Thursday, March 31, 2011

Arrivaderci, Bologna - a day early...and Rome Part II

Dessert from last night. Because I know how much you all want to know what I had for dessert!
Today was the last day of the Bologna Book Fair, and last night I went out for dinner with some of the ladies from our Canadian publishing contingent. Apparently, this sort of ladies dinner is a bit of a tradition, and I was very happy to be included. We had SO much fun exchanging travel stories (not that I had many). Most of these women have been to the Bologna and Frankfurt book fairs many, many times over the years and I got to hear some hilarious stories. Scandalous, even. But sorry, folks. What happens in Bologna, stays in Bolonga. ;)

This is what a taxi line-up looks like outside of the Fair when the buses are on strike. Actually, the line is twice as long but I don't have a wide-angle lens.
But throughout the day, there was an underlying level of anxiety due to the fact that all the train services in Italy were going on strike this evening until tomorrow night. Of course, I was scheduled to travel back into Rome tomorrow afternoon to stay with my cousin for the weekend before flying home. And by the time I learned of the impending strike, it was too late for me to cancel my hotel room in Bologna for that night. After much deliberation, I decided that it would still be best to get on a train this afternoon and get into Rome before the strike began. I certainly didn't want to get stuck in the train station in Bologna in whatever sort of confusion might ensue tomorrow while schlepping around two suitcases. Fortunately, I was able to contact Cristina (my cousin) and arrange to meet her at the train station in Rome. Otherwise, I'd just be hanging around Bologna (as lovely as it is) for another day and missing Rome entirely.
The Hotel Breakfast Bar. Yum!

So, arrivaderci, Bologna and Albergo Centrale Hotel!  I hope I will be back again soon.

On to Rome...

The ride in was peaceful and uneventful, thank goodness. And it was wonderful to see Cristina on the platform at the end of my journey, waiting for me. I hadn't seen her in over 10 years! Unfortunately, since I was a day early, she hadn't been able to make arrangements to pick up her car in time to help me get to her apartment, so we had to lug all my ridiculous luggage on the subway. Holy moley. What a LOT of stairs!!! I'm sure that poor Cristina is wondering what sort of lunatic cousin she has, with all these bags. The two of us were pretty worn out when we finally got to her place.

After settling all my stuff in, we went out to a super restaurant (Yes, Dad, - I paid! Thanks!) and walked around a little before calling it a night.

Now that the Fair itself is over, I hope that I'll be able to get some sleep. But I'll still be thinking of Kate and James at home, playing in hockey tournaments tomorrow: Kate in Hamilton, and James in Milton, in what is probably his last rep tournament ever. Sigh. Of course, I'll also be thinking of Eliot at school (ha, ha - sorry, Eliot), and Troy getting up plenty early to drive Kate. I hear there's been snow in Toronto. Gee, that's too bad ;)

For Kate: Look! There really is a Marblehead, Massachusettes! (Inside West Wing joke...)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

BBF - Day 3 - In which the cosmos seem to be paying attention

After the Snow Patrol concert on MTV Live wrapped up, I was suddenly jolted awake by the follow-up act: MegaDeath. Yowzer. But once I turned it off, I managed to eventually get about 3 hours of sleep. My wake-up call was for 7:00 and I just figured I'd play the day by ear. Turns out, that was a good move. I made my 9:00 appointment and things just were non-stop from that point on. Someone told me that the first day is the busiest but I would say that today was busier than the first two days combined.
And so, I am dedicating the rest of this blog entry to my brother Elio. He always (and I do mean always!) talks about how you get what you ask for of the universe. I started the day pretending I was just fine - and eventually I was.
More evidence:
At one point, I remarked to a colleague that while I was happy with the response to our picture books, I wished there was more interest in the novels. I turned around right after saying this and there was a woman who just walked up to the booth, asking about middle grade novels.
Then I sighed and said, gee, it would be nice if I could be doing more for our older teen novels - and presto - two publishers come in TOGETHER to look at teen novels. And while I'm talking to them, another Italian publisher asks me to send PDFs of covers and sell-sheets for all our age 14+ novels.
Mind you, I'm still waiting for someone to come in and say he wants to put me in a movie adaptation of one of our books opposite George Clooney. Maybe tomorrow?

Tonight, I'm going out for dinner (I  think) with a few other Canadian publishing types to sort of wrap up the fair. True, there is one more day, but many people go home after the third day. I expect tomorrow to be relatively quiet.
But, who knows?
No pictures today, folks. I left the camera card in the laptop and merrily snapped away without it - and I didn't bring the cord to connect it to the computer. Oh well.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The BBF continues - so the show must go on!

