Book Tour Day 4 – catching one’s breath

Saturday! There is no school on Saturday! This is both the bad and good news for me. Bad news because I have been having a blast at the schools I’ve visited. Good news because I have a massive mountain of email to deal with, and – oh, that’s right – I want to write. That is, after all the point, right? Write?

Before I share my Denver highlights, three exciting headlines.

Headline 1: Awesome review in the Chicago Tribune compares and contrasts CHAINS and OCTAVIAN NOTHING, VOL. 2. I have been waiting for a reviewer to do this and I am so happy with the result!

Headline 2: The teens of America voted TWISTED onto the 2008 ALA Teen Top Ten List!!! It was one of only three non-fantasy/alternate reality titles on the list, which is very interesting. I keep thinking I should try my hand at a fantasy, but there are so many people out there writing imaginative and gripping books, I think I’ll stick to my corner of the sandbox.

Headline 3: Vet Volunteers is going to be translated into Polish! OK, maybe it’s not quite as exciting as the first two headlines, but I had such a lovely time in Poland last year that I am totally stoked my books are going to be available to Polish readers.

TODAY’S EVENT: Saturday, October 25 at 1:00 pm: The Bookstall of Chestnut Court, Winnetka, IL 847-446-0882

TOMORROW’S EVENT: Sunday, October 26 at 2:00 pm: Center for Teaching through Children’s Books, National-Louis University, Skokie, IL. This is at 5202 Old Orchard Road – 3rd Floor Public Forum Room. Sorry, I don’t have a contact phone number, but I do know that lots of teachers and grad students are expected to attend. There is also a discussion group meeting about teaching historical fiction at 1 pm, so you might want to come early to be a part of that.

And now, the Denver summary. The people in Denver are so nice, they arranged the weather patterns so that everytime I stepped outside, I could see the mountains. I can’t imagine a person would ever get tired of that sight.

My last Denver day was simple: One school, one stock signing, one bookstore event.

The school visit was a 2-hour visit to the 7th-grade creative writing classes at the Denver School of the Arts. We can all rest easy knowing that there is a very talented generation of young writers rising up behind us, preparing to supply us all with great stories well into our dotage.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic They play with word magnets when bored.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic A good sentiment to live by.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The evening event was at Tattered Cover, a legendary independent bookstore.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The crowd was a mixture of teachers, librarians, and a cool mother-daughter book club. The girls in the club promised me they’d email me their comments about CHAINS. It’s very nice to have reviewers like the book, but the true test is the opinion of real readers. I’ll let you know what they think.

Book Tour Day 3 – Birthday Edition

Before I ramble on about yesterday, I want to draw your attention to the program that Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, TX has started to provide books to the school libraries destroyed by Hurricane Ike. Please help them restock their shelves. It’s the right thing to do and it will make you feel good all weekend. (Thanks, Bookavore, for the link.)

Note to self: celebrate birthday on book tour as frequently as possible.

The people on my plane to Denver did not wish me a happy birthday (most were snoring), but they were the only people who didn’t.

The day started off fabulously at Bruce Randolph Middle School, where I spoke to the entire 8th grade. They were a fantastic audience – I could have stayed there all day.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Afterwards I signed lots of books.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic And we all ate birthday cake.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic And they gave me a birthday present and an awesome card.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Signed and so, so special!

After Bruce Randolph, we dashed to St. Mary’s Academy and then to Hill Middle School. My Author Nanny, Julia, said that I spoke to more than 700 students over the course of the day. (The formal title of Author Nannies is “media escort” but that is a boring and non-descriptive title.) Thanks to everyone for being so kind, and a big shout-out to Sade at Bruce Randolph and Mckenna at St. Mary’s for helping me run the presentation technology.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic I also did four drive-by stock signings. That’s when an author pops in, signs copies of whatever stock is on hand, then dashes off. Usually we do it standing next to the Customer Service desk. One store really rolled out the red carpet, er, the green tablecloth, and made me feel right at home.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic My evening event was at The Bookies, a store that specializes in providing a mind-boggling selection of books to teachers. I had a “small world” moment there when Amanda, the woman in the picture, came up to me. She was the newspaper advisor at my daughters’ high school back in Horsham, PA and worked closely with Bookavore, my oldest, when she wrote for that paper. Now Amanda is teaching in Colorado. I also came across with a few teachers I had met on previous trips out there; it was practically old home night.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic They packed the store with teachers and fed me banana bread. And EVERYBODY wished me happy birthday. I think more than a thousand people said that to me.

It felt really nice.

TONIGHT’S EVENT: Friday, October 24 at 7:00 pm: Tattered Cover, Denver, East Colfax store 303-436-9219

TOMORROW’S EVENT: Saturday, October 25 at 1:00 pm: The Bookstall of Chestnut Court, Winnetka, IL 847-446-0882

Book Tour Day 2 & A Chicken

My cab is on the way to pick me up for an ungodly early flight to Debver, so this will be a quick summary p0st.

Day Two = two middle school visits, one diner connected to a school library, one electric car, four cats, a couple chinchillas, a bunch of birds, many, many nice teachers.

