Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ottawa and Russellville and parts in between...

All right! We just got back from a five day long road trip, mostly up and down the I-35 corridor, but with a slight detour to Arkansas.

Cyn spoke in Ottawa, Kansas, at the high school (the alma mater of, among others, Steve Grogan), and then at Prof. John Bushman's Writing Conference's Celebration of Writing.

Cyn also did a couple events at the Russellville, Arkansas, public library: Friday evening was a dinner with the author and Saturday was a workshop on children's and YA writing.

We left Tuesday morning and made an excellent lunch in Ardmore, Oklahoma, at the 2 Frogs restaurant: if you happen to ever find yourself in Ardmore, go there. The food's great and they (apparently) have great live music (see the stage in the photo); the place is decorated with music/band paraphernalia and they also sell tickets to acts coming to the big music venue in town. Willie Nelson was there the day after we were and (shades of Music and Lyrics), Rick Springfield will be there next month.

We made it up to Ottawa uneventfully and had a relaxing dinner with Professor Bushman at the Applebee's across from our hotel. The next day, Cyn did three sessions with students in the Ottawa High School library; Dr. Bushman was gracious enough to invite us to his place for refreshments afterwards, and then, that evening, Cyn spoke to the writing contest (Dr. Bushman's utterly sublime license plate appears to the left).

The next day, Cyn and I slept in and had an relaxing (and picturesque) drive to Russellville, where we checked into the hotel, did some e-mail, etc., and worked on our current projects. We went out to dinner and sampled, for the first time, chicken-fried corn-on-the-cob. Next day, we did a bit of a drive around town (home of Arkansas Tech University), but spent most of it (before the dinner) writing.

Dinner in the center of the library was intimate and fun -- I had the chance to speak with, among others, a lady who had recently moved down from my old haunts in Chicago, as well as a family whose patriarch is a self-described "redneck, truck-driving Star Trek fan" who is more optimistic about the new movie than I am :-).

Cyn's workshop the next morning -- in the "Heritage Hall," the remodeled original library building -- was a great success. Afterward, the librarians took us to a lovely lunch at Italian Gardens Cafe, where the breadsticks alone are almost enough to make a meal.

We hit the road again and stayed overnight in Sherman, Texas. By this time, we were exhausted, so unfortunately, didn't get a chance to explore the town. Instead, we watched IGOR on the in-room movie system and noticed the odd warning next to the sprinkler head whose photo appears to the left (may need to click to read).

This morning, we had an early start and made remarkably good time on I-35.

Thanks to everyone for their hospitality and graciousness!

The other big highlight of the trip was listening to the Blackstone audio of Bram Stoker's Dracula; twelve CDs and fourteen and a half hours. An excellent production but, wow, Van Helsing is wordy!

All in all, a most enjoyable trip -- I really enjoy seeing parts of the country I wouldn't necessarily ordinarily see, although there were, as always, a number of places I wish we'd had time to explore further...

Sunday, April 19, 2009


WONDROUS STRANGE, by Lesley Livingston (HarperTeen 2009)(12+). Seventeen-year old Kelley Winslow is an aspiring stage actress recently selected to play Titania in an off-Broadway production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Sonny Flannery is a changeling human sent by the faerie king Auberon to guard the Samhain Gate from incursions by the faerie realm into ours.

Their paths meet as Halloween -- the one night of the year the Gates swing open -- approaches. And they find there are secrets to Kelley's past that could provoke the Fae into unleashing the all-out destruction of the Wild Hunt into our world.

Part action-adventure, part romance, WONDROUS STRANGE is a thrilling, fun ride into a world of intrigue and dangerous bargains and where Celtic mythology (and Shakespeare's take on it) might be all too real (Part 2, DARKLIGHT, is forthcoming).


THE DRAGON OF TRELIAN, by Michelle Knudsen (Candlewick 2009)(ages 10+). Calen, the unskilled and generally unmotivated apprentice to the mage Serek, is just trying to get by and avoid the ire of his master. But he might just have a spark of something.

