Friday, October 17, 2008


Yesterday I spent the day at Henry Holt. I'd not visited since they relocated to the Flatiron building. That morning, I was greeted by Kathy in the reception area. If there was a Receptionist of the Year Award, Kathy would win. She made me feel welcome and even pointed out my book displayed on a shelf.

It was wonderful to see my editor. When I started working with Christy twelve years ago, my daughter was nine and Christy was married with no children. Now Shannon is a grown woman in college and three sweet peas run around Christy's house these days. We've been through lots of life and books together since My Louisiana Sky .

Before going to lunch, I said hello to some old friends and met some of the folks I talked with on the phone, but never face to face. Then it was off to lunch where Christy and I talked about the historical. It is music to a writer's ears when her editor tells her that she loves the new manuscript. Days later the writer catches herself recalling the words when she should be listening to her husband inform her about the broken range.

Over baba and dumplings, Christy told me what she liked and what she thought I needed to work on. The beauty of stepping away from a story for awhile is that it allows me to look at it with a fresh view. Yes, I agreed with her. And I can't wait to roll up my sleeves and work on it again.

By the time the beignets in orange blossom sauce arrived we targeted January for the new draft. When I turn it in, I'll share the title with you.

We returned to the office to talk about plans for Piper. Then Christy showed me some art for an upcoming picture book I'm doing with Laura Huliska-Beith.(Wow! Laura is innovative.) More details to follow on both those topics. Let's just say 2010 is going to be a very active year for me in publishing.

When I left the Flatiron, I felt like I was floating down 23 Street. Does it sound ridiculous for a 48 year old woman to believe she is having a Holly Golightly moment? This was the kind of day that writers dream about, but seldom happens. Movies make it appear as if writers and editors eat beignets with orange blossom sauce all the time. The reality is we work in separate corners of the country and seldom see each other. But it is a good thing to reconnect in person regularly. Sitting in a writing chair alone too often can make a writer lose perspective. Yesterday I was reminded not only of the important role Christy plays in my work, but of all the other Henry Holt folks that make it possible for my stories to become books. Managing editors, copy editors, sales and marketing--they are vital to books. It's good for a writer to remember that.

While I walked toward 8th Avenue, I called my friend, Kathi Appelt to congratulate her on her National Book Award nomination.

"I'll have to get some tips about what to wear," she told me.

"Oh, goodness, Kathi. That was a long time ago. I'm not sure I did it right back then."

A couple of minutes later, I looked down the street and saw Jerry walking toward me, smiling. We made our way down 23rd, returning to Pad Thai on Eighth. Again, we sat at the table closest to the sidewalk because New York City is the best people watching place in the world. It was our last meal together before I headed to Somer and he headed home. For a few days, we got to live like a New Yorker on a quiet stretch of 22 Street. I can't wait to return.

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