Sunday, November 15, 2009

Savannah Bound and Returned

There was supposed to be a preposting about heading to Savannah for the weekend but my schedule has been a bit messed up of late. I can't seem to do much of anything in a timely manner like I used to but hopefully that will be straightend out soon.

So I headed to Savannah, Georgia, on Friday, November 13 and have returned home today. It was a very good trip.

I left the house about 6:15 Friday morning to meet up with one of the librarians at a branch library in Savannah to get some info to take to the school I was visiting. I got to the school about 5 minutes later than I was supposed to get there but they were okay with that because I had a mix-up about meeting the librarian as the branch is closed on Fridays and I didn't know I was supposed to knock for them to hear me. I really had a pretty good drive down there, followed my Google printed out map and it was perfect (I'm sure my GPS, had it been working would have taken me a different way to the branch library and the school).

The school visit was awesome. Joseph Martin Elementary School teachers are doing many things right in my book. The kids were great and helpful and very smart. There were about 90 something fourth graders and four teachers, the art teacher came in and the media specialist (I think the media specialist said there was one other adult there, possibly the principal). I started out my presentation with a little background about my stories and asked them if they knew what geography was and one little boy answered with the perfect answer. So it made me feel very proud that the teachers were actually teaching geography to the students. Then we talked about writing some and they all knew characters and setting but struggled with plot, but eventually came around to it.

I left the school and headed to the hotel. Now I've never been Savannah and had I not needed some downtime to rest before dinner, I would have done some more exploring of the area because it is an absolutely beautiful area. Heading to the Hotel on I-95 I saw this sign for "book warehouse" and "uniform outlet" in a factory outlet place coming up. Now you all know me, I love to read and seeing a sign for a book warehouse was something I couldn't pass up too easily. I stopped in to see what they were about and my, my, my you wouldn't believe the kinds of things they have there. Hardbound books for 99cents and $1.99 and other things for 50 cents and fun stuff for less than $3 - VBS packets that had like 12 or 24 projects for $1.99; canvas tote bags (small maybe 6 x 6 or a little bigger) for 50 cents. I picked up some of the canvas bags that had USA flags on them (30 at first) thinking I would send them to the kids in Mr. Hughes' class for participating in NaNo this month. But then an idea struck me Saturday morning, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Anyway I purchased the thirty bags and thirty (30) little book things for keeping track of music and your friends' music and magazines and whatever - favorites a kid might want to keep track of (I think they can put a picture in the front of them). These include little pens and they weren't be 50 cents - a real bargain. I also picked up a couple of Christmas mini totes (I'm talking not much bigger than a business card size, if that) that contained some Christmas note cards, a mini frame, and a pen for like 99 cents. I also bought a mystery novel paperback for 99 cents. I walked out of the store having only spent about $38 total - 30 bags, 30 mini notebook things, 3 Christmas mini totes/cards/frames things, and a novel - lots of stuff for the small price; possibly one more thing but I can't remember right off the top of my head.

I left there and headed to the hotel. I was worried that my cards wouldn't take and that I'd end up spending the night in my car again - not something I would have done. I got to the Hilton Garden Inn by the airport a little before 5 and checked in. Kimberly was behind the desk. She was super nice to me and helped me with a ton of stuff. My fear of cards not going through as a credit card was right. I asked Kimberly if she would possibly take a check, knowing that I would definitely be good for it Monday since that is payday. She didn't even flinch. She said, yes she would take a check. Yay!!!!! So I got checked in and then she asked if I was planning on eating at the hotel for the weekend. She comped me breakfast for both mornings. How super cool is that? (Apparently the breakfast, since they do not have a continental breakfast at this particular hotel, runns about $9.95 for all you want of the oatmeal, grits, paastries, cereal, and then special orders of eggs, french toast, and other things on the menu - cooked to your order. It was great getting up yesterday and having breakfast at the hotel, not that I wouldn't have been okay with stopping at McDonald's or something for breakfast, but this was so much better.) Connie was very sweet in the American Grille (which is the restaurant in the hotel). She brought my french toast to the table, chatted with me, was very pleasant and helpful too.

