Wednesday, November 30, 2016

I'm in Portuguese! I'm in Portuguese!

Thanks to Editora Jangada, I am now in Brazil! I'm thrilled to be published there, and I can't wait to get my hands on copies. It looks like Frostborn has been retitled Journey on Ice. Cool!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Reflections from the Road: Highlands School and Cliff Valley School

I've hit two schools in the last two weeks. Last week, on Thursday the 10th, I visited Highlands School in Birmingham, Alabama where I spoke to the 4th-8th grades, about 121 kids in total. Afterwards, I went to the library where a smaller group of kids, some of whom had brought books to sign and some of whom had questions, got to talk with me in a more intimate setting for a bit. It was a great visit, and the students had some fantastic questions.

Also, originally I was slated to speak to only the 5th-8th grades, but it turns out I had a lot of fans in the 4th, so they let them join. Was that nice to hear? Yes it was. Thanks very much to Lisa Lorenz, Middle School English, Elise Blackery, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, and Kavita Vasil, Head of School, for making this happen.

Then yesterday, Thursday the 17th, I drove 2 hours and 20 minutes to Atlanta, Georgia to speak to Cliff Valley School. I got into town in time to grab a (very) quick bite to eat at Desta Ethiopian Kitchen, where I had the chicken with injera bread, and it was excellent. Spicy and tangy and just the right amount.

Then it was on to the school, where I gave two talks, one to the 3rd and 4th grades and one to the 5th and 6th grades. I had a fantastic time, the kids were really engaged, and we signed a ton of books after each talk! Thanks to Little Shop of Stories for facilitating booksales, and to Librarian Rose Garrett for arranging my visit!

Two great schools in two weeks! 

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Reflections from the Road: A Week in San Antonio

The last week plus has been an amazing time. I spent Monday to Monday in San Antonio, visiting three schools as part of the Skyborn tour, speaking to a literary council, and participating in a writing workshop and comic convention.

I flew in Monday night, where my dear friend John Picacio picked me up and we went out for pizza and beer at Barbaro. We both had a big week ahead and this was a great way to take a moment to spend time together, as well as to prepare for the days ahead.

Then Tuesday morning, bright and early, off to Hector P. Garcia Middle School, where I presented to the 170 or so students of their sixth through eight grade all at once. They were a great group of kids and we had a wonderful time. Thanks to Stacie Tharp, Library Media Specialists, for reaching out and making this happen.

Afterwards, I discovered my hotel was located half a block from one of my favorite restaurants, Acenar.  Then I roamed the Riverwalk for a bit, though not enough to
walk off the delicious baskets of chips!

Then that afternoon, Carolyn Denny (of the Keystone School) picked me up and took me to speak to the Alamo City Reading Council, a group of educators and others interested in promoting children's literacy. I gave a talk to the council, followed by a book signing. With cookies and lemon squares!

And then the council board took me out for a fabulous dinner at Mi Tierra Restaurant & Bakery, which is open 24/7, covered in Christmas lights year round, and full of roving Mariachi bands. It was a really fun evening with fun people!

Wednesday I went to San Antonio Academy, a private military school for boys. I gave three presentations, to their sixth, fourth, and fifth grades respectively, interrupted by a lunch with a select group of students. The school previously held an auction, and my new friend Thomas' parents won, so he and 11 of his friends joined me for pizza and Mexican food in the library. Thomas' very cool mother even brought a Thrones & Bones themed cookie cake from Great American Cookies. (I think next time I revise I need to add a page just for cakes!) This was my longest day, from 9am to 3pm, but a very fun and rewarding time. Thanks to librarian Elizabeth Snow for making it happen!

Wednesday night John Picacio and I went to dinner at Hot Joy, and Indian/Thai fusion restaurant, where we had edamame, spicy hot wings, and something called a Chicken Tikka Masala Taco, which wasn't really anything like chicken tikka masala or tacos but was absolutely delicious. Then we hit Bar 1919 for a quick drink. It was there that I discovered the pleasure of Prairie Artisan Ales' Bomb!, an imperial stout aged on coffee, chocolate, vanilla beans, and ancho chili peppers, and named a RateBeer Top 100 Beer in the World for three consecutive years!

But no rest for the wicked (or the good or the tipsy) because we were off to the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center to load in the first of the supplies for the incredible Worlds Beyond Gallery that John was helming. We worked for several hours loading in, then one of us at least called it a night.

Thursday John got me early, we ate breakfast burritos on the move, and then we spent the morning hanging about half of his gallery space. Then we rushed to the Keystone School, which John himself attended from 1st to 3rd grade, for two presentations to their third and fourth and then fifth and sixth grades respectively. It was so great that John got to see my presentation in a school that was formative for his own journey as a creator and artist! And in between presentations, library Carolyn Denny and Jeanette Vilagi, Head of Lower School, treated me to a fabulous lunch at La Fonda. (Thank you!)

Thursday night was preview night for Alamo City Comic Con, where I "helped" John in his booth. Then it was back to the con hotel, Hotel Indigo San Antonio-Riverwalk, where I had a drink with Bruce Coville, one of the six authors, myself including, coming in for the Young Adventurers programming. Bruce is the author of over 100 books! (I kept saying "over 60 books" but you know what, that's true too. 100 is more than 60.) He's also a charming, witty, funny, interesting guy and great writer.

Friday was the day-long Young Adventurers Writing Workshop, from 10:30 am to 8pm, featuring writing instruction from (in order) Matthew Cody, myself, Melissa Marr, Bruce Coville, Holly Black, and David Liss. I sat in on everyone else's workshop (as did most of us), and it was a fantastic day! Bruce blew us all away, both with his performance-based presentation and with his ability to remember every single
attendees name instantly. But everyone in that group is talented, funny, smart, and really cool, and I am so grateful for a weekend spent hanging out with them, friends all, old and new. Overall, it was a long day for authors and audience, but I think everyone came away feeling it had been a rewarding experience.  Then that night, the Young Adventurers headed out to Acenar again, for a wonderful end of evening wind-down. With guacamole. 

Saturday was the first of the open-to-all "Fan Days", two days of programming featuring all the authors above in celebration of middle grade fiction. We had some great panels, one of the highlights being Writing Process and Writing Schemes: How to Write One Million Words In Your Sleep, as well as Melissa Marr's weapons demonstrations. The day ended with a private party hosted by John Picacio and Sara Felix, president of ASFA,  for all the Worlds Beyond artists and Young Adventurers authors. So so glad John and Sara put our two groups together! And glad we got to hang with John, Todd Lockwood, Ruth Sanderson, Brom, Jeffrey Alan Love, and Peter Mohrbacher, amazing artists all!

Sunday was another day of Young Adventurers Fan Day programming, after which we were all well-and truly exhausted. I was in bed early and out even earlier. But what a convention, what a group of talented folks, and what a week!

Tremendous gratitude to Alfredo "Apple" De La Fuente, Wes Hartman, Austin Rogers, and everyone who made Alamo City Comic Con the amazing event that it was. You took great care of us and we really appreciated it. Also, a huge huge huge thank you to Andrew Torres, the Community Relations Manager at the Barnes & Noble Booksellers located at The Shops at La Cantera for facilitating book sales at every one of these events, for me for the week at the schools and reading council visits, and for all of us at Alamo City Comic Con. And finally, thank you to all the librarians, students, and fans who made this a phenomenal, unforgettable visit to a fantastic city!