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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

When The Journey Is As Important As The Destination.

Hi everyone!
I am YA author B. A. Binns and since spring has finally sprung I, along with many of the other genre-istas, are thinking about vacations. I'm here to say that my favorite vacation is always the one in the future, and I have that one planned. 

A few months ago I was contacted by Bailey Ortiz, a teen librarian in Connecticut. She had heard about my 2013 talk to the 8th National Conference of African American Librarians (NCAAL) on Empowering the Voice of the Black Male in Children’s and Teen Lit. She wondered if I would be willing to travel to Connecticut to give that talk to the librarians attending the CLA (Connecticut Library Association)

Minor digression:
I happen to be a very shy person. That's why I started out as a Biochemist (closeted inside a lab) and then moved to Computer Science (holed up with a machine) and now I am a writer (a more solitary profession has not been invented). Only I quickly learned that writing also involves speaking, it's part of the promotion thing. Lo and behold, I discovered I liked speaking in front of large, anonymous groups.
Digression ends.

Of course I said yes. I've never been to Connecticut, so the crowd would be totally anonymous to me and I would be facing librarians, people with a mission I respect. And that meant I could treat this as a partial vacation. Which is good, because the stipend is pretty much non-existent. Seriously, it will cost me more to board my dog than the Honorarium I am receiving from the conference. But I get the opportunity to spread the message, because diversity in YA literature is important to me, to kids, and to the future.

And I get this nifty mini-vacation.

I will board a train and overnight it to Hartford, Connecticut. I get to walk in and go directly to bed (yes, I said bed) It will be shaky, but relaxing. I wake in the morning, shower, have breakfast and look out the windows to see a new landscape, the kind of thing you never see from the heights of an airplane. I'll meet people, because there is a difference between squeezing in up-close-and-personal with passengers in an airplane, and walking down the halls in a train, sitting at a table and eating, visiting the lounge car with people who are feeling as leisurely as you are. The other  passengers are not your competition the way they feel like on a plane. 

I'm taking Amtrak because I readily admit that I hate flying. It's not a fear of flying, exactly, almost more a fear of airports
  • having to arrive hours in advance and taking off my shoes for TSA
  • being squeezed into a too-small seat inside a crowded fuselage
  • listening to kids crying because their ears are popping
  • rebreathing air that has gone through smokers and people with colds
  • lost luggage or just the struggle to get your suitcase into the overfull overhead compartment
  • turbulence
The nightmare list is endless.
I get to look around and seek out potential characters for my next book.  And I get to spread the word about my books to new people, including the men and woman who work on the trains.  A year ago on the City Of New Orleans I sold two of my books to Amtrak  employees.

 I will enjoy my trip, see parts of the U. S. right outside my window, meet nice people, spend two days in Hartford with friendly librarians and return home unfrazzled.


Paty Jager said...

That sounds like a wonderful trip and a great way to spread what you believe in. Good luck and enjoy!

elysabeth said...

I would love to have an offer to speak like that. I've been through Connecticut before since my father was stationed at West Point and my grandmother lived in South Carolina and we made trips this way (always by car) but I think boarding a train would be fun. I've also been up and down the eastern seaboard secondary to my dad's family being from Maine and I have lived in several states along the east coast.

I did a school librarian conference about 2 or 3 years ago and didn't fare too well, although with the second in my YA paranormal mystery series being worked on and hopefully ready for publication by the fall of this year, I hope to do better.

Take lots of pictures and enjoy the trip. Sell lots of books - lol. Promote you and your books like crazy - E :)

Elysabeth Eldering
FINALLY HOME (A Kelly Watson, YA, paranormal mystery)

Maggie Lynch said...

I LOVE trains. It is a much more sane way to travel. Enjoy the journey and the talk. I hear you on the making no money, but think of the free ride and time away to focus on whatever you want while you are in transit. I would value that as much as the opportunity to speak.

Judith Ashley said...

You certainly have listed the benefits of traveling by train! Your passion for diversity and showing young boys and girls and men and women of all colors the importance of diversity is one of your greatest assets. Looking forward to hearing about this mini-vacation when you get back home.

B. A. Binns said...

Thanks to everyone who commented. It's one of the good points about havign a platform, it makes me eager to talk. I do several conferences a year, some I solicit, some who call me. This year I have already spoken in Sprifgield Illinois at the Illinois reading Council on ways to reach reluctant readers, and in addition to the CLA, I was asked to speak at the Ohio Educational Library Media Association in the fall. I am also scheduled to talk at two writer's conferences, one in Illinois, one in Louisiana (I'll be back on the City Of New Orleasn for that one). I'm just glad I have something to say, and that teachers, librarians and authors keep wanting to hear me.

I will indeed promote my books, along with other books I think educators and reluctant readers will enjoy.