The princess Meglynn of Trelian has a secret: she has bonded with a juvenile dragon she found in the forest. What it means, she doesn't know.

Amidst the preparations for the wedding of Meglynn's sister and the prince of Kragnir (to cement the end of a hundred-year war), Calen and Meglynn form an unexpected friendship and, together, unearth a murderous plot to keep the kingdoms at war.

Can they discover who they are and thwart the enemy of both kingdoms before it's too late?

THE DRAGON OF TRELIAN is an exciting adventure and a great read, filled with treachery and mayhem, and with engaging and likeable characters whom we will hopefully be seeing more of.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I'm delighted to report that I just received my author copies of the Korean edition of NINJAS, PIRANHAS, AND GALILEO, published in 2008 by DongSanSa!

From top to bottom are Shohei, Honoria, and Elias (Cyn thinks Elias looks like Joseph Gordon-Levitt from THIRD ROCK FROM THE SUN and TEN THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU).

(The back cover, which I'll scan in later, is identical to the front cover of the American edition).

Monday, April 13, 2009

Saturday at BookPeople

Saturday afternoon's joint author appearance by Cyn and Kathi was a great success, with over a hundred attendees (pretty good for a holiday weekend)!

Cyn and Kathi began by introducing themselves and then by reading excerpts from ETERNAL and THE UNDERNEATH, respectively (Kathi also sang Ranger's song with blues-y verve). Afterwards, they showed their book trailers and then they interviewed each other on diverse topics, such as violence and redemption in youth literature. Finally, they read excerpts from fan mail.

Anne Bustard was gracious enough to bring her famous sugar cookies: in the shapes of bats and angels for Cyn's book; and three kinds of cats for THE UNDERNEATH.

Many thanks to everyone who came and to the folks at BookPeople for hosting the event! (Photo above shows Madeline Smoot and me getting the tech set up while Debbie Gonzalez gives moral support :-)).

Cyn has a report with many more pictures here!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The big literary event of the weekend!

Cynthia and Kathi Appelt will be chatting with each other and signing their respective books at Book People this Saturday, April 11 at 1 PM. Be there!

UPDATE: The Bookkids blog has more information and an interview Cyn and Kathi conducted of each other here.

Also, be sure to check out the new web site of Curtis Brown, Ltd, home of my (and Cyn's) agent, the extraordinary and serene Ginger Knowlton.

I understand they've got further plans for the site but (as my whimsy takes me :-)) I really like the copy of the royalties ledger they've got up for Dorothy L. Sayers' MURDER MUST ADVERTISE.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Back from TLA!

Okay, so we were there only one day (Thursday) and spent only one afternoon on the floor, where Cyn had a signing at the Candlewick booth (see the empty floor display), but there's still something exhilarating about librarian (and teacher and writer) conferences.

Candlewick sponsored the trip (thanks, guys!) and put us up at the Hyatt Regency downtown (sadly, the Spindletop rooftop spinning restaurant is still closed after damage from Hurricane Ike).

Author-illustrator floor conversation sightings included Don Tate, Brian Anderson, Jennifer Ziegler, Elaine Scott, Varian Johnson, Janet Fox, Margo Rabb (see photo of her and her stars), Wendy Lichtman, Jessica Lee Anderson, Melanie Chrismer, Debbie Leland, and Mary Wade.

At the joint publisher party Thursday night (thanks to the sponsoring publishers!), we had the chance to chat with a host of terrific Texas librarians. Drive-by sightings included authors Justina Chen Headley, Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, and Toni Buzzeo.

Dinner Thursday was a Candlewick "family" dinner at The Grove, with illustrators Randy Cecil and Matthew Reinhart, editor Jennifer Yoon, and the most excellent Sharon Hancock and Jenny Choy.

See y'all next year!
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