This is Part Two of, well, a two-part series. To get the appropriate build-up, please read my Practice Run blog post first.
During last week’s cocktail reception, Henry Bergh Award winners were invited to give speeches. Joanne Ryder (author of Toad by the Road) thanked her husband Laurence Yepp during her speech. My publisher Francine Rich got so excited hearing Laurence Yepp’s name that I was afraid she’d fall out of her seat. Later on she explained: Laurence Yepp is the author of Dragonwings,a book her son Dominick counts among his favorites. “I got my picture taken with him!” she gushed.
Yepp and Ryder were among the many, many impressive writers at the reception. Mary Alice Monroe was at our table – she’s had a dozen books published already. Maribeth Boelts (her book Before You Were Mine won a Henry Bergh award for fiction) was at our table, too, along with her editor from G.P. Putnam’s Sons. Victoria Miles, author of a number of award-winning books for children, sat across from me and complimented my Lana Turner dress.
We all signed books after the ceremony, but the first person who approached my table wasn’t really interested in buying Safe & Sound– he wanted to pet Hanni. I happily relented, unbuckled Hanni’s harness, and let him have at her. After that, many of the 100+ in the audience lined up for a chance to pet Hanni. I mean, c’mon – it was an ASPCA event. They all missed their animals at home. While Hanni enjoyed herself on the ground, Guy Pantangelo (his dad is Animal Precinct’s Officer Joe Pentangelo) assisted me at the table by rubber stamping a dog pawprint onto every book sold. Just like the day before, a portion of each book sale was donated to the Southeast Area Animal Control Authority in Downey, CA.
When the caterers came to clean off the tables and shoo us away, Cheryl, Marilee and I took our wine to the fancy lobby outside the meeting room. Lounging there in a comfy chair, glass of wine in one hand, Hanni’s paw in the other, my sisters sitting across from me, well, that’s when I knew. I was a winner. None of us wanted to leave.
The next morning we all headed back to the exhibit hall for one last visit – and one last free t-shirt. What a kick it was to be recognized by people at the convention center. “I was there last night!” “Congratulations!”
Hanni brought me back to earth by misbehaving on our way home. As we headed to the jetway to board our flight at the John Wayne airport, a child in a stroller caught Hanni’s eye. The kid was right next to us in line, enjoying a sandwich, kind of flailing her arms, I guess. Hanni took that as an invitation to enjoy the sandwich, too, snatching the PBJ right out of the poor child’s hand. It all happened so quickly that the kid didn’t flinch. Her parents didn’t flinch, either. By the time I got my hands on Hanni’s mouth to root out the sandwich, she had swallowed it.
Ah, well. Even award-winning dogs break the rules sometimes.