A Smile is the Shortest Distance Between Two People

I wanted to take a few minutes this sunny Sunday morning, while I’m lying on my bed in my Wonder Woman tank top with my kitten, Ziggy, attacking my typing fingers, to reflect on the last couple of days, and the people with whom I’ve crossed paths. Having just been in a city that boasts the largest population in the United States and the 21st largest in the world, I can say I’ve come into contact with more than a few people these past several days. Tourists from every corner of the world, cab drivers, hotel concierges, a teacher leading a dozen uniformed kids across the street, construction workers taking coffee and smoke breaks, old ladies on bikes with headphones over their ears–people of every faith, background, profession, size, age, and walk of life.

When I first arrived in New York City, I checked into my hotel, did a little happy dance when I saw how beautiful my room was, and decided to eat dinner at a nice restaurant/bar next door. It didn’t take long to realize that its proximity to the theater that was playing “The Book of Mormon” made it a hot spot for theater-goers to grab intermission and après show drinks. I sat at the bar. The only person who talked to me was the bartender, asking what I’ll have. I ordered a glass of red wine and shrimp and mashed potatoes. I was about to go up to my room, feeling stuffed and lonely, when a kindly ol’ gent who’d worked for the musical “Chicago” for many moons sidled up to the bar and started answering questions and generally getting everybody there talking about various theater productions. I’m proud to say I sorta-kinda held my own on that topic. Just as that conversation died down, one of the men asked what I was doing in New York. (He could tell I wasn’t a New Yorker, so I guess my Carrie Bradshaw wasn’t shining through quite yet.) I told them I was going to Comic Con the next day to sign my latest book. The man next to me looked the book up on his phone and passed it along the barstools, seemingly impressed. Suddenly, everybody began talking and asking questions and sharing stories. What had started out as a lonely meal with everybody staring at their phones ended with big smiles.

The next morning, fellow Utah author, Dan Wells, who was also in New York for Comic Con, and I decided to nosh on some waffles (his with fried chicken and mine with scrambled eggs) before his meeting with his publisher, Harpercollins. We met near the World Trade Center, and as his text indicated, he was in a little park, wearing his [very cool Indiana Jones-like] hat and reading a book. I’ve met Dan several times at Utah author events and oooo’ed and ahhhh’ed over the pictures he posts of the latest addition to the Wells family, Rebecca (who I have to agree with Dan, might very well be the prettiest baby ever made), yet I’d never had the pleasure of getting to know him one-on-one. I’m going to take a quick moment to mention that I absolutely love it when a really talented author is also an amazing person. So yeah, Mr. Dan Wells gets the Wendy Toliver stamp of approval. I left our brunch and started hoofing it back to my hotel with a smile. Until my feet started hurting. Channeling my inner Carrie Bradshaw, I held out my hand and behold, a taxi came to my rescue. As he drove me towards Times Square, I thought about everything I had to look forward to: going to Comic Con to see the “Once Upon a Time” panel with the show’s creators and executive producers, Edward Kitsis and Adam Harowitz, and star Jennifer Morrison; doing my book signing at the Disney booth; and after, having dinner with my publicist, Jamie Baker. But first, a quick soak in the lovely tub in my hotel room.

When I got to the Javits Center, I was disappointed to see I wasn’t early enough. The panel was full. To make matters worse, I’d missed getting to meet author Margaret Stohl, and get an autographed copy of BLACK WIDOW: FORVER RED. I found a chair in the lobby and drowned my tears in a lukewarm, overpriced Diet Coke while watching people of all ages parade around in phenomenal costumes. Everybody was having so much fun, and I couldn’t help smiling as they posed for pictures and joked around. Soon, I got talking to a group of Army men who liked getting together and going to Comic Cons together. Before I knew it, two hours had passed and since I didn’t factor in the length of the line for the women’s bathroom, I was late for being early for my signing.

A line had already formed at the booth, and after a quick introduction by the booksellers and Disney staff, I began doing my thing. I loved how so many people wanted their photos taken, and enjoyed getting to know each of the readers and OUAT fans a little as I signed their books. Like the Salt Lake Comic Con, we soon sold out of books. When it was time for me to head back to the hotel, it was pouring rain. Thankfully, I’d thought to pack an umbrella and a waterproof bag for my red riding hood. I tried to get a cab, but there were a lot of people with the same intention, so I decided to walk a little ways away from the Javits Center. But the rain felt so good, and so I decided to hoof it all the way back.

My publicist, Jamie Baker, met me in the lobby. It took me a minute to recognize her because her Twitter photo shows a brunette, and the beautiful young lady smiling at me had a head full of blond waves. We decided to eat at the same restaurant I’d had dinner in the night before, and after much deliberation, I settled on tuna and she on a burger. We both had the sweet potato fries and a glass of red wine. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that was the first time I’d met her. Sure, we’d exchanged quite a few emails and had a brief conversation on the phone about how to fill out the travel form. But I had so much fun talking to her about everything–from bucket list items to families to, of course, the publishing industry–that I felt like we’d known each other for years. I learned so much about the business, and it didn’t take long to realize how fortunate I am to be in such good hands. We finally said goodnight–rather, good morning–at midnight.

I had to be back in Utah for an author event presented by Hastings Entertainment, so that left me with a couple of hours to pack and rest a little before it was time to head for the airport. Though I didn’t get to sleep at all that night, everything went smoothly, and with a lot of caffeine and still smiling from a wonderful New York experience, I had a lovely time in Ogden, Utah. Now, after a good night’s sleep in my own bed, I’m off to the airport again. But this time, it’s to take my mom, who’s heading to Orlando.

Hanging out by the World Trade Center with author friend Dan Wells

Hanging out by the World Trade Center with author friend Dan Wells

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One of the guys I met at NYCC


The event poster at the Disney booth, New York Comic Con 2015

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View from the airplane coming into Salt Lake City after my trip to NYC

Utah Author Event hosted by Hastings in Ogden, Utah, with fellow authors Drienie Hattingh and Patricia Bossano-Gerard

Utah Author Event hosted by Hastings in Ogden, Utah


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