talk about their latest creation, MY LOVE FOR YOU IS THE SUN. (I featured them when they started their journey on Kickstarter HERE.)
I also saw John Rocco and Kristy Valiant speak! I'm a huge fan of John's work - interviewed him HERE and HERE. And I've been rooting for Kristi since before she was published - so nice to finally meet her in person! I interviewed her HERE and HERE.
The weather was horrible and I didn't pack well for it - pah! So, it was nice to see there were still large crowds and my peeps at the SCBWI Midsouth tent were all smiles. I LOVE my Nashville peeps!!!
That evening there was a lovely party for all the invited authors and illustrators to mingle and chat. Here was my gang: Susan Eaddy, Julie Hedlund, Eugene Yelchin, John Rocco, and moi:
Afterwards, several of us met up at Susan's house for a casual barbecue among children's book peeps. Her hubbie, David (also an artist) even broke out the champagne to help celebrate all our latest successes (book sales, awards, new releases)! Here we are having one of those magical, wish it could go on forever, sort of evenings: (in front) Casey and Kristi Valiant, (in back from left) Susan, David, Julie Hedlund, Me, Mary Uhles, and Jessica Young (Stan is behind the camera).
Truly, that was a special night!
The next day Stan was able to catch Vicky Alvear Shecter talk about her latest books, POMPEII and HADES SPEAKS right after Kimberly Cross Teter talked about her fascinating book ISABELLA'S LIBRETTO. (I had to meet with Sharon Cameron, author and moderator for my panel, which was right after.)
I had the distinct honor of being paired with National Book Award Winner (and friend) Deborah Wiles (author of REVOLUTION, which is getting lots of Newbery buzz). She's supported me since the early days of my career, so it was so humbling and flattering to sit beside her and talk about A BIRD ON WATER STREET:
Even the signing wasn't too painful this year - I had some very nice, interested readers ask me to sign books. One was a young boy, right about Jack's age. Gads, do I wish I could be a fly on his wall to see how he reacts to the book!
It was late when we finally left, late when we stopped for dinner in Chattanooga (my old stomping grounds), and even later when we got home waaaay after dark. But it was all worth it.
I love Nashville, I love my creative friends and my Midsouth family (I haven't even named half of them), and I ADORE finally meeting people in person who I've emailed with for years (there were a lot of them at this event). SUCH a treat!
Thank you to Lacey Cook, Serenity Gerbman and all the volunteers for making this such a fantastic event, rain or shine! I'm always thrilled to come visit your neck o' the woods!