And a chicken.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic I spoke to groups at Valley View and South View Middle School. (South View students & Librarian Cathy Nelson seen here).

Image and video hosting by TinyPic South View has a cool diner right next to the library run by the students and the librarian.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Cool thing seen at lunch: an electric car available for use by Coop member in Linden Hills.

Signed stock at two stores in the afternoon, did a phone interview, and headed for Wild Rumpus, one of the coolest children’s bookstores on the planet.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Enjoyed a wonderful crowd of mostly teachers there. Thanks for coming out on a rainy night, everyone! And thank you, Facebook Friend Heidi for coming, too!

There is a menagerie of animals at Wild Rumpus, including ferrets, chinchillas, birds, a rat, a few other things I know I’m forgetting, four Manx cats who stroll and patrol the aisles.

And a sweet and pretty chicken named Pimento.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

TONIGHT’S EVENT: 5:00 pm: The Bookies, Denver, CO 303-759-1117

TOMORROW NIGHT’S EVENT: Friday, October 24 at 7:00 pm: Tattered Cover, Denver, East Colfax store 303-436-9219

Off to the airport!

Book Tour Day 1 report

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Meet Spike. Spike is the mascot at the St. Bernard’s School in St. Paul, my first official book tour stop. It was a terrific place to launch.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic After St. Bernard’s my ready, willing and able author schlepper, Kathy, took me to the famous Red Balloon Bookstore.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Where I gawked at everything (including this gorgeous window) and then signed all their stock. Well, all their stock of books that I had written. Though I offered to sign other people’s bpoks. But they said that wasn’t necessary.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The afternoon was spent at Roseville Middle School. No joke, it was one of the best sessions have ever had in ten years of visiting schools. I sort of lost track of time, but I think the students and I talked for almost two hours before they lined up to have me sign every book and scrap of paper they could find in the library.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic All hail Roseville librarian Linda Gallus for an extraordinary job of preparing her students for my visit. And many thanks for the goodie bag!! (The photo is proof that book lovers come in all sizes.)

The evening event was at the largest bookstore in Minnesota, the Roseville Barnes & Noble. As it was a Tuesday night, I did not have expectations for a high turn-out. I was wrong. Maria Capecchi of Rush City High School brought a large group of her students to listen to me (it was an hour’s drive for them!), a few kids from Roseville came to hear me again, and many other kids and random adults showed up.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Meet Julia, who came to my event after meeting Hillary Clinton, no joke. Julia knew that it is my birthday tomorrow, so she brought me my favorite candy, candy corn, to celebrate. Thank you so much!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Sarah was very sweet and came out to hear me again, too. Oh, and a very smart reader named Kate brought me a new cover design for CATALYST along with her rationale for why it works better than the current cover. I think she’s right and I am going to send it to my editor. Thank you, Sarah and Kate!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic And here are Brittany and Bridgette who made shirts of the CHAINS cover because they are amazing crafty people. They’ve done this for books by John Green and Stephanie Meyer, too. I was completely blown away. Does anyone want to hire these girls as summer interns? They’ve got book passion, they’re crafty, and they know how to work! Thank you, Sisters of the Book Shirt!!!!

Gotta hop – more schools today and a super event tonight!!

TONIGHT’S EVENT: 6:00 pm at Wild Rumpus, Minneapolis, MN 612-920-5005

TOMORROW NIGHT’S EVENT: 5:00 pm: The Bookies, Denver, CO 303-759-1117

Free Your Mind

It’s about 7am. I woke up at 4:30 and couldn’t go back to sleep (wonder why), so I spent an hour on the treadmill (one of the lovely things about hotels), showered and ate. I don’t get picked up for a couple hours so I am going to try and sneak in a little writing time.

If I can get my hands to stop shaking. Because I am, to put it mildly, wicked cranked up.

Because CHAINS is released today.

And I have finally solved the problem of how to inscribe it. I’ve never heard other authors fret about this, so maybe it’s one of my many quirks, but I like to have a special tag line for each book instead of just writing “Best Wishes” whenever I sign a book for a reader. And it always takes me a long time to find the right words. But I finally hit it for CHAINS.

Free your mind.

That’s what I’ll be writing countless times (fingers crossed) for the next month. It sums up the journey of Isabel, the main character, and the journey that I hope my readers will take, using books to open up their world and grow.

Have you ever had your name in soup? As of this morning, I have. A very cool experience, I must say. Thank you, Jama Rattigan, for the awesome CHAINS celebration shout-out and for putting my name in soup! (I wonder if that is the children’s literature equivalent of putting your name in lights?)

Today I visit St. Bernard’s School in St. Paul and Roseville Area Middle School in Little Canada. (Which in in America. Which is funny because I live in the town of Mexico, which is also in America. What a country!)

TONIGHT’S EVENT: 7:00 – 8:30pm : Barnes & Noble, Roseville, MN 651-639-9256

TOMORROW NIGHT’S EVENT: 6:00 pm at Wild Rumpus, Minneapolis, MN 612-920-5005

Call your friends, wake the neighbors, alert all students that I am happy to write extra credit notes to anyone who comes out to my book signing! Let the games begin!