I went to New York to present my first YA novel, Cleopatra's Moon, at the Jewish Book Council. Why? Because they have an unbelievable program supporting book festivals around the country.
The Jewish connection in the novel is subtle, but strong: Cleopatra Selene is introduced to the Hebrew concept of free will during a sojourn into the Jewish Quarter of Alexandria (the largest concentration of Jews outside Jerusalem during this period).
Her intellectual and emotional struggle with the idea of free will--in the face of tragedy--provides (as Cheryl Klein put it) the "thematic backbone" of the story.
|Drag Queen Cleo approved of the offerings.|
Then we had drinks and dinner with several wonderful bookstore owners from the west coast. I must now find an excuse--any excuse--to get out to California and Washington state, just so I can visit their stores.
The highlight? Arthur Levine breaking out into song when I talked about my favorite children's book store in Atlanta, Little Shop of Stories.
Tireless sales rep, Sue Flynn, personally made the most exquisite Cleopatra's Moon bookmarks for every dinner guest.
Tuesday, I headed to BEA for the children's breakfast. Actress Julianna Moore hosted. I was, um, so star struck by the authors on stage--Brian Selznick, Kathryn Patterson, Sarah Dessen, and Kevin Henkes--that I forgot to take pictures (sorry).
"I want this book," I said.
"Great," he responded, seeming a little alarmed by the way I was clutching it to my chest.
"No, really. I WANT this book, I must have it."
Again, he smiled at me, his eyes scanning the area, possibly for security.
I fully expected him to smile and say, "Well, of course. Take it! We have plenty!" When he didn't, I tried to explain: nobody else was going to love this book more than me! Couldn't he see that? Never mind that it was not an ARC, but a hardback (and the only one there to boot). I had to have it.
The man blinked at my ferocity....er, I mean, intensity. So again I asked: "Can I have it? Please?"
Quickly assessing that I was not a bookstore owner and therefore had no value to him, he said, "No."
Just like that!
At my devastated reaction, he said, "Come back at the end of BEA and then maybe."
"But I'm not going to be here at the end of BEA!" I wailed.
He shrugged as if to say, "Not my problem lady." Then walked away.
|Steve Smith, Leslie Krueger and Jordan Smith of Oasis Audio.|
With a sigh, I replaced it on its display stand.
After my close brush with kleptomania, I sought out the Oasis Audio booth. Oasis is releasing the audio version of Cleopatra's Moon at the same time Scholastic is releasing the book.
It was great to finally meet Steven Smith, Leslie Krueger and Jordan Smith. I could've hung out with them all day--they're hysterical. Plus, they enjoyed posing with Drag Queen Cleo.
After several more mind-numbing rounds of the exhibition floor, I met up with my good friend, Diane Capriola, owner of Little Shop in Decatur, GA. Then, because it would've been a crime for me to go to NYC and NOT visit the Metropolitan museum, I talked her into accompanying me. By the time we got there it was a bit late, but I still got to stand in awe before many exquisite pieces of Egyptian and Ptolemaic art that I had only ever seen in books.
The Temple itself made me shiver. Octavian/Augustus had it built just years after defeating Cleopatra and Marc Antony in an effort to appease the locals.
One day, some day, I'll make it to Egypt. Until then, this would have to do.
In the meantime, I'll be forever trying to figure out how to come up with another excuse to visit New York City. Any suggestions?