Category: Event Recap

Debut Author Event | Sandy Hall Interview & Book Signing Recap

Posted September 26, 2014 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Event Recap / 4 Comments

sandyhall

 

I was beyond excited when Macmillan wrote to me and asked me to be their designated blogger for Sandy Hall’s A Little Something Different signing and book talk at The King’s English bookstore in Salt Lake City, UT on September 13th. I got to the bookstore about a half hour early so that I could meet Sandy and Nicole (a publicist at Macmillan), and ask Sandy some questions before her event started.


The Interview

king's english(I recorded this interview on my phone, so not all of Sandy’s answers are direct quotes. If they are, I put them in quotation marks. Makes sense!)

Jana: What inspired you to write A Little Something Different?

Sandy: “The site itself.” I heard about the site and thought, “Oh, that’s really cool. I’m going to tell the kids at work about it. Go read free books online.” They love being involved in stuff, and online is just natural. Then I said to myself, “No. I’m not going to tell them. I’m going to write a book. And I don’t want them to find it.”

Jana: Why the 14 points of view?

Sandy: “I wanted to write a pretty generic story. One of my friends had given me this idea: boy/girl, parallel lives.” Essentially, this story has been done before, but why not read it from everyone else’s point of view? I wanted to give this plot we have seen before a completely different edge.

Jana: Two of the narrators are non-conventional book characters: a squirrel and a bench. What was it like trying to jump into their minds?

Sandy: “The whole point of them was so that there did not have to be someone lurking in the bushes listening to Gabe and Lea’s conversations. I had to come up with some other way to give them private time, since they are not two of the narrators themselves. I really wanted to pick something quirky. I liked the idea of the bench because there’s benches everywhere. And there’s squirrels everywhere. So it’s not that far-fetched.

When we were doing some of the edits, my editor Holly said we needed to make the squirrel more like Doug from Up. That’s why he has the exclamation mark after his name in the book.

Jana: How have your library patrons reacted to your book deal and all this excitement?

Sandy: “We had my launch event at the library, and we had like 100 people show up, which is a really big deal. They are very excited.”

Jana: I co-host the Debut Author Challenge, which is a challenge where people are supposed to read as many MG/YA/NA debuts each year, and I always ask the authors these five questions when I highlight them on my blog. I thought I should include you as well!

Sandy: “Oh yeah, sure!”

Jana: Describe your book in five words or less.

Sandy: “A quirky, quick little story.”

Jana: Why should readers pick up your book?king's english 2

Sandy: “Because it’s definitely not just for girls, and it’s definitely not just a romance. I also think it would make a pretty decent book report book. There’s a lot going on to talk about.”

Jana: What’s the best thing about being a debut author?

Sandy: “It’s so sad, but the first thing that came to mind is: the food! But no, I’m getting to meet so many people and I’m getting to learn so much. It’s almost everything you would expect it to be, but it’s cooler, weirder, and more tiring. I can tell you, touring will get old. I don’t even know what day it is. I can’t wait to go home on Monday. My body rejects being on a plane, so flying every day is really hard.”

Jana: What’s your favorite movie theater candy?

Sandy: “Oooo. Ummm. Strawberry Twizzlers.”

Jana: What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?

Sandy: “At home I have a Magic 8 ball. I know I have something extra crazy on my desk right now. I remember when I left I was going to come home and wonder what that’s doing there, but I can’t remember what it is! At work I have a graffitti Justin Bieber Valentine from one of the kids, and I love it.”

Jana: What do you think of the book cover?

Sandy: “I love it. I love the color, I love how it feels, I love the quality. And I think a great looking paperback draws people in.”

Jana: And those are the Debut Dish questions! One more question for you: what was your favorite scene to write?

Sandy: I love the midnight breakfast scene. It was a tradition at Rutgers, so it’s near and dear to my heart. I also love the fight scenes, and both of them were Victor scenes.

Jana: I really loved the end, but we can’t just go and spoil that for everyone. And I found myself relating to Lea and her awkwardness in relationships.

Other things discussed: Allergic reactions to mosquitoes, how even people who aren’t shy can relate to being weird in relationships, unofficial plans for Sandy’s next book (she’s not wanting anyone to know until it’s done.), Master’s degrees in library and information science, how there’s a pretty great interview of Sandy at the end of the book for more information, and how Sandy is quitting her full time job to write more.


