Thursday, May 27, 2010

Getty Done!

I'm now officially done with speaking gigs until the end of September and will be hibernating throughout the summer. My last school visit took place in Anaheim, CA at Gilbert South High School, which was the perfect visit to close out a busy couple of months.

But I headed down to southern California a day early to visit The Getty Museum for the second time. Architecture and landscaping aren't forms of art that usually impresses me. But this place is unbelievable!

Whether taking a panoramic shot or close-ups, the whole place is beautiful.

This painting of a playful cupid was JoanMarie's favorite when we visited The Getty for the first time.

This time, I found a painting of cupid kicking some major butt!

At the top of that same painting is an angel. I was completely mesmerized by the way it appears to be both leaping and flying (which is what it feels like whenever I fly in my dreams).

But the next day was the main attraction! Gilbert South H.S. used Thirteen Reasons Why for its first One Book One School program, and when I came into the library, the whole place was decorated around my book.

Almost everyone who came to hear me speak had read my book, which always makes it more enjoyable for everyone...including me!

A few librarians from neighboring high schools also came to hear me speak, including writer/illustrator/librarian Tommy Kovac.

Melinda, the president of the G.S.H.S. book club, presented me with a blown-up cover of my book surrounded by hilarious and heartfelt comments from students.

This school visit was especially fun because it was arranged by Jennifer! I was arranged by Mrs. H.

Mrs. H and I go way back. Her mom and my mom were best buds in high school. And then her mom's brother married my mom's twin. So my cousins were cousins with Mrs. H (at the time, Miss F), so Mrs. H has always felt like a kind of cousin to me.

So from Getty to Gilbert, it was a wonderful couple of days!

Monday, May 24, 2010

IN THIS WORLD - JoanMarie's CD

I am thrilled to finally announce the release of JoanMarie's CD, In This World!

So who is JoanMarie? She's my wife...who also happens to be my favorite songwriter!
The lyrics and music to all 12 songs were written by JoanMarie and recorded whenever she could squeeze in a few hours at the recording studio. She sang all of the vocals (except the male chanting on Name) and played a few instruments, but most of the guitar, bass, keyboard, and drums were played by some amazing local musicians. The majority of the songs even include some guitar shreddin'!

If you've read Thirteen Reasons Why, you may recognize the lyrics to Soul Alone (check out Hannah's poem beginning on page 190). In fact, if you listened all the way to the end of the 13RW audiobook, you've already heard Soul Alone as it appears on In This World.

Fun Fact:
JoanMarie's song came before the poem in the book. Her lyrics were absolutely perfect for Hannah's character, so I just had to use them...with permission, of course.

There are three ways to get your own copy of In This World:

1. Click on the icon below to view JoanMarie's page at There, you can read more about JoanMarie, order the physical CD, which includes a booklet with lyrics to all 12 songs [$12], download the CD [$12], or listen to clips from all 12 songs [totally free!].
JoanMarie: In This World

2. If you want the CD autographed (by JoanMarie and me), use the PayPal link below [$12]. If you want the CD personalized with a name, either yours or a friend's (it makes a great gift!), type that person's first name into the box. If you want it autographed but not personalized, just leave the box blank.

This c.d. should be signed to:

3. If you're near San Luis Obispo, CA, stop by Boo Boo Records or Cheap Thrills (gotta support the locals!).

When JoanMarie performs locally, she often plays with just a hand-held drum to accompany her voice, which is how most of her songs were originally conceived.

Getting the songs fully realized in the studio was an amazing experience.

Here I am, adding my part to one of the songs.

And here's the back of Engineer Tom's noggin.

If you've got a MySpace account, be sure to friend JoanMarie (you can also hear several full songs for free). ya wanna get rocked?

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Trailer & A Song

I've seen over 100 fan-made trailers for Thirteen Reasons Why, and I've highlighted many of them on my blog. Over the past several weeks, I've watched some more and have been keeping track of which ones to show you. While setting aside one particular trailer, I noticed that its creator had made two other 13RW trailers, both of which were previously featured on my blog. So for this person's latest creative and atmospheric trailer, I thought I'd let it stand solo.

But all great movies do need a great soundtrack, so here's an original song that should definitely be included. I love the way the verses move the emotional story forward just as they do in the book, as well as the use of the word "kid" in the chorus, and how perfectly matched the singer's voice is for this song. And yes, this song will get stuck in your head.

Coming up on Monday, I'll tell you about an exciting musical project that I've personally been involved with!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Houston, There's No Problem

When I first began speaking at schools as an author, I was terrified. So here's a tip for any brand new authors looking for a good place to test the waters. Come to Houston! The students here are great. They're interested in books, they ask great questions, and (my favorite part of all) it's so easy to make them laugh!

Even though it was a Saturday, students from nearby middle and high schools decided the best use of their day would be to spend it listening to a bunch of authors talk. Why would they give up half of their weekend for that? Simple answer: Because they rock!

The day began with an awkward moment when the ROTC marched the U.S. and Texas flags to the center of the stage. Everyone said the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag, and then they said another pledge to the flag of Texas. The problem? Everyone in the room, including the other authors, were Texan. Everyone, of course, except me. So I held my hand over my heart, but I didn't say the words. Actually, I didn't know the words. But now I'm wondering, since my hand was over my heart, do I need to somehow make amends when I get back to California?

After that awkwardness, I gave the opening keynote speech.

I shared a bit about my journey as a writer, including some discussion of previous manuscripts I'd written.

One of the other authors speaking at Nimitz High School was Jennifer Ziegler, author of How Not to Be Popular. Jennifer and I had a ton of fun discussing things like negative reviews, diva authors, and the fact that even though schools far away will fly us in to speak and put us up in hotels, schools right where we live often don't seem very interested in hearing "local authors" speak.

