Monday, December 31, 2012

The time it was a best of list

So. Everyone is busy posting their best books of 2012 and since I'm not a reviewer, I wasn't going to contribute. At the last minute [obviously], I have decided to add my very own best of list.

In no particular order, here are my top 4 [yes, 4] authors I met in the year 2012.

Michelle Hodkin

My love for Michelle is strong. I mean, we flew to Chicago for her. The trip was fun, Michelle was amazing. And most importantly? I got Noah.


I may or may not be in talks with MGRB to start a campaign to get Michelle here in 2013 for Retribution.

Sarah J Maas

I met Sarah several times in 2012. Every time, I was a hot mess of fangirling. First was ALA, second time was at CC, third time was the Throne of Glass release party and the fourth time was my birthday.

Where she gave me a birthday hat to wear. And signed my birthday card.

Disregard the fact that my eyes are shut. 

Sarah is always so amazing and I may or may not have some tentative plans with her in 2013, thanks to Ava.

Elizabeth Norris

I believe, by now, everyone knows of my love for Ben and how Kassiah got him for me.  And how I got him again when I met Elizabeth in San Diego.


But then, somehow. I won an arc of Unbreakable when Elizabeth had a contest. And in the arc, she signed him over to me again. In case anyone was going to dispute this ownership.  :D

Stephanie Perkins

The first time I met Stephanie was at Festival of Books. Ava made me stand in line with her to see Stephanie. And when I got up there, I proceeded to have the worst case of word vomit. But, Stephanie took it all in stride and hugged me.

I saw her again a few days later, on the YA or Bust tour. In the process, Lucy blew up on the freeway. We still decided to go and when I word vomited the entire story to Stephanie, she immediately got up, came around the table and hugged me. Again. And thanked me for coming.


She attempted to make Kassiah share √Čtienne, but since his name was spelled wrong [something Stephanie and I both missed], Kassiah says its not binding.

Guess I'll have to try again when Isla comes out.

All in all, 2012 was a great year. I met a lot of awesome authors and I can't wait to see what 2013 brings.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The time we had 3 hours of sleep

When Denis Leary was announced at The Grove, it was a definite. We've both been huge fans for a long time. And then we went to a Hurricane Sandy event in Hollywood the night before because there were cast members of Sons of Anarchy attending. We had gotten home after 1:30am only to wake up at 4:30am.

Traffic wasn't bad, which translates to us getting to The Grove at 7:30. So we got some coffee and waited. Somehow, the events manager saw my Twitter conversation with Ava about getting up early, asked where we were coming from and offered to treat us to some coffee.


Books were bought and while walking around The Grove, we were approached by one of the production people for Extra. Perhaps you don't know that the show is filmed daily at The Grove? Oh yes. It is.


She offered free copies of Pitch Perfect if we stayed and were in the audience. No. Then she offered make up and jewelry. Nope. And then she said the magic words: free parking.

Yes. That's right. I agreed to be on tv for free parking. Keep in mind, we parked at 7am. The signing didn't even start until 7pm and The Grove charges hourly. So after about 2 hours of cheering for Mario and Maria, we walked away with free parking, $200 worth of Laroc makeup, ceramic coasters, a gold bracelet, nail polish and 2 vouchers for Pitch Perfect.

We went to Cheesecake Factory, walked the mall and slept in the car. I read a book. Finally we went back into the store just after 5pm [line up was 5:30].

We had learned that Denis wasn't talking, just signing. But, they were doing personalization and he would take pictures.

After settling in as first in line, someone asked if Stacee was around. I shouted that I was sitting on the ground. A woman came over and introduced herself as the events manager, Lita. We chatted for a few minutes about our driving up from San Diego and how we didn't come up often because we have to take a full day off, leave the dog locked up, etc. She offered to give me her email address and said perhaps something could be worked out for future events.

Denis got there right after 7pm. He posed for pictures for the paparazzi who were set up in a corral.


We were first, so we got up to Denis right away. One of the BN workers took my book and opened it up to the signing page. Denis handed the woman the post it note and said, "I'm going to have you guys take these and just spell the names out otherwise I'm going to fuck it up".

