Saturday, February 28, 2009

Rise-n-Shine, Sleepyhead!

The following images contain people woken up between 4 and 5 in the morning. There was no time for coffee (at least, not immediately), and no time for make-up (at all!). To get their permission to post the following photos, I promised to convey this information up front.

Obligation fulfilled.

The limo picked up my brother and his girlfriend first, then my wife and I hopped in a half-hour later. At around 4:50 a.m., we quietly let ourselves into a house in which all the lights were still off. We crept down the hallway and stopped beside a door. Beyond the door came harmonious snoring. They were still asleep. Success!

We knocked once. They stirred. The four of us blew hard into our noisemakers. Then we instructed, "Get up! Put on your're being kidnapped!"

Yesterday was my dad's final day as a workingman, but today was not going to be his first day to sleep in (not that he would have anyway). And he was a good sport, getting into the limo without too many questions.

Knowing they wouldn't get a chance to brush their teeth, we had a tin of BreathSavers waiting. Wasn't that sweet of us?

(Sweet...yet spearminty!)

First stop: Denny's (it was either that or a donut shop). Since I promised not to post any photos classified as Too Embarrassing, here's a shot to at least prove we were there.

Then we were chauffeured to the beach and walked to the end of the pier and back. While it was just a wee-bit chilly, we were still having fun and bundled up close together for this pier group shot.

Get it? Pier group? Peer group?

Ahem. Moving on...

(JoanMarie, me, Mom, Dad, Nate, Sarah)

On our next stop, we just happened to find some strong coffee to get us through the rest of the day. That guy on the left really seemed to like my duckie pajamas. But can you blame him?

It was a great morning, celebrating a wonderful milestone.

Congratulations, Dad!
We're proud of ya!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

These films have not yet been rated...

Occasionally someone will ask if I've ever considered making a video trailer for Thirteen Reasons Why. And sometimes I'll get asked if I would like to pay someone to make one for me. Either way, my answer is always no.

Why? Because there are plenty of creative people doing it already. They're more talented than me, so whatever I put together would never stand up to what they've done. And they're doing it purely for fun or because they connected with the book, so the heart they're putting into it would probably be lost if money came into play. Someday soon, maybe Hollywood will take a crack at my book. Until then, I'm thoroughly enjoying what my readers are creating!

At the bottom of this post I've added links to several trailers I've particularly enjoyed. But first, here's the most recent one (and one of the most polished!) that I've seen.

Got your popcorn ready?

Click here for the next trailer.

And click here for the next.

In this one, they use the map from newer editions of the book.

This one splices together professional productions (such as Speak, the movie based on Laurie Halse Anderson's book).

This one is a two-parter. Part 1 is here...

...and Part 2 is here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Korean Edition!

Front cover:

Back cover:

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Arizona: Day 1

After eight days in the Sunshine State, even though I had an insane amount of fun, I was really looking forward to getting home and crashing in my own bed (even if I do have to give up maid service and pillow chocolates).

But now I'm state away from home. First it was an electrical problem on the plane, followed by weather issues. In order for the plane to take-off, 50% of the passengers were going to get bumped. Since this was the last flight of the day, that meant another night in a hotel for a whole bunch of us.

Before they started pickin' people off one by one, they asked for volunteers. So, out of the kindness of my heart, I volunteered. (Well, the kindness of my heart and the fact that I got a free flight anywhere in the country!)

But it's taking forever to get my 50% rebooked. So until I can attack the cushy pillows of my next hotel, I'll make due with my carry-on luggage.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Florida: Day 8

For my final stop in Florida, I went to Charlotte High School in Punta Gorda.

At the very beginning, things felt a little strange. The last time I was called to the principal's office, I was a junior in high school and my mom had to come pick me up. But this time, I was being served breakfast!

Sometimes life is so weird.

And is there anything cooler than riding shotgun in a golfcart, swerving around buses, while trying not to knock over students? Of course there is...but not much! (Thank you, Ms. Garcia, for keeping both me and the students safe.)

The day included three presentations in a huge auditorium. With my largest audiences at a school yet, I wore my first clip-on microphone (which felt kind of cool!), and had so much fun interacting with the students. The speech itself is always fun to deliver, but I really enjoy the spontaneity of the Q&A.

