Hi, writer friends! I am delighted to announce that the lovely Lynne Kelly and I will be guest teaching authors at a week-long writing residency program this fall at The Writing Barn in Austin, Texas. And Nova Ren Suma, who is one of the finest YA writing teachers around (as well as being a phenomenal writer!), will be the Big Cheese heading up the whole shebang. I cannot wait. I have very close friends who have taken her workshops and gone on to improve their writing immeasurably… and/or to sign with agents on the work she helped them with during those residencies. I just know this week will change some of your writing lives.
It’s November 10 – 14, they only accept 12 writers, and you need 75 pages of a manuscript to submit… so get going! I’d love to see you there.
The Writing Barn, picture copyrighted by my husband, Dave Wilson, so I can use it however I want.
Wow! I’m just getting caught up on my blog posts about last week’s Oklahoma wonderment! I have to admit, I have more fun in Oklahoma than anywhere else these days. Possibly because the librarians are so passionate and engaged with their kids, or maybe it’s the kids themselves… whatever it is, I love it.
Today’s post is about one small part of last week’s amazingness: the Best of Books event on March 11.
Best of Book is one of those hen’s-tooth gems: a small, family-owned bookstore with regular patrons that stop in every day for a chat as well as to browse the newest books. They support local authors as well as hosting super famous ones (Peter Lerangis and Wendy Van Draanen were there the same week I was), and they make every person who walks into the store feel valued.
I sure did. When I arrived, they had a gorgeous display of my books set up, with cookies and young readers already waiting! We painted rocks and had so much fun.
I did my talk, and chose The Perfect Volunteer (Tony, pictured here with permission of his mom) whose job was to hold very, very still with a snake wrapped round his ankles the whole time I read.
A Chapter One has never been so long, huh, Tony? (He was awesome!)
Then I signed books for friends from near and far! Librarian Michele Scheffe from Edmond, as well as Janet Bass (who live-tweeted the whole thing!) and Jenny Regier, the co-creators of the wonderful Twitter chat #sequoyahchat. Jenny drove from Enid, which is a long way…
And my long-lost sisters (how did we get separated in this lifetime?) Rock Star Librarians Tammy Matlock and Susie Masters drove from Stillwater, OK and made my night sparkle even more brightly!
Tammy Matlock, a few weeks before!
After I was done telling funny, true stories, I signed books for all the kids that had shown up. There was one girl in particular who kept peeking around the line to see me. She was trembling, and her lips were quivering when she got to the front of the line, almost like she was trying not to cry.
And then, when she told me who she was, I was the one tearing up. This girl had written me a letter (a real one, in the mail!) a few weeks before, and I wrote back. Then she came to see me in Edmond, even though she lives a full two and a half hour drive away in Muskogee.
Alison, pictured with permission from her Super Mom. Alison is possibly the nicest kid in the world.
She and her mom (who may win Mom of the Year) drove five hours to meet me, and get her book signed. I was stunned, delighted, and humbled. This picture (thank goodness I had the thought to get someone to snap a picture with my phone!) is now one of my great treasures.
And here’s why. The writing life is chock full of pain and rejection and disappointment. Sure, I talk about the exciting stuff… but for every good day, there are ten or twelve where the world tells you you’re not good enough, smart enough, and that nobody likes you/your work.
And then, every once in a while, it gives an author a moment like this. An unforgettable one that leaves a deep fingerprint on the heart.
Alison, you will never know how meaningful it was to see you there. Thank you, thank you. I hope your life is filled with magic and stories and as much joy as the world can offer.
Howdy, y’all! I’m off to Oklahoma (Moore this time!) in a few days, to visit some wonderful schools and… I’m doing a signing/reading/fire-juggling thing at Best of Books in Edmond, OK on Wednesday, March 11. So, if you live in Oklahoma, come out to 1313 East Danforth Road from 5 pm – 6:30 pm, and I will tell ALL the secrets behind my latest novel! Bonus: I may bring a snake, and I will bring an art activity… you just never know with me. I’m unpredictable. (Except when it comes to chocolate.)
WOW! This weekend was a whirlwind of friends, family, readers, librarians, and teachers braving the icy roads and rain to welcome Wish Girl, and my friend Jo Whittemore’s new book Colonial Madness, into the world!
It was wonderful, and you should totally click here to see all the pics my sweet photographer husband put on smugmug. But before you do that, if you entered the contest to win a free school visit, and your name is Yvonne Lewis, you won! (And if you didn’t win, no worries. Everyone who showed up and entered will get something, and three other teachers/librarians will win their choice of a free Skype visit or a free signed book! Watch your email inboxes. 🙂
Thanks again to everyone who came out, and to the lovely readers who have been sending me personal notes about Wish Girl. I am so happy my story is finding a home on so many bookshelves, and in your hearts.
Writer Friends at the launch party! Ariane Felix, Bethany Hegedus, Lindsey Schiebe, and Samantha Clark.
Oh, my. Today is the book birthday of my third book. This one is different in so many ways from my others, and the feelings I have today are much more nuanced than in years past.
When my debut novel came out, I was panicked, terrified, elated. With Nightingale’s Nest, I was nervous. Yes, dreadfully, dreadfully nervous. It was my first “sad book” and the first one where I let my deep heart show.
But Wish Girl? Oh, this time I feel like I’m watching my kid walk across the stage at graduation. Proud, happy, excited, praying like heck he doesn’t crash and burn in the first semester of college…
Thank you to all of my dear friends who helped bring Wish Girl into the world. To Shelli Cornelison, the Soup Salon, Suzie Townsend, Gillian Levinson, and all the folks at New Leaf Literary and Razorbill. Seeing this book on the shelves will be a wish come true.
