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I'm finding it difficult to keep up with blogging as well as writing and mothering. I'm pretty active on twitter. And I post semi-regularly on Facebook and tumblr. And I will continue post here as well, but not weekly.
My upcoming events!
Saturday Sept. 26 - Salt Lake Comic Con
Saturday Oct. 10, 10am - Girls Books, Boys Books, and Just Good Books: A Conversation on Gender and Young Adult Literature Featuring Valynne Maetani, Shannon Hale, Matthew Kirby and Ann Cannon. Viridian Event Center, West Jordan, Utah
Tuesday, Oct 13, 7pm - joining Margaret Stohl to launch her new book BLACK WIDOW: FOREVER RED at the Viridian Event Center, West Jordan, UT. This is also the release day for THE PRINCESS IN BLACK AND THE PERFECT PRINCESS PARTY (PIB #2) so I can sign those for you that night.
Thursday, Oct 15 - The launch party for THE PRINCESS IN BLACK AND THE PERFECT PRINCESS PARTY at The King's English, 1500 So. 1500 Ea. Salt Lake City, UT, with Dean Hale
Oct 18-20 - Events in San Francisco for the launch of the 2nd PRINCESS IN BLACK, with Dean Hale and LeUyen Pham
Nov 6-7 - AASL conference and a public bookstore event in Ohio, details TBA
I did about 25 assemblies at schools this past year. Add that to a previous 200-300 assemblies and you could say I've about seen it all. One visit I was picked up at the train station in a limo, treated to a lunch with a class of kids that had read my books and had an amazing discussion with them. One visit (many many visits) I've been thrown at the kids without their having any idea whatsoever who I was or why I was there and consequently not caring much either. [NOTE: You do NOT need to pick up the author in a limo! But the kids do notice if the author event is a big deal to the adult organizers. Any preparation and excitement lets them know this is important and amazing and they care about it more too.]
The visits and the travel have taken a significant toll on my writing and family time so I'm taking as much of a break as possible for the next two years. But I wanted to write down some things I've learned that may be helpful for school administrations, teachers, librarians, and parent organizations who organize author visits. For more info, here's a similar post I did a few years ago.
Tips for a great school visit:
Involve the librarian. If the visit is set up and hosted by the PTA, PTO, etc., it's still vital to involve the librarian. (and if the librarian organizes the event, involve the PTO!) Then the librarian involves the teachers. And all the school preps for this assembly. If the librarian is involved and the kids are prepped, the visit goes 100x better. Honestly, night and day.
If you don't have a librarian:
Seriously. First order of business: campaign for a full-time librarian at your school. Whatever it takes. Some school districts see librarians as book-checker-outers and make it part time or hire fantastic but untrained people to fill in in order to save money. But I've seen it hundreds of times and there's no replacing a professional, trained, MLS librarian in a school library. The librarian does SO MUCH MORE than check out books. They are the center of literacy for the school. This is very important. Do this first. And then prep for an author event.
Prepping ideas for the kids:
- Ideal: all the kids read one of the authors books
- during computer time, have the kids explore the authors' website
- do a read aloud of the first chapter(s) of a book in class
- students make banners, signs advertising the event
- make up games or competitions in anticipation
- challenge kids to read one of the author's books - all who do get to be part of a greeting committee or attend an after-assembly meet-and-greet or luncheon
- have kids write the intro for the author, submit it, and the winner introduces the author at the assembly
- find ways to involve the kids, make it a big deal, get the kids excited, caring, reading in preparation (and there will be 10x as much reading after!)
Why have an author school visit?:
Because sometimes an author speaking to the kids is the hook some kids need to get into reading, to fall in love with it, to discover they are a reader. Sometimes an author speaking to the kids is the hook some kids need to start writing. Reading and writing skills are the foundation of ongoing education and employment. Writing for fun leads to writing skills. Reading for fun leads to reading skills. And future success is heavily weighted on having those skills.
Recently a teacher told me after a writing workshop I did that in her decades of teaching she'd never seen the kids so engaged and excited to write and that the entire class's writing skills shot up in the months that followed.
A while back a couple of educators sent me their take on author visits:
"I had Frank Beddor visit the middle school where I was student teacher. He did 3 assemblies (one for each grade) and he discussed the writing process, his books, what it means to be an author, etc. He then sold his books outside as kids were picked up from school. He also spent lunch with my own students in an intimate gathering. They were riveted!
"The change in our school was palpable. We’ve always been a reading-oriented school, but after the assemblies kids were discussing books in the hallways, the library had LONG hold lists, and kids were sharing recommendations for future reads. Kids wanted to write their own books.
"I’ll repeat that last: KIDS WANTED TO WRITE.
"They talked about those assemblies for the rest of the year. Here’s a local newspaper article: http://www.theacorn.com/news/2010-04-08/Schools/AC_Stelle_teams_up_with_popular_author.html
"I teach completely online now (online high school English), but if I were in a brick-and-mortar I would try to host an author every semester. THAT’S how important I think those visits are. Those events can change lives." Ashley Benning
"I have been teaching for the past 13 years. The last two and a half have been in 5th grade. I was turned on to your books last year by a colleague and my students and I fell in love with them. I spent the summer reading the Bayern Series and the Princess Academy books. Last year, you were gracious enough to Skype with several classes from our school. The students saw you as a real person and realized they could write as well. Then reality set in when you told students it took you years to write a story.
"I am again teaching Goose Girl this year and because I "met" you on Skype I was able to share that with my students this year and they LOVE the book, so much so that I'm a little concerned as to how I'm going to top Goose Girl.
"Over my lifetime, I believe I've had 3 author's visits. Each time students and I were inspired to be better readers and writers." Jen Hess
In conclusion: Librarians! PTO! Teachers! Kids! Everyone gets involved, makes it fun, gets excited. Then sit back and watch what happens after.
I don’t know how many school assemblies I’ve done over the past 12 years. 200-300 is my best guess. Something I’ve found is that boys feel okay booing and mocking things they see as “for girls” but that girls never mock the “boy” things. Here’s an example. This exact scenario has repeated at every elementary and middle school assembly I’ve done in the past year and a half - at least 30, maybe more, in over a dozen states.
Me: I went to Mattel headquarters. Mattel is the largest toy maker in the world. They make Thomas the Train, Justice League Figures, Matchbox Cars–
Me: I was going to write a book for their new toy line, but it was so secret, we had to put in a security code to go down a secret hallway, into a second locked door where on a table under a shroud they had the prototypes for the new toys. I lifted the shroud and this is what I saw: (switches to slide of Ever After High dolls)
Boys: BOOO!!! BOOOO!!!
