Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The time we met one of the West Memphis Three

Hearing about Damien Echols doing an appearance and signing was strictly luck. We had just watched part of Paradise Lost: 3 and I had just happened to see a tweet from Changing Hands Bookstore in Arizona. Damien had done a signing there the night before and Changing Hands provided a link for the rest of his tour stops.

I clicked on the link in the tweet at the same time that I got an email from Book Soup with a list of events. Damien's was the first listed. Hubs called to make sure that tickets were still available. They were.

We got up to UCLA early. The event started at 7, we got there just after 5 and there already people lined up. Book Soup was still putting together their table, so we got in line and proceeded to wait. Both for will call and entrance into the theatre.

Book Soup came through the line before 6, giving out vouchers and tickets. At the time of the order, we had only purchased one book. We quickly added another one.

Damien and Dave Navarro [the moderator] got on stage around 7:15. They started talking about the book, only briefly touching on the case and focusing mostly on how Damien coped with being on death row.

The thing he missed the most is the rain. There was a kitten that was kept as a pet and passed around from cell to cell to keep it a secret from the guards. Damien still has no idea how it got inside.

Being locked in solitary on death row for over 10 years, Damien started to lose his eyesight. He had trouble focusing on things further than 4-5 inches in front of him. It also left him sensitive to camera flashes and bright lights in general due to not seeing sunlight.

He had to enter a plea of guilty to be released. After the DNA evidence was released and proven not to match Damien, Jason or Jessie, the state prosecutor said they could drag on the new hearing, leaving the men to stay in jail for 5-10 additional years.

Damien said that it was now up to the three of them to promote the truth, that the state was not going to change the record as Arkansas shows the case as closed. He doesn't like to talk about what happened, but he is aware of his new found celebrity.

The talk ended after about and hour and we were all herded outside, to the courtyard to where the signing table was set up.

They had a handler to hand the book to Damien. When I got up to him, he shook my hand [and every single person who had attended]. I thanked him for spending his time and he thanked me for attending. There wasn't personalization, but he did take pictures.

While Damien Echols is soft spoken, he is extremely  articulate and somehow after surviving the horrible ordeal, remains a truly humble person. His story is amazing and inspiring.

If you're not familiar with the WM3, briefly, they are Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley who in 1993, were arrested and wrongly convicted for the murders of three eight year old boys.

They spent over 18 years in prison before being released in August of 2011.

For detailed information, check out:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The time it was delightfully murderous

When Gretchen McNeil said she would have ARCs of Ten at WonderCon, it was a must for me. I was prepared to throw elbows, push children and basically do whatever it took to get a copy. Of course, all that build up meant that I was able to just walk up to the table and request a copy without any problem. Needless to say, when the launch party was announced at MGRB, it was a done deal.

We got up to the store early [and without incident, YAY!!]. Early enough that the chairs weren't set up. I bought books and we left to grab coffee and snacks. Got back to the store around 1 and I chatted it up with Carlos [talking all things Doctor Who and concerts where he got punched in the face] while he struggled to put the chairs down.

LeAnna got there with launch party snacks and we proceeded to decorate.  She had made these awesomely bloody dvds that we strung up all over the place.

LeAnna also made pretty rosettes from this weird stretchy plastic sheeting and draped it all over the table.  And then I hung bloody dvds from the table.  The leftover dvds were thrown on top of the table for extra ambiance.

Gretchen got there around 2 with Nancy Holder coming in shortly afterwards.  Nancy said that she was there to sign, but she was mostly there to support Gretchen at the release party.

Gretchen talked about Ten, but admitted that there wasn't much she would say because she didn't want to spoil it for anyone. Ten is her homage to Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians.  She talked about getting Christopher Pike to blurb it.  When Christopher emailed her back, she thought it was a fake email address because it was a really, really, really old AOL address. She cried after talking to him. Gretchen even likened him to JD Salinger, saying that Christopher lives in Santa Barbara and is never seen. 

Personal note: I would been borderline hysterical in Gretchen's situation because I read every single book Christopher Pike wrote when I was younger.  I've always loved him.

We watched the book trailer and it was adorable to see Gretchen cringe as much as she did due to her own singing in the background.  Afterwards, she did a brief reading from Ten, picking out the reveal of the first body because it was the only place she could think of that didn't spoil anything for people who hadn't read it yet.

She answered questions about her upcoming books.  3:59 [about the same girl in two different parallel universes who find out their worlds touch for a minute every twelve hours and decide to switch places] and Don't Get Mad: Get Even/Get Dirty [a two book deal about a secret society of 4 girls in a Catholic high school who avenge victims of bullying].

After about 30 minutes of talking, the signing started.  Since I was in the front row, I was able to be first in line.  I was able get some books signed for Michelle and a finished copy of Ten for myself. I also asked Gretchen to sign one of the left over dvds.

I thanked her for being there and she thanked me for helping to decorate the event area. I was also able to get the super awesome Possess bookmark, complete with the charm attached to the top.  After raiding the super secret ARC shelf in the back room [THANK YOU, LEANNA], we quickly left. 

But not until we grabbed our red velvet Ten cupcakes and bloody hand print goodie bags.

Gretchen is such a doll and I love hearing her talk... Ten is about a spooky as it comes and I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The time we were unsupervised

Embrace has been on my TBR list for a while. A long while. When I saw that Jessica Shirvington was going to have the release party for Entice at MGRB, I was pretty sure I was going to go.

