This past weekend, I attended the Baltimore Book Festival, a 3-day event located along Baltimore’s scenic Inner Harbor. I happened to share a tent with author/illustrator team, Stephen McGill and Ronald Campbell.
Stephen and Ron have a book that debuted in April, The Electrifying Adventures of Mr. Powers. I was immediately impressed by the way they pitched their book to readers. They sold out in the last hour of the last day of the festival, which is pretty much the definition of bringing exactly the right amount of stock.
Hello, all! It’s been awhile since I posted here, and I feel a little guilty about that. Not a lot, though. You see, since I’ve been here last I have:
Driven 1800 miles and flown 1550 miles for book events
Given 11 large group presentations
Conducted 3 writing workshops
Delivered 1 keynote address
Virtually visited 3 classrooms via Skype
That was all pretty exciting, and more driving than I’ve ever done in my life. Thank heavens for Waze, my new favorite app! I’ve been all over the state of Pennsylvania – southeast, northeast, central, and southwest. The only area of PA I haven’t visited is the northwest. Anybody out in Erie want to invite me your way? (more…)
I LOVE fan mail from kids. Not to insult fan mail from adults in any way, but lately I’ve been getting emails from readers of the Eighth Day series. I especially love answering questions that show in-depth thinking about the book. (ex: “Why didn’t Giana’s hostility to Jax wear off after he accidentally used his compulsion talent on her, the way Jax’s hostility to Riley wore off after a couple days?” Answer: Giana wasn’t a nice person to start with. She was a bully who enjoyed being mean to people.) And I love hearing from readers who are worried about my characters and what’s going to happen to them next.
Sometimes, you look at something in your house that has needed painting for years – let’s say, a window pane and sill that’s water-stained from a leak that was fixed a long time ago. And you say, today’s the day! So you get out the sanding tool and the trim paint and the brush. You finally paint over all the flaws, and you stand back with satisfaction and say, “There! I just fixed the ugliest thing in my house!” Then you turn around and guess what? The second ugliest thing in your house is now glaringly obvious. Dang it.
I’ve been asked to do something really fun next summer: Be one of the guest authors in Fiona Claire’s Ireland Writer Tours. Julie Dao participated in this writing conference/Irish tour this summer and has been blogging about the experience, if you want to check it out. Basically, this would be a working vacation for me – running workshops and classes in between tours of beautiful Galway, Ireland – with someone else paying my expenses. How could I say no? I’ll share more as details become available.
Nothing’s funnier than watching a small cat chase a large spider around the inside of a big mopping bucket. Especially when sometimes it looks like the spider might be chasing the cat. I’m really, really sorry I didn’t get a picture/video of this. I was too busy laughing.
The Baltimore Book Festival is coming up at the end of this month – and that makes me really happy! If you live anywhere near Baltimore and are available September 25-27, come visit me at the KidLit Author booth in the Baltimore Inner Harbor. It will probably look a little like last year’s booth:
Except that after having “banner envy” over Timothy Young’s eye-catching banner (see it behind the lady on the right?), I asked him to design one for me, too. And it’s awesome!
Plus, my husband is threatening to decorate our booth with some flashy lights. Can’t go wrong there! I hope the weather is as gorgeous as last year, except maybe just 10 degrees cooler.
Yes, it’s time for another scatter-brained post because I couldn’t pull together a single topic.
I think Netflix should count as a business expense. I know many people would consider binge-watching TV while your open manuscript and a blinking cursor sit ignored on a side table counter-productive. But I recently spent four days revising a single chapter of THE MORRIGAN’S CURSE and when I finally licked it, I couldn’t face the next chapter. Yes, I had a deadline, and yes, as a full time writer I need to work at writing. Instead I watched five episodes of The Fall in a row and felt guilty about it. The next day, however, I jumped back into the manuscript and revised not just the following chapter, but three more. So, from now on, when I feel the call to binge-watch (or binge-read) instead of writing, I’m not going to fight it or feel guilty. If my tank of creativity is empty, I need to fill it back up.
I got an early peek at the cover design for THE MORRIGAN’S CURSE last week, and I am floored! I can’t share it yet, but the artwork really inspired me. You can expect the same eye-popping title and Jax running, of course. But this cover is different from the others. You’re going to love it.
The Eighth Day has started appearing at Scholastic Book Fairs across the country. I’ve been thrilled to receive messages and photos from people who were excited to see it, including my sister and my niece who spotted it at their school in Shawnee, Kansas. (My sister is a teacher there; my niece is a fifth grade student.)
I’ve got a gold ribbon on Amazon for The Inquisitor’s Mark. Which is awesome, at least while it lasts.
I’ve been buried in revisions since Christmas. First, THE MORRIGAN’S CURSE. Then I addressed agent and beta-reader notes on BRANEWORLD. Currently, I’m revising a YA historical paranormal, also based on my agent’s notes. By the time I’ve finished that, I expect THE MORRIGAN’S CURSE will be back for another round. I know I’ve always said how much I love revisions and hate first drafts … but part of me is hankering to work on something new.
Apropos of the point above, my plan – if I can clear my desktop of other projects by then – is to take a blogging hiatus in April and attempt my own NaNoWriMo. How much can I get written in one month? I am notoriously slow at first drafts, so this will be a real challenge for me.
At first, I wasn’t sure if I should throw a launch party for the release of The Inquisitor’s Mark. After all, this is my fourth book. And it’s a sequel. I wondered if maybe everyone I knew was sick and tired of going to events where they felt obligated to buy my books.
But after discovering this wonderful local indie store — The Hockessin Book Shelf — right over the state line from me in Delaware, I decided it would be fun to give it a try.
Of course, in this “Before” picture, I did wonder if anyone would come. (See my stiff, nervous smile?)
I shouldn’t have worried! I was thrilled to see former co-workers, including the principal I spent most of my teaching career working with before her retirement.
Students from my old school, whose teachers read The Eighth Day aloud to them, and kids who met me as a guest speaker at the Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project last summer came out to see me.
One girl drove an hour with her mother to attend this event because she bought The Eighth Day at the Baltimore Book Festival last fall and has been anxiously waiting for the sequel. She sat down to start reading immediately. I admit, for just a few seconds, I felt like a famous author!
This little store makes the best of a small space by utilizing rolling book shelves that can slide between other shelves to clear the center of the store for events. Ingenious!
The event was catered by a retired teacher-colleague who now has her own catering business. LOVED the BLTs in little crunchy baskets! Also ingenious!
And my daughter was happy because she got to hold this handsome charmer and future reader!
So, Saturday was kind of awesome. I am thrilled that so many people came out to celebrate with me and were genuinely looking forward to reading what’s next for Jax, Riley, and Evangeline. (One extremely bright young man already had a theory about why the book was called The Inquisitor’s Mark based on a detail about Jax’s family crest tattoo that’s mentioned in the first book — and he was right!)
But now it’s time to put my nose back on the grindstone. Revisions for The Morrigan’s Curse are due in two weeks! Eek!