Notice the girls did not boo Thomas or Justice League or cars. Many cheered those things too. But the boys booed Barbe and EAH in unison, loudly, as if it was only natural, expected.
I’ve put up with it for awhile. And all this booing is after I’ve even talked with the kids about how unfair it is that people claim there are boy books and girl books. How untrue. Why can girls read anything but boys are told that they can only read half the books? And we’ve talked frankly about this. Still, the loud, fearless, angry mocking of any mention of “girl” media.
I’ve stopped putting up with it. When they boo, I stop them now. I demand respect. “I don’t know who told you it was okay to boo anything that you think girls like, but it’s not okay with me. That will stop. Girls, you don’t have to put up with that. The things you like deserve respect. You deserve respect.” I don’t know if they listen. But I’m going to say it all the same.
I think that by being “polite” and pretending to ignore the boos, I was actually reinforcing their opinion that this was okay. Tolerating something out of civility sure looks like complicity if you’re a girl in the audience. I won’t be complicit anymore. Which is “kinder”: ignoring the boos or calling them on it?
I'm having issues pasting photos so here's the links to the tumblr posts I did on my weekend at YALLWEST. What a great time! I love the YA book community.
Part part 1
Post part 2
I've been doing school visits as part of my tour for PRINCESS ACADEMY: The Forgotten Sisters. All have been terrific--great kids, great librarians. But something happened at one I want to talk about. I'm not going to name the school or location because I don't think it's a problem with just one school; it's just one example of a much wider problem.
This was a small-ish school, and I spoke to the 3-8 grades. It wasn't until I was partway into my presentation that I realized that the back rows of the older grades were all girls.
Later a teacher told me, "The administration only gave permission to the middle school girls to leave class for your assembly. I have a boy student who is a huge fan of SPIRIT ANIMALS. I got special permission for him to come, but he was too embarrassed."
"Because the administration had already shown that they believed my presentation would only be for girls?"
"Yes," she said.
I tried not to explode in front of the children.
Let's be clear: I do not talk about "girl" stuff. I do not talk about body parts. I do not do a "Your Menstrual Cycle and You!" presentation. I talk about books and writing, reading, rejections and moving through them, how to come up with story ideas. But because I'm a woman, because some of my books have pictures of girls on the cover, because some of my books have "princess" in the title, I'm stamped as "for girls only." However, the male writers who have boys on their covers speak to the entire school.
This has happened a few times before. I don't believe it's ever happened in an elementary school--just middle school or high school.
I remember one middle school 2-3 years ago that I was going to visit while on tour. I heard in advance that they planned to pull the girls out of class for my assembly but not the boys. I'd dealt with that in the past and didn't want to be a part of perpetuating the myth that women only have things of interest to say to girls while men's voices are universally important. I told the publicist that this was something I wasn't comfortable with and to please ask them to invite the boys as well as girls. I thought it was taken care of. When I got there, the administration told me with shrugs that they'd heard I didn't want a segregated audience but that's just how it was going to be. Should I have refused? Embarrassed the bookstore, let down the girls who had been looking forward to my visit? I did the presentation. But I felt sick to my stomach. Later I asked what other authors had visited. They'd had a male writer. For his assembly, both boys and girls had been invited.
I think most people reading this will agree that leaving the boys behind is wrong. And yet--when giving books to boys, how often do we offer ones that have girls as protagonists? (Princesses even!) And if we do, do we qualify it: "Even though it's about a girl, I think you'll like it." Even though. We're telling them subtly, if not explicitly, that books about girls aren't for them. Even if a boy would never, ever like any book about any girl (highly unlikely) if we don't at least offer some, we're reinforcing the ideology.
I heard it a hundred times with Hunger Games: "Boys, even though this is about a girl, you'll like it!" Even though. I never heard a single time, "Girls, even though Harry Potter is about a boy, you'll like it!"
The belief that boys won't like books with female protagonists, that they will refuse to read them, the shaming that happens (from peers, parents, teachers, often right in front of me) when they do, the idea that girls should read about and understand boys but that boys don't have to read about girls, that boys aren't expected to understand and empathize with the female population of the world....this belief directly leads to rape culture. To a culture that tells boys and men, it doesn't matter how the girl feels, what she wants. You don't have to wonder. She is here to please you. She is here to do what you want. No one expects you to have to empathize with girls and women. As far as you need be concerned, they have no interior life.
At this recent school visit, near the end I left time for questions. Not one student had a question. In 12 years and 200-300 presentations, I've never had that happen. So I filled in the last 5 minutes reading them the first few chapters of The Princess in Black, showing them slides of the illustrations. BTW I've never met a boy who didn't like this book.
After the presentation, I signed books for the students who had pre-ordered my books (all girls), but one 3rd grade boy hung around.
"Did you want to ask her a question?" a teacher asked.
"Yes," he said nervously, "but not now. I'll wait till everyone is gone."
Once the other students were gone, three adults still remained. He was still clearly uncomfortable that we weren't alone but his question was also clearly important to him. So he leaned forward and whispered in my ear, "Do you have a copy of the black princess book?"
It broke my heart that he felt he had to whisper the question.
He wanted to read the rest of the book so badly and yet was so afraid what others would think of him. If he read a "girl" book. A book about a princess. Even a monster-fighting superhero ninja princess. He wasn't born ashamed. We made him ashamed. Ashamed to be interested in a book about a girl. About a princess--the most "girlie" of girls.
I wish I'd had a copy of The Princess in Black to give him right then. The bookstore told him they were going to donate a copy to his library. I hope he's brave enough to check it out. I hope he keeps reading. I hope he changes his own story. I hope all of us can change this story. I'm really rooting for a happy ending.
The Forgotten Sisters, the final book in the Princess Academy series, hits shelves one week from today. Preorder the book from anywhere and get a free poster.
Here are details of my upcoming appearances in Utah, Chicago, North Carolina, Wyoming, and Santa Monica. I need to focus more on writing and family than on trips and book events, so I will be cutting back wherever possible this year. Catch me while you can!
What am I currently working on? Nine things. Short stories, screenplays, a graphic novel, an adult novel, some middle grade and young adult novels. I honestly don't know which one will be finished and out first. I often hear non-writers muse that coming up with ideas must be the hardest part of writing. There are many things harder than coming up with ideas.
- Sitting my butt down and writing every day
- Ignoring the internet
- Not letting myself get discouraged
- Getting enough sleep at night
- Eating healthy food
- Ignoring the internet
- Choosing which ideas to work on first
- Staying with one book till it's finished and not getting distracted by all the other shiny ideas
- Sitting my butt down and writing every day
- Balancing work time with business/publicity and family needs
Today I took my four-year-olds to their indoor soccer class, stood outside the door, and had a phone interview with Sally from Publisher's Weekly about Princess Academy's tenth anniversary. The class pit the girls against the boys. My daughters had a stunning plan for victory: stand directly in front of the PVC-pipe-and-net goal and twirl their hair in eerie unison. And then when a boy kicked the ball anywhere near them, they picked up the goal and turned it around. I watched and laughed and gave my interview. A janitor overheard me on the phone and interrupted the call to ask, "Are you a writer? Do you have any books out? What are they? I love to read."
