Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Selling books in a hockey arena - when worlds collide

A couple of weeks ago, I hopped in my car and drove out to Kitchener-Waterloo to go to a hockey tournament THAT NONE OF MY KIDS WAS PLAYING IN. But I did have a couple of boxes full of Hockey Girls in the back seat, and they are sort of my babies, so I guess it's the same thing, right?

The Aud was home to the Kitchener Lady Rangers annual FallFest tournament. Hundreds of girls in various levels and divisions from all over Ontario streamed past our little table with its nice big poster advertising Hockey Girl, a new novel by Natalie Hyde. Even better, Natalie was there to sign copies!


And of course, because she knows me so well, Natalie brought fudge. Homemade, no less!


We had a wonderful day together, sold plenty of books, and got to talk to some great hockey girls and their parents, grandparents, coaches, trainers and team managers. One older gentleman asked Natalie if she had heard about the Preston Rivulettes! We were pretty excited because they were part of Natalie's inspiration to write Hockey Girl.

Another exciting moment came when Jan Dolby, the illustrator of Gabby, stopped by the table. Her daughter was about to play her second of three games that day. (Whew!) I just so happened to have a hot-off-the-press copy of Gabby in my briefcase. How wonderful it was to be there the moment that an illustrator sees a copy of her book for the very first time! And, even better, her whole family - including in-laws - was there to see it, too!


Unfortunately, I had to take it back to the office with me since we only had a handful of advance copies and I'd sort of snuck this one out on a weekend pass. Gabby will officially pub in January, so keep an eye out for it then.

But back to Hockey Girl.

Hockey Girl by Natalie Hyde
One of the best parts about being able to show off this book was seeing the response to it from the families of so many hockey girls. This story is about teenaged girls who are fighting for an equal opportunity to play hockey - they aren't just chasing the guys who play hockey, or trying to sort out the best cheer-leading outfits to wear when they go watch hockey. And as my own teenaged daughter will verify, there is real hockey in the book. The rules, the positions, the plays: they are authentic. The girl on the cover is a former Willowdale Red Wing Bantam AA player. And of course, the story is a lot of fun. There's a website featured at the end of the book that looks at various issues in womens' hockey and how girls' teams have fought for equal access to ice times, and highlights a few groundbreaking female hockey players.

And since I promised a book giveaway or two, I'll give away a signed copy of Hockey Girl to a random person who comments on this post or shares it on Twitter or Facebook. How about that? SCORE!


Thursday, November 29, 2012

New Beginnings in Editoriania

It's been a while and lots has happened. For one thing, I survived the International Beijing Book Fair and climbed the Great Wall of China (then took the toboggan down!). And survived the 36 hour trek home to Aurora, Ontario! Yay, me!
"Toboggan is a dangerous sport..." Excellent!
Also towed my husband along to Las Vegas where I attended the National Council for Teachers of English convention and sold books.

Troy edited by the pool. No, we didn't gamble, but we did see a Cirque de Soleil show and walked around, taking in the sights.

Our new friend, Kotton Kandy. Hey, it was VEGAS!
Immediately returned from Vegas in time to attend the annual Canadian Children's Book Centre awards gala at the Ritz Carleton. No pix for this event since they turned out way too fuzzy, but that's just as well. Let's just say, everyone had a reeeally good time!

And most of you probably know by now that our children's book publisher, Cathy Sandusky, retired recently and I've taken on the job here at Fitz & Witz. Cathy's sitting by a pool now (or, more likely, chasing her awesome dog Maddie around said pool!) in Florida and we all miss her tremendously. But I am cheered by the fact that I have a new editor, Solange Messier, giving me a hand with the non-fiction part of our (superb) list and generally making sure my head doesn't explode (so far, so good!).
I'm hoping to make regular blog updates part of my new job routine. Maybe I'll even be able to throw in a few book giveaways....Wish me luck!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bologna to Rome: Part Whatever - I'm pretty behind