Today had its setbacks and its victories so I'm going to approach this post from the positive and build from there.
1. Even though the voltage converter that I use to power up my laptop went down, thus rendering me laptop and internet-free for the day, my dad came through for me with a solution. Thanks, Dad! Also, I made friends with the concierge here who has been most helpful. Anyone coming to stay in Bologna - stay at the Albergo Centrale. The service here is awesome.

2. I managed to keep most of my appointments today and reschedule those I missed due to an onset of the flu last night. Yes, folks. I'm sick as a dog. I am chalking it up to 3 weeks of crappy sleep and some dread disease I probably contracted from the icky bus ride yesterday. So, I'm on a steady diet of water, breadsticks, and ibuprophen (also an integral part of my diet for the past 6 weeks when my back was giving me grief.) And, staying on the positive note, my boss is saving a whack of money since I haven't bought any food in the past 36 hours, at this point :)

Artists post their flyers on this huge wall that stretches along
part of the walkway into the fair. It's about 3 or 4 times longer
than what you see in this picture.
3. Since my laptop wasn't working, I didn't have access to my appointment schedule which is stored in my Outlook calendar. That freaked me out at first since most of my meetings weren't being held at my booth - I had to go around to other people's booths - but then I remembered that I'd printed up most of the emails confirming all my appointments so I was still able to get to my afternoon meetings once I got to the fair.

And you can bet that I didn't take the bus today.

Tonight, I spent most of the time trying to figure out how to get power, calling my family, and trying to get some sleep. So, of those three things, I was successful at two. The sleeping thing isn't working out. But on the upside, I found an MTV Live channel that's been playing some pretty good concerts - I've seen Oasis, Lily Allen, Ryan Adams, and now, Snow Patrol. Certainly beats listening to the demons in my own head.
Tomorrow will be better. Right? Well, I guess I'll find out in about 5 hours when my wake-up call is set to ring.

Bologna - The Fair Opens! (and, thanks to a pickpocketter, so does my purse...)

But fear not, gentle readers. I caught him red-handed. I laughed in his face and said, “Sorry, buddy. There’s nothing in there.” He was so busy trying to sort through all the clutter that he couldn’t get to the money at the bottom before I interrupted him.
See, after a long and wonderful day of talking books with
publishers and other book types from Korea, Ireland, Israel, Quebec, France, Brazil,
and Mexico, Margie Wolfe (Second Story) kindly offered to accompany me back to
our hotel on the local bus. I’d taken a taxi out there so I didn’t really know
the route. The bus was crammed with people and Mr. Lightfingers was right in
the crush. I had my purse zipped up, with the strap around my shoulders. I was
clutching my briefcase in one hand and the pole in the other hand and chatting
with people. But I kept looking down at my stuff, just to be sure, and that’s
when I noticed he’d unzipped the top of my purse and was just trying to root
around a bit. Little turd. It’s a very compact little purse so even I have a
hard time trying to get stuff out of it. Margie says it was lucky for him he
didn’t try that on her or she’d have smacked him. She probably would have, too.
I’m not really the smacking sort, though I kind of wish I was. Would have made
for a better story.

But the real story of the day, of course, was the fair. I
set the booth up this morning in plenty of time and almost immediately, a
publisher from Brazil was drawn to one of our as-yet-unpublished picture books,
Tadeo’s Search for Circles. I only had a handful of illustrated spreads to show her but it was enough to get her very excited. So thank you to Kyrsten Brooker, our fabulous illustrator, for
getting those few spreads to me as quickly as she did!
Actually, most of our picture books were very well received – they were the real draw, I think, though there was some interest in the novels.

Oh, yes, I took George Clooney and Jacob Deng
with me for company!
On the table, you'll notice a bookmark for Random - a novel by Lesley Choyce. It was recently named as a White Ravens selection (that's an international award) and for those of you viewing this image at F&W, after I took this picture, I added to the display the fabulous colour flyer that Cheryl Chen made right before I left. It has attracted attention, so yay, Cheryl!

After my pickpocketting escapade,  I went out for dinner with Alison MacDonald, an agent at The Rights Factory, at  the same little restaurant that I went to last night, across from my hotel. We had an absolutely marvellous time, talking about kid lit and authors and all the best parts about working in children’s literature in Canada.  Thank you to Sam Hiyate for treating us to a fabulous eveningI

I am SOOO looking forward to tomorrow’s appointments! J

(Oh, and here is another random plaque that I noticed on a wall as I waited to cross the street. Boy, you certainly don't want to blink around here or you'll miss something cool! Imagine finding a tribute to Byron across the street from my hotel - in Bologna!)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Day 2 - Missing James's birthday (sniff) but I still get to go to a party!

