Several really cool things happened while I was in New York to accept the Josette Frank Award from the Bank Street College of Education for The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones.
First, the newsy stuff:
Aside from the awards ceremony (which I wrote about last time), the date (April 6th) happened to be Sammy Keyes' birthday and was (by complete coincidence) also the day that sample copies of the first three repackaged Sammys landed on my editor's desk. So I got to hold them for the very first time - a super cool way to celebrate Sammy's day!
Besides the whole 'rebirth' thing, the books are "so pretty and shiny!" and inside there's a new "What Do You Think" class/club questions page, which I think makes for a really helpful addition. Series tend to get dissed in terms of substance, but there's always something to think about / discuss with Sammy Keyes!
"Sammy and Marissa have such different homes and families. What are the pros and cons of each?"
"Why do you think Sammy was so determined to help Holly? Why is Holly so reluctant to take her help?"
"Sometimes things have surprising value. The value can be monetary, but also sentimental. In your own life, what things are of most value to you?"
The questions are gentle enough to not feel like homework, but substantive enough to encourage thought and discussion. I like that balance.
The first three books become available on May 2nd, and on the high-top heels of that, the next batch (#4-8) is in the process of being finalized.
The art (which I also got to see while in New York) is awesome, but I've also been under deadline to turn in tweaks to the text. All those Sammys plus my last-chance read-through of Wild Bird before it goes to press added up to the enormous stack of pages on my desk. I've been a reading machine!
The non-newsy New-Yorky thing I wanted to share with you has to do with the dinner I had with a small group of book people. It's always fun to be out with book people. Conversation is lively and thoughtful and fun. This was a dinner in my honor (because of the awardy-thing for The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones), but I didn't want the focus to be on me. I had already spilled a lot of personal stuff about my "secret life" during my acceptance speech and didn't really want to talk about me. So I suggested that we go around the table and everyone share about their "secret life." Fair's fair, right?
There were about ten of us at dinner, and some of the people had known or worked with each other for many years. But as we went around the table, new and surprising things surfaced. It was fascinating. It wasn't so much a "secret life" thing as it was the sharing of things that others didn't already know about them. One of them worked at a tire store. One of them had danced on Broadway. Everyone had something fascinating about them that the others hadn't known about them before.
It drove home to me how you can work alongside someone for years, but not really know their personal story. Or what built them into the person that they've become. Maybe it's just easier that way. In my acceptance speech, I talked about how I didn't share about my past life with my new colleagues when I became a teacher because it was too hard, too complex, and really, how could they ever really understand?
In new friendships, I think we tend to start at our meet date and move forward from there. But with lasting friendships, I think it pays to also look backward. Not in a prying way, more in a Tell-Me-Something-I-Don't-Know-About-You way.
You already know about my "secret life" - the life I had before I became an author which, not coincidentally, is also the life that led me to writing. (If you missed it and are curious, go to the previous post - there's a link.) And you already know about Lincoln Jones's secret life. And Sammy's - talk about a secret life!
So now it's your turn. Some of you have been reading this blog for years. We're all "friends at the blog," so share something about your life.
Tell us something about you.
As always, thanks for checking in. Looking forward to seeing you in the comments!