We got up to the store early and bought books. We also got a spiffy reusable bag. After killing time, we got back to the store around 6:45 and proceeded to stand behind Jessica and her friend [handler? assistant? manager? agent?] at the coffee shop inside MGRB.

We sort of run amok in the store. Quietly, of course. *cough* LeAnna wasn't at work, so I raided the bookmark table while Hubs tried on leftover Carnival of Souls masks. A snack table was set up and we were told to help ourselves.

Jessica got there just after 7:30 as she was doing an interview. There were only a couple of people at the event, so we decided to put the chairs in a circle and chat like friends.

Jessica started taking about how she didn't plan to write Embrace. She was on a book binge and after reading one book a day for a few weeks, she decided to open up her laptop and start writing.

She had printed out over 400 pages and after storing it in a package from the ream of paper she used, she very casually told her husband that she wrote a book. From there, she talked to a colleague of her husbands [who works in media] about contacting the woman who would become her agent.

Jessica then read from Entice. She said it was hard to pick the scene to read, mostly because she doesn't like hearing her words in her voice.

After the reading, it was time for the Q&A. It started as a regular Q&A, but quickly turned into a comfortable conversation among book lovers. Topics were all over the place: from Jessica's first time on the west coast, to her writing style, to the exciting tv news announcement about Embrace, to my driving to San Francisco for an event.

We also touched on the topic of how YA has become mainstream and Jessica's theory is that young love is the reason it's so popular. Everyone can relate to young love and the choices that teenagers make, whereas if it was an adult making those same choices, people would wonder about the character's mortgage and job.

The signing started after we talked for about 40 minutes. I got my books signed and Jessica went to date them, but had to think about the American way of dating it. I told her she could date it the European way. And then she asked if people here jaywalk, that she had been jaywalking all the time and noticed that no one followed her. Hubs told her that she'd get a ticket in Santa Monica.

After she signed my books, I thanked her for coming, wished her well on the rest of the tour and said I hoped to see her again for the third book. She really is so adorable and friendly.


I got a couple of books signed for a giveaway. Up for grabs are a signed paperback copy of Embrace, a signed hardcover copy of Entice, 2 bookmarks and the spiffy reusable bag.

The Fine Print:
1. US Only.

2. Must be at least 13 to enter [Besides, if you're under 13, you shouldn't be reading this blog with the amount of swearing I do].

3. I'm not responsible for lost or damaged items. I don't have replacements. Rest assured, I am ridiculously anal about my books. They will be sent in safe packaging and will leave my hands as near to perfect as I can get them.

4. I reserve the right to suspend or end the giveaway at any time, for any reason and without a winner being chosen.

5. Winner will be notified by email and will have 72 hours to respond. If there is no response, a new winner will be chosen.

6. Winners are chosen at random by Rafflecopter.

I'm not going to make you follow me here or on Twitter to win. If you'd like to follow or pimp me out, that would be great. If not, that's cool too. Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The time it was at a library

While I've been able to see Lauren Kate at several events, I've never been able to hear her talk about the Fallen series. So, when I heard through Mrs. Nelson's that she had announced a date at the Ontario public library, I was definitely going to try to make it.

We got up to the library just after 1:30. They had a table display right inside the door.

One of the library workers, Courtney, happened to be walking around and she showed us where the event would be held. Courtney [who I later learned was actually the YA librarian] also told us that the last time the library hosted Lauren, there were 96 people in attendance.

We went to Starbucks to kill some time and then got back to the library around 2:30, with doors at 3. We sat in the library [which is a REALLY nice library] with an obstructed view of the event room doors. I then proceeded to annoy Courtney by continually jumping up to see if the doors had opened.

Once there was a small group of people hovering, Courtney opened the door and let us in, even though they hadn't set up the books for sale. There were over 80 seats inside [which were all nearly filled by the time the event started] and a huge projection screen that was playing the book trailers and an Australian interview with Lauren.

Lauren [who is adorably pregnant] got there right at 3:30. She started out reading the prologue of Rapture and then talked about all sorts of things.

She started out talking about the teacher who helped to push her into writing by having to keep a diary for two years.  Lauren said that she started to think about what her teacher would want to read and she realized that it was her first idea of writing for what her demographic would be.

She worked as an editor in New York and learned about the steps in publishing.  She did a lot of writing workshops, has a box with 76 rejection letters, Rapture was the hardest book of the series to write, but the one she's most proud of, and her new series is a love story [Lauren's commentary on her own statement was, "shocker"] that follows a 17 year old girl.

I didn't get to ask my question about her favorite character to write because she answered it herself.  Cam is her favorite character.  He is based on her husband ["He's the like the devil and yes, I go home to that every night"].  Lauren loves that Cam goes off the path and does whatever he wants; she loves to follow him wherever he goes. 

One of the best parts was when Lauren said when her husband would come home from work, she would share her day with him.  Instead of gossiping about her co-workers, she would gossip about her characters: "Today, Cam said this. And can you believe he did that?"

After about an hour total of Lauren talking and answering questions, the signing started.  I was the second one in line.  I thanked her for being at the event. She remembered meeting me before, saying that I looked familiar. I told her that I met her first in Santa Monica for Dear Bully and I saw her at FOB, but that it was the first time I had ever heard her talk about the Fallen books. Lauren said that she was worried about spoilers during her talk, but was happy that she didn't ruin anything for me.

I was able to get my copy of Rapture signed along with the lobby card. 

Lauren was definitely worth the wait in hearing her talk about her books.  I look forward to seeing her again, whether it's for the Fallen series or any future series she publishes.

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