Saturday, August 30, 2008

On the Road Again

Writers and Their Friends
Saturday, September 6, 2008, 8 p.m.
The Ohio Theatre, Playhouse Square, Cleveland

If you’re in Northeastern Ohio, consider checking out Writers and Their Friends this Saturday, September 6. I’m among ten Cleveland-area writers showcased in this unique literary event. Tickets are $25, and the event benefits The Lit, a home for all things literary in Northeastern Ohio. For more information, visit or call 216.694.0000

Some other upcoming events:

Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, OH
Author Reading and Signing
Wednesday, September 10, 2008, 7 p.m.
2692 Madison Road
Cincinnati, OH 45208

West Jordan Library,
West Jordan, Utah
Magic on the Page: Elements of Young Adult Fantasy
Wednesday, September 24, 2008, 7 p.m.
1970 West 7800 SouthWest
Jordan, Utah 84088

September 19, I’ll be at the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association Convention in Colorado Springs, CO, and October 3, at Great Lakes Booksellers Association Convention in Dearborn, MI.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I'm a Best-Seller!!

I am officially a New York Times Bestselling author! The Heir series appears on the August 31 New York Times Children’s Series Bestsellers List.

I’m keeping some fast company!! I’m sort of rubbing shoulders with Harry Potter (who, of course, has been on the list for 196 weeks! That’s—um—almost five years.)

The Dragon Heir also appears on the USA Today Bestseller list (all books) for the week ending 8/17/08, its debut week. That’s #150 out of 150, but, hey, somebody has to be last. And it’s better than #151.

And, finally, The Dragon Heir is also #15 on the Indie Bestseller Children’s list for Children’s Books for August 17.

It may be for just one week, but I'm lovin' it.

Here I am at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington for The Dragon Heir debut.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Come See Me in Lexington, Ky and Sylva, NC

The Dragon Heir is on sale!

I’ll be at Joseph-Beth at Lexington Green, Lexington, Ky, Saturday, August 16, 2 p.m. and at City Lights Books in Sylva, NC. Monday, August 18, 6 p.m.

I'll be back in Ohio at The Learned Owl Bookshop in Hudson, OH August 23, 11-1.

These friends and Heir fans helped launch Dragon Heir August 12 at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cleveland. Looks like a tough crowd!

But they warmed up as I spoke and read from Dragon Heir.

Followed by a book signing. The two kids I'm talking to are going into fifth grade. One of them has already emailed me to say he's finished Wizard Heir in two days.

Hope to see you at one of my upcoming events!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Notes from SCBWI LA

Well, now that everyone has already posted, I’ll shout out to all my LiveJournal friends I saw at the SCBWI meeting in LA last week. I went out to dinner Thursday night with a whole group of LJ-ers including Mary Cronin, Jody Feldman, Melodye Shore, and 15 others.

Got to lunch with Debby Garfinkle and hang out with Jody Feldman. Jody signed up for the Pro Track, so she attended some different workshops than I did, and also participated in the Editors’ Luncheon and Authors’ Reception and Sale. This is me and Debby and Jody.

Lest you think I just ate and drank and schmoozed my way through the conference, Bruce Coville’s keynote was totally inspiring, just what an opener should be. He discussed the Seven Deadly Sins and Seven Deadly Virtues of Writers. Illustrator Mark Teague told the hilarious story of how he stumbled into illustration via a degree in American history. It seems unfair that so many illustrators are witty as well as graphically talented. Later that day, agent Steven Malk shared strategies for developing a long-term career.

On Saturday, Rachel Cohn spoke on Embracing Your Inner Teen. She actually brought her inner teen with her and displayed her to the audience. Jay Asher’s presentation on injecting suspense into any novel had us on the edge of our seats. And Adam Rex, another unfairly witty, articulate, and otherwise talented illustrator discussed how to get a kid’s book published.
Here Jay Asher uses Grover and There's a Monster at the End of This Book to make a point.

On Sunday, I attended John Rocco’s session on book promotion, a good review of tactics to use before and after publication. The Golden Kite luncheon was inspirational, and in the afternoon Lisa Yee had us working very hard in her workshop on revision.

On Monday, Bruce Coville’s workshop on Plotting provided a lot of take-away, though I was tempted to go to Katherine Applegate’s How to Write and Stay (Relatively) Sane. Editor Donna Bray and agent Steven Malk spoke about collaboration and interaction between agents and editors. I heard from Jody that Sara Pennypacker’s session on Firt Pages was awesome. And Susan Patron was like the perfect dessert—a satisfying finish to the conference. And afterwards, I stood in the autograph line and had Susan sign The Higher Power of Lucky. This is me and my hero, Susan Patron.

Jody and I each furiously took notes at the seminars and workshops so we could share with each other.

Afterwards, I linked up with Ellen Hopkins and Susan Lindquist and others for a little happy hour out on the patio before I left for the airport.

That's Susan, me, Ellen, Kristin Venuti, and another friend.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Room at the Inn

What’s important to you when you check into a hotel? I realize that hotels have it tough, because everyone has different expectations of what good service is. One person has no interest in Internet access, while the next demands it. One guest requires an in-room media center, while someone else is more interested in security measures.

So I’m in Los Angeles for the SCBWI Annual Conference at the Hyatt Regency Century City. Now, this is not a flophouse by any means. It’s a beautiful hotel, recently renovated. The “rack rate” is $399 a night. (Full disclosure: I am not paying that much since I’m here with a conference.)

My question is, what should you get for your $399 a night? Here is my personal list of loves and hates in hotels:

I love these super beds hotels have these days. Six pillows may be a bit much, but I like being adrift on a great barge of a bed. It feels like a special privilege to sleep in one of these.

A beautiful view. It may seem silly to pay more for something you can’t take home except in your memory, but I love to look out at beauty.
Those cool showers with the curved shower curtain rods. You don’t end up with the shower curtain plastered to your bare body or water all over the floor.

Free Internet access in your room. I think that should be a given these days. Ironically, it tends to be provided in business hotels for $125 a night. For $399, you pay extra to get online.
A good working desk and chair with adjustable height. Right now I feel like my keyboard is under my chin.
Coffee maker in my room with good coffee: I like to have coffee before I meet the public. Including Room Service
Health clubs: these should be gratis. I’m not talking about a spa, but basic workout equipment. It’s hard enough to exercise on the road without feeling like you’re being nickeled and dimed to death

Those in-room junk food stores
posing as refrigerators. Here at the Hyatt, half the space on the bureau is taken up by a snack store with chips, cookies, raisins, and nuts. The mini refrigerator is packed with liquor, pop, candy bars, cookies, candy, and beer. There is no room for personal items I might want to refrigerate, for example, healthy items like milk or fruit or leftovers from dinner. Once again, there is a warning sign on it telling me that electronic sensors will bill my room if I disturb any of the items and warning me not to try and put my personal items in there. This is service? Why couldn’t there be a mini bar with items for sale for the convenience of guests and a couple of shelves for your own foods? That would be hospitality.

Non-dairy powdered creamer in those little packets with the coffee maker. Yick! Use real cream. It keeps for a long time in those little cups.
Cardboard cups. For $399 a night, you should get real glass. (BTW. the Hyatt offers to provide real glasses on request. It took two tries to get some.)

No Big Deal
I don’t care if they change the towels and sheets every day. I don’t do it at home, so why do I need it here?
Hair dryers: I don’t care if they provide hair dryers. You can’t count on their being there, so I always bring my own anyway. So don’t bother.
Iron and ironing board. Like I’m going to do ironing here.
What about you? What are your pet peeves and delights when you stay in a hotel?