The Book Talk

sandy signingThe book talk was fun! We had a small group of people, so we basically just chatted about all kinds of things like we were friends. There was no need for a moderator, and nobody had to raise their hands. We just kind of threw everything out there. We all sat in chairs outside on the back patio. It was a nice, intimate setting. It was so intimate, actually, that I felt weird taking pictures! I learned a few more things about Sandy and her book, which I will just lay out right here.

  • Sandy tends to like reading contemporary novels with some romance in them, but not necessarily romance novels.
  • Sandy would really like to write a bit of everything. Big Foot even came up as a possible story line!
  • When asked about the book cover she responded with, “I feel like it would taste good if you could lick it.” That was probably the highlight of the evening for me!
  • When asked about the 14 different viewpoints, she informed us that the book started out with 23! Holy cow!
  • “Buttprint”, which is used to describe someone (like jerk, punk, or meanie head) in the book was pulled from her group of guy friends.
  • We talked about a lot of other books like Code Name Verity, Outlander, Isla and the Hppily Ever After, Zac & Mia, and Scott Westerfield’s new book. Sandy recommends Love is the Higher Law.
  • We talked a little bit about where we were on September 11th, how old we were, what we were doing.

It was such a fun evening, and I was so happy Macmillan wanted me there! It was nice to meet Sandy and to learn more about her book. I’ve also never been to The King’s English Bookshop before, so it was fun to see a new place! Thanks to Sandy for the interview!

So, have you read A Little Something Different? What did you think? I was finally able to read it myself, and it’s a fun little romance! Definitely quirky, just as Sandy said. :)


Books Happened in Vegas. And They Didn’t Stay There! (ALA Recap)

Posted July 7, 2014 by Jana in Event Recap / 5 Comments

ALA 2014

Phew! Guys, I just got back from a Las Vegas that was hot as Hades (our car’s thermometer read 120 degrees at one point, but it was usually around 108-111). I kid you not. This past Monday I was sitting in my room at the Bellagio watching The Bachelorette with my mom and my sister when, lo and behold, an extreme heat advisory scrolls across the bottom of the TV. Holy heat! I totally ditched my palazzo pants and bought some shorts at the outlets. Anyway. I was in Vegas for ALA Annual, which is the annual conference of the American Library Association. You may remember last time I went in June of 2012. It’s always a fun time, and this year I was an actual librarian in training (my grad school even gave me a grant to pay for my entrance fee!) so I felt even more at home! Ok, so enough babbling. Let me tell you about my trip!

The exhibit hall opened on Friday evening, so my mom and sister and I all left home Friday morning and drove the 6ish hours to Vegas. We stayed in the Best Western closeish to the convention center because we knew that staying in a casino would mean getting up even earlier and having to deal with a lot of people and traffic. No, no. So we stayed at the Best Western. This one:

(Image Credit)

Hehe. Doesn’t it look so Vegasy? Anyway, we checked in and it was off to the Las Vegas Convention Center for the opening of the exhibit hall, aka the mad dash to all the books because no librarians are in meetings. Checking in at the registration counters was insane! I hear they checked in 30,000 people that night, and I believe it. I stood in the longest line for the longest time. Last time I get there about an hour late due to an accident on the freeway and walked right up to the person to get my badge. I was so not expecting a 45-minute line. Word of advice: get there really early!

(Image credit)

There were seriously millions (read thousands) of people there. I did see Ksenia again, though, which was so much fun! This first evening of the exhibits is always buzzing with excitement, and I had a lot of fun getting back into the swing of things. It takes a certain kind of mindset to conquer a book conference, so you need a little time to acclimate and get in the groove. OH. And I met Laini Taylor and got the final book in her Daughter of Smoke and Bone series!

lainisigning

Day one was a success! Look at my amazing haul!

ALA Day 1

 

Books Pictured:

Landline by Rainbow Rowell (Audiobook)
Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick
The Young World by Chris Weitz
Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick (so excited about this one!)
Illusive by Emily Lloyd-JonesDreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor (signed!) (I bought this one)
Oh Yeah, Audrey! by Tucker Shaw
The Alliance by Shannon Stoker
Ballroom by Alice Simpson
Storm Siren by Mary Weber (signed!) – This author is so sweet and nice!
Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes
Even in Paradise by Chelsea Philpot
Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch (Entangled was giving away hardbacks for the signing! I was beyond excited, and delighted to meet Kate, a fellow Utahn!)

