Showing posts with label author events. Show all posts
Showing posts with label author events. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Rochester Teen Book Festival RECAP!

Those of you that follow me on Twitter know that I spent this past Saturday at the Rochester Teen Book Festival in lovely Rochester, NY.  (Twitter followers know it best because I totally GOT MY LIVE-TWEET ON.  Woo wooooooo!)

To say that I had a good time would be an understatement.  This was my first time at this event, and I will totally be there again next year.  WITH a bigger book bag.  Let's recap.

I showed up around 10am for the opening ceremony.  The festival was at Nazareth College, and the opener was in their big gym.  It basically turned into a giant pep rally for the authors, which was pretty cool.  They played a little "Truth or Talent" game, where each author had to come up to the microphone and share a truth, or a random talent.  Please enjoy this photo of Jay Asher impersonating seaweed while Alethea Kontis and Amber Lough sing along:

And Joelle Charbonneau singing opera:

Also, let it be noted that at this point, I realized that the only people older than me in the audience were probably parents who brought their teens, and the authors themselves.  (Even that is debatable though, there were a bunch of teen authors there...)  LOL.  #sorrynotsorry

After the pep rally, the breakout sessions began.  It was SO HARD to choose between sessions, since there were so many good ones, but here are the four I attended with a small recap of each:

1. Laurie Halse Anderson

Irreverent, funny, outspoken.  Those are the three words I wrote down after Anderson's talk.  She discussed many questions that people had about her books, but more importantly, she wasn't afraid to make impassioned statements about touchy subjects like feminism, racism, alcoholism, and sexual abuse.  This was a very empowering session, especially for the teens in the audience.  So awesome.

Laurie Halse Anderson and moi.  Wish I knew she was making a crazy face so I could have gotten in on the action.  NO FAIR, LAURIE.
*Also: at this session I met up with the illustrious Katie from Doing Dewey!  My first time meeting a blog friend in real life!  We attended a few sessions together throughout the day and had a great time connecting in person.  Also, you should all know that she apologizes profusely for getting her Bout of Books post up late.  I witnessed her contrition as she was trying to post it via her smartphone.  LOL.
Book bloggers unite!
2. Ellen Hopkins

Another wonderful session.  Hopkins started with a reading from her upcoming book, Rumble (excellent!), and then gave updates about her daughter (who the Crank trilogy is based upon).  Wow, what disheartening stuff.  Her daughter is in prison yet again, and pregnant with her seventh baby.  She's now been battling addiction for 18 years.  Hopkins has custody of her daughter's oldest son (now 17) and her three youngest children (ages 4, 5, and 10).  Many have accused her of exploiting her daughter's story for her books, but Hopkins said this is not just her daughter's story--it is her story, her husband's story, her grandchildrens' story, etc. and she feels it is important to share that in order to keep young readers away from this life.

Afterwards, she asked the teens in the audience to share some concerns that they are dealing with in their own lives.  I was blown away by some of the situations these kids shared.  Sickness, abuse, etc...there was a lot of strength in that room.  A very heavy session indeed.

3. Gina Damico

After two discussions that were pretty serious and issue-based, I needed something a little lighter.  I knew Gina Damico would be just the ticket, since I loved the humor in Croak .  Gina was friendly, funny, and down-to-earth.  You can tell she's newer to the publishing world than the previous two authors I visited, and I don't mean that in a bad way.  She had a more carefree attitude that I imagine was inspiring for the aspiring teen writers in the audience.  She talked about her road to authorship, and then took questions about the book.  Lots of laughs and overall a good session for fans of her work.

4. A.S. King and Andrew Smith

For my last sessions, I was really torn between this one, and Jay Asher's.  I decided to go here because I adored King's Ask The Passengers , and I hadn't read anything of Smith's yet, so I figured it would open me up to some new material.  I'm so glad I made this choice!  Kind and Smith based their session on the idea of boxes--that is, how NOT to use them.  They discussed how to avoid "boxing people in", by things like race, gender, sexuality, etc.  They also argued that the same should be done for books.  For example, they both expressed frustration about the fact that they've published books that have gay characters, and then those book are automatically grouped as "gay literature" when really, the main themes of those novels had little to do with sexuality.  They encouraged readers to go into any book with an open mind, regardless of the genre you've been told the book falls into.  Great advice for any reader!  I was really impressed by their session and ended up buying Andrew Smith's Winger at the book sale later.

