Day in the City

Monday night, we drove to New York. We had a busy day of meetings planned for Tuesday (with the titans of publishing!) and decided we’d probably better get to the city early enough to get a good night’s sleep.

We drove the turnpike feeling slightly adrift. Fortunately, the helpful signage helped us find ourselves again.

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In time we came to the most majestic of all possible tunnels.

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If you’ve never driven through the Holland Tunnel, then you’ve never driven through the Holland Tunnel.

We slept. Long and hard. We woke. We had breakfast in blissful, stylish, child-free silence.

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We watched as our friend David’s cat battled invisible demons.

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Robbi declared my ear hair situation unfit for viewing by the titans of publishing. It hurt a little, but these are the sacrifices one must be willing to make.

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Feeling dashing and rested and sufficiently plucked, we headed out into the big world.

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As we traveled north on foot, we learned important lessons about life.

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Our destination was the Flatiron Building. Google was our guide.

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Because she is an equal-opportunity groomer, Robbi stopped at CVS to buy some band-aids. So that her heels would not be gushing blood when we walked into our 11:00 meeting. The titans have standards about ruptured blisters, too, apparently. So much I did not know. Robbi is full of timeless wisdom.

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New York boasts the sorts of buildings we don’t have in Chestertown. We craned our necks in admiration.

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Our collective pulses quickened as we approached the fabled Flatiron, most elegant of all New York City architecture.

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We were fifteen minutes early. We debated. I wanted to check in with the doorman 10 minutes early. Robbi preferred five. We compromised at 7. In the mean time, Robbi fed a squirrel, which is likely forbidden, but she was feeling bold.

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We left the squirrel still hungry and headed across the street. We spent a moment admiring…

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…and posing…

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In the course of which we burned through the two compromise minutes and arrived at the doorman exactly five minutes early. I’m pretty sure it was part of Robbi’s plan all along.

We took the elevator to the eighth floor.

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We joined a sub-group of titans responsible for trade marketing, publicity, advertising and promotion, and digital marketing. They provided an exciting array of NYC-quality donuts.

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Our deep-fried enthusiasm threatened to derail all rational proceedings, but somehow we refocused on the matter at hand, which was selling Babies Ruin Everything. Even though the book doesn’t officially hit the bookstands for another nine months, they are already busy at work

Thank you to Kathryn, Molly, Emily, and Caitlin for coming up with an incredible, comprehensive, creative, robust, excellent plan to sell the pants off of our book. We can’t wait to see you wield your mighty titan powers on our behalf.

After donuts and marketing, we headed downstairs to the Imprint suite, home of our fearless publisher Erin Stein, editor of Babies Ruin Everything, and titan extraordinaire.

We were there for several reasons, not the least of which was to finally meet Natalie Sousa, Imprint’s brand new creative director. We knew from checking out Natalie’s portfolio that she is talented and experienced, but would we like her? Would she have helpful, insightful things to say about our work? Would she like us?

Like nervous 13-year olds we approached her office. And…

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…if the Flatiron were a pod, Robbi and Natalie would be its resident peas. How I wish I’d taken photos of them hugging.

So…first hurtle cleared. We like Natalie. We really really like her. But what about her ideas?

We headed into the conference room and got to work. The work at hand was looking at the sketched out storyboard of a brand new children’s picture book we’re doing with Imprint. A very different sort of book than Babies Ruin Everything, this book is about exploring the world and taking a long, careful look at the things around you.

I cannot tell you what it’s called because we don’t yet know, exactly.

And I cannot show you any of the drawings up close because they are still top secret. The book has not yet been officially announced. That will happen in December. But for you, dear reader, here is a glimpse into the inner sanctum of how picture books get made. Various titans assemble with the likes of Robbi and me, and we talk, talk, talk about words and pictures and that delightful space where they collide and interact and make powerful alchemy.

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After 90 thrilling minutes talking about the new book, Erin pulled out the latest proofs of Babies Ruin Everything and shared them with us and our dear, smart, amazing agent Meredith Kaffel Simonoff. Erin has continued to improve the files – adjusting colors and identifying the tiny imperfections that result from tiny bits of dust and other gunk that can get on the printing plate. These are called “hickeys,” and they must be summarily removed.

The final proofs are gorgeous. The hickeys are gone. The book is now being printed. And it’s not our responsibility.

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Erin had warned us that she had a surprise in store for us, and it was a good one. Ours is the very first book cover to grace the wall of the 8th story conference room. Here’s the view out the window.

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And here’s the view of the wall.

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After building up a powerful appetite with all that book talk, we headed to lunch at a Japanese restaurant. It was delicious. Inexplicably, I did not take photos of my food.

After lunch, we walked with Meredith to the offices of DeFiore and Company where we talked a little more shop. (There are still more book projects swirling in the ether).

We felt honored to have an out-facing presence on her bookshelf in the company of all the other incredible writers and illustrators she represents.

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We bid Meredith farewell and headed underground. Our next destination was uptown.

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Upon arriving at 51st and Lexington Avenue, we came back above ground…

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…though we were still deep in the canyonlands.

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We walked a few blocks to the offices of Family Circle magazine.

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Where we met Suzanne Rust, the person who wrote the family profile that appeared in last July’s issue.

And spent some time with old pal Lisa Kelsey, Family Circle’s design director.

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We talked books. We talked photography. We talked art. It was so nice.

The day was getting late, and so we headed back underground.

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When we emerged, the light was starting to get late-day beautiful.

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It was 5:00. We braced for the worst, but blazed through the aforementioned Holland Tunnel with little resistance.

We bid farewell to New York. It was gorgeous as the light fell.

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We stopped along the Turnpike for the kind of top-end cuisine that can only be found at this little mom and pop joint called Sbarro.

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Back down in Delaware, an accidental camera setting let me see my favorite bridge in whole new way.

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It was the fitting end to a remarkable day. We were tired but incredibly excited about what lies ahead.

As it turns out, the titans of book and magazine publishing are actually pretty nice and approachable.

At least the ones we we’ve been lucky enough to know.


2 Comments

    • Robbi Behr

      Aw shucks! We’ve got a lot of people helping us and rooting for us! Thanks for being part of the home team! :)

      Reply

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