Category Archives: Appearances

Endangered Authors Tour Diary, Day 4

We’re in Miami! It’s humid.

This morning’s stop was Carver Middle School in Coral Gables, where the kids could not have been more awesome. In the weeks before we showed up, they’d split into teams to read our books, and the various teams drew banners…IMG_1467b

 

…and made posters…IMG_1469b

 

…and applied werewolf (or possibly were-some-other-animal) makeup…IMG_1464

 

…and the girls who read my book all wore pink! Not completely sure why, but it was totally cute: IMG_1466

Incidentally, everything Curtis says about these awesome girls on his Facebook page is unfair and, frankly, born of rabid jealousy…even though his team dressed as werewolves and made all the best signs. (Look for his “Days Five and Six” post, because even though it’s really only Day Four, Curtis is still on English time, which apparently is two days ahead.)

Then it was off to the fantastic Books & Books, where we signed stock and played Mad Libs.

After that, we had a rare treat: an afternoon off. I’d planned to sit by the postage-stamp-sized, chain-link-fenced, naked concrete pool at our budget hotel. But Adam–who is much more clever than I am–suggested that instead we have lunch at the historic, absurdly opulent Biltmore Hotel, then slink over to the Biltmore’s pool and pretend we belonged there.

So we did. And wow! What a pool. Here’s Adam revising The Grimm Conclusion against a foreground of Greek statuary:IMG_1479

 

Nice, right? You have no idea. If you sit here long enough, a uniformed pool boy will come by with a complimentary sorbet in the daintiest waffle cone I have ever seen. It looks like this:IMG_1481

 

And there’s free Wi-Fi! So I’m posting this while still poolside. We’ll be here until they get wise and throw us out.

Which might be soon, because I just spilled Adam’s Coke all over the patio, and now one of the pool boys is muttering into a walkie-talkie while giving us the stinkeye.

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Endangered Authors Tour Diary, Day 3

I’m not what you’d call well-traveled, so prior to today I’d had very littleimages experience with Alabama outside of Lynyrd Skynyrd lyrics.

Alabama, it turns out, is awesome! And I’m not just saying that because a lot more kids there have read my book than in the other states we’ve visited.

 

When we arrived last night at the Hampton Inn in downtown Fairhope, I found this Post-It note affixed to the headboard of my bed: IMG_1450

Let me say that, first all, I REALLY appreciate this; and second, I am now terrified that the other hotels aren’t leaving Post-It notes like this one because they’re not actually washing the duvet covers and sheets between guests. Eeew.

We had dinner at the Pelican Patio in Fairhope, which was delicious even though they were out of crawfish. Over dinner, Curtis told a story about a foulmouthed kid at one of his school visits in the U.K. that made everybody laugh until our faces hurt, and which if I retold it here would get me (and probably Curtis) banned for life from the children’s book industry.

This morning, our first stop was Fairhope Intermediate School, which was not only great but HUMONGOUS. There must have been at least 500 kids at the show. I’d post a picture of the vast sea of awesome, fun, happy kids, but my camera battery died before I could take one. Fortunately, our wonderful media escort Angela got this shot of a disheveled Peter harassing a kid near the front row while Jacqueline eggs him on:IMG_1936

Then it was on to the wonderful Page & Palette bookstore in Fairhope, where I charged my camera battery in time to get this photo of the four of us standing in front of all the stock we signed, and which I am posting even though I look like an idiot in it:IMG_1458

Page & Palette, by the way, is a fantastic store, and we signed a LOT of books, so if you’re anywhere near Fairhope, please stop in and buy some. There are cartloads. Literally.

Then it was on to the J. Larry Newton School in Fairhope, where we met a couple hundred of the nicest and most incredibly polite kids I have ever seen. Signing books, I was called “sir” more times than I can count. Which was A) very touching; and B) made me wonder whether I am a lousy parent, or New York City is just a terminally impolite place and I am scarring my kids for life by making them live there. Everything about the J. Larry Newton School visit was awesome. Here’s a shot from the back row, again courtesy of Angela:

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Now we’re in the Pensacola Airport, which serves a surprisingly good chicken sandwich and has free Wi-Fi, making the 90-minute delay of our flight to Miami almost painless.

More to come!

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Endangered Authors Tour Diary, Day 2

Turns out it’s easier than you think to incite a riot among a bunch of elementary school kids. 17lithuania01-600All you have to do is stand in front of a group of, say, sixty of them, all politely sitting cross-legged on a library floor, hold up a camera, and say, “everybody skooch in for a picture.”

I meant that as a joke–the joke being that there were obviously WAY too many of them to fit in the photo.

Turns out I was too subtle by half. Actually, more than half. As the left and right flanks of the crowd began to collapse inward and several kids on the perimeter stood up with the clear intention of stage-diving toward the middle of the room, I realized I’d just made a terrible mistake, of the sort that might eventually require me to hire a lawyer.

I took the photo as fast as possible and put the camera down, hoping that might keep the situation from spiraling out of control. Which is why the photo below, taken about three-fourths of a second before peak mayhem, is considerably more, “oh, isn’t that cute?” than “when will the police be arriving?” IMG_1443

Order was eventually restored, although I think the library carpet might have to be replaced.

That was at Davis Academy in Atlanta, a wonderful place with some really great kids, several of whom are going to be in real trouble if they don’t follow through on their promise to read my book.

Next up, after a brief stop to sign books at the absolutely fantastic Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, was the St. Thomas More School. Another great bunch of kids (hi, Javier!). Here’s a photo from the event, taken by our awesome media escort for the day, Ed Feldstein: IMG_6469

Whoooole lot of interesting stuff going on in that photo. See if you can make out: A) Curtis’s drawing of Bob the Builder as a werewolf; B) the broken picture frame hanging from Peter’s neck; and C) Jesus.