After the breakouts, it was book signing time!  I had my big ol' bag with me, and spent the full two hours waiting in lines.  In the end, this was my haul:

All of the authors I met were incredibly nice.  I am very socially awkward at signings (please refer to the embarrassment of my Dennis Lehane signing), so I didn't say much, other than a "how are you?" and "thanks so much!".  They were all very gracious though, and Laurie Halse Anderson was especially chatty (her line was AGES long as a result, but worth it!!).  However, I did ask Andrew Smith for training tips for my half marathon (he's completed a whole bunch of marathons and runs every day).  He seemed happy to share, saying that 13.1 miles is nothing (I suppose that's true when you run 26.2!) and that I should just enjoy the run.  Points well taken.  Now when I start getting tired and whiny at mile 5, I'll just imagine Andrew Smith in my mind yelling, "THIS IS NOTHING!!"  (I'm sure that's exactly what he intended.)
A.S. King during signings
There you have it, reader friends!  My first major book event, and I loved every minute.  You know what one of the best parts of the day was?  Seeing all these teenagers who were TOTALLY STOKED about reading!  The teens in the audience asked all the best questions during every session.  I saw one girl break into tears when she met Jay Asher in person for the first time.  Neal Shusterman had a pack of groupies with him every time I saw him walking between sessions.  The book love was EVERYWHERE.  These kids give me hope for the future of the literary world.

So, who's coming with me next year??

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Rochester Teen Book Festival: PREPARATION STAGE!

Hello, my lovelies!  I know, still pretty MIA over here.  Tater Tot is starting to be less Sleepy Baby and more Awake Baby, and Small Fry is still Insane Toddler, so I've been rather busy.  Still reading the same two books...convinced I will turn 90 before I finish The Goldfinch...but we're getting there.

In the meantime, I'm putting my Christmas money to good use.  Thanks to Katie at Doing Dewey, I found out about the Rochester Teen Book Festival, taking place this year on May 17.  I looked into it, and I am SO EXCITED that this event is basically going on in my backyard.  They have a really awesome lineup of authors coming this year, and I can't wait to go!

But what is a book festival without books to be signed??

Therefore, please lay eyes on my book haul in prep for Rochester TBF:
(I know I could buy them at the festival and some of the proceeds would go back to the event, but...sorry, I had Amazon gift cards, and I'm cheap.  GOT MOUTHS TO FEED, Y'ALL.)

I have heard of all of these books/authors but, astoundingly, never read any of them!  (Actually, I did read The Last Summer of You and Me by Ann Brashares a while back, but I gave away my copy, so I decided to buy Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants instead.)  My goal before May 17 is to read them all, and then get them signed.  WOO!!

How about you, readers?  Attending any great book festivals this year?  (Don't even tell me if you're going to BEA, cuz I'm totes jealous.)  And if you're going to TBF, let me know!!

Monday, November 18, 2013

It's Monday--what are you reading?

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend!  What are you reading today?
I had a fun book-related activity this weekend, as I volunteered at the 17th annual Rochester Children's Book Festival.  I heard about this right after I moved to the area, and decided it would be fun to volunteer as a way to get to know the event (and the city) a bit better.  I am very happy that I did!  My shift started at 12:30 but I arrived a little early so that I could check things out.  The festival had an impressive list of authors, my fave being Jane Yolen, who writes the How Do Dinosaurs series of children's books that Small Fry looooooves.  I ended up late to my volunteer assignment (whoooops) because I couldn't help jumping into her autograph line for Small Fry.  WORTHSIES!!
(Name edited by me, obviously)
Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple
Yolen was sharing the autograph line with her daughter, fellow author Heidi Stemple.  Jane and Heidi were SUPER nice, asking me about both Small Fry and the increasingly-obvious-under-my-shirt Tater Tot.  Afterwards I volunteered at the main lobby greeting table and had a great time seeing all the happy patrons (kids especially!) coming into and out of the event.  Overall, I really loved doing this and I can't wait to take Small Fry next year...I think he will adore it.

Soooo what am I reading these days?

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook and is ranked on Fortune ’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business and as one of Time ’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. In 2010, she gave an electrifying TEDTalk in which she described how women unintentionally hold themselves back in their careers. Her talk, which became a phenomenon and has been viewed more than two million times, encouraged women to “sit at the table,” seek challenges, take risks, and pursue their goals with gusto.

