My suitcase is sitting at my feet, still packed. Or rather, unpacked and then repacked so fast it feels like it simply stayed packed.
I just got back from a week in Texas, and I’m getting ready to leave tomorrow for several days in NYC (Teen Author Festival, details on the Appearances page), and for once in my life I wish I could sit still. A large part of that is because I’m working on a new book-shaped plaything, but I’ll get to that in my next post.
Today, a recap of Texas.
Texas was a trip broken into three chapters, every one of them wonderful.
It started out with a writers retreat. 21 authors, myself included, gathered in a house overlooking a river. For four and a half days we ate and drank and worked and chatted and had an all-around wonderful time. I find nothing more inspiring than being around other writers, especially those at various stages in the publication journey. This was my third year being part of this retreat, and it was incredibly surreal to go from being a publishing newbie to one of the “veterans” (I certainly don’t feel like a vet).
Even though I never got over the strangeness of that ever-changing dynamic, the trip was both grounding and uplifting and I only wish I’d taken more photos.
The next chapter was beyond cool.
As the retreat closed up shop, Carrie Ryan, Beth Revis and I drove to Houston. We’d been given an incredible opportunity, thanks to the amazing Kate (Ex Libris): to take a VIP tour of NASA. We were allowed to not only observe mission control in action (they were communicating directly with an astronaut on the ISS at the time!!) but also walk the floor of Apollo 13’s mission control, tour the Neutral Buoyancy Lab, and even go inside the full-scale replica of the ISS used in training.
I’ll be doing a full NASA post as soon as I get the CD of photos (we not only had our own guide, but our own photographer!) but suffice it to say, one of the coolest author perks EVER.
The final chapter of the Texas trip proved to be an amazing conclusion.
Carrie and Beth and I had a signing at Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston. It was my first Texas event ever, and I was over the moon.
But it wasn’t just the fabulous crowd, or even signing with my friends (which is always a blast), that made the experience. Sitting there, signing after the panel, I had a Moment. Moments (instants where you realize something is on the cusp of changing, or is changing, or has changed) are rare enough that I really stop and savor them.
What was my Moment?
It wasn’t that almost everyone in the front row had a copy of THE ARCHIVED in their lap. It wasn’t that the store sold out of my books (though that ties in). It was this: as a newer author, I’m quite accustomed to having a shorter signing line than my friends, most of whom are at least a generation ahead of me. Signing with the likes of Carrie and Beth, I was TOTALLY prepared to wait while they signed. God knows I’ve done that. Often. In the beginning it can make you feel silly or self-conscious, but you get used to it. I had.
But at the event, I wasn’t sitting there, waiting for Carrie and Beth (both of whom have full trilogies out) to finish. I kept signing. In fact, I only finished signing books a person or two before they did. And that may sound like a small thing, but in that moment it felt like such a big thing. It kind of took my breath away.
So often I’ve been the baby author tacked on to established authors’ events, and I’ve been so thankful, because that’s what a baby author needs, but it’s trained me to assume that people coming to those events weren’t coming to see ME. They were coming for the other authors, and if I was lucky, or a good enough speaker, I could woo them into trying out my books, too.
But at the event, some of the people in that audience came to see ME.
And there aren’t words, though I’ve used a good deal of them here, to describe that feeling.