Can I just tell you how epic NCTE/ALAN has been? So freaking epic it’s hardly bothering me that temperatures are in the 20s and wind gusts are like 200 mph. What could have possibly happened to make me not care about these brutally cold conditions? Read on, friendly neighbors.

As I was about to leave for my train to Boston, I found out that Judy Blume would be signing at the Penguin booth right after me. Of course I grabbed my 28-year-old copy of Forever on the way out the door. This was my big chance to have Judy sign it and there was no way I was missing out. Was I also freaking out that Judy would be sitting in the same exact chair I just sat in to sign books? Naturally. If you would have told me this would be happening back when I was reading Forever at 13 because my Gram bought it for me thinking it was like Judy’s middle grade books, all relieved I didn’t have to endure the embarrassment of buying it myself (I was a shy girl back in the day), you would have blown my mind. Like, blown it right off.

I signed books at the Penguin booth on Saturday, November 23, 2013. Just felt the need to document the exact date there. Don’t mind me. When I was done signing, Judy arrived to sit where I had been sitting. We stood there for a second in the midst of switching over. And do you know what happened? Judy Blume knew who I was. She was so warm and sweet to me, like we were old friends. I could hardly absorb the magnitude of that moment, given how lost I was in adoring her:

Judy Blume and Susane Colasanti

And just like that, another big dream became reality. Naturally, that was one of the Top Five Best Moments of My Life. It is a moment I will cherish forever.

Judy Blume wasn’t my only author idol at the conference. Laurie Halse Anderson and Sarah Dessen were also in the house. I have the wonderful good fortune of being friends with these ladies. But they are the kind of friends I hardly ever get to see. So when I do, it is a Big Effing Deal. Laurie was at the Penguin Family Dinner Saturday night. That would be Saturday, November 23, 2013, aka The Day I Met Judy Blume. Just to clarify in case you forgot. Although I was not seated at Laurie’s table, I snuck over during dessert to catch up with her.

Susane Colasanti and Laurie Halse Anderson

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while (extra impressive, considering how much the world of blogging has changed in the past couple of years), you know that Laurie Halse Anderson is my favorite YA author. Her writing is beautiful, evocative, and profound. Along with Sarah, Laurie was a mentor when I was first starting out as a new author who had zero clue. They’ve both taught me so much. Which always makes catching up with Laurie in person a really special treat. So I sat next to her for a while and we talked about life stuff and it was awesome.

And then. Guess who Sarah and I chilled with at the ALAN Cocktail Reception?

Susane Colasanti, Judy Blume, and Sarah Dessen

Oh yes. That would be me, Judy, and Sarah, aka BFFs. See how smiley we are? That’s what happens when an abundance of positive energy collects in one area of the room. Sarah and I carried that smiley positive energy all the way to dinner. She was brave and ordered the tempura broccoli app, which I wanted to order but didn’t because it was spicy. I don’t do spicy. But she let me try some and it was so delicious I immediately requested two additional orders for the table. Sarah is the person at dinner who always orders what you wish you’d ordered. Love that about her, among a zillion other things.

One of the best parts of my job is getting to connect with my favorite authors. I am eternally grateful for opportunities like these. And I am eternally thankful to Judy Blume for signing my vintage copy of Forever that is so old it began falling apart right there at the table. I’m carrying home pieces of the cover in a baggie. Years from now, when someone pulls the book from my shelf and asks about the pieces of the cover that are taped together, I’ll tell them about the time I met Judy Blume. I’ll tell them about that moment I will carry in my heart forever.

P.S. As promised, I’m announcing the Rafflecopter giveaway winner. And the winner is…Tati F.! Please stay tuned for more ARC giveaways of Now and Forever. For which you will not have to wait forever.