But that's okay, because Houston likes us! And the students here, such as everyone in the photo below, rock. I know I already said that all of these students rock, but it's true!

After my keynote speech and lunch, all of the speakers had three back-to-back sessions where we got to speak to smaller groups of students about our work.

So thank you, Houston, for making me feel at home. (And did I mention that y'all rock? You do!)

I hope by now everyone knows how much fun I have traveling around, meeting my readers face-to-face (and hopefully making new readers along the way!). I just checked my calendar and I've been in a different state every week since the end of March. It went like this: Washington, Texas, Kansas, New Jersey, Michigan, Ohio, and back to Texas.

And it's been great! But I am so happy to now be able to spend some uninterrupted time at home with JoanMarie. Even though I haven't been home much, we've had a very exciting life the past several weeks.

But more on that...soon.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Give it Up for South Dakota

Thirteen Reasons Why won South Dakota's Young Adult Reading Program (YARP) Award, which was voted on by teens, and you know how much those awards mean to me!

So where are we now? South Dakota gets 3 electoral college votes in presidential elections. That's not a huge number, but sometimes these things come down to the wire. Thirteen Reasons Why previously won teen book awards in Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and South Carolina (27, 6, 8, 11, 15, 7, and 8 votes). In 2012, I'll be 37 years old, which is two years older than I need to be to run for President. Since a good chunk of the teens who voted for 13RW will be casting presidential votes in two-and-a-half years, I might have a shot at 85 electoral votes...with only 185 more needed to win.

Thank you, South Dakota!!!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Discuss Amongst Yourselves, Ohio

On Thursday, I spoke at Timken High School in Canton, Ohio. It was my first time speaking at a school where every student had been given a copy of Thirteen Reasons Why to read before my visit. Ms. Russell, the teacher in charge of bringing me to the school, took me out to dinner the night before my presentations and she told me about some amazing discussions she's had with students about my book, as well as how other teachers were using the book in their classrooms.

Some students plastered one wall of a hallway with 13RW inspired posters...

One student created an art piece out of chalk in his art class. The room was locked when I walked by, which is why you can see lockers reflected over the chalkboard...

My first presentation, in Timken's beautiful theater, was to sophomores, juniors, and seniors...

That was followed by the most epic book signing ever...

Several students said they want to pursue careers that will lead to them signing autographs for a line which seems to stretch on forever...

Some of them also asked if was famous. I said, "If you have to ask whether or not someone's famous, the answer's probably no." But it's kind of awesome that they think I might be!

A few students from each grade won a chance to go out to Bender's Tavern with me for lunch. Yep, we took the students to a tavern! The opportunity to have some nice one-on-one conversations was a highlight for me...even if some ice water did get spilled on my lap. (Oops! Sorry, dude. I told you I wouldn't blog about it, didn't I???)

Then I gave my first ever presentation in a school gymnasium. This group was mostly freshmen, though I believe there were some sophomores, too. Once again, I signed a lot of books. And since it was the end of the day, things got a little crazy...

I even signed my first Chuck Norris photo...

Nope, that's not something I ever thought I'd do. (Chuck Norris, now he's famous!)

Just like with most school visits, I spent about eight hours on a total natural high, talking to people, laughing, almost crying (I said almost), autographing books, and then I sat down to a late dinner all by myself...

It's honestly the greatest job in the world!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Michigan is Nice Nice, Baby

This past weekend, I spoke at the SCBWI conference in Lansing, Michigan. I sat down with eleven writers to discuss their manuscripts, gave two writing workshops, and delivered one keynote speech. If my high school self knew I'd be doing this for a living, I probably would've spontaneously combusted (at the very least, spontaneously sweated).

For the final event, the faculty sat onstage and took questions from the attendees. Here I am with author Donna Gephart, illustrator/cartoonist Dave Coverly, author Jim Tobin, agent Beth Fleisher, editor Lisa Yoskowitz, and editor Ruta Rimas.

Ms. Gephart had her face turned in the group photo, so here we are as we get ready to sign books.

Some of you know that one of my childhood dreams was to be a cartoonist. For some odd and embarrassing reason, the comic Speed Bump never made it onto my radar (mostly, I suppose, because it doesn't appear in my local paper). Why is it so embarrassing to not know this one particular comic? Because last year, its creator won the Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year! That's huge!!! That's equivalent to winning the Newbery Award if you write children's books. Thankfully, this weekend allowed me to meet Mr. Coverly. I bought one of his books so I could get his autograph...

...and read it on the flight home. It's frickin' hilarious! Consider me a humongous fan. Go check out Speed Bump right now!

What else did I bring home from the conference? Some anonymous and awesome (anonymawesomous?) person bought me a t-shirt from Michigan's very own Rosie's Diner and had Ryan Hipp, the person who introduced me, present it as a gift. If you've read Thirteen Reasons Why, you'll know how cool this gift is. It made me feel so cool wearing, I felt like I'd suddenly sprouted a mane of gorgeous hair which required a quick blow dry.

If you've ever seen me speak, you probably heard the story about the positive review I gave Vanilla Ice's To the Extreme while on my high school newspaper staff. In fact, whenever I give someone my camera to take a photo of me speaking, that's the story I'm most often telling when they take my picture. For example...




During the final panel at the Michigan conference, one attendee let me know that Vanilla Ice was performing that night, about an hour away. Although several of us considered going (it would've been so much fun!), I couldn't make it.

But the next day at the airport, who did I see?

Mr. Vanilla I-C-E.

Word to your mother.

BTW, Mr. Ice was extremely nice and accommodating to everyone who came up to him in the airport, which was very cool to see.