You know the kind of intimate gathering that would fit very nicely say on the deck of an air craft carrier. The days are long and the book-crammed aisles are longer. Virginia ended the weekend with blisters on both baby toes because wherever we needed to be at any given time, turned out to be miles from wherever we were. And best of all---the air conditioning system at the Javits was on “lame” —everyone was sweating buckets and actually grateful for the flyers that were thrust at us as we perused the mammoth site because they made excellent personal cooling devices. Oh well.
There didn’t seem to be as many costumed wonders as in years past—we didn’t see any giant pink and yellow caterpillars, silver robots or flippered skin divers wandering around. And the booth enticements—paper rulers (for a math textbook) or micro-sized whisks (perfect for whipping up a few quail eggs) to promote a new cook book—seemed more meager too.
But we did spend “quality time” hanging out in our new publisher’s booth (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster). And we ran into lots of writer friends—Victoria Christopher Murray (The Ex-Files—coming in July, for anybody who’s had an ex), Karen Siplin, Marcus Mabry (check out Twice as Good his bio of Condolezza Rice), Bernice McFadden, Gwynne Forster, Shirley Hailstock and Francis Ray among them. We got to hug Clara Villarosa—our favorite jewel from the gorgeous Michael Cunningham (we know you know Crowns) and Connie Briscoe book Jewels—50 Phenomenal Black Women over 50. We also met new to the game author Victoria Rowell (Drucilla Winters from Y&R). She read from The Women who Raised Me, her memoir about childhood in foster care—terrific writing and quite moving. And we talked with book sellers and librarians from all over the country, as well as to the bone book lovers (many familiar faces) who come carrying suitcases to lug home all the books they gather (sorry we missed you Judi). We were only there two days, but they were jam packed with meetings, autograph sessions (we signed galleys of Gotta Keep on Tryin’—January ’08—our sequel to Tryin' to Sleep in the Bed You Made—wow, that means it’s real!), panels, lunches, dinners, cocktails, receptions and of course books and more books. It was all in a day’s work—two days actually. And although we may whine about the rigors of BEA, we’ll be excited to do it all over again next year. By then Virginia will have found more comfortable shoes—maybe.