Saturday, February 28, 2009

Utah trip--the first family wedding.

Okay, I'm finally blogging about my Utah trip. I went up for my niece's wedding, did three school visits and basically had a blast hanging out with my family. Because my family is hilarious. Some people think I'm funny. This is only because they haven't met my family. The rest of them are way funnier which means that every time we get together I usually laugh until I cry.

My brother-in-law, Dante, was telling us about the overpriced four-dollar pastries being served at the luncheon, and how even though he was paying an exorbitant amount for the catering, the wedding-palace-place was only serving enough pastries for 60 people. Unfortunately they had invited 125 people so the night before the wedding we were devising solutions to this problem. Our best idea was to have a rating system for the gifts, and only people who'd brought really nice ones got to get in the pastry line.

The most expesive blackberry my daughter will ever eat.

My oldest daughter (code name Serena, after her favorite cartoon character) was assigned to sit at the check-in table, take the gifts, and have people sign the guest book.

I've always found those guest books intimidating. I mean, here is this keepsake that the bride and groom will cherish forever and you want to write something deep, meaningful, and unique but after standing with the pen poised in your hand for long enough that the line backs up, you finally scrawl out, "Best Wishes!" and move on.

So the family got to talking about that too. Or rather, we talked about the things that you should not write in the bride and groom's guest book.

Here is the top ten list of things you shouldn't write:

1. This was really nice for your first wedding.
2. It's not too late for a pre-nup.
3. The office pool is giving you two years.
4. And who says you can't find nice bridal dresses at Sears?
5. Apparently she couldn't have done better.
6. We don't actually know you. We just came for the four dollar pastries.
7. He must be a good catch; his first three wives had no complaints, God rest their souls.
8. For your wedding gift I got you that supply of penicillin.
9. At last, you found a way to get your green card!
10. Don't worry her ex didn't make parole.

I bet after hanging out with all of us, Serena will never want to get married.

This is a picture of Serena and her cousin who was the namesake for the main character in How to Take the Ex Out of Ex-boyfriend. Isn't she gorgeous?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Another cool night to be an author--meeting Avi

First of all, let me say that I don't recommend you take an active six-year-old to an author presentation. Really, what was I thinking? Well, I guess I was thinking she was invited so why not take her? They had a build-a-book activity going on for the kids and I really wasn't clear about the fact that afterward she would have to sit politely on a chair while Avi spoke.

But let me backtrack, because I'm skipping over the coolest part of the evening. When I got to the Arizona Natural History Museum where the build-a-book activity and Avi presentation was happening, all the 3-hour parking was taken so I had to park in a 1-hour parking space.

No, that isn't the cool part.

The cool part is that when I left my kids building books--with strict instructions for my older kids that they were to WATCH YOUR LITTLE SISTER AT ALL TIMES SO SHE DOESN'T TIP OVER THE REFRESHMENT TABLE, KNOCK OVER THE BOOKS, OR SCALE THE DINOSAURS BECAUSE I HAVE TO REPARK THE CAR, I walked out of the room and who did I see standing by the stairs waiting to give his presentation? Yup, Avi.

At first, I just walked by because I didn't want to bother him. I mean, I'm sure he's constantly bombarded with people telling him how much they love his books and most likely he hadn't gone into the room full of teachers and librarians because he wanted some private time.

But then I thought, private time is overrated. And maybe he's just shy. And when am I ever going to have the chance to talk to him again? I mean, I would probably kick myself for the rest of my life if I at least didn't say hello. Besides, most authors I've met, even the really famous ones, are down to earth, nice people.

So I walked back up the stairs and introduced myself, and we spent about ten minutes talking about writing and editors. (Yes, Tim, I told Avi you were a great editor.)

After that I had to hurry to go repark my car, retrieve my kids, (little sister was parked in front of a book case reading a book while her older siblings finished up their book projects--hello, would they have even noticed if she disappeared?) made a pit stop at the bathroom because little sister drank way too much lemonade and I didn't want her having get up in the middle of the presentation, and then were in time to find chairs in the back of the room.