So do I, my friend.
The Princess Academy: Palace of Stone tour is over! My first book tour in about three years. I took a good deal of time off, 'cause:
It was so great to get out and chat with readers, revisiting old haunts and discovering new ones. I'm terrible at taking photos. Here are a few I was able to scrounge from my camera and others. In no particular order, because that would require too much effort.
In Baltimore with Tiffany Trent (Hallowmere, The Unnaturalists). We were MFA bffs in Montana. She read the first (horrible) draft of The Goose Girl. We had a dream back then of one day being published authors and meeting up at conferences...
Also in Baltimore, Mr. Hale himself! Nathan Hale, that is, in spiffy hat, promoting his fab graphic novel historicals One Dead Spy and Big Bad Ironclad.
Baltimore Book Fest's author hospitality suite is in this awesome old house. I appreciated this statue.
Traveling from Baltimore to NYC. I texted my hubbie, "I'm riding with Ellen Datlow on the train." (superstar editor) He texted "Does she know you're there?" So I took this photo and sent it to him. (She did know. We shared licorice.)
Oh my! How did I get on this panel? Avi, Ann M. Martin, Richard Peck, Rebecca Stead, and myself at Books of Wonder in NYC. SO great to be back in NYC again! I love that town. I'm claiming Reb Stead as a new best friend. And I pretty much want a transcript of everything Richard Peck says.
Newsflash: Francisco X. Stork is awesome. So lovely, smart, and kind. Just in case you needed any other reason to read his fab books.
A school visit in Memphis. That's a photo of my 10-year-old self on the screen behind me.
On stage at the Decatur book fest in Georgia with my young helpers. So hot. So worth it. Great fest.
Book event at Alamosa Books in Albequerque. Fab store!
Stop it! These girls in Phoenix stenciled their shirts. I'm certain "SH" stands for "smoked ham."
Fun assembly in Jackson, MS, organized by Lemuria Books, another fab store. These kids helped me do some storytelling, so we posed after for a photo op.
I show off my roll of rejection letters to St. George's School in Memphis. Great kids.
St. Georges gave me BBQ at a special lunch after. Serious. Take me back to Memphis.
Back at home, my daughter Dinah playing hide-and-go-seek.
Palace cake at the book launch at The King's English! I don't think I've ever partaken of food at my book events. But it's sure pretty! Great launch. My editor and I co-presented, and I just loved talking with her.
Clearly awesome gals in Phoenix showing off their "Mutual understanding is sexy" t-shirts. (from The Actor and the Housewife)
Congratulatory best seller flowers.
In Decatur, it wasn't hard to distinguish the children's writers from the elite crowd. At the authors' hot and humid reception, Rebecca Stead, David Levithan and I plopped our butts down on the ground in front of the one fan. It was an excellent plan. We were shortly joined by all the other present children's writers. There are definite benefits to having no dignity.
My daughter covered a doll's face in masking tape and drew her face on. Creepy. And an excellent story starter!
These were restaurant bathrooms in NYC. Yes, the doors are clear glass. When you go in, the door presumably clouds up so no one can see in. But I could still see out, so I had to wonder, as I frantically rushed through my business. There is such a thing as too fancy. I have a reoccuring dream that I have to go to the bathroom and the only public bathroom has no walls, so this experience was so surreal!
Thanks to all the great bookstores: King's English, Deseret Book, Changing Hands, Alamosa, Booksellers at Laurelwood, Lemuria, Little Shop of Stories, Andersen's, The Children's Bookstore, Books of Wonder, and Barnes & Noble! And thanks to School Library Journal for hosting the webcast, and Scholastic Book Orders for the wonderful day. Utahns, don't miss my event with Libba Bray this Saturday. I'll be in Southern California in February, and I hope to see more of you next book launch! Whenever that might be...
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year and hello! We're snowed in here and feeling cozy. About to go write for a couple of hours and thought I'd drop a few lines to say what I've got in store in 2013 (since the world isn't ending...yet).
No new book in 2013. Prepare yourself for a shocker: toddler twins have slowed me down a bit. I outlined my current novel in 2005, finished the first draft in 2009, and hope to finish the final in January 2013, pubbing in early 2014. It's been a doozy of a book. I've cut about 300 pages overall. But I like it! I really, really hope you will too. I've worked SO hard on this. Promise me you will love it? Cross your heart?
Well, I sort of have a new book in 2013. I wrote a short story for the new GUYS READ anthology, edited by the marvelous Jon Scieszka, theme: fantasy and science fiction. I believe that will pub in the fall.
See my events page for stuff. So far:
AUSTENLAND premieres at the Sundance Film Festival January 18.
I'll be speaking at the Family Literacy Symposium in Provo, Utah.
I'll be in La Verne, San Diego, and Los Angeles doing events in February.
Teens, come join me at the Teen Author Boot Camp in March.
In May we'll do our annual fab 1-day writers' workshop Writing for Charity, TBA.
Check here for ongoing news about the AUSTENLAND movie, title and jacket of my new book, some teasers for the first book of THE PRINCESS IN BLACK series (book 1 pubbing fall '14), and other such niceties. Thanks for stopping by squeetus.
From last post, many of you were curious what I do for a school assembly. It just so happens that I can show you. In the fall I did an assembly at the Brooklyn Friends School in New York City that was live webcast to 100+ other schools through School Library Journal. SLJ has the webcast archived, and you can view it for free. You need to register to view it. If you see it let me know what you think, 'cause I will not be watching it. 'Cause it's my own voice and face.
(Friday is the premiere of Austenland at the Sundance Film Festival. I will report back to you on Monday. Excited and nervous, excited and nervous...)
So much has happened. So much goodness and craziness. I hardly know how to organize my thoughts. I have a bunch of crappy phone photos so maybe I'll just paste those in.
On the "red carpet." When I first arrived I was the only one. I posed for photos. Awkwardly. Such a relief when the actors came and took the attention.
I have a photo of the three of us almost exactly like this from four years ago, the first time we three got together to talk about the movie. (I don't have a photo cred for this one but it's not mine, couldn't find the source, sorry.)
Jerusha Hess (Austenland director) and I backstage before the premiere in Park City. I love her.