Yes, eighteen years ago, James was born. My first baby.
Sigh. Eighteen seems like a big deal, for some reason. So I’m attaching two
videos – the first one makes me weepy, no matter what. The second one just
reminds me of when he was little – As much as I loathe Marineland, their commercials used to fascinate him - no matter what he was doing, he'd just stop, stare at the TV, and sway back and forth...

On the home front, I learned today that (a) the TV died and
(b) the van conked out in Etobicoke and (c) the kitchen is buried in dishes. Troy invoked images of the kitchen scene from Withnail & I. 

But the dog’s still alive, so there’s that.

Moving on...

Bought a pair of sunglasses today. I have a very small head, so finding a pair that fits me and doesn’t come with Mickey Mouse ears or
Hannah Montana logos is a bit of a quest. I just hope these ones don’t conjure up images of Elliott Gould’s character in the recent remake of Oceans Eleven.

On the up-side, all this walking around is really starting
to pay off! Seriously – after just 2 days, there is a noticeable difference in
certain, er, muscle groups. (Imagine if I had a tread-desk! I might even wear a bathing suit this summer!)

In my wanderings, look at what I came across...

And this is the sign for a restaurant around the corner. Who wouldn’t want to eat there? (By the way, ever listen to any of Rodrigo’s guitar music? Awesome. Though I'm sure the two aren't really connected. The musician was Spanish. This guy just looks crazed.) This is probably Rodrigo's most famous piece of music. It's beautiful - although he has also written some stuff that looks as though it might have been written by the fellow in the picture, too!

Finally, after a brief Skype conversation with my family, I attended a fabulous dinner hosted by the Association of Canadian Publishers. These lovely ladies were at my table: Racheli Edelman of Schocken Publishing House (Israel), Margie Wolfe of Second Story Press, Charlotte Teeple Executive Director of the Canadian Children's Book Centre, and Mary Macchiusi of Pembroke Publishers.
The food was amazing and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of some fascinating conversation.
I'm really looking forward to the rest of the week!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bologna Day 1 - In which I discover the secret to meeting gallant Italian men...

Tonight, the clocks move forward so I get to experience the
joys of daylight savings time (again!) on top of jetlag adjustments. Which is
just fine since I don’t really have to get up early for any good reason tomorrow.
(Yes, Helaine, I know that this is a sentence fragment. More to come :P)

Funny thing is, my iPod, which is my de facto watch here,
did the jump ahead LAST night, so when I got my wake-up call this morning at
9:30, I thought they’d made a mistake and let me sleep in till 10:30. Check out
is at 11:00. So after a very rushed shower and pack-up, I got myself checked
out waaay early— but sadly, not early enough for the complimentary hotel
breakfast. Still the lovely concierge was able to scrounge a croissant for me,
thank goodness!

The train station was only two blocks from my hotel so I set
out with my two suitcases (one of clothing, the other of work-related
paraphernalia) and a briefcase. Termini Roma is huge and crowded and I had no
idea where I was going. Once I found the ticket booth and bought the ticket to
Bologna, I was totally lost. Fortunately, I planned for this situation and
decided to book a seat on a train leaving in an hour rather than the next train
which was leaving in 15 minutes.

It would have been great if there’d been signs saying “Out-or-town
trains this way ->”or any indication on my ticket that I was actually
looking for the platform for the train to VENEZIA (though it did give me the
exact amount of carbon that this train ride would emit). Bologna is just a stop
en route, apparently. Fortunately, an enterprising little man with a trolley
took hold of my bags and my ticket and walked everything over to the correct
platform which was down the end of the station and around a corner. Thank
goodness. 10 euros well spent there!

The ride out to Bologna was lovely and not too long at all. Great
rolling hills with vineyards most of the way to Florence, but lots of graffiti
and tunnels between Florence and Bologna. Once I got to Bologna, the Italian
hospitality really kicked in. See, there aren’t any escalators at the train
station in Bologna – well, none that I could find. And the only elevator I saw
had a big sign on it that seemed to threaten police action against unauthorized
people who dared to use it. At least that’s what I think it said. And I wasn’t
about to find out the hard way. So I schlepped my suitcases down a flight of
stairs to go under the platform, then down a hallway the length of the station,
then stopped at the bottom of another set of stairs up to the surface. Thus
far, I’d had 2 or 3 offers of help from several businessmen (not porters) but I’d
just smiled and thanked them and carried on. I like to imagine that the looks
they gave me were sympathetic and admiring (Isn’t she a trooper!) rather than
just sympathetic  (Look at the crazy lady
who can’t pack light). I wished I had a sign that said “No, these aren’t all my
clothes! I have manuscripts and books here for work!”

