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1. Photos from my SCBWI talk on middle-grade and chapter books

Photo by Roxyanne Young, used with permission

The talented Roxyanne Young took these photos of my talk on Middle-Grade and Chapter Books at SCBWI-San Diego last weekend and kindly gave me permission to use them. My school visit/speaker page needs a massive updating and I’m so grateful to have some recent images to include.

Apparently I talk with my hands a lot? What’s funniest to me is that this Boston Bay slide was onscreen for barely a minute. That’s an awful lot of glasses-waving going on there.

Photo by Roxyanne Young, used with permission

Photo by Roxyanne Young, used with permission

Photo by Roxyanne Young, used with permission

Photo by Roxyanne Young, used with permission

The rest of my slides were all about other people’s books—my favorite things to talk about, as you know. Here’s a taste:

Melissa Wiley SCBWI presentation slide 09 Melissa Wiley SCBWI presentation slide 10

Melissa Wiley SCBWI presentation slide 12

Melissa Wiley SCBWI presentation slide 15

(Just a sampling from the Chapter Books part of the talk.)


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2. Rachel Sussman and The Oldest Living Things in the World



This past week, Rachel Sussman’s colossal photography project—and its associated book—The Oldest Living Things in the World, which documents her attempts to photograph continuously living organisms that are 2,000 years old and older, was profiled by the New Yorker:

To find the oldest living thing in New York City, set out from Staten Island’s West Shore Plaza mall (Chuck E. Cheese’s, Burlington Coat Factory, D.M.V.). Take a right, pass Industry Road, go left. The urban bleakness will fade into a litter-strewn route that bisects a nature preserve called Saw Mill Creek Marsh. Check the tides, and wear rubber boots; trudging through the muddy wetlands is necessary.

The other day, directions in hand, Rachel Sussman, a photographer from Greenpoint, Brooklyn, went looking for the city’s most antiquated resident: a colony of Spartina alterniflora or Spartina patens cordgrass which, she suspects, has been cloning and re-cloning itself for millennia.

Not simply the story of a cordgrass selfie, Sussman’s pursuit becomes contextualized by the lives—and deaths—of our fragile ecological forbearers, and her desire to document their existence while they are still of the earth. In support of the project, Sussman has a series of upcoming events surrounding The Oldest Living Things in the World. You can read more at her website, or see a listing of public events below:


Imagining Deep Time (a cultural program of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC), on view from August 28, 2014 to January 15, 2015

Another Green World, an eco-themed group exhibition at NYU’s Gallatin Galleries, featuring Nina KatchadourianMitchell JoaquimWilliam LamsonMary MattinglyMelanie Baker and Joseph Heidecker, on view from September 12, 2014 to October 15, 2014

The Oldest Living Things in the World, a solo exhibition at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn, NY, from September 15, 2014 to November 2, 2014, including a closing program


Sept 18th: a discussion in conjunction with the National Academy of Sciences exhibition Imagining Deep Time for DASER (DC Art Science Evening Rendezvous), Washington, DC (free and open to the public)

Nov 20th: an artist’s talk at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago

To read more about The Oldest Living Things in the World, click here.



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3. Wrigley Centennial Trivia Showdown

Topps Stamps 1974 Hooton

Who is Burt Hooton? Your guess is as good as mine, or more likely, it’s better than mine. My answer is he’s no Mickey Lolich, but that’s because I grew up in Detroit—though, as Susan Sontag would say, Under the Sign of Jack Morris. But back to your guess—if you’re schooled in Cubs lore, come to the Wrigley Centennial Trivia Showdown on Wednesday, May 28th, at the Harold Washington Library,  in celebration of the year that brought you the births of Sun Ra, Julio Cortázar, and a certain stadium. Your hosts are Stuart Shea, doyen of Cubs history, and the Chicago Tribune’s Rick Kogan, and you can win t-shirts, plates, commemorative posters, and gift certificates to Birrieria Zaragoza, Clark Street Sports, Girl and the Goat, The People’s Garment Company, & Tales, Taverns, and Towns.

