Archive for September, 2009

Huge, huge, HUGE thanks to SIBA…

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Honestly, when I headed off to SIBA, I didn’t really understand what I was attending.  On several levels.

I was, of course, happy to be invited, and excited to meet people (that’s always fun).  But it didn’t occur to me that SIBA is, really, where all the most devoted and committed book lovers gather.

When you go to a writing conference, it’s all about your own writing.  That’s fun and the conversations are smart, but everyone is there for themselves. To promote themselves. That’s what I’m used to.  As a writer, I was worried nobody would come to my SIBA reading, which was late at night, at the end of a long day.

Boy, was I wrong!  It was a wonderful reading!  All the other readers were amazing, Marjory Wentworth was a wonderful host, and the audience was fabulous, excited, still listening at the end of 12 hours of conference.

Because SIBA is where all the indie booksellers in the south go, each year, to connect and refuel. They  talk about books and how best to get them out into the world, and into the hands of the right readers.  But unlike professors or authors or publicists or editors (who are all awesome, of course) booksellers like this don’t HAVE to promote books.  These are small-businesspeople, who could, if they wanted to do so, sell something else. They could sell beer. They could sell widgets. They sell BOOKS!  They are devoted.  They have made a choice.  They’re doing a kind of mission.

It was inspiring and touching and important for me to meet these people. Many of them, like my new BFFs in Forest City, NC, serve (and it IS service, what they do) small populations in out of the way places.  Where they organize author events and function as a kind of cultural center.

Meeting them, I was reminded of the (sadly now gone) incredible Louie’s Bookstore Cafe. As a kid in Baltimore, my life was altered by the poetry and punk-rock comics I found at Louie’s.  I felt I owned the place. It belonged to me, and I belonged to it.

For kids all over the south, the dedicated booksellers of SIBA are providing that sort of experience. They’re selecting books carefully, talking to their customers, maybe even permitting kids-without-money to sit on the floor and read books they can’t afford to buy. From Malaprops to Park Road to Regulator to Gothic Bookshop to Fireside to Bound-to-Be-Read to Acapella to… ah, hell, just go visit them all over at Marc’s site! I only wish I’d had a chance to meet everyone.

Can you imagine the difference between being a nerdy-reader-eleven-year-old (like I was) in Forest City, NC… and being that same girl, WITH a wonderful caring Indie bookstore in your town?  It’s a HUGE thing. It might be the difference between becoming a writer, and not becoming a writer. No way to tell. But it matters.

Now, for the first time, I’m thinking about the constellation of such stores, in small places.  And how vital they are to intelligent human discourse and education in general. How they build culture. I’m thinking of booklovers, young readers, writers. Particularly in out of the way places.

What Wanda Jewell has built with SIBA is astounding, and exciting, and it reminded me of who I want to be.

Of course, the conference was just plain fun, too. I got to eat nachos with Deb Wiles, and Ken Wheaton introduced me to the sweet pain of Booker’s (ironic, no?) bourbon.  Marc Fitten was my (as always) partner in crime, and I ran into old friend Ted Lee. I got to meet Twitter pals Nikki Leone,  Rich Rennicks and Robert Gray.  And made new friends in Susan Gregg Gilmore and Janet Geddis. There’s no way I can mention it all here. I got to meet and see so many wonderful people.  If I met you, but haven’t mentioned you, I mean to. I didn’t meet anyone who didn’t inspire me.  It was THAT kind of experience.

Because that’s where the wonderful people are, in bookstores.

And I’d like to promise, now, that I will come visit any store affiliated with SIBA. By golly, I will! I will get there on my own steam, at some point, in some way. I will bring silly craft projects and talk to kids.   Small groups are fine.  Or one lonely girl who dreams of being a writer.  I will be there, devoted.  If the bookstores can do it, I’ll do it too.

I just might have to bring my kids…

Thanks, SIBA!  Really.  For all you do.

Let’s hang out in DC!!!

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

As you may know, I’m a fool for conferences, festivals, workshops… really I just enjoy any opportunity to get together with smart people and talk about cool stuff.

And yeah, I may *also* like hotel bars, but that’s not the REAL reason I go to these things.


Well, not this one, anyway.

The people involved in the kidlitosphere–the world of childrens’ lit blogging–are some of the most interesting, diverse, supportive, intelligent people I’ve ever met.  Last year, when they hosted this conference, I wasn’t able to make it. When it was announced in DC this year, I made a promise to myself that I’d go.

So there I’ll be, October 17, in DC, hanging out and talking books, blogs, and goodness knows what else…

I suggest you do the same.

And… ummm… yeah, you *might* see me in the hotel bar.  It’s not impossible.


The calm insanity of fall…

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Okay, so here in Atlanta, we’re underwater.   Thank goodness, we, the Snyder-Poma clan, are safe and dry. But things around us are crazy.  Trees down. Canoes in the streets. Puddles everywhere. As a result, schools are closed.  And just coincidentally, the car is in the shop, so we’re housebound and playing hooky.  Lots of TV and snackfood and dancing around in our PJs.

This sort of day  is always nice.  The unexpected absence of mobility. Like a snow day.  “Well, we can’t be expected to actually DO anything today.”

But tomorrow life will begin again.  We’ll  get ready for our next adventure.  Clean the car and pack the bags and charge the phone.  Ready ourselves for thejourney.

First, we’ll go to Greenville, SC, for the SIBA Trade Show. Then, we’ll head out from there and drive north, for Yom Kippur and Succot in Baltimore with family.

This is a long trip. Three weeks on the road, just me and the boys.  We have a wedding (for dear old friends) in Ithaca, and a poetry reading in Brooklyn, a blogger conference in DC, and one for librarians in Frederick. I’ll be meeting up with some wonderful twitter friends, and chatting with some nice media folk.

But also, we’ll have lots of empty days, relieved of our usual surroundings and schedule.  I intend to eat pizza at Scittinos, and visit the Red Canoe for a spinach muffin and books, and walk through Herring Run Park, and hang around the tire playground in Catonsville.  Just be home, in Baltimore, for several weeks.  I’m looking forward to it.

Oh, and… ahem… did I mention I have SPRINGSTEEN TICKETS!?


In sooooooo many ways, I’m going home.

Shana Tova!!!!!

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Happy birthday, world.

Or whatever!

Get you some honey, and get you some wine.

Big news…

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Lewis is out of diapers.


(other things are happening too–book covers and Jewish holidays and our amazing earth, spinning on its axis– but they all pale in comparison.  Or maybe they “pail” in comparison. Heh.)



Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

Do you remember a game called Squares from your childhood? It involved racing around in big concrete squares (Like, the squares on a sidewalk) and never stepping on a crack.  Usually we played Squares in front of the library, or in the schoolyard.  The object was just to keep moving–racing around– and stay in the game.  The only thing you couldn’t do was to step in someone else’s square.  You couldn’t place a foot in a square already occupied by a foot.  If you did, you were out. And if ever you ended up with your legs in two diagonally placed squares, with an empty square behind you, someone else could Knock you.  In Baltimore this meant that, very literally, they could place a leg through your legs, and ram your body with their body. If you fell over when they did this, you were out. If you managed to resist them, *they* were out. If you scraped your knee and cried about it, you were a candyass, and you might have to each lunch alone tomorrow.

Of course, not everyone played squares. Some people played, “make up really offensive cheers using as many cusswords as possible” and some people played, “cut class” and some people played “war” and some people played “ask your teacher if you can sit in the classroom at recess and help her grade papers.”