Thursday Travel: Needham Public Library

photoIt was like a dream. There I stood, in front of the book signing table, TWO Newbury Medal winning authors facing me: Clare Vanderpool (Moon over Manifest, 2010) and Jerry Spinelli (Maniac Magee, 1990).

I had just attended an event hosted by the Needham Public Library & Wellesley Books where these two amazing authors discussed their new releases– Navigating Early (Vanderpool) & Hokey Pokey (Spinelli)— had a moderated chat, and then hosted a Q&A session.

I’m not sure what my favorite moment of the night was… possibly when Jerry Spinelli waxed poetic talking about his pet rats… probably when they both vehemently declared they did not believe in the existence of writer’s block.

“Do teachers not show up to school and teach because they have ‘teachers block’? Do librarians have ‘librarians block’? No! Writing is the only profession where we allow ourselves to not do work. Just because it exists doesn’t mean you have to give it diplomatic immunity.” –Jerry Spinelli

However, I can certainly tell you which moment was NOT my favorite. It was that magical moment after I introduced myself as a debut middle grade author, when I had the eyes of TWO NEWBERY AWARD WINNING WRITERS trained on me with interest, and Clare Vanderpool asked, “What’s your book about?”…

This, THIS is the time all those writing books and seminars had been preparing me for when they yelled “Get a good elevator pitch!” And so? Was this the moment when a finely-crafted elevator pitch rolled off my tongue?

Um, no.

Was it at least the time I gave a vaguely-cogent-if-slightly-rambling synopsis of my book?

Sadly, no.

What did I do? I blurted “GOLDEN BOY!” at them, and pushed two business cards across the table, possibly accompanied by the words “Here. Card,” and then I ran.

So, Clare, Jerry, if you ever get around to typing in the website on those cards, this is what I meant to say:

“Today in East Africa people with albinism are killed because of a belief that their body parts are good luck. Golden Boy tells the story of Habo, an albino boy in Tanzania who has to leave his family when a hunter comes after him.”

So yes, today’s trip was successful. I not only landed signed copies of some wonderful books, but I also learned something valuable. It took me the entire 40-minute drive home, brainstorming out loud to my ever-so-patient husband… but I think I now have an elevator pitch.

Or, as it shall forever be referred to in my house, my Clare & Jerry pitch.


About Tara Sullivan

Author of GOLDEN BOY (2013), THE BITTER SIDE OF SWEET (2016), and TREASURE OF THE WORLD (2021). Published by Penguin Books for Young Readers Find out more at Or, follow me on Twitter: @SullivanStories
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8 Responses to Thursday Travel: Needham Public Library

  1. Jennifer says:

    Was sure you were going to be there! Sadly I couldn’t go. I bet it wasn’t as bad as you think. 🙂

  2. Annie Cardi says:

    Oh my gosh, that always happens to me! At least you told them you were a debut author–usually I can’t even get that out.

  3. says:

    body{font-family: Geneva,Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;font-size:9pt;background-color: #ffffff;color: black;}HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!Terrific!!!HugsYFD

  4. You’d be surprised… it pretty much happened exactly like I reported! 🙂

  5. judymintz says:

    What an endearing post. I’m sure they thought you were adorable.

  6. Lisa Rogers says:

    So funny! It was nice to meet you there (I was the moderator), and I thought your elevator pitch to me was really good! Obviously, since that’s why I went to your website and checked out your blog. Good luck with Golden Boy.

  7. Oh, yay! I’m glad that my evening’s pitching was not a total fail. 🙂
    Thanks for stopping by, Lisa.

  8. Pingback: Wednesday Writing: Once More Over the Hump, Dear Friends! | Tara Sullivan

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