Avi gives a great presentation, by the way. He does cool voices while he reads his books.

Little sister was fairly good--at least for her. This is because I bought her a new toy dog and told her she could only have it if she was good. If she wasn't, I was taking it away and she'd have to wait until her birthday to get it back. So she wasn't loud, although she kept lying down on her chair, and then on the floor, and managed to spill the contents of my purse on the ground. And she still had to get up to go to the bathroom after 45 minutes. (I knew I shouldn't have let her drink the lemonade.)

The plus side to having a wiggly six-year-old with you? The kind Scholastic lady told us we could go to the front of the very, very, long signing line. It was probably a wise choice. I don't think anyone would have liked to see what a bored, active six-year-old would do while her mother was waiting in line next to dinosaur replicas.

And here is a picture of Avi signing our books.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Impulse buy

Okay, I was at the store today buying all that reduced price Valentines candy. (Discount chocolate--it is my siren call.) and I saw this and had to buy it. It is so true.

Monday, February 09, 2009

How you know you're a seasoned author

I was thinking about this as I got ready for my panel last night at Changing Hands. My how things have changed since my first book event!

First book event an author does:

You have dreamed about this day for years. You spend two weeks shopping for the perfect dress. You count down the days. You have your hair done by a beautician. You go out with your friends beforehand to celebrate. Your husband is there to take pictures.

After a few years:

You buy a new shirt for the book event. Hey, it's time you went shopping for yourself and this gives you a good excuse. You mark the event on your calendar with pride but don't obsess about it. You make sure you color your hair before the event so you have no gray roots showing. You barely remember to take your camera so someone can snap your picture with the other authors there.

After a few more years:

You mark the date on your calendar to make sure you don't forget. (How embarrassing would that be?) You figure what you have in your closet is fine to wear and iron something nice looking the day before. Your hair? Well, you probably can squeak by another day without anyone noticing the gray. Only a little is peeking out. When you get to the event you realize you forgot your camera and ask one of the other authors to forward a picture to you.

After 12 years:

You write a memo to yourself on your hand so you won't forget. (Yes, it's on the calendar but that's no guarantee you'll remember to go when it's time.) You wonder if it's possible to color your gray roots with an eyebrow pencil. You find yourself an hour before the event rifling through your closet looking for something clean. Forget the camera, if you're lucky you will remember to zip your fly. (Because how embarrassing would that be to have you're fly down again?)

And by the way, my fly was zipped last night, but while I was sitting on the panel I realized that I had forgotten to change my socks form when I was sloughing around the house earlier in sweats and they didn't match my dressy shirt.

Oh well, authors are supposed to be eccentric right? And hey, Michael, if you're reading this, forward me that picture you took of the authors so I can use it on my blog!


Changing Hands Author Panel Tonight at 7:00

Hey fellow Arizonians,
If you're looking for something fun and free to do tonight, stop by Changing Hands Book Store for the Teen Author Panel Discussion at 7 pm.

Explore how to write, market, and publish first-rate teen literature with authors Lisa McMann (Wake), James Owen (Indigo King), Janette Rallison (My Fair Godmother), and Laurie Brooks (Selkie Girl). Joining them is literary agent Erin Murphy. Panel moderated by Changing Hands Bookstore’s children’s book buyer Brandi Stewart.

(Did you notice it called my book first-rate literature? This is validation. I'm first rate.)

Changing Hands is located at:

6428 S McClintock Dr
Tempe, AZ 85283
McClintock at Guadalupe

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Princess of the Midnight Ball

When I was little I always wanted to be a princess. In fact when adults asked me what I was going to be when I grew up, I always told them I was going to be a princess. My older siblings tried to dismiss this career choice by pointing out that you had to be born a princess, and besides, queens had the real power.

But I was adamant. I wanted to be a princess.

