He’s definitely NOT wearing a tutu

When I pictured the Distraction Fairy – which I frequently do while being distracted – I always pictured a her. And she had a pointy chin and ears, blonde hair, wings, wand, the whole sparkly shebang. Come to think of it, she looked remarkably similar to Tinkerbell, only she wore pink instead of green and obviously she has a tiara.

That’s not how I picture the fairy anymore. If you read yesterday’s blog you know that my Distraction Fairy is currently named Jace. And even though he is a blond, Jace would not don pink ruffled chiffon or a tiara for anyone. He’ll sulk, he’ll pout, he’ll be all-around angsty, but he’s not putting on a skirt.

At least he didn’t in Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones

I don’t know about City of Ashes or Glass yet because I don’t have them YET! Despite having finished book one in The Mortal Instruments Trilogy before going to bed, I don’t yet have numbers two and three.

Frustrating, I know! I turned the last page, looked around and noticed that it was dark out. I looked at the clock: 2:30 AM. Was my first thought: ‘oh geez, it’s really late and I should get to bed’? Nope. It was: ‘aw man, it’s hours before the bookstores open and I can call around to see who has the second and third books in stock.’

It’s quite possible that at this point I became a Distraction Fairy and peppered poor Emily Hainsworth with endless questions, predictions, and what-if’s about the rest of The Mortal Instruments Trilogy.

I take this to be evidence for why I need a Kindle or Sony e-book reader. With a few simple buttons I could have been blissfully re-engaged in Distraction Fairy indulgence.

I presented this argument to St.Matt when I woke him up at 3:30 AM. He disagreed. He thinks this is evidence for why I shouldn’t get a Kindle or Sony e-book reader. Let’s quote him, shall we? “You don’t need anything that’s going to make you sleep even less than you do now.”

Point taken.

But doesn’t he realize the Distraction Fairy flew away as soon as I ran out of pages to read? And then what was left? An overwhelming, itching desire to dig into TBALMCSAP revisions and not emerge for days, which isn’t an option right now.

I can do this.

It’s only an hour ‘til I go pick up doses two and three of the Jace-version of the Distraction Fairy and only two days ‘til I can bleed purple ink on TBALMCSAP.

As for St. Matt’s suggestion that Distraction Fairy take the form of culinary masterpieces or a spring cleaning binge, doesn’t he know the fairy can’t hold a wand and cook/clean at the same time? (And I seriously can’t picture Jace in a French maid’s uniform… guess I’ll have to wait and read).

Book of Wonder signing and Wonderful Liner-Uppers

I’m strict about few teacher-ly things. One of these is an orderly line in the hallways. In fact, I’m very particular about my lines – they’re to be quiet, non-running, and the students should greet any adult they pass with a “Good morning.”

Creativity and spontaneity reign in my classroom, so my regimented outlook on lining up may be puzzling– unless you happen to know that when I was in 5th grade, my arm was broken by a classmate exhibiting unruly hallway behavior. But that story is in no way related to what happened in Books of Wonder on Sunday, so we’ll save it for another time.

The lining-up thing, however, is relevant to my Books of Wonder signing experience…


Shortly after arriving at the bookstore –to remove myself from the temptation of buying more books — I wandered into the back area where the signing would be held and began checking out the artwork. I challenged the-other-Tiffany to an identifying contest, then picked out prints I’d like to have in my house and explained where I’d hang them. Basically, I prattled on while St. Matt and the-other-Tiffany nodded tolerantly and watched the store clerks set up tables and name cards.

St. Matt poked me: “Do you know there’s a line forming behind you?”

“What?” I turned. There was, in fact, a line that began behind me and reached back almost to the bookshelves. “Weird.”

I informed the girls behind us that we weren’t in-line for anything and continued to amuse myself by blathering and checking Twitter on Petunia, commenting on how – since the authors were sequestered in a room closed off by velvet drapes – they were quite literally the (wo)men behind the curtain.

The-other-Tiffany poked me: “It’s really a long line now.”

I turned again – the line was past the bookshelves and snaking back through the store. It was a good line. A great line really. Mostly single file, not too loud, people were respectful of each other’s space, no shoving, shouting or other tomfoolery was occurring. It was a line that would make any teacher proud.

Still… there wasn’t a need for a line and I hadn’t meant to start one. “Um, we’re not in line,” I said, then repeated it a little louder.

