Monday, April 27, 2009

My weekend in Newburyport

It's going to be impossible for me to blog about my weekend at the Newburyport Literary Festival without exposing the terrible truth about how star struck I am over meeting my literary heroes. So to hell with it--I'm not even going to try to play it cool. Consider this a warning: If you have a low tolerance for gushing, you may as well stop reading right now. This is going to get treacly.

Honestly, the whole weekend was like catnip for me. First of all, I got to hang out with one of my best friends and favorite writers, Myfanwy Collins. I spent a good amount of time with her, her husband and baby, which was a rare and wonderful treat. I love them to pieces. The one sad thing thing about the weekend was saying good-bye because I don't know when I'll see them again.

The weekend kicked off with an opening ceremony on Friday, followed by a Meet the Authors dinner. My guest at that event was author Michael Palmer, who's as kind and generous as he is talented. He's a treasure ... and sometimes I can't believe I'm friends with someone who got a blurb from President Bill Clinton on one of his books. (Me: "Too bad you couldn't you get a quote from someone important.")

I was excited to see another very talented friend at the dinner, Liz Willard. I've known Liz online for years, and was so thrilled to meet her in person. She's a doll ... just as I knew she'd be. Also, Liz wrote a terrific book and has great representation, so I suspect she'll have a publishing deal very soon. Good luck, Liz!

The author I most wanted to meet over the weekend was Elinor Lipman. She was at the dinner Friday and I was stalling, waiting for the perfect moment to approach her. Finally, Michael Palmer dragged me over there. There was no reason for me to have hesitated. She's warm and charming and open and friendly. What a treat to meet her! Of course, I grabbed a photo op ...

It was a great party, and I have to admit that one of my favorite moments was when someone asked me if I was Anita Shreve. Ha!

On Saturday morning, I did a book panel with DeLauné Michel, author of THE SAFETY OF SECRETS, which I read and loved. She's smart, talented and outgoing (not to mention beautiful!) and I think the two of us kept the talk pretty lively. A special shout-out to Leslie Hendrickson for doing such a great job moderating. Here are some snapshots from the book signing that followed the talk:

I was thrilled that my friend Meg from CafeMom came to the event. What a sweetheart! It meant so much to me that she was there.

I attended several intriguing book events on Saturday afternoon, got to hang out with Myf and the gang some more, and then went to a party at home of Andre Dubus III. I won't gush about his brilliance because you're already well aware of that, but I will tell you that he is also warm and kind and one other thing no one ever mentions because it seems too shallow a thing to say about a literay god but I'm going to say it anyway: he is drop dead gorgeous. No pics, alas.

I did finally get to meet the real Anita Shreve face-to-face at the party, and she's just lovely and down-to-earth. The party was loud and so it was hard to have a conversation, but I got to chat with her again the next morning at breakfast, as we stayed at the same charming B&B, The Essex Street Inn, which is much prettier than it looks in this photo I snapped.

Other authors I got to meet and chat with over the weekend include Eric Kraft, Ann Easter Smith, Judith Moffatt, Kate Braestrup and Julia Alvarez. I also want to give props to the people who planned and ran this extraordinary festival, Vicki Hendrickson and Jennifer Entwistle. I can't even comprehend what it takes to pull off an event of this magnitude. Talk about a labor of love!

Finally, passionate kisses to the town of Newburyport itself. What a place! I fell headfirst in love with this charming, beautiful, cultured community. It's my version of heaven.

Thanks for reading this far and tolerating such a sloppy valentine. One day I'll learn to be a proper blogger and post snarky, disparaging comments about people. Or maybe not ...



Myfanwy Collins said...

Was glorious to spend so much time with you--wish it could have been more! I miss you!!! Come back soon! xoxoxo

Leslie Hendrickson said...

Thanks for the shout out, Ellen! And thanks so much for coming. Check out the Daily News for a story: It was on the front page of the print addition!

Ellen said...

Myf ... thank you, my friend! Nothing would make me happier than coming back soon.

Leslie ... you're welcome! And very cool about the Daily News story. Thanks again!!

Maryanne Stahl said...

sounds divine! I know you will channel all that positive energy into your writing, so the blessing will be doubled!

wish I could have been there...

A Beautiful Mind said...

It was treat to listen to you and DeLaune. Thank you for signing my copy of The Smart One. I am more than halfway through and loving every word.

Ellen said...

Maryanne, if you had been there it would have been perfect!!

ABM, so glad you're enjoying The Smart One! Hope you liked your Thai lunch, too. :)