Saturday, September 19, 2015

Reflections from the Road: The Capitol School & Berry Middle School

Earlier this week, on Wednesday (September 16), I visited The Capitol School of Tuscaloosa, Nightborn tour. The Capitol School is so named because it is adjacent to the Capitol Park where the ruins of the old state capitol still stand. An acclaimed international school that occupies four houses across both sides of a dead end street. I gave my book presentation to around seventy-five enthusiastic students ranging from 4th to 8th grade, and then had a lively Q&A. My favorite question may have been "Do you like waffles?" and I did hate to tell the kids that my Han Solo's Blaster belt buckle was a two of a kind courtesy of Villafranca Sculpture and not something they could purchase for themselves. Afterwards, faculty members Kacey Davenport and Monica Rodgers took me out to a very fun lunch at Mellow Mushroom for some awesome pizza and even better conversation. Thank you to Librarian Kacey Davenport, Dr. Barbara Rountree, School Director, and Dr. Monica Rodgers, Upper School Faculty for a great visit. I look forward to coming back next year!
Alabama, as part of the

Then on Friday (September 18), I visited Berry Middle School to sign books for two hours during their Scholastic Book Fair. I had a great time meeting their students and talking with their excellent librarians. In addition to signing, I posed for a Viking picture with Principal Chris Robbins and had an interesting discussion of Shakespeare in cinema with language arts teacher Scott McClellan. I'm looking forward to October, when I will return to Berry to give a book presentation on Frostborn and Nightborn to all 1,200 students.

Also, it's worth mentioning that Ginger Hewitt informed me that Berry Middle School have challenged themselves as a school to read 10,000 books collectively.  They have read 10,000 books the last 2 years, so I'm sure they can do it again. But congratulations on making the challenge and good luck with all that reading!

Thank you to Library Media Specialist Ginger Hewitt for arranging this visit and to everyone at Berry for making me feel welcome and making this a great time.

No Lamb for the Lazy Wolf!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Reflections from the Road: A Whirlwind Tour of Southernmost Texas

Last week, I had a whirlwind tour of nine schools in the southernmost tip of Texas. I drove home from Dragon Con and the Decatur Book Festival on Monday (September 7th), quickly laundered my clothes, repacked, and raced to the airport to catch a mid-afternoon flight. Which was a frantic day after an exhausting weekend. And I was just getting started!

Because next up was nine schools in three days! At three schools a day, I visited Garza-Pena Elementary School (San Juan, TX), PSJA Southwest, Early College High School (Pharr, TX), and Clover Elementary (San Juan, TX) on Tuesday, Lyndon B. Johnson Middle School(Pharr, TX), PSJA North, Early College High School (Pharr, TX), and Kelly-Pharr Elementary (Pharr, TX) on Wednesday, and Marcia R. Garza Elementary School (McAllen, TX), Alamo Middle School (Alamo, TX) and Cantu Elementary School (Alton, TX) and Thursday!

I arrived late Monday night, flying into the McAllen airport, where two girls holding up copies of Nightborn were waiting for me. It turns out my escort, the I-soon-found-out AMAZING Nora A. Galvan had brought her daughter and two granddaughters to meet me as well. Nora is the PSJA  ISD Library Coordinator for an enormous district. Her daughter is a librarian at one of the schools under her bailiwick, and her granddaughters are avid readers. They were all wonderful and made me feel instantly at home from the moment I arrived.

Nora is an amazing person (let me say that again), and I would be hard pressed to name another person who worked harder at fostering a love of reading and learning in students than she (though the nine librarians I met on my tour came close). She spent a lot of time with me in a three day period, not only driving me to all nine schools but also taking me to lunch and dinner, and consequently, I got to see her work on the phone and in person as I received a taste of how enormously busy she is and how much she does for the librarians under her supervision and the "kidos" at those schools. I'm really, really impressed and really heartened the kids of Alamo, Alton, Pharr, McAllen, and San Juan have someone like her in their corner.

And the kids! Wow. What an incredible bunch of students! I went to five elementary schools, two middle schools and two high schools. Every time I walked in I asked "who has read or started Frostborn?" and nearly every hand in the room went up. There were pictures advertising my visit everywhere. Some schools showed me artwork the students had made. Others had posters concerning elements of the book. All of them were eager and excited and engaged and asked me tons of questions about the characters and world of Thrones & Bones, the process of writing, and the reasons that lead me to create the books I did. It was so obvious at every stop how hard each librarian had worked to instill this love of literature and learning in these kids and it showed. Every stop on the tour held a welcoming and enthusiastic crowd, and I had an absolute blast. And check out this diagram of the plot and thematic structure of Frostborn was created by a student named Bianca at PSJA North. I was thrilled to see it and really enjoyed talking writing with her.

