13 February 2007

New York Name-Dropping

Sufficient time has passed for me to collect my thoughts and links about last Friday’s children’s-lit cocktail parties in New York.

First I went to the SCBWI conference’s gathering for faculty and volunteers. There I collected enough food to make a meal, introduced author Robie H. Harris to author Linda Sue Park, and managed to not to soak anybody in Diet Coke.

Just outside that ballroom I met Monica Edinger, who was heroically holding herself together against a germ attack; Roxanne Hsu Feldman, a fellow Cybils Fantasy/Sci Fi judge; and fuse8nik Betsy Bird. At one point I went looking for someone who was looking for me. I took a step back inside the ballroom and hit that proverbial “wall of sound.” Until then I hadn’t realized quite how painful it was. AND HOW I MUST HAVE BEEN SHOUTING AT MONICA.

Betsy bundled Roxanne and me into a cab headed west to Ninth Avenue and the KidLit party she’d helped to arrange at Bar Nine, the bar with a website far more complex than it deserves. There the chatter was already at high volume while the room remained at low volume. I’d promised California illustrator David Diaz that this gathering would be the equivalent of the hot tub at SCBWI Summer’s conferences; given the number of people crammed into a small warm space, I think I was right.

Among the names I recall talking to were haiku-sporting Pamela Coughlin from MotherReader, editors Lisa Findlay and Alvina Ling and Cheryl Klein, Greg Fishbone and Sarah Beth Durst from the Class of 2K7, and representative Barry Goldblatt.

There were also other interesting people whose names didn’t stick with me even though I enjoyed chatting about customized online publishing for kids, hospital administration in Maine, the New York city subway system, and other complex topics. The conversation remained at a Silver City-like roar, so introductions came across like this.

Nice woman: Hi, Jo#¢§, I'm ¶¥†ƒth º∞££¢w8ell™£ Bar∂ßåaw.

Me: Hello,...Ellen? I’m happy to meet you.

Nice woman: ≠∆¬∆µç≈ §∞∂å∑i§÷¶leߪm and I ¶ªå™∑@rstwhi^7 }O∂å‰ÍÅÔ∆∆ on ¥$∞7‡6=•.

Me: Ha ha! I mean, I’m so sorry. I mean, really?
That nice woman turned out to be Ruth McNally Barshaw, author-illustrator and cartoon chronicler of such conferences. She was telling me we’d met online years ago, which I certainly recalled. (I always remember people who can draw, usually with envy.) To make the intros a little easier, I’d kept my dorky conference name tag around my neck, but it’s hard for a tall guy to bend down and stare at other people’s chests.

There are evocative photos of the night online from Massachusetts artist Barbara Johansen Newman, Galleycat, and the 2K7 Blog. I’ve even seen two photos of me, but you’ll have to search all the links to find them.


J. L. Bell said...

Thanks to Ruth McNally Barshaw’s sketchbook report of the evening, I now know the incredibly nice fellow who tried to help me with the subways was Timothy Bush.

Ruth McNally Barshaw said...

Warm hugs, JL. Thank you. Tim Bush was incredibly nice and helpful to me, as well.
I love the kids' book industry. It's competitive, but the people in it couldn't be nicer (or smarter).