I was a panel moderator at the Brooklyn Book Festival. It was called "A Great Big Beautiful World" and was filled with star-studded authors.
In the picture on the left is Sonia Manzano, actress, author of 2013 Pura Belpre Honor Book The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano and Sesame Street icon. Sonia was the first Maria on Sesame Street and she wrote for that program too.
Next to her is the award-winning and Emmy-nominated screenwriter (of films like Daddy Day Care and The Shaggy Dog) Geoff Rodkey. Geoff is the author of the extremely funny adventure series, The Chronicles of Egg.
On the far right is Katherine Applegate, the 2013 winner of the John Newbery Medal for the years most distinguished contribution to children's literature. Katherine won for her beloved book, The One and Only Ivan.
I'm the one in the crazy-colored scarf. The picture was taken moments before the discussion started.
Here's what I was thinking when the picture was being taken:
The average person runs at about 8 miles per hour (random fact that I know because besides being a writer, I'm also a librarian-and librarians are fountains of odd trivia and random facts)
The location of the Brooklyn Book Festival is about 120 miles from where I live in South Jersey (Google Maps)
Subtract three miles from the average running time because I'm an out-of-shape, middle-aged person. (I'm being generous about my running abilities but let's go with it)
Add in a few hours because I'm not familiar with the borough of Brooklyn and at some point I'd get lost.
Add in a few more hours because even though I've lived in Jersey for seven years, I'd get lost there too.
Estimate that due to adrenaline I could keep running until I got home
And the answer is:
That's how long it would have taken for me to be sitting in my living room if I started running for the hills (or in this case the Pinelands of New Jersey).
38 hours is not long at all.
To say I was a awe-struck and nervous about being in the company of such amazing authors, who are creative and talented in so many ways, was an understatement.
There was no need for nerves.
It turned out to be great fun.
Sonia Manzano gave thoughtful insightful answers.
Goeff Rodkey made the audience laugh.
Katherine Applegate was witty and charming.
Middle graders, who were in the audience, asked most of the questions.
And I'm glad I stayed.
Here's Geoff Rodkey's blog post about the event and yes he called it "the best panel ever". And you can see Katherine Applegate's tweet about it on his blog too.
The picture was taken by my editor Nancy Mercado, who is the one who got me the panel moderating gig (thanks Nancy!)