No one moved. Apparently my teacher line-up superpower overwhelmed them. The line now reached through the store and to the door. It was causing problems, blocking traffic. I was being capital-T-is-for-Tiffany-and-Trouble without meaning to. (Not that I ever really mean to cause trouble, but I have a talent for it just happening).

As I stood there alternating between being amused, anxious, and really wanting to start singing the song from Peter Pan “We’re following the leader, the leader, the leader, we’re following the leader, wherever he may go…” an announcement came on over the store’s PA system: Ladies and Gentleman, there is no reason to be in line right now. Please make yourselves comfortable, the authors will be out shortly and will be starting with a question and answer session. If you haven’t received a number for the signing that will take place after their presentation, please make your way to the front of the store to get one. There is no need for a line.

The line begrudgingly melted into a crowd-shaped blob and did the other thing I spend half my teaching day doing – sitting criss-cross-apple-sauce on the floor.
So when the authors emerged from behind their curtain, we were all ready for a class-meeting, or read aloud, or… er, a question and answer period with authors. The-other-Tiffany and I — since we’d been the front of the accidental-line — were now front row in the seated squad, which enabled us to get great pictures.

Including:

Lisa telling her Miss Spoobin story


Cassandra’s robot shoes

After each author had done her introduction, they opened the floor to audience questions. They promised a Hershey Kiss to each brave asker, but I’m sorry to say that they frequently forgot to toss them. (I think this was due to a woeful lack of accurate throwing ability). Not that the askers minded – it wasn’t the smidgen of chocolate that motivated any asking.

Some memorable questions: When did you know you wanted to be an author?
Lisa: 4th grade
Beth: After 40
Elizabeth & Cassandra: I fell into writing after trying everything else

Elizabeth Scott & Cassandra Clare

Do you write or read fan fiction or read reviews?
Universally, the authors distance themselves from fan fiction (although, Lisa did allude to some mysterious, pseudonymous Survivor play-by-plays). They also agreed reading reviews ends up being more confusing than helpful for them as writers – they’re more for other readers.

Lisa McMann & Beth Fantaskey

Lisa told a sweet story about meeting Madeline L’Engle when she worked in a bookstore. Cassie talked about how her interest in history influenced her writing and also mentioned possible graphic novel/side stories that may be forthcoming. Elizabeth spoke about how Living Dead Girl was inspired by a dream she’d had four nights in a row and Beth shared how adopting her daughters motivated her to write Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side. They were all charming and engaging; I could’ve sat and listened for at least another 30 minutes before my whole bottom half fell asleep. Alas/ at last, it was time to move on to the signing portion.

An announcement was made:
Those of you with numbers 1-15 please line up for signatures. Everyone else, please make yourselves comfortable, we’ll call you up in groups by your numbers.

And what did the crowd do? Did they go mingle and chat while waiting? No. They lined up. They lined up to get in line. There was the line of numbers 1-15… and then the line of people waiting to get in line when their numbers were called. I was tempted to ask the bookstore crowd if they’d like to come back to my school and do a demonstration of advanced-hallway-behavior.

Seeing that I was older than most of the audience, I tried to keep my impatient I’m-waiting-in-line-to-meet-Lisa-McMann dancing to a subtle shuffle-in-place. I must’ve been successful because no one asked me if I needed to use the restroom.

Finally it was MY turn. (I might have cut the-other-Tiffany and seen Cassandra Clare first). I hadn’t read her books before meeting her, but yesterday’s fan enthusiasm pushed City of Bones to the top of my towering tower of TBR and I’m now almost done. (The next two are on order at the bookstore – Distraction Fairy, thy new name is Jace).


Then Lisa…

She is lovely! She was kind, gracious, and willing to chat about spoons, Twitter, Cappy the kitten, touring, school… I forgot about the line toe-tapping behind me. It was like slipping into a conversation with an old acquaintance, and even though I AM a major fan, I didn’t walk away feeling like I’d been a blathering incoherent fangirl. I walked away feeling like I’d met a kindred spirit and thinking another perk of fulfilling my author-dreams would be meeting more people like her.

P.S. There were some superstars in the audience too. Among them: Justine Larbalestier, Scott Westerfeld and BEDA-Queen, Maureen Johnson. I was quite tempted to go ask Maureen how it felt to control the free time of 400+ fans for the month of April…but decided she might not want to spend her non-computer hours discussing interwebby things. The fact that I am now mentioning this in my blog, however, is absolutely acceptable. And is in no way, shape, or form a shameless bid to have my site chosen as BEDA blog of the day…

Me, Made of Wonder

Today I’m off to Books of Wonder in NYC to see an amazing *dazzle* of YA authors. (A dazzle is really a group of zebras, but I’ve always wanted to use it in the ‘group’ sense, so we’re pretending it works. Maybe one of them will be wearing black & white? I’ll keep you posted).