The audience as I came up on stage after the screening with the cast, director, and Stephenie.Watching the film with a huge, sold out crowd, hearing their honest and constant laughter (and sometimes gasps) gave me goosebumps and made me cry. Surreal, beautiful experience.
On stage for the Q&A. The entire cast flew out for Sundance (Georgia King and Jennifer Coolidge didn't arrive till after the premiere due to filming their respective TV series) You can watch the video of that Q&A here.
With Jane Seymour (Mrs. Wattlesbrook) and her real life sister Annie (Patience the maid). These two were dear friends of mine on set and it was a joyous reunion when I saw them again. Annie flew in from England!
I got Ricky Whittle to eat a vegetable.
My agent Barry with Lady Jane.
More Ricky! With some amazing nachos. I love this boy.
And even more Ricky! Given some of the photos I had with me and Ricky on set, I thought it only fair that I get one with my husband and Ricky embracing, just to be fair.
The fabulous Jennifer Coolidge and Jerusha's assistant and my friend Erica. Great ladies. Hours of excellent convo.
How about some crappy, self-shot iphone photos?
With Ricky and Jared Hess (Jerusha's husband, Napoleon Dynamite director, and as you can see, ultra-serious and highbrow.)
Jerusha and JJ Feild (Mr. Nobley). He even looks good in this crappy photo. We think Jeru and JJ look like siblings.
Ricky, Steph, Annie, and part of Jane's face. Everyone was so happy to be together again! Lovely, lovely crew.
Jerusha and I after the Odgen screening last night (thanks for the photo, Rachel). So awesome to hear people laugh at lines I wrote, really enjoy something we worked so hard on. Truly a gift. When people read my books, they're alone. It is special to be present when people are enjoying something I've worked on.
After the Ogden screening, I ran into my former high school Drama teacher Cindy Hunt! So excited to see her. And when I got on my phone to show her a photo of my husband, I found a text informing me that Austenland sold to Sony for distribution! WAHOO!
Book tour for EVER AFTER HIGH: The Storybook of Legends. Come see me!
Tuesday, October 8
2526 East Colfax Avenue
Wednesday, October 9
St. Louis County Library
1640 S. Lindbergh Blvd
St. Louis, MO
Booksales by Barnes & Noble
Thursday, October 10
Mrs. Nelson's Toys & Books
1030 Bonita Ave
La Verne, CA
Saturday, October 12
Children's Book World
17 Haverford Station Rd
Sunday, October 13
New York Comic Con Panel
The Magic of Storytelling panel with Lemony Snicket (When Did You See Her Last?), David Lubar (Weenies series), Matthew Cody (Will in Scarlet), Shannon Hale (Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends), George O'Connor (Olympians), and Scott Campell (If Dogs Run Free)
New York Comic Con Authographing: 12PM - Table 21
Tuesday, October 15
Provo City Library
550 North University Ave.
Provo, UT 84601
Booksales by Kings English
October 17, 2013
Talk and signing with Lisi Harrison, Megan McCafferty, and Diana Lopez
October 19, 2013
Tween Reads Book Fest
November 9, 2013
Check with the stores for further information. Remember, it costs stores money to advertise and staff an author event. If you want to get books signed at bookstore-hosted events, please support their continued existence by purchasing a book from them (doesn't have to be one of mine--but hey, that'd be nice!).
Just heard the news...EVER AFTER HIGH: The Storybook of Legends is a New York Times Best Seller! Callooh Callay!
A smattering of visuals from the first leg of my book tour. First, a video of me and Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) before our NY Comic Con panel.
At the Provo Library last night, look at this amazing wall sticker:
They do such lovely window displays at the Provo Library!
Details from the window display. Raven and Apple emerging from a 3D book. Really pretty.
Posing with my fabulous apple purse in front of a HUGE cover of my new book at NYCC:
Mr. Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket) reacts to my dignified, mature observation that my book cover poster is larger than his:
They told me this was the author green room:
First sighted in public: the new, smaller trim size of Calamity Jack! (Rapunzel's Revenge has also been downsized.) I was impressed with how good these look. The text size is still very readable, and now these can fit on regular sized book shelves. These books have been hugely popular in libraries but hard to find in bookstores because they were hard to stock on shelves. Hopefully bookstores will carry them more broadly now!
A dessert I ate at a NYC restaurant. It was called "Chocolate Cube." Yes, thank you.
Filet mignon and mushroom wellington. Pretty much how I eat at home too.
Hi, everyone! It's that time of year again. It's The LA Times Festival of Books
! The festival is this coming Saturday and Sunday and the schedule is pretty amazing. To help you out, we've collected the YA events (and a couple of children's events) into one handy dandy page below. Panels inside lecture halls may sell out so it is best to get tix if you can. They only cost $1 so well worth it. Veronica Roth and John Green are already sold out but there should still be plenty of good tickets available. Please go to this link to buy tix
before the festival. For the full show schedule, please check out this link
. I (Thuy) will be there both days so come by and say hi if you see me.
12:35 p.m. Oliver Jeffers, Author of THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT
10:30 a.m. Young Adult Fiction: Haunted
Francesca Lia Block
Moderator: Aaron Hartzler
12:00 p.m. Young Adult Fiction: Putting the Story in HiSTORY
Moderator: Cecil Castellucci
1:30 p.m. Young Adult Fantasy: Worlds Beyond Imagination
Moderator: Denise Hamilton
3:00 p.m. Young Adult Nonfiction: Where the Truth Lies
James L. Swanson
Maya Van Wagenen
Moderator: Paula Yoo
4:30 p.m. Young Adult Fiction: Adrenaline Rush
Sarah Skilton Mo
Seeley G Mud
12:00 p.m. Illustrating the Point: The Art of the Graphic Novel
Moderator: Deborah Vankin
Salvatori Computer Science Center (SAL 101)
10:30 a.m. Picture This: Young Adult Graphic Novels
Gene Luen Yang
Moderator: Hope Larson
1:30 p.m. Children's Books: Drawing the Imagination
Jon J. Muth
Moderator: Lee Wind
3:00 p.m. Children's Books: Inspiring Young Minds
Moderator: Kelly Sonnack
12:00 p.m. Middle Grade Fiction: Stories in Series
Jonathan Stroud Moderator: Jonathan Hunt
1:30 p.m. Children's Books: Drawing the Imagination
Jon J. Muth
Moderator: Lee Wind
3:00 p.m. Children's Books: Inspiring Young Minds
Moderator: Kelly Sonnack
4:30 p.m. Young Adult Fiction: It's the End of the World As We Know It
Moderator: Cecil Castellucci
10:30 a.m. Middle Grade Fiction: In BeTWEEN Tales
Holly Goldberg Sloan
Moderator: Rollie Welch
12:00 p.m. Young Adult Fiction: Testing the Boundaries
John Corey Whaley
Moderator: Aaron Hartzler
1:30 p.m. Middle Grade Fiction: Growing Pains
Moderator: Holly Goldberg Sloan
3:00 p.m. Young Adult Fiction: Writing Culture & Identity
Gene Luen Yang
Moderator: Lynn Rutan
4:30 p.m. Young Adult Fantasy: The Real & the Unreal
Cynthia Leitich Smith
Moderator: John Corey Whaley
Bovard Auditorium12:30 p.m. John Green, Author of THE FAULT IN OUR STARSChildren’s Stage10:20 a.m. Jon Klassen, Author of THIS IS NOT MY HAT
, in Conversation with David L. Ulin
Interviewer: David L. Ulin
We <3 Jon Klassen!