We left off at the end of Day 1 of the fair, I believe. Well, Day 2 was fun. I met with many interesting and innovative publishers as well as international organizers who were sort of scouting to see what we are doing in Canada. The Singapore Arts Council was particularly interesting. I'm hoping that we can form a really productive partnership with them.
On Tuesday evening, Special Agent Ali and I went to the Egmont UK party. Apparently, getting an invie to this affair is quite a score - which is one reason (among many) why Ali is a special agent. What a great evening! We met a most gregarious UK agent as well as a British illustrator and her dad. Rosie Brooks is her name and you can see her illustrations here. They are sweet and remind me of some of my favourite Canadian illustrators. Rosie's dad used to work for Scholastic Canada back in the day - when they were located in Richmond Hill - and he was very enthusiastic in his admiration of all things Canadian. Rosie has an incredible body of work behind her and had been involved in some fascinating projects. Would you believe that she has even illustrated a guitar for Paul McCartney that he uses on stage? And check this out (#6)! Whoa. They gave me some interesting ideas that I'm hoping to pursue with other people in CanKidLit when I return. But I'm going to remain a bit mysterious about that for now...
Mario treated us very well!

Speaking of being mysterious, there is a fabulous restaurant I discovered in Bologna last year which Ali and I returned to this year. We love it to bits, but we don't want it to become common knowledge among the Fair frequenters since we want to be able to get our table there again every year LOL! Anyhow, when we went to ""our place on my last evening in Bologna, our wonderful server brought us free hors d'oeuvres and, instead of the prosecco we ordered, champagne. (See? Can't let this place get out of the bag!)

Fair participants enjoying the sunshine between halls 25 & 26
On Thursday, I had another busy morning at the Fair, keeping several appointments and welcoming the occasional drop-in before packing up the booth. This year really was very, very busy. When I wasn't roaming from appointment to appointment, I was manning our little table. As one person left, another would be waiting in line. Not bad for two metres of space in a collective booth with several other publishers! Though it certainly didn't hurt having Orca, Pembrooke, and Pajama Press surrounding me. Sometimes people would come in for one publisher and stay for the rest!

A gift from the Iranian IBBY delegation
In all, I'd say that the most requested genres were picture books and middle-grade novels. The teen novels and non-fiction weren't in demand this year, unlike last year. At least, not among the people I was meeting with. I was extremely happy to have had the picture books on my iPad and the fabulous colour sell-sheets and bookmarks in my binders (thank you again, Uma and Solange!)

And with the conclusion of the Fair, I had one last Bologna gelato in the beautiful sunshine and headed off to Rome.

The  trees were bursting into bloom, thanks to the fine weather!


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bologna Part 3: Lesson of the Day - Bus routes can be circuitous.Circular, even.

After scoping out the area where Bus #28 dropped me off, I figured it would be a piece of cake finding the pick-up point the next morning. It knew it had to be close - I could sense it - surely just across the street. So the next morning, I set out, confident that I had the whole route to the Fair sorted. But there just wasn't a stop for a bus heading in the opposite direction anywhere to be found. I walked back and forth, back and forth, ready to finally hail a cab (but, of course, there weren't any cabs available at 9 am) when it finally dawned on me. Yes, the shoe finally dropped.
The bus route is a loop. And my stop is at the end of this loop. So OF COURSE there's no correlating bus stop across the street. Well, duh.
Two minutes later, I was on a bus, heading to the fair.
But dang, my biceps are getting toned!

Good thing I've been doing a lot of superfluous walking.
Today was my "stay-at-home" day - in other words, I booked appointments with people which were held at the F&W booth in the Canada Stand. It was great! Everyone showed up pretty much on time, they were really enthusiastic about our books, and we ate chocolate together.
As soon as I finished talking to one person, someone else would come by, so between the scheduled and the unscheduled appointments, I was busy the whole day with barely time to grab lunch. It seems that the picture books are a big draw this year, though the novels are getting some attention too.

I am personally excited by the incredible illustration that is on display here. I only wish that I had more time to explore the other booths.

