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.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The time we had hamsas drawn on

When Laini Taylor toured for Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I wasn't able to go. She appeared at MGRB on the same night that Kathy Reichs was at Warwick's. I ordered a signed copy and figured I would see her eventually.

We got up to Glendale around 5pm. The event area had velvet ropes/barricades around it so no one was able to get to the seats. I had asked one of the employees when it would open up and he said probably between 6:30-6:45. We settled in with some books and just waited.

Around 6pm, Laini came walking by with her agent and a woman we've met at various events before. The woman pointed us out to Laini and told her that we were from San Diego. Laini asked if we really drove that far and when I said yes, she said it was pretty cool that we did.

Just after 6, I noticed there were a couple of girls hovering by the event entrance and I quickly joined them. Not only were they the same girls I threatened to push at Kiersten White, but they remembered me. A few minutes later, the absolute nicest B&N employee I've ever encountered let us into claim our seats.

One of the best parts of waiting in the event area is listening to everyone around me talk. The women behind me were drawing hamsas on their hands and were talking about taking pictures. I would eventually offer to take pictures of all three of them together and we had an impromptu photo shoot.

Laini got there right at 7pm. She started out by telling us that Days of Blood and Starlight debuted on the NYT bestsellers list. From there, she talked about the origin of Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

Daughter came to be from "cheating on another book". Laini was supposed to be writing a scifi book with ballerinas, but it wasn't flowing. She decided to give herself a day to write whatever she wanted without a plan or prompt. From that came a scene with a blue haired teenager arguing with her father who wasn't human.

After about 15 minutes of talking, Laini read from Days. In the middle of her reading, an announcement for the "all new NOOK tablet" played overhead. Laini paused with a small smile and waited for quiet before resuming.

The Q&A session started and from that I learned that Laini loved to write the snarky conversation of teenagers so much that she created twitter handles for Karou and Zuzana to talk on. She quickly realized that she needed to channel that energy into writing.

Someone asked about Laini's writing process or "process porn" as she dubbed it. A messy chapter will prohibit her from continuing, she edits while she works. She always has two documents open sides by side: one is the chapter, the other is a working document that lists what has happened, what needs to happen and the character development.

She calls her research "magpie research" as she takes shiny things and writes them down to use later. According to her, that's why fantasy is so much better than scifi.

After about an hour, Laini did a giveaway for some Smoke and Bone jewelry. There was also a smaller giveaway for some tote bags. Hubs ended up winning one and when be went to collect, Laini commented on his tattoos.

Then the signing started and the staff had it controlled really well. I've never seen a line up that wasn't a free for all, so kudos to them.

Since we were in the second row, we ended up being about 10th in line. When we got up to Laini, I sort of apologized for having so many books. She started laughing and joked that it was just horrible. Somehow we started talking about the drive home, so after we were done and I got a picture with her, Laini told us to drive safely.

I was sort of standing around when I noticed Leigh Bardugo in line. Since I didn't stay long enough at YA in the Sun to see her, I wanted to make sure I said hi. She told me an excellent story revolving around the Siege and Storm arcs that I want to confirm I can post. If Leigh would rather I didn't, just know it was a really awesome story.

We were getting ready to leave when one of the ladies I did the hamsa photo shoot with came by. They were adding them to anyone who wanted it and taking a group photo with Laini. I said sure and got Ava to go with me.

Laini Taylor is a delight and the audience the flocks to see her is just as nice as she is. She was absolutely worth the wait.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The time it was all bookish mail -- 1

Obviously, I can't be at all of the signings, which is a tragedy.  Thankfully, I haven't had any serious problems with various bookstores across the country when it comes to ordering for events. And sometimes, I have awesome friends or family get stuff for me....

I had been chatting with Trish Doller on Twitter about Something Like Normal [among other things].  When the time came to ask about getting a signed copy, Trish was awesome enough to give me the number to the Barnes & Noble that she works at so I could order a copy.  She did say that they had signed stock, but that she would happily personalize my book.

When the line up for Austin Teen Book fest was announced, I really thought we were going to go.  I misunderstood some of the information and thought Beautiful Redemption and Reached were both going to be released early at the event.  After I found out that I was completely wrong, I begged asked Christine to get me a copy of Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan. She also got my Dear Bully signed by Sophie Jordan.

I had talked with Kat Zhang about sharing my arc of Sever by Lauren DeStefano in exchange for cookies.  Unfortunately, with the time restraints between the both of us, I was unable to share it with her. I had plans to get What's Left of Me and as soon as I saw that Kat was signing with CJ Redwine [whose Defiance I was dying to read], I knew I'd be ordering both.

The day of the event, either Kat or CJ had tweeted a gorgeous picture of Parnassus Books, where the event was going to be held. I answered back that I was jealous that I couldn't be there.  A couple of days later, I got some lovely books in the mail and they were in the super nifty bags that Parnassus ships everything in.

When I went to Chicago for Michelle Hodkin, I saw that R.L. Stein was going to be appearing at the same bookstore later in the month.  I had asked if I could ship my copy of Dear Bully to be signed.  At the time, the events manager wasn't working, so they told me to call back. Instead, my sister and brother in law offered to attend on my behalf.  I called and ordered a copy of Red Rain, shipped my Dear Bully and waited.

On the night of the signing, I started getting text messages from my SIL.  It was their first book signing, they both had a great time.  And....they even took all sorts of pictures for me.

I'm so happy that everyone is so accommodating when calling to order books.  Sometimes, I wish they would say no so I wouldn't spend so much money.  Same goes for family members.  :D

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