Friday, April 30, 2010

Coffee's Up!

My flight to Michigan was totally fun, if your idea of fun is being totally freaked out. (Thankfully, I like being freaked out!)

At one point, the plane started turning left and right like it was sitting on a Lazy Susan and two giants were fighting over the scrumptious cockpit. And then the plane just...dropped. A big drop. If I wasn't wearing my seatbelt, my noggin woulda been bonkin' the overhead storage bin.

Unfortunately, the flight attendants were in the middle of serving drinks when the turbulence hit. Everything on their cart went up in the air, including the pot of coffee which slammed into the ceiling.

See the stain?

A lot of people got off the flight with wet shirts. Thankfully, the attendants hadn't reached our row yet.

Welcome to Michigan!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

J ’n NJ

This is the view of the New Jersey shore from my hotel room:

(And that's the last time you'll see the words
Jersey and shore next to each other in this post.)

Last night, I went out to dinner with a bunch of New Jersey librarians (including the wonderful Ms. Liz B.) and authors Matt de la Peña and Elizabeth Scott. It was one of those Japanese restaurants where they cook everything at your table and make a show of it, tossing egg yolk high into the air and setting things on fire. It's awesome! I've seen Matt a few times over the past few months, and I just now realized that I never got a picture with him. Next time, Matt. Next time! But I did remember to grab a shot and a laugh with Ms. Scott:

So why was I hanging with librarians and authors in Jersey? I just attended the final day of the New Jersey Library Association conference, where I picked up the Garden State Book Award for teens in grades 9-12. I was the only author present for the awards luncheon, but Brian Selznick's mom and Jeff Kinney's editor gave hilarious speeches in their place.

During the lunch, I felt like I was part of a wedding party because we sat on the stage facing the rest of the attendees. Here's my view:

(You can't see Brian Selznick's mom, but she's seated beside me
to the right of the carrot cake, which was very yummy.)

After accepting my award, which came in a beautiful frame with a plaque and my book cover inside, I gave a li'l speechy thing.

The keynote speaker was Rachel Vail and I tried not to get the fan-jitters when I asked for her autograph, but then she asked me to sign a copy of Thirteen Reasons Why for her!

So I'm feeling kinda cool right now...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Beach Day!

I've lived near the beach for over twenty years, but very rarely have I actually enjoyed the beach. Either the sun's too hot or the breeze is too cold. Either the water's too cold or the water's too...actually, the water's never anything but cold here. And the sand just gets everywhere!

But today was an all-around great day at the beach. Who woulda thunk?

JoanMarie and I had lunch on the sand with two of our best friends, Pat and Heather. And this time, for once, the sand didn't get everywhere.

Then we played a little bit of paddle ball.

The weather was perfect. Not too hot. Not too cold.

The water was still freezing, but 2 out of 3's not bad. In fact, I have kind of a strange desire to spend some more time here in the near future.

And to think it only took me a couple decades to start enjoying this little slice o' paradise that's been here all along.

This One Goes to Eleven!

Earlier this week, just before hopping on a flight to Kansas City, Missouri (that's where the airport was, I was actually speaking in Kansas), I found out that Thirteen Reasons Why won Missouri's Gateway Readers Award!

So what's the current tally? Missouri gets 11 electoral college votes in the presidential election. Thirteen Reasons Why previously won teen book awards in Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and South Carolina (27, 6, 8, 15, 7, and 8 votes). During the election of 2012, I'll be 37 years old, and you only need to be 35 to run for President. Because many of the awesome teens who voted for my book in the above mentioned states will be casting their first presidential votes then, I just might have a shot at 82 electoral votes...needing only 188 more to win.

Thank you, Missouri!!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Quick Trip to Kansas

Last week, while in Texas, I got a frantic phone call asking if I could make a last minute trip to Kansas. Another author had been scheduled to speak at Ottawa High School, as well as at an awards banquet for student writers, but she unexpectedly canceled. Kansas was in a bind. Kansas needed help!

It's not often that I get a chance to feel like a superhero coming to the rescue, so I take that opportunity whenever it comes. To help you imagine how I answered that call, picture me standing tall, hands on my hips, puffing out my chest, looking off into the distance, and saying in a deep voice, "Have no fear, I'll be there!"

So I flew home to California, kissed my wife hello, then gave her another kiss goodbye, and flew to Kansas.

(To be honest, I got motion sickness and almost barfed fifteen minutes into my first flight, but to tell you anymore about that would totally ruin the superhero image...)

Even though some students were still expecting the other author (surprise!!!), we had a great time. I spoke to three different groups of students in the library.

I signed a bunch of books, as well as an arm, a cast, a pair of shoes...

and a frog.

I also signed a very cool Thirteen Reasons Why poster a girl made for a report, and I'm now kicking myself for forgetting to take a photo of it. Have you ever been kicked by a superhero? It hurts! (But I deserved it.)

I also had a delicious lunch with faculty members and the people responsible for getting me here. And no, the faculty doesn't always dine with linen and shrubbery.

At the awards banquet for student writers, I gave a "motivational speech" to a group of students who are currently writing at a level leaps and bounds beyond my own writing at their age. I have no doubt that some of them will be very successful when they eventually get published.

So what will I be leaving Kansas with (besides an inferiority complex after hearing those poems and essays)? I'm leaving with this...

(I'm leaving with the c.d., not the base of the lamp it's resting on.)

The 8th Horcrux is a c.d. of twelve Harry Potter-themed song parodies written and performed by Paul Thomas and Trina Sieg. "Ginny, Are You OK?" is a parody of "Smooth Criminal" by Michael Jackson. "Witch" is a parody of "Bitch" by Meredith Brooks. And "Potions Wizard" is a parody guessed it..."Pinball Wizard" by The Who. I even got Paul and Trina to sign my copy!!!