Whenever I go to New York, the song from Annie pops into my head (geez, I wonder why?)

NYC, just got here this morning,
2 Friends
5 Authors
1 ME
Oh, NYC, I give you fair warning,
Up front, with squeeing, I’ll be…

I’ve got the last sixth of John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines on my iPod to keep me busy on the train so I don’t drive St.Matt or the-other-Tiffany nuts. And snacks. And books and my writer’s notebook.

But who are we kidding? When I’m this hopped up on excitement, pesting is inevitable.

Don’t worry, Petunia’s coming too, so Tweeting will continue. Pics & updates later.

***Post-Wondervent Update ***
I have photos, stories and wonder… but they’ll have to wait until tomorrow (Blame BEDA, I need 30 days worth of material, people)
Also blame one of the 3 new pairs of shoes I acquired while grocery shopping yesterday. Wearing new shoes to walk around a city is never a smart idea. Wearing new heels while walking around a city is just plain stupid.
I’m putting my stupid feet up and beginning one of my newly signed books.
See you tomorrow….

Benefits of insomnia… I can do this!

It wasn’t a lack of interest that was keeping me from Dust of 100 Dogs, but rather a lack of backbone.

I didn’t grow one over the weekend, but the visually stunning and slightly creepy cover sitting on my kitchen counter began to taunt me. Also, I got tired of feeling like the kid at school who doesn’t know the inside joke. Quite simply, I was sick of feeling left out: “What are you talking about guys? Huh? Huh? Tell me. I want to know.” And all the other readers looked at me disdainfully: “Oh, you wouldn’t get it because you haven’t read D100D.” I’ve already survived middle school once – I refuse to go back to that place again.

Although apparently I haven’t out-grown peer pressure…

I was going to start reading it this weekend, but the writing bug bit. Hard! I think it drew blood and left a bruise. Not that I’m complaining, I’m *thrilled!* that I was able to finish the first draft of my WIP (working title/synopsis: The-Book-About-Leukemia-MacGyver-Cheerleading-Superstitions-And-Playlists. TBALMCSAP for short). There was no time for reading. Yesterday I didn’t shower or get out of my pajamas until 5 pm. (Okay, I’ll say it with you: ewwwww!)

I was barely even a presence in the Twittersphere. And sleep? Forget it. The writing bug’s bite is made of caffeine (or maybe that was just the pots of coffee St. Matt made me each night before he and the puggles went up to bed). I don’t know the total number of hours I slept from Friday ‘til this morning – I don’t think I want to know, and I doubt I could do the math at this point anyway. Suffices to say, the number would be a single digit.

But this is GREAT! No, that’s not just the sleep deprivation talking. This is great because I know I’m going to sleep tonight. Like a baby made out of rock who’s overdosed on Nyquil. So all my fear of D100D keeping me up all night – no longer relevant!

I may still be an invertebrate, but my D100D problem is solved.

Can’t wait to join the cool kids club and discuss it when I’m done!

Dust of 100 D*gs… I am a wimp of epic proportions

I have real avoidance issues with A.S. King’s Dust of 100 Dogs. I kept hearing the best things about the book, the buzz on the Internet is unbelievable, but still I hedged. And I know why I am dodging.

1) The title scares me. My first word was ‘dog.’ Actually, that’s a total lie. I don’t know what my first word was (makes a mental note to check), but I do love dogs. And I have issues with dog books. I have never seen or read Old Yeller. This is FORBIDDEN. So emphasized was it’s forbiddeness that even at 28, I still will not break this rule. There’s a good reason it’s forbidden: after I read Where the Red Fern Grows, I didn’t want to go to school for days because I was scared to let my dog out of my sight. I also got in BIG trouble for throwing a fit during 5th grade read aloud when Marty feeds the chocolate-covered graham crackers to Shiloh. Marty may not have known that chocolate was toxic for dogs, but I did – and I made my point that Marty need to find a vet NOW very loudly and clearly. Louder and clearer than the teacher – who promptly asked me to leave the room until I could be a good listener. Do not even ask me how I dealt with Marley and Me. Seeing the movie was not even an option. I need to take a break and go hug Biscotti and Bruschi after even thinking about it. A book that implies 100 dogs have died in its title – I am wary.


