Quite a place, Las Vegas! Have you ever been there? I had not … and it exceeded my expectations for drama, scale, and a just plain off-the-charts sensory experience.
The annual NCTE conference was held at the MGM Grand Hotel, one of the many hotels on the Strip that seemed (to me anyway) large enough to warrant its own zip code. As usual when I travel west of the Mississippi, I spent an inordinate amount of time gawking at the mountains and that blue, BLUE sky! After Superstorm Sandy and the gray, dismal days that enveloped New Jersey and Pennsylvania following it, you can bet that I took every opportunity to slip outside the hotel to bask, cat-like, in that warm Nevada sun!
But most of the time, I DID attend the conference, where I signed my novels and gave away galley copies and posters for my Horace Pippin biography A Splash of Red, illustrated by Melissa Sweet at the Random House booth. Melissa and I also teamed up to sign our William Carlos Williams biography A River of Words at the Eerdmans’ booth. On Saturday evening, I had a lovely dinner with editors, college professors, and fellow authors, and earlier that day I participated in a session on “Young Adult Literature and War” with BYU’s author-professors Chris Crowe and Dean Hughes. SLJ blogger Dodie Ownes, who hails from my hometown of Flemington, NJ, attended my session and has written a wonderful post about it. What a terrific surprise to see her in Las Vegas—and hopefully not the last time our paths will cross at a conference!
The only gambling I did in this city was the daily guess as to how early I would need to be in line at Starbucks in order to enjoy my 20-ouncer and still get to my first event on time. But even though the casinos didn’t make much off of this writer, the city remains one I’ll be anxious to return to—if only to gawk a bit longer and bask a bit more!