10:30 a.m. Young Adult Fiction: Square Peg, Round Hole
Moderator: Aaron Hartzler
12:00 p.m. Young Adult Fiction: A Little Help from My Friends
Moderator: Aaron Hartzler
1:30 p.m. Young Adult Sci-Fi: Fantastical Tales
Sarah J. Maas
Moderator: Andrew Smith
3:00 p.m. Young Adult Fiction: Told From the Heart
Moderator: Amy Spalding
10:30 a.m. Young Adult Fiction: Somewhere in Time
Melissa de la Cruz
Tamara Ireland Stone
Moderator: Sonya Sones
12:00 p.m. Ava Dellaira, Author of LOVE LETTER TO THE DEAD, in Conversation with Stephen Chbosky
Moderator: Stephen Chbosky
1:30 p.m. Young Adult Fiction: Outside Looking In
Ann Redisch Stampler
Moderator: Stephanie Kuehn
3:00 p.m. Laurie Halse Anderson, Author of THE IMPOSSIBLE KNIFE OF MEMORY, in Conversation with Susan Carpenter
Laurie Halse Anderson
Interviewer: Susan Carpenter
Bovard Auditorium11:00 a.m. Veronica Roth, Author of THE DIVERGENT TRILOGY
, in Conversation with Leigh Bardugo
Interviewer: Leigh Bardugo1:00 p.m. Daniel Handler, Author of FILE UNDER: 13 SUSPICIOUS INCIDENTS
, in Conversation with
Interviewer: Ransom Riggs3:00 p.m. Sandra Cisneros, Author of HAVE YOU SEEN MARIE?
in Conversation with Michael Silverblatt
Interviewer: Michael Silverblatt
Hope to see you there!
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The Internet is full of great advice about how to sell a book, but what about after the sale? When my first book came out, I found it was surprisingly hard to find answers to some basic questions. Like most authors, I learned most of the answers through trial and error. And so in anticipation of the launch of my new novel,The Night Gardener, I’ve decided to write down everything I learned so I don’t make the same mistakes twice!
AFTER THE BOOK DEAL is a month-long blog series detailing the twenty things I wish someone had told me before entering the exciting world of children’s publishing. Each weekday from now until MAY 20, I will be posting an article on a different blog. Follow along and please spread the word!
School Days: Crafting an Effective School Program
Yesterday I talked about how to do Skype visits with classrooms, now I want to move on to school assemblies! When my first book came out, I did almost nonstop school events for seven months—it was exhausting but extremely rewarding. I picked up a few things along the way that might be worth sharing …
Be a Storyteller, not an Author
In the vast majority of cases, you will be coming to these kids as a complete stranger. Most kids will not have read (or even heard of) your books. This is important to remember as you’re crafting your presentation: don’t assume they will be impressed by the fact that you’re a published author. Your only job is to convince them that your story is something they want to read. The best way to do this is by BEING A STORYTELLER. Don’t just read an excerpt and give a summary—instead invite them into the world of your story, put them in the shoes of your hero, make the book come alive right there on the stage.
Play to Your Strengths
Take careful inventory of personal skills that you can bring to the table. Some authors draw on giant notepads. Others perform music. Others juggle or teach dance routines or fold origami. I exploited my past career as a professional yo-yo demonstrator by incorporating a yo-yo into my routine. It is hands-down the most popular part of every presentation! Chances are, you’ve got some silly talent that can be turned into a memorable moment in your presentations—make the most of it! Here’s a video of my yo-yo presentation, for the curious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbmSYeyVDtI
There’s no question that wrangling a crowd of kids can be tricky. I have a loud voice, but with groups over 100, I always require that schools provide a microphone. Even with a mic, however, a hall full of squirming kids can get pretty loud. I always request that the teacher/librarian who introduces me gives the kids a special reminder about appropriate assembly behavior. And when the classes are streaming into the room, I go to every one of the teachers and introduce myself, thank them for coming, and ask them where their students are sitting—this is a subtle way of encouraging the teachers to be more proactive with crowd control. My final crowd control trick is to start every presentation by showing the Peter Nimble book trailer. Not only does this give kids something to visualize the story, but it creates a baseline of actual silence from the crowd. I’ve found that when I don’t show the trailer, I’m never able to eliminate the dull roar of whispers and fidgeting that passes for “quiet” in other circumstances.
Build a Flexible Program
Every school runs on a different schedule. Generally speaking, assemblies will run between 40-60 minutes. It’s important that you have a program that can expand or contract to fit these requirements. Your goal should be to have discrete “bits” that you can add and remove at will depending on the needs of your audience. If I’m talking to a restless crowd, for example, I can trade out a more serious literary discussion for an extra game. Flexibility goes beyond time-management. When I started touring, I carried around two vintage suitcases full of props. The suitcases looked cool, but they were a serious pain in the neck. I’ve since learned to pare down my props—fitting everything I need into a single shoulder bag. Likewise, when showing my book trailer, I used to haul my laptop computer (school computers were just too unreliable). Recently, however, I’ve ditched the laptop for a small VGA adaptor that plugs directly into my iPhone … so much easier!
You always want to be working with a local bookseller that can handle sales—you don’t have time to deal with that stuff yourself. If the school doesn’t have a store they regularly work with, then offer to connect them to someone. In most cases, a store will give 10-20% of all proceeds back to the school … which you should encourage them to do. Every store has a different way of handling book sales. I’ve found the best method is to send out pre-order forms in advance of the event as well as a “last chance” order form that kids take home the day that you visit—then once all orders are collected, you can sign books at the store, which will deliver them to the school later in the week.
That’s it for AFTER THE BOOK DEAL! Tomorrow we’ll be talking about how how and when to charge for appearances. In the meantime, you can catch up on previous posts (listed below), and please-oh-please spread the word!