Two and a half hours later the conference closed, and I was exhausted. I’ve been having a hard time getting over a nasty lung virus thing that had me on steroids and antibiotics and in bed for 10 days. I had no idea how I would make it for 8 hours the following two days! But when books are involved, I’ll do a LOT. lol. After the conference my mom, sister, and I ate at Fuddrucker’s. Best. Burgers. Ever. We had a super comfortable room once we learned that setting the air conditioner below 70 degrees freezes the air conditioner. Like, literally freezes. So it quit working in the middle of our first night and it was seriously barely worth showering because I was a hot mess as soon as I was done doing my hair and makeup Saturday morning. See the AC? It’s COVERED in ice. It took the maintenance guy hours to thaw it out. Haha. Whoops!

icyac

I woke up bright and early the next morning to head back to the convention center. Like I said, I was worn out so I got there an hour after the hall opened. It was much emptier than the night before since so many of the librarians were in meetings and lectures. I met Kevin Henkes, children’s book author of the Penny books, Lilly books, and my favorite, Chrysanthemum. I read a lot of books by him for my children’s lit class this last semester, so it was fun to meet him and have him sign Lilly’s Big Day. Other highlights of the day include meeting Victoria Schwab (and getting a free copy of The Unbound from Disney Hyperion, which she signed!), meeting the cutest little dog named Lola who had a book series written about her, eating lunch at Olive Garden with my mom and sister, and standing in a HUGE line for Markus Zusak. Random House was SO nice to give us beautiful free hardbacks of The Book Thief, which he personalized. I’ve been terrified of this book, but after hearing people rave about and get emotional about this book in line, I know I must read it. Markus is SO nice! He was nearing the end of his signing time and there were still 50 or so people in line. He stayed and signed every single person’s book. I also got the highly coveted Little Elliot and Throne of Glass tote bags. SO exciting!

day2(Kevin Henkes, Lola the Dog, Victoria Schwab, and Markus Zusak)

And then it was time to back to the hotel again! I swear, the Las Vegas Convention Center needs to figure out a better way to air condition that place. It was SO hot. If the huge casinos can freeze you out, the LVCC should be able to as well! Take a look at my day 2 haul. :) I was VERY excited about so many of these books! It was such a great day. :)

ALA Day 2

 

Books Pictured:

Lilly’s Big Day by Kevin Henkes (signed!) (I bought this one)
Not in the Script by Amy Finnegan
The Jewel by Amy Ewing
Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios
The Unbound by Victoria Schwab (signed!)
A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall
An Italian Wife by Ann Hood (signed!)
Greenglass House by Kate Milford
Atlantia by Ally Condie (I AM SO EXCITED!!!)
The Captive by Grace Burrowes
The Fairytale Matchmaker by E.D. Baker
Scintillate by Tracy Clark (signed!)
Lux Beginnings (Lux 1 & 2 bind-up) by Jennifer L. Armentrout (it is SO sparkly)
Conversion by Katherine Howe
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (signed!)
Don’t Try to Find Me by Holly Brown
The Opal Crown by Jenny Lundquist
The Fire Artist by Daisy Whitney
Catnapped!: A Dead-End Job Mystery by Elaine Viets
The Prince of Venice Beach by Blake Nelson (signed!)
Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas (AHHHHHH! YES!!!!)
The Paris Winter by Imogen Robertson

Phew! What a day! The next day, Sunday, was my last day at ALA. I just was not in the mood to go hang out at the exhibit hall on the last day because people start getting grabby and pushy when publishers decide to give away their display copies and everything they have left. It’s a short, crazy day and we were moved to the Bellagio that day to spend a couple days relaxing before heading home. Sunday, though, was SO fun! It was the crazy of all crazy signing days. I spent almost every second in a signing line, and still did not get to every one I wanted! I did see Marc Brown (He wrote the Arthur books!!!! I loved those as a child.) Caragh O’Brien, Josephine Angelini, Melissa Landers, Maggie Stiefvater, Marie Lu, and Mary E. Pearson. I think I did a really good job! Haha. I missed Ally Condie, which was sad. She lives around here, though, so I’ll catch her at another time! I met some fun new friends, Andi and Michelle (teachers from Las Vegas)… and I hung out with Ashley of Ashley Loves Books for a little while. And then there were two other fun girls, and I can’t remember their names for the life of me! I’m sorry! I spent $13 on a gross sandwich, chips, and a bottle of water… and I sat on the floor to eat it because there were no free tables. But that’s ok! I did not go to ALA to eat!