From the Chicago Reader: 

Stuart Shea, author of Wrigley Field: The Long Life and Contentious Times of the Friendly Confines, and the Tribune‘s Rick Kogan host the Wrigley Centennial Trivia Showdown. Test your knowledge of the legendary ballpark alongside other Cubs enthusiasts and maybe win a Wrigley Field prize pack, or bragging rights that might earn you a free drink or two around Clark and Addison.

From the press release:

First inning: easy to medium multiple-choice trivia

The three contestants with the most correct answers will move on to the second inning.

 Second inning: medium to hard multiple-choice trivia

The two contestants with the most correct answers will move on to the third inning.

 Third inning: photo trivia

The contestant with the most correct answers is the champion!

Free advice:

You can RSVP online. Also, there is a dog park in Chicago named Wiggly Field.

Books, baseball, trivia, bragging rights. That’s a good mix for a weeknight. See you there!

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4. Upcoming events for Outside the Box


Hillary L. Chute spent a significant portion of the past decade studying, hanging out with, and interviewing many of the artists whose iconic images have helped define contemporary graphic arts. In Outside the Box: Interviews with Contemporary CartoonistsChute collects these interviews in book form for the first time, delivering in-depth discussions with twelve of the most prominent and accomplished artists and writers in comics today, and revealing a creative community that is richly interconnected yet fiercely independent. The interviewees include Lynda Barry and Alison Bechdel, Charles Burns and Joe Sacco, and even a never-before published conversation between Art Spiegelman and Chris Ware.

In addition to unparalleled access into the cartooning world, Outside the Box also puts narrative power into the hands of this cast of masters—without whom our eyes (and ears) would not take in such gripping stories.

For Chicagoans, Chute will talk about the book and her experiences as documentarian and scholar of the cartooning community at two upcoming events:

A discussion at the Seminary Co-op Bookstore, 5751 S. Woodlawn, Thursday, April 10th, 6 PM

A talk and signing at Quimby’s, 1854 W. North Ave., Saturday, April 19th, 7 PM

To read more about Outside the Box, click here.

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5. Greater San Diego Reading Association Authors Fair, part 2

Greater San Diego Reading Association Authors Fair

From left to right: Suzanne Santillan, me, Edith Hope Fine, Joy Raab, Virginia Loh Hagen, and Lori Mitchell at last week’s Greater San Diego Reading Association Authors’ Fair, held at Pacific Beach Elementary School. Photo shared by Lori Mitchell on Facebook. (Thanks, Lori!)

It was a pretty incredible day. I had sessions with two classes and then a booksigning. Both classes have been reading The Prairie Thief aloud, and it just so happened that the 5th-grade class was up to the Big Reveal chapter near the end of the book. I’ve never gotten to read this to a group of kids before! I usually read a section near the beginning, so as not to give away any of the book’s surprises, and when the class told me where they were in the book and asked me to read the next chapter, I was over the moon. Their reactions at the moment of the reveal were delightful and immensely gratifying. They jumped and and cried out in surprise. It was exactly the sort of reaction I hoped for when I wrote the book. What a treat for me to get to experience that moment with them! And then we had a nice long Q&A and they asked fantastic questions, really thoughtful stuff. Love love love.

The second class, a 4/5, blew me away with the papers they had written about Prairie Thief! And what timing, coming right after our conversation last week about how authors feel about critical approaches to their work. These kids did some serious analysis and I was very impressed by the quality of their writing. They, too, had a million questions for me about craft (seriously—they are studying it) and reading and lots of things.

Huge thanks to all the folks who helped put the fair together. A splendid day all around.

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6. I Met One of My Favorite People EVER This Weekend


She passed by the SCBWI booth at the San Diego Central Library grand opening celebration where I was signing books, and I dashed down the street after her, hollering “Miss Rumphius! Miss Rumphius!” like a loon. Because I was Just That Excited to see her, lupines and all! She’s my role model, after all.

