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…

I have seen the future… @ NYC Teen Author Festival

Yesterday I was a stowaway on another school’s field trip to NYC. I then proceeded to hijack the trip and DEMANDED they attended the NYC Teen Author Festival. And it worked. They politely agreed to amend their itinerary to meet my DEMAND and their teacher (Hi Tiff E) even let me use her pictures below. Blackmail, thumbscrews, and repeated viewings of Pierce Brosnan’s solo in Mamma Mia weren’t even necessary.

And it was fabulous.

Last night was technically called: I Have Seen the Future…and It Sounds Like This
I like to call it: I have heard my favorite authors read & now need to start saving because I need to buy each book that was read from tonight.

It was held at the Mulberry Street Branch of the New York Public Library and hosted by the very funny David Levithan. He’s also quite coordinated – he didn’t stumble over the microphone cord – not even once – despite its best efforts to trip him. Each time he stood, my panic level jumped to red alert and I tensed up – ready to spring from my front row seat and catch him. Or provide a Band-Aid from my purse (I come prepared).


The night’s Guest of Honor was Joe Monti. Each of the reading authors had a sweet (albeit sometimes fictional) anecdote about Joe’s influence. He also came prepared with goggles for Scott (more on that later). Joe has quite the author fan club, one that I’d gladly join.

Each of the authors read from their WIP. Going into the event I was very curious; would their WIP’s sound like my WIP’s (meaning, full of or or ). They were not. I’m not sure I believe that these were truly WIP’s. They were only in progress in the sense that they are not yet IN bookstores. They were polished, engrossing, and delightful. (Although, for the sake of disclosure, some did have cross-outs and editors’ marks, but you couldn’t tell it from the fluid readings).

My WIP has developed an inferiority complex and is cowering in the corner. Hopefully he’ll feel better after I inform him that no one would want to read him until he’s sufficiently re-written. (And finished. Finished would be helpful too).

Enough about me – let’s get to the good parts: what the authors read.

Libba Bray is adorable. She read from Going Bovine, (released date 9/22) which is about a teenage boy with mad cow disease. It’s quite different from AGATB; for one thing it’s modern. It’s also funny and includes a ‘Get Happy’ song, which Libba performed adorably. (I told you she’s adorable).


Barry Lyga got my attention right away. His book-to-be, Goth Girl Rising (release date 10/19) begins with slit wrists and mental hospitals. It’s intense. Kyra needs to hear the “Get Happy” song. I haven’t read its prequel (The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl) but now know that I need to and will get on that right away.

Justine Larbalestier has the coolest boots and accent. The accent’s Australian, I didn’t think to ask where her boots were from. She read from a piece temporarily titled Wild Heat. Rest assured, it is not an Amazonian romance novel, but instead a magical twist on life in the 1930’s. The main character, Lizzie, has great voice and I can’t wait to read more. There’s not a release date for this book yet, but her next novel, Liar, will be out in fall of 2009.

Eireann Corrigan also has excellent taste in footwear. Very cute green heals that I admired from the front row. She read from Person of Interest, which is about two girls who stage a missing persons event to get attention, but horribly wrong. Eireann didn’t read from the beginning – instead she choose a very intense, highly suspenseful part, which I think it slightly unfair because there’s no release date for the novel yet and I can’t stop thinking about it. So, apparently I’ll be mildly obsessed and nightmare-inflicted until: date tba.

Holly Black wasn’t on the original list of authors so I didn’t have any of her books for signatures. I pouted about this for 8 nanoseconds before I switched to: Holly Black as a bonus reader? HOORAY! She is charming and endearing and I loved speaking with her afterwards. (BlanketFortress, rest assured, I told her about our superiority to TeamCastle. Strangely enough, I don’t think she was jealous.) Holly read from The White Cat, which was straight from her editor’s desk (she joked she’d skip the crossed out paragraphs). Her reading started with the main character waking up on the slate roof of his boarding school in boxer shorts. It was intense, but also really intriguing and humorous. Can’t wait… but I guess I’ll have to since it’s not due out until 2010.

Rachel Cohn began by joking that she should name her next book Money, because with books titled Cupcake and Gingerbread, guess what people bring her. Funnily enough, I say the same thing about my next dog (I should name it Coffeegiftcard so I have something to go with all of the Biscotti I receive). Her forthcoming book is one that I can relate to on a tragic level. Very LeFreak is about a girl who becomes addicted to technology. (Twitterverse, I just can’t quit you!) Very is forced to go to technology rehab and have her life unplugged so she can detox. Rachel read to us from Very’s very amusing admission process. I’ll definitely read the book, but I won’t give up my Blackberry (you’re safe Petunia, don’t worry!).

Scott Westerfeld’s gone steampunk. And Joe Monti provided the goggles to prove it. Leviathan, illustrated by Keith Thompson and full of Scott’s trademark Wester-words, will be released on October 6th. Scott not only read an excerpt to us, but also gave us a sneak peak of the illustrations. We were asked not to post pictures, but rest-assured, they’re stunning.

So start saving because you’re going to want these books. Trust me! You’re also going to want Scott’s goggles, Justine’s boots, and Eireann’s shoes.

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