The highlight of my day was when I walked up to Mary Pearson and she saw my badge, squealed, “Jana!!”, and jumped up to hug me! Everyone around kind of wondered who I was. Haha. We’d never met before, but I’m on her blog tour so she was happy to see me! I kind of felt like a celebrity, considering she was so excited to see me and I LOVED her book, Kiss of Deception SO MUCH. So yeah. :) Anyway, check out my third and final haul!

ALA Day 3

 

Books Pictured:

Tiny Rabbit’s Big Wish by Margarita Engle (signed!) (I bought this one)
In New York by Marc Brown (signed!)
The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O’Brien (signed!)
Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini (signed!)
On the Edge by Allison Van Diepen
Invaded by Melissa Landers (signed!)
Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis (signed!)
Winterkill by Kate A. Boorman
Sway by Kat Spears
This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (YAY!!!)
Like No Other by Una LaMarche
Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer
Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater (signed!) (YEEEEEESSSSSSS!)
The Young Elites by Marie Lu (signed!) (YAYYY!)
Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers (YES)
On a Clear Day by Walter Dean Myers
The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson (signed!) (I bought this one)

All in all, it was a wonderful conference! I met some very fun people including publishers, authors, bloggers, and librarians. I walked with heavy bags of books until my ankles swelled all the way up to my knees (yes, I could make lasting fingerprints in my legs. Creepy.), conquered the extreme heat advisory, and got my hands on some books I have been dying to read! After the conference, my mom, sister, and I moved to the Bellagio where we had a lakefront room and watched the fountains all night. We swam, ate, and relaxed before driving home. It was such a fun girls weekend!

So, have you ever been to a book conference like ALA? Tell me about it! Were you at ALA this year and I missed you? DRAT! And finally, which of these books are you excited to read?


ALA Anaheim, CA 2012 Event Recap

Posted June 28, 2012 by Jana in Event Recap / 13 Comments

I’d been mulling over the idea of attending the ALA annual conference since January, when I found out it was going to be at the Anaheim Convention Center! I had pretty much decided I could not go, though, since I would have barely been back from my 6 weeks in Europe by the time it was time to pack up again and drive to California. My decision to just go for it came totally last minute, and was completely spontaneous! I’m so, SO glad I decided to go, though, because it was seriously one of the highlights of my life thus far.


Courtyard outside the convention center.
Photo from here.

My mom and I decided to road trip it, and have a fun little vacation around the conference. My birthday was on the 22nd, so we thought it would be a great way to celebrate! We left home on the morning of the 21st, and drove to Las Vegas to stay in Bally’s before waking up on the 22nd and driving the rest of the way to Anaheim to make it in time for the grand opening of the exhibition floor at 5:30. We were going to make it with hours to spare, but due to the major chemical spill on I-15, we were delayed for 2 hours and I ended up being about 20 minutes late to the conference. I rushed in and immediately met Magan from Rather be Reading, who I just love. I also met her two roommates, Jennifer from Novel Thoughts and Christin from Portrait of a Book. Her other room mate (Lena from Addicted 2 Novels) flew in later that night. We spent the evening meeting publishers, authors, other bloggers, and finding awesome reads! After the conference, my mom and I went to BJ’s in Huntington Beach for a birthday dinner. We totally pigged out on yummy foods, and I even got a candle in my pizookie. Then we went back to the hotel, and I completely crashed.

I woke up the next morning to find out my mom had been throwing up all night from the shrimp dinner she got at BJ’s the night before. Ugh! I was so sad for her. Luckily Magan was sweet enough to come get me from my hotel so my mom could keep the car in case she needed to go get anything throughout the day. Thanks, Magan!

The rest of my time at ALA was like this (haha): woke up super early, stood in line outside the exhibit doors before they opened, either stood in signing lines or constantly walked from booth to booth meeting people and getting amazing books, being completely weighed down by said books, meeting reps, pubs, authors, and bloggers, getting completely exhausted and weighed down, and having an amazingly awesome time for the entire weekend. Seriously, I loved everything, and was even ok going on very little sleep.