A word of explanation: in his other career as an illustrator, Curtis designed Bob the Builder, and turning Bob into a cartoon werewolf is Curtis’s way of integrating that biographical detail into the discussion of his Wereworld series. Here’s a closer look:IMG_6474

Just between us, I’ve started to wonder if Curtis’s interest in werewolves isn’t also biographical. Seriously, take a close look at that photo. See anything unusual?

There’s a full moon coming. This is cause for concern.

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Endangered Authors Tour Diary, Day 1

So, I’m on a book tour. Which is exciting! And I’m not alone! I’m traveling with three other middle-grade authors: Adam Gidwitz, whose A Tale Dark and Grimm and In a Glass Grimmly are wonderfully creepy, often very funny retellings of Grimm’s fairy tales; Jacqueline West, whose bestselling Books of Elsewhere series also lives at the delightful intersection of funny and creepy; and Curtis Jobling, whose Wereworld fantasy series kicks funny to the curb in favor of flat-out horror.images-2 images images-1

At least, I think that’s the deal with Curtis. He’s British, but not Downton Abbey British–he’s more original-BBC-version-of-The-Office British, where if you don’t turn the subtitles on, you have to pause the DVD like every two minutes and back up because you have no idea what’s just been said.

Unfortunately, Curtis doesn’t come with a subtitle function, so most of the time I’m utterly mystified by what’s coming out of his mouth. He seems very friendly, though. And nobody else seems to have any trouble understanding him. I think maybe I just haven’t spent enough time in England. Or I need to re-watch The Office.

Anyway, we’re all on the Endangered Authors tour, which is a very high-concept-y book tour wrapped up in a fake game show, emceed by Peter McNerney of the Story Pirates. The show is kind of hard to explain, except to say that Peter is hilarious in it, and extremely quick on his feet, which more than compensates for his unfortunate habit of leaving his luggage in inconvenient places (long story).

Our first stop, once Peter found his luggage, was Campbell County Middle School in Alexandria, Kentucky. Home of the Camels!

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I think the Camels thing is a clever play on the word “Campbell.” Either that, or there are a LOT of things I don’t understand about Kentucky.

Here’s a shot of the Endangered Authors set. Peter’s in the background–the suit and tie are ironic, and (spoiler alert!) that’s not his real hair. Jacqueline and Curtis are in the foreground. I’m pretty sure Curtis is making a werewolf face, because the main character in the Wereworld series is a werewolf. Or he might be threatening to beat me to death for taking his picture without asking:IMG_1436

I am honestly not sure. I should check with one of the others about this.

The kids at Campbell County were great (hi, Anastasia!), we all had a fine time, and after a brief stop to sign stock at the so-nice-I-wish-I-could’ve-stayed-longer Joseph-Beth Booksellers and an uneventful flight to Atlanta, we’re now ensconced in the finest La Quinta Inn I have ever seen. I’m not being sarcastic. Just look at this hotel room!IMG_1439

That’s the foyer. Of my hotel room. Which has a FOYER. What didn’t fit in the photo, because I do not have a wide-angle lens, were the kitchenette, the study, the bedroom, a bathroom so big it had built-in shelving along one wall, and whatever you call the room you have to walk through to get from the foyer to the bathroom.

And the closet space! To die for. Honestly, this La Quinta is out of control. After the tour, I might come back and move in.

More tomorrow.

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Texas librarians are the best

Just got back from the Tweens Read Book Festival in Houston, Texas, where I had the rare privilege of seeing six hundred kids lose their minds in the presence of kidlit superstars Heather Brewer (The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod) and Rachel Renee Russell (The Dork Diaries).

It was also great meeting and/or catching up with the likes of Amy Ignatow (The Popularity Papers), Tommy Greenwald (Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading), Trent Reedy (Stealing Air), E.J. Patten (The Hunter Chronicles: Return to Exile), and Stefan Bachmann (The Peculiar).

But that’s not why I’m posting. I’m posting about the cupcake.

The cupcake that reproduced the Deadweather and Sunrise book cover in frosting:

And not just the cupcake. Oh, no. The cupcake was just the deliciously frosted, red-velvet tip of the iceberg.

There was also a glazed tile drink coaster, also hand-crafted with a reproduction of the Deadweather book cover:

And then there was the hand-knitted cup cozy.

I don’t have a picture of that one, but go ahead and conjure up a hand-knitted cup cozy in your mind’s eye.

Then make it much nicer.

Nicer still.

Even nicer than that…

Okay, now you’ve got it. It was that nice.

All of these things were gifts, hand-made by Texas librarians for no other reason than they are really, really nice people, and love books, and have amazing cupcake-making, tile-glazing, and cozy-knitting skills.

And they created these incredibly touching, personalized gifts for TWENTY-ONE DIFFERENT AUTHORS.

Thank you, Texas librarians! I am in awe of you.

The kids were pretty cool, too. But honestly, I’m not sure they realize just how good they have it librarian-wise.

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Hey, look, people showed up

I had been warned, by more than one person, that bookstore appearances by first-time authors don’t tend to draw a crowd. Consequently, advance estimates in my household of the total number of people who would show up for yesterday’s appearance at the awesome Words bookstore in Maplewood, NJ were not high (my wife figured three; I was slightly less optimistic).

Very pleasantly surprised to discover those estimates were on the low side. Many, many thanks to everyone who showed up, and to Words owner Jonah Zimilies for hosting the event. Pictures below are courtesy of Michael Keane and Words.

Here’s me pontificating on the difference between writing movies and books. Or it might have been me complaining about the way The X-Files TV series ended. Hard to tell without the audio.

 

Signing books. This reminds me that I need to change my Facebook status from “balding” to “bald.”

 

Thanks again, Jonah!

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