(Instead of lupines, I plant milkweed.)

The library celebration was marvelous. I never actually made it into the new building for the sneak peek! The line was four blocks long when I arrived for booth duty at noon. But I had a wonderful time visiting with Edith Hope Fine, Cynthia Jensen Elliott, and my other fellow local children’s authors at the SCBWI booth and chatting with our friends at Yellow Book Road on one side of our table and the very nice Mysterious Galaxy folks on the other—along with author Mary Pearson, whom it’s about time I met in person after all this time being Facebook friends, and YA author Kiersten White, whom I know from Twitter, and whose new book sounds very much up Rose’s alley. (Human daughter of ancient Egyptian gods: you have her at hello.)

Kiersten White at San Diego Central Library grand opening celebration

(Isn’t that the most gorgeous cover?)

The street fair covered many blocks and was one of the best I’ve ever been to. San Diego Mini Maker Faire was there—I’m counting the days to the December event (December 7th, Del Mar Fairgrounds; spread the word!)—and lots of other interesting artisans and entertainers.

Not Miss Rumphius

Not Miss Rumphius.


The Maker Faire booth. I finally got to see a 3D printer in action! It made that orange comb right before onlookers’ eyes. At least, I think it did. I wasn’t there for that part.

Happy to say I signed many copies of The Prairie Thief! And perhaps my favorite sight of all (after Miss Rumphius, of course) was this mother and son who sat down to read Fox and Crow on the spot. :)

mom and boy read fox and crow

I’ll have to make another pilgrimage downtown soon (with the kids, this time) to see the inside of the beautiful new library that was thirty years in the making.

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7. Jack Gantos

While I don't often put press releases on this blog, every now and again I make exceptions.  The incomparable Jack Gantos will be speaking at the 92nd Street Y on Saturday, May 11th.  I suggest you run, not walk to get yourself to this event.  I was lucky enough to witness Jack's Newbery speech for Dead End In Norvelt, and I have to say, he is unparalleled in the public speaking arena.  Follow the link for tickets!

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8. Thursday Things

First up: Into the Thicklebit | Overheard.

Next thing: We’re talking books in the comments of this postKristin Lavransdatter and Papa’s Wife. Got other Scandinavian favorites?

Next thing, for San Diego locals: My signing’s on Saturday! Yellow Book Road @ beautiful Liberty Station in Point Loma, 3pm. Come! Say hi! Eat cookies! Listen to me attempt a Scottish accent! (Serves me right for writing characters in dialect.)

Book reviews & interviews.

Other shareworthy links in my sidebar.


We have an excursion to City Farmers Nursery planned for this afternoon. Rilla is planting her own butterfly garden. (The one that spans the width of our backyard isn’t enough for her, evidently.) ;) She’s making a list. Excuse me, I mean a LEIST. So far, she’s got:


2. HOT PENK DRANEYOM (hot pink geranium)

I can’t wait to see what’s next. :)

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9. Booksigning on Sept 29 in San Diego

Coming up fast! Please join me on Saturday, Sept 29, at The Yellow Book Road bookstore in San Diego’s Liberty Station (2750 Historic Decatur Road) to celebrate the launch of Inch and Roly Make a Wish, Fox and Crow Are Not Friends, and The Prairie Thief.

Hope to see you there!

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10. What a night!

Group photo with the 2012 LAL State Winners!
Last night, I had the pleasure to present award certificates and deliver the keynote speech at the Rhode Island Center for the Book's 2012 Letters About Literature Awards.

Letters About Literature is a national reading and writing program of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, presented in partnership with Target and supported locally by RICB.

60,000 young readers from across the country participated, including nearly 800 Rhode Islanders. Students were asked to submit letters describing how an author's work -- novel, non-fiction, poetry -- changed their view of the world or helped them realize something they didn't know about themselves.

With a focus on reader response and reflective writing, one winner and several honorable mentions were chosen in three competition levels, ranging from grades 4 through 12.

