Friday, October 25, 2013

The Faces & Places Behind The Art...Part 2

As we left Toronto, we wound our way down through upstate New York including a visit to Niagara Falls.  It was a beautiful, peaceful part of the journey which would have been relaxing if we had taken time to enjoy the scenery.  Instead, we watched it through car windows as we worked our way into Massachusetts.

This part of the country is filled with history...literary & otherwise.  Our first stop in Massachusetts was Amherst.  It seems that something about Amherst in particular develops or attracts children's authors.

 In fact, there is an entire museum dedicated to children's books there.  At The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art we got an up close look at a Very Hungry Caterpillar...

And got "Seriously Silly" with Mo Willems and his characters (Knuffle Bunny is my favorite!)

The absolute highlight of this stop was spending an afternoon with Norton Juster & hearing him tell stories from his life & experience as an author.  The Phantom Tollbooth is one of Jacob's all time favorite books. Somehow, I missed this book during my childhood, but reading it as an adult showed me that it has a magical appeal for kids of all ages!  If you haven't read it...I highly recommend that you correct that as soon as possible!

On the way out of Amherst, we took a step away from modern children's literature to get a glimpse into history as we drove by the former home of Emily Dickinson.  It is now a museum that was closed the day we were there.  Robert Frost also had a home in the area, but we had plans to meet up with a friend & ran out of time, so we didn't get to see it.

After Amherst, we spent a week in Plymouth.  It was amazingly old & beautiful...and the first time on the trip that I got to walk on the beach! While in Plymouth, we took a train over to Boston for the day, where we walked through history down the freedom trail, and took a ride on the T (the oldest subway system in America) to Harvard for my literary stop of the day.

On the drive to Plymouth, I had convinced Jacob to put on the audio version of one of my new favorite books,  Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park, which is set in Boston.

Naturally, we had to take a walk through Harvard Square. We tried our first (and probably last!) Dunkin Donuts Coolatta to really feel in the moment.

Unfortunately, our stop fell two weeks before the release party for Jessica's latest book, so we didn't get to meet her. However, I felt a little bit of a connection when she posted this picture to her facebook page not too long after I sent her the one above.

Realizing that we had missed a stop we had planned & that it didn't add much time to our trip, we traveled back across Massachusetts to Springfield to see the Dr. Seuss Memorial Sculpture Garden, and it was absolutely worth the trip!

After our detour to Springfield, we moved on to The Big Apple, where we spent most of our time in Brooklyn with an old college friend of Jacob's.  Then we backtracked a little to visit Sleepy Hollow.  Unfortunately, due to a technological malfunction, we lost our picture of the headless horseman statue, but here are a few examples of the beauty that inspired the legend along with Washington Irving's grave.

Our next destination was one that I had been wanting to visit for several years...Boonsboro, MD.  If you aren't a Nora Roberts fan, you probably have never heard of this tiny town.  She has a couple of different author personas & writes in several different genres, but I'm mainly a fan of her trilogies...especially those with a hint of the paranormal.  Her latest complete series is the Inn Boonsboro Trilogy...set in her actual hometown.  It was the perfect opportunity to step into a story because the series is based fairly closely on the real town.  If you are a fan of Nora's, it's possible you'll recognize these locations!

The surprising part was that about halfway through our trip, Nora announced that she was doing a signing in Boonsboro for the anniversary of Turn The Page, her husband's bookstore...and it just happened to be scheduled for the weekend that we were already planning to go.

And the next day, she was having a brunch for a group of around 50 fans at her son's restaurant. I was one of the lucky ones who was able to get a ticket before they sold out!  So, I got the chance to hang out with her along with a group of fun ladies and chat about books, and Jacob was happy to avoid the Nora mania while enjoying a quiet pizza at Vesta.

Fun Fact:  At the signing, we mentioned to Nora that we were on a journey around the eastern half of the US.  She asked me what I was going to do for my husband since he was patient enough to come to her signing with me.  I told her that we had started the trip at a convention where we met George R. R. Martin.  Her mouth just dropped open in surprise.  We didn't have much time to talk during the signing, but when she came to my table during brunch, she remembered me & took a few minutes to gush Game of Thrones love.  It was a lot of fun to see one author getting giddy & fangirly over another author!

Speaking of being fangirly...I had imagined getting this picture from the moment we decided we were going to Boonsboro.  My wonderfully accommodating husband took direction without actually realizing until after the fact that the door on the front of the book I was holding was the door I was sitting in front of. 

As we worked our way down the east coast, we got to enjoy the beauty & history of Washington DC as well as the beaches of North Carolina. While on the NC Coast, we stopped in for a quick visit at New Bern, the hometown of Nicholas Sparks.  It's a quaint little waterfront town that also happens to be the birthplace of Pepsi!  It turns out, they also decorate their fire hydrants....which was probably my favorite part of the town!

But the beautiful beaches that I had pictured while reading his books were a little further down the coast....

Finally, on our way back west, we were able to sneak in one last signing during my birthday week!  While in Charlotte, NC, we met Aprilynne Pike.  I picked up her book Wings several years ago off of the Target shelf because the cover was pretty & I needed a new book to read, and was pulled into her world of faeries & trolls.  If you like YA stories & haven't heard of her, check out this series.  It's a lot of fun.  She just started a new series with her book Earthbound.

From North Carolina, we worked our way back home to Arkansas.  Even though our journey had officially come to an end, I heard about a signing in Memphis, TN coming up a couple of weeks later...and after three months on the road, a 2 hour road trip seemed like nothing!  So, we took a day trip to meet Tracey Garvis Graves on her Covet release tour.  It was a fairly small event, so I got to chat with Tracey a little more than some of the other authors I met along the way.  She was very sweet & seeing her shout out to me on Facebook that evening completely made my day...and was the perfect ending to my author/book tour of 2013.

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