Book Expo of America

My top 10 BEA moments
(which really aren’t in top 10 order, because how could I possibly choose?)
10) Twitter people! It was great to put faces with the image-avatars that Alea & Amy use, great to see Gail, Steph, Laura, Stacy and Mitali IRL. As we stood in Javits’ lobby and said goodbye, it felt like the end of summer camp. Except, instead of sincerely-meant but soon abandoned promises to write & stay in touch, I could tweet at them as soon as I got on the BEA shuttle bus. I love technology!
9) Meeting people in lines. I have no actual patience and a do a very poor job of pretending to be patient, but I enjoyed waiting in autograph lines. Why? Because I met the most wonderful people. At different points during the day, I was lucky enough to wait with Cinda Williams Chima and Bettina Restrepo. I loved hearing their publication stories and welcomed their advice as I battle the query-waters. Bettina’s inscription in her book, MOOSE AND MAGPIE, might end up framed: “To the great debut author I knew before it happened.” Some people are made of sunshine and positivity – she is one of those people & I can’t wait to read her YA book ILLEGAL, when it comes out in Winter, 2012.
8) Being referred to as “The Tiffany’s.” Lisa McMann coined this at her signing in March. At BEA, Barry Lyga and Justine Larbalestier also called T.O.T. and I “The Tiffanys.” Clearly, The Other Tiffany and I cannot go to signings separately. Agreed, T.O.T.? 🙂
7) Uber-helpful publishing people. I especially have to thank Greg Ferguson at Egmont and Karen Walsh at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. They were incredibly helpful. I can’t wait to pass along the books they suggested to my kiddos and add the titles to my recommended reading lists.
6) Showing Maureen Johnson the photo of the kiddos’ ABBA masks. Maureen is one tough cookie to battle the Leakyflu to come to her signing and I couldn’t resist spreading a little ABBA love to make her smile.

5)) The BEATweetUp. It was loud, packed, and so great to meet the people I communicate with in 140-character bursts. Conversations without character limits, @-signs, abbreviations and emoticons were even more fun. Although, I did not see very many other people in the super-cool TweetUp badges. (Was wearing them un-cool? Like how you never wear a band’s t-shirt to their concert? If so, I did NOT get the memo… and I still want to see the bar-code thing on the back in action)

4) The post-Tweetup hilarity that was had by the dilly-o’s of #CasualPickle. Allegra, Indiepub medal-wearing Jen Fosberry, & T.O.T., you will never convince me that there is a such thing as too many pickles and my dress was most certainly BLACK.

3) Unloading my suitcase of books when I got home. Each time I pulled out a book, I told St. Matt why I was excited to read it and about the author. His eyes got larger and larger and his mouth hung open. Finally he managed to croak: “Am I even going I even going to see you for the next month?” He doesn’t look too convinced by my promise that once I finished CATCHING FIRE, I’d put the rest to the side until summer.

2) Suzanne Collin’s CATCHING FIRE. It was my must-get ARC and despite my many, many moments spent worrying, I did get a copy, read it, and LOVED it. Now, when will book three be done? Who can I Book Bully into finishing it NOW so I can discuss? And do I really need to keep my promise to St. Matt and not read the rest until summer?

1) Knowing there’s another BEA next year…

Warning: SPF required

Put on your sunglasses, ‘cuz I am beaming! If you haven’t checked it out yet, stop over to Jonathan Maberry’s blog and read his interview with ME!

While you’re there you can read the first chapter of the book I’m currently shopping, a YA paranormal romance titled FLASH.

I am so very lucky to be able to participate in a workshop with Jonathan, and have learned so much about the writing industry from him.

Also, did you know he’s working on a two-book YA Zombie story? I’m trying to wait patiently for ROT & RUIN to come out in Fall 2010, but when have I ever managed to even fake patience?

So if you end up with sunblindness or sunburn from my million watt smile today, I apologize. At least it will make me easy to identify at the BEA TweetUp tomorrow night and in Javitz on Saturday. Look for the smiling, spaztastic person who’s creating unintentional lines and accidental mischief.

That’ll be me. Get your sunblock ready.

Everyone needs a hero: Lessons from Rick Riordan

647 tickets were sold for Rick Riordan’s book signing in New Jersey last night. Run by the Clinton Bookshop, the event began with Riordan speaking about his inspiration for the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and concluded with a seemingly endless line of kiddos and parents queued up with books to be autographed.

