Wednesday, January 20, 2010

all the little details about "the call"

So Sunday night, the evening before the big award announcements, Alvina and I (with friend Jon & Squatchie) had dinner. Throughout the week, many people had been sending me mock Newbery blog links and congratulating me on the "buzz" about my book which I tried to politely ignore. Part of me didn't want to set myself up for disappointment, another part didn't want to jinx it and the rest of me just felt it was impossible-- so I tried to dismiss it all from my mind (tried being the operative word). But, somewhere in the dinner conversation, Alvina said something about "the call" coming early in the morning and being awake at 5:30 AM. I, somehow, interpreted this to mean that "the call," if you got one would come around that time.

So, I went to sleep that night fooling myself that I had achieved a zen-like calm. Of course, this was not true because at around 5 AM I found myself wide-awake.

And I began to think, I had about 30 or so minutes before everything would be known for certain. Maybe my attitude of expecting it NOT to happen wasn't the best. I wasn't letting myself enjoy the dream! So I decided for the next 30 minutes I'd fantasize a little. I realized if I won an award I could possibly:

1. make my living off of my books instead of my school visits
2. get my hair done professionally for the wedding
3. get cable tv for Squatchie
4. have a book that could live on and be a classic
5. buy a new pair of boots

About the time I decided that I would choose the olive and taupe boots over the black and beige ones, I realized it was about 6:12. No call.


That is when I poked Squatchie and said, "I don't think I won an award."
To which he said, with a snore, "Huh?"

No, Squatchie was very comforting and at about 6:45 the phone rang and I saw it was Victoria Stapleton, from Little Brown & Company. Since, I knew it was always the committee that called if it was good news, not the publisher, I half-heartedly picked up the phone.

"Hello," Victoria said, "How are you doing?"
"Okay," I said, "No news here. You?"
"Oh," she said, "I was just checking to make sure you were answering your phone*."
"Yep," I said, "I guess no calls either place, then."
"Well, keep your phone on, just in case," she said.
"Okay," I said, trying not to sound too dismal.

Squatchie went to make me some tea and I started to buck up a bit. It was just an award, anyway. I was still the same person. The people who had enjoyed the book before would still like the book with or without an award. I still had a nice Squatchie, I could still make more books, and I didn't really need new boots. The award was not a big deal.

Then, a little after 7, the phone rang again.

It was Katie O'Dell, the Newbery Committee chair! Where the Mountain Meets the Moon had won the honor! The silver! There would be stickers!

And, suddenly, it was a big deal (again). A big, happy deal! Squatchie, who quickly figured out what was going on, grabbed a camera and captured the 360 degree turnaround.

Later, I was to find out that Victoria had known that the book had won the Honor & had called to congratulate me, only to find out that I didn't know yet and had to cover so as not to spill the beans. I was also to find out that Alvina meant she had to wake up at 5:30AM to go to a 6:30 AM breakfast to wait for calls that would come (hopefully) later that hour. Basically, I put myself through an emotional roller coaster due to poor listening skills. Oops.


At the LB booth with the stickered book!

*this might seem suspicious, but the people at LB know that I, almost 99% of the time, do not answer the phone. My voicemail message says to e-mail me instead of leaving a message as I tend to be phone-phobic. I had been given instructions ahead of time to get over the phobia on announcement morning, so it didn't seem that strange to me that Victoria wanted to check to make sure.