But my absolute favorite part of any author visit is when I get to talk with students one-on-one during the autographing. Today's visit included many people opening up and sharing their experiences with the issues in my book. While those conversations can be both heartbreaking and heartwarming, it is always an amazing honor to feel trusted with their stories.

Today's group also had a lot of fun with my markers. Not only did I autograph books, bookmarks, and discussion guides, I also signed about a dozen shoes, a hat, a backpack, a binder, someone's favorite ribbon, a student ID card, a cast, several hands (two of which belonged to friends who had to put their hands together to see my full signature)...

...and one forehead.

For lunch, I ate pasta and cookies with officers from the book club and winners of the read-a-thon. The lunch was short, but it's amazing how much conversing can take place when everyone chews really fast!

After school, I hung out with the book club. More cookies! Lemonbars! Weird looking (but very yummy) things combining a pretzel, white chocolate, and a single M&M! And pictures galore!!! Everyone was having such a fun time, no one wanted to leave...least of all, me.

Tomorrow I fly back home to California. Even though I'm feeling a tad homesick, I will never forget the past week. It has truly been one of the highlights of my life as an author.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Florida: Day 7

I arrived at Port Charlotte High School nice and early (just in case I got happens) to have breakfast with members of the faculty. Then I was off to give the first of three multi-class presentations.

Yes, that's Vanilla Ice on the screen. And yes, it actually makes sense in my speech. At least, I think it does.

I don't know if other authors enjoy speaking at high schools as much as I do. But I remember back when I first began writing Thirteen Reasons Why, realizing that if it got published I would have to do a lot of these speeches...and that terrified me! For one, in college, Speech was the one class I dreaded. And two, I was so thankful to leave high school, did I really want to go back?

But it's honestly one of the best perks about being an author!

After each presentation I signed a bunch of books and discussion guides and bookmarks and arm.

For lunch, I ate pizza with students who earned the most points in a read-a-thon. They raised money by getting people signed up to pay a certain amount for each page read, all in order to fly me out here. And since I've been having so much fun during my visit, I've gotta say, "Thank you!"

After the main presentations, I spoke to the school's book club. And there is something very cool about the following two photos. The first one has me hidden among the book club members...

The next has me with their officers...

So what do I find so very cool about those shots? They're going to appear in the school's yearbook. I made it! Sixteen years after graduating, I'll be appearing in another high school yearbook!

(Yes, I do think that's really really cool.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Florida: Day 6

It only took a few hours to drive from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, and some pretty cool radio stations kept me movin' on my way to Punta Gorda. I did have to make one quick stop in Arcadia since I was born in Arcadia, California...way on the other side of the continent.

When I arrived at my hotel, there was a basket waiting for me, full of goodies to keep me from starving or dehydrating during my next two days at local high schools. It included a laminated invitation which was sent to several students at Friday's school. The swirly text begins: Charlotte High School requests the honor of your presence at the speaking engagement of Jay Asher, New York Times Bestselling Author of "Thirteen Reasons Why".

Talk about pressure!

Then I met several of the staff who helped arrange my visit to Charlotte and Port Charlotte High Schools at River City Grill for dinner. In a word: Totallyyummystuffedchicken!

Okay, time to go to bed. Tomorrow will be my first full day at high school since...1993!!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Florida: Day 5

With a few hours to burn before tonight's event, I walked over to the beach. Even though I've been to the East Coast a few times, I've never visited its ocean. And since I live near the beach in California and have dipped into the Pacific many times, I figured I should get my toes wet in the Atlantic, as well.

But along my walk I spotted some weird stuff hanging in a tree. What in the world are these things? They're three-times as long as a banana and look like crusty black socks.

Finally, I made it to the beach. Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to introduce to you...the Atlantic Ocean!

I'm actually not a big beach person. I mean, beaches are pretty. They sound cool. And Lost wouldn't be nearly as intriguing without it. But "Let's go to the beach!" is never something I say.

And yet, it was very cool to know I've touched both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. When I first lowered my foot into the water, my toes burying themselves in the sand, I felt kind of like Neil Armstrong when he first stepped onto the surface of the moon (but much wetter and a lot less historic).

From there it was off to the Melbourne Barnes & Noble for a book discussion. I forgot to whip out the ol' camera until almost everyone was gone, but it was the most interactive event I've done...probably because it coincided with their teen book club meeting and they're used to discussing books down to the smallest detail. A lot of people were already seated when I arrived, but the lady who leads the discussions had no idea I was going to be there! So the evening had a hilarious beginning, which contributed to the relaxed and sociable feeling throughout the night.

