Saturday, April 5, 2014

What School Libraries Mean to Me

April is School Library Month!  Back in January, I was asked if I would participate in an American Association of School Libraries campaign.  Would I be willing to share a quote on what school libraries mean to me?  "Of course!" I said.  I sent the quote and kind of forgot about it, to be honest.  Until I saw this tweeted today:


Do you have a special memory of a school library?  Check out the AASL's twitter feed or visit their School Library Month webpage to see what other authors have to say about their own libraries. It makes for pretty great reading, especially if you're a book nerd like me!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Meet the Author - Grand Park's Downtown Bookfest 3/29/14

Goodness!  I've been so busy (writing, always writing), that I'd forgotten to let you know where I'll be next.  On the last Saturday of March, I will be at Grand Park's Downtown Bookfest here in sunny Los Angeles.

Book lovers unite!

I'll be joining awesome YA authors Cecil Castellucci and Sonya Sones as we read from our latest books.  We're on at 2:00 PM, the festival runs from noon to 5 PM.

2:00 PM Saturday, March 29 - Grand Park, 200 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles 90012

And also...

It's been pointed out to me that I failed to announce the arrival of Orleans in paperback!  Sorry about that!  We ran into it at Barnes and Noble on my birthday and my husband was stunned-- apparently, I failed to tell him, too.  So you're all in good company.

There's been one little change from hardcover to paperback, and that is the title font.  The vagaries of font rights (yes, you purchase the rights to use certain fonts), called for an adjustment.  I think it looks pretty good.  What about you?

"In the wild" at Barnes and Noble, the Grove, L.A.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Today is my birthday!  As a Chicago girl born on St. Paddy's Day, I think it's appropriate to share the dyeing of the Chicago River as time lapsed by on YouTube by Frootis :

I used to live on the river and always thought it was kind of green anyway.  But not this gorgeous, shocking acid green.  Don't worry, it's just vegetable dye (and probably one of the least toxic things in that water)!

Yesterday, to celebrate my aging process, I took a trip with a friend to Ojai, CA, where we hit every bookstore we could find, including the gorgeous outdoor bookstore, Bart's Books. 

Isn't it cool?

There are bookcases built into the wall outside that you can buy on the honor system.

 That's the kids section on the left!

We also stopped in at the charming Friends of Ojai Valley Library Bookstore, Twice Told Tales, and Bookends Bookstore, which used to be a church!  Some of the pews have been repurposed as shelving, and all of the sections are labeled with Scrabble tiles. 

Courtesy Ventura County Reporter

It was a perfect day.  Today I plan on eating Irish stew, corned beef and cabbage and about a thousand cakes.  Or at least one slice.

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!

Monday, February 24, 2014

A few things

I was just going to post a pithy title and a fun picture, but I have two pics to post and they are not related. 

The first photo was sent to me via a friend by her brother.  It's FLYGIRL, in the wild!  At the Huntsville-Madison County Library Bailey Cove Branch in Alabama, to be precise.

Courtesy of Dave McDaniels
I love seeing my books in their natural habitat, knowing that, any minute now, someone could pick them up and give them a good reading. Thanks, Dave, for the book safari shot. And hooray for Huntsville! Ida Mae's keeping good company with Ruta Sepetys' OUT OF THE EASY peeking out form behind, not to mention the unrelated Andersons!

The second picture is from my President's Day weekend.  It speaks for itself, really.  But suffice to say, this little sweetie is one week old.  Holding a baby goat is like holding a cat that is wearing stilts.  Which is to say awesome!

Totes ma goats!

Ah, and one last thing to report!  ORLEANS was nominated for a 2015 Magnolia Award
The Magnolias are Mississippi's children's choice awards. Books are suggested by adults, read by the kids, and voted on at the end of the year. Many thanks to the kind reader who put my hat in the ring!

Monday, February 10, 2014


I'm pleased to announce FLYGIRL is a Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) 2014 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults selection!  Each year YALSA chooses from books nominated at their midwinter conference, highlighting relevant timely and timeless topics.  FLYGIRL falls under their "Conflicted:  Life During Wartime" heading.  As the website says, "Today’s U.S. teens have lived most of their lives in a country at war. These books address direct combat as well as life in a war zone, across a broad swath of locations and historical periods."

Amazing to think how many people today have never known our country without war.  The windows of peace have been small (or tense-- I was a Cold War kid and wept when the Berlin Wall came down).  I wonder if reading about conflict can help us learn to avoid it, or if war is simply in our nature.  There is a value to "never forget," but that same sentiment can be applied to holding grudges.  My mother used to say, "forgive, but never forget," which is a bit tricker, but maybe that's the way to go.

