Sunday, July 24, 2016

Pottery Barn Kids Presents Author Spotlight with Lou Anders

Yesterday, I was the guest of Pottery Barn Kids at The Summit Shopping Center in Birmingham, Alabama for "Pottery Barn Kids Presents Author Spotlight with Lou Anders." I was there from 11am to 3pm, selling and signing copies of Frostborn and Nightborn at the front of the store.

I have never done an event at Pottery Barn Kids before. Thus far, I have appeared in over 40 schools around the Unites States, as well as numerous bookstores, libraries, literary festivals, and conventions. But never a Pottery Barn. I had no idea what to expect.

Also, it should be mentioned that I have a Viking helmet that has gone with me on most of the aforementioned travels. But there's a full costume with it that I have never worn publicly anywhere but Trick-or-Treating with my kids. At the last minute, on my way out the door, I decided to break it out, because if you can't go The Full Viking at Pottery Barn Kids, where can you?

Well, the day was great. I spoke with a lot of great kids and parents, sold and signed a lot of books, meet several educations interested in school visits, and had a blast!

Though, mind you, the choice to wear a fur-lined cape in July in Alabama might not have been the wisest.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Alamo City Comic Con's Young Adventurers

This October, Alamo City Comic Con has announced a brand new programming track, the Young Adventurers!

Young Adventurers is a celebration of children's literature featuring Yours Truly, Holly Black, Matthew Cody, Bruce Coville, Melissa Marr, and Obert Skye.

Friday will be the Young Adventurers' Writing Workshop, a day long series of workshops and sessions with all of the authors above. This is a ticketed event, limited to 75 attendees, so sign up now.

Then Saturday and Sunday will be panels and discussions of children's books in two days of kids & kids' lit themed programming. The Saturday and Sunday events are open to all Alamo City Comic Con attendees, so bring your kids or your kids-at-heart and join us for what's going to be an amazing weekend.!

Alamo City Comic Con is held in San Antonio, Texas the weekend of October 28th to the 30th. See their website for ticket and hotel information. Meanwhile, here is their press announcement about Young Adventurers as well as bios for the stellar author guests (though I don't know who that first guy thinks he is). Also worth noting, the great David Liss (The Coffee Trader, Randoms) will be MCing and moderating the Young Adventurers programming! Check it out:
Alamo City Comic Con and Barnes & Noble have partnered up to provide ACCC2016 attendees a whole new and exciting experience: YOUNG ADVENTURERS! Held at the Henry B Gonzalez Convention Center from October 28th-30th, 2016, our Young Adventurers experience focuses on 6 award-winning middle grade authors. Holly Black (The Spiderwick Chronicles series, The Modern Faerie Tale series), Bruce Coville (My Teacher Is An Alien, Unicorn Chronicles series), Lou Anders (Thrones & Bones series), Obert Skye (Leven Thumps series, The Pillage trilogy), Melissa Marr (Wicked Lovely series, The Blackwell Pages series), and Matthew Cody (Supers Of Noble Green trilogy, Will In Scarlet) will be in attendance to meet fans, sign books, and offer children's programming (panels) that is open to all ACCC attendees. SPECIAL LIMITED-SEATING EVENT: On Friday, October 28th, join our special guests and emcee, David Liss (Randoms, The Day of Atonement), to get first-hand knowledge of the ins and outs of creating best selling works. Our in-depth WRITERS WORKSHOP is limited to 75 attendees, so act fast to secure your seat to this unique and informative event geared towards amateur and professional writers alike. For more info, and to stay up to date. Keep up with the Facebook event Page.


Lou Anders:

Lou Anders is the author of Frostborn, Nightborn, and Skyborn, the three books of the Thrones & Bones series of fantasy adventure novels written for boys and girls ages 8 to 80. The first book, Frostborn, has been nominated for the Beehive Book Awards, the Golden Sower Awards, the Young Hoosier Book Awards, and the Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Awards. Recently, Anders was named the 2016 Children's Writer-in-Residence at Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio. He is also a Hugo Award winning editor and a Chesley Award winning Art Director. He and his family reside in Birmingham, Alabama. You can visit him online at louanders.com and ThronesandBones.com, on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr, and on Twitter at @Louanders









Holly Black:
Holly currently lives in New England with her husband and son in a Tudor cottage with a secret door. There, she enjoys caffeine, reading, and revelry. Holly is the author of bestselling contemporary fantasy books for kids and teens. Some of her titles include The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi), The Modern Faerie Tale series, the Curse Workers series, Doll Bones, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, the Magisterium series (with Cassandra Clare) and The Darkest Part of the Forest. She has been a finalist for an Eisner Award, and the recipient of the Andre Norton Award, the Mythopoeic Award and a Newbery Honor.