In  Lean In,  Sandberg digs deeper into these issues, combining personal anecdotes, hard data, and compelling research to cut through the layers of ambiguity and bias surrounding the lives and choices of working women. She recounts her own decisions, mistakes, and daily struggles to make the right choices for herself, her career, and her family. She provides practical advice on negotiation techniques, mentorship, and building a satisfying career, urging women to set boundaries and to abandon the myth of “having it all.”  She describes specific steps women can take to combine professional achievement with personal fulfillment and demonstrates how men can benefit by supporting women in the workplace and at home. (From Goodreads)

I've been meaning to read this ever since it first came out, partially because I can't resist a book that invites controversy, and partially because I am really interested in what Sandberg has to say, especially because I recently left the 9-5 workforce.  I'm about half done and loving it.  I definitely do not agree with everything Sandberg espouses in her book, but even so, it's extremely thought-provoking and has lead to some pretty interesting conversations with my husband.  My review is going to be a mile long when I finally write it (you've been warned).

The Whole Golden World by Kristina Riggle

To the outside Diana and Joe have a perfect family-three lovely children, a beautiful home, and a café that's finally taking off. But their world is rocked when it's discovered that their oldest daughter, 17-year-old Morgan is having an affair with her married teacher, TJ Hill.

Their town rocks with the scandal. When the case goes to trial, the family is torn further apart when Morgan sides not with her parents-as a manipulated teenage girl; but with TJ himself-as a woman who loves a 30-year-old man.

Told from the perspectives of Morgan, Diana, and TJ's wife, Rain, this is an unforgettable story that fully explores the surprising, even shocking, events that change the lives of two families. (From Goodreads)

This is a TLC Book Tour for me and I am completely immersed!  Fans of Jodi Picoult and family dramas are going to love this one.  Can't wait to share my review with you later this week.  I'm about 100 pages from the end, and I have no idea how it's going to wrap up--gotta love the feeling of suspense.

What will I read next?
I have a month before my next book tour review, so I'm looking forward to tackling a few things on my shelves--hopefully The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok, Allegiant by Veronica Roth (gotta finish that series!!), and/or The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.

What's in your reading plans this week, friends?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Jodi Picoult tour kickoff!

If you've spent any time hanging around this blog o' mine, then you already know that I am a Jodi Picoult SUPER FAN.  I've read all of her books, and I love her style.  She writes amaaaazing family dramas, and she is a fan of the twist ending--something I never tire of.

Every February/March, I wait patiently for her latest release to come out.  This year's novel, The Storyteller, came out this past Tuesday (woo wooooo!).  And imagine my excitement when I saw that she was touring not very far from me, in New England!

("Not very far" being a relative term...the event I went to was 3 hours away in Vermont.  But totally worthsies.)

Even better, my friend Cari agreed to meet me there, so it was a killer author event and a BFF reunion all in one.  SCORE.

The event at the Wilder Center in Wilder, VT was the VERY FIRST stop on her book tour.  It started at 9am, and when I checked in, I got a copy of the book--possibly one of the first copies obtained on release day.  I felt mighty special, yes ma'am!

Cari and I grabbed our seats and immediately loved the intimate atmosphere of the event.  The Wilder Center is a beautiful renovated church, and the organizers brought in a local baker to provide the refreshments.  They capped attendance at about 30-40 people, which was perfect--no crowd fighting necessary.

Jodi showed up and was amazingly chipper for 9am!  She did an emotional, captivating reading from a Holocaust scene in The Storyteller (as Cari said, I would have liked for her to just keep reading me the whole book).  Afterwards, she talked to the audience about her inspirations for the novel, which was easily my favorite part of the morning.  All of the research she did with Holocaust survivors was fascinating.  Honestly, the research she does for any of her books is pretty great to hear about (she just got back from Botswana doing elephant research for a future novel).  I apologize for not taking detailed notes on her talk (like I have for other author events), but I was enjoying myself too much to take out paper and pen.

There were a few Q+A's at the end, and then the signing began.  People, Jodi Picoult is SO FREAKING NICE.  She thanked everyone so sincerely for coming, and graciously agreed to take a picture with me.  Naturally, I was super excited for that, but unfortunately, my iPhone disagreed.  Cari tried to take the picture twice, but my phone wouldn't focus, and we didn't want to hold up the line so we moved on.  So here is the photo evidence of me and my new friend JP:
Seriously, what is up with my weird hand?
FRAME WORTHY.  My phone has been adequately flogged for its transgressions.

Overall, this event made me SUPER excited to delve into The Storyteller, and I might just adore Jodi Picoult more than I did before.  Which I did not think possible, but there it is.