From bottom left to bottom right:
Espe (she took this pic), Me, Georgia, Jen, Magan.
Waiting in Tahereh Mafi’s signing of Unravel Me!

Awesome bloggers I met:
Magan from Rather be Reading
Christin from Portrait of a Book
Jennifer from Novel Thoughts
Lena from Addicted 2 Novels
Jen and Espe from Late Bloomer Online
Georgia from Eve’s Fan Garden
H.D. from Reading Writing Breathing
Katie from Katie’s Book Blog
Lauren from 365 Days of Reading
Liz from Consumed by Books
Lisa from A Life Bound by Books

And… SO MANY MORE! I’m so sorry if I forgot to add you to my list. ALA is such a huge blur of amazingness, and I can’t remember all the wonderful people I met!

Amazing authors I met:
Tahereh Mafi, Rae Carson, Rachel DeWoskin, Stacy Bierlein, Jessi Kirby, Nick James, Janet Gurtler, Attica Locke, Leigh Bardugo (again!), Deb Caletti, Talia Vance, Alexandra Bracken, Dan Kronos, Marlene Perez, Kinsey Leavitt, Sarah J. Maas, Marie Lu, Laini Taylor, Lex Hrabe, Thomas Voorhies, Katherine Grace Bond, Miranda Kenneally, Katherine Applegate, Michael Grant, Marissa Meyer (again!), Gennifer Albin, Tamara Ireland Stone, Lisa Schroeder, Malinda Lo, Rachel Cohn, Jessica Khoury, Kami Garcia, and Morgan Matson. 

Can I just say how awesome, nice, and likeable authors in general are? I had so much fun talking to all of them! I also met my favorite Macmillan person, Ksenia, who was so sweet. We spent a lot of time discussing books and life. I met Ms. Feiwel of Feiwel & Friends (an imprint of Macmillan), which was so cool! She’s super nice. And I met great people at Simon and Schuster, Penguin, Capstone, Random House, Scholastic, Little Brown, Harper Collins, and more! Bookish people are the best. It was so much fun standing in line and talking books with librarians, library pages, bloggers, authors, and publishers. The final attendance number was 20,134 people! OH MAN! I have never been in a room with so many book lovers!

Event Highlights:

  • Walking onto the exhibit floor for the first time. It was so huge, and there was so much to look at! I was in book heaven. 
  • Meeting Magan, who I have been wanting to meet since I started chatting with her on Twitter months ago. And adoring her as much as I thought I would.
  • Picking up my very first book, and feeling like I was stealing it.
  • Meeting my Arizona gals (Jen, Espe, and Georgia) and walking around laughing, sweating, and discussing being book drunk. 
  • Georgia worrying that her glued-together flip flops might not make it through the day.
  • Standing in Tahereh Mafi’s signing line and getting the 19th ARC, when they only had 60 total to hand out. 
  • When I found Ksenia, she knew who I was immediately, and was so excited to see me that she gave me a huge hug!
  • When I met Leigh Bardugo again, and she remembered me as “the eyelash girl” and then hugged me. (and gave me nail polish!)
  • Walking down the rows of booths and hearing, “I remember That Artsy Reader Girl!”
  • Finding out people have heard of my blog. I swear, I feel like I’m in my own little world here on the blog sometimes. It’s nice to know my thoughts are reaching others!
  • Watching H.D. (Reading, Writing, Breathing) do warm-ups and stretches in line before the exhibit doors opened. He had a specific book in mind, and just HAD to get it. Watching him power walk to Harper made me die laughing.
  • Talking to a librarian from Mississippi about how hot it was in the convention center, and watching her wipe sweat of her face before saying in her Southern drawl, “It’s like ‘nawlins in here!” (Nawlins = New Orleans) I used to live in Louisiana, so I know what that feels like!
  • Going up to one of the ladies at Harper, asking if they had Hidden by Sophie Jordan, and watching her smile before finding it in a cabinet for me! AHHH! So excited to read this one!
  • Talking about books like they were drugs: “Hey, do you have this book?” “Yeah, a few… but don’t tell anyone.” There was so much whispering and subtle book exchanges going on. It really felt like we were dealing drugs! HAHA! 
  • Getting the last copy of Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Boys.
  • Almost tripping on the carpet as I went from one booth to another (some booths had thicker, cushionier carpet, so the differing ground levels made me trip!). 
  • The last day, when pubs were giving away finished copies of books they had on display that I really wanted… and the nice guy at Harlequin who gave me my picks early because I wanted them so badly, and did not want someone else to get them first.
  • Sitting in hour-long signing lines to get a book I really wanted and meet that author, making me realize I love reading more than I thought I did!  
  • Going back to the hotel completely dead tired and worn out, sleeping harder than I ever have, and waking up with SO much energy to go out again!
  • The convention center was so hot for most of the weekend that people were dripping sweat, and their hair was wet. On the last day, they must have figured out the AC, because it was SO cold, and a lot of the pubs and reps were wearing jackets. 
  • Seeing Molly Ringwald!
  • Smacking into so many people with my bags, apologizing profusely, and having them smile at me and say, “Oh, don’t worry. I’ve been to BEA, so I’m way used to this.” They were so nice! 
  • Speaking with humble authors who got teary when you told them how much you loved their book(s).
  • Being in one room with thousands of bookish people like me, with so many people to talk to. We all had so much in common, and had read all the same books! 

