Wednesday, April 16, 2014

In Case You Missed It: Literary Orange 2014, Part 5

What: Literary Orange
Where: Marriott, Irvine
When: Friday, April 5, 2014

Please Note: The quotes are approximate.


It is noon.  The ballroom is being set up for luncheon, and all the speakers line the hall in their black-clothed tables.  Now is the time to sign books and socialize.  Wise ones have bought their books in advance.  I am not wise.  And I am not alone.

The bookstore is madness.  Every inch of table is crowded by some browser or another, and the line for the register wraps around the wall.  And there is another problem.  All the authors from the same panel sit together.  I cannot afford all three books, yet I will feel horrible if I go up to only one of the speakers with a book to sign.

Deciding against purchase, I go back to the dining room.

On the way, I see the YA panel.  The three women are talking to each other.  No one's really approached them.  I would like to talk to them.  They are role models in my genre.  But what do I say?  Nothing comes to mind.  If I had bought a book, I could ask them to sign it.  But I have not.  What do I do?

If I were suave and graceful, I might simply go up to them and chat.  But no.  I slink to the ballroom, meet my aunt, awkwardly down a salad--before deciding I'm supposed to be networking, dammit, and go back to talk to them after all.  I hope that they have not seen me pass back and forth three times like some kind of stalker.

Jessica recognizes me and we speak briefly about our mutual friends.  I explain the long line in the bookstore. Maurene signs a bookmark for me, and Jessica signs an excerpt of her book.  (Kendare doesn't have anything.)  Now, I've dispensed with the pleasantries, and I still haven't left.  I stand there awkwardly as the lull starts to stretch.  Ask them something, ask them something!  My mind races.

"You have such wonderful ideas," I start.  "Very creative.  Where do you get--?"

No! I tell myself.  You are not going to ask them the oldest, dumbest question in the book! Think of something better!

"I mean," I stutter, making a conversational u-turn, "everyone asks authors where they get their ideas, but, you know, ideas are all around us.  So, um, how do you narrow them down and decide which ones you want to develop?"

Better, my brain says.

I'm so flustered about coming up with clever and creative questions, I almost miss their response.    Kendare says that if an idea doesn't leave her head, she knows that it wants to be developed.  Jessica writes an outline and if she can't come up with enough points, she knows the idea's not strong enough to carry the book.

I nod, trying to think of my next question.

"You speak very well.  You're very funny.  How do you do that?  Practice?"

Jessica says she practices.  Kendare says she just talks about whatever.  Once she had to stretch a 5-minute speech into a 45-minute presentation.  She ended up talking about cheese.

I might have asked a few more questions, but it all goes by in a self-conscious blur.  Eventually, I figure I have wasted enough of their time and make my grand exit.  As I sink into my chair all a-jitter, the dinner rolls come by.

Lunch is a chicken breast coated in breadcrumbs topped with a demi-glace sauce.  (Okay, I'm trying to sound smart here.  I don't know what sauce it is.  It's brown and it's not curry, so I'm going with demi-glace)  It is served with little potatoes that need butter and carrots with too much pepper.

* * *

To Be Continued...

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