A Travelling Man (HA!)

Any real jetsetter would laugh to hear me describe this as quite a travel week, but a confluence of events has me zipping back and forth across southwestern Ontario and missing Vivian. Mind you, most of these events are of my own choosing, so I really shouldn’t complain.

This evening, I came out to a children’s book awards night hosted by TD Canada Trust and the Canadian Children’s Book Centre. It was quite a schmooze-fest, with over 300 people filing into the classic Design Exchange in the heart of downtown Toronto for some good food, drink and conversation. I met a number of teachers and librarians as well as fellow authors and publishers, and I hope I made a good impression. I certainly gave out many “mini-bookmarks” promoting myself.

Everybody tells me that schmoozing is critical to developing your career. The right word in the right ear can take you places, but this sort of thing never comes easy to me. It’s hard to display yourself and perform to perfect strangers again and again, but I think I’m hiding the nervousness well, and it is an enjoyable pastime once you get used to it. I also met up with a fellow author or two from my online critique group, which provided welcome familiar faces to talk to (hello Jo Ellen! Hello Mahtab!). After things got really crowded, we were called to our seats and the four sets of awards was presented.

Ironically, after going through an election campaign without meeting a campaigning provincial politician in person, I did encounter a former federal politician here who would be a familiar name to a number of political bloggers: Frank McKenna. Yes, the former premier of New Brunswick and a man who could have been prime minister if he’d played his cards right, was on the stage as the representative for Toronto Dominion, to present the children’s book award that they had funded (at $20,000 per winner and $10,000 shared among the remaining finalists, this is among the richest book prizes in the country). So, there you have it: my brush with an almost-prime minister! And he gave a decent speech.

However, at the end of the awards ceremonies, it was co-MC Mark Sykes of TVO Kids that I approached for an autograph. For Vivian, you understand. :-)

I had a fun time and I’d like to thank the Canadian Children’s Book Centre for making the event available to its members. I think I’ll be out next year.

But it’s going to be a short night for me tonight. No sooner am I hope than I have to prepare for a classroom presentation on transit in Toronto tomorrow morning. I think I have everything squared away, fortunately. And then on Friday, the good folks at the Thames Valley District School Board are organizing a professional development day connecting authors with teachers and teacher-librarians around the region. I’ll be there selling my books and promoting my school reading abilities. Wish me luck! And thank God for grandparents!

Even so, I’m glad that I’ll have Vivian all to myself on Wednesday and Thursday.

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