Posts Tagged 'ALA'

Doing a Trade Show? Bring a Dog Along!

Who could resist a face like Hanni’s?!

A suggestion to anyone trying to lure conventioneers to your trade show booth: Perch yourself at a table between a beautiful dog and a gaggle of enthusiastic women. People will rush over to meet you.

That’s how it worked at the American Library Association convention this week, anyway. My publisher, Blue Marlin Publications, generously donated 80 copies of Hanni and Beth: Safe & Sound for me to give away there, and I signed books for librarians who visited the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) booth on Sunday, and then again at the booth for the Illinois chapter of the Society of  Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) on Tuesday morning. Hanni’s pawprint was rubber-stamped into each copy, too, and a flyer titled ”Hanni and Beth Love to Travel” was slipped into each book. The flyers gave librarians details on what Hanni and I do during author visits to schools and libraries. Librarians flocked to see Hanni, and the women working both booths were so helpful that I didn’t have to lift a finger. Except to sign books, of course.

Our time at the ASPCA booth on Sunday was especially entertaining — so many people came up to tell the staff how much they love the ASPCA, how they weep when they see the ASPCA commercial with singer/songwriter Sarah McLachlan, how they got their own cat/dog/rabbit at a humane shelter, how they named that animal {FILL IN BLANK HERE} and how much they love {FILL IN BLANK HERE}. The staff member would listen appreciatively, then ask, would you like a signed book?” She’d point to our book cover, and then to me. Saving the best for last, the staff member would finally point down at Hanni, nodding off comfortably on the carpet. “We’re asking for a ten dollar donation for each book,” the staff member would say. “The donations will go to PAWS Chicago and Chicago’s Anti-Cruelty Society.” How could they resist?!

Signing books at the ASPCA booth.

Signing books at the ASPCA booth.

In my one hour time slot at ASPCA, I signed, brailled and rubber-stamped between 15 and 25 books. My publisher was delighted – this meant that their book donation had resulted in somewhere between $150 and $250 going to those humane associations.

Our time slot at the Illinois SCBWI booth on Tuesday was two hours long, the very last two hours of the entire convention. I was afraid everyone there would be sick of books by then! But I was wrong — the time slot turned out to be perfect. There was such a vacuum at that time –no other authors signing, no sessions going on — that Hanni and I were a major draw. Librarians actually stood in line to meet Hanni and have their copies of Safe & Sound signed. Thank goodness my friend Colleen and the SCBWI-Illinois staff were there to help — I was busy the entire two hours, signing books for librarians from the Bronx, Atlanta, New Jersey, even Hawaii! I had time to talk with each librarian one on one, which is what I enjoy most about doing book signings: I love meeting new people. And from a book promoter’s point of view, being last on the docket might have been the best time slot of all. The encounters librarians had with me might have been the very last (and hopefully, the most memorable) one they had with an author during the entire ALA convention.

You Can’t Judge a Librarian by Her (or His) Cover

Hanni and I are signing copies of Safe & Sound at the American Library (ALA) convention in Chicago this week. I swim at a lap pool in a Chicago hotel, and when I went to swim laps today I figured my eavesdropping along the way would tell me that the librarians had arrived. No talk in the lobby about which bobbie pins were best at holding hair back in buns, though. And nothing said in the elevator about which rubber stamp vendor to go to for stamping books at the check-out line. The people in the elevators didn’t all sound old and mousy –- a lot of them were young, and hey –- some of them were men!

From the conversations I heard, there could easily be a technology conference in town this week. Or a business convention. An academic conference. An arts convention. Because, if you think of it, libraries can be all of these things — a place to go for technology, a place of business, somewhere to find books, videos, music. And the professionals who work at these places? They’re as diverse as the libraries, all dedicated to providing information for others.

