In December, the first two volumes in THE SISTERS EIGHT series, Annie's Adventures and Durinda's Dangers, will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. TSE is a projected nine-book series for young readers about octuplets whose parents disappear on New Year's Eve, after which, the Eights - as they are known - must endeavor to solve the mystery of what happened to Mom and Dad while keeping the larger world from realizing eight little girls are now living home alone. The series authors are me, my husband Greg Logsted (author of the YA novel Something Happened, which pubs in Nov), and our eight-year-old daughter Jackie (this is her writing debut).
This past weekend, our publisher sent us to the New England Independent Booksellers Association trade show in Boston to sign ARCs of the first two books. What follows is our Top 10 List, ala David Letterman, of memorable things that happened while we were there:
10. The first thing we saw when we hit the convention floor was a trashcan, within which were just two items: paperdoll sheets that our publisher had made to support TSE. Jackie was positively shocked. The horrors! The indignity of it all! That's when I explained to her, "This is the ugly underbelly of our business, sweetpea. Just wait until you see books you've lovingly inscribed on the $1 table at library book sales." I didn't even dare tell her about ebay.
9. Getting copies of 50 different books.
8. Meeting Stewart O'Nan (I gushed over Last Night at the Lobster), David Ebershoff (I was thrilled to get a signed copy of The 19th Wife, but embarrassed that I thought it was his debut; it is, in fact, his third book; on the other hand, he's editor-at-large for Random House and obviously didn't recognize that I'd had a book published by them, nor did I mention it, so I think we're even, plus his book looks really good), and Julia Glass (who signed her forthcoming I See You Everywhere for me and was endlessly patient while three-glasses-of-wine me gabbed and gabbed and gabbed).
7. Seeing Brian Lies (Bats in the Library), another Houghton Mifflin Harcourt author, and Jackie mutually wishing one another success with their respective books.
6. Having a Macmillan sales rep say it was depressing, the idea of an eight-year-old author, only to point out to her that on the contrary, it's encouraging. In publishing, we are always playing Chicken Little - "The sky is falling! Kids don't read anymore!" Well, I'm here to tell you that not only are kids still reading, but some of them are even writing.
5. Swimming in the hotel pool and paying just $5.50 a glass for wine at Friday night's author reception, making the three glasses I drank 50 cents cheaper than just one of the $17 glasses I had at lunch with my agent in NY earlier in the week.
4. Watching Jackie sign. Jackie *loved* doing the signing. Her only quibble? It wasn't long enough for her and she wants to know when there will be more signings. The kid, I must say, is a natural. She put a stuffed lobster on the signing table, had a blue glass pen that had both a flower and a feather attached, and signed "Jackie" with a smiley face in the "a."
3. As we were walking away from the signing table, we saw a man who looked remarkably like a downmarket Santa Claus with his nose buried in a copy of TSE.
2. After the signing, because we like to think we have good manners, we went back to the HMH booth to thank the good people there. We spoke with an adult division sales rep who told us about her daughter's addiction to the series. Apparently, her little girl walked around for days with a copy of TSE in her hands, refusing to relinquish it - here's hoping that's an omen for how kids everywhere will feel about it.
1. While talking to the adult division sales rep with the wonderfully obsessive daughter, two booksellers approached. Jackie was holding a copy of TSE and one of the booksellers asked her, "Did you read that book, little girl?" Well, Jackie was taken aback. I could see her little mind saying, "Read that book?" as out of her mouth came, "I *wrote* that book!" Bookseller reaction: "You DID???" You could have knocked them over with a feather. And then they asked for her autograph. Priceless.
There's a lot I'm leaving out. Bottom line: We had a blast and are feeling the love.
So how about you: Got any conference or signing stories to share? Or anything else?
Be well. Don't forget to write.