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libraries are awesome

I’m thrilled to be participating in PA Forward’s Speak Up for PA Libraries events today with some school visits in Haverford! School and local libraries made me the reader I am, because there was no way my mom could afford to buy me all the books I wanted to read. It was through libraries that I discovered William Sleator’s Interstellar Pig, which introduced me to the science fiction books that influenced me as a person, and eventually as a writer. (I know: Writers are technically people too.)

via the-toast.net

via the-toast.net

Libraries are so vital to our communities, even in this information age of computers and internet: They offer much more than entertainment, including valuable resources and educational opportunities, and don’t underestimate the importance of a safe place outside of the home where kids can go to hang out and make new friends — if not with other kids, than with books. I still love to be in a room full of books! Kids all over the country, and especially in Philadelphia, don’t necessarily have access to high-speed internet or books; many of us take these things for granted, and today is a great day to acknowledge and celebrate how invaluable libraries and librarians are in curating their collections, reaching out to patrons and fostering a love for reading, and developing incredible, fun programs for young readers — including bringing illustrators and authors like me to schools and libraries, which is one of my favorite things about being a published author. I never met any authors when I was young; if I had, I might have pursued a writing career sooner!

Tell me about your favorite library in the comments below. Why are libraries important to you?

 

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the year of doing less and more

My last photo of 2013, just before midnight.

My last photo of 2013, just before midnight.

Wow, it has been a long time since I last blogged! Sorry about that. See, I’m under a deadline on a Secret Project™, and I have to focus most of my writing time on that these days. I should be able to pay more attention to the blog in February, when I’ll try to catch up on the many posts I’ve been meaning to write, including some TV, film, and book recommendations. I also have some other things I want to try out this year to mix things up a bit. Oh, and I have some late e-mails and miscellaneous tasks to take care of too. Next month, I promise!

But I didn’t want to leave an old post up on the first day of a shiny New Year, so here we are. I used to do those year-end recap posts with the number of words written in the last year, stories sold, milestones, and all that, but I haven’t for a while. I don’t track things that way anymore, and it takes too much time at the end of the year to add all the numbers up, which feels kind of like doing taxes. (Ugh, taxes.) Looking back, overall 2013 was very good to me personally and professionally. No complaints. And I’m looking forward to the opportunities and challenges ahead in 2014.

One of my first images of 2014. So, not that different.

One of my first images of 2014. So, not that different.

I also don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but recently I’ve been trying to cut back on doing too much. I’d like to do more of that—more of less—which is difficult because I like helping people and doing interesting and different things, and I consequently have trouble saying no; however, in order to reserve more time for my family and writing and yes, even give myself a chance to relax once in a while, I’m limiting everything else as much as I can. Apparently time management requires you to concentrate on the things that are really important to you instead of trying to cram in more, and there’s some room for improvement there.

But… I do still have trouble saying no.

Happy New Year! Best wishes for a successful and memorable 2014.

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me, elsewhere

Today I have a couple of new posts up at my group writer blogs:

At The League of Extraordinary Writers, I finally talk about how I got my agent!

And on the shiny new teamTEENauthor site, I answer this month’s question: “Do you believe in Luck?”

I’ll be blogging at least once a month on these other sites, so go check out my words over there, comment, share — and read everyone else’s posts too!

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ready for season 2!

"The Paper" by Feyd-rauthA (deviantART)

As of today, I have been married for longer than some of my favorite shows were on the air. That’s both happy-making and depressing, all at once. Mostly happy-making.

One year ago, many of our close friends and family gathered to make sure that Carrie and I actually went through with it after more than six years together. In this universe, and presumably all the parallel ones where I am not a complete loser, we did. There are a whole lot of lucky mes out there!

Fortunately, we enjoyed a wonderful year together with countless joys and a few challenges that have only confirmed that we each made the right choice. This means our marriage has been picked up for a second season, which I expect will be even better than the last. So stay tuned!

(As further proof that we belong together, she will probably not think I’m too weird for comparing our first year as a married couple to a TV show. After all, I used a Gilmore Girls DVD to propose to her in the first place!)