Yep, Kansas rocks. Literally.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Stars at Night...

Actually, the stars at night weren't very big and bright on my first trip to Texas. The stars were hidden by clouds, which sporadically sprinkled a little rain. But I wasn't here for the stars, I was here for the librarians! And now that I think of it, librarians are stars in their own right. So it was a success!!!

Since I was in San Antonio, of course I had to visit the Alamo when I had the chance.

The Texas Library Association's annual conference is huge. I've been jealous over the years of other authors attending this event, so I was so happy when I got asked to attend this year.

The Penguin booth was constantly busy, and I grabbed a few copies of upcoming titles from them, as well as from most of the other publishers attending the event (as if I have room for any more books...but they were free, so how could I help myself?).

San Antonio has an amazing and beautiful Riverwalk, with shops and restaurants bordering the water. You can even take a guided boat ride down the river.

My first night at TLA, they had a reception for publishers, authors, and illustrators. Rick Riordan was among the attendees.

Chris Crutcher, as you may know, wrote the first teen novel I ever read: Stotan! He also gave Thirteen Reasons Why it's first blurb, so the chance to talk with him for the first time since 2000 (years before I began writing for teens), was quite an honor. The dude rocks!

The next morning, I met authors Jandy Nelson, Varian Johnson, and April Lurie to sign copies of our books for a whole bunch of teens attending the conference.

As always, talking to teens about books is nothing but fun. When we ran out of books to sign for them, we began signing their shirts.

Then Jandy had the great idea of getting teens to sign the shirts they'd given us. At first, the teens were wondering why we'd want their autographs, but eventually they began standing in line to sign our shirts.

That shirt is the best thing I'm bringing home from this conference (and I got some really cool autographed books)!

Next up, I was on a panel with a few other teen authors, discussing how we use technology to connect with our readers. Before many people arrived, Kim (from Penguin) and Rose (middle school librarian) jumped into action, dropping flyers and discussion guides on every chair.

I was on the panel with Judy Blundell, Maureen Johnson, Cynthia Leitich Smith, and Cory Doctorow.

And here's the view from our perspective:

After the panel, it was straight to the signing area. On my way down to the floor, I grabbed a shot of the line forming in Aisle 4. (I love signing books!)

Penguin invited a few librarians to have dinner with me, which was a great chance to chat with those bright stars I was telling you about.

Apparently it's a Texas thang to make guacamole fresh and at your table.


Finally, before turning in, the Penguin peeps and I took one of the night river cruises.

Thanks for a great first trip, Texas!

Monday, April 12, 2010


I think Washingston should change its nickname from The Evergreen State to the Everawesome State. Of course, maybe the rest of Washington isn't as organized and inspiring and downright fun as the 19th Annual SCBWI Western Washington Conference made it seem, but if it even comes's awesome.

I gave one keynote address to the entire group (a little over 400 attendees), led one writing workshop, and critiqued several manuscripts. In between those events, I had the great opportunity to hang out with the attendees and other faculty members.

Here are a few faces you may recognize (and if you don't, you should definitely acquaint yourself with their books!):

Mandy Hubbard (Razorbill author!)

Laini Taylor (with Clementine)
& Suzanne Young (Razorbill author!)

Jim Di Bartolo (with Clementine again...she loves cameras!)

I hope all of the new autographed books I bought will fit in my carry-on. If not, I'll be leaving a few pairs of socks in Seattle.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

7 More? OK!

This actually is starting to feel like election night coverage!

Coming on the heels of a win in South Carolina, Thirteen Reasons Why won the High School Sequoyah Book Award, given by students in Oklahoma.

So here's the current tally: Oklahoma holds 7 electoral college votes. Thirteen Reasons Why previously won teen book awards in Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, New Jersey, and South Carolina (27, 6, 8, 15 and 8 votes). In 2012, my first opportunity to run for President, many of the these good people who voted for my book will also be casting their first votes in a presidential election. If they still remember me by then (American voters are so easily distracted), I could have a good shot at 71 electoral votes...with only another 199 needed to win.

Thank you, Oklahoma!!!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Another 8

Thirteen Reasons Why recently won South Carolina's Young Adult Book Award. State awards like this one, voted on by teens, are my absolute favorite awards to receive.

So here's the current tally: South Carolina holds 8 electoral college votes. Thirteen Reasons Why previously won teen book awards in Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, and New Jersey (27, 6, 8, and 15 votes). In 2012, I'll finally be old enough to run for President. If I can keep the teens in that state on my side for a couple more years, and since many of them will be able to cast their first votes by then, I could potentially have a chance at 64 electoral votes...needing only another 206 to win.

Thank you, South Carolina!!!

Anyone want to be my running mate?

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter!!!

The following is a reposting of last Easter's post, but it still applies!

Every so often, a reader gives me their impression of my book in a way which deepens my own understanding of what I wrote. A reader in Florida once told me how a decision made by one of my characters helped her illustrate a sentiment she'd been trying to get across to her friends.

Here's what she told me:

In the past, I've had to help friends realize that life goes on even after you've made a poor decision. Not because you move on or get over it, but because you grow as a result of it. You build something new, something with a higher purpose, using what you've learned as one of your bricks.

When I read that, my heart leapt! I knew immediately that I would be using her words in future speeches.

So what does this have to do with having a happy Easter? One of the most beautiful ideas surrounding the holiday is that we're all given the opportunity to make corrections if we find ourselves traveling down a road we really don't want to be on. In fact, we have that opportunity to change every day. Every second! (But sometimes we need a calendar to remind us.) Refresh. Repair. Rebirth. Whatever you need to call it...

Renewal is a wonderful blessing!