I had the chance to read the winning letters beforehand, and heard them read-aloud by the winners at the event.  All of the letters had a powerful narrative voice and displayed a talent and wisdom beyond the young writers' years.

It was honor to present the students with their awards, and an inspiration to hear their words.  All in all, it was evening I won't soon forget.

Click here to learn more about Letters About Literature and Rhode Island Center for the Book.

Below is a transcript the address I gave to the students, their families, and members of RICB.

Keynote Address
by Anika Denise
Rhode Island Center for the Book Annual Meeting and Letters About Literature Awards
Williams Hall Library, Cranston, Rhode Island
June 4, 2012

Good evening, everyone.  First, I want to say thank you to the Rhode Island Center for the Book for inviting me here to speak to you tonight.  It’s an honor and a privilege.  Not to mention, great fun to be spend an evening celebrating reading, writing, and the books that inspire us!  So thank you, for including me in the festivities. There's even balloons... it's a party!

Second, I’d like to CONGRATULATE all the winners, honorable mentions in the Letters About Literature Competition.

It takes courage to submit your words, to participate… to put something of yourself out there into the world to be judged.  Writers must do this all the time.  And it’s never easy.  

But, you did.  You wrote something compelling and meaningful, and tonight, you’re being recognized and celebrate

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11. Hints for authors from Waterstones' Martin Latham

by Teri Terry   Martin Latham is the longest serving Waterstones Manager, having been appointed by legendary entrepreneur and founder, Tim Waterstone. He has authored 130 entries in the Oxford Guide to English Literature, and regularly features in the Bookseller. If that isn't enough, he somehow found the time to start a highly successful writing group at his Canterbury Branch, and author a few

11 Comments on Hints for authors from Waterstones' Martin Latham, last added: 3/20/2012
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12. An Evening of Thrills: Brookline Booksmith

Catch Me by Lisa Gardner

Catch Me by Lisa Gardner

Father and son Michael and Daniel Palmer, along with bestselling author Lisa Gardner return to Brookline Booksmith with their own particular brand of mayhem. Michael Palmer is the best-selling author of 16 novels, including The Patient and A Heartbeat Away. His newest thriller, Oath of Office, deals with the fallout when a well-respected doctor goes on a murderous rampage.

Daniel Palmer is a former e-commerce pioneer, singer-songwriter, and the author of the critically-acclaimed thrillerDelirious. In his new book, Helpless, former Navy Seal Tom Hawkins returns to his hometown after his ex-wife is murdered so that he can raise his daughter. But when he becomes the prime suspect in his ex-wife’s death and other shocking false allegations are leveled against him, he has to fight for his freedom.

Lisa Gardner is the author of fifteen crime novels, including the best-selling D.D. Warren mysteries. In her newest, Catch Me, Warren is approached by a woman claiming she will be murdered in four days, creating the inspector’s toughest case yet – to solve a murder before it happens.

The event starts tonight at 7pm at the Brookline Booksmith.


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13. Stages on Pages at Books of Wonder (Cue the Squeee!)

Stages on Pages

On Thursday, November 10th, Books of Wonder is delighted to present 7 authors who have written new books for teens that feature young people involved in one way or another with the performing arts. Joining us will be debut author SHELLA CHARI to share Vanished, the story of 11-year-old Neela, who's determined to protect an antique Indian stringed instrument that's a family heirloom which she dreams of playing for delighted crowds someday; author BARBRA DEE will present her new novelTrauma Queen, about Marigold, a teen girl who's constantly embarrassed by her infamous stage actor mom; debut author SOPHIE FLACK will take us into the exclusive world of the Manhattan Ballet Company as we follow one aspiring dancer persuing her dreams in BunheadsSARA LEWIS HOLMES will present Operation Yes, about a sixth grade class on an army base with a new teacher who uses improvisational theater to teach and inspire them and how they come together to help their teacher when her brother goes missing while se

3 Comments on Stages on Pages at Books of Wonder (Cue the Squeee!), last added: 11/8/2011
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14. Back-to-school means more time for... procrastinating?