Happy anniversary, wife!

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the signings of the apocalypsies

Jim Freund and me on Hour of the Wolf

Last week, I returned to my old home base, New York City, for the annual NYC Teen Author Festival. I had to miss the first few days of panels and readings, but I got in late Wednesday night so Jim Freund could interview me and Eddie Schneider on his weekly radio program, Hour of the Wolf (Thursday mornings from 1:30 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. on WBAI 99.5 FM). As usual, the time passed far too quickly! I read two short selections from Fair Coin on the air and we discussed YA fiction and publishing. You can listen to a recording of the broadcast online for the next week.

Making coffee out of lemons: Mark Schulman (SCRAWL), Jess Rothenberg (THE CATASTROPHIC HISTORY OF YOU AND ME), Arlaina Tibensky (AND THEN THINGS FALL APART), Léna Roy (EDGES), and me at Beans and Vines

Roughly seven hours later, I staggered to a library in Manhattan where I was scheduled to read to a high school class with four other authors. Unfortunately, the chain locking the doors suggested they weren’t expecting us. As my friend Matt London recounted on his blog, we adjourned to a nearby coffee shop to hang out instead, which worked out really well because a) I needed a lot of coffee after only 3 hours of sleep, and b) they are all really fun people and I happen to like talking with other writers.

Autographed copies face out on a table at B&N Tribeca. (Thanks, Kara!)

My agent, Eddie, and I then toured many Barnes & Noble bookstores throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, so I could sign their stock of Fair Coin. It was my first time seeing my book in stores in person, and it was as thrilling as you’d expect. It was even more exciting to see it prominently displayed face out in the new Teen Fantasy & Adventure sections and on several tables. It was also fun to meet and chat with several store employees who clearly love books, including Elizabeth, Donna, Ashley, Taina, Meredith, and Kara. (Hi!) Once I signed the books, the store staff slapped nifty “Autographed” stickers on them, the better to entice people to pick them up. If you’re looking to grab a signed copy of your own from Barnes & Noble, last week they had them at 82nd & Broadway, 86th & Lexington, 46th Street and 5th Ave, Tribeca, Court Street in Brooklyn, and Park Slope.

If you would like to support independent booksellers, and I always think that’s worth doing, you can also snag a signed copy from Books of Wonder on 18 W. 18th Street, the preeminent children’s bookstore in Manhattan. I was there on Sunday with around 65 other YA authors (including a bunch of Apocalypsies!) for the mega signing. It was great to see many friends show up to have their copies of Fair Coin signed, and meet some readers and book bloggers. The swag I made for the book seemed to be a big hit, too. It was definitely a wish come true to see my book in the store, since I’ve been going to readings and signings there for years. My only “problem” with Books of Wonder is I can’t leave without purchasing some books, and indeed I left with a bag of cherished autographed books by other Apocalypsies. (Many thanks to David Levithan for coordinating the signing and working so hard on the rest of the Author Festival, and to Peter Glassman and everyone at Books of Wonder who were so welcoming to a bunch of new authors.)

Getting to meet and hang out with other members of the Apocalypsies was a big highlight of the trip, and we even had a small gathering at one of my favorite restaurants, Chat n’ Chew, before the signing, with Zoraida Córdova (THE VICIOUS DEEP), Gina Damico (CROAK), K.M. Walton (CRACKED), Emily M. Danforth (THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST), Elisa Ludwig (PRETTY CROOKED), and Lizzie K. Foley (REMARKABLE), and assorted significant others. Apocalypsies were also well represented on various panels throughout Teen Author Week–already reading and talking about their books like pros.

Last weekend, I also joined many people (including some of my writing group, Altered Fluid), to usher in Alaya Dawn Johnson’s 30th birthday and her fourth novel, WICKED CITY, at a genuine NYC speakeasy, The Back Room. If you see Alaya tonight, be sure to congratulate her on both milestones; she and I will be reading and signing our new books at the Soho Gallery for Digital Art (138 Sullivan Street) at 7 p.m. I hope you can make it!

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