Now, before I jump up and race out to my local bookstore to SEE Wish Girl in the wild, I’ll just give teachers and/or book club leader and/or very intrepid readers a small gift. A discussion guide! I may tweak it a but, but here it is if you’re interested. Have fun with it!
I’m very pleased to send you away from my blog today to read what I wrote at the Nerdy Book Club blog instead. It’s got all sorts of stuff about my wild childhood, the books that changed me, and what I was trying to do with my next book, Wish Girl. I am so grateful to Colby Sharp and the Nerdies for giving me this space to talk about all that!
Speaking of Wish Girl, there was a very nice article in the Austin American-Statesman newspaper last week about my book, and the upcoming launch party at Bookpeople! (My favorite quote: “Wish Girl will transform the reader.” I hope some of you can make it on Saturday. February 28, 3 p.m., and you KNOW there will be food, drink, fun, and prizes of all sorts from me and my co-launch author, Jo Whittemore! (I’m even giving away a free school visit to some lucky teacher or librarian.)
Of COURSE they do! Heck, I permanently thanked at least ten of them in my last book, Nightingale’s Nest, by hiding their lovely names in it like eggs in a nest. But it’s not enough. So, I’m delighted to be a part of the Big, Huge Book Giveaway that the uber-lovely Lynda Mullaly Hunt came up with for Valentine’s Day!
Teachers, I am participating in a signed book giveaway with a whole bunch of my middle-grade author friends who have recent, brand-new, or about-to-be-published books. Check out these sixteen–count ‘em, sixteen–books:
Pretty cool line-up, eh? If you’re a teacher, librarian, or reading specialist (basically any type of educator), and you want to be entered to win signed copies of all these books, all you have to do is one of two things:
Your name will be entered into the virtual hat, and we’ll draw the winner at 11:59 PM on Wednesday, February 18th. If you win, you’ll receive signed copies of all these books–not all at once, because some of them don’t publish until March or April, but won’t it be fun to get multiple packages in your mailbox?
Good luck, and I LOVE YOU!
(Oh, and if you love YA, too? Check out the #YAAuthorsLoveTeachers giveaway here or here! Same rules, same time frame, same oodles of love.)
Wow! I gotta tell you, Oklahoma is amazing. I didn’t know what to expect after that phenomenal last trip to Norman (two weeks of awesome), but it shouldn’t have surprised me at all that the schools in Stillwater would be every bit as wonderful. It’s just weird, to have that many superhero librarians and uber-creative kids all in one place, you know? Something in the water, y’all.
I won’t bore you with any more yammering about how amazing it was… I’ll just show you pics so YOU can see. It. Was. Awesome.
It’s always a good sign when the first thing you see inside the school is a bulletin board with love notes from the kids! (Not shown: the sign OUTSIDE as well!) Thanks, Susie!
Another good sign? When the hallways are covered with MORE welcome signs! ALL the hallways. Whoa.
And when you get to the library? CANDY AND FANCINESS!
CANDY ALL FOR ME!!
Um, I think they gave me the candy because they THOUGHT I ate something else…
… but as you can see, there wasn’t any of my favorite food left…
Speaking of favorite foods, did you know if you joke to an Oklahoma librarian that you need 2 lbs of peanut M&Ms to be able to go on… they appear???
That is, IF the librarian is Rock Star Tammy Matlock.
Her students made MORE love notes!
The amazing Nikole Kelty made me AND all her students feel welcome by feeding us and decorating the library for a party!
Cara Smith did it all at her library! Decorations, student art, a bubbling kettle full of what might have been students…
… But Shenista Furman’s student art may take the cake. It covered the whole gym!!
Here’s a close-up of Lorelei!
We didn’t stop the party there! After hours dinners with all the super stars…
And presents for me! I got so spoiled.
Silliness at Eskimo Joe’s with Susie Masters…
And all the rest! Dinner that night was thanks to Kenneth Brown, who provided all the books – including the ones they’re shipping down to Texas next week, since we ran out!
So, that’s the fun I had last week! I’m teaching a funny and useful critique group/partners workshop for the Writer’s League of Texas this Saturday (Yes, you can still sign up!), and then… book launch excitingness begins for Wish Girl!
Oh, if you want to laugh at me? Check out this link. Yes, apparently I am a unicorn who eats children. LOL
Wow! I have to admit, I’ve been so busy with school visits, Skype visits, guest blog posts, family stuff, and (oh, yes!) finishing my latest novel (super creepy one) that I almost forgot to say happy book birthday to me!
That’s right, today is the very first day you can get Nightingale’s Nest as a paperback! It’s the same book, of course (with that one pesky typo fixed), but it has the first chapters of Wish Girl in the back, and they rearranged the blurbs on the front. This time, it’s more friends saying super nice things about me, which always makes me blush and stammer a bit. These two are IRL friends, and also authors I admire a ridiculous amount, Katherine Catmull and Lynda Mullaly Hunt.
I celebrated the Big Day by doing a school visit at Doss Elementary, which was special for many reasons! First off, the super librarian staff there, Bonnie and Virginia and their volunteers, made me feel incredibly welcomed. They made a sign! And brought me fancy salads, and mints, and water… and tons of kids who were excited to hear about my books, and learn how to write one themselves.
A sign! A sign! It was meant to be.
All the best librarians have banana phones.
I know it looks like I’m about to eat the kids in this picture. I promise… I’m only thinking about eating the.
And then Paige Britt, author of the forthcoming The Track of Lost Time, came to watch and take pictures and cheer me on! Thanks, Paige! I can’t wait for your book.
The requisite selfie taken with Paige Britt, Debut Author Extraordinaire!