And here are a bunch of pictures I took of the exhibit floor! 


Bloomsbury’s booth, along with Macmillan Kids just behind it.


The Macmillan Children’s booth.


Random House’s booth.


These aisles had all the books! We sat here in the lobby every morning to line up for the doors to open.
(I did not take this photo. Credit goes here.)


Sitting in line waiting for the Crewel signing. The line was SO long, and wrapped around several different booths.


Scholastic’s booth.



Half of Penguin’s booth.


Waiting in line on the last day for Simon and Schuster’s book giveaway. We each got to pick 4 of their display copies for free!


So many books!

I really had so much fun, met so many wonderful people, and came home with a TON of really exciting books! I’d like to thank all of the publishers for being so generous. I really had no idea what to expect when I signed up for ALA, but they were all so nice and always ready to recommend a book they thought I would love. I met some friends, and made quite a few new ones. Bookish people really are among the nicest in the world, and I was sad to leave such a huge book club and come home to real life. I’m already saving my pennies for ALA 2013 in Chicago! Check back for my ALA Book Haul post! I’ve had many requests for a vlog, so be expecting one soon!


Fierce Reads Tour Recap

Posted June 13, 2012 by Jana in Event Recap / 10 Comments

So, Macmillan sent all of their Fierce Reads authors to me tonight! It was so incredibly exciting to go, as this was my very first book event ever! The construction was insane, so I was really worried I would not make it in time. My ticket said that I had to be in my seat by 6:50, or I no longer had a seat reservation. Luckily, I ran in and up 2 flights of stairs and made it right at the last minute. I should not have worried, though. A lot of people came in a bit late, plus there were a few empty seats. I didn’t bring my camera, so crummy photos from my iPhone will just have to do.


Jennifer Bosworth, Anna Banks, Emmy Laybourne, Leigh Bardugo, and Marissa Meyer came (she was unexpected)!

The moderator for tonight’s discussion came in all dressed up in an elaborate costume, and introduced the tour. Then she took a minute to highlight each author separately, play their book’s trailer for us, and then have the author come to the podium to introduce their books and discuss the inspiration behind the story. I got a picture of each author, and took a few notes on what they had to say. A lot of interviews and tour recaps have been posted, so I’ll just say a few things I learned and observed.

Marissa Meyer (Cinder)

– Marissa is adorable! She is so bubbly and energetic. While she was telling us about the synopsis of Cinder, she went through a wonderful summary of the events, and right before she sat down, she said, “Oh, wait! There’s a plague too!”

– She refers to her breakthrough moment in which the idea of Cinder popped into her had as the, “boy sparkling in a meadow moment.” She had a dream that Cinderella was running down the stairs after the ball in her huge ballgown, and instead of her shoe falling off, her entire foot fell off. Cinder was born.
– The remaining three books in the series are about more fairytale characters who all ban together to take over the Lunar people. Little Red riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White each get their own book. I’m so excited!