2) The cover also scares me. I don’t do scary things. Coraline was the limit to my scariness tolerance – and even then I had to hold a sixth grader’s hand. The cover of the book is visually stunning, but it also makes me want to turn on all the lights in my house and hold St. Matt’s hand.

But I’m working on my wimpiness. Really I am. And I was sick of feeling like the kid at the party who doesn’t know the gossip because everyone else had read it and I hadn’t. So, really it all came down to peer pressure.

On Valentine’s day while I was at the local independent bookstore picking out great books, I took a deep super-brave breath and had them order me a copy of Dust of 100 Dogs.

It came. I picked it up. I stared at if for a few days. I opened it. I read the first page.

And the first paragraph included an eyeball being popped out and rolled in sand. I don’t do blood. Not even a little. Not even papercuts.

I needed to take a break after this scene.

I’m thinking I might be ready to try again. Might take some courage pills tonight and give it a go.

Or maybe I should wait ‘til daylight…

Why I’d Fail as a Regency Lady… or I Love THE SEASON

Sometimes while I’m reading I like to imagine what St. Matt would say if I made him read/ listen to the audiobook. Usually I do this when I’m loving a book I know he wouldn’t enjoy. I give myself an approving pat on the back and think: I’m-such-a-good-wife for not making him read this — even though I really, really want him to.

I thought this while reading and loving The Season by Sarah MacLean. As I smiled like a puggle in a sunbeam and turned delicious pages, I imagined his reaction:

“Um, there’s a lot about dresses in there.”
“Exactly!”
“And dancing.”
“I know!”
*dreamy sigh*
“What the heck’s a dance card? These girls have to follow a lot of rules. You, my sweet catastrophe, would not have done well in the 1800’s.” Then, kiss on my forehead, he’d walk away.

As usual, he’d be right. Even in my imaginary conversations, St. Matt’s irritatingly accurate.

I would have been an awful regency lady. Despite my love for all-things-Austen, I’d have failed miserably in her social circle. I’m impulsive. I’m outspoken. I’m entirely too uncoordinated for the quadrille and all the beautiful slippers, gloves and gowns would spontaneously stain and rip under my wear. I’d be scandalous.

On the other hand, the feisty heroines in some of my favorite books made rebelling against 19th century society seem like a recipe for love & happiness. Elizabeth Bennet, Emma Woodhouse, A Great and Terrible Beauty’s Gemma and Felicity, and The Season’s Ella, Vivi, and Alex were more admirable because they refused to conform. They were all impulsive, opinionated, rule-breakers like me.

So maybe I wouldn’t have actually been good at living back then, but – dancing skills aside – I’d make an excellent regency heroine (provided they don’t try and separate me from my Blackberry (Petunia) or yell at me for ripping my gloves).

Now if I can only talk St. Matt into dressing like Gavin

Character Challenge – the ANSWERS

Dun, dun, dun… here they are. How’d you do?

1. D.: Aislinn (Wicked Lovely)
2. K : Anidora-Kilandra (Goose Girl)
3. B : Cabel (Wake & Fade)
4. P : Calder (Chasing Vermeer)
5. Q: Capricorn (Schooled)
6. R: Doon (Tales of Ember)
7. L: Fitzwilliam (Pride & Prejudice)
8. F : Gemma (A Great and Terrible Beauty series)
9. S : Grandison (Enthusiasm)
10. J : Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights)
11. H : Holling (Wednesday Wars)
12. M : Leisel (The Book Thief)
13. G: Lyra (His Dark Materials Trilogy)
14. O: Mibs (Savvy)
15. I : Percy (Percy Jackson & the Olympians series)
16. A : Phineas (A Separate Peace)
17. T : Roiben (Modern Tales of Faerie)
18. E : Tibby (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants)
19. C: Vlad (The Chronicle of Vladimir Tod)
20. N : Zane (Uglies)

Thanks to everyone who played my character challenge. Even those of you too chicken to post your scores. I hope you as much fun taking it as I did creating it.

Another thing this exercise made me aware of: the awesome nicknames that so many YA characters have. (hmmm, do I sense a characacter quiz : part 2 . . . stay tuned!)

Character Challenge – Part Two (Matching Quiz)

YA and middle-grade authors must have a penchant for unusual names, which is a good thing because I tend to forget character names unless they’re unusual. Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird, I’ll never forget her. Atticus either. But if Boo Radley had been named Ben? Would I have remembered him?