Back-to-school means more time for writing. Sort of. My 6 1/2 month old who is currently napping as I sit tapping doesn't exactly conform to a set writing schedule, but at least I have these stolen moments to stew in my creative juices, to brainstorm, to ponder to... to... procrastinate.

Yes, the more time I have, the more creative ways I can find for procrastination - a common hazard of the self-employed.

Here's something fun to mention while procrastinating... I have added a few autumnal book signings to my website. Click HERE for the schedule.

Ooooh, and I've also at last created a facebook page for my books HERE.  Please stop by and click the like button if you want another way to know what I'm up to, as I'll be making event and book announcements there too.

Now, back to those creative juices. That reminds me, I'm thirsty. And hungry. I think it's time for a snack break.  ;-)

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15. David Ira Rottenberg: Author to Entrepreneur

Gwendolyn, the Graceful Pig is the story of Gwendolyn and Omar--two pigs with very different dreams who find common ground and friendship through dance. I was so intrigued by author David Ira Rottenberg's creative marketing strategy for this self-published picture book that I tracked him down for an interview. Via email from his home outside of Boston, Massachusetts, David was kind enough to answer a few questions I had about his approach, which incorporates ballet into author events at bookstores! Thanks so much for sharing your experiences, David!

I love it that you integrate dance into your author events. How did you come up with such an innovative marketing strategy?

When it came time to market the book, events in bookstores were an obvious avenue to try, but I didn’t think kids would have much interest in me or in me reading my book. Then, I thought if I had a ballet dancer read the book, the kids (and their parents) would be a lot more interested. Over time, I’ve grown confident enough to read my book in bookstores, so now the dancers do more of a performance/dance demonstration.

How do you go about setting up these events? Is it a lot of work?
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16. Bemidji Book Festival 2011

You’d think that being in rural Minnesota wouldn’t bring much in the way of industry happenings, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.  My Midwest visit just so happened to coincide with the Bemidji Book Festival, a 6-day marathon of events with local authors, poets and illustrators.  Kudos to the Bemidji Library and the MN Legacy Fund for making this all happen!

I stepped off the plane and immediately headed to a presentation by Catherine Friend, author of both children’s stories and the adult books, Hit By A Farm, Sheepish, and The Compassionate Carnivore.  With a humble, witty voice on her 1 1/2 memoirs and a great perspective on local farming (and sheep), she’s like a lady Michael Pollan with a personal touch.  I’m thinking it’s time to take a closer look her kids’ books, and also take up knitting!

The next morning, I accessed my inner child by attending Thursday morning’s library event with author/illustrator Lynne Jonell.  While Jonell got her start in picture books, she’s now known for her middle-grade novels, like Emmy And The Incredible Shrinking Rat.  I think the design (by Amelia May Anderson) and art (by Jonathan Bean) for Emmy is impeccable – the hand-drawn type is seamlessly integrated to the limited-color line drawings, which carry over into a flip-book style interior. Plus, it was a pleasure to listen to Lynne’s story and watch her graciously field questions from aspiring picture book authors with just the right answers (five letters: SCBWI) and some kind inspiration.

On Friday night, we headed to the high school for an author’s fair.  While most of the authors were of the niche, poetry or self-published variety, I did discover Erik Evenson, a graphic novelist/illustrator who is – get this – originally from New Hampshire!  His 0 Comments on Bemidji Book Festival 2011 as of 1/1/1900

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17. Clare Cavanagh and Edith Grossman at the 92nd Street Y

Why Translation Matters Before her NBCC win, Clare Cavanagh already had events lined up at the 92nd Street Y. The first on Sunday, March 20 is a conversation with Edith Grossman titled “Why Translation Matters,” and Grossman’s book of the same name has just been published in paperback from YUP. Both authors are critically-acclaimed translators of the first order; Grossman has often been called one of the most important of our time, particularly for her work on Spanish-English translations of Latin American writers and her hallmark translation of Cervantes’ Don Quixote.