This is because I adored fairy tales and princesses were always the ones wearing poufy dresses, looking gorgeous, and having fun and adventures. I wanted all of that. Especially the poufy dresses.

One of my favorite fairy tales was The Twelve Dancing Princesses. The short synopsis of this story is: Although the twelve beautiful princesses are locked in their room every night, every morning their dancing slippers are worn through. The King, vexed by this mystery, offers the hand of one of his daughters along with his kingdom to any man who can find out where his daughters go. If they fail, after three nights they will be beheaded. Many kings’ sons come to try and solve the riddle but they all fail.

Finally a soldier comes through town. He meets one of those kindly old magical women who just hang around street corners waiting to help the pure in heart. She tells him not to drink anything the princesses give him (which is laced with a sleeping potion) and gives him a magical invisibility cloak. He follows the princesses to an underground world where they dance with twelve princes (The Grimm brothers don’t say for certain, but I’m pretty sure these underground princes all look like the Jonas brothers.) The soldier brings back proof of this magical place to give to the king. Having solved the riddle, he wins the princess of his choice and the kingdom.

If you had asked me what the moral to this Grimm fairy tale was when I was a child, I would have said that it was either a) your father does indeed want to stop all your fun or b) if you are going to dance the night away with secret princes you should get sturdier shoes.

Now that I’m an adult I clearly see that this story is a cautionary tale for men: If you can’t figure out women and their secret worlds, you don’t stand a chance. Your head might as well be rolling on the floor. However, if you can stay awake long enough to discover the inner world of a woman, you get the whole kingdom.

And a very good moral it is too, men, so listen up.

This by the way, is not what Jessica Day George’s book, Princess of the Midnight Ball is about. At least not moral-wise. She does follow the fairy tale pretty closely, except that her version makes a lot more sense than Grimm’s did.

She explains who the underground princes are, why there are twelve of them and twelve princesses, and why they must dance every night. She also explains why the princesses have to keep it a secret, why the princes who fail to solve the riddle end up dying, and why there was that kindly old lady hanging around the street with magically items. (I don’t know about you, but even though I occasionally give money to beggars on street corners, not one of them has ever produced a magic cloak for me.) Jessica Day George even supplies what was missing in the original fairy tale, a villain who is capable not only of dooming the princesses but their whole kingdom as well.

The story is both believable and enjoyable and you will like the twelve princesses—especially the heroine, Rose. Galen, the soldier, is also a great character. (You have to love a man who not only sends flowers to a woman but can also knit his own socks.)

This is one book that the whole family will enjoy reading.

Here are some questions I asked Jessica:

Were you like me as a little girl--did you always want to be a princess? If not, what were you going to be when you grew up?

I did want to be a princess! I had a whole imaginary world I lived in. I had a horse, and a pet wolf, and a dragon, and I had hair down to my ankles (can you imagine actually having to wash hair that long? ugh!), and I lived in a marble palace with a huge pool in my room for bathing. There was more, it was very elaborate.

What is your favorite fairy tale?

East o' the Sun, West o' the Moon, which is the basis for my book Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow. Polar bears, trolls, and magic, oh my!

Did you imagine any specific person when you wrote about Galen or Rose? If so who?

I didn't, actually. Galen just popped into my head one day, marching along and wearing about five scarves because he was a knitter as well as an ex-soldier , and then I asked myself: what kind of girl would Galen fall for? What kind of girl would the oldest of twelve cursed princesses be? And Rose came from that.

I know you have small children. What's your writing schedule like?

Any free moment I can get! Usually the afternoons, now, when my four-year-old is watching a movie or playing, and the baby's sleeping. I used to write in the mornings, but with the late night feedings, I usually sleep until almost eight, and meanwhile the four-year-old has started waking up at 6:30! He just hangs out in his room, chatting with his toys and monkeying around, until I get up. What a nut!

What's next?

Dragon Spear, my third and final book about the seamstress Creel and her dragon friends!

Sounds great! Thanks for stopping by my blog!