Yes, those words sum up my Labor Day weekend and believe it or not, they all converged into one climactic moment at the Holiday Inn in Decatur, Georgia. First some background information.
Many months ago I was invited to speak at the Decatur Book Festival (the largest independent book festival in the Southeast) and I jumped at the chance because I’d been there a few years ago and it was such a lovely festival. PLUS, my two sons were going with their respective soccer teams to Atlanta to compete in the Atlanta Cup Soccer tournament and Decatur was only 20 minutes outside of Atlanta --- the timing seemed perfect!
This is what I forgot… 30 kids travelling out of state can get awfully noisy at a hotel full of authors and other book lovers. So when I met amazing authors/bloggers at a breakfast organized by the fabulous Vania, I’d ask if they were staying at my hotel and then promptly apologize for all the kids. Carrie Ryan (author of The Forest of Hands & Feet) just laughed and asked if I meant the soccer team which she found fun & cute (except for the fact that someone had ding-dong ditched her door the day before). Still it was all going well…so far.
(l-r Nancy Werlin, Jackson Pearce, me, Carrie Ryan, (Vania & me)
Jennifer Lovelidge Jabaley, Marianne Mancussi Beach)
Then I walked around the festival before spending the afternoon on the soccer fields watching some intense soccer games. In the evening, I switched hats and went from Soccer Mom to Author again, just in time for the Author Reception. It was fantastic to meet such great writers and publishing experts. It was all very casual and I was lucky enough to hang out with these amazing people and talk books, upcoming projects and share a few laughs. I was even asked by Cinda to join her and some other authors for dinner afterwards…tons of fun and I got to meet two new 2011 debut authors - Myra McEntire and Victoria Schwab (can’t wait for their books to come out) and hang out with fellow Tenner Rachel Hawkins and the uber-cool Josh Lewis.
SO, you might be asking, where is the flaming cookie and how do your worlds collide in a fiery mess? I’m getting to that.
The next day, I don my role as Super Soccer Mom in the morning (unfortunately my sons’ teams lose) and rush back to Decatur to give my own book presentation at the Old Courthouse (an amazing venue). Here I meet the amazingly talented Noni Carter (author of Good Fortune). This young woman knocked me off my feet with her talent and intellect. She is a classical pianist, started writing her amazing debut novel at 13 and is now, at 19, a freshman at Harvard! Plus, she has an incredibly supportive family who were beaming with pride. Anyway, our presentation to a packed room went really well--- so well that Noni and I are thinking of doing more things together in the future! Afterwards, I signed lots of books and met a bunch of great readers and fans.
(Not the best picture, but my camera was acting a little wonky).
The Cookie Incident
Then it was time to head back to the hotel to unwind. I was pretty proud of myself for so efficiently multi-tasking the whole weekend and decided to confirm that night’s soccer dinner at the hotel. When I got to the front desk, who pops up behind me asking for a cab… Lev Grossman. Now, I’m a big fan of Lev Grossman for his book The Magicians and for his writing in Time magazine.
At the Author’s Reception I hadn’t approached him because so many people were coming up to talk to him, but now it was just the two of us. I turned around and introduced myself and he was actually polite enough to say he recognized ME! I quickly explained that it was probably just from the reception the night before, but still we had a chance to talk about his book and he was interested in talking about my book. We were bonding when the fire alarm goes off! Uh-oh. I mean…UH! OH!
I glance up to the second floor and see about seven pre-teen boys looking down at me and think Oh, no. Someone pulled the fire alarm. Please don't let it be one of my kids. But the chorus of heads from up above are all shaking their heads mouthing “not me” and then I see smoke coming from the indoor pool room/ business center. A real fire, you ask? No, just lots of smoke (maybe a really, really tiny fire). From what was later revealed it seems that “someone” (one of our soccer players) had “inadvertently” (whether this incident was a re-creation of something from Mythbusters is still up for debate) put a cookie in the microwave and set it for fifty minutes. Obviously, the cookie got scorched.
SO, there we are, Lev (I’m on a first name basis now) and me, watching the commotion of the fire department coming in, hearing the deafening hotel alarm and smelling the all-too-familiar odor of burned cookies. At that point, my role as soccer mom and author collided. I smiled weakly at Lev, told him that I’d be following him on Twitter (I’ve been a fan for a while) and that it was nice meeting him but soccer duty called (plus the soccer coach had already interrupted us to tell me that an emergency team meeting was being called). As I made my way upstairs to where fifteen pre-teen boys looked like deer caught in the headlights, I reminded myself that this might one day make it into one of my books, so I smiled and inhaled the lovely smell of charred chocolate chips that had now filtered throughout the hotel.
And, as a sure sign of either being a nice guy or curious as to whether charges will ever be brought against the team, Lev Grossman now follows me on Twitter. :-)