Meanwhile, I'm afraid to step on a scales thanks to the Mexican breads, the huge gift baskets, and the restaurants I was treated to during my visit, not least of which was the enormous "botana" from Costa Messa Restaurant!

Huge thanks to Nora Galvan, all her librarians and students for an amazing week. And thanks to Celia Torres, Producer/Reporter for KTRI TV, and her team for taking the time to interview me for the local district channel. I'm told they'll be YouTube and Vimeo videos in a few and I'll post links to that when it goes live.

Here are some more pictures from my visit!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Reflections from the Road: On Tour at Dragon Con and the Decatur Book Festival

This past Labor Day Weekend, I was in Georgia as a guest of both Dragon Con and the Decatur Book Festival. This was the first time in my career I have tried to do two simultaneous shows! Was it easy? Heck no! Was it fun? Heck yes!

I kicked things off Friday with a panel at Dragon Con called "Everything I Need to Know About Writing." Then I raced from there to catch an Uber to Decatur, for a "Cocktail and Dessert Party" for all attending Children's Book Authors of the Decatur Book Festival, being hosted by the amazing children's bookshop, Little Shop of Stories. I met (co)owner Dave upon entered, was served a local brew by his son, chatted with several bookstore employees, bumped in Christopher Rowe and Gwenda Bond, and ate several wonderful spicy sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies! Thank you very much to everyone at the Little Shop of Stories for a great party.

Afterwards, I was dragged out to Mac McGee Irish Pub for whisky by Matthew MacNish, Stephen Duncan and Andrew Smith (of Grasshopper Jungle fame). But since I'm not much of a whiskey drinker, I shortly dragged them across the square to Brick Store Pub, where I introduced the group to Dark Truth Stout.

Then it was back to DragonCon to meet up with Clay and Susan Griffith, David Alastair Hayden, Pepper Thorn and others for an end of the evening drink at High Velocity in the Marriott Marquis, as is tradition. A great time was had by all. Though Clay Griffith is not actually twice my size as he appears in the photo. 

Saturday was two panels at Dragon Con ("Middle Grade Readers" and "Systems of Magic in YA Worlds") then back to the Decatur Book Festival for a panel called "Building New Worlds" with fellow authors Carrie Beasley (Circus Mirandus), S.E. Grove (The Golden Specific), and Tui Sutherland (Wings of Fire series).  Carrie had an actual miniature circus tent courtesy of her publisher, which, obviously, I had to work into one of my responses.

Afterwards, Little Shop of Stories facilitated a book signing and I am happy to say that Frostborn sold out and only two copies of Nightborn remained by the end. Following this S.E. Grove and I hung out together at the author's reception. Then it was back to Dragon Con where Jay Requard and I shared a bottle of Dragon's Milk (yes that's actually what it's called) and other two bottles of Wøøt Stout (yes that's actually what it's called). 

Sunday was a coffee with Titan's Steve Saffel, a lunch with the great Todd Lockwood--look for his novel The Summer Dragon in 2016!--a full day of four Dragon Con panels as well as a Nightborn signing courtesy of The Missing Volume. Then drinks first with Stephen Duncan and Lindsay Cummings, then over to they Westin for a drink with Shanna Germain (Monte Cook Games) and the aforementioned Jay Requard. 
Finally, after an exhilarating / exhausting weekend, I woke early Monday, raced home, threw my clothes in the laundry, repacked, and hit the airport by mid-afternoon for a flight to McAllen, Texas and the start of a nine school Nightborn tour! About which more next post...

Meanwhile, a huge thank you to all the organizers and tireless workers of both events. It was a top notch weekend all around!


How to Succeed in Evil

I am a guest on the latest episode of Patrick McLean's How to Succeed in Evil podcast, talking about villains, dragons, The Joker, the earlobes (or lack thereof) of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Frostborn and Nightborn, and more! In addition to being a podcaster host, Patrick is the author of the How to Succeed in Evil series about an Evil Efficiency Consultant named Edwin Windsor. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Frostborn in Russian

Look what came in the mail today, the Russian edition of Frostborn, from publisher AST!