Dunno what the pastry thing is but it's full of nocciola awesomeness.
As I got off the bus at the end of the day, I noticed a farmers market right there in front of me. Since we have a handy little kitchen in our flat, I thought that it would be a good idea to make dinner for myself rather than having to go out again and sit in a restaurant by myself (Ali had dinner plans already). It was so much fun picking out vegetables, cheese, eggs, bread and (of course) dessert! I don't know why - it's not like I don't go grocery shopping every week at home. But this was novel, for some reason.
The food was great: salad, finnochio, zucchini omelette, and pastries (with tea, of course).
But alas, Dish Fairy doesn't make housecalls in Italy either. Apparently.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Lesson of the Day: Soup is Stupid Easy to Make, even if you're not in a kitchen.

After I arrived in Bologna, Ali and I went out for dinner and explored the neighbourhood.
There is a temporary Book Fair Book Store set up at the Piazza Maggiore for the duration of the fair, featuring books in Italian that have been translated from various languages. It's been hopping with activity every time I've walked by it.
Hanging with Lego Harry Potter, checking out the bookstore.
We went back to the restaurant that I went to several times last year. The staff is so friendly and the food is awesome. They'd renovated the place so we almost didn't recognize it. But there was no mistaking the owners!

Note: Ali wouldn't let me take any pictures of her b/c she wasn't feeling gorgeous or some fool thing. I'll get her next time!

On my first full day in Bologna, I set out good and early to set up our booth in the Canada Stand. I forgot to print out that particular email so I wasn't sure what time I was supposed to be set up by. I figured better early than late (For the record, F & W was finished first! Whoo hoo!).

Projected walk to bus stop
According to the map our hostess gave us, the bus stop for #28 to Bologna Fiere was at the corner at the end of our street. Well, there were half a dozen bus stops at the end of our street, but none of them was labeled # 28 (there are specific stops for specific bus routes here). I must have walked around for half an hour lugging bags of material till I thought my arms were going to fall off. Finally, I saw a bus labelled # 28 and I started running to the nearest stop - which, of course,wasn't for #28 so it didn't stop. I saw it stop about 50 yards farther along the road...and then leave before I could get there. Since it was Sunday, there wouldn't be another bus for an hour.
My ACTUAL walk to bus stop
Note: by this point, I wasn't anywhere remotely near the corner where I thought the bus stop would be.
(Upside: I racked up a few more kms in my quest to cover 2012 kms in 2012!)
Gave in. Took a cab.
I finally got to the booth and was relieved to learn that (a) I was plenty early and (b) all our boxes seemed to have arrived. Within a few minutes, after carefully disposing of enough packing peanuts to feed a Styrofoam elephant for a week, I had this splendiferous booth all set up:

Splendiferous booth of splendiferous books!
Because I can be smart sometimes, I had made note of the departure time for the next bus from the fairgrounds and managed to hop that one home. I also made a careful note of where the bus let me off - sure enough, it was across the street from the corner where I'd been looking for the stop earlier that day. So, logically, all I'd have to do is find the corresponding stop across the street in the other direction the next day. Always with the thinking, I am.

With the rest of the day ahead of me, I thought I'd go for a walk, get the obligatory gelato (a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do!), soak up the sun, buy some band-aids and disinfectant for the angry-looking knee, and then head back to the room.

That's when I made my poor sick hubby some homemade chicken soup - via Skype via Kate. We had fun, actually. She set up the laptop in the kitchen and I directed her. Apparently, it turned out just great, so good for Kate :) And good for what ails you, too.

I love my pressure cooker!
Stupid Easy Chicken Skype Soup
Chicken (two quarters will do), 
3 carrots,
3 stalks celery,
 1 green pepper, 
1 large onion(peeled). 
Scrub veggies - don't even bother chopping - throw all in pressure cooker with 1 tbsp garlic, 3 tbsp salt, poultry seasoning and enough water to cover.
Boil and let the rocker go nuts for about 15 min. and strain out broth.
Add noodles, rice or whatever.
 Done.