This is the second ALA convention Hanni and I are privileged enough to attend. Last year my sisters Marilee and Cheryl joined me at the ALA convention in Anaheim. Every day we went to author presentations, visited the exhibit hall, signed up for contests, picked up free pencils, post-it notes, books and catalogs. Book CoverWe made sure Safe & Sound was displayed front and center at any booth that carried this award-winning book. We knew librarians would love our book if they noticed it among the thousands of others featured at the convention! Cheryl couldn’t make it to the convention this year, but Marilee is coming in from Orlando — she’ll be with Hanni and me at our signings, making sure the lines flow quickly and I remember to include author visit descriptions and bookmarks with each book. We’ll be signing at three different locations Sunday, Monday and Tuesday:

  • Sunday, July 12, 11 am to noon at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) booth in McCormick Place.
  • Monday, July 13, 5:30 to 7:30, ASPCA Henry Bergh Children’s Book Award Ceremony in the St. Gallen Room at the Swissotel on E. Wacker Drive in Chicago. This one is a cocktail reception, and it’s free and open to the public.
  • Tuesday, July 14, 11 am to 1 pm, in booth #1626,the Illinois Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators booth, sandwiched right between Scholastic and Charlesbridge – they get lots of traffic, so it’s a great location!

For more details on these signings, check out the schedule on my Web site. Hope to see (okay, hear) you at the convention!

Practice Run


2007 ASPCA Henry Bergh Award Winners

2007 ASPCA Henry Bergh Award Winners

It’s been a week now since Hanni and I attended the cocktail reception in California to accept our ASPCA/Henry Bergh Children’s Book Award, and we’re both still walking on air. Finally this morning I’m coming down long enough to sit in front of my talking computer and compose a blog post about the big event. Eight writers won the Henry Bergh Award this year, some for fiction, others for non-fiction, poetry, young adult books, and so on. Two illustrators were also recognized with awards.

I was so excited to get to the reception that we arrived early — the room was pretty darn empty when we got there. Our early arrival turned out to be a good thing – it gave Hanni and me a chance to practice getting from our table up to the stage. You know, so we’d be ready when they announced our award! For the first dry run I let go of Hanni’s harness – I held on to her leash as someone guided us and pointed out where the three steps to the stage were. At the foot of the steps, I crouched down next to Hanni and pet her and rubbed her and told her over and over what a good girl she is. When I stood up, I put my foot on the first step. Tapping my foot then, and pointing to the step, I exclaimed, “Good girl, Hanni! Here’s where we want to go. Good girl!” We were led back to our table. I sat down, then helped Hanni situate herself underneath. After that, I pretended our names had just been announced. I pulled out my chair and called Hanni to come out. She did. Standing up, I lined my back against the back of the chair and commanded, “Forward!” Hanni led me right to the stairs. She was perfect.

She is perfect!


Joe Pentangelo, me, and Hanni

Joe Pentangelo, me, and Hanni

We tried it a few more times – the practice was more for me than for Hanni – until I felt fairly sure we’d make it without me falling. Or fainting. My Blue Marlin publisher Francine Rich arrived with her husband Jude around that time – they presented me with lilies. The fragrance was sensational. I felt like a star. The whole event was first class, fancy hors d’oeuvres, fancy drinks, fancy people. I even had a police escort! Joe Pentangelo, Special Agent for Humane Law Enforcement at the ASPCA — and one of the stars of the Animal Precinct TV show on Animal Planet — met Hanni and me at the stage and walked us to the podium to receive our award. Find out if we made it without tripping — or fainting! — by reading my next blog post, called Winners!!!

Lucky Dog

Book CoverHenry Bergh Award stampWow. So many wonderful things happened while Hanni and I were in Anaheim to accept the Henry Bergh children’s book award from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) — it’d take an award-winning writer to sum it up in one blog post. Hey. Wait. I am an award-winning writer now! I oughta be able to condense this great weekend into 500 words, right? Let me give it a try. Sunday morning started with a fundraiser for the Southeast Area Animal Control Authority in Downey, CA. We’d do presentations there and sign books. Proceeds would go to the shelter.
The drive there took us speeding down one of those famous California eight-lane freeways. We were close to our destination when our driver (Kristen Limbert, the Coordinator for Humane Education at the ASPCA) saw a dog crossing the road. “I’ve gotta stop,” she said, merging through deadly traffic to pull over to the side, open her window and make kissy noises. The puppy was understandably confused by all the traffic, but somehow needled his way right into Kristen’s arms. Now, that was one lucky dog. What were the odds of an ASPCA van crossing his path, headed directly to the local Animal shelter?! He had no tags, so was dubbed Henry — for the book award, of course! Hanni stayed calm for the entire ordeal, and Kristen vowed that if no one adopts Henry by the end of the week, she’ll take him home.