Cavanagh On Monday, March 21, the second event with Cavanagh pertains more directly to the studies of her award-winning book, Lyric Poetry and Modern Politics. In conversation with Robert Hass and Adam Zagajewski, she will discuss the works of Czesław Miłosz for the centenary celebration of the Polish poet’s life. The blog at Little Star, a journal of poetry and prose founded by Ann Kjellberg and Melissa Green, has more information on upcoming events celebrating Miłosz. Be sure to grab tickets to the Y events while they’re still available, and if you’re under 35, purchase them at the amazingly discounted price of $10. These are conversations not to be missed.

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18. Thursday at the YIVO Institute: James Loeffler on Russian Jewish Music

The Most Musical Nation No image of prerevolutionary Russian Jewish life is more iconic than the fiddler on the roof. But in the half century before 1917, Jewish musicians were actually descending from their shtetl roofs and streaming in dazzling numbers to Russia’s new classical conservatories. At a time of both rising anti-Semitism and burgeoning Jewish nationalism, how and why did Russian music become the gateway to Jewish modernity in music? Drawing on previously unavailable archives, The Most Musical Nation: Jews and Culture in the Late Russian Empire, by James Loeffler, offers an insightful new perspective on the emergence of Russian Jewish culture and identity.

This Thursday, March 24, Loeffler will be reading excerpts from his book at the YIVO Institute Center for Jewish History. The talk will be complemented by musical examples performed by participants from the Sidney Krum Young Artists Concert Series, with a book signing and reception to follow. Admission is free and open to the public.

19. Hank Greenberg Steps Up to Bat

Kurlansky, Hank Greenberg Baseball season is upon us and Hank Greenberg: The Hero Who Didn’t Want to Be One ,“a wonderful book”, according to the New York Daily News, is the newest addition to YUP’s Jewish Lives series, masterfully written by New York Times bestselling author, Mark Kurlansky.

Matters of personal choice easily become the defining qualities of celebrity scrutiny. When Hammerin’ Hank Greenberg decided not to play in the 1934Yom Kippur game against the Yankees, baseball went into an uproar. American Jews loved him, and many fans were furious. That Greenberg was to be identified with religiosity was peculiar, Kurlansky writes, because Yom Kippur “is a solemn day of fasting and prayer that is so significant in the Jewish religion that it is often observed by secular Jews—so-called Yom Kippur Jews. Greenberg was not even a Yom Kippur Jew. And yet his Jewish observance had become a national issue.”

This becomes the lens through which Kurlansky investigates Greenberg’s life, looking at his character both on and off the field to arrive at a portrait that wholly encompasses the at times conflicting demands of Judaism, athleticism, and heroism. When asked what quality most defined Greenberg as a man, Kurlansky responded: “his humility, without a doubt.”

Tomorrow at the 92nd Street Y, Mark Kurlansky will appear for a talk about Hank Greenberg in conversation with David Margolick. And on April 8, Kurlansky will begin a national  twenty-city radio tour. For more news and updates, be sure to follow Hank Greenberg: The Hero Who Didn’t Want to Be One on Facebook.

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20. Author Event With Gayle Forman

Tuesday night was the release of the much anticipated sequel to Gayle Forman's IF I STAY. The WHERE SHE WENT launch party was right here in NY, so of course I had to go. :P

There were cupcakes and quarters and curse words. I took a seat next to Elizabeth Eulberg (author of The Lonely Hearts Club and Prom and Prejudice) to eat my cupcake and catch up. Mitali from Alley of Books was also there, as was YA writer Frankie Diane Mallis! Frankie is giving away a signed copy of WHERE SHE WENT on her blog!

Gayle has a rule at home--for every curse word, her kids get a quarter. The signing was no exception. For every kid under 14, Gayle promised a quarter every time they heard the F-bomb in her reading. She owed each of them only one! Go Gayle!