Matthew Cody:
Matthew Cody is the author of several popular books including the award-winning Supers of Noble's Green trilogy: Powerless, Super and Villainous. He is also the author of Will in Scarlet and The Dead Gentleman. His books have appeared on Amazon, Bank Street and the New York Public Library Best Books of the Year lists. He is currently at work on a new trilogy for young readers, The Secrets of the Pied Piper, and book one, The Peddler's Road, is available now from Knopf Books. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and son.


Bruce Coville:
Bruce Coville has published over 100 books for children and young adults, including the international bestseller My Teacher is an Alien, and the Unicorn Chronicles series. His works have appeared in a dozen languages and won children's choice awards in as many states. He is
also the founder of FULL CAST AUDIO, an audiobook publishing company devoted to producing full cast, unabridged recordings of material for family listening. Mr. Coville lives in Syracuse, New York with his wife, illustrator and author Katherine Coville.


Melissa Marr:
Melissa Marr is the internationally bestselling author of books for teens, children, and adults. Her books include the faery series, Wicked Lovely; a children's Norse mythology series (The Blackwell Pages, co-authored with Kelley Armstrong), Graveminder (dark fantasy), and Bunny Roo (a picture book). Additionally, she has co-edited several fantasy anthologies. Her books have been published in 28 languages and have been bestsellers in numerous countries. Prior to being a writer, Melissa taught university literature, worked an archaeology dig, and worked at a daycare. She is the mother to three children, and most of her books were written for them.


Obert Skye:
Obert Skye is the bestselling author of the Leven Thumps series, the Pillage Trilogy, Witherwood Reform School, and The Creature From My Closet. He can be found at www.obertsky.com

Friday, July 15, 2016

Thurber House: Day Twenty-One (Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen)

And so we come to the end.

Today was my last full day at Thurber House, the culmination of my month-long stint as their 2016 Children's Writer-in-Residence. Tomorrow, I get up at 5am and catch an early flight back to home and family.

I celebrated today by taking the last of my long walks around the city. I hit the historical town, Topiary Park, downtown, and then went to Wolf's Ridge Brewing for my last taste of Duck Confit Tacos, Habanero Cheesecake, and their amazing Dire Wolf stout (though they were out of the habanero spiced variety). My farewell meal from my favorite Columbus restaurant.

Then in the afternoon, I signed copies of my books for the last batch of campers. Afterwards, I got a lift to The Book Loft of German Village for another signing.

Then it was back here for dinner and packing.

I accomplished a lot done here in Columbus. I finished the second draft of a book I'd been working on since January. I did an enormous amount of research for my next project, part of which involved world-building two fantasy cities. I wrote a stand-alone short story. And I knocked out the first 10,645 words of the new book. And they're good words. (I have the best words!)

But equally or maybe more importantly was the time I've spent teaching children, from the six sessions of camp at the Thurber Center that I taught, to the workshop at Worthington Park Library, to a High School writing group, to trips to the Homeless Families Foundation's Dowd Education Center, the Gladden Community House (a United Way affiliated non-profit agency), and the John Burroughs Elementary School summer school camp (a grant-funded program to provide food and activities to students in a low-income area). All the kids were wonderful, and I've learned so much. Mostly I've learned that children, whatever their backgrounds or opportunities, are bright and polite and positive and hopeful and imaginative and fun-loving and kind. Some of the kids I spoke to have a leg-up on life. And some of the kids I spoke to are starting out several rungs down the ladder from the rest of us. And they were all the same kids. Everyone of them, as capable of anything as anyone of us. Anything that can be done to lift these kids up and let the seeds I saw in them flower is the lord's work, whatever lord you believe in (except maybe Lord Voldemort). I'm really grateful to have met them all in ways I'll never fully express.

And speaking of grateful....

I’m eternally grateful to Thurber House for this amazing opportunity. I’ve loved living in my words and worlds. The people who run Thurber House and make it work are marvelous, and I hope I stay in touch with them and they with me. More than just a place I visited or a vacation I took—I’ve been alone in the house, I’ve received mail to the house, I’ve had guests visit me in the house,  I’ve done multiple loads of laundry and cleaned the kitchen countless times, I’ve even answered the doorbell. And I’ve walked all over Columbus, taking 1.5 to 2 hour walks nearly every day I've been here. This isn’t a place I visited. In a subjective, but very real, sense, Columbus is a place I’ve lived, joining the other cities around the world that I count as places that made me who I am and form a part of my personal narrative. Am I sad to be leaving? I love my family, and miss them, so sad isn't the right word, but this feels like a move does. You know, when you leave a place that you really lived and you know you'll only ever come back as a tourist. Thurber House and Columbus will always be a part of me, and I’ll always be a part of it (unless they paint over my fat signature in the closet and they better not!) Thank you all very, very much! I'm outta here!
               
