New York! I wanna be a part of it but baby it's cold outside!

TALL STORY is out in the US on the 8th of February!

My UK copy (right) meets its American cousin! They're not as similar as they look. The British version has yellow endpapers and under the dustjacket, a dark blue cover. The American version has a light blue cover and slightly different fonts on the spine. And I am told the American version is bigger by a fraction of a millimeter!
So what is an author to do if she lives way over on the other side of the Atlantic and her transportation budget is only just big enough to pay for a rowboat ... with no oars?!?

Win a trip to New York of course!

My lovely children's book organization SCBWI awarded me the Tribute Prize - a trip to New York to attend the 12th Annual Winter Conference - this year, appropriately named 'Take the Express to Success' - a bonanza of talks and events for children's book writers.

It would have been clever though if I'd checked the weather news before I left the UK. I was ready for cold weather. But I wasn't ready for this:

But I had snow plow envy. Something we didn't have when it snowed energetically in London recently (contrary to scenes you might see in costume dramas, London doesn't have snowy winters )  
Anyway ... I got to visit Random House which has the coolest lobby, the walls lined, floor to ceiling, with books it has published since the 1900s ...
Any book lover would be thrilled to stare at these walls.

And here's me just before security told me to stop taking pictures. Photo by Frankie Drogin
I got to meet my US editor AllisonWortche as well as the marketing, publicity and schools people at Random House Children's Books. They greeted me with cookies, so I completely forgot my plan to take a photo. They looked a little bit like this:
... except you'll have to imagine them wearing snow boots. It was very slushy in NYC!
And I got to see New York based friends. My friend Frankie from college days came up from Washington to hang out with me - it's a four hour bus ride from Washington but it took 10 and a half hours through a horizontal blizzard and drifting snow - plus she got involved in a rescue mission to extract bus passengers trapped on a turnpike.
Us back when. Photo by Jaime Unson

Hmm ...  x years later. At least I'm no longer wearing glasses the size of an Aquarium. Photo by Angelique Alvarez
Frankie made this for me:
It's a lunchpail with Tall Story's cover artfully applied to it! Thank you, Frankie!
The various friends I met up with all seemed desperate to feed me. So we had Filipino food at Grill 21 (today,  I'm being taken to Purple Yam in Brooklyn), hot chocolate in BOWLS with marshmallows the size of BOULDERS at the City Bakery, proper arteries busting breakfast at a real diner, delicious sashimi in a bowl of sushi rice at Sushi Yasuda. Friendship is sooo fattening. Am I the first to notice that?.

But the best menu (in children's book terms) had to be Sarabeth's at South Central Park

Benjamin had the 'Fat and Fluffy French Toast' ... which would be a good way to describe me when I get back from this trip!
As for tourism ...

I got to see stars.

The snow added more glisten to the lights at Times Square

But some of the statuary didn't look too happy about the snow.

Snow is fine ... you just have to have the right kind of footwear

We visited the massive American Girl shop - with its array of historical and heritage correct dolls, a hospital, a hairdressing salon, and a cafe (you don't have to bring your own dolls, there are dolls to attend to you at your table)

And we were very very amused by this surf dude paid to show his abs in the doorway of a surfing shop.
The shop had a video wall showing off the surf somewhere warm in real time.
And then of course there was the conference. I got to stay at the Grand Hyatt opposite Grand Central Station which was ... well ... grand.
My room! The light switches don't work unless you stroke them.
That dark square thing between the Empire State Building and Grand Central Station statuary is the Grand Hyatt. My room is one of those yellow squares on the 24th floor.
It was a HUGE conference - with 1200 delegates! That's a lot of children's book authors, illustrators and editors!
I'll be blogging over at Notes from the Slushpile about writerly things from the conference but suffice to say it was relentless - relentlessly inspiring!

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