Beth and her sister Cheryl at the American Library Association conference

My sister Cheryl and I--and Hanni, of course--at the American Library Association conference

After the shelter event Hanni and I joined my sisters Marilee and Cheryl at the American Library Association (ALA) convention center. Marilee had come from Orlando to join me; Cheryl had flown in from Seattle. We visited the Independent Book Publishers Association Booth to make sure the copy of Safe & Sound displayed there was front and center, then did the same at the ASPCA booth. After that, it was time for the ALA World Championship book cart precision drill team competition. From a blog post on LibGig:

What’s that you say? You’ve never heard of such a thing? What is a Book Cart Drill Team? Well, you know what a drill team is, right? And you know what a book cart is, right? Well put them together and you get the single most nerdcore sporting event ever. Presiding over the festivities were Mo Willems and Jon Scieszka. They entertained the crowd, conducted interviews and provided color commentary while the judges tallied their scores…

There were pinwheels, there were catch and release routines, carts were spun on one wheel. Librarians surfed on carts, did splits on carts, wore sequins and lab coats, and the singing was amazing!

I was not a judge, but the Bibliofiles book cart drill team from the Austin Public Library was my favorite. If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you already know how much Hanni and I love Austin. A lot was made of the drill team’s headgear (books that spun!) and I thought it was cool that the team learned sign language, donned white gloves, and interpreted their soundtrack to us. But what really sold me on the Bibliofiles was their grand finale– they rolled out a big banner of a famous Helen Keller quote: “Literature is my Utopia.” It was written in print, and in Braille. They took silver in the competition, and Marilee found a video on YouTube of their performance –check it out!

On Monday we went to an author presentation, signed up for contests, picked up free pencils, post-it notes, books and catalogs at exhibits, fronted Safe & Sound where necessary, then headed back to the hotel to get ready for the ASPCA/Henry Bergh Children’s Book Award ceremony. I slipped on my Lana Turner dress, Cheryl wore sequins, Marilee fluffed my hair and lent me her jewelry. Hanni stood proud as she guided me into the Anaheim Hilton for the event. True to form – I mean, Flo Finke didn’t raise no fools — we were the first to arrive at the party, and the last to leave. Yikes! I’m over 500 words already! I’m sure you are just on the edge of your seat, though, waiting for details of the award ceremony — guess you’ll just have to stay tuned for my next post!

Pro Wrestlers Don’t Give Pedicures

Pro wrestlers don’t give pedicures.

At least Atlas Horn doesn’t. Atlas (he claims this is his given name!) is a groomer at Doggie Bath House, a new business right down the street from us. I brought Hanni to Doggie Bath House yesterday to get spruced up for our upcoming trip to California. I wanted Hanni to get her nails painted for the big event — we’re accepting our ASPCA/Henry Bergh Children’s Book Award during a cocktail reception at the American Library Association annual conference on Monday.

“We don’t do nails,” “we don’t paint nails,” the owner told me right away. “We only do nails as in nail trims.”
For a short moment I considered going elsewhere. But when the owner introduced us to Atlas, I knew we had to stay. How could I deny Hanni the chance to be bathed by a pro wrestler?

Atlas grew up with dogs, he told me. Dog grooming seemed the perfect way to supplement his pro-wrestling income. “You can make good money wrestling,” he said. “But I have a daughter now.”Atlas is a gentle giant--when it comes to dogs and children.

Does the responsibility of fatherhood make a pro wrestler more careful in the ring, less interesting to the audience? Does the thought of a daughter at home distract him from crushing his opponent? Do you get paid less if you lose? Atlas never explained. What’s more likely, I figure, is that fatherhood forces Atlas to cut down on travel to faraway cities. There are 12 venues for pro-wrestling in Chicago, he said. “But the work is only there on weekends.”
And so, during the week, Atlas grooms dogs.

Hanni tried to be stoic in the pro wrestler’s presence, but truth is: she hates getting soaked. She hardly ever gets bathed, really. Think about it. Guide dogs don’t need baths as often as other dogs. Guide dogs are pretty much always attached to their owners. Unless we go playing in mud puddles, or get caught up with skunks, or tangle ourselves in brambles, our dogs stay pretty clean. The guide dog schools teach us how to brush and comb our dogs, and if we do that every day, baths are unnecessary.

For our special day in Anaheim, though, I wanted Hanni to sparkle. The trip to Doggie Bath House was worth it. Her nails may still be the same black color they were when we entered the place, but now, thanks to Atlas, her fur coat absolutely shines!

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