AFTER THE BOOK DEAL – Stops So Far
WEEK ONE: Before Your Book Comes Out
4/21 – Finding Your Tribe: entering the publishing community
4/22 – Do I Really Need a Headshot?: crafting your public persona
4/23 – I Hate Networking: surviving social media
4/24 – A Night at the Movies: the ins and outs of book trailers
4/25 – Giveaways! … are they worth it?
WEEK TWO: Your Book Launch
4/28 - Can I have Your Autograph?: 5 things to do before your first signing
4/29 – Cinderella at the Ball: planning a successful book launch
5/1 – Being Heard in the Crowd: conferences and festivals
5/2 - The Loneliest Writer in the World: surviving no-show events
WEEK THREE: The Business of Being an Author
5/5 – Handling Reviews … the Good and the Bad!
5/6 – Back to the Grindstone: writing your next book
5/7 – The Root of All Evil: some thoughts on money
5/8 – The Green-Eyed Monster: some thoughts on professional jealousy
WEEK FOUR: Ongoing Promotion
5/12 – Death by 1000 Cuts: Keeping ahead of busywork
5/13 – Can You Hear Me Now? Tips for Skype visits
JONATHAN AUXIER writes strange stories for strange children. His new novel, The Night Gardener, hits bookstores on May 20—why not come to his book launch party? You can visit him online at www.TheScop.com where he blogs about children’s books old and new.
Find The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Powell’s Books | Indiebound | Book Depository | Goodreads | ISBN-10/ISBN-13: 141971144X / 9781419711442
Thank you so much to Jonathan for stopping by today! Connect with Jonathan on Twitter and on Facebook!
Purchasing products by clicking through the links in this post will provide us a modest commission through our various affiliate relationships.
Original article: School Days: AFTER THE BOOK DEAL – Guest Post by Jonathan Auxier
©2014 There's A Book. All Rights Reserved.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New to the Annual Children’s Book Art Silent Auction and Reception at BEA this year, The Slushpile Family Circus, an entertainment and comedy variety show displaying the non-authorial talents of various children’s writers and illustrators. Masters of Ceremony Shannon Hale and Michael Buckley will emcee with their trademark Verve™ and Panache™ the phantasmagorical cavalcade of “talent” and showmanship.
Come witness such luminaries as David Levithan and Jon Scieszka display never-before-witnessed “talents”! What shocking tricks will Pseudonymous Bosch and Melissa de la Cruz be up to? We would give you a sneak peak of the hidden talents of Brandon Mull, Jason Reynolds, and Paul Zelinsky but we’ve been sworn to secrecy! Jarrett Krosoczka, Maryrose Wood, and Scott Westerfeld will amaze and delight! Libba Bray, Daniel Kirk, and Tom Angleberger will provoke and alarm! And who will be the Mysterious “Talent” Guest? Come one, come all and witness the bizarre, the unusual, but the always entertaining Slushpile Family Circus at this year’s Silent Auction!
The Silent Auction runs Wednesday, May 28, 5pm-7:30pm at the Javits Center in New York City. Get your tickets here!
I'm home all this month (hallelujah!) but it's been a travel-heavy year and will continue to be so. I won't be at ALA (but ARCs of THE FORGOTTEN SISTERS -- the 3rd and final PRINCESS ACADEMY -- will be there!). I'll be at SDCC and a book festival this summer, I think, before I hit the road in October to tour for THE PRINCESS IN BLACK.
Here are some random selfies from my spring trips to TLA, BEA, IRA, etc., in no particular order.
Jessica Day George and I were on the same plane to Texas. In the airport we ran into Matthew Kirby...
...and Jim Di Bartolo.
David Levithan modeling the fried green tomatoes we ate in New Orleans.
On stage at the Teen Book Con in Houston with Emery Lord, Brendan Kiely, Rachel Hawkins, and Jason Reynolds
...also with Tess Sharpe and Bree Despain...
...and Laurie Halse Anderson keynoting, showing the slide of all the authors who were there. What a fun group! We had a blast. Thanks, Blue Willow Books!
For some reason, I did this.
With Laini Taylor and Cecil Castelucci in...where? I think Houston. It all runs together. But I remember we played a very funny card game in a hotel lobby till late at night with Bree Despain and Eliot Schrefer. Well, not too late. We ain't kids anymore.
Trent Reedy, Elizabeth Eulberg, Sarah Mlynowski, and Sarah Mlynowski's hand
Dean Hale, I told you to stay away from Tori Spelling!!!
At lunch, Varian Johnson and Alaya Dawn Johnson (no relation!) show us they can salsa.
Laini Taylor and I model Daughter of Smoke and Bone masks.
The fabulous E. Lockhart. Have you read We Were Liars yet?
During our panel on "Kick-Ass Girls" I invited the audience and fellow panelists Elizabeth Eulberg and Maggie Steifvater to do the Wonder Woman pose and feel the power! (we're on the table, because why not). Also it was Mother's Day.
In the hotel, Dean wants to see if he can walk on the ceiling.
Chillin' by the river in San Antonio with Nathan Hale, Tom Angleberger, and Jenni Holm. Man, I love those kids!
With my good pal Michael Buckley. He's like a big brother to me. When he's not like a little brother to me.
In NYC, having lunch with Brandon Mull and his wife Mary we found a Diane Von Furstenberg sample sale. Brandon models a dress I thought about buying. (the idea of a sample sale is better than an actual sample sale)
In New Orleans for IRA I did a panel with Sean Williams, Garth Nix, and Maggie Steivater for Spirit Animals. At the signing, my ARCs of book 4 (FIRE AND ICE! Out next week!) didn't show up, so I mostly just watched them sign. And took photos. And gave them helpful pointers. I'm sure they were thrilled.
Dean models a "This princess wears black!" t-shirt
At our signing for THE PRINCESS IN BLACK in New Orleans. I am at a loss for words about how excited I am to share this book with everyone.
Doing some dangerous moves with PRINCESS IN BLACK editor Sarah Ketchersid.
After years of narrowly missing each other, Dan Santat and I finally meet! I loved BEEKLE.
BEA, New York City, Michael Buckley and I emceed the first annual Slushpile Family Circus, an author and illustrator variety show. Libba Bray opens the show with her incredible set of pipes and pack of sass.
Michael Buckley sings Lionel Richie's "Hello" while Tom Angleberger, Phil Bildner and Gareth Hinds juggle, as you do.
Comedy sketch with Jason Reynolds, Brandon Mull, Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl, and Maryrose Wood.
This photo started out with me pretending to karate chop Daniel Handler's injured knee, when he took my hand and placed it there. I swear! I'm totally innocent! Also important to note that the last time we were together was also in Javits (for NYCC last fall) and I was wearing this same outfit. Surely he believes I'd been there all those months, just waiting for his return.
