[NOTE: When I was writing away years ago with no publishing deal in sight, I was always curious to know what the exciting parts of a writer’s life are actually like (not the hard part where you sit for hours at your computer — I already knew enough about the hard part!). So I hope for all the aspiring writers out there, this gives you a glimpse into the fun parts 🙂 ]
One of my favorite memories of NYC is this: right after college graduation, a suite-mate and I took her parents’ rickety van and drove from her house in Maryland all the way up to NYC. As soon as we saw the city’s skyline, we started belting out Sinatra’s “New York, New York” at the top of our lungs while sharing a submarine sandwich. We were both twenty-two and full of hope and anticipation for what was to come. Approaching NYC that day was like cruising straight into a dream.
That’s exactly how I felt last month when we went to NYC. I had a few meetings set up across town, and could hardly sleep because I was so excited.
After a fun weekend hanging out with our family, I went to Penguin Random House on Monday morning to meet with my editor Maria. I’d never been to PRH’s building before, so I gasped when I saw, right in their enormous lobby, glass cases from floor to ceiling filled with books. I took one look and turned around to step outside again. I had to stand on the sidewalk to gather my wits (and snap a quick photo).
[Side note: a few people have asked me what I wore that day. I wanted to be stylish but comfy, put together but not fussy. So I wore these jeans in black, a deep purple blouse and a fitted black blazer. For shoes, I wore all-black Nike sneakers that a friend recommended — I’m in love with these kicks! I walked about thirty NY blocks wearing those shoes and was A-OK. I’ll admit I felt a bit underdressed when I met the fashionistas at PRH, but overall I felt like I’d dressed appropriately — to the point where one gentleman in the building asked if I was a new hire! And to which Maria responded, “She’s actually one of our authors. We won her manuscript at auction.” Love it!!!]
Anyway, I took the elevator up PRH’s skyscraper and lovely Maria met me and escorted me to her office. Her office had a magnificent view of the city and, of course, shelves upon shelves of books she’d published. I even saw one work shelf with my name on it and a bunch of paperwork. WHOA.
And OMG. She’d prepared breakfast for me. In her office, we sat at her small conference table, which she’d decorated with a pretty tablecloth and cloth napkins and flowers, and enjoyed homemade blueberry muffins and hot tea. It was so incredibly thoughtful! We discussed THE PAPER KINGDOM, the talented illustrator Pascal Campion and details about the release and marketing strategy for the book. She also introduced me to the fantastic people in her department (some of whom were incredibly well dressed, like people who work in fashion) and gave me a tour of a few of their floors. On shelves everywhere, I saw stacks and stacks of books I adore, including WONDER by RJ Palacio, which I’ve read about five times. It was so exhilarating!
And it was so much sensory and emotional overload that I forgot to take photos.
After a wonderful time at PRH, I stepped out into the bright NYC day. Onward, to continue the magical day!
I then met with my agent Bill for lunch. It was my first time meeting him in person, though we’d spoken a number of times on the phone. We were so simpatico! Our lunch lasted nearly three hours. We talked about everything: books, publishing deals, shows, movies, travel, politics, the writing career. By the time we emerged from the restaurant, I couldn’t believe it was already almost three in the afternoon! And again, I was completely swept up into the conversation and living in the moment, so I forgot to take photos. Notice a trend?? Too much excitement = no photos.
When we met up with our family that night for dinner at the fabulous L’Artusi, they told me I was smiling A LOT. I must’ve looked like a crazy lady, but I couldn’t stop flashing my chompers.
It’s always such a treat to hang out with our hilarious and wonderful niece and nephew. Seeing them in their hometown is always cute, because they’re only twelve but they’re already pro New Yorkers, meeting up with friends at Chelsea Market and complaining about the slow pace of tourists on sidewalks 😉
The next day, I met up with Colleen, the illustrator of THE TURTLE SHIP at the Plaza for coffee. She showed me her latest illustrations, and she gifted me with an original piece of artwork from an early spread for the book. I was so moved! Colleen has become a really good friend, so it was so fun to see her again. I first met her in person when we visited Lee & Low together this past April, but if you’ve read this SCBWI article, you know that the way Colleen and I started working together is nothing short of miraculous. I really believe it was meant to be.
Thanks for a wonderful time, NYC! Until next time…