“April is for Authors”

I’m back from hanging out with two dozen authors and about 1,000 kids at “April is for Authors,” a popular and well-run festival in Palm Beach, Florida. Let’s see, what did I do down there…

– I palled around with Tyler Whitesides, author of the “Janitors” series. Kids regard him as a flat-out rock star — I have never seen kids get so starstruck about a writer. He literally could not walk around town without kids running up to him, asking for photographs.

– I was on a panel with Chris Grabenstein (“Escape from Lemoncello’s Library”) and Lisa Graff, ostensibly on the subject of puzzles in fiction, though we wound up covering the whole writing waterfront — first drafts, rewrites, finding the perfect ending, etc.

– All the authors were asked to do two sessions of a seminar about whatever we wanted, and I thought I might teach kids how to write mysteries. Looking through the program, though, I kind of panicked — I was the only one doing something “teachy.” Everybody else was talking about how they wrote their latest book, or “How I Became a Writer,” or something like that. Well, whatever — I didn’t have a backup plan. I would do my seminar with whoever showed up. But it turned out great. I had a decent crowd for both sessions, and while I stumbled a bit because it was such a new presentation, there were teenage writers taking notes and asking questions. I was very pleased.

– Oh, and the day before I had an excellent school visit at Sunset Palms Elementary School, where I spoke to something like 50,000 kids. Or maybe my memory is playing tricks on me. It’s a big school, though, that’s for sure.

– More name dropping? Sure! Somewhere there’s a selfie of me and Terry Trueman that I hope I get to see at some point. I got to chat with Alan Silberberg, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, the poet Robert Forbes, and A.S. King. I resisted telling A.S. how much I like her name because it can also be respaced as a word. I suspect she’s heard that before.

So, a very nice few days, and I signed a whole bunch of books to boot. Great to be home, though, of course, and to see my kids when I woke up this morning.

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