She spelled out my name and he wrote it and then said, "Yeah. I would have fucked that up."


We chatted for a second, I thanked him for coming out and asked for a picture. Denis said of course and wanted to know where my camera was. When I pointed to Hubs, Denis said I should give the phone to one of the BN employees so we could all be in the picture. I said no, that I didn't want Hubs in the picture. We laughed and then I was done.

Hubs got his book signed and then asked for a picture. When I went to take the picture, Denis said, "It's the same camera!" I laughed and said yes. And then Denis shook his head and said he couldn't believe that we knew each other but didn't want to be in the same picture.

We were out of the store 4 minutes after Denis got there.

After the signing, we had to head back up to the bar from the night before because we won Camp Freddy tickets. And then after an exhausting [but enjoyable] day, a drive home.

Our meeting with Denis Leary was short but sweet. And hilarious. He was definitely worth the lack of sleep.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The time there was a candy bar

I heard about If I Lie from Kassiah, read it in one night and absolutely loved it. The story was heartbreaking and lovely at the same time and had such a strong female character. So, of course I wanted to meet Cory and when her launch party for Touched was announced, I knew I was going.

We picked up Ava and headed up to MGRB. It goes without saying that we were extremely early, so we killed time by having coffee. Crystal met us up there and we had a great conversation about all things books.

Around 7:15, a woman [who I think was Cory's sister, I'm not sure, but will refer to her as that for the remainder of the post] came by and starting setting things up. She put up a raffle cup and guest book [a copy of Touched for us to sign], a cake, swag bags and a candy bar.


She then walked around holding out the cup for everyone to pick the raffle tickets. Crystal and Ava both picked two numbers on accident and we all started laughing about how we were all trying to cheat. I said something about if people can figure out how to cheat at a raffle, high five to them and then she high fived me.

Cory was introduced by the lovely Gretchen McNeil. Gretchen talked about how Cory had a full time day job and two books released this year and just finished her MFA in creative writing.

Cory came out and talked about working on her MFA. She hasn't planned on writing YA, but got an idea about a girl who could heal people with her touch. She asked her program advisors if she could change to YA and ended up writing 140k words that would become Touched. She then read the first chapter.

Cory knew that she wanted to write a book where the girl did the saving instead of the type of girl who sat around, twirling their hair, waiting to be saved by a boy. Another thing she really wanted was there to be a cost to her character having powers. In the case of Touched, whatever the character heals, she absorbs. So when she heals a set of broken ribs, her own ribs crack.


After about 20 minutes of talking, the Q&A started. With that, she talked about the difficulties of writing two different books with two entirely different themes at the same time. She constantly went back to read the books and probably read Touched 80 times while writing Touched 2.

With her writing process, she is super type A and outlines everything. She will write 50 pages to get the voice of the character and then do an outline, including all of the relationship arcs for everyone in the story. She tends to write backwards, first planning the very worst thing that will happen and working from there.

She likes to collect character traits that she finds specific to a person and write them down for later use. Her examples were her mechanic brother who hates to get his hands dirty and a brother and sister who grew up in a motel and would count the space in the room by the number to steps it took them.

She talked for about 40 minutes altogether before they signaled for the signing to start. Somehow, I got up to her first [and definitely NOT from the prodding by Gretchen who told me that by now I should be taking charge and getting the people in line properly].

I thanked Cory for being at the store and congratulated her on the book released. She remembered me from Twitter [still not sure that RL picture is a good thing] and thanked me for coming out. We had a brief conversation about If I Lie before getting a picture.


And then we hung out with Gretchen and she told us about her upcoming holiday plans, preparing for BEA, and her future book plans.

Cory's maybe sister came around to start calling numbers for the raffle. As she was getting everything ready, I showed her my two numbers and told her either of them could be called so I could win. She started laughing, but I ended up being one of two winners and got this awesome tote bag full of stuff!!

Cory Jackson is as sincere as the books she writes. She has a wonderful presence and a unique style to writing. I look forward to all of her future works.

I also think that it's important to mention that inside the swag bags were blank note cards with envelopes to write letters of thanks to the military men and women, some of who never get mail.  Check out the website to participate:

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The time we met Captain Jack

Honestly, I have no idea how I learned about the John Barrowman signing. All I know is that I learned about it and we were going.