Friday night I headed to the Live Oak Bull Street Branch Library for the authors' dinner, a low country boil meal that was very awesome. I met up with some folks I knew (Elizabeth Dulemba, illustrator and author of Soap! Soap! Soap!, and Karen Petit, author of the Shandon Ivy League mystery series). I met a couple of other folks but didn't really get a chance to meet up with them on Saturday (it was busy). In the library, there is a room where authors and illustrators get to sign the walls and decorate with their art. I signed under Karen's name because it was a pretty open space there. I wrote my tag line - Where will the adventure take you next? and signed it adding Author of the JGDS 50-state series, and of course dated it. Karen's message had been up since 2007 which was her first time being there. Karen and I sat together for dinner (which was kind of buffet style and we sat wherever we could find a seat) in the "reading room" (this is the room were everyone was signing and drawing). We sat with Sheri Coffey (sorry if it is misspelled, Sheri, as I haven't got your card with me right now, but will correct it if it is incorrect) and her friend (both local authors from Savannah) and an illustrator and his wife and daughter joined our table (I think his name was Michael something - but he drew pictures and labeled things as the "The Library Dragon"). They were cool to chat with. They were from Atlanta.

After dinner I headed back to the hotel. I got back to my room about 9:30 or so and was very tired. I think I was online for about half an hour or forty-five minutes before I shut down and went to bed. I was overtired so didn't sleep well. But I did get up and was ready for the day or so I thought I was.

I headed to the Forsyth Park in Savannah after stopping at Walmart for a couple of items. The Live Oak Libraries Savannah Children's Book Festival is awesome. I am so looking forward to next year's event. I will probably try to get a couple of school visits in next year (going down on Thursday night and spending the weekend down there).

I was running a bit late getting to the park and in the process of setting up, the crowds started almost immediately. I had about 350 bookmarks with me and some stickers and other state stuff that I usually give away as my freebie promotional items. Well the idea struck me on the way to the festival to use the bags and some flag pens (I had those from previous events) as prizes for a little contest I could run. That was the highlight of many folks' day trying to guess the mystery states to win a prize. I signed and gave out over 325 bookmarks (give or take a few either way). The library had also provided the kids with these little "autograph" booklets they had made up - some construction paper covers with several sheets inside, put together with those brass brads. So not only was I signing my bookmarks and handing them out, I was also signing the booklets. I didn't keep track of how many I signed but I know it was a ton of them - lol. At any given moment, it seemed I had about 10 or 20 people (adults and kids) around my table which was great (exposure for me and the company and my illustrator). I had a hard time taking a break. Finally one of the librarians or volunteers came to my table and allowed me to take a bathroom break. I got to talk with a couple of authors on that side of the fountain near where the portapotties were set up - Karen included.

After the festival, I had decided to go back down the highway (opposite direction of the hotel) to the book warehouse and snatch up some more tote bags. I bought every one they had (about 18) and a couple of other things spending about $13 this go round. I wanted to try Perkins' Restaurant for dinner which happened to be right in front of the outlet mall area. So I was heading that way anyway and it just made the voyage better that they were right there together. I ate dinner first and then went to the book warehouse place. Perkins' was great - I had country fried steak (not had in a long time) and for dessert had a Chocolate Chipper Sundae (two good sized chocolate chip cookies on the side of a bowl of ice cream topped with hot fudge sauce and whipped cream and chocolate chips; now this was not a small bowl by any means - it was a cereal bowl or even what some would consider a soup bowl.) I was satisfied when I left there.

Got up this morning about 6:45 (had a wake up call in for 6 this morning but somehow I had put the phone on hold and so nevver got my call - I had placed the phone on the bed since it was on the table on the side I don't sleep on and I knocked it during the night and when I put the handset back on - I must have hit hold or something). So I made it home about 12:15 or so and the drive home was perfect - hardly any traffic, bright and sunny and no problems on any road I was on.

If you all want to visit any place, I recommend Savannah as a must see. Next year, I plan on allowing myself some extra time to explore a bit more and see more of the beautiful area. I also recommend staying at any of the Hilton Hotels (become a Hilton HHonors member and earn points for free nights) because they really know how to treat people. Connie of the American Grille of Hilton Garden Inn Savannah Airport was very personable and Kimberly, she was personable as well, and seemed to bend over backwards to help all the people.

I've been told I will be invited back next year so I'm glad to hear and I'll be staying again at the Hilton Garden Inn Savannah Airport. As soon as I know what date it will be, I plan on making my reservations. See you all in the postings, and if you happen to be in the Savannah area next November, come join the JGDS at the Savannah Children's Book Festival at Forsyth Park in Historic downtown Savannah.

1 comment:

Rain-drop said...

Elysabeth and JGDS, I am so glad you are doing well! The events sound fantastic, and I love hearing about how enthusiastic the children are for the books.

good luck with future events!

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