(Thanks, T.O.T., for your picture (again!) You’re far more photographically-talented than me!)

If you’re not familiar with the Percy Jackson series – is that possible? If so, go become familiar.

I guess I can just tell you… If you’re not familiar with the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, the title character is an adolescent with ADHD and dyslexia. He’s been kicked out of every school he’s attended and he has a knack for creating catastrophes and destroying things.

And he’s the hero.

Riordan spoke about how he created Percy Jackson for his son. The tales were bedtime stories long before they were transcribed and best-seller’d. Why give Percy characteristics many would consider unheroic? Because his son has learning difficulties too.

My first thought was: that’s so sweet!

My second thought was: I always loved that Percy wasn’t the cookie-cutter hero; how cool to know why.

My third thought on the subject occurred while I was helping organize the gagillion kiddos into line for autographs. As I queued and checked books for post-its, I chattered. This is not a surprise, but what did surprise me was the number of kiddos who told me that Percy’s learning differences were why they liked the book.

He’s like me.

I’ve got ADHD too.

I’m dyslexic. I can’t read Greek though. How cool would that be?

I never liked reading; these books are my favorite! Best books in the whole world!

And the moms and dads? I had the same conversation over and over – but it was the type of conversation you want to have on repeat – “Can you believe they’re so excited to see an author? I never thought Johnny/Andrew/Luke/Megan/Sarah/… would be a reader!” The parent would take some steadying breaths, dab an eye, or look around in wonder until the formerly-non-reader kiddo interrupted or tugged a sleeve.

I was in writer/teacher heaven.

Everyone needs a hero they can identify with. Why did women best-sellerize Bridget Jones? Not because she was the epitome of grace, achievement, and beauty, because we related to her gaffes, weight battles, and perseverance.

Percy Jackson? He may be a dyslexic protagonist with ADHD, but more importantly, he’s loyal, brave, committed and compassionate. In short, he’s a hero.

My life and class are full of kiddos and heroes just like Percy… and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I hope Riordan’s books help them recognize their own inner-heroes as well!

Maybe I should just sit quietly in the corner…

Some people handle meeting their heroes with poise and grace. I can’t even handle crossing the kitchen without walking into a chair, dropping my fork and knocking the mail off the counter.
Knowing I faced two of my literary favorites in one day, I spent last night preparing myself for impending disaster by making a list of rules:

1. Make sure to breathe. It’s not helpfultotgetsoexcitedyoudon’tpausebetweenwords.

2. Don’t do the scary I-can’t-stop-smiling thing.

3. Avoid topics that could be construed as disturbing, like: the toilet-tweezers incident and the ballet recital brawl. Or pretty much anything that happened before middle school. Or since MS. Maybe just don’t talk about yourself at all.

4. Don’t be overly helpful. People can choose their own meals off a menu. They don’t need an escort to the bathroom or someone to taste their food to make sure it’s not poisoned.

Today I spoke with Jordan Sonnenblick on the phone and ate dinner with Ralph Fletcher and six other PAWLP fellows.

Ummmmm, I did a pretty good job of following rule #4 – does that count for anything?

I’d abandoned rule#1 before Jordan had even been handed the phone. I told his wife my name, my school, the date of his visit, how I’d called earlier whileJordanwasfixingthelawnmower, OMG, that sounds weird, I know because he e-mailed me. I’m not a crazy stalker or anything. *cue nervous laughter* And I spilt this torrent of unnecessary information in my phone voice – because put a phone in my hand and my vocal cords constrict in a way that makes me sound almost 8.

All of this was in response to: “Can I tell him who’s calling?” If she covered the receiver and mouthed “CRAZY” before passing the phone, I wouldn’t blame her.

Despite my kid-hopped-up-on-Halloween-candy voice, Jordan was unperturbed. He even managed to cook stir-fry and keep me on task while I blathered. I’ve got until May 18th to practice my rules so that my first face-to-face interaction with him is slightly less giggly and monumentally more coherent.

Off the phone and off to dinner with Ralph Fletcher. He’s in town as the keynote speaker for this weekend’s Pennsylvania Writing and Literacy Conference. (Strange coincidence? Jordan Sonnenblick’s the keynote speaker at next year’s conference!) As one of the presenters at the conference, I was meeting him for dinner with a handful of other PAWLP Fellows.

