Why I Write For Kids (Reason #4)

Okay, I'll confess my least noble motive: writing books for kids can provide a bit of glam and glitz. Yes, my fellow desperate housewives, the writing life is studded with moments that brighten the midlife doldrums. Join me for 24 hours of fun at the American Library Association Convention in New Orleans (where you proudly join 18,000 other attendees in the city's first major post-Katrina Convention) ...
You arrive at the Loews Hotel and discover that Random House has reserved a king deluxe suite for you on the fifteenth floor with a stunning view of the river. You shower and change into the birthday-splurge outfit presented by your stylish mother-in-law with writing appearances in mind.

You walk to the Morial Convention Center and (finally) find the room assigned to your "Books Between Cultures" program. Fighting nerves, you deliver your presentation to a kind-faced audience, bolstered by the undeniable fact that you are wearing fantastic footwear (from same mother-in-law who understands your immigrant-ish inability to spend huge sums of money on shoes).

Relieved that your program is done, you trot off to a cocktail party hosted by Random House at the Louisiana Children's Museum. Upon arrival, you and other authors and illustrators are pinned with red roses and told to mingle with bunches of lovely librarians. Gladly, you do, pausing only to sample crab cakes, coconut shrimp, and stuffed mushrooms. You meet literary luminaries and feel like a star yourself, even though most guests peer at your rose and nametag with a blank look (exceptions include fellow blogger Fuse No. 8, who shyly returns your impulsive hug).

Next, Charlesbridge is hosting dinner for their authors and illustrators at the Palace Cafe on Canal Street, where you feast on Mahi Mahi with stone-ground grits and raspberry crumble, also stealing a bite of editor Judy O'Malley's dark chocolate extravaganza. You chat and laugh and talk books until almost midnight, when you finally head back to your hotel.

Sunday begins with more food -- munching on eggs and toast in your room while clad in the spotlessly white bathrobe provided by the hotel. Back at the Convention Center (now wearing a travel-friendly Indian-ish dress you bought in Tanzania at 1/100th of the price your mother-in-law paid for the other outfit), you sign books and banter at the Little Brown and Random House booths. Finally, you sprint around the enormous exhibit floor, pick out a few graphic novel freebies for your teenagers, and race to catch your flight.
Now you're back in the Massachusetts suburbs confronting an empty fridge and mounds of laundry. But -- ah! You've had your glittery 24 hours, your next story is waiting to be written, and there's really no place like ... the fire escape. It's good to be home.

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