Woo woo, I went deep for a second there. 

Thank you to the Popular Paperbacks Young Adults Committee for continuing to remember and support Ida Mae.  I must go back to a crazy writing marathon, so I will be (and have been) MIA from here for a week or so.  But I'll be back!

In the meantime, go watch the Olympics!  GO TEAM USA!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Choose Your Own Adventure - the 2014 Youth Media Awards

Tonight the American Library Association's website has become a Choose Your Own Adventure game. 

Forgive the crappy screen shot. 
Readers, choose wisely!  You can be a Librarian/Librarian Fan, or go straight to the Youth Media Awards (which is the ultimate Choose Your Own Adventure if you think about it.  The best of the best in youth books, videos and "other outstanding matierals" as the website puts it)  We're talking the Caldecott, the Newbery, the Printz and Coretta Scott King Book Awards-- it's very exciting. 

Unfortunately, it's also at 8:00 in the morning EST, which is early.  Too early for this PST girl.  I plan on being deep in REM sleep then, but if you are an early riser, check out the webcast here.  (If you watch before go-time, like I just did, you'll be treated to a photo montage and awesome 8-bit-video-game vibey music!)

I imagine winning an ALA award is much like winning a Nobel-- the phone starts ringing waaay too early.  But in a good way. 

Congratulations to all of the winners.  Here's to another fabulous year of writing!

Monday, January 20, 2014

My perfect bag

There's a scene in the movie MISERY that I remember fondly.  Not because it's a movie about an author with a fan crazy enough to hobble him to keep him writing (hi, motivation!), but because of this:

Note the look of adoration.  That is some bag!

James' Caan's leather bag.  This is the satchel he keeps his manuscripts in.  It's on the seat next to him when his car slides into the ditch.  It's the proverbial bag the cat gets out of when Kathy Bates goes nutso on him, having read his most recent manuscript.  It's leather.  It's old.  And it's frickin' awesome.

I saw MISERY a good twelve years before I ever published a novel, but I wanted that bag.  In my mind's eye it merged with an old bag of my fathers, a black-and-white checked leather trimmed attache case with his initials embossed on it in gold letters.  That bag looked like it had been somewhere and seen somethings.  It looked like it held secrets and treasures.

I wanted that bag.

And then, two years ago, I was walking down the street in a small town juggling a manuscript, my purse, and my sunglasses when I passed a bag in a store window.  "That's perfect!" I thought. I ran inside, pulled it from the window display, and tried to cram my manuscript inside.  I failed.  But a mission was born.  I would get a writer's bag.  Something to hold my printed pages when I went to lunch or a cafe.  Something to ride shotgun as I headed out into the world.  My bag.

It was not as easy as it sounds. 

For the past two years, I've been on the hunt.  Diligent, obsessive even.  When I procrastinated in my writing, I was online bag shopping.  I fell in deep like a few times. 

The now unavailable Marcopoloni Bruno bag (insanely expensive, but gorgeous).

The classic Cambridge satchel, in purple, monogrammed in silver. (Price, shipping from the UK, possible dye transfer from awesome color)

Scaramanga bags (too... earthy? And a bit too big)

And the gorgeous map case at Satchel and Page (perfect for an ipad).  You name it, I looked at it.

The trouble is, Apple hates writers.  Not really but, with the advent of the laptop and the tablet, bags are 17" and too big for 8.5 x 11" paper, or they are 8x10.5" for tablets and a frustrating half-inch too small.

I finally had to face the fact.  I was the Goldilocks of leather bags and I should get home before the bears showed up.

And then I did my thousandth random search on etsy for a "leather writer's bag" (I used other keywords folks, so don't think that's why I failed).  And something popped up.

"Beautiful Thick Leather Writers Shoulder Bag with Leather interior" the title read.

I was intrigued.

"Really gorgeous thick leather bag meant to last forever as much as anything is. It is meant for those who write and think and create."

There were details, measurements, and a lot of hand wringing from me (I'd been fooled before!) and kind photos and further descriptions from the seller.  And at last, I said "yes, please."  And a week later, this showed up in the mail.

I have my bag, folks.  A gorgeous vintage leather number from the eighties.  It makes sense, right?  If you want a bag that's made for paper and not iPads, you have to go retro, and not just retro style. 

She came in the mail this week and I love her.  I'll post pictures as soon as I can get my monogram her.  Thanks to Lori at Vivian's Vintage for knowing a writer's bag when she sees one.

Two years, people!  And it was worth the wait.