Monday, October 29, 2007

IRA in Billings, Montana--how you know you're not a big author yet.

Are you beginning to wonder why all my blogs are about traveling places? So am I. When my husband told a guy at work that he had to leave—once again—to take his wife to the airport, the co-worker asked, “Who set up your wife’s insane schedule?”

My husband answered, “A woman with no concept of time or distance.”

Yeah, that would be me.

It’s pretty much turned into a blur of airports. I nearly missed my connection from Salt Lake to Billings because I was going over my presentation for IRA so intently that I didn’t hear them make any boarding calls until they were yelling, “You-whoo, Janette Rallison—where are you?” This is the same sort of concentration that is to blame for making me miss picking up my children from school, and well, the time I nearly burned my kitchen down. (Long story. Different blog.)

The presentation went well, I guess, but it didn’t say who I was in the program so I don’t think anyone actually knew I was an author until they walked into the room. In fact, I was pretty much an invisible author for the whole time. When I asked the people working at the IRA desk if I was supposed to go to the authors’ dinner on Friday, they told me it was just for “the big authors”.

Have I ever mentioned that at times being a writer feels just like junior high all over again?

Anyway, I think the people in my class enjoyed my presentation. I gave them all a free book. I wanted someone at the conference to remember that I was an author.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The most crowded place on earth.

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Without stopping to unpack from my Houston trip, I jumped in the car with the family and headed to California. We and some of our good friends had decided to take a two day vacation at Disneyland. Neither of our families had taken vacations during the summer and so we were overdue. Plus, we reasoned, Disneyland wouldn’t be nearly as crowded in October as it was during the summer.

Ha, what optimistic fools we were!

It was crowded. And we’re not talking just a little crowded. You know all of those Armageddon movies where vast crowds are fleeing destruction? That’s how crowded it was, but with added benefit of a herd of impatient, hyped up children to look after--and without the meteorite hurling toward the earth so that you could think, “Well okay, this sucks big time, but at least it will all be over soon.”

Nope, we’d paid more money for this trip than our first car cost, which meant we had to stay there and fight the crowd to get our money’s worth.

(When I got home and looked at my pictures I realized that most of them were just of the kids standing in various lines--which actually makes sense since that was 90 % of our Disneyland experience. So here are our vacation pictures!)

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Oh look, we finally made it to a ride.

There are no pictures of me with my arm around Mickey Mouse because A) the line for pictures was too long and B) after waiting for an hour just so my daughter could have three minutes on the Dumbo ride, I was ticked off enough that I probably would have smacked one of Mickey’s ears clean off.

And it got worse after 6:00 when California Adventure closed and all of the park hoppers came over to the Disneyland side. You literally had to hold onto your children so the crowd brushing past your shoulders didn’t peel them away from you. It was so crowded then, that you couldn’t even make your way to the rides let alone contemplate how long you’d have to stand in line before you actually got to touch one. At that point we just gave up and left.
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The beach was much more relaxing. If you’re going to California. I highly recommend the beach. But if you’re interested in the Disneyland experience, well, just go stand in an airport security line the day before Thanksgiving. It’s about the same thing, but less expensive.
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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Houston Trip--see it's not just me.

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Some of you think that I make up all of those embarrassing moments that I stick in my novels. Some of you think that those sort of mishaps don't happen in real life. Well, not only do they happen, but apparently they are contagious--spreading from me to people I associate with, sort of like a bad cold, but with less hacking and wheezing.

I'm sure this is the only reason that things went down in the Houston airport like they did.

Tami Norton, fellow writer, friend, and Houston resident volunteered to play hostess while I was in Texas for a school visits, book signing, and schmoozing with SCWBI folks. It was raining in Houston when Tami went to pick me up and she was worried she'd be late picking me up, so she sprinted through the airport. Unfortunately she was in flip flops and there was a leak in the airport roof. When she ran over a puddle she did a very graceful and lady-like, I'm sure, slip-fall-kerplunk into the puddle.

The problem with landing in a puddle is that it leaves an incriminating wet spot in a place where you really don't want wet spots. Tami had to back her way up into the parking garage, dash to her van, and then spent the next few moments half dressed and waving her pants in the air in an attempt to dry them out. I told her it would have been even better had say, her husband's boss walked by, or perhaps the local clergy, or an old boyfriend--well really, the possibilities are endless. In my mind she still got off lucky.

But anyway, I just wanted to let people know that it isn't just me that these type of things happen to.

Despite the haphazard beginning, Houston was a lot of fun. The homeschoolers and Cook Middle school were great. Blue Willow did an excellent job for my book signing, and SCWBI folks rock. I already want to go back.

Tami and I also spent some time brainstorming for her new novel. How's it coming, Tami? I'm going to bug you until it's done!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Chicago trip

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I am way behind on blogging about my travels, which matches, incidentally, my being behind on cleaning, organizing, updating my website, and well, just about everything else. One day I’ll master the art of not sleeping and then I’ll get all caught up. Until then I’ll just keep being behind.