After this lovely gentleman by the name of John Green waited in line for both of my signings at BEA, I thought I needed photographic proof that John Green is a fan of mine.
Kate DiCamillo signs a copy of LEROY NINKER for my kids after hearing we're all big MERCY WATSON fans...
Then we try to take a photo together but can't decide of we're sitting/crouching...
...or standing so we kept popping up and down.
And home again.
I am fortunate to receive many invitations to visit book groups, schools, book fairs and the like. When I turn down the majority of invites I get (or simply fail to see the invitation in my disaster of an inbox, on twitter, facebook, etc) I sometimes get the response, "You seem ungrateful," or, "Don't you want to sell books?"
I've realized that most people don't understand the ins and outs of being a writer for a living, so I'm going to talk really frankly here. Many are offended when writers talk about money. Art and commerce shouldn't mix! Authors are artists and shouldn't make decisions based on dirty filthy lucre! For those people I say, Look away! Don't read this! Go on believing that artists survive on art alone and need no home but the earth to whom we compose odes and eat nothing but delicious, nutritious words and are sated.
For the rest of you, let's talk some practical numbers.
Often people assume authors are like widget makers. You see people at Costco doing demonstrations of blenders. They'll sell more blenders if they're there in person. An author sells more books if they're there in person too. But authors make much less per item than a blender maker. And traditionally published children's authors make the least of all.
Case study. A children's author and an adult SF author go to a book signing. They spend two hours there and sell the same number of books.
The adult SF author has a 700-page tome that sells in hardcover for $35. Writers get higher percentages for adult books, usually at least 15%, so each hc sold earns the author about $5. Sell 50 and he's got $250. Paperback prices vary (mass market much less than trade) but let's say it's about $15 for a paperback. He makes about 10% on that, sells 50, earns $75. For two hours plus travel, that's decent. He'll also get to meet many fans, which is another bonus of doing events.
Now the children's book author. The hardcover sells for $18. Children's writers make about 10% on a hardcover, so if she sells 50 that's $90. For a paperback, $8 with a 7% royalty is common. For 50 books that'd be $28.
Adult author total: $325.
Children's author total: $118
Plus agents take 15% off the top, and then authors are self-employed and so pay higher taxes.
Now these are big numbers. Selling 50 hardcovers and 50 paperbacks at a signing is a great signing for most authors, so this is just an example. I've done signings where I've sold zero. All authors have. And even though a 100 book signing is tremendous, I have to sells tens of thousands of books to make a living at it, so even having a few great signings several times/month wouldn't enable me to write for my job.
There are vast variations on this. If it's an illustrated book, author/illustrator spit the royalty, so a picture book author who didn't do the illustrations might make 5% on a hardcover and 3.5% on a paperback. Board books are even less. Scholastic bookfair books might earn an author 5 cents each, or less.
Given that children's authors make so much less on books than adult authors, they usually charge to make appearances, do school assemblies, etc. Many can afford to be a writer because of extra income they make from appearances. When you ask a children' author to come to your event for free, it's like asking any other professional to work for free. I can't count how many times I've been invited to speak at a function for free even though the attendees paid to be there. Children's authors (and especially women) are often expected to give of our time for the cause and be grateful for the opportunity. And actually, I am always grateful that anyone thought of me, but I simply can't afford to give away so much of my time.
A self-published author would have an entirely different experience at that book signing. Let's say she has a novel she sells for $15 and half of that is the cost of the book, so she makes $7.5 per book. That's a great number. Signings are much more worth her time. The downside is that her books are less likely to be in bookstores, so in order to sell books she needs to be present. This is one reason why ebooks are usually a better option financially for indie authors.
Usually when I do a signing, the majority of books I sign are ones the readers bring from home, which is perfectly fine. If I sign 200 books at an event, perhaps 40 of those were purchased that day because of my appearance. I do around 50 book events/year, and for most of them I make less on the royalties from books sold than I pay my sitter to watch my kids while I'm gone. And while I'm gone, I'm also not writing, not creating that next book.
For reasons of publicity, all exposure is good exposure. But as a writer who needs lots of time to produce the next book and as a parent who doesn't want to raise neglected kids, I have to be very selective about where I put my time.
This year I started to do school assemblies one day a month in my home state. Halfway through the year I'm beginning to think I can't afford to do it again next year, even though I'm getting paid for my presentation. I get about 18 work days/month, after you take out weekends, holidays, and the inevitable child-related interruptions. To give up 1/18 of my work time is significant. I'm not sure I can afford to do it anymore. Even though I love to meet the kids and it feels great to be there, and it is great publicity to personally meet all those kids who may want to read my books in the future, ultimately I'm a writer and I can't afford to lose my writing time.
So, that's the nitty gritty. It's not fun, is it? Much more fun to talk about story crafting and character development and writing sentences that sing. Money and art may not be a happy couple, but until art can be created by robots, artists will always have to think about it. And note that even though authors don't make much per book, they make even less if you pirate them. Please, please don't be a book thief. Read The Book Thief but don't be one.
Even though there is a lot of stress that comes with this unpredictable, unstable profession, I love it so much and am so grateful for those who read my books, who buy them from bookstores or check them out of libraries. I wish I could meet you all in person. But I promise that I'm not that interesting. My wild, fearless hope is that the stories themselves are enough.
Please feel free to ask me any followup questions in the comments.
Inspired by Shannon Hale's Mortification Monday (thanks Wendy!) this week some of the Buzz Girls are sharing book event fiascoes with the world. Now, hopefully I'm not jinxing myself (*throws salt over shoulder*) but I've never had a true book event fiasco. I've had some near misses, though, so I'll dish on those...
- For my debut launch party at Houston's Blue Willow Bookshop, my parents were planning on flying down from Oklahoma City to join the party. It was their only child's first book and they wanted to be there to celebrate. They packed their overnight bag, went to the airport, and... realized that they had misread the landing time as the departure time. They had missed their flight! Luckily, they caught the next one (it's only a hour long flight, thank goodness) and, despite cutting it quite close, made it just in time!
- My next signing was at Katy Budget Books, also in Houston. Unfortunately, that was the time when my mother was in the hospital and I was up in Oklahoma City to be with her and my dad. She was still in the hospital, but stable, and I didn't want to flake out on the booksigning. So I bought a ticket down and back on the same day, leaving myself plenty of time to get to the signing. Three hours extra, in fact. Guess how late my plane took off? Yep, three hours! I made it, though... barely. However, it was summer vacation, and apparently everyone who had been in the store the week before had been buying books for their trips because, literally, two people showed up. And I knew one of them. It was a very emotionally draining day, but meeting the one fan who came in already having read my book and asking me to sign the cover with silver marker, to take pictures with her for her blog, that made it all worthwhile.