Gayle's first words, before she read the subway scene and the following chapter where Adam becomes "a guy", were "If you fell in love with Adam in IF I STAY, well, I'm sorry."

I won't go into any detail in case you haven't read IF I STAY, because I know you're going to read it because it's great.

Gayle is one of my favorite people. Her books--emotional and raw--are definitely not to be missed.

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21. Texas Librarians Rock--I Cannot Lie!

Had a fabulous and energizing day at the Texas Library Association annual meeting in Austin. First off was the Lone Star Authors Shine panel with fellow Lone Stars James Dashner, Greg Taylor, Jordan Sonnenblick, Melissa Kantor, and Helen Frost. 
 That’s one of the best parts of this job—rubbing shoulders with awesome authors!
At the Disney-Hyperion booth, The Gray Wolf Throne arcs were a hot commodity. I enjoyed meeting hundreds of Texas librarians and re-acquainting myself with many more.

And then on to the Texas Teens for Literacy events. TLA does a fantastic job of getting teens involved in the conference. You could pick them out from their eye-catching yellow tee shirts. Why didn’t they have events like that when I was a teen? 
First, I was on a panel with authors Melissa Kantor and Sophie Jordan.
Then it was on to the Teen Mingle room, where the teens made me feel like a total rock star.
Bravo, Texas! Now on to the Writers’ League of Texas YA A to Z conference.   

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22. Charlaine Harris in NYC

Tuesday night I hopped on the Harley (on the back--I'm not that cool) and rode into Manhattan with my husband for the release and book signing of DEAD RECKONING, book 11 in the Southern Vampire Mysteries (True Blood) by Charlaine Harris. I will admit, I was a little bit starstruck. Most of the pictures that my husband took, I'm making crazy faces, or squealing like the fangirl that I am. So I'll just share these ones with you.

I took my smaller camera, which takes kind of crappy pictures, because I went on the bike and my big camera is...big.

That is me on the right in the tan sweater.

Charlaine Harris was the author who got me back in to reading. The minute I picked up DEAD UNTIL DARK, I was hooked in the world she'd created, and totally in love with her characters. Because of this, I started writing. I even named my protagonist in my current WIP after Charlaine. Her books are for adults, and I write YA, but I didn't chose YA. It chose me, I suppose (in fact this is the ONLY adult series I read, ha!). There are so many great YA authors who have inspired me, but when I look back, Charlaine and Sookie were what made me realize I was a writer. My favorite quote from this signing was from Harris: "Writers are born, not made." She didn't mean that you're born a great writer, you do have to write and learn how to write well. 

Charlaine answered questions for about thirty minutes and then for the next two hours or so she signed books. She is a signing machine. By the time she got to me, about an hour into signing, her signature was still perfect. During the Q & A fans asked the general questions about her writing process, which now consists of a lot of the business side and not as much writing as she'd like to do, how much coffee she drinks (three cups in the morning), and how she feels about the differences Alan Ball made between the books and the show (she thinks he's fantastic, and she wishes she had thought of Jessica).

The thing I found most interesting was that, despite the fact she'd written mysteries for years before she wrote the first Sookie Stackhouse novel, it took two years for her agent to sell it. Mainly because nobody knew where to put it on a shelf. When she wrote the book, she thought it would be fun to have a mystery series that involved the supernatural, melding mystery and urban fantasy together. Then she thought if she threw in a juicy sex scene for Sookie, she could get the romance readers too. And when the question "Where do we shelve this?" came up, Harris said "everywhere". A logical answer, for sure!

It was an amazing opportunity for me to be able to meet her. Her Sookie novels have inspired me in so many ways. I do believe it is important for writers to read and gather inspiration from "the masters" of literature, especially in your chosen genre, and not only the current super hits (Sookie, Twilight, Harry Potter, etc), but the thing that inspires me most about Charlaine Harris's Sookie novels, is just how much I love them. How immersed in that world I become when I sit down to read. That is what I want to do to readers. That is what is so inspiring. And that is how I knew I was a writer.