Anna Banks (Of Poseidon)
– I already knew Anna was hilarious, since I did an interview with her a little while ago. But she’s even funnier in person!
– She showed up tonight a little drugged on Benadryl. Apparently she’s allergic to Seattle, which is where they were before they came to Utah. Plus, she was in high heels (she claims to only do well in those if she’s standing still), so I was impressed!
– She said she gets asked a lot about why she chose mermaids for her book. She explained that everything else has already been beaten to death, except for Sasquatch. She’s not sure the market is ready for that yet. A Sasquatch romance? I could actually see it working!
– She fully believes that mermaids are out there. (I love that. I think they might be too!)

Leigh Bardugo (Shadow and Bone)
– She has another life as a make-up artist! And she sings in a band. :)
– Her book is all about a metaphor becoming literal. She explains that in a lot of fairy tales especially, darkness is a metaphor. “And darkness fell across the land…” She started wondering, what if darkness was a place? What if the monsters you thought were in that darkness really were, and you had to fight them?
– I loved it when she said that no matter how old we get, darkness has this power to scare us.

– She swooned a little over her hero, saying he’s “full of mystery and handsomness.”
Jennifer Bosworth (Struck)
– Her husband directed her movie trailer and did all the imagery for it.

– Her book was inspired by the world record holder for most lightning strikes survived. He had survived 7! He was a park ranger, and did not quit his job even though it made it easier to get struck by lightning. This made her wonder if maybe he liked it? Maybe it made him feel alive? So, she came up with the lightning addict.

 

Emmy Laybourne (Monument 14)
– She’s an actress, song-writer, and a teacher!
– She mentioned how much she loves the Provo Library (where tonight’s event was held), and that she was honored to be there. I love how humble she was throughout the entire panel.
– She said, “What’s wrong with me? Why would I do this to such nice characters?” Then she went on to reflect that she realized she did it because she wanted her characters to be able to show their humanity towards each other.
– I loved when she said that in the darkest times of our lives, we humans will do what we can to let the light shine from within us. So Profound.
– When she is not profound, she is absolutely hilarious.

After each author got to talk about her book, a text-in panel opened up. We texted our questions in to the moderator, who then put those up on a big screen. Then each author got to answer (I’m paraphrasing all the answers). I loved the set-up!

1. What scared you most about being a debut author?
MM – She’s been working her who life towards this, so she is more excited than scared. However, she was worried nobody would show up to her signings. It actually did happen to her once, but she was a good sport about it and had fun with the bookstore staff.
EL – She wrote Monument 14 with no audience in mind. She just wanted to tell her story. So she was worried nobody would like it.
JB – It’s hard for her to open up and share the things she has written with anyone and everyone.
LB – Everything. The cover, how much money would be spent on marketing, if people would care about the book, if she needed to go on a diet before tour. Haha. She sounds like me!

2. Was it hard creating brand new wolds and cultures?
MM – She wanted to blend a whole bunch of cultures into one: Chinese, Japanese, Russian, etc. So a lot of research went into play.
EL – Her story takes place in the not to distant future, so it mostly feels like it’s taking place now.
JB – She tore down a world, rather than building one up, by completely destroying Los Angeles. That city is near and dear to her heart, so she kind of laughed and said, “You hurt the one you love!” The cults in her book also angered a lot of people from various religions, so that was a challenge she had to get through.
AB – On land, her story takes place today. Underwater, it’s a completely different world. She mentioned that so many cultures and groups of people around the world have images of mermaids in their museums. Maybe one time long ago, mermaids and humans got along. Now, with all of today’s technology, where are they hiding? How can we not find them? That’s the world she had to create.

3. How is your book different from your first draft? 
AB – She received her editorial letter, and after crying and drinking wine, and sleeping, and crying more, she knew her editor was right. She ended up cutting 17,000 words and writing 18,000 new ones.
LB – She did not have to make a ton of changes, but did have to let go of a few things, which was hard for her.
JB – Her draft started at about page 199 of the book she ended up publishing, so she had to do quite a bit of backtracking. She also did a TON of revising.
EL – She sold her manuscript based on the first 150 pages and proposals for the others. After writing and writing, she submitted the rest of her book and her editor wrote back saying, “This is very hard for me to say, but the book you have written is not the book we bought.” She also had to do quite a bit of re-working to make the second half match the first half.
MM – 100% different. There is not one sentence in Cinder that was in her original manuscript. She completely re-wrote it.

