|Behold the glorious Grove Park Inn. They say it's haunted!|
Okay, enough whining from me. I'm still sorta-kinda riding the high from Winter Institute, even if Asheville seems like a distant memory. Here's a recap of my days (and nights). You'll have to forgive the terribly blurry photos, but many times I couldn't be arsed to show up on time because I had things to do in between sessions, so I ended up standing up in the back on several occasions.
|L-R: Larson, Corrigan, O'Nan. Sorry they're so tiny|
|This is the secret basement passage|
We also had speed dating lunches with publishers, where we sat at assigned tables and publishing folks would go from table to table, pitching their favorite/best/most interesting books for the upcoming season. Here's the lovely Ruth Liebmann from Penguin Random House, as she pauses in the midst of a presentation. She was talking about the just-published short story collection from Kelly Link called Get In Trouble, which is fun and offbeat and flirting with the fantasy/horror genres without actually settling into them.
More educational sessions after those lunches, and dashing back & forth across the hotel. There were two days when the weather was quite pretty, so I tried to maneuver outside on those days. I even managed to catch up with Joan on one of those dashes and an obliging bookseller took a snapshot for posterity.
I might have skipped the last session once (or maybe twice) in order to sit outside with a cocktail and reflect on all that I had learned so far. That might sound coy, but really, sometimes there's a real feeling of sensory and information overload, and taking a moment to process it all is quite good and not at all a waste of time. Especially on that one day where I was meeting with three different point-of-sale inventory system guys and listening to their pitch on why our store should change to their system instead. A cocktail was definitely needed! Plus, look at that sunset. I'd be a fool not to be sitting there in contemplation of the sun's downward progression.
|Asheville or Tattoine? You decide. Not sure why there's a second sun in this photo...|
|These Star Wars characters are felted. They were amazing!|
One author and illustrator team used photographs of their adorable dog as the illustrations for a children's picture book. It's only the second dog I've ever seen at Winter Institute, and she was just a gem. Very chill, and not at all trembly like one might expect from a dog that size in a large crowd of strangers.
Last but never least, here's my co-worker Elli signing books at the author reception. We'll be launching her book at the store next week and it will be ever so exciting!
I was lucky this year to arrive at Winter Institute with two dinner invitations and receive a third one for the last night only moments ahead of time. I had been looking forward to the parties for Other Press and Macmillan/Bloomsbury, but when somebody canceled at the last minute for the Grove/Melville House party, I was very happy to inherit the empty seat at the table. All three of the dinners were great fun, but check out especially the location for the Other Press soirée:
Other Press hired a bus to transfer us all to the winery at the Biltmore Estate. We arrived after dark, so there wasn't much that we could see, but then somebody led our group underground to a beautiful room straight out of The Lion In Winter, complete with tapestries for hiding behind and plotting. It was stunning.
|This was the hallway to the bathroom. Or maybe to the dungeon.|
My second dinner had an unexpected beginning: we rode to dinner from the hotel in what my group dubbed the Jurassic Park-mobile. Macmillan/Bloomsbury hosted a dinner in downtown Asheville at Cúrate, a tapas restaurant:
Here we had three small tables, with one author per table, which made it so much easier to get to know the folks whose books I will be selling in a few months' time. The evening was just wonderful, and I particularly enjoyed talking with my neighbor, author Rebecca Dinerstein about the intricacies of learning Norwegian (she's fluent, and her first published book was actually a bilingual book of poetry). The food and the company were all superb.
|Here's Rebecca with two booksellers|
I was pretty exhausted by the end of our last day and ready to go home. Or at least ready to sleep on the plane! As much as it all is, it's also on the hectic side. Joan and I would leave our hotel room by 8:00 every morning, not returning there until after 11:00 pm each night, and one night it was closer to midnight. Hard work AND hard play comprise the bookseller's conference, that's for sure.
|One last shot from the Grove Park Inn|