 Have you had the chance to meet some o

6 Comments on Charlaine Harris in NYC, last added: 5/5/2011
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23. Jerome Charyn: June 2 at the 92Y Tribeca

Joe DiMaggio And speaking of American icons: The Yankee Clipper has had a great run so far this season, thanks in no small part to Jerome Charyn’s new biography, Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil. On Facebook, almost 1,800 fans have gathered this spring for new updates on Joe, his relationship with Marilyn, his status as an American icon, and to share personal stories, music, photos, videos, stats and updates from the treasure troves of info about DiMaggio online.

Don’t miss your chance to hear Charyn speak in person! At noon next Thursday, June 2, he will be at the 92nd Street Y Tribeca, where he will tell all about DiMaggio and sign copies of his book!

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24. Harold Bloom, Then, as Now, Our Uncommon Reader

The Anatomy of Influence The May 22 cover of the New York Times Book Review featured a photograph of Harold Bloom; the title of Editor Sam Tanenhaus’s essay: “An Uncommon Reader”, accompanied online by an interview at Bloom’s home in New York. As Tanenhaus writes of the new book, The Anatomy of Influence: Literature as a Way of Life, “[Bloom] still has many arresting things to say and says them, often, with exquisite precision. He is, by any reckoning, one of the most stimulating literary presences of the last half-century.”

At the end of the PEN World Voices Festival earlier this month, Bloom appeared in conversation with Paul Holdengräber, Director of LIVE from the New York Public Library. The discussion centered on the new book and how it responds to Bloom’s 1973 work, The Anxiety of Influence. When colleague John Hollander reviewed Anxiety for the Times, calling it, “more than a little outrageous”, a common reaction to Bloom’s work in the academy at the time, he ultimately conceded that: “In any event, this remarkable book has raised profound questions about where in the mind the creative process is to be located, and about how the prior visions of other poems are, for a true poet, as powerful as his own dreams and as formative as his domestic childhood. From now on, only obtuseness or naiveté, in critic or psychologist, will be able to ignore them.”

The past decades have proved Hollander right, as Bloom moved from Yale’s English Department to found the Humanities Department, an interdisciplinary program of study “designed to contribute to an integrated understanding of the Western cultural tradition”, certainly the relationships and networks of influencing and influenced. Bloom talks with Holdengräber about love, memory, and the power of poetry (and Falstaff :)  ). And he talks about the writers who shaped his reading most—Shakespeare, Whitman, Crane—and what the sound and meaning of their verse have brought to understanding the human experience, how we are all influenced by the art of others. With further reading and a lifelong love for literature, Bloom has now written these reflections into The Anatomy of Influence.  Here’s a video clip from the event, but you can also download the full audio, take it with you, and listen as you go.

Harold Bloom 5.1.11 from LIVE from the NYPL on Vimeo.



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25. Cartooning Interviews and Events

Cartooning This May, Bob Andelman, also known as Mr. Media, has interviewed two of YUP’s experts on graphic fiction and cartoons: Brian Walker on two of his recent books, including Doonesbury and the Art of G.B. Trudeau and Ivan Brunetti for Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice.

And Chicago-based fans of comics and graphic novels are in for a treat: Ivan Brunetti will appear at the 27th annual Chicago Tribune Printers Row Lit Fest, which takes place on Saturday, June 4 and Sunday, June 5, 2011. The Lit Fest is a free, two-day literary extravaganza featuring more than 200 authors, 100 literary programs and 160 booksellers.   Doonesbury and the Art of G.B. Trudeau

On Sunday, June 5, from 2 pm - 2:45 pm, Brunetti will discuss his new book (and the art of cartooning in general) with two rising young cartoonists who are also based in Chicago: Chris "Elio" Eliopoulos and Onsmith. All three will be available to sign their books afterwards.

And for those outside of Chicago in need of Brunetti’s teaching, once again here is the trailer for Cartooning. Why? Because it is simply one of the coolest things ever.


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