A piece of advice: don’t get a large cappuccino when you’re already on a post-writerly-hero-phonecall high. I wish someone had told me this! Luckily I was able to burn off some of the caffeine during my wait by singing ABBA for the employees of the local GAP while I pranced around the store and tried on hats.

My new hat and I arrived at dinner a little early, so I got out my writer’s notebook and pen. How was I to know that just because Ralph writes so much about writer’s notebooks and brainstorming activities, he didn’t plan on giving us a writing prompt at the dinner table? It was with disappointed fingers that I stowed the notebook back in my purse.

Someone thought it was a smart idea to seat ME next to Ralph. Shockingly, even after spending all summer with me, none of my Writing Institute-mates suggested a chair shuffle. In fact, they might have even secretly been wishing they’d brought popcorn to eat while watching the Tiffany-makes-a-blabbing-fool-out-of-herself-show.

The plusses:
*I didn’t break rule #4.
*Dinner was tasty, although I was too busy smiling maniacally to eat much.
*Ralph was just as profound and lyrical in person as he is in writing.

The minuses:
*It may have been mentioned that I’d make an interesting character in his next novel. Ralph even wrote the first line: She felt a need to name everything But I’ve got to admit, I take a certain pleasure out of knowing Ralph Fletcher refers to my Blackberry as Petunia.
*I may have offered to cut up the appetizer for him.
*I may have repeatedly asked if I should take out my writer’s notebook…

But apparently I didn’t scare him off – he did teach high school in NYC for a year, he’s pretty unscareable – when we asked to take a picture, he turned to me and joked: “You’re going to go home and put it on Twitter, right?” (Um, maybe… if the photo’s ever sent to me *cough*). He also accepted my offer to meet him Saturday pre-conference so I can show him the way to the school – little does he know I am navigationally nonfunctional. And as we walked to our cars after dinner, he smiled at me and said: “I bet you named yours.”

He’s right! I DID name my car! See how well he knows me already?

Clearly we’re destined to be best friends. Or I’m destined to be immortalized as a crazy in his next book…

Must practice rules before Saturday…

Reading List Jan-April 2009

I always mean to update my Goodreads list, but I never do. I also have every intention of keeping a book journal or rating the books I read… but I don’t.

We have star stickers we use for recipes. Gold means I’d-eat-this-every-night, Silver means delicious, Red eqauls it’s okay… you get the idea. I could apply this same rating system to my books – all I’d need to do is put a little sticker inside the cover – but I haven’t.

This year I’m trying to remember to update my books list. I’m not very successful, but I’m trying. These are the books I remember reading so far this year. I know I’ve missed some, so I may need to come back and modify.

Read in 2009
1. Wicked Lovely (Melissa Marr)
2. Calder’s Game (Blue Balliet)
3. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (John Boyne)
4. Eat, Pray, Love (Elizabeth Gilbert)
5. Ink Exchange (Melissa Marr)
6. The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen (Syrie Jones)
7. Patient Zero (Jonathan Maberry)
8. Memoir of a Teenage Amnesiac (Gabrielle Zevin)
9. The Crushes (Pamela Wells)
10. Dragon Factory (Jonathan Maberry)
11. Elsewhere (Gabrielle Zevin)
12. Fade (Lisa McMann)
13. Ninth Grade Slays (Heather Brewer)
14. Austenland (Shannon Hale)
15. Peeled (Joan Bauer)
16. How to be Popular (Meg Cabot)
17. Forest of Hands & Teeth (Carrie Ryan)
18. 13 Little Blue Envelopes (Maureen Johnson)
19. Deadline (Chris Crutcher)
20. Ways to Live Forever (Sally Nicholls)
21. Evermore (Alyson Noel)
22. The Season (Sarah MacLean)
23. H.I.V.E. (Mark Walden)
24. An Abundance of Katherines (John Green)
25. Magyk (Angie Sage)
26. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (Rachel Cohn & David Levithan)
27. City of Ashes (Cassandra Clare)
28. City of Bones (Cassandra Clare)
29. City of Glass (Cassandra Clare)
30. Dust of 100 Dogs (A.S. King)
31. Bliss (Lauren Myracle)
32. Beastly (Alex Flinn)
33. Cracked Up to Be (Courtney Summers)
34. Fragile Eternity (Melissa Marr)
35. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
36. Living Dead Girl (Elizabeth Scott)
37. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (E. Lockhart)

Based on what I’ve finished, what do you recommend I read next?

I didn’t link any of these but there’s a BuyIndie link in the sidebar; I encourage you to use it!