Thank you Allison, Kaori, Steve, and Christine for inviting me to participate in your book club's discussion of Thirteen Reasons Why...even if it was a surprise!

Tomorrow, I'm hopping in a rental car and heading across the state...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Florida: Day 4

This morning I spoke to a room of school media specialists, language arts teachers, and youth services/teen librarians at the Central Brevard Library. I discussed the reactions some of my readers have expressed about Thirteen Reasons Why, which helped me emphasize how important it is for people to know about and have access to books dealing with sensitive subjects. It was such an enthusiastic group, I left feeling so happy for the teens they serve.

But before I left the library I changed into a t-shirt and walking shoes in preparation for my next stop...the Kennedy Space Center!

(Please excuse the giddy dorkiness which follows. I've wanted to visit KSC for so long, but never thought I'd actually get myself over here. And wouldn't ya know it, I wrote a book and got asked to speak just a few minutes away. Woo-hoo!)

When I arrived, I immediately hopped on a tour bus which dropped everyone off at a viewing platform to check out Launch Pad 39A. The Discovery shuttle is already there, just waiting for its upcoming lift-off. While you can't see the shuttle here, you can see the tip of its humongous red External Tank.

They then bussed us to the actual room of Mission Control from the Mercury period. Three large screens showed a launch from that era while the windows rattled behind us, making for a very realistic and thrilling experience.

And the Rocket Park? Kind of intimidating.

You can actually walk across the same bridge the three astronauts from Apollo 11 walked on their way to the top of the rocket which shot them to the moon. Or, like me, you can take a peek at how cramped the capsule was...and run away!!!

After resting at my hotel for just a moment, I went for another walk. I crossed a drawbridge which led to a street lined with beautiful trees and huge houses which overlooked scenes like this...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Florida: Day 3

As people began arriving for my second presentation, I noticed something about the make-up of this well as the one yesterday. Along with the teens came a sizable amount of parents and teachers. And I found that extremely inspiring. After all, this is a holiday weekend. Everyone has important things to do. But for some reason, the parents and teachers around here seem to think books are very important.

Yes, I am lovin' it in the Sunshine State (where, today, it happened to rain)!

So thank you to Mary and Jennifer of the Suntree/Viera Public Library for helping to organize this visit. They even put together an interactive display which played off an element of my book. Students were encouraged to write down and post messages, thoughts, or phrases which have helped them get through difficult times. Behind us is that board, labeled Hannah's Hope Notes.

For today's group photo I was able to back up a little more and get most of the audience in the shot.

I'll be getting up early tomorrow to speak to a group of librarians and teachers (and then spending the rest of the day at the Kennedy Space Center), so I'll be turning in early tonight...unless, of course, there's something really good on TV. But first I took a stroll near my hotel and found a beautiful canal between a park and a row of houses. Right after I took this shot, I heard a loud snap! and spun around. All I saw were a bunch of bubbles in the water where I thought a little birdie had been floating a second ago.

So I ran like crazy back to my room!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Florida: Day 2

When I put up yesterday's post about the two Nancys, I only had a photo of Nancy #1. So here, now, is Nancy #2. Ms. Grout has been wonderful about picking me up and getting me to my destinations on time...always with some great Floridian anecdotes. Today, she freaked me out with tales of alligators who sometimes shuffle too close to the library (as if they can even read!).

Today's destination was the Satellite Beach Public Library. And right in the middle of the lobby was this chalkboard sign. Yep, I was in the right place...

The whole library contained signage to let people know about my visit (which made me feel a tad special, I must say). The window behind the circulation desk even announced my visit, and I snuck into the office to shoot the verbage from behind. Notice how productive those librarians are! And if you squint at the space above she H and E in my last name, you'll see another sign hanging far off in the teen section.

It was turning into a great Valentine's Day.

But I wasn't with JoanMarie for Valentine's, which did make me homesick (even though she'd hidden some yummy heart-shaped cookies in my luggage). So after Nancy #2's amazingly kind introduction, I asked the audience to help me out. I called JM's phone and when she answered she told me she was in a restaurant eating French toast, which was really good to hear except I didn't have much time to talk because I was in the middle of giving a speech. When I held up the phone, the entire room shouted, "Happy Valentine's Day, JoanMarie!"

