November 21, 2010

Adventures in New Jersey and New York

When Arthur Levine invited me to speak at the BK Book Festival in Montclair, NJ, I couldn't have imagined what a fun time I was in for.

The adventure began with a visit to speak to the 5th and 6th grade students at HBW Middle School in Verona, NJ.

This school is interesting because the front has a stately, traditional look and the back is completely modern.

Uber-librarian, Jen Kleinknecht, hosted my visit. She is TERRIFIC!

Then it was off to Watchung Booksellers, a small, warm independent bookstore. After buying a few books, I had the great pleasure of meeting, Margot, the owner.

Then it was off to Brookdale Park to crunch through leaves. Do you know how many years it’s been since I crunched through leaves?

I guarantee I looked like a little kid tromping through that beautiful park!

The next day, I was off to speak to the 7th grade students at West Essex Middle School. They certainly made me feel welcome!

Unlike in FL, where we have cafetoriums (cafeteria/auditoriums), there was a gorgeous auditorium with stadium seating.

After my talk, it was time to run a writing workshop in the media center with 25 enthusiastic students. We had sooooo much fun! The kids came up with funny, sad, touching writing to share. And the coolest thing was that the amazing librarian, Catherine Spinella, created recipes from the back of each of my books.

I will never admit to how many slices of Jewish apple cake and lemon squares I consumed. But I will admit to having a FANTASTIC time! Thank you, West Essex Middle School!

Saturday, my buddy Elysa, met me in NYC, as did my agent and her new baby and my editor and her new baby.

After a scrumptious lunch at the Theatre Row Diner, made special by the scrumptious babies I held and cuddled, Elysa and I took in a Broadway Show – my first. Next to Normal was fantabulous and got a much-deserved standing ovation.

Elysa and I also saw St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Times Square, part of Central Park and Rockefeller Center. We wondered why they cleared the ice at the rink, except for one couple. Suddenly, the man dropped to one knee and put a ring on the young woman’s finger in front of hundreds of people. They skated a victory lap to a love song by Elton John. What a great day!

The next morning, I spoke at the B'nai Keshet Synagogue for the BK Book Festival in Montclair, NJ. A great group of kids and adults filled the seats. It was fun chatting with everyone after the event. One man had gone to the same elementary, middle and high school that I had.

I can’t thank Arthur Levine enough for inviting me to be part of the festival. And Margot, owner of Watchung Booksellers, for providing books, support and good cheer.

Arthur Levine, Margot Sage-EL, Donna Gephart

When it was over, I got into my rental car with my best friend – Lola – my GPS, and she got me back to the airport.

I had a wonderful time in New Jersey and New York and made some amazing new friends, but it was great to get home to my guys, my dogs, my cat and this . . .


Arthur Levine said...

Donna, it was wonderful to have you at our festival! Your presentation was terrific, and the kids flocked to your books! Thanks again!

Jill N. said...

Welcome back!
Sounds like a great trip with lots of amazing people! I have a sudden urge for apple cake and lemon squares...can't imagine why! Hmmm....

Wild About Words said...

Thanks, Arthur, for inviting me. It was a wonderful experience.
Jill, thanks! It's good to be back. Just wish I had a few slices of that Jewish apple cake with me.