On the Road with OTTO

I spent this past weekend in lovely Saratoga Springs, NY, where my husband (the inspiration for OTTO) and I attended the opening of an amazing Porsche exhibit, “Porsche: 60 Years of Speed & Style,” at the Saratoga Auto Museum. The great staff at the museum are fans of OTTO, so they set me up with a signing at the exhibit opening’s cocktail party. I ended up selling lots of books, and meeting lots of great car people!

If you’re in the area and love cars, you should definitely check out the exhibit. While I signed and schmoozed, my husband ogled the extraordinary cars on display, including this aluminum-bodied Porsche Gmünd Coupe, a 356 model that was crafted in a sawmill in Austria.

And take a look at this 918 RSR Hybrid, Porsche’s new hybrid supercar.

The next morning, we returned to the museum in our 1967 911S and met up with other Porsche drivers for the Fall Ramble, a rally through the Adirondacks. My husband was in his happy place, behind the wheel, as we toured some amazing fall scenery and twisty, Porsche-friendly roads.

Here we are, driving in caravan behind a particularly-zippy GT3.

I happily volunteered to act as navigator, even though the directions were two pages long…

…and, as it turned out, were missing a crucial turn. The caravan soon broke up, and both of our phones were out of range, so we were hopelessly lost for a while. Yikes! Eventually, we found our way to our destination, a lovely hotel on Lake George, where we enjoyed a very German lunch (schnitzel and German potato salad and Black Forest cupcakes, among other delicacies). While we were there, we got to meet Porsche racing legends Vic Elford and Joe Buzzetta, and I signed a copy of OTTO for Joe’s new grandson. What an honor!

I’m getting really spoiled with these amazing weekends. I hope you’re out there having fun, too!

Bookish Babes in Burlington

Another great weekend, thanks to the good folks at the Burlington Book Festival; the amazing Phoenix Books, which cheerfully and tirelessly sold books at the event; and the other writerly ladies with whom I shared a dinner table, a stage, and a VERY large panel: Elizabeth Bluemle, Jo Knowles, Erica Perl, Tanya Lee Stone, Linda UrbanSarah Aronson, Sarah Albee, Jeannine Atkins, Cynthia Lord, Ammi-Joan Paquette, and Kate Messner. Oh, and a BIG thanks to my husband, for driving, and being all-around awesome.

After a rainy drive through most of lower New England on Saturday, we were welcomed by a beautiful afternoon in Vermont. The above photo is the view from our swanky hotel in Stowe, where everyone seemed to walk around in their bathrobes, having just had spa treatments or a dip in the humungous pool. Not one to resist a trend (or a temptation), I indulged in a very, very luxurious pedicure.

Afterwards, we met up with some of our fellow book festival peeps for dinner. Wine was imbibed, locavoracious (is that a word? if not, it should be) burgers and salads were eaten, and lively conversation was shared. What a treat, to be able to spend some downtime with such smart, funny, lovely people. And I finally got to meet Erica Perl, after many years of appreciation from afar!

Did I mention how great our hotel was? Well, the bonus was that it was close to the Cold Hollow Cider Mill, where my husband and I were able to enjoy a good, nutritious Sunday breakfast of warm apple cider donuts and coffee. Already, my day was off to a good start. And it only got better!

Here I am inspecting the roster for the day (and ignoring the extra space in my last name). What a line-up! I’m so honored I was able to be a part of it. And specifically, I got to present my books alongside writer and bookseller Elizabeth Bluemle! I read from UGLY FISH, she read from the amazing My Father, the Dog, we chatted about what inspired our stories, and then I read from OTTO: The Boy Who Loved Cars. My favorite moment was when I’d just opened UGLY FISH to start reading, and a little tyke in the audience turned to her mom and loudly asked, “Mama, is she DONE yet?” Ha!

Here’s a shot of moi in action (I always have a weird look on my face when I’m photographed reading UGLY FISH, because I’m in the midst of doing all the voices):

Afterwards, I participated in a “super panel” featuring all of the participating children’s authors (except for David Macaulay, who was probably still receiving fans in his very long signing line). We talked about “craft” books we recommend (Bird by Bird, one of my own faves, was a common choice), our journeys to become writers, funny kids’ books we like (currently, I’m loving Jon Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back, and not just because it’s published by my alma mater, Candlewick), and if we could think of any male middle grade or YA novelists who write from a female perspective. On the spot, we could only come up with Kevin Henkes (Olive’s Ocean and Junonia). Can you think of others?

Then I signed some books, met some terrific new fans, and it was time to get back on the road for a very, very long drive home. Thankfully, Vermont gifted us with some pretty stellar weather, so we got to enjoy some sublime scenery. All in all, it was a perfect weekend filled with friends and fun and fabulous books. I can’t think of a better way to welcome the fall season.

A Weekend to Remember

Many thanks to those who came out for my storytelling session at the Providence Arts Festival — and a big thanks to author-illustrator Alison Paul for organizing the event. I walked into the ROOTS cafe to find my very own personalized signing station:

During my performance, I read from OTTO, Ugly Fish, and Rabbit & Squirrel. As an encore, I gave the audience a sneak peek at my upcoming picture book, about a certain aloof porcupine. Here’s the lone photo captured of me in action:

I was thrilled to meet some new friends, including author-illustrator Amy Walrod, and illustrators Amiko Hirao and Jen Corace. A few old friends showed up, too, and even my cousin and her friend made the trip. We celebrated afterwards with sangria and sunshine, sitting outside a bistro on Westminster Street amidst the Festival comings and goings.

And then, yesterday, my husband and I woke up and watched some of the 9/11 remembrance footage. As the bell was rung for each moment of silence, I was transported to where I was when it all happened: first, at my desk at Candlewick, hearing about it in an email from a friend, a message I had to reread several times before I fully understood it. Then, in my car on the way home, after we were all dismissed from work by our tearful bosses, the radio announcer stating that the first Tower had fallen. And then, at home, the first of many drinks in my hand, eyes glued to the television, as the rest became all too clear.

I spent the remainder of yesterday morning weeding, which seemed like an appropriate, grounding (literally and figuratively) thing to do. And then, I attended the opening of Scott Magoon’s art show at the Danforth Museum in Framingham. It seemed right to surround myself with evocative art, and end my day in creative reflection.

If you can get yourself to see it, you MUST go and check out Scott’s installation, which features pieces from all of his books, including those we’ve made together. Here is a photo of moi having a moment next to a particularly restful piece from OTTO:

And here I am next to one of my very favorites, from our upcoming picture book, Mr. Prickles!

Afterwards, the good people at the Danforth asked me if I would sign some stock — and Mr. Magoon generously allowed me to horn in on his signing. What a guy.

All in all, a pretty darn good weekend.