In February 2001, I read two LDS YA novels back to back that literally changed the course of my life. (Wow, that sounds so...hokey. But it's true.) The books were Deep Blue Eyes and Other Lies, and Dakota's Revenge by Janette Rallison. I loved these book! They combined every element I looked for in a good read--humor, romance, and good writing. When I finished the last of the two, I was determined that I, too, would write a romantic comedy for the LDS market. I literally started writing that day, and a year and a month later, my first LDS YA novel, Molly Mormon? was published.
I eventually met Janette Rallison through a support network of LDS authors--first via an e-mail listserve, and then at an LDStorymakers Writing Conference. By then Janette had moved on to writing Young Adult novels for the national market. I tried not to act like a gushing fan when we first met, and I doubt she had a clue of the impact her writing had on my life.
A month or so ago I asked Janette when she'd be doing a school visit in Houston. She e-mailed me back stating that, as a matter of fact, she had a school visit scheduled here in a few weeks. I offered to be her host while in Houston and we fast forward to the past few days...
My momentous meeting with one of my favorite authors almost started out in disaster. It was a stormy day in Houston (ugh--it already sounds like the start of a bad novel), and I barely made it to the airport in time. After parking, I rode the elevator down to the lower-level corridor to get to the main terminal she was arriving at. There weren't a ton of people in this long curving hallway-like section that connects the parking garage to the terminal--and thank goodness for that. My watch told me she'd already landed so I decided to jog the length of the empty corridor to make up for lost time.
I was wearing flip-flops (which hold no traction on a wet surface). Before I knew what was happening, my butt--and entire back side, for that matter--hit the ground faster than you can say "khaki's-when-they-are-wet-turn-dark." Yeah--you get the picture. I stand up only to notice that now, I look like that poor kid in Kindergartner who, on the first day of school was afraid to use the "facilities."
I'll admit it--I swore. I swore a lot.
By the time the swearing had subsided, a few people had gathered to make sure I was okay since I was standing there, still looking stunned, with my backside now facing the wall. After assuring them I was fine, I waited until they were on their way, I then placed my purse behind me and waddled back to the elevators and back to my mini-van. There was NO WAY I was going to walk through the Houston airport looking like I'd wet my pants!
I quickly called Janette's cell phone, but only got her machine so left a message saying I was there--somewhere--and for her to call me. I could only hope her plane had been delayed.
For the next 20 minutes, I sat in back seat of my mini-van, in the darkness of the enclosed parking garage of Houston Intercontinental Airport waving around my britches like a mad woman. I alternated between this and the "fanning-dry-with-a magazine" method. I even tried blowing on them, but that just made me want to pass out. Maybe that would have been the best option after all. Miraculously, all the waving and fanning and blowing worked! The pant material was lightweight and dried quickly. And now I'd like to take this moment to personally thank the brilliant person who invented tinted windows. I LOVE YOU!!!
Even though my pants were now dry, I still hadn't heard from Janette, but I figured she hadn't gone far. Again, but this time with much trepidation, I ventured down the elevators and through the curving--and in one spot, still WET--corridor, and made it to the terminal.
No Janette. Anywhere! And no mention of her flight on the little TV monitor thingies. So I approached the US Airways counter and they proceed to tell me the flight was delayed 45 minutes and should be arriving shortly. I didn't know whether to rejoice or cry.
Eventually Janette made it here, and for two-and-a-half days we had a blast together. On Monday she spoke to my homeschooling group, then at Bluewillow Books. She spent the day Tuesday at Cook Middle School and it was really cool to see another author's school presentation--something I've done quite a bit of myself. And Tuesday night we met with a group of local children's authors for dinner.
Thanks for coming to Houston, Janette. You are funny and fun, and I'm so glad I can call you my friend. I will definitely take your advice and put the "flip-flop fall" into a book at some point...after I've recovered emotionally. But next time you come to Houston, maybe I'll just pull my car up to passenger pick-up, 'kay?