So when I got to the bottom of the stairs going up, I was
ready to cry uncle. Fortunately, by the time I was about 1/3rd of
the way up, a very kind gentleman just scooped one of my suitcases up in a free
hand without a word and hefted it up the rest of the way. God love him.

The view from my hotel window

Once I got to the hotel, I settled into my room and went on
a quest for food – my first opportunity all day.

The hotel is right next to the Piazza Maggiore which is really something to behold.

Natalie Hyde -this gelato was for you ;)
I had a sandwich and a cappuccino in an open-air cafe right in the piazza and then found a gelateria.
Oh, I’ll be going back there, for sure!

I’m looking forward to meeting up with other publishing
people over the next few days. It will be nice to have dinner with someone and be social. For now, I’ll just keep exploring on my own.

Friday, March 25, 2011

When in Rome... don't try to eat dinner before 7:00pm, apparently...

Well hokey doodle (to quote the illustrious Valerie Sherrard) I made it to Rome!
Taken from the window of my shuttle taxi. Sigh. Want the Vespa. But the Colliseum is pretty cool, too.
I swear the lady at the check-in counter pointed me toward gate 178. REALLY! So when they started boarding passengers to  Addis Abiba, sure, it seemed odd. I figured my flight would board right after. Then I noticed the time. Then I noticed the gate number. 171. Then I ran.
I don't run. Ever. So when I got to the far other end of the departure lounge, I was hyperventilating like a panicked, middle-aged, sedentary book-type might. Of course, I was on time. But oh, barely. And the little twerps at Air Canada tried to give me this whole song and dance about how there were about 150, no, 200, no, 300 passengers including crying babies, a hockey team, a school band, and a cat, all brandishing pitchforks, ready to skewer me for holding up the flight. Which I didn't! We left on time. My seatmate didn't even realize that there had been any sort of wait at all. But I think I had odd heart palpitations till we were halfway across the Atlantic.
Oh, and speaking of my seatmate, he was this nice young guy from Pittsburg en route to Zurich to attend a...(wait for it) watch convention. Perfect!
I walked around Rome once I settled into the hotel. The great thing about my hotel is that it's right next to this magnificent cathedral, the Santa Maria Maggiore, and as long as I could see it peeking out above the other buidings, I couldn't get lost. I just wandered around for a while, taking it all in, and tried to find a place to eat. It was about 5:00 and it seems that you can only get dessert and coffee before 7:00. I kept walking into restaurants and cafes looking for pizza (as advertised on the BIG SIGN outside) but the waiters just kept directing me to the pastry counters. What's a girl to do??
When I did finally get a pizza (yum!), I was suddenly struck with self-doubt.
Help me out here, folks:
When in Rome, does one eat pizza with a knife and fork or by hand?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Jumping into the first adventure in Editoriania

I decided that, in the spirit of joining hands with the authors I work with, I'd create my own little world. Some might say that I already exist in my own little world but there you go. So, welcome to Editoriania. It's a bit of an overstatement in vowels, but I grew up with a last name that was its own overstatement in vowels, so I guess it's what makes me feel most at home.
Tomorrow, I begin another new adventure. For the first time in over twenty years, I got myself a passport and I'm flying out of my comfort zone (southern Ontario) and heading out to Bologna, Italy to attend THE children's international book fair. I'm pretty excited, if a bit nervous. Last time I flew to a foreign destination, it was to Puerto Rico just after Hurricane Juan hit. I went as a member of the Canadian Guitar Ensemble to play in a guitar festival (in between drinking lots of rum-and-cokes and body surfing in absolutely insane, post-hurricane, ten-foot waves) with a bunch of university students who alternated between playing Rodrigo and Van Halen. This time, I am  going ALONE as a representative of Fitzhenry & Whiteside to hawk foreign rights in between very small glasses of red wine and copious cups of espresso, God willing.
Tomorrow, I will send four books to the printers (again, God willing), kiss the kids and the hubby goodbye, and hope no-one burns the house down or kills the pets while I'm away.
OK, maybe the dog can go.
But that's another story for another day.