4. Discuss your writing environment. (The focus was on food)
MM – She writes in cafes and restaurants. She’s a picky girl. These places must have a plug for her laptop, beverages, and a chair. Haha!
EL – She fosters her ideas in her brain for 12 hours before writing! Before she gets in bed the night before, she thinks about her scene for the next day. Then she sleeps and lets her brain work. Then she wakes up, takes her kids to school, walks to work, turns on some classical music, and writes. And she loves sunflower seeds.
JB – She has to eat continuously. (And she’s cute and skinny!) She writes a few words, then eats, then writes, then eats. A bowl of popcorn and some lemonheads always accompany her.
LB – She goes out to places wearing her bluetooth headset so that she can pretend to have a conversation with someone, but instead talk to herself about her plans and her goals. CLEVER. and SNEAKY. If she’s writing at home, she tries to stay healthy and eat raw broccoli from a huge bag. One time she went out, though, and found it in her hair. Whoops!
AB – She gets up at 4:30 AM to write in her comfy chair, wrapped in a comforter with some coffee. At night she drinks wine and then writes. She does not eat while writing, because crumbs get stuck in the keyboard and you can’t get them out. Blowing and vacuums don’t work. She does take breaks for fried chicken and cheesecake, though.

5. Best experience since you’ve been published?
EL – Us. I got a little teary-eyed. She stood up and told us that we (her fans) are the best thing that’s happened to her book-wise, of course. She then proceeded to tell us that we had the best turn-out of all the other tour stops they went to (so far), and took our picture. She laughed and said we were so big that we did not fit in her camera’s lens. I think it was Anna who said, “That’s not very nice of you to say, Emmy…” :P
MM – Every person she knew showed up to her release party, but one little girl in particular made her night. She walked up to Marissa shaking and said, “This is the coolest thing I’ve ever done!!” and Marissa said, “Really? Me too!!!” SO cute.
JB – Filming her book trailer was the best, because the cast filled her vision of her characters so well. It’s like she got to meet them. Movies are a huge part of her life, so combining her book with film made her cry.
LB – When people tell her that they were up all night reading her book, because that’s how she is. She also cried when she saw the design of the map of the store in her book. Actually, everything made her cry.
AB – Her elderly mother was a skeptic the entire time Anna was going through the publishing process. She thought for sure Anna was being scammed and stolen from. When Anna got her first payment, she took the statement to her Mom and got to prove that this was the real deal.

Fun, huh? Then we got to get our books, posters, and swag signed! This was so much fun! I saw Anna first, and told her that I interviewed her on my blog, and she said, “And you are…” I told her I was Jana, and she lit up and said, “You’re Jana!!?!??!?” It made my entire week that she remembered me and knew who I was. She personalized my book, and even took the time to draw a really awesome shark on the title page. I am so happy I got to meet her. I’m not sure she’ll know how happy she made me! I’ll admit, I felt a bit famous.

Then I went to Leigh. She signed my things, and then said to me, “Are those your natural eyelashes?” I said yes, and she said, “I am going to punch you in the face right now.” I took that as a major compliment, seeing as how she’s a make-up artist and all! She also knew my name once she heard it! She knew I was a blogger! I swear, I felt so wonderful. My words are getting out there! Then Jennifer signed my poster and bookmark, and I moved on to Emmy, who is SO sweet. We talked a little about her next book (Monument 14: Sky on Fire), which I’m way excited for! I ended my signing with Marissa. She was not on the poster, but brought stickers to stick on the posters and sign her name under. She was so happy and smiley, and seemed really excited to be there! She also let me in on a few confidential secrets. :) I’m going to show off my signatures, poster, and swag this Sunday in my vlog. :)

All in all, this was such a wonderful experience for me! I loved meeting and talking with the authors, and connecting with them on a more personal level. Sometimes I feel like authors are on a different planet than I am. The Author Planet. I don’t run into them. We don’t all pal around at Denny’s late at night. It was fun to see them as real people, who just want to share their love of writing with us. They were all so funny and it was interesting to hear about their experiences as authors so far, their fears, their triumphs, their inspirations, and their quirky personality traits. I know that this is the beginning of a serious addiction of mine. I will be eagerly seeking out more opportunities like this. I’m even more excited to go to ALA now to meet more authors like them!

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