So now I'll write about my Chicago trip—which incidentally and amazingly I didn’t get lost at. Not even once. Of course this is probably because I rented a car with GPS. But still, it is amazing none the less when you consider that I once got lost from a hotel lobby to my room.

I presented at Anderson’s YA conference and met very cool people like Christopher Paul Curtis Bud, Not Buddy Sherman Alexie The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sonya Sones What My Mother Doesn’t Know Christopher Crutcher whose books are all put on the American Library Association Best Books before the ink dries, and Robert Sharenow, who wrote the book: My Mother the Cheerleader (which isn’t about cheerleaders, by the way.) He is also Vice President of Nonfiction and Alternative Programming at the A&E network, which means that he know Dog the Bounty Hunter. For some reason that I can’t explain myself, I absolutely love that show. (I am one of the few people in the world who doesn’t have cable so I only watch it when I’m in hotels, which it turns out is quite often. Go Dog go!)

It’s always fun to travel and meet other authors. It amazes me that people who are so famous—like Christopher Paul Curtis—are such nice, down to earth people. He told some really funny stories about his early years writing and working in a factory. I guess I remember back in school when all the pictures of authors showed a bunch of stern old men with pipes who looked frighteningly scholarly.

I have yet to meet that type of author. Which is a pleasant surprise.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Suprise School Visit (DC part 3)

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While I was in DC I did five school visits to fabulously brilliant children. (The fact that they liked my books is proof positive of their brilliance.) However, I must say that the most memorable was the surprise visit I did to my old fifth grade teacher’s class. The librarians and I sneakily set it up without him knowing anything about it.

They told Mr. Kuykendall that all the fifth grade classes were required to go to a reading and writing seminar in the library. He has been teaching for nearly forty years so he wanted to skip out of the seminar, but they were insistent.

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He walked into the room and glanced over at me with absolutely no recognition. (Some of you may be surprised to learn that I’ve changed since the fifth grade.) In his defense he told me later that I didn’t hold his attention because he quickly realized that every important person at school was in the library (including the district photographer). What was the principal doing at a reading and writing seminar?

Then he looked at me again, and it all sunk in.

I would have felt really bad if he’d actually had a heart attack before my presentation—and I suppose I should have thought about that before I surprised a sixty-one-year old man. But he survived the shock and had a good time listening to my presentation.

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I had many good teachers, but Mr. Kuykendall will always be my favorite. He is one of those really extraordinary teachers that other teachers hate because he sets the bar so high.

He was an especially good teacher for me to have in fifth grade because up until that point I had pretty much just day dreamed through school and saw no point to changing my ways. Mr. K made me believe I was smart though. My grades went from C’s to straight A’s that year. He also told me that I was going to be a writer one day. He bought me a blank book and told me to write a story for him so that after I became a published author he could tell people he had my first book.

So he does, but don’t get excited because I guarantee you I wasn’t a child prodigy and it’s nothing that you’d ever want to read—unless you want to read bad writing in order to feel good about yourself. It might work for that.

I told his current fifth grade class all about this and they agreed that he is a marvelous teacher and thought my old class picture of him was hilarious. (Have to love those 70s shirt collars which could double as hang glider wings.)

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Afterwards another teacher covered his class and Mr. Kuykendall, my husband, one of his good friends, and I went out for lunch. It was nice to get caught up and spend some time together. As far as school visits go, that one will always be one of my most memorable.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

It's Here!

I’m interrupting my DC blogs (I have one more-and it’s the best.) to bring you this important news flash:
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Revenge of the Cheerleaders is in stores now!

Run to the nearest bookstore and demand your copy. Yell out my name while you do, as this would be great publicity for me, especially if you were, say arrested, and they used my name in the headlines of your home town newspaper.

You will especially love this book if you a) have taste or b) loved the book, All’s Fair in Love, War, and High School because this is a companion book. Yep, I had so many people email and ask me to write more about these characters that I did. Of course this book also stands alone, so if you didn’t read All’s Fair this book will still make sense.

Here are some book details:

Chelsea’s school year has taken a turn for the worse. After being dumped by her boyfriend and humiliated at the pep assembly by her younger sister’s boyfriend, Rick, she’s just concentrating on avoiding any other major embarrassments.

That’s when Rick and his band debut their new album, complete with a whole set of songs bashing cheerleaders. Chelsea’s humiliation has reached a whole new level now that everyone is walking down the halls singing the words to “Dangerously Blonde.”

It’s time to make Rick pay. All he wants is to win the High School Idol audition, so he can be on his way to rock star fame and fortune. But with the help of her best friends, Samantha, Aubrie and Rachel, Chelsea is going to steal his victory right out from under him.

The characters from All’s Fair in Love, War and High School are back, only this time it’s payback.

Happy reading!