Have you read The Storyteller yet?  Are any of Jodi Picoult's other novels on your favorites list?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

EXCITING DAY 'round these parts!

Hello, my lovely readers!  Just a quick post to let you know that today was the long-awaited day...I got to attend Jodi Picoult's kickoff event for the release of her new book, The Storyteller !  I don't have time to do a full write-up now, but it is forthcoming and FULL OF AWESOME. 
I had an amazing time, and Jodi Picoult might be the nicest person evs.  That's a big claim but I'll stand behind it.

More to come, and in the meantime, GO BUY THIS BOOK!!  Because I can.not.wait. to devour my (signed, say whaaat) copy myself and I want to babble about it to all of you!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Junot Diaz reading!

I am really getting lucky with the author events around here lately.  First Dennis Lehane, now Junot Diaz.  Honestly, the last time I saw an author talk in person was in middle school, when Caroline B. Cooney came to talk with my class.  It was cool, but I was definitely too young to appreciate it.  Apparently I had to wait 16 years for my next chance!

When I found out Diaz was coming to the area, I was psyched.  You've probably heared of his Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel, The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao.  I read it a few years ago, and it really is great.  Unique format, memorable characters, and a captivating blend of contemporary fiction with historical fiction. 

He has been making the rounds at the book festivals lately with his new short story collection, This Is How You Lose Her, and I was sad that I missed his appearance at the Brooklyn Book Festival a few weeks ago.  But, lo and behold, he arrives in Albany for an appearance with the New York State Writer's Institute.  The event was hosted at the University at Albany, and free to the public.

The reading was supposed to be held in a small assembly hall, but when I arrived 20 minutes early, no one was there.  Mystified, I waited a few minutes, until someone told me it had been moved to the ballroom down the hall.  The place was PACKED!  I'd say about 50/50 split between people who came from off campus, and faculty/staff/students of the university.  It was especially wonderful to see all the students (especially Dominican students) there to support Diaz and get inspired in their own writing.  At one point, he mentioned that there were no Dominican speakers that ever came to campus when he was a student at Rutgers, and he was hopeful that the Dominican students in the audience would be the future Dominican speakers at college campuses around the country.

Diaz started by taking some audience questions.  He is such an engaging speaker!  First of all, he's very genuine.  If you go to a Diaz event, be ready for a lot of f-bombs...but he doesn't speak that way to get a rise out of you.  You can tell he's just being himself up there.  At one point, he said that at a past event, a woman came up to him furious about the language he had used.  And that made him think about the fact that "most of us spend our lives learning to wear masks...we all wear dozens at any one time."  But "it's hard to speak through masks...and this is as close as I come to being who the hell I am in front of 200 strangers."
Diaz took a lot of questions about the writing process, his inspiration, and how his cultural background influences his status as a bestselling author.  Here's a few quotes from the evening:

On writing about personal life events:
"I do my best work when I'm ice cold...I need 20 years distance from something before I can write it."
"I like to write consequences...the fire doesn't interest me--but how does the fire change you?"

On self-doubt regarding his writing career:
"The only certainty about art is doubt.  This is the greatest faith-based initiative on the need to keep your faith in a future you will never meet."
"If you want your audience to make your art, you are doomed.  When no one cares, that's when you can play."
"In a culture that wants you to dance, it takes courage to stand still."

On advice for aspiring writers:
"Writers hold out the dream that there's some shortcut to being successful...that's why there's thousands of books about it.  But they are message of consolation."
"The answer to 'how do I become X' is, you f***in' do it." (I loved this quote!)

While talking about This Is How You Lose Her:
"The pain suddenly stopped, and then I knew it was done." (It took him 16 years to complete it!)
"My definition of a full life is, do you put more love back into the world than what you take out?"

After the Q+A, Diaz moved on to the reading.  He read the chapter entitled "Alma", from This Is How You Lose Her.  By the end, I wanted to pay him to come home and read me the rest of the book.  His narration of his writing is that spectacular.  It was a short chapter, but I (and the rest of the audience) spent most of it laughing.

Afterwards, he did a very informal book signing (essentially stood next to the stage while everyone with a book flooded him for signatures).  He had announced earlier that he was in a huge hurry and unfortunately had to leave quickly after the event; however, while he did sign the books fast, he was also extremely gracious, giving many of the attendees hugs and handshakes before they left.  I got my copy of Oscar Wao signed...woohoo!
Overall, fantastic evening!  I am even more eager to read Diaz's new book now, after hearing him speak. 
Has anyone else been to a Junot Diaz event lately?  I know he's been all over the place promoting this book.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dennis Lehane reading/signing!