So, as a challenge, I’ve listed some of the more unusual names from some of my favorite books. Most of them are middle-grade or YA. Although, it was pointed out to me that Percy could also be from Harry Potter & Capricorn from Inkheart… maybe some of these names aren’t as unusual as I thought!

How many can you identify? I’ll post the answers on Friday. Have fun!

How many could you identify? If you’ve got a reason to brag, brag. If you’ve got a reason to be embarrassed, ’fess up!

What great names did I forget? I’m sure there are many, many more!

Snow Day Character Challenge

I get very attached to the names of characters I love. When I was seven, I wanted to name my future children Fern and Wilbur. Thankfully I’ve outgrown my Charlotte’s Web obsession – no offense to any Ferns or Wilburs out there. There was also a time when Pippi a la Pippi Longstocking and Josephine from Little Women made my list.

It’s a snow day and you need something fun to do. So,as a challenge, I’ve listed some of the more unusual names from some of my favorite books. Most of them are middle-grade or YA.

How many can you identify? I’ll add some multiple-choice titles tomorrow for those of you who want a hint and post the answers on Friday. Have fun!

  1. Aislinn
  2. Anidora-Kilandra
  3. Cabel
  4. Calder
  5. Capricorn
  6. Doon
  7. Fitzwilliam
  8. Gemma
  9. Grandison
  10. Heathcliff
  11. Holling
  12. Leisel
  13. Lyra
  14. Mibs
  15. Percy
  16. Phineas
  17. Roiben
  18. Tibby
  19. Vlad
  20. Zane

    How many could you identify? If you’ve got a reason to brag, brag. If you’ve got a reason to be embarrassed, ’fess up!

What great names did I forget? I’m sure there are many, many more!

These are life lessons, people!

And survival skills too.

It was math class and my students were diligently working their way through some operations with positive and negative numbers. I was playing with the Sony e-book reader that my colleague, Mr. Techie, had dropped off for me to explore as I continue to dither about if and what type of e-book reader I want/need.

I answered a question, handed out a few ‘good jobs’ and a ‘get back to work’ as I paged through Techie’s book selections. He had Pride & Prejudice, so I gave him + 10 cool points. He had all the Meyers books, which just made me laugh.

And then I got to last page in his catalogue and gasped: “Schmidites. Writer’s notebooks. Front rug. Nooow!”

Did I mention it was math class? And that I didn’t even have my whole homeroom and that some of the kids didn’t even have writer’s notebooks? Whatever. It’s called problem-solving.

The kids assembled themselves on our sharing rug; they were full of anticipation and questions: “What’s up?” “What’s going on?”

“I have something important I need to teach you. Now. This might be the most important thing I teach you all year.”

“What is it?”

“Kiddos, get the lights. “

And then I began to read to them from: The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks.

“There’s no such thing as safe,” I read to them, “only safer.”

We read about forms of transmission: bites, an open wound exposed to the virus (this begged for the comment: “Oh, so the next time I get a papercut, I shouldn’t go rub it on the nearest zombie?”), or if a zombie explodes on you. We read about the timeline of the disease’s progression: starting with fever, eventually death, then reanimation.

And then math class was over. “Writer’s notebooks!” I announced as the rest of my homeroom stumbled back in, bleary-eyed and drained from pre-algebra. Come to think of it, they looked a little zombified until they read the buzz of excitement and ran for their notebooks.

After we’d read about how to evaluate your zombie killing weapon, how to protect your home & school, and the list of items to have on hand (our favorite: earplugs to block out zombie moans), I turned the lights on and shared their writing prompt: “In your notebook, respond to the following: Zombies, dangerous or not?”

They would’ve written all afternoon if I let them. Many of them will write all weekend and share their zombie stories on Monday.

I felt like this was a book I had to read. After all, zombies are attacking… or at least infiltrating. Prior to October I’d lived a zombie-free life.

Now…

  • There’s the Austen thing
  • Then there’s Generation Dead by Daniel Waters (Kiss of Life comes out in May). I read this book in one night in October. I gave it to a co-worker the next day and haven’t seen it again because it’s been passed from one reader to the next.
  • And what about Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry? This doesn’t come out until March 3rd, but I was lucky enough to read it early. You need to buy it on Tuesday (along with a copy of Brook’s book).

And who would have thought I’d plan on attending a zombie night – complete with zombie movies? Now that I’ve read the Zombie Survival Guide, I know I can handle it. (I hope). If you see me there, feel free to sit next to me. I’ll gladly keep you safe… until I run from the room screaming and crying for my mom.

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