I just got back from a quick trip to the Southern Booksellers Alliance Trade Show in Daytona. When I say quick trip, I’m not kidding, either! I flew in, signed books and had dinner, then got up to speak the next morning and flew out a few hours later.
But an awful lot of great experiences were packed into that little window of time.
This is my dear friend Maralee McKee. You can find out why I love her so much and friend her yourself on her facebook page by clicking here. We were thrilled this past summer when our family got to vacation with the McKee’s and we all just had a wonderful time. The McKee’s are lively, funny, and the sweetest people you could ever hope to meet. Case in point: When Maralee found out I was coming near her (about an hour away) she immediately offered to pick me up from the airport and take me out to dinner that night.
My first instinct was to decline because it would be a lot of trouble for Maralee and her family but then I got to thinking a bit more rationally. You see, I don’t particularly enjoy traveling by myself. I think I’m just too used to having my family with me. When I travel alone, every other thing I see makes me want to turn to the side and point it out to someone - who isn’t there.
So I don’t actually see or do anything when I am on my own unless I force myself (or want to take pictures to show y’all). Knowing how I am, I knew I’d show up, take a taxi to the hotel, sign my books, and then spend the rest of my evening in self imposed exile in my hotel room, despite the fact that I was staying directly on the beach. Come to think of it, this is the view from my room…
and I never once stepped foot on sand the entire time i was there! It was a busy weekend though, and I wasn’t even there 24 hours, in my defense.
After the McKee’s insisted they didn’t mind one bit picking me up and spending the evening with me, I indulged myself and told her I would love that. It sure did make for a much nicer trip, too!
Maralee and her oldest son Marc helped me sign my books for the event I was speaking at the next morning and we got those puppies done in no time at all with our little assembly line work! While we did this Maralee’s youngest showed off his dolphin-like swim skills in the hotel pool while her husband Kent watched. After that we all headed out to a restaurant whose name I can’t remember but oh my goodness, was the steak ever amazing (I decided that I really did need a steak).
They dropped me back at my hotel later on and I went straight to bed, where I dreamed I slept through my speaking engagement the following morning at 7:30. Eek.
So to counter this, I went ahead and got up at 4:00 AM their time, which was three a.m. my time, but hey, we do what we have to do, right? In my dream I had woke up at 7:30 and I have to speak at 7:30 – there is no way on this earth I can even begin to be ready in a matter of minutes, it takes a lot of paint and spray to get this gal fixed up so I can avoid scaring the neighborhood children.
I arrived at the ballroom two hours before it opened and sat on the floor to go over facebook and emails. Not that I stand the slightest chance of being able to get caught up on emails but a girl can dream :).
When we finally went in I got to meet Dawn and Eric, two folks from my publisher. I love them. Dearly. They are just wonderful people that you instantly love the moment you meet them. Being around them just makes you feel good.
I was speaking with two other authors, Robert Barclay and James Swanson.
Here are their books:
If Wishes Were Horses
Beautiful, moving story told with such love. They say he is the next “Nicholas Sparks” but as I’ve never read anything by Nicholas Sparks, I will gladly state that after reading through the book, he is definitely the first Robert Barclay – and that is impressive in it’s own right.
James’ book before this “Manhunt” was a bestseller and after hearing the story of this one and seeing his talent for weaving a storyline, I’m sure this one will be as well.
The funny story behind this is that James’ two young sons “helped” on this book. They told him that readers wanted blood…and knives! lol
You know that is strange? Julie Wheeler sent me his first book a few weeks back, saying it was one of her favorites! It was several hours after I met him that I glanced down at the Harper Collins table and saw his first book and put two and two together!
They were both extremely nice gentlemen and I really enjoyed getting to talk and hang out with them both before and after the breakfast. James and I talked twitter and social media while Robert and I chatted about his wife and his writing. Fascinating people.
When It was my turn at bat, I talked about the kind of people I came from and the legacy of gratitude for life and good food that has been passed down to me. I read a passage from my book that was close to my heart and the audience was very kind and gracious, just wonderful people. Many folks came and introduced themselves to me after we were finished and it was such a sincere joy to get to meet them and hear their stories and how mine had resonated with them. It’s amazing the connection so many of us have when we sit down and talk about it. I checked on twitter and there were some of the nicest tweets that just really warmed my heart!
After the breakfast, the president of SIBA asked if I was going to the trade show floor and I replied that I sure was if I was allowed to! She walked me over there and got me a badge…here is the cool part..
Authors get green badges and guess what color mine was?
Yeah, so that was a thrill. I don’t have any photos of the trade show floor because I was too hyped up about being there and getting to meet more folks. I got to talk to a lot of bookstore owners (if you’ve ever wanted to talk to someone with a true passion for books, talk to an independent bookstore owner) and signed some books special for their friends and family members. It was just great getting to be out there and talking to people for a change as opposed to sitting behind my computer screen! I truly cannot wait to see you all on my tour.
I also got to spend a great deal of time with Southern food writer, blogger, and college English teacher Jessica Harris. She is a true inspiration. I dearly loved getting to spend time with a person with such moving spirit and wisdom. I always say I want to be like my Mama when (if) I grow up, but now I think I’d like to be like Mama and just a little bit like Jessica, too. If you ever have an opportunity to meet her, I hope you won’t miss it. Her book “High On The Hog” comes out early next year.
Oh! Did I mention the Okra pick? SIBA chooses certain books each year as their top picks for the season. They call these their Okra Picks. GUESS WHO IS AN OKRA PICK?
This is their fall program for the trade show. The Okra Picks are on the cover. Look at the bottom left!!!
I am stunned and so honored. Wow.
Here is where I get to be the COOL mama though! My kids love to read and guess what? I brought them each back something from their favorite authors that hasn’t been released yet!
This is the second Big Nate book. Brady is a huge fan of them and was so excited to have this advanced copy!
and I got Katy Rose this petite library of Fancy Nancy Books.
James Swanson was kind enough to autograph his book for my Dad and Robert Barclay autographed his for my mother.
I know they’re going to love those!
Then it was off to the front desk, here Eric from Harper was kind enough to call me a taxi and I headed to spend a day in the airports, with my required layover in Atlanta. I say “required” because I feel negative about the Atlanta airport so until I learn to love it, I feel confident that fate will always send me there. ~laughs~ Okay, so here are my nice things to say about the Atlanta airport this time around:
1. The lady in the magazine gift shop was exceedingly nice
2. The ladies at the coffee counter were really nice also
3. I talked to a sweet little five year old girl named Piper who was stranded there most of the day because the pilot failed to show for her flight and the staff didn’t call for a new one so instead little Piper and her mama (along with countless others) had to wait over seven hours for the next flight…okay I’m going negative here so back to Piper..Piper was a precious little girl who lost her very first tooth right there at the Atlanta airport! She was so cute and precious that I couldn’t resist visiting the magazine gift shop (see #1) and getting her a little gift to help pass the time. In return, she gave me the biggest smile and an even bigger hug!
Maybe the Atlanta airport needs to put her on staff. Totally made my day!
So there are my positive things about the Atlanta airport this trip. I’m sure I’ll end up there again (Maralee says that when Southerners die, on their way to heaven, there is a layover in Atlanta) so I’ll bring you another list the next go around in my attempt to pay penance for not liking that stop! Keep in mind, of course, this has nothing to do with Atlanta, which is where my husband is from, just the airport. The point is that I’m going to force myself to learn to love it, bless it’s heart.
Okay, I’ve rambled enough, now to get to work and actually do a recipe post for SP.