                                      — Lou Anders, 2016 Children’s Writer in Residence.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Thurber House: Day Twenty (PokemonGo, Camp, Bananas, and Farewells)

Last night I stayed up writing very late. But before I turned in... I gave in. I needed to know what unseen forces I might be unwittingly sharing Thurber House with. That's right. I downloaded Pokémon Go.

It turns out that Thurber House is a PokéSpot, as is the statue of Muggs in the garden outside (mislabel in the app as Snoopy!), as is the David Deming stainless steel and brass installation Terrestrial Gest in the park outside (mislabeled as the Donn Vickers Gazebo, which is nearby). With so much Pokémon activity, how could I not?

So, this morning, while I was trying to make my coffee, I found a Krabby loitering in my kitchen! Fortunately, I was able to catch him and continue with my caffeination. Though he did take a few swipes at me with those nasty claws!

In the afternoon, I wrote my first ever attempt at a romantic scene. The current project isn't a children's book like the one I just finished. Rather, it's a YA or adult novel staring an older version of a character who is an adolescent in the Thrones and Bones books. Maybe because the character was 12 when I created her, I found myself oddly protective and parental. I had to fight the urge to let her be herself with *gasp* a boy. I kept wanting to come in and chaperone. It was the strangest sensation, and one I never would have predicted. If I'm this protective of a fictional creation, boy am I going to be in for it when my children are a few years older!

After lunch, I taught my last two sessions of the Thurber summer camp. The kids at all of these workshops have been great, and this week's batch were no different. We had a great time learning about the basics of character creation and story construction.  Also learning how to say "Norrøngard" as the old Norse would have pronounced it. (Although it's not a land found on earth, my Norrønir pronounce the name of their land in the same fashion.)

When the workshops were over, as I'm on my penultimate full day here as Children's Writer-in-Residence, this was the day I got to sign the closet as well as sign my photo for the wall. I thought it was the downstairs closet in the room with James Thurber's typewriter that I was to sign, but that's apparently for famous folks and such who drop by the house or contribute in some way and not for author residents who live in the apartment upstairs. We get a closet on the third floor (where, I suppose, only we can see it!). But I signed it and drew a little Viking too.

Around four o'clock a bunch of the campers came to the house with their parents to pick up my books. Since I was downstairs (doing laundry!), I volunteered to go ahead and sign them so they wouldn't have to bring the books to camp with them tomorrow.

Sadly, the next thing I dd was to say my goodbye to Meg Brown, Director of Education. Meg has to go out of town this evening, so I won't see her again. It was Meg that first interviewed me on the phone when I applied for this residency and made it through the initial round of applicants. It was Meg who called to tell me I'd made it to the final three. It was Meg who called to tell me I'd won. And it was Meg who has chauffeured me around to all the workshops and classes and to and from the airport. She is an amazing Director of Education, and I've gotten to see first hand how hard she works for all the outreach that Thurber House does.

Afterwards, the plan was to return to Wolf's Ridge Brewing one last time, for a dinner and another taste of the amazing Dire Wolf Canis Mexicanus Russian Imperial Stout. But I was barely a block away when it started to pour down rain. In minutes I was drenched, my shirt soaking wet and water streaming off the brim of my baseball cap. So instead of dark beer and duck tacos, it was more laundry and a turkey sandwich. But I did try taco sauce on a banana, and, despite how it sounds, it wasn't too bad.
And on the bright side, I caught another Pokémon on the way home.

Tomorrow I'll have an afternoon signing for the campers and then I'm doing a signing at 6pm at The Book Loft of German Village. And that will be it for me and Columbus.

But now I'm going to spend the bulk of what's left of my evening finishing that romantic scene. I need to make sure my girl and her boy take their hands off each other. And I want to send him packing before it gets any later!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Thurber House: Day Nineteen (Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum)

Today I had a marvelous experience.

Paul Watkins, retired bookseller of 54 years and longtime Thurber House board member/volunteer took me on a tour of Ohio State University.

We started out at the Thompson Library, which was (relatively recently) restored. It's an amazing building, absolutely beautiful and stunning. Enormous glass walls go up for story after story, all the books visible behind them.

One of the many reading areas is a huge, glass-windowed room where the windows are sunlight-sensitive and automatically raise and lower blinds to adjust. The floor of the room has raised text, scrambled, from American Indians Myths and Legends, A Little History of the World, and Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone. Beautiful to look at. Possibly annoying for the cleaning crew!

And the top floor of the Thompson Library affords an incredible view of both the OSU campus and the larger Columbus area.


Next we went to the Orton Geological Museum, a building that is "geologically correct" in that it is constructed of stone quarried from Ohio with the oldest stones from the deepest strata at the bottom of the building and the stones stacked in order to the youngest at the top!