I'm sorry half the audience is cropped out of this shot (I just couldn't step back any further!) because they truly made this a special Valentine's-Day-away-from-home.

This is Marlena, the Youth Services Librarian, along with some of her teen volunteers who helped organize the room and put together those amazing signs you've all seen.

When my speech was over, the teens invited me to do something I've never done but have long been looking for a chance to do. I played Guitar Hero! To be more accurate, I got my butt kicked and handed to me at Guitar Hero. But the fact that Madison beat me made the embarrassment a little less painful. Madison did a fantastic job helping me read from Thirteen Reasons Why at the beginning of my presentation (and she swears she didn't just wear the cap so I'd pick her to play Hannah Baker).

Then, to top-off such a whirlwind day, I went to see the new Friday the 13th.

What in the world was I thinking...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Florida: Day 1

I only had two real conversations today…both with women named Nancy. The first was with Ms. Hurd. If you check the acknowledgements page of Thirteen Reasons Why, she’s on it. In college, it was her Children’s Literature Appreciation class which inspired me to pursue this writing thing as a career. And just by chance, we were on the same flight out of town this morning.

Once we landed in Phoenix, we ran full-speed toward different planes, but any chance encounter with Ms. Hurd is a wonderful opportunity to say, “Thank you!”

When I arrived in Florida, Nancy #2 picked me up. Ms. Grout works for the Brevard County Public Library system where she has a very important job. But for the next three days, she’s also my chauffer! I’ll be speaking to several groups while I’m here, which is very exciting, but the fun began on the drive from the Orlando airport.

I’m a NASA buff, and this part of Florida is heaven to NASA buffs. In a few days, I’m gonna steal myself some time to visit the Kennedy Space Center, but even on the drive I could see the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building) out my window. That’s where the shuttle is probably sitting right now as it prepares to go up in about a week. Ms. Grout pointed out all sorts of cool things as we drove, such as the long stretch of single-bedroom houses which look like they sprouted up all together in the 1950s. And they did! That’s where the professional space buffs lived when the space program was just getting started.

Oh! And Nancy #2 can actually see shuttle launches from her office in the library!!!

This entire area is space crazy. There are space shuttles painted on walls of businesses that have nothing to do with space exploration, and it would be quite an accomplishment to count every miniature space shuttle on display around town. In fact, I just opened the hotel phonebook and there’s almost an entire page of business names beginning with the word space. Everything from Space Age Adult Books to Spaceport Realty. (I swear, I did not make those names up…those were the first and last listings.)

In my hometown, the local section of the newspaper is titled LOCAL. Here, it’s called SPACE COAST. And that rocks!

One more thing before I turn on the TV (we don’t have a TV at home…so hotels offer a wonderful excuse to turn on, tune in, and drool). The restaurant beside my hotel has the best hoagies ever!

Warning: vegetarians may wanna turn away.

Note: the telephone was definitely not designed with space-age technology.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I won’t be home this Valentine’s Day, so on Wednesday my wife and I went to a nice restaurant for lunch…and we saw a famous person. Two of them, actually!

Okay, the first one just looked like a famous person. A fictional famous person. And here’s a tip: Guys, if you have straight brown hair, but no facial hair, wear black-rimmed glasses, and have a red and yellow scarf wrapped around your neck, you look like Harry Potter. You may not want to look like Harry Potter, but you do.

You just do.

Then a real famous person came in and sat at the table behind us. He was having a nice meal with his wife, so I was hesitant to disturb him and ask for a photo. But JoanMarie offered to do it. “That way,” she said, “you’ll have something cool to put on your blog.”


Here’s the thing. For most of her life, my wife hasn’t been much of a movie buff. Only recently have I been able to convince her that staring at a flickering light while holding a bag of popcorn (extra butter) and a cup of soda (not much ice) was a good way to experience art…just like visiting a museum.

But she’s still not too familiar with the names of the artists. So before she headed over with our camera, she verified, “He’s Russell Crowe, right?”

“What? No, Russell Crowe’s the guy from Gladiator.”

“Kurt Russell?”

I was busting up now. And I was so tempted to let her ask Kurt Russell for a photo, even though it wasn’t Kurt Russell. “Can I just tell you who it is?”

