The Prayers Of Agnes Sparrow
Joyce Magnin

Joyce Magnin is the author of the popular and quirky Bright’s Pond novels. She is a frequent conference speaker and writing instructor. When she’s not writing or reading Joyce enjoys baseball, needle arts, video games and cream soda but not elevators—especially glass ones. She listens to many kinds of music, shamelessly confesses to enjoying American Idol, has never eaten a scallop or sky dived. Joyce has three children, Rebekah, Emily and Adam and three grandsons, Lemuel, Cedar and Soren and one son-in-law, Joshua. Joyce lives in Havertown, Pennsylvania with her son, Adam and their crazy cat, Mango, where she cares for an eighty-year-old onion plant. You can also visit her blog at:

Report from ALA

St LouisI had the honor of attending ALA convention (the American Library Association) last month in New Orleans. It was amazing and overwhelming. And, yes, it was my first major publishing convention. I really didn’t know what to expect. So, let me start from the air.

I don’t like flying in airplanes, so I was pretty proud of myself as I boarded the plane with my rolling carry-on . . . until disaster struck. My bag broke. Right there in the aisle, as everyone was scrambling to get their bags into the overhead, I was stuck, holding up the line trying to get the handle to go down. People were complaining. I was sweating and panicking. I jammed the handle down, tossed my bag into the bin, and sat down in shame. The unfortunate thing is that my bag is now totally broken. And I lugged it through two airports.

But that was okay. I was in New Orleans!

I arrived at my gorgeous hotel in the French Quarter right on the Mississippi River, which, by the way, is huge. But they couldn’t find my reservation that had been made several weeks ago by my publisher. Yikes. Fortunately, that got straightened out. They found me a room in their “full to capacity hotel.” Man! What a room. What a view—of the Harrah’s Casino down below. No, I’m serious. It was so pretty at night. Imagine the Greek Parthenon in neon. That evening I enjoyed dinner and dessert and wonderful fellowship with Zondervan authors and staff.

The next morning, after a meeting with two other awesome Abingdon authors, Christa Allan and Judy Christa, and our publicist, Julie, I made my way to the convention center. Let me tell you, the New Orleans convention center is like an aircraft carrier—huge, a city unto itself. It covers eleven blocks and has 1.1 million square feet of exhibit space. I read they were expecting 70,000 attendees that week. No, I didn’t sign 70,000 books. But I got to sign quite a few. It was a pleasure to sign books for librarians and teachers, and I got filled up inside when they told me they wanted to place my book in their little hometown libraries or school libraries. I gathered books and posters and bookmarks and pens. I met with my editors and marketers and other writer friends. In short, I had a blast at the convention that first day. Librarians rock!

Saturday night we went out to find dinner. I had been told to get some beignets (whatever they are). So, after walking several blocks we settled on a lovely place across the street from the convention center. I ate a delicious shrimp po’boy. I enjoyed conversation with my editor, marketer, and fellow Zondervan author and buddy Jonathan Freisen. He’s a blast and an awesome kid’s writer. Then it was back to the hotel. And no beignets. Just weariness.

Oh, and let me tell you, it’s hot in New Orleans. Philadelphia is miserable in the summer, but I think Louisiana was even worse. Even muggier with air you can wear. And speaking of air, I think that’s why the smells around the city were so intense. No kidding. You walk down the street in the French Quarter and you can smell the luscious aromas of food cooking and then take two more steps and get smacked in the face by the smell of fermenting garbage. But you know, even that was charming.

I was in colorful New Orleans! Unlike most cities I’ve visited, New Orleans’s buildings are playful and colorful—just like her people. Pink buildings with green doors, lots and lots of wrought iron and hanging baskets of trailing flowers of some kind. I heard jazz on

every corner, saw the French Market and the mighty Mississippi. The people were fun and happy and truly glad to see us for the most part. I am told the ALA convention was the first to come back to the city after Katrina. And speaking of which, it was still possible to see remnants of the devastation as we traveled around. Buildings remain tattooed with the poignant X symbol and numbers indicating the number of dead and the number of survivors. I saw buildings slated for demolition and others that had been rebuilt and brought back to their original New Orleans glory.

Sunday morning it was back to the convention center where I signed more books, my children’s book this time. I loved that also. It was a rush every time a librarian asked me to sign it to “An Amazing Reader,” because it was going to be given as a prize. Wow!

By the time I got back to the airport Sunday, I was pretty well drained and exhausted but ever so full and honored to have been invited. Amazed to see all those librarians and teachers and authors. It was a total blast. I’d do it again. The only problem, besides the broken suitcase, was that I never did get a beignet. Oh well, what I did get out of the trip was far tastier. So thank you librarians, thank you publishers, and thank you convention organizers for making my dreams a bit more real.


Carrying Mason

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