Next we had lunch at Sloopy's, where Paul and I found we have many shared values when it came to, well, quite a lot of things. It was a great conversation with a wonderful person!

And finally, we went to the highlight of an amazing day, a visit to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, where I got to see the exhibit of comic strips and graphic novels, including examples from some very old newspapers, a large collection of original Calvin and Hobbes panels from Bill Watterson, a huge amount of Winsor McCay's Little Nemo in Slumberland, and originals from the tribute, Little Nemo: Dream a Little Dream. Also Chester Gould's actual drafting table where he wrote and drew Dick Tracy!

What a day! I'm grateful to Paul for his generosity and his expert tour guidance, and mightily impressed with OSU! I'll leave you with these pictures...














Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Thurber House: Day Eighteen (or maybe Twenty-Three)

I'm back!

Back you say? Where did you go?

Well, last Thursday, I flew home to Birmingham for the weekend for a family event, and I returned yesterday to Columbus to complete my last week as the Thurber House Children's Writer-in-Residence. So, if we're counting full days in the house, this is Day Eighteen. Or if we're counting days since I got here, this is Day Twenty-Three!

How to count? What to count?

I'm going to go with Eighteen, just like Steve Moffat says Matt Smith is Doctor Number Eleven, and we can just ignore John Hurt, that Doctor-Donna created from a disembodied hand, and my brief interlude away from Ohio.

But worth noting...while I was home, I got my authors copies of the Nightborn paperback edition! And you can all get yours later this month when it drops July 26th! Yay!

Meanwhile, today, for a complete change of pace, I wrote a short story. It just came to me, and I had to get it out. It's short. Something on the order of "Kori and the Troll," which was my story for Boy's Life. I think there are going to be more of these sort of things, including a follow up to "Kori and the Troll," because the wheels are spinning. They are spinning, yes.

Meanwhile, because I have plans tomorrow for a long lunch, two courses to teach Thursday afternoon, and two signings on Friday (including one at The Book Loft of German Village), today was my Long Walk. I may get another Long Walk in, but I wanted to get at least one more before my time here ends. (((Sob.)))

I did the same walk I'd done before--going downtown then taking the Scioto Mile around the river, then walking back. Only last time it took me two hours, but because I had to teach tonight, I did it in one hour thirty minutes. Which was some power walking!

Then it was back here to teach a workshop at 6:30 P.M. at the Young Writers’ Studio, which is Thurber House's high school writing group that meets every other week at the Thurber Center. The students were really great, and after my presentation, I sat in for the weekly critique of one of their fiction samples (which was quite lush and evocative in its description). Smart students. Great talk.


And now I'm back in my apartments, where I should be writing, but I'm thrilled to see that something I've been working on for a while has just become public, and that is the Young Adventurers programming track at the Alamo City Comic Con (held in San Antonio on October 28th-30th). What is Young Adventurers you say? Well, Friday it's a day long writing workshop featuring instruction from some cat named Lou Anders, along with such luminaries as Holly Black, Matthew Cody, Bruce Coville, Melissa Marr, and Obert Skye! Then Saturday and Sunday are two days of middle reader kid fic focused programing featuring the same stellar lineup! Tickets for the workshop aren't on sale yet, but tickets for ACCC are. This is something you are going to want to check out! And if you are a beginning or wannabe writer, don't miss the workshop! Yay!



Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Thurber House: Day Seventeen (John Burroughs Elementary and Robin Yocum)

Today started off with a trip to John Burroughs Elementary School to visit their summer school camp, a grant-funded program to provide food and activities to students in a low-income area. There were 40+ kids, and they were on average a few years younger than I have been speaking to thus far. But they (and I) had a blast. I talked to them for about 15 minutes about my books, and then we did a writing exercise where they were shown some of Andrew Bosley's great art for my series and asked to fill in facts about the characters. And boy did we get some good names. A turbaned Uskiri scholar, for instance, was actually "Donald Trump" whose major talent was "screaming" and who wanted to "blow up the world" but who desperately needed "a breath mint." (That's presented exactly as the child wrote it and offered without comment.)



The afternoon was somewhat lazy--I'm wiped out after working late again last night. But this evening, at the Thurber House literary picnic, Robin Yocum read to us from his coming of age mystery novel, A Brilliant Death, and told stories about its setting, the real life town of Brilliant, Ohio. Yocum spoke to a crowd of about two hundred folks. He talked of how long and difficult a road the writing life is, and I was happy to see he had a long line of people awaiting his signature on books when I retired upstairs for the night.


Meanwhile, this will be my last update until Monday. I'm actually flying home to Birmingham tomorrow for (completely positive) family reasons. I'll return to Thurber House on Monday and have one more week here. It's been an incredible experience thus far, and there's still more to come!