All of my other events have been pretty smooth (*knocks on wood*) with only the typical no-one-shows-up dramas and do-I-have-to-read-pages worries. If those are the worst things that ever happen in my booksigning career, then I'll county myself lucky. (*goes in search of four-leaf clovers*)
We've been talking about blips in our booksignings this week. Fortunately, I've had a good run with my signings, but I do have two stories to share.
First off, when my SORORITY 101 series debuted, I had a launch party in Boston with all of my work friends, a ton of writer friends, my agent, my sister, brother, nieces, and cousins. It was a huge blowout and I was hot, sweaty, nervous wreck. As I gave my speech toward the end of the night, I looked around the room to thank certain people. When I saw the person's face, I thanked them, and proceeded around the room. However, I pulled a Hilary Swank. I forgot to thank my then husband! It wasn't totally my fault because he was standing behind a pillar and I couldn't see him. I did correct the mistake, but I was horrendously embarassed!
The other oopsies was when my book THE OTHER SIDE: A TEEN'S GUIDE TO GHOST HUNTING AND THE PARANORMAL was released, my co-authors (my now fiance, Patrick Burns, and Dave Schrader) and I were having our launch party at Dave's Darkness Radio event at the Queen Mary. Only problem was, the books arrived a week after the event. Talk about egg on the face! We had 200 people there who wanted to buy our books. So, our amazing publisher got the attendee list and addresses and mailed them all a FREE copy of it. That was incredibly generous!
Let's hope neither of those things happen again!
Last week, I put up a giveaway for C.C. Hunter's BORN AT MIDNIGHT...and the winner is...
Please e-mail me offline with your name and address at marley_gibson AT yahoo dot com. Congrats!
Next week...the launch of my new book GHOST HUNTRESS: THE DISCOVERY!
Marley = )
This is my birthday week, so on my birthday yesterday, I rode 55 miles -- Eeek. That's a mile for every year. Muddy, wet, rainy, windy, puddles, grit, but I did it.
Wrote all morning, then rode, then met my writing group for a birthday party/goodbye party for dear friend Jann who is moving to Fargo-Moorhead this weekend. Then Tom took me out. What a great birthday.
Now: back to writing.
Tonight at 8 pm EST (6 pm MST) I'll be doing a live chat with uber-fabulous authors E. Lockhart (The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks) and Elizabeth Eulberg (Prom & Prejudice) on figment.com. We'll be talking about that bottomless topic "why does everyone love Austen so much?" and answering your burning questions (but not your itching questions--keep those ones to yourself). You should be able to follow along here on my blog as well. Come harass us!
<a href="http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php/option=com_mobile/task=viewaltcast/altcast_code=f0411f3f0d" _mce_href="http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php/option=com_mobile/task=viewaltcast/altcast_code=f0411f3f0d" >After Austen</a>
The past couple of weeks have been even crazier than normal. My email inbox has activated an automatic self-destruct command. Just no extra brains for blogging right now. So many interesting things to talk about. I'll have to deal with later. Just know three things:
1. Writing for Charity is going to be awesome this Saturday. You can sign up at the door, but those who preregister are guaranteed lunch and get preference in choice of authors for their critique session. The book signing at 4 pm is open to the public. The silent auction has some drool-worthy offerings, so if you can't make the conference, come at the end!
2.I'm emceeing Brandon Mull's launch party for Beyonders: Seeds of Rebellion tomorrow (Tuesday) again, Cottonwood High Auditorium in Salt Lake. Comedy, music, books, a great family event, so much fun. This year, I'll be signing books after as well. Show starts at 7 pm, but get there early if you want a seat. FREE!
3. I have another super secret project...no, not a movie. But I love it so much. I can't wait to talk about it.
*My friend and writer Tiffany Trent lived in Hong Kong for a time. She told me about how a restaurant translated each menu item into English, and one item translated as simply "Soup with three things." I love that. That would make a great book title! Or blog post title...
I spent the last couple of days in Houston for TLA (Texas Library Assoc annual conference). I love Texans and love librarians, so obviously this is an excellent conference. (and they gave us cowboy hats and fake mustaches!) I kept meeting people there who said, "I met you last time you were here two years ago." And I thought, I was here two years ago?
And then I did the math--I would have been preggo. With twins. Nauseated to my eyeballs. And I have no memory of attending TLA. Nothing. I couldn't drag up a single image. Someone said there was a dinner I was supposed to attend but didn't go (probably vomiting in the hotel) where I would have shared a table with those librarians and Suzanne Collins.
Yesterday I was on a panel about graphic novels with an excellent group of lads: Gareth Hinds (The Odyssey, King Lear...), Ben Hatke (Zita the Space Girl), Orson Scott Card (Ender's Game, Laddertop...). Near the end, we were asked a question about something, Gareth answered, it was my turn, and I started to pontificate on how important GNs are for kids and especially certain kinds of readers, and how difficult it would be to find or even publish GNs for young readers without the awesome support of libraries. And I started to cry. Blubber, really, getting embarrassingly emotional, because as much as I yearn to be in total control of my face at all moments, I do that. Mom thing? Me thing?
When I was done, I think there was an awkward silence, and the moderator went to the next person down the line, OSC, repeating what had apparently been the question: "What are you working on now?"
Yep. That had been the question. Not, "Can you sum up why GNs matter, who is to thank for their existence, and why you want to mouth kiss every librarian you meet, and toss in some tears while you're at it?" Nope, I was just supposed to talk about my current project.
OSC said gamely, "I'm not following that."
Afterward, it all started to feel awfully familiar. I looked back on my blog and found my post after last TLA. You guys, I did it there too! The very same speech probably, oozing very similar and equally damp emotions!
I wonder if I'm getting a reputation. If when I show up to conferences, my fellow panelists look at each other and think, oh great, we got the blubberer.
Awkward tears aside, let me just say again, THANK YOU, LIBRARIANS. Thank you.
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This is a cool thing I'm doing in early October. I'll be presenting an author assembly in New York City, and School Library Journal is broadcasting it live into other schools. Educators, you can sign up your class or school to participate remotely. I'll be taking questions and comments from kids both live and digitally. I know Jeff Kinney did this recently and it turned out super awesome.
See my events page for upcoming appearances in Utah, Illinois, Baltimore Book Festival, and NYC.
Thanks for your support of my new book! Here's a snippet, one of the songs that start off the chapters:
Once there was a queen in a palace of bread.
Sing blue, sing white, stay up all night.
She nibbled on the walls and gobbled up her bed.
Sing white, sing blue, sing ballyhoo.
The people begged a crumb from their robust queen.
Sing blue, sing white, she ate all night.
She would not share a thing until it turned green.
So white, so blue, the mold it grew.