Hi Everyone! A few weeks ago, we were invited by Amazon.com to travel to New York City, sign books, and be part of a panel discussion about what it's like to be one of the most successful indie children's authors today.
We had an amazing, whirlwind adventure! We left our house in Pittsburgh at 10:00am and were back home by 8:00pm the next day. We managed to squeeze in a lot in those few short hours. Here's a brief recap:
We had intended to have dinner with the Amazon crew at a trendy restaurant just off Times Square, but our plane was delayed for about 3 hours. Ugh. So we sat in the airport, which was better than being stuck on the tarmac, anyway, ate fast food, drank milkshakes, and talked about writing (Big Surprise!). We were surprised to see how many people travel with little dogs. Sorry, Bingley! :(
We finally arrived at LaGuardia Airport at around 6:00pm and went to the baggage claim to hunt down our driver. There were 2 guys standing there with signs, and one of them said "FOLEY". So we introduced ourselves and walked out to the parking lot with the guy. Luckily, I asked him how long it would take to get to the Bryant Park Hotel before we got in his car. He looked at me with a confused expression and said, "Bryant Park Hotel? I'm going to White Plains!" What are the chances? We had the wrong guy. His sign said "FOLEY!" He was waiting for a different Foley! As they say in New York: Go figure.
So back to the baggage claim. After about 15 minutes of just standing there, Gael got a call from our driver. He's at the wrong terminal! So we explained where we were and eventually get into his Escalade for the drive into Manhattan. WELL, it turns out that we had perfectly timed our arrival with the lighting of the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. Tons of traffic and very crowded sidewalks. But our very charming driver was a chatty guy (not to mention a FEARLESS driver in that traffic--egads) and kept us entertained with his running commentary. Eventually we made it to our beautiful hotel, known as a chic haven for the fashionista set--which may explain why all the staff there looked like models--and because they felt sorry for us after our hours of delays, they upgraded our room to a sweet, sweet SUITE.
High up on the 14th floor, we had our own private terrace balcony with a gorgeous view of the ice-skating rink, towering Christmas tree and German-style holiday market set up in the park across the street. Very festive atmosphere. The night was ominous and quite hazy, but luckily, fairly warm. So after a quick dinner in our room (we were much too late to meet our hosts from Amazon) we went for a walk around mid-town Manhattan and of course, Times Square. We saw Captain America, Batman, and all the other usual characters milling around.
The next morning we were up bright and early to attend the event. First we got to meet and chat with the excellent folks from Amazon, as well as the publicists who set it all up, and two other authors, as well, Ally Nathaniel and Carole P. Roman. We were a little nervous as the attendees started arriving. The audience was made up of people who are involved in some way with the children's book world. For about an hour, the moderator, Natalia, asked us questions like: What do you find most rewarding about being a children's author? Any advice for aspiring children's authors? Tell us about your publishing journey? That sort of thing. Afterwards, we fielded questions from the audience of journalists including the ever-popular, "How much money do you make?" Ummm...sheesh! lol.
So after the event we touristed around the local area for another 2 hours before it was time to go. We strolled through the magnificent NYC Public Library. We went all over this enormous, beautiful, grand building in search of, what else, books. Would you believe we walked around for about 30 minutes and couldn't find a single book anywhere? This was quite puzzling, since, y'know, it's a library. We finally sidled over to one of the security guards and said, "Psst, fella, where do you guys keep the books?" LOL. He laughed and informed us we were in the Research Library, where all the rare books are hidden away and can only be read on-site strictly by appointment!
We laughed so hard at our tourist mistake that we nearly got shushed by every librarian there. We did find a wonderful display case full of Charles Dickens' writing and memorabilia, however, and Gael went nuts. She's a major Charles Dickens fangirl.
Next we bought souvenirs in some of the charming, old-timey wooden market stalls set up in Bryant Park. Then we checked out the Christmas decorations in the department store windows. The dancing Gingerbread Men above were at Lord & Taylor. Finally we got limo'ed back to the airport where we had...wait for it!!!...another 3 hour delay. Ack!
Finally landing in the 'Burgh (Pittsburgh) at 7:00pm which got us home around 8:00pm. There was one mighty happy Bichon waiting for us at the door. So all-in-all, a great trip, even with the airport delays. Thanks, Amazon! We had a blast. :)
Eric & Gael
Squinting in the rain in Times Square!
Flight delays in the airport. Don't just sit there, eat something!