“No. He was in Jurassic Park, right?”

By then I was in no shape to have a photo taken with anyone. And JoanMarie was still tossing out names and movie titles, but I don’t think she was even trying to guess correctly anymore.

So I don’t have a photo with Jeff “The Dude” Bridges to share with you (The Big Lebowski, Iron Man). Thing is, I know there would’ve been no confusion whatsoever had it been Johnny Depp sitting at that table.

The last thing she said before we left the restaurant: “You’re probably still going to blog about this, aren’t you?”

Happy Valentine’s Day!

All next week I'll be visiting schools, bookstores, and libraries in Florida. If you're around, here are the open-to-the-public appearances I'll be making:

February 14: Satellite Beach Library; Satellite Beach - 2:00pm
February 15: Suntree/Viera Library; Melbourne - 2:00pm
February 17: Barnes & Noble Florida Teens Read! Book Club; West Melbourne - 7:30pm

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Last Saturday, at the annual SCBWI winter conference, I spoke on a stage in front of 1,056 people! I can not even begin to tell you how nervous I was the closer it got to my speech. But let me back up a bit...

I arrived in NYC five hours later than expected because when my first plane landed, one of its tires decided to explode (which is always a tad disturbing). That slowed our ability to disembark and I missed my next flight by two minutes! But I arrived in the City with enough time to check out a crowded and loud shindig hosted by editor Cheryl Klein and librarian Betsy Bird (a.k.a. Fuse #8). Here's Ms. Fuse doing her impression of a 40's pin-up while I try to keep the camera from getting bumped.

That night, the night before my speech, I was up till 3:30am, going over my presentation one more time, one more time, one more time. When I woke up, I was so nervous I couldn't eat. Thankfully, Jarrett J. Krosoczka's highly entertaining speech kept me distracted. Odd sidenote: even though Jarrett and I will never be confused for twins separated at birth, people were confusing us throughout the weekend. They congratulated me on my new (and non-existent) daughter and told his wife how much they enjoyed my speech.

For lunch, everyone gathered in a huge ballroom where tables were dressed up real fancy. I sat with my editor/publisher and two other editors from Razorbill. Again, while the lunch looked fancy and delicious, I couldn't eat a thing. But then, after a wonderful introduction, I was called to the stage. As usual, once I began speaking I had so much fun. I spoke about the ups-n-downs, twists-n-turns, and total sidetracks taken on my 12 year journey to publication. I used a Powerpoint presentation to make it more entertaining (and to keep my face off the two huge screens they had set up) and basically tried to inspire people to not give up and to use the many opportunities available to stand out in a very crowded field. It seemed to work! After I told how winning joke contests at a conference helped me acquire an agent, the joke box at this conference began overflowing. They actually ran out of entry forms!

For those of you who weren't able to attend, here were my opening remarks:
When I was first asked to speak at this conference, they wanted me for tomorrow and they wanted something nuts-n-bolts about writing…which made me a little nervous. After twelve years of nothing but rejections on many, many manuscripts, I could speak for hours on how to help you get rejected. But in those twelve years, I sold one book. Do you really want me giving you advice on writing? When they called back and asked if I would instead speak during lunch, something more inspirational and less nuts-n-bolts, I jumped at it. My favorite parts of these conferences have always been hearing how other authors and illustrators made it because everyone who’s published got here a different way. As the years stacked up for me, that was a great thing to remind myself. So with twelve years to look back on, hopefully you’ll see something I did and think, “Hey! I made that very same ridiculously stupid mistake. That’s inspiring!”

That night, I went to Grand Central Station with Kristen Pettit, the editor of Thirteen Reasons Why, and we had a great time catching up. It was my first time inside the Station (which has been featured in countless movies), and we sat at a balcony overlooking the crowd. It was seriously an amazing sight!

During the autograph party the next day, I got to meet Jack Gantos. I've admired his books for a long time and finally had the chance to get an autographed copy of Hole in My Life. I don't think I'll ever get used to people like Mr. Gantos, simply by looking at my nametag, knowing who I am. That's crazy! (I also got to meet his editor who...ahem...rejected 13RW.)

Unfortunately (though it's kind of cool, too), the bookstore at the conference completely sold out of my book. So I just had to take a photo with the handwritten sign: We are out of Jay Asher!