On how I got ‘dorked’ at TLA (Texas Library Association)

My time at TLA (Texas Librarian Association) was short and sweet this year. Typically I like to spend a few days with the librarians. But this year, with my book deadlines, I had to get in and out and back to Austin.

(Pictured left: Me with one of my favorite librarian friends, Ms. Painter)

I missed our Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels reception on Wednesday. I left in plenty of time to be there, but I had a rental car snafu that put me into Houston 2 hours later than planned. I ended that evening having dinner with my friend and future collaborator Chris Barton, and a librarian friend.

On Thursday I delivered a keynote presentation at the Black Caucus Round Table Breakfast. And guess what, they truly do eat breakfast at round tables! (As seen above.) My presentation lasted about 20 minutes, and I sure had a lot of fun delivering it. I shared the stage with DORK DIARIES creators Rachel Renee Russell and Nikki Russell (who illustrates the books). During their keynote, Nikki “dorked” me out, creating a cartoon of me in their signature stick-man style (below). DORK DIARIES is a family affair. Nikki Russell is the daughter of Rachell Russell, and there was even talk about bringing on a second daughter to help in the book business. Really nice people, I enjoyed my time with them.

In the above photo, Nikki Russell sketches a picture of me. Funny thing is, I took the picture because it was cool watching her draw. I had no idea she was drawing me. As she sat there, she probably thought, “Sit down, man, and put the camera away, so I can finish drawing you.”

And then they presented the drawing to me and other audience members that Nikki had ‘dorked.’ As Nikki said, “It’s cool to be a dork.” Sure is!

Immediately following the keynotes, I signed DUKE ELLINGTON’S NUTCRACKER SUITE with Charlesbridge. Wasn’t a huge signing, but there was a steady trail of librarians and friends who dropped in to visit with me. Austin’s writing community is so supportive.

The photo above, compliments of author Greg Neri, was taken at an evening reception.

That afternoon I participated in a panel discussion entitled BOOKS, BOYS, AND BOXING: MOTIVATING BOYS TO READ. Panelist included authors Greg Neri, Charles R. Smith, Mat Johnson, Joseph Anthony Rivers. This was such a distinguished panel. Folks often kick around the word ‘humbled,” so much that it loses it’s meaning. But with this group, I. WAS. TRULY. HUMBLED. As defined: Lower in dignity or importance. These guys, their comments and discussion was smart, articulate, inspiring, well-informed. Me, not so much. But it was still an honor to be included.

That evening the Black Caucus held a reception for us authors. It was elegant and we were treated like royalty. Thank you Black Caucus Roundtable.

I ended the evening sharing dinner with author Charles R. Smith Jr. at the House of Blues.



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