We got out to Palm Springs just before 4pm [the event start time] and there was a good sized line of people already down the block.

I left Hubs at the end of the line and went into the bookstore to buy books. Thankfully, they hadn't sold out or shut down the line. As we waited, someone walked up and down the line, offering white wine or water. And the group of people I was near was somehow designated at the group that was constantly asked "what are you waiting for?"

We started out telling the truth... But of course we quickly started making things up. Free tattoos, free coffee and free circumcisions [courtesy of John's neighbor, Scott, who was in line behind us] were what we came up with for future inquiries.

There wasn't a talk/Q&A, so the line started moving right away. As we passed the windows to the store, we saw John sitting there, interacting with people. Including a kid dressed as a Tardis and a baby that he walked around the store with.

We got into the book store after about an hour. They had 2 people there before the table to double check the books were flapped. And then Carole was ready for us.

It went by quickly, but Carole and John were both friendly and smiling while signing.

And while we were up at the table, John saw Scott in line and yelled for him to stop waiting in line. Scott came up and John was telling us how they were neighbors and he drank all of Scott's alcohol the night before. John then apologized for talking to Scott while we were in front of him.

John was also cool with signing my Tardis bag and phone case. And taking pictures.

We then somehow found a Christmas light slash art show slash someones house. The entire house was covered in lights and decorations, there were sculptures all over it was just amazing.

Between meeting Captain Jack and seeing Robolights, it was an excellent trip to Palm Springs.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The time there was traffic

Ellen Hopkins has been an elusive addition to Dear Bully. It seems that I continually miss her signing dates or appearances at ALA. Even after the date at Vroman's was announced, I wasn't sure I would be able to get there. But I did.

We got up to the store around 6:20, which is late by our standards. There was a small group of people already there; however front row was still available! I bought the new book, checked with the events person to see if they were passing out signing tickets [no, they weren't] and settled in to wait for Ellen.

Just before 7, the events lady came in and told us that Ellen was stuck in traffic and would be at the store as soon as possible. To kill time, she went though the "housekeeping" items and even read Ellen's introduction.

Ellen got there around 7:30. She thanked us all for being there and waiting for her after she was late. She immediately started talking about Collateral.

While doing research for Collateral, she spent 100 hours interviewing military families. She also planned to launch something with a particular veterans program, however, after they saw the book, the veterans decided it wasn't a good fit. Ellen figured it was because she doesn't "pretty up" any of her topics.

She then read a poem from the book. The particular poem that is now part of a traveling Iraq photo exhibit. After reading, she shared that she followed a battalion through 2 deployments for authenticity as well as the fact that $1 from every sold copy of Collateral will be donated to a military charity.

The Q&A started after that and many of the questions focused on Crank, which was a very personal story. Crank focuses on Kristina who becomes addicted to meth [and is based on Ellen's daughter]. It was 6 years of Ellen's life and she decided to write the story for herself. She quickly learned that it was a story that touched a lot of people. Ellen would sell the book without an agent and on only 75 pages.

Ellen's daughter, Kristina, has been supportive of the books and is quite proud of them. At first she was wary, but now shares them with her friends. A lot of the stories from the sequel, Glass, come straight from Kristina, who is doing well now.

Ellen's advice for writers is to be a voyeur: listen to conversations. She gets a lot of information while at airports. Always write every day and if a block happens, try going to a new place to write.

After about 40 minutes of talking, the signing started. When I got up to her, I thanked her for coming. Ellen looked up and me and commented that we've talked on twitter. I said yes, that I'm the one who drove from San Diego. She said it was a far distance. I then told her that we almost came to Vegas for her and Michelle Hodkin. Hubs asked why we had to go to Chicago if they were in Vegas. Sooo I clarified that we flew to Chicago for Michelle.


After getting my things signed, Ellen asked if we were driving back right away. When I confirmed that we were, she told me to drive safely.

Ellen Hopkins is funny. She's an excellent storyteller. And while I haven't read any of her books yet, after what I heard tonight, I'll be starting them soon.

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