Hail? Hell! And One Heck of a Great Time-Not necessarily in any order :-)

What a title, eh? I know! Craziness has ensued! Let me explain.

One Heck of a Great Time

This past weekend was the Children’s Art and Literacy Festival (C.A.L.F.) in my home town of Abilene, Texas. It was one heck of a great time! William Joyce was the guest of honor! Yes! The William Joyce, author of many, many books. Yes! The William Joyce with movies based on his books—Rise of the Guardians and Epic just to name a couple. Yes! The William Joyce who, along with Co-director Brandon Oldenburg, was awarded the Oscar® for Best Animated Short Film in the 84th Academy Awards®. If you haven’t viewed this work of art, you must! Your heart will warm 🙂

So what’s that got to do with Hail? Hell! Well . . .


I had just watched a parade with participants dressed as William Joyce’s characters from his many books! I was sitting in the historic Paramount Theater waiting for William Joyce to begin his talk on his creative process and then PING! PING! DRUM! DRUM! CLUNK! CLUNK! PELT! PELT! BEAT! BEAT! BOOM! BOOM!
“Is that hail?” I asked the two young ladies behind me.
“YES!” They answered.
And it was! (Photos to follow.)

But did I panic? No! What were a few pings on my car compared to hearing William Joyce??? It was too late anyway. What was done was done. Plus, I couldn’t leave and get hammered on the head! And I was already caught up in the whole excitement of children’s literature . . .The almost magic take-me-away-imagination feeling you get when hearing or reading a good story.
William Joyce was wonderful and inspiring. He is definitely a take-me-away-imagination kind of guy! His love for children’s literature was evident. His excitement was contagious as he told of how his fledgling Moonbot Studios was up against what seemed like impossible odds of winning an Oscar®. He talked about hard work and how important it is to keep on trying. If you want to see contagious excitement, watch this acceptance speech!

So in spite of the hail, I was having one heck of a great time!

The smile was still on my face as I headed the 6 or so blocks to where my car was parked. My head still in that take-me-away-imagination mode. But as I walked through the war-zone that our downtown had become, my smile became a nod of my head here and an expression of concern there. Cars were everything from pinged with cracked windshields to completely destroyed. Hailstones from an hour and a half earlier were still laying unmelted on the ground. The ground had holes in it! I wondered about my car. Was it pinged and cracked? Destroyed?


Yep! I said it! I saw my car and I said Hell! Not so much in the cursing kind of way (good thing as it was parked in front of the First Baptist Church), but more in the utter amazement type of way.

I was definitely in the destroyed category.

photo 5


photo 4


photo 3


photo 1


photo 3


photo (7)

But you know what? What’s done IS done! And what good would it be to ruin a perfectly wonderful evening by getting upset. So I called my husband but couldn’t get him due to cell service interruption. Then the nicest young couple offered me a ride home!

We went back to my car, swept glass, and laid down towels so that my husband could drive the car to our garage. And there it sat while I enjoyed two more days of book signings, balloon sculptures, and bright-eyed children.

One of my signed books!

One of my signed books!

So what is my point and what does it have to do with children’s writers? I guess it is just that life happened during our annual Children’s Arts and Literature Festival. And it was kind of hellish! Lots of people were short a car or two. But the whole town was smiling all because of a wonderful man with a wonderful imagination who writes wonderful books. No hailing on our parade. No ruining our heck of a great time! Just a celebration of take-me-away-imagination!

Footnote: One other bonus of the festival is that I met the nicest couple. I estimate they were in their late 70’s to early 80’s. I think I was drawn to her at the parade because her obvious excitement during the parade equaled mine. I just had to meet her! I said, “You must love children’s literature!” And that led to a visit with her and her husband. He had given her a William Joyce book a couple of years ago. They drove all the way from Florida to attend the festival because she is such a fan of William Joyce. They were lovely. By the end of the evening, we had exchanged addresses, emails, and names! I saw them the next day and we hugged like old friends! All because of celebrating children’s literature.

penny3Penny Parker Klostermann’s debut picture book, There Was An Old Dragon, is coming from Random House Children’s Publishing Fall 2015. You can follow her on Twitter @pklostermann and visit her blog HERE. Penny is represented by Tricia Lawrence.




Filed under Creativity, Happiness, Uncategorized, Writing and Life

31 responses to “Hail? Hell! And One Heck of a Great Time-Not necessarily in any order :-)

  1. I can’t wrap my head around that damage. Seriously. Blown away. But I TOTALLY get how you could sit through the storm and enjoy yourself anyway. I love your enthusiasm and dedication to children’s lit 🙂


  2. Oh, Penny–your poor car! But what a great attitude you have. I’m so glad you were able to keep enjoying the festival.


  3. Wow! I couldn’t get over the damage to your car. Thank goodness you weren’t hurt during the festival. And I’ll have to remember this story the next time I am tempted to let a bad situation get me down. You’re attitude is one to emulate!


  4. Stacy S. Jensen

    Thanks for sharing this! (Really sorry about your car, but so so so glad you had a wonderful time). I never experienced a hail storm in Texas. Not totally sure how I missed them. I have met hail in Colorado. 🙂


  5. kevanjatt

    Your ability to take an unfortunate situation in stride and continue on with what you are excited about is enviable. (I went to a Texas SCBWI conference about 15 years ago and Wm. Joyce was the keynote. It was a small conference so I was able to chat him up a bit and get my picture taken with him. I should dig that out for TBT.)
    Great post, Penny!


  6. Penny, I just love your attitude and energy. I think your story could be applicable to so many things in life, writing-related or otherwise. Things happen that are out of our control, and we have a choice in how much power we give to them. The next time I’m in one of those spots, I will be thinking of your poor damaged car and your wonderful spirit in spite of it all.


  7. Catherine Johnson

    Oh that’s adorable, Penny! What a magical time you must have had apart from the hail. Your poor cars!


  8. What a hassle. I love that you just swept it out, put it in the garage, and went on with what sounds like an amazing creative weekend. That’s the way to prioritize, lady. 🙂


  9. Lindsey Lane

    Oh Penny, what a tale you tell! Entertaining, gripping AND hilarious.


  10. Wow. I admire your attitude – it is what it is and you are going to enjoy yourself. I am sorry about your car – that is not a happy sight. I can’t imagine the size of the hail that could have caused that damage. My husband and I were once caught in a hail storm on a golf course and at first he was really angry thinking someone had hit a ball at us, but then dozens of other icy golf balls came hailing down. Luckily we had a cart, and the rental car only suffered minor dings.


  11. tinamcho

    Fun post! What a great attitude–not letting the hail and destruction of your car ruining your time at the book festival. So did u get to personally meet William Joyce?


  12. Joshua McCune

    Living in the sunshine despite all the hail… what a wonderful post!


  13. Holy hailstorm! Thank goodness you weren’t stuck outside in it. The poor folks and critters who were:(
    William Joyce groupie-love aside, your positive outlook is fabulous. Good luck with the car and roof.


  14. Penny – SO sorry about your car and SO impressed by the way you wove it into the incredible time you had at the book festival, especially meeting Mr. Joyce and the incredibly nice couple from Florida – not to mention the couple of drove you home after the horrible hailstorm damaged your car. Whew! That sentence is way long – maybe because my admiration is boundless! Hope all will work out in finding a car for your vacation.


  15. Pingback: Writing in Reverse | EMU's Debuts

  16. So sorry about your car and the critters. I’d forgotten how devastating hail can be. Love your optimism and how you didn’t let the situation get you down.

    Liked by 1 person

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