As promised, here's my rundown of the Dennis Lehane event that I went to last night.  It was hosted by the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library, and co-sponsored by the Open Door Bookstore in Schenectady, NY.  The event was free but required advance registration (which of course, I did online at the exact.very.minute that it opened).

This was my first-ever book reading/signing, and I've been a Lehane fan for a while, so I was pretty darn stoked.  If you're unfamiliar, Lehane has written several well-known fiction novels, such as Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, Shutter Island, and The Given Day.

First, I had to decide which book(s) to buy.  I was going to get a hardcover copy of his new one, Live By Night, which is coming out next week.  However, it was $30 and I couldn't have gotten it last night--if you bought one, he would sign it afterwards and you could pick it up at the library on the release date next week.  I was feeling impatient (wanted my book NOW!) and also wanted more bang for my buck, so instead, I bought paperback copies of Shutter Island (my fave Lehane book thus far) and Gone Baby Gone.  I also had my own copy of A Drink Before The War with me.

Armed with my books, I got a pretty good aisle seat towards the front of the presentation room.  Lehane came out and the party began!

He started by doing a reading from Live By Night's first chapter.  Dennis Lehane is a master of the Boston voice, both in print and in person, so hearing him read on behalf of his characters was awesome.  It's a historical fiction novel (or a "gangster novel", as he put it) set in 1920's Boston during Prohibition.  Very different from some of his past crime novels (like the Kenzie and Gennaro books).  I'm eager to get my hands on a copy after hearing the reading!

After the reading, Lehane took questions from the audience.  And I gotta say, this guy is a HOOT.  So funny.  My favorite parts of the evening were when he would tell stories about his visits to Boston, especially after his books turned to movies and he became more well-known..  (Like the drunk guy in a bar who came up to him and demanded, "So, you the guy that wrote The Departed, eh?...Is Matt Damon really short?")

I took a few notes, so you could get a sense of what he covered during the Q+A:

On his best advice for aspiring writers:
"My first piece of advice is to read.  Read all the time.  If you don't read, then you need to do something else."
"Writing, like anything, if you're gonna get good at it, it takes 10 years...I published at 8, but I didn't know what I was doing until ten."
"Always have your character want something. 'Mike realized he was out of milk.'  That's a great opening line, because everyone will keep reading until he gets the milk, or he doesn't."
"Don't think of yourself as a writer; think of yourself as a storyteller."

On screenwriting vs novel writing (he has been a screenwriter for The Wire):
"Novelists are God, and screenwriters are God's tailors...And somehow, God's tailors get paid more than God."
"The hardest thing as a novelist is describing rooms...because you have to describe something static and make it interesting.  Screenwriting makes that so much easier."

On writing recurring characters (like Kenzie/Gennaro) vs new ones:
"Writing about the same's like putting on an old pair of jeans.  They're comfortable, but they're a little out of style, and they don't fit as well, because you got fatter...but there's a sense of discovery with new characters that I love...that's why right now, I prefer writing non-series novels."  (Sorry readers, sounds like no more Kenzie/Gennaro in the near future!)

On how involved he was in the making of the movie Shutter Island:
"I was involved...until Martin Scorsese took over.  At that point, what are you gonna say? 'I dunno Marty, I think the camera would look better over there?'"

He also mentioned that Leonardo DiCaprio's company already bought the rights to Live By Night, so you can expect to see that on the big screen sometime in the future!

Overall, it was a fantastic event.  Lehane was clearly very comfortable with the audience, and there was lots of laughter to go around.

Afterwards, we lined up in the hallway for the signing.  Lehane was friendly, and graciously wrote me a happy birthday message in my copy of Shutter Island:

I had him sign the other two books as well (sans birthday greeting).  As he was signing, I'll admit I was a little fan-girly, with shaking hands and goofy high-pitched voice.  I rambled for a little while, complimenting him on how well he writes "Boston-speak", and as he finished up the books he smiled and said thanks.  I high-tailed it out of there before I ruined the moment with any additional silly comments.  Overall, a win for me, since I am generally a nervous squirrel by nature and had seriously entertained the possibility that I could end up puking on my shoes.

So that was my birthday evening with Dennis Lehane!  (Wow, I did not mean for that to sound as illicit as it does.)  Tell me--have you been to any good author events lately?
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