About eight years ago (Seven? Nine? Something like that -- whenever she was at that junior high-ish age), Betsy started reading Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls series. Then she went through the Heist Society books, devoured all of Embassy Row, and somewhere along the way, introduced her little sister to Ally Carter too. Ramona promptly inhaled every Ally Carter book she could get her hands on (which wasn't too hard -- Betsy owned most of them.)
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. The girls discovered they could get their hands on a signed copy of Carter's brand new book, Not If I Save You First from an indie bookseller in another state. They promptly ordered it, and just a day or two after it arrived, Ramona spotted big news on Twitter: Ally Carter was coming to an indie bookstore just a short distance from us. (Ahem ... when you live in a small town in the midwest, everything worth doing that is under 2-3 hours away is "a short distance.")
So it went on the calendar!
We counted down!
Monday, April 9th arrived!
Ramona was sickish, but it would've taken a coma to keep her away from this book signing. Anne-with-an-e had never gotten in on the CarterMania, but she came along just because, hey, it's a bookstore, and hey, the rest of us are sparkling company.
Betsy and Ramona talked about what to say to Ally Carter when they met her. They speculated that the fangirling could spiral out of control -- what if they sputtered, spewed, misspoke, and embarrassed themselves with things like, "We loved the Grungy Goblin series ... umm, I mean Gallagher Girls! And Horse Solemnity -- No! Heist Society! And of course we loved Eatery Rowboat. Doh! Embassy Row!"
In the end, they slaughtered nary a title, remained composed while asking questions ("What book or writer inspired you to want to be a writer?" and "What advice do you have for someone who loves writing and would like to get her writing published?"), we bought a couple more books, and we all survived the long book-signing line. When it was our turn, we all fangirled, truth be told. And Ally Carter could not have been kinder or more gracious. She was truly lovely, and gave so much of her self and her time to each and every girl (and mom) there.
The next day we had a fun little exchange with her on Twitter and today Ramona said, "Do people still say 'shook'? Because I'm still shook."
Some of my fondest mom/daughter/road trip memories involve book signings and being shook in the company of my daughters. (Remember Ramona and Jim Arnosky? Sigh.) And sometimes, writers you originally met online become the dearest of friends.
Finally, it just has to be said: indie bookstores are the best. Thanks, Bookworm.