I am headed to Boca Raton, Florida for our sales conference. Last night, I spent some time packing and did a little fashion show, fussing over this shirt with this tie and these pants with those shoes. Sales Conference is where I present the books I’m publishing to our sales force in a freezing cold conference room that is decorated like a prom hall. Today, I woke up early to do some final things. The son of a very clean Italian mother, I decided I could get a jump on my spring cleaning by stripping the bed of all the sheets, comforter, duvet, and mattress cover and have them laundered while I’m in Florida. I walked to the dry cleaner and dropped everything off and headed to Duane Reade (one of my favorite stores: candles, deodorant cleaning supplies, cards…and produce!) for some last minute travel items. Showered. Drank a coffee and had a cherry Chobani. Hopped in a car with my friend Ken and headed to JFK, where we had Bloody Mary’s, chicken fingers and a Caesar salad. We then met up with our friend Jen and she and I raided Cibo, as is our tradition before work excursions. Lots of nuts and gummy products for our rooms. And these terrible, chalky fruit candies that are in the shape of Pac-Man fruits, bright bananas and oranges and lemons. They are disgusting, delicious, and oddly entertaining at once.
I am on a JetBlue flight, which is pretty empty. Listening to my girl Tori Amos and have my TV set on Bravo just in case the Beverly Hills Housewives reunion (part 2) comes on. My DVR freaked last night, and I missed it. Which saddens me more than I should admit. So now I’m grazing on snacks and doing absolutely no work work. This always happens to me. I love the quiet moment of flying and I love to have my headphones on and just zone out. I have a ton to read, including the thesis work of an NYU student whose defense panel I will sit on in about 6 weeks (this is my first time doing, so and I am dorkily excited). But instead, I write and tell you about my day. I have a very fantastic author coming to Boca Raton to speak to the sales force on Friday, and I should be thinking of how she should be introduced. It’s Giada De Laurentiis, and she’s writing this amazingly sweet chapter book series. She’s seriously awesome and I am definitely falling in love with her. She knows this. I drank too much white wine once over a lunch at Doug’s restaurant and told her as much. Blue Terra Chips just arrived. Time to snack and pray for housewives.
I am at the hotel, a pink and white thing that is really sort of over-the-top in that way that Florida does so well. I have re-showered, put on some new duds, and headed out to the Penguin family dinner, which will be full of many buffet choices — shrimp and steak and little canapé thingies and what’s that by the melting ice sculpture? About one million desserts. Lots of varying-stages of sunburned publishing people will eat and drink wine that is good but not that good. And I will merrily join them, buttering up rolls — and them — so they will have no choice but to love my presentations in the morning.
Three Last Things…
1. What’s up with the most enthusiastic photo in the history of this site?
Aw! Really? I was in a hotel with a very good friend, working on a project, and he is a great photographer (thanks, Scott!). And we got into this thing of wanting to see if we could get my iced coffee (which you can’t see in the shot I ultimately chose) to be in the picture, right at the edge. And we were laughing at how ridiculous this task was.
2. You have two children’s book series under your belt and, as a publisher at Penguin, you’ve focused on creating an affordable book program for kids. Pretty inspiring. Where did this passion for books and education start?
Thank you. That’s very nice of you to say. The truth? I hated reading as a kid. Hated hated hated. But my parents are avid readers, and they always found a way to get me to read something I liked. Choose Your Own Adventures were key — because they didn’t feel daunting. You didn’t have to read straight through from page 1 to the end. You hopped all over. I devoured the book, like candy. And that has been my goal as a writer and publisher: to give kids books that they really want to read. That are, well, delicious. That make them laugh and make them happy and feel accomplished. We even play with font sizes and margins in my group so books bulk thicker and feel like even more of an accomplishment when they are read. But don’t tell any kids that.
3. Did you ever get to watch the Housewives reunion show?
I sure did. On the AWFUL plane ride home from Boca. Which had turbulence for most of it — but not up-and-down turbulence — side-to-side. It was horrible. But I drank a wine or two and watched as the Beverly Hills Housewives went at it, while Andy Cohen, in his tight suit and snappy tie, did his best to referee. Loved every moment. Even with the twin baby boys behind me screaming and squawking the entire time. (One was actually named Francesco, so every time his mother said his name, I immediately thought someone was talking to me. It’s not every day I meet another Francesco, especially one who cries more than I do. And that’s a lot. Give me a good Pampers commercial, and the tears start.) Anyway, Lisa Vanderpump is my absolute favorite. She’s a dream come true. I want her to adopt me and push me on that flowered swing Ken made for her for their anniversary. That scene is amazing, where he presents it to her. As he pushes her on it, she’s just purring, “Dahling. Dahling.”